In Peace (Processing)
Time-frame of project: Fall 2011
Project status: complete
Download here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12844369/InPeace%20Mac.zip (mac) , http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12844369/inPeace%20Windows.zip (PC)
View design document here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SWRTFC44X8xkGV2oXplV5wCAzcEaHAy5vPcB12Adr7E/edit
In Peace was a project I created by myself for my Interactive Narrative class that I took in the fall of 2011. It was my submission for the class’ final project, where we were assigned to create an interactive narrative experience. I opted to go for a minimalist narrative, instead utilizing my little time allotted for the assignment to focus on the integration of gameplay mechanics and narrative, in an attempt to fuse the two as seamlessly as possible.
The game is a top-down, 2D maze game created in Processing. The player controls a ghost character in a single environment over a small amount of time in an attempt to figure out why they are there and why they had died. The player moves their character around a house and will come across certain items that can prompt a flashback image of the character’s past, which will help the player piece together the character’s past. The game takes place over one “night”, although only lasts for four real-time minutes.
Given the limited time allotted for the project, I decided to try my best implementing one core gameplay mechanic that felt most “ghost-like”, namely the interaction with the human characters in the game. The house is filled with three different NPCs that move around at different times during the night, each with a significant story purpose. However I wanted to take this opportunity to explore a gameplay mechanic that would represent what a relationship between a ghost and a human would be like.
I decided that the most interesting theme I could explore with a mechanic was that of ghosts scaring and haunting humans in a house. I thought a neat idea would be to justify the need for ghosts to scare humans because just the presence of a living being drains the energy of the ghost (essentially the health bar for the ghost). In order to remain in existence, the ghost must distance himself from the living being. If the ghost cannot leave, he must scare the human away. Originally I wanted to have more in-depth mechanics for different ways to scare humans away, but in the end I just have a generic “ghost howl” button that lets out a howl that scares any humans nearby away, but also drains the ghost of energy, so they cannot use the ability too often.
Ultimately the game is a little more shallow than originally intended due to lack of time, but I think the game manages to give the player a unique experience of seeing things from a ghost’s perspective. I would of liked to have some of the artwork re-done, but my friend Josh Peel who did the artwork on the game has so far not had enough spare time to redo some of the art (and color in any of the flashback images and re-drawing the sprites to be more obviously human characters). I would of liked to explore the game mechanics in the game more, but due to the nature of the project I dedicated a lot more time to rewriting the story elements than I originally intended to, as I decided to come up with different flashback images that would create different narratives in the player’s head depending on how many they found and in what order they found them in. This can range from the player believing that they were murdered by the man living in the house, to a realization that the wife and child in the house are the player-character’s family, to the realization that the player-character’s past wife killed him with a clock for being an abusive drunk. The idea was that by removing as much exposition as possible, the player is more easily sucked into the gameplay experience instead of relating things to a third person (such as having the player think “that was my wife” instead of “that was the main character’s wife”).