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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations

    - staff

  •  Emily Greenquist, Student, Flashpoint Academy

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray," is the perfect foundation for a horrifying RPG (platform: PC/Mac). The target audience is a mix of intellectuals and/or gamers intrigued by the psychologically macabre. As the seemingly inconspicuous, handsome, yet wicked Dorian Gray, the player roams the streets of 1890's England, committing acts of hedonism in the pursuit of ultimate influence.

    Corruption, seduction, and even murder are rewarded with increased strength (health), stolen accoutrements (defense), money (for purchasing powerful ornaments), and influence (task others to commit crimes for additional rewards). The player's health bar is denoted by a cracking mirror, and the story progression is signified by the player's portrait, which continuously twists into horrific distortion.

    The plot and game begins with Dorian sipping tea with his friend, Lord Henry, who is expounding on his theories about hedonism (that self-indulgence is the moral code of man). Now controlling Dorian, the player is free to roam his ornate mansion, simultaneously learning basic controls (walking, running, and asset/character interaction). Completing this brief tutorial triggers the doorbell to ring. A delivery man provides a portrait of the player, painted by his friend, Basil. Suddenly enthralled with the beautiful portrait and influenced by Lord Henry's theories, Dorian pledges an internal pact with the devil - to sell his soul in exchange for eternal beauty, allowing him to pursue all facets of the human experience, no matter how base, without consequence.

    However, as the story unfolds, there certainly are consequences. In the game, all victims fight back and if Dorian accosts someone who is not exhibiting signifiers of guilt (a glowing aura), then the player will not only lose health points, but drop important items.

    The first task is initiated by Lord Henry, who suggests that Dorian attend a seedy playhouse and introduce himself to its beautiful ingénue, Sibyl Vane. Through this initial task, the player begins to explore the streets of 1980's England and corresponding parchment map. The city includes a mix of neighborhoods, ranging from the shadowy filth of the underworld to the dauntingly pristine peaks of high society. Within the city, the player has the option of walking, running (in intervals), or hailing a stage coach for a fee.

    At the playhouse, interacting with Sibyl initiates the player's next tasks - to gain her admiration by gifting flowers, jewelry, and money. These items can be obtained by caning guilty ("glowing") patrons and pedestrians. After delivering multiple offerings to gain Sybil's trust, Dorian ultimately destroys her on a whim.

    Such is the wickedness of Dorian Gray - evil is so encompassing that even seemingly innocent exchanges throughout the game, as in courtship, are twisted into ultimate acts of corruption. Eventually, in the final act, the player is held accountable for such malevolence by fending off the ghosts of previous victims, while fighting the final boss - a distorted image of himself.


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