I came up with the idea for Faded during the tail end of my research. It came about quite spontaneously and very quickly. In a similar way, the idea for my next prototype seemingly came out of nowhere too. I got the basic idea while I was on the train. I was reflecting on my work during my commute and the idea just popped into my brain.
This idea is to build a very simple 2D platformer where the goal for the player is to navigate to the top of the level. On the way up, the player will not encounter any hazards and completing the level will be really simple. However, once the player reaches the top, the level rotates revealing a much harder challenge. The player is then relocated to the start of the level and has to get to the top again. The level will be designed in a way which reveals hazards to the player once it has been rotated. This could be as simple as having spikes on the ceiling, which when rotated appear on the floor and need to be jumped over.
Defensive architecture will be the focus of this next prototype. I’m particularly interested in how people may not even be aware that defensive architecture exists until their eyes have been opened to it. I was fairly oblivious to it myself prior to my research, but now I see it almost everywhere I go. It’s this kind of ignorant blindness which I would like to explore.
To help me get a sense of this phenomenon, I watched a TED talk about “willful blindness” by Margaret Heffernan. I’m still not entirely sure whether being ignorant of defensive architecture is quite like willful blindness or not, but it was a good jumping off point.
As I did with my previous prototype, I’m going to brainstorm some of my preliminary ideas to try to find some design challenges which I might encounter during development:
I have decided to call this prototype Tilted. Partly because of the rotating aspect of the design, but also because I was listening to this song while I was brainstorming:
The song is about not fitting in and it seemed to be appropriate for my prototype.
My brainstorm helped to highlight a few issues which I will need to figure out if the prototype is to work as I intend.
- Which way should the level rotate and in what axis? Different axes might evoke different things. Turning the level clockwise could make it seem like time is passing and day is turning into night. Anti-clockwise could suggest some sort of regression. Flipping the level could look like the pages of a book turning.
- What parts of the level should rotate? Should the rotation be global or local? If the entire level rotates, should the player rotate along with it? Or remain where they are? The platforms should probably rotate with the entire level and not just spin in place.
- The speed of the rotation will need to be slow enough for the player realises what is happening but fast enough so that it’s not boring to watch.
- While the level is rotating a message will say something along the lines of, “You may not realise you have been designed against until your perspective changes.”
- What kind of hazards should the player encounter? Spikes are the obvious choice because they are directly analogous to homeless spikes. Although there could also be pits, objects or doors which slide into place while the level is rotating.
- Should the game be beatable? Probably not, but the player needs to think that the game is until it’s obvious that it isn’t. Perhaps I could display a message to the player after a certain number of deaths. Something like, “Sometimes there is no way to win.” The level’s design will need to tease the player into thinking that it’s able to be beaten.
- Where will the game take place? Should it be a facsimile of the real world or completely abstract? What places have spikes on the ceiling? Caves, stalactites/icicles.
- Should the link between defensive architecture be made obvious? If I display a bunch of examples of defensive architecture at the end of the game this might seem heavy-handed. The message could be left ambiguous, it could be about unfairness and social exclusion.
- The platforming mechanics need to be very simple and accessible. The level must be really easy at first. Only when it’s rotated should it be difficult.
- Should the camera track with the player or will the entire level fill up the screen?