I paired up with Toni (who's storytelling skills have awed the course more than once) and made a game inspired by a short film. "Feeders" is an anti-commercial about psychic vampires - beings that suck your energy dry.
The game is set around a dinner party with old friends and rising tensions. The way you respond to conversation changes people's mood around the table. Toni did an amazing job at the script which Ivo, director and creator of Feeders, Toni and I then edited together.
We used various game design tricks to give the sensation of non-linearity. Starting with the player feedback loops: upon making a choice in dialogue, the facial expressions of the characters change, giving the player a sensation of meaningful choice. The script itself follows the same topics and happenings, the only difference is the tone in which the characters can respond. They have three moods: positive, neutral and negative. Because of these changing tones and moods, players can get a different perception of the characters. For example in one playthrough, Lorenzo might be really aggressive, in another he might be really loving. This can tint the player's opinion of who is the psychic vampire.
You can play the game here.
In theory we discussed race the first week and age the second and both were preceded with a fun exercise related to each topic. For race we had to create a fantasy or sci-fi race that was not based on any real-life cultural references. The stuff some people came up with was hilarious but probably the most profound lesson learned from the exercise was this: If play is the basis of all culture, then the first question we should ask ourselves when designing a culture is "how do they play?"
The second exercise was a look at representation of age in games. I went on a quest on Reddit to look for women over 40 to see if I could identify any patterns or, in fact, if any existed. Many answers were given and I collated portraits of the highest voted replies. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised at the range and complexity of female characters over 40. Less so when I looked at how many of these women were playable characters.
For the second week I took a break from the a game a week exercise due to other commitments. While at a loss in terms of game design practice, it has allowed me to step back and evaluate my schedule. Deadlines are looming. It's time to fight these hand-ins with my deadly post-it notes of ultimate planning.