Game Scope – How It Started & Where It Is Now

Very early in the game’s conceptualisation, the goal was much grander than what it is now. It was unrealistic for us to create. Not only in the time period we had to work in, but overall it would be too much to achieve within even a year, with our current level of experience. Initially, we wanted to go through nearly a full day in the life of a specific character. You’d brush your teeth, maybe make some breakfast, drive your car to work, realise the character is a hitman and try to fire a gun with chopsticks… you’d drive away in a car chase and eventually end with your boss congratulating you on a job well done… with the final task of having to sign your character’s name.

It was obvious very quickly that a lot of our ideas were going to be too much. At first we considered just doing a few of the things we discussed: brushing your teeth, going into an office to get your hitman target, and then trying to use a gun with the chopsticks. So we removed “drive your car” and “write your name” from the tasks, as we felt they would be the hardest to implement into Unity: a vehicle being controlled by a steering wheel being operated by chopsticks that is on a road with other driving cards; with the potential to sustain damage, and a concept of actual ink you can write with: were beyond us.

Eventually it became apparent that the scope was still too large for what we could do. As we began to work on implementing the fundamental mechanics (the player being able to grab and move objects), we realised that… physics-based games are difficult, even when your engine (Unity) has its own physics system. It was truly the folly of man.

This led to us scoping down even further, and we limited the player space to an office, and started to lean towards the idea of making the game a ‘sandbox’, meaning that there would be no clear direction or narrative: the player is simply given the freedom to do what pleases them. This was the simplest way to do things, but I myself did have a struggle with this change in vision, due to the fact my greatest skill is designing a sense of narrative and tying it into the mechanics present.

Because of my struggle, the team had a meeting to try and figure out a way to increase the incorporation of narrative without a large increase of scope. We landed on the idea of maintaining the limitation of having the game occur in an office space, but came up with the absurd narrative that the player character would be a hitman performing relatively normal office tasks, with a twist to make them lethal to a specific coworker. 

For example, one target would ask you to pour them a cup of coffee. The player would do this… but they’d be able to add rat poison into the coffee to eliminate the target. Although, the actual death would be off-screen, ie. implied rather than directly shown. This would help keep the age rating down. All these hitman targets would be revealed at the end to be given by the boss of the business, who wanted to fire the targeted-employees but also didn’t want to give them severance pay. Once again: adding absurdity to a relatively normal office scenario (wanting to let an employee go).

Whilst this is still a long-term goal, for the portion of this project that is part of our university work, this too was too difficult for us to execute, and we have had to resort to the sandbox style of gameplay: simply allowing the player to roam and see what objects they can mess around with and have fun with seeing how trying to interact with objects goes.

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