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Final Project

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After much deliberation, I decided last week that I would make a game for the final project. Initially I had wanted to do something with photography, perhaps continuing the daily shoot or experimenting with taking portraits of strangers as noise professor has been doing. But I settled on a game for two reasons: first, creating one has always been something which piqued my interest. Second, Dr. Whalen’s Electronic Literature class made a strong case for games being a legitimate medium with which to tell a story. For an example of this, play Passage. Alternatively, a rich source of narrative is the world of interactive fiction; Photopia is a excellent place to start.

Before getting into the details, I invite you to take a look at a very rough start at the game I’m working on. It’s more of a proof-of-concept than a real game. Flash is required to “play;” I wanted to make the game accessible to a broad audience.

Click on the game area. Press arrow keys to move. Hold shift to run.

Ok, back? Great. I’ve been exploring a couple possibilities in terms of the theme and narrative for the game. The initial idea was to do a ds106 parody – take a variety of themes and memorable moments from the class, and spoof them to comedic effect. I’m leaning against doing that now (sorry, Jim!). The biggest reason is that I’m more interested in creating a game with a less comedic tone. Secondary to that is that everyone’s experience with the course has been different enough that it could be difficult to identify material which is meaningful to each of you, not just to me. Consequently, what’s likely to happen is that I do a “serious work” that might weave in some course themes and references, if it can be done in a non-detracting way.

Themes and ideas I am interested in exploring are:

  • Can a lofi game like the above be at least as immersive or powerful as a modern game through thoughtful use of sound and narrative elements?
  • The feeling created by different kinds of physical space.
  • The feeling created by light versus dark
  • The feeling created by the seen versus the unseen.
  • The feeling created by limited resources.
  • Danger.
  • Isolation.
  • Alone?

A tall order indeed, we will have to see how this plays out over the rest of the semester. But I expect to enjoy the process regardless.

The game will be made using Flash, which was a pleasant surprise for me. I had assumed that I’d have to do something Windows-only that people would need to download and install; that Flash still required really expensive tools to work with. But as it happens, that’s no longer the case – everything I need to get going is free. I’m using flashPunk as a basic game engine, see this if you’re curious about how I got everything up and running. (A quick plug for LÖVE, which looks super great if I wanted to created a downloadable game. Maybe next time…)

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