• Maina Chen

Inner Demons: Developmental Posts - Sprint 2

Updated: Apr 24, 2019

(SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ANYONE WHO HASN'T PLAYED THE GAME.)


This is my first sprint post ever! The first sprint didn't make the cut because I was fumbling around with a final project idea. After a round of pitches and re-pitches, I'd settled on an idea: Inner Demons. This was originally a concept for a table-top board game I wanted to build of four pre-made characters of varying age ranges and the players would have to either cooperate or sabotage each other to (1) scavenge and explore the mansion for their "saving item," (2) advance and escape the mansion they were trapped in, (3) run or defeat their individually spawned monsters.


So if we were to use "Bartle’s Taxonomy of Players" (which has problems within itself), the players I was gearing towards were:



There were so many mechanics that I wanted to shove in and for a board game with my skills and no designers to steer me, I dropped the idea. Then came time for the final project in the Advanced Seminar in Game Narrative class and I thought, "Woah. I can revive this idea." And so, revive I did (tried) as an interactive story/adventure.


I didn't realize how massive it actually was. I only had three and a half weeks. THREE AND A HALF WEEKS. Not even a full month left! I thought I would be able to write out FOUR branching story lines in individualistic character perspectives, while also gamifying it for the player so they wouldn't feel like they are the character they're playing and instead are controlling or steering that character's actions. And then, whichever character the player picked, they would be able to go through their story and see and interact with the other three characters as they advanced in their own stories. And those other characters would almost have this sentience about them like they knew you were going to sabotage them and would also possibly turn against you.


(Oof.) I was sure ambitious. It was after this sprint passed and I started piecing together my game design doc (GDD) and doing scrum boards and backlogs that I realized how incredibly out of scope I was for the few weeks I'd have to work while balancing my three other classes of a similar difficulty level.


When I originally pitched this a few weeks ago around the end of March, I wondered which programs would be able to handle this, because even though I had experience with Twine, Twine is a demon. (I'd made stories in Twine before, but they were never quite what I'd wanted them to be. Although, with every failed story, it felt like I was evolving a bit.) I wanted to try other programs and was steered to either Ren'py or Inky. I had a good go with Ren'py, but realized within the first week of April that it was extremely image-based. All my hours I'd calculated for slip flew out the window and I had to scramble to come up with an entirely new backlog of hours.


By using Ren'py I'd have to do three things: (1) learn Photoshop, (2) focus on images and the look more than the stories, and (3) learn Ren'py's coding. Again, wishful thinking struck again because I thought I'd be able to do all these again. Goodness no. No Maina. So it was only after sitting down and processing my diminishing time that I realized that I'd have to return to the demon.


Fitting that I'd think of it as such given my project title.

That was the process. As for the development, this was my v.1 backlog:



With this as my estimated hours:



Hahaa...that wasn't happening. I'd almost forgot about my other classes at this point. So while my mind was imploding from everything I'd inflicted on myself, the first bit of scoping I had to do was cut down the number of characters I'd focus on and lay the boundaries of each day spent. I settled on focusing on Blaire, the 23-year-old recent college graduate who's struggling financially and wants to get a break by checking out a possible "share house" deal.


Even though I hadn't started on my implementation, I was working on the documentation and managed to create a map and a more detailed version of the macro game flow diagram, equipped with items and their descriptions.



This is an updated chart! The original didn't have so many different endings or items/their locations.

My charting powers grow stronger.

© 2020 Maina Chen