Narrative Research – Crafting The Story

In this research, I look into several different narratives as well as narrative styles in order to get an idea of how the story for my game should be and what it should include.

 

Basic Story Structure

story-structure

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/xHK9kKYrOK6DvoHvlt8P95oYxYQK_1hvR6dd2eI_akB61KjysdAxj2A30aPMkO2Q1ivC=s121)

The first thing I looked into was basic story structure. I found this useful graph on Google Images and decided to use it as it explains the most basic elements of narrative building quite well and will be useful for when I write the narrative for my game. From this, I can gather that stories are made up of several key parts:

  • Exposition
  • Conflict
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Denouement

If the narrative of my game is to be of a good standard, it would be wise to incorporate most of if not all of these elements. The game should begin at a low action point and then slowly rise, having several conflicts throughout the story before the climax. These should be resolves by the end in order to give the player satisfaction upon completing it.
I will now look at several existing story structures that I came across during my research, that I found interesting and that could be influential when I write the narrative for my game.

 

Telltale Games – The Walking Dead

walkingdead

(http://joyreactor.cc/search/the%2Bwalking%2Bdead%2Bgame)

This is the first of the interesting story structures I came across. The Walking Dead is a videogame that uses the story as its main mechanic. The player makes choices for the characters that determine certain outcomes in the overall narrative. For example, if the characters in the game are attacked by zombies, the player can choose what the characters should do in response (i.e. run, fend them off etc.). Their decision can then have a massive impact on the direction in which the narrative goes, for example one of the characters could die, the group could become trapped or they could lose all their supplies.

The game utilises a very interesting method of storytelling, and is perhaps something that I could incorporate into my game. Upon further research into this style of narrative, I came across a website entitled Twinery. Its purpose is to allow story writers to tell nonlinear, branching tales just like The Walking Dead. It may be a good idea to use this tool when writing my own.

 

Doctor Who – Midnight

midnight

(https://harmonycity.deviantart.com/)

I have visited Doctor Who previously when researching for my game. There was a monster in the show that I thought could inspire the Unseen, as there were elements of it (shadowy, skulls etc.) that I thought would be interesting to incorporate. The ideas I got from the monster were ultimately not used for the Unseen in the end (as I decided the other creature ideas were more interesting) but Doctor Who is still a good area for research, particularly of the genre that my game is. So I decided to return to it, and I found a great deal of ideas.

The Doctor Who episode called Midnight is about a group of people who go exploring on a diamond planet (see above) using a bus-style vehicle. They know there is no life on the planet because the Sun’s rays are too powerful for there to be any. However, as they explore something starts banging on the roof of the vehicle. The lights then go out and one of the crew members starts acting strangely, repeating everything said to them. It then becomes clear that a creature from outside has taken over the crew member. The creature is defeated in the end as one of the other crew members sacrifices themselves by taking the infected member outside into the deadly Sun’s rays, presumably killing them both.

What interests me the most about this episode is how little is revealed about the creature. You never knew what it looked like, what it wanted, or what it actually was. This is the sort of idea I want to use for the Unseen. Other than finding out they are not native to the planet, I don’t want to reveal anything else about them to the player. One of the best things about the Midnight creature and the monster from Alien was how much they are shrouded in mystery, as it makes the player think and be curious about them. Since the game will be largely mystery-based, this seems like a very good idea to incorporate around the Unseen.

 

Batman: Arkham Knight – Stealth/Story Based Locations

arkhamknight

(https://ebgames.com.au/ps4-200008-Batman-Arkham-Knight-PlayStation-4)

I looked into several games for this, and Arkham Knight was the best example I came across. The game I am making will incorporate stealth majorly as several of the main mechanics are built around it. Therefore it makes sense to incorporate elements of the stealth into the story. In Arkham Knight, there are several story locations where stealth is a necessity. Batman (the titular character) must move around without being seen and take out various thugs and henchmen in order to proceed to the next location. Stealth is a big part of Arkham Knight, and it is incoporated into the main story very well.

There will most likely be several story-based locations in my game. One of the main ideas I came up with previously is that the player will need to move around to collect parts to fix their spaceship. There will therefore be several locations the player will need to travel to, and it makes sense to incorporate story elements there. For example, there could be a large area where the Unseen are roaming around and stealth will be a necessity in order to navigate the area and reach whatever goal the player needs to reach. This would be a good way of incorporating some of the main mechanics into the story.

 

Elite Dangerous – Event Based Story

elitedangerous

(https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/355713-Alien-archeology-and-other-mysteries-Thread-10-The-Canonn/page44)

This game became very famous overnight this year. It is an open-universe exploration game, where the player owns a spaceship and goes around mining and collecting bounties for profit. It had a fairly large fanbase before the Event but afterwards it got a lot of media attention.

In Elite Dangerous, there are no aliens. All the characters are human. there have been various hints to alien civilisations (crashed ships, ruined cities etc.) but nothing concrete. Earlier this year, a player managed to trigger an Event. They were suddenly pulled out of hyperspace, and were confronted with a massive alien ship that proceeded to scan them and then warp away. This Event went viral: aliens were confirmed to exist in the game, and the game had been out for several years and nobody had ever come across this Event before.

The story for Elite Dangerous is event based. It requires the player to do certain things and explore certain areas which will then trigger events that further the narrative.
This is the style of story that I would like to use in my game. The player will be exploring and then may stumble across an area that will then trigger an event, for example they could encounter the Unseen for the first time, or maybe find a huge spaceship that will tell them where the Unseen came from, or something like that. As it is an open world exploration game, the story should rely on the player actually exploring and visiting locations that will further the narrative.

 

Overall then, I have found several different influences that will help me write the story for my game. I know already that the story will revolve largely around the Unseen, and the Doctor Who research has helped to convince me to keep as much of the Unseen a mystery as possible, as it will intrigue players and will also make for an interesting story. Some parts will be told (for example how they arrived on the planet) but the Unseen will mostly be a mystery.

The narrative will also be event-based: it will require the player to explore in order to continue the story. For example, reaching one of the pieces of the spaceship may trigger an event and an Unseen will appear. The player will then have to decide what to do( i.e. run away, try to fight it etc.). There will also be several story-based locations that will incorporate some of the main mechanics into the story (such as stealth and the pickupable items) as this will encourage the player to explore more in order to find items to help them advance the narrative.

The story will be fairly linear, as I think in an open world exploration game this might be best. Giving players too much choice can be an issue, and since the game is event based the player can already choose what parts of the story to do at certain points. Giving them a choice of how that event unfolds makes the story very complicated and possibly too open, as some decisions need to be made for the player in order for a story to be told. The narrative therefore will be largely linear, but it will also contain choices that the player can make to influence some parts of it.

The various elements of the game’s story are now largely in place. I just need to write it.

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Creature Research – Improving The Aliens

In this research I look into creatures in tv/movies and videogames in order to try and get an idea of what the hostile alien creatures could look like in my game, and then potentially use these ideas for the games narrative.

 

Alien: Isolation – The Alien

Ah, this old chestnut. I find myself coming back to this game over and over again when researching for mine, and the reason is because it’s a damn good game, and also because it shares many similarities with the concept for my game making it a useful springboard to take some leaps off research-wise.

alienisolation

(http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/9817-Alien-Isolation-Review)

Lets take a look at the main antagonist of Alien: Isolation. It is a massive towering Alien that hunts the player constantly over the course of the game, and is completely unkillable. The player can scare it off temporarily with fire, but it will always come back. The Alien is terrifying. It can go anywhere you can, and if you can’t see it it could be literally anywhere around you in the game. For example, you could be running down a corridor and hear rattling or foosteps around you, so you duck into a nearby ventilation shaft to hide. You peer out of the small hatch, waiting for the Alien to go past. But it doesn’t. Then, you hear a hiss from behind you. You turn slowly, and there it is.
You’re dead.

That is just an example of the many terrifying encounters with this horrific creature you can have in Alien: Isolation. It is honestly one the scariest games I have ever played, and this makes the Alien in the game of particular interest as I could use elements of it to influence the aliens of my game; such as the way it hunts the player for example. The hiding mechanic in this game is also interesting, as the player cannot kill the Alien so hiding is the only method of evasion. This could also be an interesting idea for my game.

 

Don’t Starve – The Insanity Monsters

Insanity

(https://www.gameskinny.com/sqfsm/how-did-indie-developers-become-the-kings-of-survival-games)

The monsters used in this game are very interesting. In Don’t Starve, the player has a sanity level. The more time they spend alone on the island they are trapped on, the more their sanity level drops. If it drops below a certain point, then the Insanity Monsters come. They are not actually real (or are they?) as supposedly they are just figments of the players insanity. They roam around the player becoming more and more apparent as their sanity level continues to drop. Eventually, they attack the player and can kill them, which would tend to suggest they are real, but that’s another discussion.

Like my game, Don’t Starve is in 2D. The Insanity Monsters are also 2D (obviously) which makes them useful for research as the creatures in my game will need to be of two dimensions also. The Monsters behavioral pattern (patrolling around the player and then attacking) is also of interest. One thing that has not been decided yet for the creatures in my game is their behavioral patterns. In the prototypes they have a simple AI system just to show off what they could be like, but in the full game they would be much more complex. The monsters from Don’t Starve could be very useful in both design and programming aspects.

 

Doctor Who – The Vashta Nerada

vashta

(https://aminoapps.com/c/doctor-who/page/blog/angel-bobs-top-10-favourite-villains-part-1-10-5/KVtM_uB4N6dPnevplzRjnWJ4EQ0w6x)

Now for something a little bit different. Moving away from videogames, I started to look at monsters in TV and movies. I came across these after a while: the Vashta Nerada from Doctor Who. They are monsters that live in and control certain shadows. If the shadows touch you, then this happens:

vashta2

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/s4/episodes/?episode=s4_08&action=quiz)

You die, essentially.
These shadow monsters are very interesting, as they operate in a unique way to other monsters (hiding in plain sight) and also use shadows.

The player can barely see as it is as the planet in my game is in near darkness most of the time (and the player must use a torch to see), and the times that it isn’t in near darkness, it’s in pitch blackness (due to the Sun the alien planet in the game has). The player will need to rely on the sounds the alien creatures make in order to evade them. Perhaps making the creatures semi-visible or even invisible would add to their threat level, as well as making them a bit scarier and more difficult to combat.

The Vashta Nerada are very interesting creatures and I could definitely take inspiration from certain elements of them when designing the characteristics of the aliens in my game. The elements I could take from them are the actual shadows (design-wise) that they use and maybe their behavioural patterns too.

 

Lost – The Smoke Monster

lost

(https://io9.gizmodo.com/5474232/losts-greatest-character-arcs-that-went-nowhere)

The smoke monster in the tv show Lost was apparently a great mystery. Not much was known about it; it was hardly seen and even when it was it didn’t stick around for long. The basic plot of the show was that a group of people become stranded on a jungle island. In the first episode, a loud noise can be heard from deep inside the jungle. The people (on the beach) look across the jungle and see trees being knocked over, as well as a deafening roar sounding. The mystery of this creature along with its very interesting yet largely unknown characteristics (not being seen, knocking over trees etc.) could be very useful for designing the behaviours of the creatures in my game.

 

The Aliens In My Game

The main purpose of this research was to get an idea of what they will be like, so that they can be written effectively into the main narrative of the game. Since narrative is my minor in this project, it is important to write an interesting story and to incorporate the main antagonists of the game into it well.

New Piskel2

Here are two very rough sketch ideas for what the aliens could now look like, based off this research. The first draws heavily from Alien, whereas the second is a combination of ideas from Don’t Starve and some of the shadows from Doctor Whos Vashta Nerada. I will use these sketches as a basis for what they could be like when I write the narrative. They do not need to be massively detailed at this time, as it is not neccessary for the story, I just need to have a rough idea of what they could be like.

The Smoke Monster from Lost is also very interesting, and I think elements of it are too good to go unused in my narrative. I particularly liked the idea of an unknown monster knocking trees down and being largely unseen by the player, so I may incorporate that in some way as a good mystery in a game is always interesting. It will also add to the lore of the planet and may even be a part of the main story.

From what I have gathered from this and previous research, the aliens should be shadowy-dark creatures that hunt the player. They are difficult to spot, and so the player must rely on sound to evade them. They will not patrol particularly fast, however if they spot the player then they will move very quickly to get to them. In the game, their footsteps will be heard loudly so the player will know they are coming if they are paying attention. They should be able to scale certain parts of the jungle, but are not able to fly or climb vertical areas. They cannot be all powerful as it would make the game too difficult; they need to be evadable either by hiding or by getting far enough away. The creatures cannot be killed, so evasion is the only option.

 

 

 

Game Research – Looking at Atmosphere + Mechanics

In this post I look at several different games that have similar elements to my game idea and how I can take these into account when building my prototypes. Having just massively changed my pitch (see previous Environmental Research), I now need to dive into more research so I can get a good idea of how I want my game to be.

 

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

origins

(https://www.gamer.no/spill/assassin-s-creed-origins-ps4/263545)

This is the first game I looked at when deciding on the main mechanics of the new pitch. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an action/stealth game set in Ancient Egypt, and there is a small part of the gameplay that takes place inside the Pyramids. Players must navigate through said Pyramids and complete puzzles to get to the treasure, but certain traps and events in there can kill them. I noticed the similarity between my main mechanic and this, and also took into account several elements from the Pyramids; namely the darkness and how the player had to use a torch in order to see. I liked this and thought it would add a lot to the atmosphere and gameplay of my game, which is why torchlight was added to the pitch.

I then came back to this game for later research, and discovered other ideas that I thought were interesting. One was the Phylakes; a very tough, almost unkillable enemy. In Origins they relentlessly pursue the player and will kill them on sight, and it isn’t until the very end of the game that the player can kill them, and even then they are still very tough. I found it quite unnerving and scary when I was doing a mission or clearing out an enemy camp and a message pops up: “The Phylake is near! Run!” and I knew I had to run, because I could not kill them. I didn’t even see a Phylake until a good few hours into the game as I was always long gone by the time they showed up thanks to the warning message. I didn’t want to mess with them.

I think this idea also could be incorporated into the game. I know I want enemies that can harm the player in the game, but I really like the idea that they are tough/unkillable and that stealth should be emphasized much more than the idea of fighting the enemies. This would add to the mysteriousness of the planet and would make the game much more interesting, I think.

 

Alien: Isolation

alienisolation

(https://store.silagames.com/es/game/1044/alien-isolation-safe-haven/)

This is the second game I researched. This is Alien Isolation, a horror game set aboard a space station where the player must avoid an unkillable Alien and escape.

For this research I focused mainly on the atmosphere of the game. I liked how dark the environment was and how the player had to rely on hearing and other means in order to avoid detection. It is a very scary game, and the atmosphere for it is incredible. The darkness combined with a deadly unkillable threat makes for a very interesting and replayable game also, which is always good.

alienisolation2

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/7Q3pPjJNEASvNQq-P7l4lV90H8IF-ZWG9wGUrn1Do17bta8GiXUD4siSLH11yJmNJ7H1vJQ=s151)

One of the main mechanics for the game is in avoiding the Alien. The player can run away, try to scare the creature off with fire (which doesn’t always work!) or can hide. The hiding mechanics I’d say are arguably the best part of the game.

The most interesting place for this is in the ventilation system. Players can crawl in here to hide from the Alien, but the vents are a dark place. They must use a torch to see, and even then the maze that is the ventilation system presents it’s own threat. You may come out far from where you were before, and could be completely lost.
And that’s not all. The vents have their own set of scary; there could be anything in them. Small facehugger aliens roam these dark corridors, as well as the Alien itself sometimes. The player is never truly safe.

The hiding mechanics are the thing I find most interesting about Alien: Isolation. If the monsters in my game are going to be unkillable, then there needs to be a way to get away from/hide from them. Hiding could be a very interesting secondary mechanic to my game. It could actually be incorporated into the main mechanic too; perhaps the player can use the interactive environment around them to deter/hide from the monsters that pursue them. There are endless possibilities that could be explored.

 

Starbound

starbound

(http://premieresolutions.com/lib/download-photothermal-investigations-of-solids-and-fluids.htm)

This is the third game I researched. It has one very different aspect to the other games; it’s 2D. I’m fairly certain I want my prototypes to also be in 2D, as I am more familiar with 2D coding and this would allow me to better show off my mechanics, rather than having to learn 3D code and hoping I could do the mechanics as well. Therefore I felt it was best to research a 2D game too, and Starbound was one that sprang to mind.

Starbound is a 2D survival exploration game where the player explores star systems using their spacecraft and gathers resources to build armour and weapons.

There are several aspects of Starbound that I found interesting. I really liked the exploration side of it; flying around in your spacecraft exploring many different types of planet. In my game there will only be one planet, but it would be fully explorable and exploration is one of the main elements of the game.

There are also certain areas in Starbound that are in complete darkness. Caving is an important aspect of the game (and caves are dark) and some planets have no Sun. In these circumstances the player uses a torch and other light sources in order to see.

starbound3

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/rSVmxNcfdE3er51BCN__XW7J3nR0s9SQBZfLLvNzthXufpi_I_c-EA-SyANXdQbU3HnF=s143)

Torchlight will be an important aspect of my game; so I felt it was a relevant part of Starbound to research. The lighting mechanics of it are interesting, and I like the cone-torch mechanic. This style of torchlight may be a similar one to what I incorporate into my game. The game also has a weapons system, where players can find items and use them to fight various aliens throughout the game, which is an interesting mechanic, and an inventory system isn’t something that has been considered yet for my game.

Overall I’d say the exploration and lighting mechanics will be the main ideas I will take forward from this game, as well as perhaps looking into some kind of inventory system. I really like the exploration aspect of it and it is encouraging to see that a 2D space exploration game is not only possible, but highly enjoyable.

 

Ori And The Blind Forest

ori

(http://bupp.at/de/spiele/ori-and-blind-forest)

This is the final game of this research post. I wanted to look at this one particularly as it contains elements that are similar to some of the ideas I had for my game, for example the open world.

Ori’s world is not procedurally generated; it is a massive open area that the player is free to explore and is massively detailed. The player can find upgrades for their character by exploring and also easter eggs and map pieces. The exploration side of Ori is a lot of fun and a key part of the gameplay.

2562384-ori-screenshot17

(http://joyreactor.cc/tag/wallpaper/new/24)

The game is also set in a massive forest, which not only looks amazing but also plays well into the mechanics of the game; using the main character’s special abilities to navigate around. Similarly to Starbound it also has an inventory system, except this one is much simpler; it has a couple different ways of attacking the enemy and manouvring around the environment, and that is it.

There are a fair few elements of this game that are similar to mine (namely the forest setting) so looking into this closely for inspiration is probably a good idea. This game is also a good showcase for why the alien planet in my game should not be procedurally generated; it is very clean and well designed, as well as being linear enough so that the storyline is easy to follow but not so linear that the world is not open enough for exploration. The simple inventory system may also be worth looking into, as it adds more gameplay to the game as well as giving the player something else to do. The open world of Ori And The Blind Forest also has exactly the style of world that I think my game should have. When designing mine, this game will be very useful for potential ideas and inspiration.

 

So what I have gathered from this research is a decent amount of ideas and mechanics for my game; I know it will be 2D now as I am more skilled in 2D Unity and it will be easier for me to code more complex mechanics into that rather than having to learn 3D Unity and trying to code my game mechanics into that. I have also seen in games like Starbound and Ori And The Blind Forest that it is possible to have a highly enjoyable and interesting 2D exploration game and so I will take that forward too.
The atmosphere that Alien: Isolation and some parts of Assassin’s Creed: Origins have will also help me create my own mysterious-but-not-horror atmosphere, as there are elements from each game that have inspired parts of my own (for example I know now that I want the main antagonists of my game to be unkillable) so I will take this forward also. Several of the games researched also have an inventory system, which adds to the gameplay by encouraging the player to build weapons or devices, and is an interesting element for these games to have. It is definitely worth looking into in order to “fill out” my game a little more. Overall I now have a good idea for several mechanics as well as an atmosphere and antagonists, so it is just a case of creating some logic to the game world and then starting prototypes.

 

 

Environment Research – Creating The Planet

This is a follow up research post to my Games Development Week 2 update.

Here I dive into some environmental research where I try to decide what the alien planet in the game should be like, in order to style the interactive objects around it as well as begin creating prototypes.

desert-dream-4

(http://sahara-desert-dream.com/)

forest

http://www.innasol.com/our-offering/case-studies/)

snow

(https://pic2.me/wallpaper/148311.html)

Here are several wildly different environments that the game’s alien planet could potentially be based around. I decided the best way to decide how the planet should look was to look at several different biomes and areas on Earth and then take one as a base model (e.g. sand, snow etc) and then expand on that for the actual environment idea.

forest2

(http://wwf.panda.org/uk/?307910/UA-forests-for-all)

A thick forest was the idea I then decided on. Since the game takes place on a dark planet where the player must use a torch in order to see, it makes more sense to have a more darker coloured environment such as a forest rather than snow or sand as they would be quite bright even in darkness. The game is also meant to be quite mysterious so a dark forest would add to this significantly. Forests are very often attributed to being creepy and scary particularly at night, so it makes a lot of sense to have this as the main setting for the game. Additionally the player will need to rely on listening and hearing certain sounds in the game so having ambient noise including the wind and trees moving will provide a certain atmosphere to the game that I think will fit nicely and will add to the mysterious element.

The main mechanic of the game will also benefit a lot from a forest-based environment, as interacting with certain objects will do certain things so it will be better to have an environment with lots of objects that the player can interact with (such as plants and trees, as well as certain amounts of wildlife) rather than just sand or snow.

forest_night-wallpaper-2560x1440

(http://wallpaperswide.com/forest_night-wallpapers.html)

Upon further research into forests, I came across this image. It depicts a tall, dark forest and I think it is a really good fit for a placeholder environment in the game. It’s quite mysterious, and the tall trees mean the environment could be transversed vertically as well as horizontally. This would make for some interesting gameplay as the player could not only transverse the forest floor, but also potentially head up into the trees and utilise to scout around or even hide from enemies.

As an environment I think the tall forest is the best option, as its the best fit for the main mechanics and the atmosphere of the game, as well as being interesting and by far having the most potential when it comes to creating mechanics based around it. The main mechanic is the interactive environment (touching certain objects changes the environment around the player) so having a lot of objects in a “busy” forest-based environment will be good for inspiration for the interactive environment as well as coming up with many different ways of doing them and how they will work.

(http://www.aquastudio.co.nz/landscapes/)

Jungles are the tallest of the forests on Earth, so having the environment in the game as jungle-based would be not only interesting in terms of ambient sounds but also in terms of navigation – perhaps having giant jungle trees to accompany the interactive environment mechanic would make for an exciting and interesting open world. Jungle trees are often very tall, so the player could also go upwards by climbing the trees as well as exploring on the ground. As stated previously, the player could scout around up there, or maybe even reach new game areas by jumping from tree to tree. Having a jungle-based environment would seem to add a great deal in terms of content and exploration.

Overall then, it seems that a forest of some kind is by far the best choice for the game. It offers the most potential in terms of interactive objects, as well as being very atmospheric and in line with the dark and mysterious style that the game will have. A jungle-style forest is the current favourite, due to the large trees and the ability for the player to navigate vertically in the game as well as horizontally.

Machine Research – Finding A Better “Paradox Glove”

Here is my follow-up to my Week 1 Development post, where I dive into some research into machines and try to come up with a better object than the Paradox Glove for the player to fix in the game. This object is key in the player’s role as a “Guardian”, so it needs to be designed well.

 

Initially, I consulted with a fellow Games student to try and drum up some ideas. This went well:

  • Mitten
  • O.V.E.N. G.L.O.V.E.
  • Fashion Accessory

Our idea generation then moved away from Gloves:

  • Aeonifier
  • surfing the waves of time
  • Timeboard
  • Time Plank
  • Time Shredder
  • Time Grinder

I was quite keen on the Aeonifier, but my fellow student insisted that the word aeon meant a long period of time, so the Aeonifier doesn’t make sense as a Paradox fixing thing. I still liked the idea, though.

 

Next I moved onto looking into modes of transportation, taking on the initial surfboard idea and trying to narrow down a specific object:

gfeaagagw

Here is my train of thought on these. All images are sourced from Google Images. I initially started looking at surfboard which led me onto skateboards and bicycles. I then started looking at the wheels a bit more closely, and at the same time started to think about what abilities the object would give the player. Can they fly?
That combined with the wheels thought led me onto planes. Specifically, I started to then look at seaplanes, but I then thought that they were a bit too on the nose transportation wise. Too basic and easy to come up with. I then moved onto boats and then considered a futuristic-style flying boat, but this has been done before in stories and other media. This then got me thinking about other methods of flying, once again looking towards planes. This time however I decided to go in a different direction, looking into hot air balloons. Airships/zeppelins were then the final thought. After a brief consultation with my fellow student again, we concluded that Airships are cool and definitely worth looking into more. Thus ending my train of research.

 

I then started to look in a completely different place, to have something to compare the Airship idea to. I started to research objects that are closer to a person, for example rings, gloves, hats etc.

My first thought was this: the Green Lantern ring. It allows its wearer to create whatever they can think of, as long as they have enough willpower to will it into existence. I thought it was an interesting concept and definitely worth considering on my quest to find an alternative to the Paradox Glove.

gedge

I then went into full thought-train mode, and came up with a bunch of ideas. The initial Paradox Glove idea led me onto things like rings and bracelets, with led me onto armbands. I then started to branch out with my thought process and went into hats, and then to shoes or glasses. I particularly liked the glasses idea, as they could be part of the player at all times and would also look interesting and give the player character.

 

I came away from this quick thought-process idea generation with a few main ideas. These were:

  • The Aeonifier
  • Airships
  • Glasses

While the Aeonifier is a good name, it doesn’t refer to any particular object. It could easily refer to the Airship or to Glasses. I felt at this point it was time to decide exactly what the player is going to fix in the game.

It wasn’t a difficult decision, really. The Airship was easily the most interesting of the ideas I had generated, and a Paradox/Time Airship has never been done before whereas Glasses with gadgets in them has been done so many times. I wanted the player to have something unique, so the Airship fits that quite well.

The Aeoniflyer.

 

 

 

 

 

Paradox Research – Travels Throughout Time

Here is the follow-up post to my Sound Of Thunder notes, in which I focused on Time Travel and Paradoxes in particular so I decided to research them further.

giphy

(https://giphy.com/gifs/back-to-the-future-3-part-KWH5j532Ce8Rq)

Paradox’s are an interesting subject, as there are many different theories and insights regarding them. None of them are provable so far, as Time Travel hasn’t been invented yet. Here are a few that I found interesting –

 

The Butterfly Effect

This theory is an important plot point in A Sound Of Thunder. The theory is that killing something as small as a butterfly while in the Past can have disastrous consequences on the future. Small actions can have massive ramifications.

For example, say somebody who has travelled to the Past (say, the 1950s) kicks a stone while walking down a road. This stone then rolls into the middle of the road. Some time later, a man crosses the road and trips on the stone. Because of this, a car swerves to avoid him and crashes into another car, killing both drivers. These drivers would have gone on to have children, but do not now as a direct result of the Traveller’s interference in the Past. Now in the present day, entire families have ceased to exist because the two drivers died when they shouldn’t have been in an accident in the first place. The accident only occurred because the Traveller kicked a stone.

bttf2

(A screenshot I took from the film Back To The Future II)

While researching, I found a good example of the Butterfly Effect in the movie Back To The Future II. The villain of the movie travels back in time to give his younger self a book detailing all the football scores throughout the next 50 years. Using this, the younger self bets on the football games and wins millions as he knows exactly who will win by using the book. This drastically alters the future as he builds up a billion dollar corporation of casinos and buys up a great deal of land, but mismanages it to the point where the city in which the film is set (Hill Valley) is overrun by crime and corruption, having previously been a nice and friendly city.

 

The Grandfather Paradox

This is the second of the theories I came to research. The theory for this one involves a Time Traveller going back in time to kill their Grandfather (hence the name of the paradox). If the Traveller does so, in killing their Grandfather they also prevent their own existence as the Grandfather is dead so they cannot have children, therefore the Traveller cannot be born. This therefore means that the Traveller ceases to exist, so they cannot have travelled into the Past to kill their Grandfather. So this means that the Grandfather is in fact alive, so the Traveller is therefore born. If this is the case, then the Traveller can travel into the Past to kill their Grandfather, so the cycle begins anew.

Confusing, right?

This is a paradox. Paradoxes (to quote Collins Dictionary) are situations containing two or more facts that contradict one another. The Grandfather Paradox is a good example of this because the events it describes cannot occur, at least in theory. Each time the Traveller “kills” their Grandfather the cycle repeats itself as the Traveller ceases to exist, therefore cannot kill their Grandfather, so their Grandfather is alive, so the Traveller does exist and kills their Grandfather, so the Traveller ceases to exist again, and so on.

There are two main theories as to what happens next; one is that the killing of the Grandfather simply cannot occur, and each time it is attempted Time simply resets. The other is that Time as a whole fractures when the Grandfather is killed and the Universe caves in.

 

The Predestination Paradox

This paradox theory is similar to the Grandfather Paradox. It is also known as a causal loop, and the simple explanation of it is this; it is a sequence of events in which one event is among the causes of another event, which in turn is among the causes of the first event.

You understand it now, right?

No?

*deep breath*

The best example of the Predestination Paradox I have found is in the movie Interstellar.

Spoilers ahead for the film. I’ll simplify it a bit because the film is rather complex.

blackhole

(http://cinefex.com/blog/interstellar-scientific-papers/)

The film is set in a future where the Earth is dying and the last of humanity is there dying with it. The main character Cooper (an ex astronaut) is given a set of coordinates via gravity waves from an unknown origin. He follows these which lead him to a NASA base where he uses his astronaut skills to fly a spacecraft into a wormhole to find a new planet for humanity. He finds said planet and humanity lives on amongst the stars. At some point far into the future humans develop the technology to manipulate gravity, so using this they then send the coordinates of the NASA base via gravity waves to Cooper, as gravity can transverse time.

This is a predestination paradox, as the technology needed to send Cooper the NASA coordinates is invented in a future in which Cooper had already succeeded in reaching the base by using the coordinates that had been sent to him using the technology. This is a loop as one event cannot exist without the other, as the Second Event (in the future) needed the First Event (Cooper) to happen in order to occur.

It’s a very confusing theory, I know.

 

The Flashpoint Paradox

This is the last of the paradox research I am doing today. It’s all been very entertaining but also very mind boggling.

So, the Flashpoint Paradox is a film. It details the most basic of paradoxes; changing something in the Past alters the future. I felt it should be included as it is a good example of a paradox and is also a great film.

SDMusicVampire_KEYART_R1.indd

(https://www.pinterest.com/pin/208995238936260729/)

The main character of the film (The Flash) lost his mother when he was little. The Flash has superpowers which enable him to run very fast and also travel through time by running fast enough to break through the barriers of time. He uses this to travel back in time and save his mother from being murdered, but in doing so changes the future significantly. Because his mother is now alive the Flash’s personality is different, and because of this he never becomes the Flash. As the Flash is a superhero who saves a lot of lives this change has a big effect on the future; war consumes this new timeline, and the Earth is on the brink of being destroyed by it. The Flash’s only choice is to run back in time again and kill his mother, to prevent this timeline from occurring.

The Flashpoint Paradox does a good job of illustrating both the standard paradox theory (changing things in the Past alters the Future) and the Butterfly Effect (as the Flash’s actions have humongous consequences on the Future).

 

Thoughts

Having examined a few paradox theories now, I can conclude that they are all very confusing. However they are also very interesting, and very cool base concepts for a videogame.

For example, a game could use the Butterfly Effect. The player could be sent into the Past in the game and interacting with certain objects could trigger a time distortion or changes to the game, so that when the player returns to the Present things are not as they left them.

Another example of usage in a videogame could be that players are in charge of fixing Paradoxs, so wormholes could open up at certain stages leading to different timezones or something along those lines. Perhaps players can travel to wherever they please, using a device of some sort.

From The Flashpoint Paradox, the plotline of a good person having to make a very difficult and soul destroying choice to let their mother die is a very intriguing concept (without trying to sound mean) and could also be an interesting idea to incorporate into a game.

From this research I have gathered a good amount of ideas and concepts, which I will bring forward in my journey towards a game concept.

A Sound Of Thunder – Story Notes

a-sound-of-thunder-

Image Link – http://www.scaryforkids.com/a-sound-of-thunder/

Here are some general notes I made while reading A Sound Of Thunder.

  • “Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?”
  • “We guarantee nothing”
  • “Stiff penalty”
  • Time machine description – ‘snaking and humming of wires and steel boxes, at an aurora that flickered now orange, now silver, now blue’
  • ‘A touch of the hand and this burning would, on the instant, reverse itself’
  • “Worst kind of dictatorship”
  • “An anti-everything man for you, anti-Christ, anti-human, anti-intellectual” – this is a really interesting quote. May use this for game ideas.
  • “Traveling you back sixty million years to bag the biggest game of all Time”
  • ‘Towards the silver metal and roaring light’
  • A really cool and interesting description of time travel –
    • ‘first a day and then a night and then a day and then a night, then it was day-night-day-night-day. A week, a month, a year, a decade!’
    • ‘Time was a film run backwards’
    • ‘Suns fled and ten million moons fled after them’
    • So far the most interesting aspects of A Sound Of Thunder have been the descriptions and elements of time travel. Time travel is quite an interesting basis for a video game so it may be worth researching further.
  • “Christ isn’t born yet”
  • “That, is the Path” – in the book the hunters must stay on a Path when they time travel. If they step off they risk tampering with the past and changing the future.
  • More future changing related quotes –
    • “We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past.”
    • “Anti-gravity metal”
    • “We might kill an important animal…thus destroying an important link in a growing species”
    • “Infinite billions of life forms are thrown into chaos and destruction”
    • “By stepping on one single mouse, the cave man starves”
    • “He is an entire future nation”
    • “Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids”
      • This quote is really interesting as it sums up paradoxes as a whole, while also delivering a powerful punchline to the paradox description in the book. I think research into paradoxes may also be a good avenue to go down.
  • “Maybe our theory is wrong” – suggests that their theory of paradoxes may be wrong – research different paradox theories
  • “We kill only animals with no future”
  • “Time doesn’t permit that sort of mess – a man meeting himself. When such occasions threaten, Time steps aside. Like an airplane hitting an air pocket.”another great paradox theory – definitely worth researching
  • ‘The jungle was the entire world forever and forever’
  • ‘Soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever’
  • “Don’t even aim for fun, blast you! If your guns should go off-“
  • A dark and scary description in order to introduce the monster – the dinosaur – into the story –
    • ‘Out of the mist, one hundred yards away, came Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
    • ‘It towered thirty feet above half the trees’
    • ‘A thousand pounds of white bone’
    • ‘The mall of a terrible warrior’
    • “It could reach up and grab the moon”
  • “We were fools to come. This is impossible.” – One character is terrified by the dinosaur and uses a very intriguing sentence to describe the monster.
  • ‘stepped off the Path’ – a character steps off the Path and begins to change the future by stepping on plants and other ancient organisms.
  • ‘The Monster lay, a hill of solid flesh’
  • “He left the Path!…Who knows what he’s done to Time, to History!”
  • They don’t belong in the Past, they might change anything.”
  • “I’m warning you Eckels, I might kill you yet.”
  • At this point the Time Travellers have discovered that a person stepped off the Path, since they don’t know what will happen to the Future (they have only theories) they travel back to see.
  • ‘1492, 1776, 1812…1999, 2000, 2055’ – a different description is used to describe the return Time Travel journey – it’s lighter and a lot simpler but still gets the point across – you still understand what is occurring
  • ‘The room was there as they had left it. But not the same as they had left it.’ – an interesting description that instantly tells the reader that something is wrong – a change to the future has indeed occurred
  • ‘There was a thing to the air, a chemical taint so subtle, so slight, that only a faint cry of his subliminal senses warned him it was there…There was a feel…What sort of world is was now, there was no telling.” – describing the effect changing the future has on the Time Travellers. They know something is wrong but can’t quite put their finger on it. A subliminal message is their only clue.
  • “No, it can’t be. Not a little thing like that. No!”
  • ‘Embedded in the mud…was a butterfly, very beautiful and very dead.’
  • “Killing one butterfly couldn’t be that important! Could it?”
    • Research – The Butterfly Effect
  • ‘There was a sound of thunder.”

 

Overall I enjoyed A Sound Of Thunder. It had an interesting story as well as a unique take on Time Travel. I particularly liked the descriptions of Time Travel and how it was represented in the story.

In terms of game ideas what is immediately jumping out at me from reading this is Paradoxes. One of the character’s described a paradox early in the story that intrigued me – “Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids”.

Since obviously they can’t be caused right now as the technology doesn’t exist yet, all their is in terms of paradox research are theories. These could be a really interesting mechanic or story idea for a game:

  • Perhaps stepping on something or moving something in a game changes the layout of the map?
  • Perhaps the main purpose in the game is to go back and save someone but paradoxes play into that?
  • Perhaps different paradox theories could play out as mechanics e.g. the destruction of Time

These are all just wild ideas at the moment but I do think having a base idea of Paradoxes is a very cool and interesting springboard to create a game out of.