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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Hamlet

    - staff

  •  Sharon Hoosein, Kent Place School, Horatio's Challenge
    The player plays as Horatio, a minor but important character in the play. Shakespeare wrote his plays for a passive audience that could only empathize with the characters and watch events unfold. This type of audience could relate to the themes of fate and inevitability his plays deal with, where the characters are as unable to change the tragic flow of events as the audience. However, games require the player to have some sort of active role. As Horatio, the player would have a both passive and active role in the plot.

    As Horatio, the player will perform tasks to assist and protect Hamlet. These tasks will be drawn from the text (e.g., getting Hamlet away from celebrating crowds to speak to his father's ghost). Although some changes will occur to allow the player to have an active role, these changes will keep the context of the text as much as possible.

    Deviation from the actual text can lead students to discuss it more. They will discuss why they think the game deviated the way it did and whether they think the game should have stayed more loyal to the text. Some scenes Horatio is not in will be cut to save budget.

    Tasks will be separated by cutscenes of major parts in the play. Since cutscenes are broken up into short segments, the scenes are easier for someone to absorb than if they watched a film of the play all the way through.

    The game will be played in first-person perspective for a fully immersive experience.
    When Horatio fails at a task/dies, instead of "Game Over," the line "To be or not to be, that is the question" will be used. This way, player will ponder the quote and how it relates to death.

    Cutscenes will be played by live actors. This makes the game retain the original "play" feel of Hamlet. Grant money can be spent on props such as Hamlet's sword and film equipment that the university does not already own.

    No 3D art will be used, since it's too expensive and time consuming. Cutscenes will be filmed actors and use only basic touch up film editing software. The in-game graphics will be 2D in first-person, and 2D artists will use the actors as reference for character design and animations. Grant money will be spent on graphics as well.

    The team will fully utilize resources already owned by the university to save money and will get permission to use university software and equipment. We will turn to highly talented university students and professors first before hiring outside talent.

    A Quick Rundown
    Cutscene: Act I, scenes I and first half of scene II (celebration of Claudius' marriage to Gertrude)

    Game: Horatio must travel through the moving maze of celebrating people to rescue the miserable Hamlet. Jugglers, sword dancers, and firecrackers the crowd sets off can damage Horatio.

    Cutscene: Act I, second half of scene II (Hamlet agrees to keep watch) scene IV.

    Game: Horatio runs after Hamlet, who appears in the distance. Horatio must dodge the evil spirits that come towards him.

    Cutscene: Act I, scene V. Act II, scene II

    Game: King Claudius will try to sit where he cannot see the play. Horatio/player must reposition audience members so Claudius and Gertrude are forced to sit in the middle and watch the play.

    When Claudius sees the poison dropped in the ear scene, he will run out. Horatio must chase after the king and fight the guards that try to stop him.

    Cutscene: Act III, scene III

    Game: Horatio follows Hamlet into Gertrude's room, where Hamlet is screaming at his mother. Polonius is hiding in the room listening in on the conversation. The door locks. Horatio must escape through a secret tunnel behind a mirror without getting discovered. Hamlet goes into rage and starts destroying furniture -- and hiding spots. Polonius will move around and stop behind random furniture. Hamlet will destroy the furniture and Polonius will move again.

    Cutscene: End of Act III, scene IV (Hamlet stabs Polonius). Act IV, scenes III (scenes I and II will be included if time and budget allow) and IV

    Game: Horatio must save Hamlet by swapping the letter for execution of Hamlet with a letter calling for the execution of the letter bearers, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Pirates attack the ship Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are on. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern get kidnapped by the pirates and drop the initial letter during the struggle. Player/Horatio must battle the pirates, free the former letter bearers and give them the new letter. Player and Hamlet board the pirate ship while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern continue on the first ship to England ... and death.

    Cutscene: (Act IV, scene V if time and budget allow) end of Act IV, scene VII (Ophelia drowns herself)

    Game: Horatio and Hamlet arrive in the church where someone is being buried. Horatio and Hamlet must navigate a complex maze of skulls, falling rocks, and pitfalls to reach the gravediggers.

    Cutscene: Act V, scene I

    Game: Horatio must prevent Laertes from hurting Hamlet without killing him. Duel will last for a set period of time.

    Cutscene: Beginning of Act IV, scene VII (Claudius and Laertes plot Hamlet's death with poisoned sword and cup for backup). Beginning of Act V, scene II (Osric announces Laertes' challenge and Hamlet accepts)

    Game: Horatio must ride to summon Fortinbras to come to Hamlet's aid. Fortinbras is currently in a battle with the Poles and riding around giving commands. Horatio must chase after Fortinbras while dodging arrows, slaying enemy soldiers with sword, avoiding catapult and ballista attacks, and navigating through a maze of trenches filled with soldiers. The soldiers in the trenches will jump out. If the soldiers are enemy soldiers, they will attack. If the soldiers are Fortinbras', they will heal Horatio.

    Cutscene: Rest of Act V, scene II


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