vrijdag 27 maart 2015

Form and Symbolism

The story I'm creating features two worlds. One realistic world, the hospital where the kids are. And the fantasy world. That's where the kids are going when they want to escape their situation.

Two worlds are very different from eachother but at the same time, they are the same. Everything in the fantasy world is based on the real world but imagined by the children.
In the real world the kids are just patients waiting for help. But in the fantasy world they are more like superheroes. Camera angles can help showing this contrast. In the hospital the camera will be looking down on the kids. And in the fantasy world the camera will look up to the heroes. To show their position compared to the environment.

Form and shapes are also important for showing contrast. The real world is rigid, rectangular and cold. While the fantasy world is warm, round and cosy. Even though there is an evil part in the fantasy world. The part where the kids go to when they need to see a doctor or need to undergo a surgery.

Like this:

All of the machinery, buildings and vehicles are based on things you can find in a hospital.
For example. This concept painting features a machine based on a cat-scan
The ship the players fly in is overloaded with monitors. Based on the monitors in their own room.

So everything the kids see is based on things in the real world. But often very deformed or made bigger or out of scale.

These shapes can often be found in a surgery room. In the fantasy world they are depicted as giant structures.

This structure is based on a blanket fort. Things I used to make as children very often!

This city is suposed to be the friendly part of the galaxy. With round shapes and warm colors. This is the happy place the children go to. This place could be made even more friendly by adding trees and animals to it.

So it's important to show contrast and symbolism. Every image should reflect a little bit to the real world and to the situation the children are in.
More about that later!

Some sketches

Friendly space station resembling the warm and cosy side of the fantasyworld

Cold and rigid lab resembling the evil hospital side of the fantasyworld

One of the players being taken away by the forces of evil (one kid has to undergo surgery in the real world)

Target audience

My Target audience for this game will not be children as you might all think. Children have the talent to come up with fantastic and sometimes absurd imagined worlds. The phase in which children learn to do this is called the formative stage. Which is in danger because in the present day children get everything presented to them with images in stead of letting them figure out things in their heads.
My target audience is everyone above 16 who is interested in science fiction, roleplaying games and comic books. In this game I will still present the audience with images but I leave plenty of room for imagination.

The reason that this game is not for children or ill children for that matter is because they already know how to imagine these worlds. It would be weird to create a game in which children play as children that come up with a fantasy world. They wouldn't need this game. They can come up with their own stories.
I want to create this game for adults to let them know how it feels to escape to another world. That sometimes it's the only choice when you've got nowhere else to go, and that sometimes, you don't need much to come up with an immense fantasy world. In this case all the children need is their own little hospital room. There are plenty of objects to use in their story. Like their bed, the windows, the curtains, balloons, medical equipment, teddy bears and so on.

So once again this game is not about being sick. It's about imagining and escapism. I present the target audience with the outlines of the world (through images) But they can use their own imagination to fill in the empty space (between images) That's called closure, and plays an important role in my project.

Visual novel
Symbolism (which I will talk about later)

Children's hospitalroom

donderdag 26 maart 2015

Sources and examples

So what would this game be like?
Take for example the games made by Telltale Games, like the Wolf Among Us, Tales of the borderlands, Game of Thrones and Walking dead.

In these single player games you play one or more characters. The choices you make in the game will alter the storyline and the outcome of things.
My game will use some of these simple mechanics. One main difference is that my game will be for multiple players. So players make individual choices that can have an effect on the storyline or on another player. Some choices are made with the entire group so the players can actually discuss their choices outside of the screen, adding an extra dimension to the game. Two worlds inside the screen, and one world outside of it.
Telltale's Game of Thrones visual storytelling game

The multiplayer aspect leads me to the Yawhg. A game I talked about a while ago. This game has a very clear system that makes it easy for players to see whose turn it is. They use color codes. Player 1 controls a green guy, player 2 controls a blue lady and so on. I'd like to make use of that.
The Yawhg's Characters

Also in my game there will be two worlds. And choices can be made in both of them. Each world affecting the other world. Because a doctor would just look at 3 kids sitting on a bed talking about spaceships. But the kids are actually in their fantasy world.

In terms of theme there is a Dutch production called Paultje en de draak. An animation about a boy defeating his ilness that took the shape of a dragon. In this movie the boy also steps into a fantasy world where he defeats the dragon. In my game the players don't defeat their illness they just forget that they are ill for a while, while being in their made up world.

Players soaring through the sky with balloon based objects.

The two worlds are very contrasting in terms of shape and design language. More on that in the next post

Two worlds.

In my previous post I talked about my idea for a little bit. Now for some more information about the whole game.

This game is about children who are in the hospital because of an illness of some kind. However, this game is not about ill children. It's about fantasy, children's ability to conjure up worlds and the game is also about escapism.

The reason I wanted to use a hospital environment with children for this game is:

I have experience with being ill.

Children have the imaginative capabillity to come up with everything.
I used to do some kind of imaginary stuff with my brother. Turning my little room into a space ship by using whatever technical stuff we could find. Gameboys, radiostations, keyboards. You name it!

A hospital setting is a great excuse to combine with a science fiction world because of all the medical equipment and machinery. Lots of cool design posibilities.

Sick people have a reason to want to escape to something else even though they know they can't really go anywhere. (a imaginary place seems like the right place to go)

I could have made a game with for example homeless people imagining a fantasy world for them to go into but that would change the entire world design-wise as well as story-wise. 

So the goal is. To create a science fiction world based on everything there is to find in a hospital. Think, beds, ctscans, a cantine, balloons, get well soon cards, heartmonitors, surgery equipment, you name it.

But ok. I have designed out this world. But what can players actually do?
The game will be a multiplayer visual novel, probably for 3 players. So it's just like a comic book. Only the players get to make choices that alter the storyline.

The game will take place both in the real world (the hospital) and the imagined world. The children (players) want to escape to that world and they would like to stay their. But in the fantasy world there are often reminders that they are still in the hospital. For example. The players enter a restaurant in the imagined world. And they get to choose from a huge menu. After they made their choices they all get the same hospital meal, to remind them that they are still in the hospital and they don't really have a choice.
Players ordering some food. They'll find out they don't really have a choice.

So the game will often change between worlds depending on the player's choices.
Some things are inevitable, like one of the kids needs to undergo a surgery. Or one of the kids can leave the hospital. Both can have a big impact on the fantasy world. Even though one of the kids can go home. The other ones will be left without him.

Players are able to make individual choices. And some choices will be made as a group. Choices the players make will alter the rest of the story.
All of the things in the world are based on things to be found in a hospital. This environment is based on some medical equipment.

Working in Prague and a new story

A few weeks ago I took a trip to Prague in the Czech republic to work with the amazing Factorio team. My job is to rework their promotional art. I am using the designs already plotted out for these artworks. It was a nice break from the graduation project. Even though I had plenty of time to work on my game over there in Prague.

After the first presentation the main question was: what is it that you want to tell with this game?
That's when I took some time to think about what I really want to do. What are my qualities? And what are my downsides? What did I experience so far in life?

That's when I thought about my disease called Crohn's disease. My brother and I both have it and he had to spend a while in the hospital for it. I remember him being incredibely bored. There was just nothing he could do. He didn't have a choice. He couldn't just head back home.

But something else also happened. My classmate Joost had to go to the hospital too for problems with his appendix. And he really had to as well. Not really much to choose there. 

That's when I came up with the idea and story for my game.
It's about 3 children sitting on their hospital beds in their shared room. Bored, but no where to go. That's when they start conjuring up this sci fi story. You might think: why sci fi? Well, all of the medical equipment in their room gave the kids some inspiration for their story. Their room could be a spaceship!
And so they spend their afternoons. Thinking about travelling through the galaxy in their spaceship (their room actually). They use whatever they can find for their story. Their teddybears turn into kind aliens, balloons turn into huge flying objects, the building blocks in their room turn to castles and cities and the plants in their room turn into vast jungles.
They spend so much time in their made up world that the fantasy world becomes real. It's their only escape out of the hospital (they can't just step out of the front door)

That's what my game will be about. Players become the children in the hospital. Travelling through their fantasy world. The story continues based on the players choices. And the real world and fantasy world are parallel to each other. Meaning that everything that happens in the real world will affect the fantasy world.

So far for a short introduction,
I will talk about symbolism, concequences and the story in the following posts.
Here are the first few black and white sketches for this story.