Pillars of Opportunity
Now, the story is about a woman who has to make choices regarding family or career. In order to make those choices, the player is given an opportunity to collect either family or career points. The tricky part is that when the players collect one kind of points, he or she loses the other. To be more explicit, when the user collects one family point, he or she loses one career point and vice versa. The points for the family are represented by heart icons while the points for the career are represented by a briefcase. In addition to that, since I am taking a 2D platformer as a base for the art game, the points are placed on the platforms or, as I call them, pillars of opportunities. Those platforms are not fixed and disappear from the game randomly. It can happen while the player is standing on one of the platforms or even when the player already passed them through.
The struggle of the game is a balance family and career. Or the user can make a choice and stick to only one category. My main idea is to put the player into the shoes of a working woman since many of them face certain obstacles while trying to achieve the goal, whatever it is. All of the gameplay aspects have a metaphorical meaning. For example, the points win-lose situation illustrates the struggle to balance those two things. The disappearing platforms hint on losing the opportunities for balancing family and career. As in, nothing is ever going to be the same. Nothing is ever going to be systematically organized no matter how hard one plans something. While there are certain expectations, the players never know when the earth beneath the feet is gonna start shifting. As the platforms disappear, the player falls off the platform and starts the level again. There is no way to actually lose or win the game since, in case of the fall, the player simply starts over and over again. This represents the everyday struggle for women as well. Women don’t lose or win once they finally balance family and career since the moment can’t be frozen in time forever, they will HAVE TO start over. Every day is a new game. Lastly, even if the player finally manages to get to the very last platform of the game, the platform will once again disappear and they will have to start over again. The struggle for balance never ends.
I am not planning to change the premise explained above and submitted for the final presentation of the midterm project. I believe the aspects of the gameplay submitted for the final presentation at the midterm convey the meaning of my project. The rules of the gameplay remain the same. I plan to make adjustments in the design of the assets in order to make the game more visually and emotionally engaging. I will begin the game with a question asking the player to identify themselves with either female or male. However, no matter what they choose, the player will be assigned to engage with the game from the female perspective. As for the end, there is no such thing in my game. If the player loses the level, he or she will start over and over and over. A very short instruction to the gameplay is provided right after the player is put to a choice between male and female. The instruction window simply prompts the user to balance family and career. I do not wish to disclose every aspect of the game to the player. I want them to be surprised by the outcomes. Windows or Macintosh computer systems are required to play the game.
Completed Game Reflection:
First of all, the game name was changed! Now, I call it To Be Me. I feel like this name reflects more on the meaning than the previous one. Overall, compared to my original plan, I think that I have met my own requirements up to 85%. Why? Because I still feel there is room to push it in the right direction to make it more meaningful. There was only was part of my game design plan that I struggled with and a few minor bugs. I managed to work out most of it but one bug remained.
So, I planned to implement a pop-up text on collision with prompts suggesting different challenging situations where a player is forced to pick between family and career once again. For example, son or daughter got sick but the boss is requiring you to do an important presentation for the client. Or it’s your partner’s birthday but you have a very important meeting to attend and have to stay extra hours and miss the partner’s birthday. I did try several different codes but I believe there was an issue with layers and display because the debug.log() was showing that the code was being executed.
The problem with layers was my nightmare throughout the process. Still, even now I am not sure how to fix it. The layers hierarchy affected the sprite display. So when the character jumps on the platform, she lands behind it instead of in front it. Again, I tried several things and spent more than 2 hours trying to figure it out but it turned out to be fruitless. Hopefully, I can fix it in the future.
One big change was the design. For example, compared to the midterm presentation, the game became a lot more fun as well. I was struggling to figure it correct sprites for the character, collectibles, and the platforms when I finally got an idea to use something almost all of us see and use almost every day. Emoji. Emoji was my solution. Moreover, the character transformed from a boring lavatory sign into a playful imaginary ideal of the woman. So it is no longer a faceless, character-less figure but a lady in a red dress, on heels, who is expected to be an overachiever. So I am rather happy with the game’s feel now.
Also, there was a lot of code clean up and rewrite that happened. In addition to that, I worked on tweaking the scripts from 2D platformer and adding new ones to reach the desired effect. For example, not all platforms fall after the player collided with them. It a random chance. User testing proved that with every platform falling there is no way to play the level for longer than 5 seconds. No chance to take a breath and plan a strategy. The coins probability and randomness is tweaked as well. Originally, the collectibles were placed on every platform but after user testing, I realized that there are way too many. It doesn’t make sense to provide that many to make the player motivated to even out the balance between career points and family points. The biggest work was done on generating random levels after the player falls off the platform. Each level consists of 5 construction parts that are placed in a random order, which doesn’t allow the player to memorize the way up and succeed in the game. This wasn’t the point. I think I spent the most amount of time implementing the mapping system into 2D platformer game. The platform generator script is no longer in use, I wrote another one that actually works with map-type of generation.
Overall, I think a few successful things have been done but there is always plenty of room for improvement. Here the link for playable version: click here!