Narrative in Games Final – A Sci-fi Choose Your Own Adventure

After reading the back story, when presented with options, choose one and proceed to read from the number to the right of your choice. Do not read straight through or it won’t make sense (it might not make sense anyways, but that is my fault, not yours).

There are supplemental articles linked below for you to read which are about the science and news that is happening now. These articles inspired me to write this future world.

When finished, please leave a comment. This is a work in progress so suggestions, criticisms, and everything else is very, very welcome.

Thanks for reading.

The story so far. . .

In the year 2005, the population of Earth was 6.51B and the global growth rate was 1.98%. In 2006, the growth rate unexpectedly began to decrease rapidly. By the end of 2007, the global growth rate had shrunk to 0.1%. Each following year, the rate remained devastatingly low. No one country was more or less affected; the entire world was united in the crisis. Political, scientific, and theological theories were constantly being pursued in the hopes of finding a solution. Even with the entire world working to solve the mystery of declining fertility rates, in 2112, humanity was no closer than it was to finding a solution in 2007.
Global economy, politics, and genetic dispersions were superlatively changed by this shrinking growth rate. Countries that had been near-crippled by growth rates of 2%-3% were now able to catch up in the global economy. Those who could afford to adopt, the wealthiest 5% of the world, did so with a zeal. As a result of poorer countries encouraging immigrative adoption, with the accompanying tariffs, were nearly cleaned out of children, like the shelves of a grocery store before a hurricane.
The United States was the only other country, besides Russia, to realize the defensive threat posed by not having a large enough population of young healthy people to fight wars. Russia and the US began a different kind of arms race, a mass grab for children. By subsidizing adoption, creating a new department of the government to handle relocation, offering tax credits for adopting parents, and ramping up the investment into automated/semi-automated war machines.
Turmoil and war flooded the globe. Numerous religions saw this as a sign of the apocalypse. In 2019, the Islamic world rejoiced as the major Allamahs (Islamic Philosophers) from both Sunni and Shia Islam announced the re-joining of the two sects. In response, India launched a massive nuclear attack against Pakistan, then the Middle East, and then Indonesia. Pakistan’s response was quick enough that it managed to prevent 50% of the nuclear payloads from being delivered to Indonesia. Many islands were literally sunk into the sea and 99.9% of the population was destroyed. The resulting “nuclear holocaust” only further declined global population. Serendipitous winds carried the radiation to the most “favorable” spots, preventing an extinction level event. Mass migrations occurred and borders became almost meaningless. A large swath of the world was now the world’s largest tomb.
In between 2019 and 2112, the world witnessed its greatest setbacks but also its greatest triumphs. 2025 was the year of Cold Fusion and the end of ever needing “energy” in the conventional sense. 2035 resulted in the privatization of the Earth. It was Split into three major sections: Asia, Americas, and Eurafrica. Jingkrock, Inc., Washington, Inc. and Youtzallee, Inc., were the three Conglomeracies that ruled the world. Democracy was adulterated into a stock market-like system and the power of a person was determined by how many dollars they had. Surveillance technology advancement meant that crime was almost non-existent and espionage was pointless. A world currency was established, and humanity thrived.
A zoonotic plague occurred in 2045. Zoonosis is the transfer of infectious diseases from animals to humans. The Space-Bug Plague was not fatal. There were zero reported cases of death or discomfort even though within a week the entire population was infected. The tiny creatures that transmitted the disease through scratch or bite arrived in the Chihuahuan Desert aboard a crashing meteorite. Because the resilient alien was able to withstand the harshest climates of earth, including riding aboard jets, ocean waves, sand grains, and worst, the wind. These flying-space-bugs were naked to the human eye but under a microscope they were terrifying. They scared the population so much that it was decided that the surface of the planet wasn’t safe enough. The alien invasion meant that the population needed to flee.
To maintain redundant fail-safe measures, two separate environments were created. One was in the mesosphere, and used a combination of advanced gravitational tethering and lighter than air structures. These huge cities in the sky allowed for total environmental control, and the best view of space was guaranteed. The flying-space-bugs could not survive at that elevation, nor could they survive 100km below the Earth’s surface. Huge virtual worlds were created underground. Giant re-creations of the past existed in the underground city of New San Francisco 1995 or New York 1901. No headsets or peripherals were needed to enjoy these virtual cities because they consisted of hard-light holographics which could simulate sight and touch.

From 2045 to 2094, the world separated rapidly. The Floatillas above and the E-earth below quickly ignored and neglected the people of the surface. The surface level was given the name of the Mid. Both “privileged” societies also began to purge their utopias of unwanted genetic material and criminals. As a result, decay crept in and the Mid became the rotten meat in between two pieces of paradise bread. You were born in the Mid in 2094.

You are peering out at three objects: a blue sphere, a yellow pyramid, and a green square. You reach forward and take: blue—>(2) yellow—>(3)green—>(4)

You hold the blue sphere in your hand. A man and a woman stand in front of you writing on tablets. You are six years old. You throw the ball and the man and woman dive out of the way. You start to say, “I’m sorry, I just meant to throw it towards you, not at you,” but you stop. This man and woman aren’t your parents. You don’t have any parents. The closest you’ve ever come was Kylee. Kylee was a sweet old receptionist who took a special interest in you. Before she died, Kylee used to tell you all she could remember about when you arrived at the Relocation Department’s facility. She would tell you, “It was a beautiful day, a Wednesday, and you were the only one they brought in that entire week. Usually, there were at least a dozen infants a week. As a result, you were given special attention and I remember hearing Jonah say, ‘We are going to make a lot of money from this little guy.’ He was talking about the fact that for a whole month no recorded surface levels births occurred but yours.”

You pick up the blue ball and begin to have another memory—>(6)

You pick up the blue ball, pocket it, and then do a throwing motion towards the man and woman, shocking them.—>(5)

You hold the yellow pyramid in your hand. A man and a woman stand in front of you writing on tablets. You are twelve years old. You are participating in the second of three S.E.L.E.C.T.O.R. events
(Selective, Educational, Live, Exam, Contest, Trial, Official Record). You were only six years old the first time that you participated. The first test required almost no input from the test taker. It was all observation and prediction. Now this test was much harder, and it determined how high you could score on the all-powerful THIRD S.E.L.E.C.T.O.R. event.
“We are going to start the test now,” the man said as he and the woman faded away. They were holograms, you knew this, but it was still creepy. Living in a facility, unable to travel due to infection worries, and being surrounded by nothing but infants and adopting parents, this meant that your experience with holograms was minimal at the time.
The large square room you were standing in goes dark. A hologram of a young boy appears in front of you. He is facing away from you and you walk around to see who it is. You stumble back as you realize that the hologram is you. The hologram turns and runs away from you. He runs on top of a series of lighted squares of different shapes and colors.
You haven’t been given any instructions, you don’t know anyone else your age either so you haven’t been given any tips. You feel an impulse. You follow the pattern your hologram ran. —>(4)

You hold the green square in your hand. A man stands in front of you writing on a clipboard. You are eighteen years old. The man looks at his tablet; he is reading information. As he reads different info and data, holograms appear next to him visually depicting what he is saying. You have seen the man three times in your life, and after today you will never see him again. He is the false administrator of the test. He is only the facade of the Washington Inc. Education and Selection Department. Still, to you, Alex Winters, he is the closest thing you have to a father.
You are taking your third of three S.E.L.E.C.T.O.R.s (Selective educational live exam, contest, trial, official record.) The first one, at age six, was passive, the second one, at age twelve was pattern recognition. You do not know what this third one will be. The man says, “Alex Winters”, born September 12, 2094. Note: Only infant birth recorded during the period of August 12, 2094 to September 13, 2094. Only known case of allergy to Zumbron-C, resulting in an un-adoptive status. As the only non-adoptable orphan on the planet, you are unique. 1st exam score was 100, second was also 100. Alex, if you score a 100 today, you will be guaranteed almost any job in the Mid. Are you ready to take your exam?


You laugh and pull the blue ball out of your pocket. “Very funny Alex, we are done here. You can go to your room.” You leave the testing room and go to your apartment. Kneeling down, you pull a small piece of the wall out. Inside the wall you retract a small, blue box. You open it with great reverence and ceremony. Gently, you place the blue ball inside it next to a Coca-cola bottle cap, a picture of Kylee (a sweet eighty-year old lady), a paper clip, a hair pin, and a small luminescent disc. —>(3)

Kylee explained the situation, although bad, seemed tolerable the way she explained it. Jonah, Head Negotiator, initially thought that he could make a large commission due to the short supply of babies. In fact, he was right. You were a record high-selling infant, and were adopted by an extremely picky couple from E-earth who were into astrology and demanded a child who was born in your birth month, September. You only lasted a few short hours with them in E-earth before you went into anaphylactic shock. It was quickly determined that you were allergic to Zumbron-C, the chemical purifying agent that was used on the Floatillas and E-earth. —>(3)

You wake up in a cold sweat. It was all a bad dream. You are in your apartment. You wrap the blankets around you in an attempt to warm up. In a few short hours you will be attempting the greatest heist known to man. You hear a knock on your door.

You cry out, “Who is it?”—>(9)

You stay silent, you haven’t had a person knock on your door in years, the facility administrators and staff used the intercom system.—>(10)

“No!”, the man cries out in half-laughter! “Well too bad, you have to take it right now!”—>(7)

“Who is it?”, you cry out. Nothing. Silence. Of course, you forgot. You had made a last minute change to the plan, due to Thomas, the bribed security guard, getting sick the night before. The knock was your ‘all clear’ signal. It told you that the reprogrammed custodial robot, was about to cause a large, noisy, distraction.—>(11)

You stay silent. You have completely forgotten your plan. You are tired and decide to go back to sleep. You wake up and you are back in the room with the man and you are holding a green square. The man asks,“Are you ready?”.

You get up, grab your jacket, and a small bag, open the door and walk outside—>(12)

In the hallway, you reach into your bag and pull out a crude looking device. Ever since you found an advanced prototype omni-data-disc when you were six, you have been building and improving this device. It is a wrist band with a large black, smooth, flat, spherical circle, similar to the face of a wristwatch, but with a three-inch diameter. This “super-watch” was first created as a replica of the devices worn by most people of the Floatillas and E-earth. Even a few super wealthy Mid residents owned them. There are competing brands, but you always thought the Bio-Dynamism type was the best.

You start to remember the first prototype testing session when you were fourteen years old—>(13)
You hear the robot start to cause the distraction. You decide to move—>(14)
You are standing in the hallway. A flood of memories overtakes you as you put on your homemade Bio-Dynamism 9000, which you have named, Bambo. You remember the first time you tested it. These devices were normally placed under the skin on the back of the wrist. Due to your lack of citizenship on the Floatillas and E-earth, you couldn’t afford one, nor could you justify your access rights to the vast array of communication devices. Most people used them to watch videos, talk and text with others, and display all of their keys and identifications. The gap of knowledge between the masses who are clueless about information security and the “Oz”’s that battle behind the scenes to maintain security had widened greatly. Your desire to get out of the facility and on to better life had driven you to break through that barrier.

You hear the robot start to cause the distraction—>(14)

You admire the device that you have worked so hard to create and turn it on?—>(15)

When Bambo lights up, a hard-light hologram surrounds your body. You now, due to your hard-light hologram costume,appear to be a 45 year-old woman. This woman is June Brenner, a food service worker in the facility. You had been using her as a disguise for a year to gain access to areas of the facility restricted to you. Tonight you are going to use one of the many special features Bambo possesses that no other device, at least those made available to the public, possesses. You lift up your hand and type in the air. User-interfaces of the future required no screen, eyewear, or cerebral hard-wired input. Devices project the information you want in front of you and to the others not standing at the exact angle of your eyes (which is impossible). It appeared that you were tapping and typing on the air. Of course, these images were hard-light holograms, meaning they had the sensation of touch, and could exert a certain amount of physical impact.
You begin to select, “Cloak” from the menu. As you do, an array of sensors make you invisible. You know that this “Cloak Tech” is nothing new, but it was only used by the advanced security forces of the Big Three (the three conglomeracies that ran the world). Now that you are invisible, all you have to do is stroll to the door and open it up. In the future, all locks are smart, and going to a door to “open it up” is not as easy as it was in the past. Bypassing physical security measures is very difficult since the invention of bio-firewalls.
A bio-firewall was an organic element, usually a small tube of micro-organisms, which are housed inside a small bright orange electrified box. The micro-organisms are being kept alive by a constant flow of electricity. If they die, the lock is sealed for 24 hours (the time it takes for them to decompose). The micro-organisms are genetically coded to perform certain operations, BUT they are still living things which constantly change, reproduce, and die. This constant bio-flux means that even knowing the password or having all of the “code” in front of you means you can’t manipulate the lock because it was constantly changing in a non-algorithmic, natural way.
You walk forward in the hallway, invisible to the naked eye, but still physically present. You hear the sound of a night sentry bot. No need to worry, you knew this model of bot, and it only had three modes of vision: electromagnetic, infrared, and night-vision. Your cloaking hologram is so precise, that it is able to manipulate the wavelength of refracted energies from your body. The only thing it can’t do, is make you not physically present. This wasn’t a problem, except that the bot was running out of battery power. This is a problem because the bot, although only the size of a basketball, was having trouble maintaining its anti-grav-hover-pads which keep it floating at five feet high.

The bot is floating up and down erratically. You have not planned for this and if it sways down and hits you before you can dodge it, it will bump into you and trigger the alarm.

This bot has to go, you decide to take it out—>(16)
You decide to dodge the bot—>(17)

You access your small array of weapons. You have a crude EMP bomb, a can of hyper-nitrogen (used to flash freeze electronics), and a homemade slingshot with two acid pellets. The bomb has a large radius, but it is untested. The can requires that you get within six inches to use it. The slingshot only has two shots and a range that is in your 50% accuracy zone.

EMP bomb—>(18)
Can O’ Freeze—>(19)

You see the bot moving towards you. There is no way to determine a pattern to its movements. Your athleticism is going to be put to the test. With cat-like speed and reflexes you dance around the approaching bot, and it wizzes down the hallway past you.
You rush towards the exit. The plan is to bio-hack the lock now that you are in close enough proximity to interact with the micro-organism vial. You notice that a guard shift change is occurring. The security guards are chatting in the doorway. The door is OPEN!

You decide to improvise and seize the moment by bull-rushing the guards—>(20)

“Stick to the plan,” you say to yourself. You begin the bio-hack.—>(21)

You rush towards the exit. The plan is to bio-hack the lock now that you are in close enough proximity to interact with the micro-organism vial. You notice that a guard shift change is occurring. The security guards are chatting in the doorway. The door is OPEN!

You decide to improvise and seize the moment by bull-rushing the guards—>(20)

“Stick to the plan,” you say to yourself. You begin the bio-hack.—>(21)

You grab the EMP bomb, it is similar to an American WWII hand grenade, but smoother and bright white. You arm the device by twisting the two halves slightly apart. Once an inch apart small lightning bolts pull the two halves back together with a click and a “beep”. This momentary separation causes a magnetic chain reaction, indicated by the pulsating red glow that emits from the ball. You hurl the ball towards the bot. Oh no! The bot swoops up at just the right moment and just the right angle to knock the ball back towards you. You are engulfed in a large circular array of white light and electro-tendrils that emit from the ball. The bot’s alarm goes off the second it hit the ball. Lights are going on everywhere and you can hear the approaching footsteps coming to address the alarm. You are now totally exposed. Everything in your bag is fried. Bambo is fried. You drop to your knees and blackout. —>(23)

You grab the Can o’ Freeze and rush towards the bot. You spray the swaying bot and it falls to the ground, completely frozen and unable to sound the alarm. It is also now unable to send back its regular status reports. Depending on its schedule, you have only one to three minutes before its absence triggers the alarm. You pick it up and put it in your bag. It might come in handy later.
You rush towards the exit. The plan is to bio-hack the lock now that you are in close enough proximity to interact with the micro-organism vial. You notice that a guard shift change is occurring. The security guards are chatting in the doorway. The door is OPEN!

You decide to improvise and seize the moment by bull-rushing the guards—>(20)

“Stick to the plan,” you say to yourself. You begin the bio-hack.—>(21)

The bot is almost within range of your slingshot. You take out an acid pellet and fire. DIRECT HIT! You must have caused critical structural damage because the bot falls to the floor. You walk towards it, it has a huge gaping hole in the center of it. You are happy because you feel like a deadeye in an old Western film. You are sad because the bot is useless for scrap, but you aren’t worried too much about not being able to salvage it. You go down the hallway.

You rush towards the exit. The plan is to bio-hack the lock now that you are in close enough proximity to interact with the micro-organism vial. You notice that a shift change is occurring. The security guards are chatting in the doorway, the door is OPEN!

You decide to improvise and seize the moment by bull-rushing the guards—>(21)

You pull out the slingshot and fire. Before you know it, an acid pellet is headed straight towards the head of one of the guards—>(23)

“Stick to the plan,” you say to yourself. You begin the bio-hack.—>(22)

You run towards the door. Because you are invisible, you are able to quickly push the guards out of the way. They are so startled, that they don’t even pursue you. You rush out into the cold night air of the Mid. (END)

You open the hacking interface. All the hundreds of moving parts of the biologic program code are represented by combination of ten unique shapes and ten distinct colors. Using all ten fingers, you deftly maneuver around the swirling storm of shapes and colors. Plucking some from the herd to combine with others, you flick some off the screen and pich others. You’d like to say you are the best bio-hacker there is, but that would be impossible to know because you are the only person you know that has even thought this was a possibility. The mirco-organisms begin to feel the manipulation. They fight back by becoming more erratic. You know, through thousands of hours of simulated practice, that eventually, if enough stress is caused, the self-destruct gene will activate, killing all the life in the vial and locking the lock for 24 hours. The shapes swirl faster and your hands increase to super-human speed. Finally, you see the final combination move. You execute it perfectly. The lock disengages.

You wait for the security guards to say goodbye and for the one remaining guard to sit back down. Then you casually stroll through the door.—>(21)

The two guards are talking when all of the sudden one of their heads pops and fizzes. The struck guard hits the floor and the other guard peers over him. You slink up behind them. The still standing guard examines the fallen guard and you peer over his shoulder. The sight makes you both vomit. A puddle of hair and bone is all that remains above the chin and bottom lip of the fallen guard’s head. You manage to hold the puke in your mouth as you slip past the guard through the still open door.—>(21)

You lie awake in your apartment, staring at the ceiling. Being caught was devastating. All your dreams of stealing a stimutation and getting off the Mid are dashed. All of your life’s work was in that bag. You have nothing to show for your years of hard work and remarkable discoveries. You are dismissed from the facility and find nothing but pain and misery in the Mid. Misery loves company and soon world war breaks out between the three conglomeracies. You and tens of thousands of others, are tricked into believing that you will be given citizenship if you fight for the “cause”.

You sign up for Washington Inc.’s security force, infantry level—>(25)

Your hands won’t stop shaking. You check the clip in your rifle once again, for the hundredth time. The plasma bolts are fresh and active. You can hear the enemy outside. Your commanding officer left only minutes ago but it feels like a lifetime. The bunker base you are in has been under heavy attack for an hour and you are charged with destroying the data center if the enemy overtakes the base. The room is small and there is only one door. It bursts open and two soldiers enter. You take them both out but are hit in the right arm. With your left arm you empty your rifle into the hallway and throw your rifle into the hallway after activating the self-destruct. As you close the door, dust comes in through the cracks following a large explosion. With the tunnel caved in and no other entrances, you are trapped. Eventually, the enemy will tunnel in and find you. You will be captured and mind-mined.

You reject capture. You take out two dark matter grenades, pull the pin—>(26)

Refuse to sacrifice yourself—>(27)

You are engulfed in a small black hole. The entire area you were standing in is sucked into non-existence.—>(1)

You pull out the grenades you were given to destroy the data. You just can’t pull the pin on the grenades. ”Anything is better than this.”, you think to yourself. After a few hours, the enemy enters. Even though you are on your knees, hands raised, and unarmed, they still fire knockout gas into the room. You sway to the ground and try to mutter, “I surrender,” as you collapse onto the ground. —>(28)

You are submitted to all manner of torture designed not to extract information, but only to inflict pain and misery. Your brain, or mind, is mined to a near fatal level. After eating pudding and watching cartoons like a post-lobotomized moron for two weeks, you are given a small window of consciousness.

You seize the opportunity, you grab a knife and end your torment.—>(1)

You remain a vegetable until you die. (END)


Third Person First Person Red Person Blue Person

Two very popular video game characters are: Master Chief and Niko Bellic. Master Chief is the star of the Halo 1, 2, 3, and 4. Niko Bellic is the main character in GTA IV. I do not label Niko as a “star” because the “star” of GTA IV, is Liberty City. Many similarities and differences can be found between these two characters. By examining the differences, we can flesh out some of the ambiguity of the definition of “avatar” and “character”.

halo-master-chief-1 NikoBellic-GTAIV2

Master Chief is an avatar. His path is set and his success is determinant upon the player’s success. MC has no face (excluding SPOILER ALERT: a brief shot of his eyes when you beat Halo 4 on legendary, revealing he is a white human male). It could be argued that the CG ads for Halo 3 depicted Master Chief, or John, as a young white boy. Does MC’s revelations of race and gender dissolve his “faceless” characteristics of Halo 1? They do not, because he is the avatar of a “soldier”. A Spartan with years of body augmentation and training, but a soldier all the same. As an avatar for a soldier, MC allows for anyone (especially during multiplayer) to become a soldier. MC is a suit you put on, you feel inside his skin when you play, you become John, Master Chief. How you play the game does not affect the main storyline, but it does affect the much more important emergent narrative of the Halo series. Everyone can judge MC and view him as the representative of their inner-soldiers feelings. MC is a toy in which we express ourselves. Niko Bellic is most assuredly NOT a toy.

Niko Bellic is a character. His background is mysterious, but not a blank state. In fact, the mystery only further helps to establish Niko as the dark, cynical, immigrant to America from a war torn Eastern Europe. Niko has a hundred times more dialogue, dialogue which for the large majority, the player has no control over. Niko is a character, like Indiana Jones in “The Temple of Doom”, we watch Indy, we do not become Indy. Niko is enjoyed like Captain Ahab is enjoyed, being looked on from the outside. This is perhaps one of the most important distinctions between Niko and MC: the camera perspective.

First person games should always have characters that people can pretend to be. This is because, in a video game world with little to no mirrors, you see the world like they do, you ride inside their heads while you play. Third person games, when filmed correctly, show the face, the emotion, the physical toil of the journey, and other things when they show the full character. “Tomb Raider” (PS3) does a great job of this by constantly swinging the camera around to the front or above or in for an ECU (extreme close up). By showing us the character, we are able to bond, empathize, and relate.

By creating a game, the designer should first ask whether to have the player pretend or observe. When a player pretends they are MC or the soldier in BF4, even James Bond in “Goldeneye 64”, they are doing so because their is room in the avatar for them to infect and then takeover. When a player observes, they are playing as Niko, or Lara Croft, or another cinematic, fleshed out and rich, unchangeable (unless by the story) character.



On Sunday nights, I have been watching Cosmos on Fox.

Last episode described what a Dark Star is. Dark Stars, or Black Holes, are theoretically a large mass of a thousand suns whose gravity is so immense that light cannot escape it. Inside the Dark Star could be a million universes, in theory, we (our visible universe) could be inside of a Dark Star.

Hostile Territory was at the beginning, going to take place “out of time”, in a wormhole, with two parallel universes battling for control. Now, we have iterated the narrative to become something very cool and a little different. Instead of space marines and alternate universes, we are going to have a game that takes place “after the Apocalypse”. This could still be “out of time” as time is spiritually seen as a circular eternity (deity’s omniscience).

The opposing forces will be evil deity’s from different cultures and religions, fighting over the souls that have been damned. I think this is a rich narrative that will lend itself to great story, art, and emotion.

While watching “Cosmos”, I realized that science and religion, in my mind are the perfect bed fellows. Recently released major motion picture, “Noah” (2014), has shown that I might be in the minority of religious people who think that about science. Watching binary stars dance with each other, listening to scientists and philosophers talking about how humans (and everything else) is made from stardust (big bang dust, whatever) resonates with me on a deeply spiritual level. “Cosmos” confronted this issue in the same episode by describing the science and culture behind the story of comets.

Comets were once feared by all peoples. There were no comet lovers on Earth, and they are still not always welcomed with open arms contemporarily (“Armageddon”, “Deep Impact”, Hale Bop).  Even science explains that comets have caused massive extinctions before too.

With game design, I feel like the mechanics are breeding narrative elements are breeding mechanics. The symbiotic nature of the two is nothing but fun right now, and I forsee smooth sailing from here on out.

This is Not Where I Belong

My 10th grade teacher, Mrs. Knodle, told me a story that I will never forget. She was a great teacher by the way, the kind that would give you a look every now and then that said, “Yeah, I get it, high school is stupid, let’s just get it over with and go home.” She taught English, and like most English teachers, she had a love for the written word.

She never really taught me any English, besides the  hundreds of things that seeped in subconsciously, but she did teach me something very important about life.  This is her story:

She was a college graduate, Philosphy B.A. (if I remember correctly) and she was accepted into University of Chicago Law, a very prestigious law school. She was accepted, moved, and starting her first day. She had her law student clothes on and her law student coffee. She stared up at large ominous building (pictured below):



She had a life moment, a world-stopper, a beam from the heavens. Seeing her life flash before her eyes she realized that she didn’t want to be a lawyer.

She didn’t, obviously, and although it was tough, I am sure that when she had her “life flash” with teaching English, it made her happy, or at least not-not-happy.

We just pitched to an industry panel and it was a rousing success. Every presentation was stellar and I felt truly honored to be a part of this fantastic program. The highlight was when an owner of a video game company said that the game I am producing, “Hostile Territory” would be a game he would finance.

Afterwards, mingling with the team, faculty, and industry panel, it came to me that I was having a Mrs. Knodle moment. I looked around and instead of having her thought of, “This is not where I belong”, I had the thought, “This is most absolutely where I belong.”


I’m So Excited! And I just can’t hide it!

Presentation next Tuesday. The audience will be the faculty and their goal will be to offer critique so that the presentations can be improved for the following week’s presentations in front of industry experts. I love presentations. I have had the pleasure of representing my team every time but once. This is the big one. I have been tasked will presenting, “Hostile Territory”. Aside from having a kick-ass name, we have a really great one sheet that has fantastic concept art.


Hostile Territory One Sheet



Seeing his concept art gave me a bunch of sweet narrative ideas. I would like the game to take place, “Out of Time”, neither the past, present, or future. The setting, will be in this donut.

Think about the geometry of a donut:

Now think about a wormhole, like the space/time Quantum kind:


“Hostile Territory” will exist on a quantic wave. This quantic wave is the point of the old being destroyed and the new being born. (Shiva-esque).


The game is going to be great. I am so excited to develop all aspects of it. If the other game is the one that is chosen (highly unlikely) then I will be happy too, but I am hoping for HT to “win”.

Developing this game would be educational, challenging, and rewarding for many reasons. One of the reasons that is becoming clear is that it is a game in a genre I am very familiar with. My knowledge, and the extensive collective knowledge of our team, of shooters is useful because we can make a game that has well-tuned, consistent aspects of the shooter with the environment as the variable. By isolating this core variable of shooters we will be able to discover its role in a shooter game.


Where’s the game?

In the 1980’s there was a lady who asked, “Where’s the beef?”.  As we continue to prototype two games, one game has a clear answer to this question. Arena is a game. The core mechanics of shooting, competing, evading, and winning, all while be tossed and turned and tossing and turning (environmental factors/controls).  Are there scope concerns? Will the IGF academics turn there noses up at “just another shooter”? Yes and Yes. But no one doubts the gaminess of this prototype. It is a game, there are fail states, win states, different ways to play, and room for skill improvement.

When the same standard is held up against Wasteland, what happens: In wasteland, there are no fail or win states, there is one way to play, and the game (as is now) will allow the most beginner gamer to master in minutes with NO room for improvement.

The first question that was asked was answered internally by myself almost immediately. That was the question of whether or not to make a game. You might think that is a silly question when developing a prototype “game”, but it is growing less and less silly after the successes and failures of, “Flow”, “Flower”, “Cloud”, “Journey”, “Proteus”, etc.

What are the advantages of making an experiential/interactive-story/non-gamey game?

1. IGF will love it, right?

2. Everyone will see how emotional, intellectually, and academically smart we are.

3. REBEL! Fight the man! INDY! INDY! INDY!

4. People will love to talk about it, even if they have never played it.

What are the advantages of making a gamey game, for gamers?

1. IGF will love it, because everyone else is going the other way with experiential, and they want the fresh.

2. Everyone will see how well balanced, easy to learn but hard to master, fun for many types of gamers in many types of moods, and FUN FUN FUN this game is.

3. REBEL! When everyone least suspects it, DO IT!

4. People will love to play it, SONY will buy it, we will make three sequels and a movie and TV series and really really cool hats.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I wanted to make a gamey game from the beginning. I believe that eventually the game industry will evolve and encompass the entire media industry. Everything will have, to some varying degree, a level of interactivity. Movies, TV, Games, the NET, your workstation, your pacemaker, and your cyberbrain will all merge and congeal into a giant interactive, augmented reality, hyper world that is amazing.

It isn’t that I am scared to be a pioneer in this emerging landscape, it is that I want to be that pioneer after I have broken into the independent game scene and subsequently the game design scene. As a student, I want to TAKE RISKS, EXPERIMENT, and INNOVATE/REBEL/PIONEER but I want to do all of those things with a game. If not for the fact that I have never done it before and truly believe the team I am on will have great success.

So You’re Gonna Have a Baby

Gestation rate on my team’s child is eighteen months. The team already knows that eventually, one of the twins will be destroyed by the other in some sort of “In-utero Mortal Kombat” (note for later: this possible could be a fun game idea).

Perhaps games are not conceived when they are published, maybe they are conceived when the concept is presented to the team. Yes, this is more accurate. Our game starts at the conception of an idea, the gestation of the pre-production/idea phase, and the birth is the first playable, the future iterations are adolescence and maturity. What is the death of a game then? The games of the past are often, “rebooted” and “remixed” and “remade”. Some games see no end, like “Minecraft”. Some games do die. They die on the shelf, the true death for games and toys are stagnancy, immobility, and the failure to bring joy to people.





If I knew what it was, it wouldn’t be innovative enough



We need a really good idea. . .times 8, then cut to 4. This idea needs to be better than good, it needs to be. . .what it needs to be doesn’t have a word for it yet. I want these games to be so grand, so innovative, so new, hip, indie-tastic, that IGF makes a special ceremony and award for our program. Easier said than done.

Watching the IGF 2006 games, playing almost all of them, and seeing the Student Showcase winners for that year got my creative juices flowing. I had a great conversation with an artist in our cohort about exploring other means of gaining inspirations and ideas besides playing games themselves. I am going to watch movies, play different games, old games, read, walk, or something to get some great ideas.

The team formation period was truly educational and entertaining. I feel really grateful to be on the team that I am on. The producers are fantastic and we are going to get along very well. The engineers and the artists are the cream of the crop and I think that everyone is going to get amazing work done as well as have a lot of fun doing it.



First there was Cavalcade!, a game which asked for a large amount of engineering. What was accomplished was amazing, but too ambitious. Second there was Robotron. This game was not ambitious enough. Thirdly, the team was different. One producer, one artist, and three engineers. How to find the right balance of ambition and pragmatism?

Direction, excitement, and adaptation.

Analogy: floating down the river with direction, excitement, and adaptation versus detritus floating downstream

While floating may seem easy, at times it can also be more difficult to correctly execute than swimming. Swimming has control, but you can tire out easily. Also, swimming is more of a workout and less enjoyable. Floating is not only more enjoyable but also more educational. The decision process in swimming is: swim in one direction as fast as you can until you can’t swim anymore. The decision process in floating is: deal with problems as they come. Floating is dealing, adapting,  and cooperating with the stream. Rather than try to force your way out of a problem by swimming, using the force of the flow to your advantage is the superior solution.

In this prototyping process, I have learned to use my team’s skills (the flow). Rather than attempt to micromanage, or bury my head in the water and swim ahead, or refusing to pivot even when doom is inevitable, I have decided to enhance the direction of my team, keep my head up and eyes open for ways to adjust, and consistently adapt, improvise, and overcome.

PS Our game is about cloning and has a very fun mechanic. The potential is significant.