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.

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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