• Mike

MA Game Design: Writing Up the First Case & Exploring Prototyping Tools

A wild blog post appeared!


Its been a while since I've done this much writing for my studies. I probably did this much writing when I was doing my A Levels 10 years ago...yikes, I hate aging.


Anyway let's get into it before my age anxiety sets in!

 

The First Case


First up, let's talk about the first case. This is going to serve as the introductory level, teaching the players how to play, progress, and interact with their co-op partner. By extension, it will also mean that this is the shortest level. Having said that, there is a lot of narrative to write up since you can have 2 possible perspectives to play from, which requires a number of things to make sure that everything makes sense. Characters, settings, instructions, and the way in which all of that is introduced need to be coherent and make sense.


To summarise, the case begins with your chosen character coming to the police HQ building and receiving basic partner training with a pair of experienced characters (one human and one animal). These experienced characters will then join you as you work on the first case together and will be there to ensure you don't accidentally overlook anything. So if you tried to leave a location before finding everything you could, they would prevent you from leaving until you found all that was needed. They will be there to provide some level of hand-holding, but not too much to the point that its anti-fun.


So, I have been in the process of writing up a screenplay of sorts for both the main characters. I say "of sorts" because I've come across a really handy document that has been set up to behave like a "Choose your own adventure" book. If that term is new to you, here's how it works:

  • You read the start as a regular book

  • At some point, you will be presented with choices

  • Depending on your choice, you will turn to a specific page and continue reading

  • You continue this loop until you reach an ending and start from the beginning

This clever document I've come across does exactly that inside Word, which will be great for writing out various options the players can have - such as choosing where to go to next. Which leads pretty nicely into the next topic...

 

Choosing Prototyping Tools

Stornaway.io logo
Stornaway.io logo

The first on the list is Stornaway.io, a service that lets users create interactive movies and games. I've seen some great Youtube projects that have used this to create a visually interactive "Choose your own adventure" series, however it sadly will not work for this project.


Whilst you can add scripts to your 'story islands', these scripts cannot be visually shown on screen sadly. So for a text-based adventure game, it won't work. They do, however, provide that handy dandy document I mentioned previously - that is, their interactive screenplay document. I've been in touch with their CEO about it and Ru is a super friendly person, so maybe they will add in functionality to import screenplays into story islands in the future, but for now it will have to be just the document!


Twine logo
Twine logo

Next up is Twine. I thought this might be a pretty good tool to try out, but for whatever reason I seem to be getting problems with it. The kind where all the passages are suddenly gone from the screen so I cannot find them, edit, or add new ones since they just...don't show. This seems to have been caused when trying to zoom in/out. New projects don't have this issue, but then the work is going to be a lot of tedious copying and pasting if it breaks again later. It's deterred me from using it right now, but maybe I'll come back to again if this seems like the most efficient tool for creating a prototype in.


Yarn Spinner logo
Yarn Spinner logo

Yarn Spinner is one that I hadn't come across before. Its a package built for Unity that allows for easier creation of visual novel / choose your own adventure style projects. Its got some very thorough documentation and examples for how to incorporate Yarn into a new Unity project. Its pretty hefty but honestly is a great route to go once all assets are ready for importing.


Inky logo
Inky logo

This is the last of the main tools, a software called Inky by inkle. Its a narrative scripting language for games which, a bit like Stornaway and Twine, lets you see and test the script and choices in real time. Its a simple language to get the hang of and, combined with the integration package for Unity, looks like another plausible route to take this project. Doing some little scripts in Unity allows for reading ink files and importing them easily into dialogues, including throwing in tags for when you want something to change - like the colour of certain text, or changing a sprite's animations.

 

Closing Thoughts


This is the main stuff for updates. A group assignment is due in the next couple of days, so I've been focusing primarily on that and doing some small portions of work for this project here and there. It will be nice to be able to focus solely on this project once that it complete!

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I will, however, end this post with one little thing I've cooked up - a new (and better quality) image for Allan Veritas! So, thanks for reading (especially you, professors) and see you next time. Buh bye! :)


Updated Sprite for Allan Veritas
Updated Sprite for Allan Veritas

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