August 15, 2008

Week 2 (Take 2) – High concept for semi-educational RPG game “Psycho-Ego – the knowing of the self”

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 1:52 pm

Take 2 at a High Concept treatment for a narrative based game as the previous game concept did not enable significant development of the game’s characters, nor did it provide for the development of dialogue.

i. Game concept (including genre)?

Role Playing Adventure/Fighting game incorporating RTS (Real Time Strategy) of the Player’s virtual Personal Development through Archetypical and other Psychological experiences in a surrealistic 3D exploratory environment. The Player’s avatar (Persona) will be moulded and visually characterised by decisions made during the game via the  paths and directions the Player is presented with during a journey through discovery of; The Avatar (Mirror Stage), Understanding (the Self), The Partner (Anima/Animus), and God-like omniscience (Collective Unconsciousness). These choices will be governed by aspects of Freudian, Jungian and Lacanian psychology to which the Player will be presented with an overview and understanding of the basic principles of these psychological theories.

ii. Player goals and victory conditions (how do you win)?

The Player wins through achieving ‘positive’ growth and ‘personal’ development through the defined yet player determined exploratory levels of:

  1. The Mirror stage – identification of the Player’s Avatar
    1. Physiology – identification of the needs of the body:
      Safety and security – identification of shelter and rest
    2. Belonging and loving – establishing social acceptance and intimacy
      Esteem – establishing social approval and self worth
  2. The Self
    1. Cognition – understanding of one’s self and the world
    2. Aesthetics – understanding beauty
  3. The Anima/Animus
    • Self-actualization – internal peace and connection to the world
  4. Final stage – ‘God-like Omniscience’
    • Transcendence – the need to help others find their own self actualization

In the final stage the Player will be presented with a range of complex problems concerning NPCs that the Player will need to identify and resolve in order to obtain transcendence and finally obtain the ‘God-like Omniscience’ that will signify the completion of the game. Should the Player, at any stage/level of the game, make poor or detrimental decisions concerning a socially acceptable ego-ideal than the Player will be either forced to remain on that level or, in extreme cases, forced to regress to a lower level of the game.

iii. Features, including interface, play modes (travelling, combat), gameplay, important rules etc?

  • The game’s interface will consist of a 3D world with 2D icons to represent the Player’s ‘psychological growth’, ‘hunger’, ‘energy’ and ‘libido’. The Player will need to satisfy the ‘hunger’, ‘energy’ and ‘libido’ needs in order to achieve each level’s tasks while ‘psychological growth’ will determine the Player’s readiness to progress up or regress down a level in the game.
  • Gameplay will consist of the solving of puzzles and interaction with NPCs through inquiry and/or battles to identify ‘The Self’ in order to obtain ‘Self-actualisation’.
  • The Player’s Avatar will be determined by the choices and actions taken in the game: the Avatar starts out initially as a paradigm of the human form with little to no distinguishing features – the individualisation of the Avatar is thus moulded throughout the game.
  • Modes of play will consist of:
    • exploration of the world to interact with NPCs
    • solving of dream sequences in the form of cut-scenes
    • battles with ‘real’ NPCs and ‘hallucinatory’ NPCs
  • The Player’s world will be presented as a surrealistic interpretation in the earlier stages of the game. As the Player explores the world and interacts with NPCs to progress through the game and achieves ‘psychological growth’, the Player develops a greater understanding of the self and the world then becomes more and more visually realistic chanaging from a hellenistic representation gradually through to a post-modernistic realisation.
  • Interactions with NPCs can be either physical (as in combat) or through inquiry. Questioning a NPC will be via a list of questions that are preselected based upon the Player’s ‘psychological growth’ – these questions, once selected, will then be verbalised in a voice that is representative of the Player’s ‘psychological growth’. NPCs will respond to questions with spoken answers. Answers may or may not be literal representations of the answer’s true meaning. The Player will need to decide whether any answers provided by a NPC is or is not relevant to their need to obtain ‘psychological growth’ and progress through the game.
  • Dream sequences in the form of cut-scenes will represent tasks and/or psychological issues that the Player must either achieve and/or overcome to progress through the game.
  • Battles, or conquests, that the Player will need to ‘win’ will consist of ‘real’ NPCs (The Father, The Mother, The Shadow, The Trickster, The Anima/Animus, etc) and idiomatic hallucinations (Flying Pigs [pigs might fly], Flying Monkeys [getting the monkey off one's back], Moving Shadows [afraid of one's own shadow], Worms [a can of worms], Dogs [let sleeping dogs lie], etc).
  • The Player’s ‘hunger’, ‘energy’ and ‘libido’ are inter-related:
    • ‘hunger’ is determined by the amount of sustenance (food and drink) the Player obtains
    • ‘energy’ is determined by hunger levels, “physical” activity and the need for sleep
    • ‘libido’ is determined by ‘hunger’ and ‘energy’ levels as well as satisfying psychological needs and desires in the game
  • The basic rule is “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you”.  The Player may do whatever they wish in the game within the laws of physical reality, i.e., the Player cannot fly or walk through walls etc, however the Player may attack and even kill, if they so choose, any NPC that they interact with – though the NPCs may retaliate and kill the Player in return. Choosing socially unacceptable actions will, however, be detrimental to the Player’s ‘psychological growth’ which will determine what level of the game they will be placed in, the ‘dreams’ and ‘hallucinations’ they experience, and if the psychical make-up of the Player becomes too regressive then the Player will experience hysteria that may cause the Player to die/suicide. If the Player dies through psychological issues then the Player will be returned to the beginning of the game. If the Player is killed by a NPC then the Player will be returned to the beginning of that level  dependant of the Player’s ‘psychological growth’.

iv. Basic story?

Basic story is one of psychological growth from an early stage of psychical awareness through to that of Self-actualisation and Transcendence. Along the way, the Player will need to identify with its Mother, Father and Anima/Animus archetypical representations while combating with Animal, Shadow and Trickster archetypical representations which will endeavour to impede the Player’s progress to achieve Self-actualisation and Transcendence.

v. Basic characters?

The Player’s character is one that is plastic – it will be moulded by the decisions and actions it performs as reflected by its ‘psychological growth’.

In addition to the Player character, the following main characters will need to identify and interact with are:

  • The Mother
  • The Father
  • The Anima/Animus

Supporting characters that the Player will need to interact with to progress through the levels of the game and achieve ‘psychological growth’ will be based upon the following archetypes:

  • The Animal
  • The Shadow
  • The Trickster

vi. Unique selling points (why would anyone want to play it)?

The plastic nature of the Player’s Avatar that will evolve through the actions that the Player undertakes will be an unique experience – the Player determines his or her look not by selecting attributes from a menu but rather through the actions he or she performs in the game. The surreal aspects of the visual representation of the 3D world will also provide a fascinating opportunity for escapism as will the world changing from helenistic to post-modernistic as the Player’s “psychological growth’ evolves or devolves. Idiomatic representations of the Player’s ‘psychological issues’ will provide an entertaining and fun quality to combat sequences while the ability for the Player to determine how they interact with NPCs will provide a non-linear feel to the gameplay that ensures the Player feels in control of their actions and destination in the game.

vii. Target platform (are any special hardware, e.g. steering wheels needed or optional)?

Windows, Unix, Mac

viii. Design goals (for each desired quality of the game, such as “simple”, “fast”, “scary” etc, indicate how your game intends to realise it)?

The overall design goal is to keep the game very simple yet challenging from a gameplay perspective:

  • Navigation will be via WASD keys (move forward, strafe-left, move backward, strafe-right), Shift (action modifier), Space-bar (jump + modifiers) and mouse (look-up, look-down, look-left, look-right).
  • Left mouse click will be for punch/use tool/weapon
  • Right mouse click will be used for selecting options on pop-up windows that will appear when requesting to interact with a NPC, or clicking on an object when enquiring as to the relevance of that object to the Player’s progress in the game.
  • Action sequences will be fast paced, however the ‘degree of difficulty’ will be dependant on the Player’s progress through the game and their ‘psychological growth’:
    • When the Player is starting out and before achieving ‘psychological growth’ the ‘degree of difficulty’ will be lower.
    • As the Player achieves ‘psychological growth’ the degree of difficulty’ will increase.
    • If the Player’s ‘psychological growth’ regresses based upon negative or socially unacceptable actions then ‘degree of difficulty’ will increase.
    • The Player’s levels of ‘hunger’, ‘energy’ and/or ‘libido’ will also determine the Player’s ‘degree of difficulty’ to achieve tasks or succeed in combat.
  • Dream sequences will be very symbolic montages of cut scenes presented as a problem the Player needs to solve to achieve ‘psychological growth’.
  • Hallucinations will be extremely visually surreal and may take the form of cut-scenes (such as when the Player has a hysterical attack and consequently dies) or in the form of an action sequence (where a suppressed ‘guilt’ manifests itself as a perceived reality that the Player endeavours to combat).


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