Week thirteen will be my final reflective summary on this project. I still have a few days left until hand-in and I’m planning to add various things to the game over the coming days, but overall, I can say that Denizen is finished.
My plan this week was to work almost exclusively on sound design, which I almost managed to do. By Tuesday I had written my music manager script and two ambient tracks which I included in the game. However, towards the middle of the week I somehow got side-tracked and started to develop a few user experience improvements to the game as well. I added a dialogue skip so that players don’t have to watch the NPCs dialogue scroll and I made a bunch of tweaks to the way players interact with characters to make the experience smoother. Along with these changes, I added a controls screen to the main menu and fixed a bunch of small bugs. Although I didn’t work on audio exclusively like I had planned, I think the improvements I made this week make the experience of playing the game a lot better. I think my desire to make things perfect almost got the better of me, but I still managed to complete everything I wanted to before the week was over. I still have a growing list of small things that need to be done before I hand-in, but at some point, you need to stop messing with it. By Thursday, I had decided to stop working on other aspects of the game and instead to focus on my portfolio and sound design until deadline. Then came Friday.
With our deadline looming and only a few days left to make any changes, Adam spoke with each group to discuss what we should be doing to improve our submissions. For me, Adam suggested that the game needed a definitive end and that I should think about ways to wrap up the game. He also suggested that I start to think about what Denizen might become if I continue to work on the game after university. Denizen ends by looping back to the beginning, when players reach the end of the game they start over again. This ending attempted to represent the cyclical nature of homelessness and how people can be trapped by the experience. However, it wasn’t quite working as I intended and playtesters didn’t really understand the end fully. So, I took Adam’s advice and thought about how to end the game in a more succinct way. Over the weekend I managed to create a new ending to Denizen. Now, towards the end of the game players are faced with a choice. They can either allow a character to shelter with their companion or refuse them. If they refuse to help, the game continues to loop and homelessness perpetuates. If they decide to help, the cycle breaks and the game ends. Throughout the game the antagonists hint to the player that this character is untrustworthy and will try to trick them. This aims to represent the prejudices some people hold towards the homeless. It’s only when the player ignores these prejudices and offers to help, that the game ends. Creating this ending was quite a lot of work, but I think it works a lot better than the previous one. I also think it relates to my themes in a more interesting way and creates a narrative choice for the player. So, from both a thematic and narrative viewpoint, this ending works well. However, there’s no time for me to test this with playtesters, so I don’t know which choice they are likely to make. I’m not even sure if I know what choice I want them to make. Either way, I feel like the ending is improved and Denizen feels much more complete
Over the coming days I’m planning to improve my portfolio and continue to add some finishing touches to the game. Below you can read my final thoughts on the development of Denizen.