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Old 08-12-2009, 12:14 PM   #1
cnutt
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Default Game Design Challenge: The Letter

You will design a game called The Letter which opens with the main character receiving a very significant letter. What's the content of the letter? Where does he or she go from there? That's up to you. Setting, content, genre -- those are the decisions you will make. The only restriction is that your game's story must begin with the protagonist receiving a letter.

Results are up! Thanks for your submissions!

http://gamecareerguide.com/features/...me_design_.php
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:44 PM   #2
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Kudos to the first one who designs a game around receiving a Sesame Street-style letter. One with googly eyes and limbs. I hope it's the 'L', he's cool.
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:07 AM   #3
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I'm not sure why, but the first place I go is not "receives a letter" in the traditional sense, but for some reason I am thinking of The Scarlet Letter. Maybe the game is a period piece, where the main character is branded with a letter (not necessarily an A) for some sin or crime he or she may have committed (not necessarily Adultery). The game then unfolds as the character seeks to escape or make their way in life bearing a mark of shame.

The letter can really be anything; the British tattooed deserters with the letter D (the Union Army during the US Civil War did the same). Even the phrase "to be Branded a Criminal" has it's origins in the act of branding a criminal with identification of their crime. Perhaps this is a good place to start as well; the character has 'received his letter' for a crime he didn't commit, and has to go about proving his innocence or living with the mark.

For a more game-related application, Halo 2 has the Arbiter character branded with a "symbol of shame" at the opening of the game.

Not sure where I am going with this. The Scarlet Letter itself is full of really interesting symbolism... It's been ages since I read it and it's not something I could confidently wade through this week, but I a quick refresher at Wikipedia convinces me there's at least a few interesting moments for a 'loose translation'. Things like the sun refusing to shine on the adulteress, meteoric omens in the sky... even Pearl makes an interesting, mischievous 'side-kick'. I can almost hear the taunting, GLaDOS-style, she would make as she tags along.

If EA can make a game out of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, I see no reason why someone couldn't make a really loose translation of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. I can at least promise mine won't be a God of War imitator.

I'll add to this post or make a new one when I have some more ideas on how the concept would work.
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:36 PM   #4
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I can see that no one is actually going to follow the meaning exactly as intended and take it in some tangent direction. ...Why you might say that no one is going to follow the letter of the law on this challenge!

My idea focuses on the part reminding us that no one sends letters anymore when there are e-mails instead.
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:23 AM   #5
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So your letter simply contains login credentials to an e-mail account?
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:16 AM   #6
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Why not?) For example SPAM is the LETTER. why if protagonist recieves the spam and decided to enlarge something) and then ...!
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Old 08-14-2009, 04:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protector one View Post
So your letter simply contains login credentials to an e-mail account?
No, but also rule-breakingly worthy!

I would also respect "receives spam junk mail in the mail and is driven to go on a killing spree."
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:13 PM   #8
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At the moment, my favorite pre-idea is something I'm calling "Chain". I'm leaning towards a first-person shooter/adventure type game that pushes exploration and puzzle-solving over combat (so, something along the lines of Metroid Prime or even Mirror's Edge). The game takes place in a large, metropolitan area the player is essentially free to explore.

The game puts the player in the role of a randomly generated character who receives a letter in the mail. This letter explains that the paper the character is currently reading is electronic in nature, and has just infected them with a special viral agent that will kill them in 24 hours unless they deliver the letter to the person listed. Once delivered, they virus will transfer itself to the next person and the letter will change, indicating who they must contact. Along the way, a secretive military force will be trying to stop the player, and they must rely on their survival instinct, gunplay, and stealth to move forward.

Each game can be between 3 and 6 characters (for different play times) long. The game uses a pool of descriptors to randomly generate each person in the chain; this allows for greater replay value and a unique play-style. Each person is comprised of 4 different descriptors, each of which have some effect on gameplay and affect how the player can go about the business of advancing the game.

For example, a character who is tall can reach higher ledges; a character who has a backpack can carry more. A player who has marksmanship training handles a firearm better, while a player who has the 'Native' descriptor has a better navigation HUD. I currently have about 20 descriptors, but could push that to 25 or 30. I've also considered adding negative descriptors to make the game more challenging (A harder game would generate characters with less positive descriptors).

Every time you play, the characters in the chain are regenerated; it is never the same chain twice.

If anyone is curious, the descriptors I have are Flashlight, Shooter, Backpack, Sprinter, Native, Nimble, Well-dressed, Wealthy, Bilingual, Geek, Lucky, Wealthy, Observant, Motorhead, Level-headed, Swimmer, PDA, Tenacious, Cutter, and Sneaky.

Not sure why the game requires the virus to be passed from person to person yet, still working on the why. Not sure how it concludes either; I had originally intended for it to lead to an assassination attempt, but that doesn't really fit the game now. The idea I have now is that the paper contains special information on a new super-weapon (maybe the virus itself), and by using random people from the population to transport it, it is harder to detect.

Still a work in progress, but I envision it as playing like a frantic race from one person to the next, with each person being a random mixture of descriptors to keep things exciting. I dunno, very rough concept so far.
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Last edited by Retro : 08-14-2009 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:15 AM   #9
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*Ahem* Well I just submitted my game design, which in many areas resembles the previous post from Retro. In fact, it looks almost identical. Nearly-word-for-word. So now that I let you know, you cannot accuse me of stealing. Just a heads up.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:37 AM   #10
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I guess since you've already submitted, I can work on something else.

That, or we can collaborate. I highly doubt our entries are exactly the same, so maybe we can toss ideas off each other. PM me your instant messenger info, or we can just work through PMs if you'd like.
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