I was talking to my classmate Joost Bos about choices and consequences in games. He said: you want to play a game which does this well? Play this war of mine. And I bought the game, because my classmate Joost is super trustworthy.
So this war of mine is about civilians in a war torn environment. Desperately trying to survive. The grim situation is perfectly reflected in the art style. A dark and moody painting style with rough, animated textures. It instantly gave me the „this is not a cool place to be in” feeling.
my three characters. first needed to clear their refuge of rubble and find all kinds of stuff. Some food, some medicine that might come in handy later. Well it did come in handy because one of the first things that happens to me, ten minutes in game, two little boys knock on my door, asking for medicine for their poor, sick mother. That’s a tough choice. I mean, we are all trying to survive right. But those boys seemed desperate. I might need those medicines later but those boys seemed desperate. So I decided to give them the medicine, only to find out that one of my characters fell ill a little bit later. Did I really have to give away my medicine? What if one of my characters dies because of my decision. I was lucky. My character was able to sleep it off. Could have been worse. But the game already faced me with a tough choice.
At night I got the opportunity to scavenge for some recourses and building materials. I took my tough looking girl and went looking for supplies in the nearby supermarket. I was being told that the supermarket was under military control, dangerous, but my characters were hungry so I had to take the risk. I took a shovel with me in case I had to dig through a pile of rubble or something. Arriving at the supermarket, I spot a girl. looking for supplies. She didn’t notice me because I was looking through a keyhole in the door. All of a sudden a heavily armed guy showed up. Clearly military. He was asking her name, trying to be nice and such. The girl didn’t really want to talk to the armed man. Just looking for supplies she said. The guy didn’t really like the reply. Don’t you want to come with me, have a good time? It was clear to me that the girl didn’t really want to have a good time with the tough looking guy. He asked her a second time, aiming his weapon at her face. I had to do something right? I didn’t really think about the risks, but I decided to help the girl. That shovel I brought might come in handy. I kicked the door open and charged the guy before he had a chance to shoot me. Quite a hit. But the man recovered and punched me in the face. „wounded” said my status bar. Ouch! I was able to hit him once more. Dead. I just killed a soldier. Shit. I have to get out of here before his buddies notice there is something wrong. The terrified girl already ran away, without saying thank you. I looked through the soldiers stuff. Machine gun? I instantly took it, might come in handy later when we need to protect our house against raiders. He was also carrying cigarettes, some booze and some bandages. Score! But with this impulsive action I might have caused some serious problems with the military. I hoped they didn’t see me.
When my character returned home her status bar said: Content. My character did something rather heroic by saving that girl from that monster with an AK-47. And I, the player felt pretty good about the whole thing too.
The choices made in this game our tough. Choices about life and death. In a situation like a war, everything could mean the end of you and your group of survivors. So the whole situation made choices even more tough. Give those meds to the little boys and lose one of my surviving characters to the flu? Life and death.
Such a setting might make choices even harder for players. And even more so when their choices could mean the end of the other players.
So if I want to face the players with tough choices and consequences I might want to think about such a story.
To summarize this game here are some pro’s and cons about it.
Pro's A tough setting that can make it extra tough for the player to make choices. Brilliant art direction. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices or even do illegal things for the sake of your own group of survivors. Moral choices! I felt kinda sad after robbing an old couple of their medicine and food.
Cons: It’s too bad that this game is single player only. If this game could be played with more players, each looking after one survivor, choices would be even harder to make. Who deserves that bandage more? Players would be sucked into this game as a group and would probably discuss things with each other while playing the game.
Maybe an alien attack like in war of the worlds. Where poor Tom Cruise had to survive while protecting his son and daughter. He also faced dilemma’s and tough choices. Because every wrong choice could have meant the end for poor Tom.
It’s probably up to me to come up with a captivating world, where the whole situation forces the players to make such choices.
I’m working on a paper prototype at the moment, where a story takes place in a city attacked and destroyed by extra terrestrial life-forms. 4 characters with different backgrounds have to survive in this world that became their nightmare.
In the next post I’ll talk some more about other cool games with branching story lines and random encounters.
I’ll also talk about lightning and mood in movies and games. As well as lighting and mood in paintings and images.
ps. to summarize what I’m doing at the moment: I’m trying to figure out how to create a game in which players have to face tough choices. Interaction between players is a key factor that I want to research. Can players interact with each other in real life to make decisions in game?