Week 7: Project Proposal 4 / by Valzorra

Background

The core mechanic, the environment, and the story would all be based on mathematics, making this game a passionate love letter to the field.

Coming from my research on Probability and Chance, as well as Matrices and Markov Chains, I sought out to come up with a game where chance and probability were essential to the main mechanics (for more information on the research itself, please refer to Week 1: A Welcome Return, Week 2: Calculus and Cancer, Week 3: Research on Mathematics, Week 3: The Matrix, Week 4: Markov Chains, Week 5: Mathematics Visualised). With this in mind, I instantly thought of dice, and how dice could potentially be used and controlled within a game environment. Some of the questions I was thinking of were how would different dice impact gameplay, what would be the statistical chances of landing on certain faces, etc. (for more on Fair Dice, please refer to Week 3: Research on Mathematics). Keeping this idea of chance, probability, and dice as central mechanics, and coming back to my goal of creating a fun and empowering experience, with a few cool notches to mathematics (for more on this revelation, please refer to Week 5: Just for Fun), I thought it would be really exciting to assign special abilities to each side of the dice. Additionally, using my research on perspective and concepts like Desargues’ Theorem, I thought it would be quite cool to base the environment on those geometric principles (for more on that, head to Week 4: Dimension). The puzzles and environment in this game could stem from geometric proofs of theorems. This would mean that the core mechanic, the environment, and the story which is loosely based on the Riemann-Zeta Hypothesis, would all be based on mathematics, thus making this game a humble love letter to the field. I have detailed the specifics of the project below.

Project Overview

The action takes place in the late twenty-first century in a world not too dissimilar to our own, where humanity has come up with one of its greatest inventions, the Alteration Implants. There are a multitude of Alteration Implants or Alters for short, all of which give their users special abilities, such as Telekinesis, Teleportation, and more. All of the Alteration Implants developed immensely benefit society and are used in the workforce constantly. For example, the transportation industry has never been more punctual since the introduction of the Teleportation Alters. Each individual is genetically susceptible to only one type of Alter, which means that one person can only use one ability based on their unique genetic code, much like Blood Types. Because of this biological predisposition, individuals can usually only work in professional fields related to their Alter. The entire society is structured upon this principle, and the great scientific mystery of this time is to try and figure out how to enable people to use more than one.

You play as Zeta, a bright and ambitious young woman who has managed to crack this mystery. Zeta is also a highly-skilled and compulsive gambler. She lives in this universe’s equivalent of Las Vegas and plays competitively at the largest tournaments in the city. However, as skilled as she is she could never defeat the top ten players in the city, which is why she was looking for a way to gain an edge. Through her advanced mathematics and engineering skills, she figured out how to infuse standard six-sided die with the Alteration Implants available in this universe. After this breakthrough, she could use the dice in tournaments and gain an advantage over her opponents. Having a Telekinetic Alteration Implant herself, Zeta can also change the way the dice rolls, having freedom to pick and choose which side it would land on. However, unfortunately one of the players eventually catches on to what she is doing, starting a thrilling chase and mystery for Zeta, that will test her wits and determination. More on the specific details of the narrative would follow in future developments and posts relating to this project.

In terms of gameplay, what makes this project exciting is the intricate use of the dice and the opportunity to control chance and incorporate that into problem-solving scenarios. Zeta will have the power to use a total of three die. Whenever the player wants to use their abilities from the dice, they will roll all three and receive a certain value for each. Each value on the die will correspond to an ability. Using her Telekinetic Powers, Zeta would be able to change the way one of the dice rolls. She may change only one dice in the beginning of the game as she would not be particularly skilled at using her Telekinesis. As the player progresses through the game, they would have further control and would be able to change two and maybe all three die. Once the player has decided which dice they would like to change the roll of, all abilities may be used in the order the player chooses. For example, if I rolled a 3, a 1, and a 2, then changed my 3 to a 6, I would end up with a 6, a 1, and a 2. At that stage, I would be able to pick the order in which to use these abilities take place and I would have to make my way through the level based on that selection. Zeta is a gambler, so her risk-taking nature is perfectly incorporated into the gameplay. Additionally, this encourages the player to make the most of a situation with the hand they were dealt, connecting to larger themes of free will and choice.

Concept Pieces

I began some work on concept pieces and mechanics for Zeta’s abilities last week during our Tech Workshop session (for more on that, have a look at Week 6: Exploring Ideas and Mechanics). I have chosen a series of abilities that could potentially make it to the game, predominantly based on what the needs of that society would be. The Alteration Implants would have been researched and developed in order to help mitigate and alleviate some common problems within society, or to make existing practices more efficient. That’s why I have strove to ensure that all abilities have a good reason to exist within this society, which is why people would have invested into their research and development. I already knew I wanted to have some form of Telekinesis in order to help Zeta move the dice. To come up with other appropriate abilities for that purpose, I did a bit of idea generation based on the question If you could have any superpower or special ability what would it be? After I had a list of abilities that answered that question, I then proceeded to filter those answers with the question, Which of these abilities could be commonly used and benefit society? After answering that, I was left with a list of seven abilities, specifically:

  1. Telekinetic - Service Industry, Nursing, Building, Implanting Alters, Military

  2. Electric - Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Robotics, STEM

  3. Teleportation - Transportation, Law Enforcement, Military

  4. Defensive - Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Military, Mining, Dangerous Professions

  5. Light - Agriculture, Ecology, Show Business, Entertainment

  6. Sound - Navigation, Military, Show Business, Entertainment, Ultrasonic Engineering

  7. Stopping Time - Secret Services, Military, Law Enforcement, Security

Idea Generation for all of the abilities functioning within this society.

Idea Generation for all of the abilities functioning within this society.

After narrowing down what all of the abilities within this society would be, I made a few storyboard-like sketches to showcase these mechanics individually within the game. The illustrations below do not really show how they would work in combination with each other, but the main idea is that these would be used to navigate through the environment. Additionally, levels would be designed in such a way that a multitude of combinations of abilities could solve the problem, resulting in a series of different approaches to the same situation. I have also explored a few different versions of some of these abilities, as I have yet to fully make my mind up about how they would function within the game. In any case, this would be something to explore within my prototypes over the coming week.

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Thoughts and Reflection

So far, this is definitely my favourite idea as it seems the most fun, it connects the best to my research, and overall has the potential to achieve all of the goals I want it to. I have yet to decide whether this experience would take place in three-dimensional or two-dimensional space as both have their pros and cons. If I make this a two-dimensional game, it would incorporate a lot of the things I am interested in, such as perspective and what type of information gets lost within perspective. My only reservation about making it two-dimensional is that I am not fully certain how to make it an exciting puzzle-solving experience that does not entirely rely on traditional platforming techniques. Whereas if I were to make the project three-dimensional, I would be making the idea slightly more generic and it may lose some of its mathematical flare, however, it is practically guaranteed to work efficiently. Overall, I am quite confident I will be taking this idea forward, at this stage it is only a matter of time to try and figure out how to present it. Hopefully some feedback from the presentations next week will help me get that clarified.