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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Joy

    - staff

  • Emily Greenquist, Student at Tribeca Flashpoint, My Palace

    "My Palace" is a casual puzzle game with the purpose of unpacking stress and creating joy. It is a tactile iPad experience with a female slanted audience.

    The player is first shown an urban apartment that has clearly been robbed. The camera (the player) urgently pans the scene of strewn paper and toppled furniture, but then slowly zooms to an undamaged dollhouse, nestled in the debris and upright on the floor. Instead of immediately cleaning the apartment, the player is directed to play with the dollhouse. The dollhouse is a diversion (a coping mechanism), and the forthcoming game within is a soothing, cathartic, and smile-inducing experience.

    Gameplay begins in one empty room of the dollhouse - shadows indicate where furniture used to be and the floor is littered with wads of balled up paper. Currently, the only intractable objects are the pieces of paper. Once pressed, a piece of paper begins to open, and requires the player to continue this unwrapping by using their finger to smooth it out (this sets the slow and deliberate pace of the game, simulates a tactile experience, and is likened to the unwrapping of a handmade present).

    Each page contains the pencil drawn image of either: a piece of furniture, a decoration, or the top or bottom half of a caricatured figure. Each item helps the player reassemble this empty room piece by piece:

    Furniture - Using shadows on the walls (and/or the page), the player drags the furniture page (chair, harp, chandelier, etc) to its speculated location. If correct, the drawn image remains in place.*

    Decoration - Decorations (deck of cards, Faberge egg, candles etc) must be placed on top of furniture. If the corresponding piece of furniture is not in place, then the decoration cannot yet be placed.*

    Figures: top or bottom - Inspired by the tradition of exquisite corpses, sections are taped together to create surreal figures that interact within the room. Their function: when drawings of objects are accurately placed, figures change these into realistic renders (see the provided image).*

    *If an object is not accurately placed, cannot be placed, or if a piece of a figure does not have a corresponding half available, the piece of paper with the drawn image floats to the ground. The player may press it again to access the page at any time during the game.

    (The fully "realized" room is a photograph of the Palace of Versailles, courtesy of Tatiana' Tea Room. The doll house itself is inspired by the ornate richness of this palace of treasures).

    A typical scene in the middle of gameplay includes a mix of pencil drawn and realistic images of furniture and decorations, along with odd figures walking about the room (peering out a window, using a wall to stretch, rearranging a vase of flowers, etc.) The player may interact with any "realized" objects by tapping on it - the rug changes its design, a Faberge egg opens to reveal pastries, the fireplace ignites a wood burning fire that can be stoked, etc. To further contain the player within this room, a "realized" mirror links to the computer's camera and reflects the image of the player examining the space. Once the final piece of furniture or decoration is "realized," a figure unlocks and opens a door to the next empty dollhouse room to be unpacked and realized.

    The goal of "My Palace" is to fully realize the entire dollhouse. At the end of this, the camera pans back to the apartment, where the silhouette of a human form begins to clean up the robbed apartment. There are no points, timers, or consequences during this game, only the unpacking of decadent surprises (a deliberate process to better deal with the real world).


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