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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations

    - staff

  • Paolo Tajè, Programmer at Siemens Building Technologies

    And then? Odyssey!

    Platform: PC (concept suited for a Flash game)
    Target: 12+ (Odyssey is quite violent)

    And then? Odyssey! is a game about the act of narration, inspired by the great Homer's poem. In the game an old Ulysses tells the story of his long lasting and dangerous journey to a group of kids in Ithaca.

    The kids are very curious and pay a lot of attention to what Ulysses is saying. They are so eager to listen to him, that they continue to ask him what he did next. And that's where the interactive part starts.

    But first, let's talk about what you can seed during the game. The screen is divided horizontally in two parts: in the lower one there are Ulysses and the kids, sitting around a campfire; in the upper part, you can see Ulysses' words coming alive, as if he imagined his story while he's telling it.

    The characters talk through speech balloons. As we said before, the interactive part starts when the children ask Ulysses what he did next. While the game shows the balloon "And then I...", the player takes control of the upper part of the screen; using its mouse pointer, he can click, double click, drag and drop characters or part of the environment, trying to find the right way to continue the story.

    In the case of a narrated dialogue, the player can choose between two or more balloons that will come out from young Ulysses' mouth.

    Let's make a gameplay example now:

    We can consider the episode when Ulysses awakes on the shore of Scheria (or Phaeacia), after a terrible shipwreck. He fell asleep with the help of Athena, and in the morning he was awakened by the voice of Nausicaa.

    Here's an example of a dialogue between Ulysses and the kids:

    U: "So I heard the beautiful voice of a young lady, and I would have talked to her, but I soon realized I was completely naked!"
    K: "And then?"
    U: "And then I..."

    At this point, the player can interact with the upper part of the screen, for example dragging young Ulysses around. The player could put him in the sea, thinking he could have run away in the waves. This is a wrong choice, so the game would return to the previous situation in a similar manner:

    U: "I jumped in the sea!"
    K: [doubtful] "Really?"
    U: "But the water was too cold, and I returned on the seashore... but I soon realized I was completely naked!"
    K: "And then?"
    U: "And then I..."

    In this way the game will give another opportunity to the player, who could put Ulysses behind a bush, or drag a bush in front of Ulysses:

    U: "I hid behind a bush and talked to the beautiful girl..."

    And the story continues.

    Thus the player holds an active role in the story; he's free to experiment new or funny solutions, and watch old Ulysses while he tries to justify them. There are, anyway, no alternative paths, because the story tries to remain faithful to the original one.


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