Search This Blog

Friday, 28 October 2011

UnReality: Building a World

So we looked at a 'murder mystery', that was a no go.  Where next?

Choice: A key theme in our project

  • We broached the idea of creating a hospitality themed reality, building a makeshift restaurant in the BCT department.  As with the murder mystery, it wouldn't allow for the depth we were looking for.
  • It occurred to us to look at the senses we could potentially utilize at one point -which spawned the idea of creating an audio journey through the city -with the details of our alternate reality all conveyed through a narrative pumped through headphones.  Kind of like the principles of a Maths and Art Trail, except we would take our players on a museum tour -all dictated and our narrative told through headphones.  This idea however wouldn't allow for any choice.  This was important to all of us, and so this exact idea wasn't going to work.
  • We thought of Creating a reality that used the audio idea to tell a story based on a world visually similar to our own.  This way we could rely heavily on producing solid audio and any other content would substantiate the new reality.


Looking back at the idea of choice, we looked at a game called 'Heavy Rain' which Matt introduced us to.  The concept was that the story that unfolded relied on a series of choices made by the player.  However the difference being that choices made may have unexpected consequences, and may not end up having the exact effect the player had hoped.  Instead of giving players a choice between right or wrong, good or bad, left or right, we wanted our players to constantly occupy a morally grey area with the repercussions of their actions being morally ambiguous.   It is a common trend in video games to have this system in place, with storytelling reaching the stage where narratives are customized to the individual player.  This way different players will have different experiences.  This was the result we wanted from our journey.

<The Dilemma of Choice in Video Games.  By Martin Watts

We would need to come up with some sort of reward vs. punishment system to make these choices matter at all.  We would also need to come up with a good entity and a bad entity in which to relate these choices.  To make this effective however it was necessary to somehow construct these entities on a way that it was hard to tell which was which.

reward vs. punishment?

Finally after several days of deliberation, procrastination, and reflection on great video games (which is remarkably easy and prone to happening, especially in the BCT department)  We came up with a concept which embodied a lot of what we were going for.  The story (which I should have wrapped up a lot more eloquently during my presentation on the journey) goes a little something like this:

                  This new world is run by a totalitarian commercial regime who are essentially an independent system of government -they are known as 'Regulation'.  They stand as providers for the population as well as police force, judge and jury, and reign over society with restrictive laws and severe punishment.  Society under their watchful eye is peaceful, but unbalanced, as fear of legal prosecution has diminished human rights and stifled creative and leisurely activity.

Behind the scenes however are a group of political extremists known as ''The Adjustment'.  They are prepared to go to violent and anarchistic measures to see the downfall of the current regime.  They wish to free the population from the shackles of 'Regulation' rule, by any means necessary.

This conflict rages but is kept from the public eye, to the point where 'Regulation' representatives still refuse to accept or admit the existence of "The Adjustment' at all.

The players are invited to (mandatory) testing of Regulation audio equipment -designed to introduce tourists, or those unfamiliar with the city to the wonderful contributions the Regulation has made in the pursuit of a better quality of life within the city limits.  Audio is played through a provided set of headphones (just like a museum tour)  Refusal to cooperate would be met with punishment.  Players will be introduced to their responsibilities within the test by an introductory video, then guide by a Regulation employee through the testing area.

However The Adjustment have other plans.  The audio tour is interrupted by several Adjustment outbursts which urge the player to remove the headphones and get away while they still can.  That the headphones are actually a brainwashing tool, and that you as a person unfamiliar with the Regulation and what they stand for, are being subliminally trained to follow their orders and join their cause.

This basic premise allows us to

A.  Convey both parties as fighting for a greater good, but not necessarily using the best methods to do so.
B.  Utilize player choice in the form of obedience vs free will.  Who will the players side with? and how far are they prepared to go to prove their allegiance.
C.  Delve into the implications of peoples choices and reflect on philosophical, epistemological, morale and ontological aspects of human nature.
D.  Invoke emotion/feeling in response to these implications.
E.  Build a large scale world which fits the criteria we have set out as necessary to create a truly immersive experience.
F.  Use many different artifacts (both digital, and physical-my own personal favorite) to envision the history of this world, and the way it operates.

Quite obvious that a lot of the inspiration from the story came from George Orwell's '1984' and the 'Big Brother' phenomena but we also looked at the movie 'Equilibrium' (which in turn was based on the works of George Orwell aswell)  This story involving a similar background set the tone for our own.

We had the concept sorted, we had direction and assigned roles to each create the finished journey which was in two weeks time.  It was my job to develop the world visually, to create an aesthetic that we could attach to both sides of the argument, and pair off against each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment