Monday, August 8, 2016

Enchanted Assemblages: the role of "Damage"

With me, you never fall below zero.

As any teenager and young adult will tell you, damage-- whether it is being inflicted on the player or dished out by the player-- is a vital cornerstone of gaming. Without being wounded and wounding in turn, it is usually difficult to progress the story (though not impossible, of course). So, of course the issue in my own game is this: how will damage be handled, I hear you ask. Well, smartly, of course!

First off, as liberal and fuzzy as it sounds, I intend it as impossible for the player to die in this game. Or, strictly speaking, the player cannot get a "game over" screen as much as they can receive simply a distorted text. Let me explain.

Damage being inflicted by the player onto the enemy works very simply-- you hit the enemy, it weakens, you hit it some more until it is dead. Rinse and repeat. However, damage inflicted upon the player by enemies, that is another issue all together.

What I envision is this: when the player is damaged, the damage received, being a by-product of a fundamental reading error-- i.e., a literalist reading-- distorts the world which contains the text by which the player needs to interpret in order to advance. The embedded text is obscured, glossed over, shortened, altered... it becomes deformed, in other words, into another message (something, I am thinking, which depletes the richness of the literary world and renders a more minimalist art style devoid of existential meaning); a message which requires the player to very closely read in order for it to resume its normal, more clear textual mode.

The philosophy here is twofold: one, to encourage that there is no 'wrong' readings, per se; that even the most fundementalist literalist readings have some validity, despite the idea of such a reading misconstruing the deeper elements. The second idea, by extension, is to encourage deep readings. With the emphasis on critical theory, the player is expected to utilize their environment in a variety of ways in order to overcome obstacles. Essentially, this is the intellectual equivalent of a modern First-Person Shooter player using a full-arsenal of weapons instead of spending the whole game with just a standard machine gun; in this parallel, just as you may be able to finish the game using only a machine gun, in Enchanted Assemblages, you may be able to finish the game using literalist readings, but the game world, and even the ending, will be less captivating as a result. So I am hoping to help 'lay bare' the consequences of stale game play within an intellectual setting, something which in big budget games can only be done on a smaller scale and without consequences for the player.

This option will generate more artistic labor on my end since it essentially means two divergent art worlds side-by-side, but I feel it is worth the effort, especially since it will mean a chance to engage with another art style while also pondering some philosophical undercurrents for that art style. Besides, with the effort on minimalist techniques, it will be a different modus operandi and likely a less time consuming one at that, so I welcome the extra bit of labor if it means a more complete and enjoyable gaming experience.

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