What else could we have possibly titled this post, hm? Anyway. We had a dizzying last couple of months and a lot has happened, so now is the time to bring you all up to speed. I’ll pretend you know the story so far, but if you don’t – well. Once upon a time we built two prototypes, pitched them to an industry panel, and picked one to move forward with. That prototype was Premonition.
After all the creative dust settled, we continued to iterate and build on our prototype for a fully playable version. We called our Premonition game Super Fail and showed it off to friends, family, faculty, students, and more at EAE day in May. Super Fail was the prototype with our first attempt at a theme: the player was a superhero with a premonition ability and had to escape an evil villain’s lair. It worked, but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Sharing it at EAE day was exciting and frustrating and showed us there was a lot of work to be done before we had an actual game, but we also knew we were on the right track.
The problem? Most of the team were scattering to the four winds for the summer for internships or and other adventures. We all agreed that work needed to be done to find the heart of our game and we needed a theme lock, so everyone that was able to meet gathered and furrowed their collective brows. Super heroes were swell, but it wasn’t quite as boundary-pushing as we’d like. What did we really want the game to be about? This didn’t mean a story or a narrative, but the theme of the game can influence so many little aspects (including our main mechanic) so we needed to solidify that before moving forward. It wouldn’t be impossible to change later, but it was a necessary keystone. The selection was once again narrowed down to two different ideas: net neutrality and surveillance. Both are very hot button topics and both could lend some very distinct and interesting flavorings to our game. We didn’t want to make the game political, really, we just wanted a relevant topic that would fit.
This question brought on other questions. How would the mechanic work with each of these themes? The team had lengthy e-mail and in-person discussions about this. Net neutrality called for something involving speed variation – a “fast lane” and a “slow lane” and so on. If the player was being affected by these lanes, our premonition ability should show them which lane was fast, etc. It was a similar question with the surveillance theme. What could the premonition ability show the player if the premonitions were actually drones? So we did what we know best: we prototyped. Rapidly.
The team split into two contingents and hammered out prototypes for everyone to play and examine. We wanted to see if the game remained as fun and interesting with one or both of the themes. After several weeks of tinkering and head-scratching, sometimes in addition to a full day’s work at internships, the team played the prototypes and met for a final decision. It wasn’t easy, but ultimately we settled on net neutrality with a hint of surveillance. Sounds like we cheated, right?
As it turns out, the two topics have some degree of overlap. We included the drones as the vehicles of the premonition mechanic because they are quite literally mechanical creations sent to seek out information. We call them “precognitive technologies” for giggles. I should point out that this may very well be a temporary design decision. In the weeks to come we may decide that something works better than a generic drone. We may have figured out what general theme we’d like and shored up our core mechanic, but we’re far from done with the groundwork of the game.
The plan is simple: we have an IGF submission deadline at the end of October. We’re going to create weekly builds and iterate on our ideas as much as possible so we can find out what works. It’s a lot like throwing food at a wall and seeing what sticks and tastes good, but it creates less of a mess. Mostly. Until then, check back once in a while – we’ll be posting our builds on occasion and seeking feedback. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you’re welcome to leave a comment or visit our Contact Us page for more information!