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Intent Statement- By limiting the visibility through the camera renderer to the player, they experience the stresses of blindness and claustrophobia in a relatively simple environment. 2. Thesis- The initial curiosity for this system came from a discussion in which I realized the difficulty, or even the impossibility of the development of the of a video game base off of the character Daredevil, the blind superhero. Daredevil instead uses his radiation enhanced super-senses to maneuver through New York City. My thought was that because of his vastly different perspective from the most superheroes accurately creating his experience and immersing the player into it would be the greatest challenge for an IP game. This started me thinking on how one would even begin to design such an experience. The initial thought would be that the player would have to essentially earn the right to seeing the environment. The idea was based on the stereotypical portrayal of echo location; in which when sounds occur the creature’s mind naturally converts this information into sight. Obviously this isn’t how echo location actually works, but is just the easiest way to portray the idea on screen. In actuality, in the case of humans the technique involves a producing a series of click-like sounds and then having a very developed understanding of how the sound will interact with any of the potential materials one would encounter in the world. For some people this can be a naturally developed knowledge as was the case for Juan Ruiz, but is more often has to be learned in what I would imagine is a grueling process. While this concept was interesting it seemed far deeper and more difficult than what I actually wanted to portray to the player. Also I was more interested in the discomfort that comes with the player being in a disorienting and knew environment then actually accurately portray the experience of such people who are capable of echolocation. While attempting to think of a middle ground context I remembered the novel House of Leaves. An over simplification of the novel is that it is about an endless maze, and within it there is never a source of light. Many a page is devoted to describing the kind of blackness that would be found in such a place. The book describes a documentary and point out it’s fairly to be able to properly portray this experience on screen. This was concept that was interesting, attempting to solve a maze in complete blackness. In real life one uses their hands to find surfaces, but this kind of interaction isn’t really possible to convey in a game, so I thought to use the initial idea of revealing surfaces to the player. Only now it is to replace the certainty of touching the surface, and not a poor imitation of echo location. The greatest risk within such an idea is that the player could become completely disoriented far beyond my intentions to the point where the maze is completely unsolvable. To avoid this I looked into maze solution algorithms. This lead to the discovery of the term right hand rule, which refers to the process in which one follows the right hand surface for the entirety of their progression through a maze, and this will guarantee that a solution will be discovered. This system only works if all the walls in the maze are connected, as otherwise the player could find an area in which the circle around infinitely.
Knowing this guaranteed that the player would always stand a chance. The only other risk was that the player would not have a frame of reference within the game world. To solve this a goal would have to be included so that the player would always know where forward was. Also the goal would be colored to stand out within the black game space. 3. Mechanics-
-The Player (Green) has a line of site (red) on the goal (yellow) but cannot see the maze walls (Dashed black)
-The player fires their projectile (blue) forward
-A collision between the projectile and the maze wall makes it visible (solid black)
-This break the players line of site, and they now have to find a new method of getting to the goal.
A. The actual maze layout from a top down perspective with the player in the bottom left corner and the goal in the top right.
B. The game at its starting position. The goal is visible in the distance, but the player isn’t fully aware of what stands between them and it. The floor and the ceiling are undesirable from the rest of the world. The maze is invisible. This is the point at which the game space seems most hostile, and this is the easiest point at which to become disoriented.
C. Firing a projectile in the direction you are looking.
D. The collision between the projectile and the maze walls causes them to appear. At this point the player is discovering the nature of the challenge they face and the obstacles before them.
E. If the player looks behind them to discover that the walls that they have revealed are slowly returning to their invisible state. Success is now binary, either it is completed or not. Completing a majority of it will show no different after a short amount of time. This realization is both disconcerting but also motivating.
F. The player is capable of getting very close to the goal…
G. Only to discover they still have their path blocked. This hopeful sense of accomplishment is broken. Now the maze must be accomplished out of spite and anger.
H. Until the player has in fact completed the maze and they feel tired and stressed, but satisfied. 5. Post Mortem- The success of this system is mixed. I it seems that it does succeed in portraying feelings of disorientation and claustrophobia to the player, but the extent to which is unknown. The amount to which this is accomplished has been different between players and play styles. Most testers did not seem overly bothered by the feeling. But at one point I attempted to solve the maze with a left-hand rule (I am right handed and usually tested it with a right hand rule.) This resulted in some mild motion sickness and headaches on my part. This would be causing the feeling I intended to a far too great and extent. Since none of the other tester had this reaction I’m not sure to what extent this is a problem, but I definitely consider it one.
Bibliography Danielewski, Mark Z. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon, 2000. Print. An interesting novel that in part explores the psychological ramifications of being trapped in a utterly black maze. This gave me the idea of stepping away from blindness for a different experience. Dworschak, Manfred. "Sight for the Blind: The Growing Success of Seeing with Sound." ABC News. ABC News Network, 26 June 2011. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. It explores the real life use of echolocation by humans. This made me realize that this wasn’t the real experience I wanted to convey. <http://abcnews.go.com/International/sight-blind-growing-success-sound/story? id=13924040>. "How to Solve a Maze." How to Solve a Maze. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. Some basic maze solving theories that I used to ensure that the level wouldn’t be unsolvable by accident. <http://www.teamofmonkeys.com/html/how2solvemazes.html>. Waid, Mark, Paolo Rivera, and Marcos Martín. Daredevil. New York: Marvel, 2012. Print. The super hero comic series that really explores the characters unique super powers for the first time. This series was the initial inspiration for my system.