Week Five – Walkthrough & Reflection

This fifth week has been a very busy one, and not without it’s ups and downs.

Coming off the back of last week, my main objective for this one was to finish up my research for Trepidation and then work on a presentation that I could then feed back to my fellow students on Friday. Piece of cake, right?

In terms of research, I was nearly done. I had some good in-depth research regarding the unknown as a concept as well as Human Reactions to it, and so I really just needed to wrap it up with a neat conclusion. That was the case anyway, until The Expanse.

It’s a TV show I’d been eyeing up for a while now, and after a recommendation from a friend I decided to stop waiting around and actually watch it. For those who don’t know, The Expanse is a sci-fi show that’s supposed to be a fairly realistic depiction of what humanity would be like in a couple hundred years. We’ve colonised Mars and set up a number of space stations and other colonies throughout the Solar System, but have yet to develop the technology to visit other systems. Like other countries right now though, the various colonies in The Expanse have grown resentful of eachother and tensions are high, particularly between superpowers Earth and Mars. Matters are then only made worse when Mars discovers an alien bioweapon on a moon of Saturn that was sent to the Solar System millions of years ago.

It’s a show about human nature and how it really never changes, but also the mystery and wonders of the Universe, and how we persisted as a species to get ourselves out there. While watching the first few episodes, I then realised something. While researching the unknown I had left out the biggest one; space. While I had briefly touched upon the subject at various points in the research document, I had never fully dived into the subject as an area/location of the unknown. In addition, there was something else about space that I found particularly interesting; the fact that even though we know next to nothing about what could be put there, we still want to explore it anyway. Going against the fear of the unknown was an idea I hadn’t yet seen in research, and was definitely something I wanted to explore further.

So I started to look deeply into space, in particular the human exploration aspect of it. I researched the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon as well as Elon Musk’s plans for a manned Mars base, and also had a look into how much space as a concept has influenced popular media such as books, TV shows and movies. The resulting conclusion was pretty obvious; despite the massive fear of the unknown that hangs over the rest of the universe, humanity is desperate to see what is out there. Our curiosity massively trumps our fear, and that idea, that feeling of pushing through the fear and exploring something anyway, was by far the most interesting part of Trepidation that I had uncovered in my research.

With this entirely new aspect to my research in hand, I then began to collate everything together for Friday’s presentation. Like with the research document itself, I decided to present my dive into Trepidation as a narrative, beginning with my look into the psychology behind the fear of the unknown and then expanding into locations (limiting the senses) and finally into the “curiosity” aspect to finish up.

The result was this:

I used various images from my research and video clips from media to visually emphasize the different areas of the unknown I was looking into (for example, I used a clip from the underwater game Subnautica to demonstrate Oceans as an unknown) as well as some of the Case Studies. Since the “curiosity” aspect was what I was most interested in, I made that one of the longest sections in the video and used a clip from the very aesthetically pleasing movie Interstellar. I then recorded myself talking about the research (as public speaking has never been my forte) and overlayed it into the video.

It was then time to present. On Friday I had the unfortunate luck of being dead last on the list of presentations, but eventually it was my turn.

Capture

Above are the reactions (in Adam’s ProcterPad) to my video. They were rather interesting as you can see, and I rather liked the suggestion in purple about the idea of exploring a character rather than a physical space. To my surprise, Adam took a particular liking to my “curiosity” theme, saying that it was one of the stronger concepts for a game in the presentations.

It was then time to introduce the next phase of the semester, which is the Create Phase. For the next few weeks we’re supposed to make many a prototype, play games and essentially try to get our various themes across in an idea for a game.

Screenshot 2018-09-28 at 17.43.40

This was also a good time to perhaps get into teams,  combining themes, research and ideas into one thing to take forward. After the presentations, our corner of Studio 16 huddled together and discussed how/if we should potentially team up. We went round the group, and most of us (including myself) had the mindset of being prepared to ditch our concepts in favour of working together with others. Richard was an exception, being keen on creating his mechanics-based Transhumanism game (which was fair enough, it sounds rather interesting). This did unfortunately present a bit of an issue, as I wanted to focus on a narrative-based game rather than mechanics, and this was a feeling that was felt by a large percentage of the group, meaning that Richard for the moment was on his own.

I then expressed interest in teaming up with Josh, as his theme is Space which meshes really well with the fear of the unknown as a concept, particularly the “curiosity” aspect that I am majorly interested in at the moment. Most of the others then maintained they weren’t really that bothered with their own concepts, and would team up with the people that had the most interesting ideas. To try and please everyone, we attempted to mesh as many of our concepts as we could (for example – Space, Unknown and Loneliness was a meshing we considered) but Adam then stepped in, strongly suggesting that we should not do this as meshing things together weakens the individual concepts. He then went on to suggest that Ella should perhaps part ways with the group, as her theme of Loneliness was a great one and she should explore it further. His overall view was that my “pushing through the fear and into the curiosity/mystery” theme and Loneliness had the most potential of the group, but stressed that he didn’t want to make any decisions for us and that we needed to choose what we wanted to do.

And that’s where we left things for the week. Josh and I agreed to exchange research notes, but beyond that no real team decision were made. We were all pretty worn out after a busy week so decided to resume “negotiations” on Monday.

 

Reflection On The Week

Week Five was a busy week, but overall an incredibly useful one. My research into Trepidation changed direction massively but ultimately this was a decision for the best, as I now have a pretty interesting theme and a great springboard into potential game design (and other people actually like it!). This idea of pushing through being afraid of the unknown and embracing the curosity and mystery of it instead could potentially amount to a very interesting game, and I’m excited to see what I can come up with in the next few weeks.

Team negotiations are going OK, but my fear is that we won’t make any major decisions regarding them for a while, as if I’m reading the room correctly I sense that people don’t want to be tied down just yet (which is fair enough, I guess). This might have an effect on potential idea generation however if we spend too long trying to work out teams, so I think next week is going to be crucial in seeing how this semester is going to work out going forward (whether we’ll be solo, in teams etc.). I myself am rather keen on working with others, as working solo is not something I particularly enjoy. I will also most definitely need other people’s expertise if I make a game about my theme, so that I can get the best out of the concept. Hopefully we can get these decisions (regardless of whether we team up now or not) sorted fairly soon.

Overall though, this week has been pretty great, and I look forward to seeing what the next few will bring.

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