I struggle with the problematic nature of writing a ‘game’ about troubles in the Middle East where the player takes on the role of the US president. Irregardless, here we go.
I despise the absolute clarity and understanding contemporary games afford the player. Every single metric is exposed, even modern shooters break immersion with the use of XP popups occurring in real time as the player acts. I want a nuanced experience where consequences occur, and occur unexpectedly. It’s ‘poor game design’ if the player cannot see a clear path from their actions to consequence, and generally any feedback loops should be as ‘tight’ as possible — fuck it.
The timeline to create this game is limited, and thus is the scope. I want to explore the dichotomy between action, and the perception of that action.
I’m making a game, rapidly, about the US strategy in Iraq and Syria vis-a-vis ISIL.
As stated above I wish to explore action and the perception of that action. This is core to our understanding of the ‘war’ against ISIL. We are isolated from and never exposed to ‘outcome’ – we champion action; bombing, troops on the ground, no-fly zones. We have precious little insight (or interest) into what the outcome of these actions is. Whether it’s the fault of the media, and their self imposed mandate to excite and arouse (rather than inform), a conspiratorial understanding of theirs with the powers that be, or they’re simply responding to lack of interest in discussion and coverage on longer term strategy, the reality is that we don’t have insight into what happens on the ground. In a less cynical tone, I could say that the words of a President or Prime Minister — who is elected, responsible towards, and geographically and culturally closer to us — are simply more real, immediate, meaningful and understandable.
The game revolves around a simple dichotomistic cycle. You, as the President of the United States, selects a course of action, and then receives feedback in the form of media from various outlets reporting on that action. Rinse. Repeat.
I envision this project taking a soft week to complete. I am not married to a week, I may start earlier, end earlier, start later, end later than expected. I have other responsibilities I’ll try to keep up with.
I will endeavour to document and share my journey.
I am employing my own refined brand of agile or SCRUM methodology. What does this mean in practice? I’ll attempt to adhere to the following simple structure and hierarchy:
A sprint encompasses a selection of work, related to a common goal. Sprints are dogmatically time restricted. That is, a sprint will exist for X days. The quality and level of work within this sprint may fluctuate, but will not extend beyond the allotted time constraint.
Stories likewise encompass work related to a common goal. The word story is airy-fairy touchy-feely corporate talk blah, but it’s blah that I tolerate for a simple reason, language is important, and constant reminders that the work to be produced is for the user is important. An example user story would be: “As a player I want to be able to take action”.
The shit that needs to be done. Tasks are an outcome of user stories. It’s nice to say “as a player I want…”, but I want financial independence, and it doesn’t matter how many times you say it, without breaking down the actual work required – shit isn’t going to happen.
So what’s next? I guess tomorrow I should probably identify the scope and design of the game, identify what it’s actually going to be, and solidify my sprint structure.