Posts tagged gaming
Posts tagged gaming
Originally posted on Lucas’s blog at Silverstring Media
I’ve spent the last three days attending the Games For Change festival in NYC. With keynotes by Jesse Schell, Jane McGonigal, and Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, among others), it was a really interesting mix of game design, activism, and inspiration.
Much of the content over the three days was fascinating, though of course there were ups and downs – some case studies that weren’t very interesting, some major organizational difficulties, etc. There was a really great talk by Scott Nicholson about games in the library and how to partner with librarians to bring your games to communities (during which he revealed that, including school libraries, there are more libraries in the States than there are most major fast food chains combined).
I was here of course with Karen on behalf of The Time Tribe, it being the game for change I’m working on. Much of the content over the three days was stuff we kind of knew – principles of game design, the power of games to make for better education, all the stuff we’re predicated on. Though of course it’s always nice to get a refresher on those things and the excitement that can come with it. We got a few good ideas out of it for the planning of content going forward.
But one of the things we noticed was that when it comes to educational games, the focus is almost always on games in the classroom, games with measurable educational results. And those games always have such huge guidelines that must be adhered to, and so often result in, well, not fun games.
It really just drove home for me, I think, that The Time Tribe really isn’t “an educational game”. We’re a game. We’re an awesome adventure game with an epic storyline and time travel. The fact that it’s historically accurate, that there’s more information available if you want it, that it will get kids thinking critically and understanding multiple points of view and cultures, is just a bonus.
We want to be a game first, and while games have an amazing potential to bring change in an individual, to educate far better than the typical modern classroom, we can’t ever let a desire to do that get in the way of the desire to make a great game.
While The Time Tribe partially takes its cues from “virtual worlds”, a common tween gaming favourite — having characters who exist in a persistent world they can log into, play minigames, collect currency, customize — its primary gameplay takes its cues from classic point-and-click adventure games.
A big part of those games is the so-called lock-and-key puzzle, which at its most basic is requiring an item to get through a door, but also involves things like finding (hidden) items to give to certain people, getting items from one person for another person, etc.
There are several quests in the ‘prologue’ launch episode of the Time Tribe, and many of them are some kind of variation on this classic idea. We think there are some neat twists to the essential formula, but essentially they are what they are.
But this means that we need the possibility of having a bunch of different items that a player could pick up lying around a bunch of different rooms in the Keep. In the picture above, you can see one image of the Great Hall LITTERED with items. We were very impressed when we looked at this image and saw the care with which our developers over at Dubit arranged all those items. They’re not just icons placed on an image, they’re objects fully in the world — our llama’s even wearing one!
When it came to the music of The Time Tribe, there was no question in our minds: we wanted something beautiful, orchestral, magical, hummable. We wanted John Williams, basically. What we got was pretty close — our composer Francesco d’Andrea created a gorgeous prologue theme that really evoked the magic and mystery of The Time Tribe, and went on to compose several more tracks for us, some of which you can hear in our teasers.
But when it came to the actual in-game music, we wanted something a bit more interesting, more dynamic to what you were doing in the game than just a single piece of basic background music.
The standard video game music process is to have different music for different places — forest music, city music, dungeon music. But for the prologue episode we’re launching with, the game takes place in one location: the Keep. Admittedly, there are many rooms in the Keep — Library, Great Hall, Kitchen, Bedroom… But they wouldn’t be that different, musically.
But we also have four different characters, each with very distinct personalities, and we thought the game should feel different depending on who you’re playing.
So we brought on composer/producer Devin Vibert to help us out. He took Francesco’s compositions and arranged them to be game background music — but he took it to the next level. The melody of the music is played by different instruments and arranged differently depending on which character you’re playing as — while the background changes slightly depending on what room you’re in.
What we end up with is music that seems like one coherent piece, but is actuallysixteendifferent variations that you will hear in the game.
In the audio clip above, you can hear bits of the melodies for Lewis, Kate, Will, and Iris, and then the Great Hall orchestration behind it at the end.
Also, please consider helping us out on our Kickstarter campaign! We have only a couple short weeks to raise enough money to help us finish this project. If you pledge at least $35, you can get a complete copy of the soundtrack, too! 22 tracks total.
To make this game everything we want it to be, we need a little help getting to the finish line. Please check out our Kickstarter campaign — full of lots of new information and some amazing opportunities as rewards — and please, share widely! If the spirit moves you, please give as generously as you can, as Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition!
We’re looking for $25,000 to bring this thing home, and in exchange we’re offering physical timekeys with cool bonus swag exclusive to Kickstarter backers, access to the beta test of the game, and much much more.
Please check it out, and thank you so much for your interest and support!
- Karen and Lucas
As we embarked on this journey, we discovered pretty quickly that yes, it does actually take a lot of work to make a game. And when there are only really two of us doing all the designing and writing and idea-ing, we kept finding all these little things that we hadn’t thought about having to do that had to be done. Things you don’t think about when creating the big picture — like what happens when you try to “Talk To” the fireplace?
But it’s been an amazing process, and every once in a while I had to stop myself, and stare at my screen, and think,
“I’m writing a dialogue tree for a video game right now, as a job. …Wow.”
This picture is what it looked like when I was editing those dialogue trees and the entire walkthrough for our prologue launch episode of The Time Tribe.
Just wrapped up day three of a marathon weekend of voice recordings, hours at a time via Skype, with the unbelievably awesome Lani Minella (www.audiogodz.com) and her talented cohort of actors.
What really struck me as we plodded live through the takes, line by line, again and again, over a crackly Skype connection is this: amazing as the concept art was, and critical for setting the tone for all that would follow, the characters and their distinctive voices are what really bring The Time Tribe to life. I lived with these characters in my head for years, literally, as I developed their stories. Accepted and rejected their distinctive and idiosyncratic tics, honed them to play nicely within an ensemble cast, while preserving whatever it was that made them—well—themselves.
And so I am delighted to present a few words from Hester and Agatha, just two of the characters who make the Keep a very interesting place indeed.
One of the first steps we took in creating the Time Tribe was bringing Karen’s vision to life. Our concept art of the characters and the Keep — the rambling old museum/manor home that serves as the home base of the game and the setting of our opening episode — really helped set the tone for everything that came after, and we’re blessed to have worked with artist Chris Beatrice to do so.
But we’ve come a long way since then, and as our amazing developers Dubit Ltd. actually put the game together, leading up to our beta release, it’s amazing to see these visions come to fully realized and gorgeous life.
It’s when we see images like this one that it hits us — we’re making a game. And that’s pretty cool.
Introducing our second teaser video! Get a taste of our vocal talent, the game art, and a bit of gameplay. Get ready to explore the Keep, my friends. The Time Tribe is coming soon.
I’ve gone through the incredible journey of pregnancy three times. The panicky doubts that see-saw with giddy mania, the sleepless nights, the aches, pains and miserable setbacks that blindside you. The waiting that seems at once endless and yet over in a flash. And best of all, that magical way in which your brain obliterates all the bad stuff once that baby arrives.
But I have to say the experience of spinning the Time Tribe from the scattered filaments of my original vision into something that people will soon actually be able to play, to enjoy, maybe even to learn from, has been nothing less than mind-blowing. Like some pit bull that clamped down and refused to let go until I handed over a beta key, the ongoing development of this thing has obsessed, tortured, and - in precious glorious moments - fulfilled me more than any other project. Ever.
So, I hope you’ll tune in here as we share the backstory of the making of the Time Tribe. It’s been a crazy process of self-education and discovery in the Dark Arts of Digital Storytelling, made possible by a lot of help from amazing, generous friends and colleagues in the gaming, transmedia, and edtech communities. And we’ve only just begun!
Don’t forget to sign up at our website to be notified whenever we have exciting news to share!
Welcome to the Time Tribe production blog! Here we’ll keep you updated with everything we’re working on behind the scenes as we near the launch of the Time Tribe adventure game.
Can’t believe it’s so close already…
To get started, check out the little teaser we did last year for StoryWorld!