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  • Writer's picturejack rosa

The Errand - DevBlog #1

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

So this week was the first week of my senior Studio 1 class here at SCAD. My objective for the class is to take the next ten weeks and make an interactive project of my choosing. Naturally, with only ten weeks to work on the project, the idea I would choose would need to be small enough in scope to take on a manageable workflow for the quarter. I knew that I wanted to make an unconventional project so I started brainstorming.


After a couple sketching and brainstorming sketches, I narrowed my ideas down into three games pitches to present to the rest of the class.


Pitch #1 - The Tide Eternal

The concept behind this game was to create a first person exploration/narrative game with a southern gothic setting. You play as a ghost exploring an abandoned coastal village where you find clues to a story about the people who once lived there.


Pitch #2 - Aesthetic Assassin

You work for a government censorship agency. Your task is to vandalize the world's last remaining contemporary art museum.



Pitch #3 - The Errand

My final idea was to make a game that subverts the expectation of the 'quest to player' relationship. The plot of the game is that once every 80 years someone from the village must trek up the mountain during the winter solstice with a torch, light the mountain-top temple’s torch, and perform a self-sacrifice. The journey is frigid and steep, but whoever succeeds in the task is promised eternal wisdom and immortality (not true at all you will simply die). The idea is that the player is given a dangerous quest to perform with a promised reward, much like all video games, however when the player completes the quest they will find out that they were lied to. Basically "I should've known better" the video game.



Decision

In the end, I decided the concept of The Errand was my favorite. My next step was to create a design document for the game, laying out a detailed pre-production plan. Here is a summary of the game's central design philosophy


The Errand is a short first person adventure game about a man given a special task to complete. Once every 80 years, someone from the village must trek up the mountain during the winter solstice, light the temple’s torch, and perform a self-sacrifice. The journey is frigid and steep, but whoever succeeds in the task is promised immortality, eternal wisdom, and ungodly strength. The player will find out that after they perform this self-sacrifice, the rewards are not quite what they seem; essentially you will just jump down a hole and die and the game will end. The Errand is a parody of the conventional role of quests and missions in video games. Video games traditionally offer players an exchange between completing missions fighting dangerous foes and rewards such as experience, cosmetics, and skills. Put yourself in the video game character’s shoes for once: if you were asked to retrieve an item for a stranger that was taken into the world’s deadliest dungeon by the worlds most violent thugs would you do it? Of course, video games usually empower the character to the extent where threats and danger are essentially meaningless; The Errand is a study on subverting this convention, by completing the quest and killing yourself, you have ignored every ounce of common sense that you have. Think of how much more immersive games could be if your own real life critical thinking skills could save your life instead of being tossed aside for ‘video game logic’.





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