The Junkyard

research imagery – manipulate imagery to produce design

We held a big, all-day workshop where many of the young people got together to work on scripting, illustration design, performance and recording, sound design, coding and marketing.

One small team worked to design things like the app logo, the Junkyard and the things in it with David’s assistance and advice.

They also worked on designing the toxic organic spider that Pye discovers in the old wooden outhouse in the Junkyard.

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Story and Game Development

brainstorm ideas – talk them through – shape ideas – share with other groups – review – structure and flowchart – script

Over the weeks the different groups of young people from the different school brainstormed ideas for different scenes. They shared ideas and talked about them. They thought about the structure of the story and the logic of the game. For example:

1. Pys has created an AI set of glasses – cross between modernist and steampunk. The player is the glasses.

2. She sneaks around forbidden places looking for old tech to play with. The player/glasses help her.

3. She gets caught by Security Droid.
.
.
.
X. She gets banished from the city.

The different groups reviewed each other’s ideas, critiqued and revised them. It was amazing how well they collaborated. They were supportive and encouraging of each other’s work, and enjoyed seeing what other people had come up with, and then taking it that little bit further.

They shaped their ideas using mind-mapping software, planning the different events that followed from the player’s decisions and creating flowcharts.

This was a very challenging process. Working out the player’s choices and the different paths they might take was new to them, and required some deep thinking.

These flowcharts included all the main elements for the game:

  • summary of the text
  • background sounds
  • sound effects
  • images
Workshop Flowchart
Workshop Flowchart
Junkyard Flowchart
Junkyard Flowchart

From the flowcharts, they wrote the dialogue scripts, which provided the speech for the performers and the text for the designers. For example: Script: Draft 1

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Design The City

discuss commonweal’s ideas for the city – research – print – cut and paste – mood board

Crowdys took Commonweal’s basic idea and ran with it. They researched images online, chose those they were inspired by, and then cut and pasted them into mood boards – one to reflect the android city and one to reflect the human city – those dangerous areas where Pye would scavenge for parts to make her gadgets.

This meant that all the groups now had something to refer to when they were doing design work – a standard to apply to make sure all parts of the game were consistent with the rest.

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Pye’s Secret Workshop

mindmap ideas for pye’s workshop – design and draw the background – design and draw items for hidden object game

Over a series of workshops, everyone agreed that Pye would store her collected junk and make her gadgets in a Secret Workshop.

But where should it be?

It could just be an ordinary room in her home. Or it could be a secret base somewhere in the derelict part of the city.

Crowdys thought it should be a secret room in her home. They thought Androids would each have a charging pod instead of sleeping in a bed like humans. So, like people hide things under their beds, they imagined Pye would have built a secret door at the back of her charging pod, leading to her Secret Workshop.

Commonweal and Lydiard liked this idea, so Crowdys brainstormed what tools and inventions Pye might have in her Workshop and put them in a mindmap. And Commonweal and Lydiard added a few of their own.

pyes_workshop_mindmap-thumbnail

Commonweal also did some mind mapping of inhabitants for their world.

Then began the work of designing the look of the Pye’s Workshop and the items that should be in it, remembering from the story developers that there would be a hidden object mini-game in the workshop.

They loved working with David. It was really exciting for them to see and recognise his published work and think he was there working with them. They immensely valued the help he was able to give them in developing their illustration skills.

The story teams had come up with the idea of hidden object mini-games for represent Pye scavenging for parts for the gadget building activities. So the design teams got to work drawing items to go in Pye’s workshop for the first mini-game.

This also gave everyone the opportunity to make an individual contribution to the illustrations.

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Choosing a Voice

learn about using tenses and voices in creative writing – evaluate and discuss – choose a voice for our game

Commonweal PI Unit had the challenging task of choosing what voice, what tense to use in the writing.

  1. Second Person Present
    You can see a long way down the tunnel down towards the airlock. It’s dark and quiet.
    Will you:
    Creep down quietly in the dark?
    Switch on your torch so you can see where you’re going?
    This is the most used tense in gamebooks.
  2. Third Person Present
    Leia can see a long way down the tunnel down towards the airlock. It’s dark and quiet.
    Should she:
    Creep down quietly in the dark?
    Switch on her torch so she can see where she’s going?
  3. First Person Present
    Okay. I can see a long way down the tunnel down towards the airlock. It’s dark and quiet.
    Should I:
    Creep down quietly in the dark?
    Switch on my torch so I can see where I’m going?
    The player is an extra character, an advisor to the main character.
  4. Third Person Past
    Leia could see a long way down the tunnel down towards the airlock. It was dark and quiet.
    Did she:
    Creep down quietly in the dark?
    Switch on her torch so she could see where she was going?

They discussed the relative merits of each tense.

Second Person Present sounds like it puts you right in the action. But, on reflection, they thought it would mean that the hero of the adventure would have to be characterless to accommodate all players.

What they really liked about Third Person Past is that they would be able to create a proper character for their game. It’s also the standard novel format. But they felt that it doesn’t have the immediacy that you would want for a game.

So they considered Third Person Present. They felt that is has more immediacy, but it’s not like playing a proper game, where it’s all happening to you. So they were still drawn to the idea of First Person. That’s what gaming is.

So that brought us to First Person Present. You can also create a proper character in this tense. And it’s in vogue in books like The Hunger Games:

To my left and back, sparse piney woods. This is where Haymitch would want me to go. Immediately.

I hear his instructions in my head. “Just clear out, put as much distance as you can between yourselves and the others, and find a source of water.”

But it’s tempting, so tempting, when I see the bounty waiting there before me. And I know that if I don’t get it, someone else will.

But even here, the action is happening to someone else, so they had the inspired idea that Pye has designed and built a special set of glasses to help her. The Player IS the glasses. So the Player is right there. Pye talks to the Player in the First Person Present, and the Player has to make decisions and take actions to help Pye.

Nominated: First Person Present

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Character and Story

design the city – develop the lead character – outline the story

Commonweal PI Unit took on the challenging job of taking the development work (the post-its and the charts and drawings) from the Project Launch Event and turning it into a more detailed profile of the lead character and an outline for the story.

They split into groups for this, but, inevitably, there was a lot of back and forth between the character group and the story group.

Firstly, with visual inspiration from the internet, they developed The World a little further:

architecture with a modernist design: glass and steel
with parks and so on, but all completely artificial: even the parks are Astroturf and the trees are made from artificial materials
the inhabitants are a mixture of androids and humans, with the androids being the higher class and the humans lower

The Main Character

They took their key inspiration from The Girl with the Galaxy in her Hair from the Launch Event.

Main Character
taken in by an android couple and raised as their own: as an android
so she thinks she is an android (at some point she and the player will have to discover the truth!)
so she thinks she is high class, when she is really low. (will make some great dramatic problems later on)
Androids have numbers
She is PI31415, Pye for short.

rebel
goes to forbidden places in the city looking for old stuff that she can make new tech out of.

The Story
Pye goes to back alleys and run down abandoned areas looking for scrap to make new tech out of.
then she’s caught in a forbidden place and banished from the city!

Mini Games
scavenging for scrap:
hidden object games where they player can help her find the stuff she needs
and then other games where the player has to help her assemble stuff to make the new tech.
She describes to the player what she needs, and the player can spot it for her.
But there’s a problem. There are patrolling security droids, so she only has limited time.

Back To The Story
So, at the end of this section, when she is banished, the only things she has to help her on this harsh planet are those things she managed to built from scavenged parts.

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Project Launch Event

what is a gamebook – choose a genre – what is that genre about – create a world for your story – create a main character for your adventure

Everyone tried a classic gamebook from the 80s which has been released for the iPad. The image from the iPad was projected on the wall. One person controlled the iPad and everyone else read the content and discussed what decisions to take.

They thought it was fun, and were excited that they would be creating their own such game. But all felt that there was far too much text. They wanted their game (and they decided they preferred to call it a game rather than an interactive ebook or gamebook) to have more visual content and much bigger ratio of interaction to text content.

In their introductory sessions, everyone had picked the genres of sci-fi and horror, with a little bit of comedy as well. Everyone agreed their game will be sci-fi, but with elements of horror, like spooky places and scary creatures. They’ll also be able to put in funny moments.

Ben said sci-fi is a good genre because it’s popular. For the same reason they decided to make their game PG rated. Not only will that mean it can have a bigger audience, it also means they’ll be able to share it with the younger members of their family.

To get a handle on what sci-fi is, and also generate some content ideas for their game, everyone wrote on post-it notes:
– what are their favourite sci-fi works?
– what makes them sci-fi?
– what kind of things do they contain?

They then put their post-its up on the wall.

We then talked about what they had produced, the common threads and themes that had arisen. They put many post-its to one side and arranged the rest to represent the key elements they wanted for their game.

One group worked on developing the world that their game would take place in.

The other groups worked on designing the main character for the game – her look and her personality.

To wrap up, everyone came together and agreed all the elements that they would use in their game.

They’d worked hard, and stretched the limits of their creativity, but they all agreed it had been great fun and really inspiring, and they were all raring to get on with making the game!

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What is a Gamebook

find out about gamebooks – try some out – decide what ours should be

Before the big launch of the project, we did introductory workshops in each school.

Crowdys Hill School had the privilege of being the first to find out exactly what the project is about. They started with the paperback version of the Doctor Who gamebook, Night of the Kraken, written by project supporter Jonathan Green.

In this story the reader gets to follow along with a Doctor Who adventure, choosing, at each crucial stage, what the Doctor does.

… the hatch in the metal wall behind the Doctor opens.

If you think that Doctor should turn and face what it ever is coming through the door, go to 97.
If you think you should get away from this place as fast as he can, go to 79.

The students had great fun with this, with some lively discussions debating between them what decision to take. Sadly, they weren’t able to stop Ravenwood destroying the colony of Kraa’Kn. Maybe we’ll have another go another time.

They also had a go at various games and gamebooks on the iPad. For example, The Forest Of Doom is one of the classic Fighting Fantasy games, in which YOU are the hero and make all the choices, fight all the monsters, and win all the treasure.

… some creature is coming down the path towards you!

If you wish to face oncoming beast, turned to 265.
If you would rather hide in the bushes off the path, turn to 318.

They really enjoyed playing this, especially decision-making and the combat. But they felt there was too much description – they really just wanted to just get on with the excitement.

Commonweal also tried out some of the classic Fighting Fantasy games on the iPad. They too enjoyed the action, but thought there was too much writing.

Lydiard Park Academy thought exactly the same as everyone else when they tried it.

So the first stage of the project was a success. All the participants liked the gamebooks, and all agreed which bits they preferred, and which bits they would like to change for their gamebook.

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