Malled to Death Journal

11/05 Brainstorming

I kind of already talked this out here, but just to kind of make some of my ideas concrete I’m adding this in.

So I want to make a game for sure this time, since I didn’t quite have the time in the summer course. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, or if I’ll be able to do everything I want. I’m thinking of making something with a cohesive story that works as a kind of commentary on retail. The kind of story where you take something normal and rebrand it to look abstract, so people can better understand how messed up it actually is. My first thought is something like a zombie apocalypse, where the more you allow customers to mistreat you as a retail employee the more mindless and savage they become, and then at certain points different things will trigger based on how far gone the populace is.

I have no idea how I would make this game though. The only software that I know of that doesn’t require straight up coding is Twinery, and one other that I forget the name to. I doubt I’ll be able to do all this though anyway, especially since the word max is 1500. This is kind of just my way of casting a wide net.

Welp, hopefully the next time you hear from me I’ll have something specific figured out.

11/09 Design Plans

Remember how I said I was casting a big net? Yeah, big picture social commentary zombie-like apocalypse story is not in the cards for me on this one, but I haven’t given up on making a game! I’m gonna do it this time for sure!

Now my thoughts lie more in the realm of DnD. I was thinking before choice results would contribute to a gauge of some kind that determined how far gone people were, and of course it would have been inevitable at times to stop the gauge from rising. That take literal programing though as far as I could find. As far as DnD goes, I’m thinking that I want to give the player stats, and incorporate dice rolls. This way they can attempt things, and their successes or failures could contribute to the outcome, and new pathways can be unlocked by having certain stats at certain levels. Though admittedly this is also kind of big story wise (which would also still focus on retail of course), mechanically I believe I can find some kind of digital DnD game template.

We had to make a mock up of what our project would be like for class so I’ll show you that too.

Yeah, I drew it!

So for the setting and everything I’m thinking all the ones listed here as the main locations. The player will go to work, go home to an apartment that’s affordable, but very small and baron. You can spend your free time at places in the mall, because you work in the mall, and make friends with the other employees there, and get discounts, which you need because you work retail and have no money. The pause menu will have all the technical goodies, as you can see, and then dialogue boxes will be there to share the dialogue.

I don’t know how I’m going to visibly design this thing. I know for the locations I’ll be able to get pictures to use as backgrounds, but I don’t know if I’ll use stick figures, sprites, or portraits for the people. if I make them myself it’ll be stick figures, but I’ll probably look for an alternative because as you can see, mine are not cute. (This idea was also influenced by Persona 5R, because I’m playing through it, and it has both a stat system that affects what is available to you and your odds of success on a thing, AND time management, which I never thought I could tolerate in a game).

We have a second design plan due later, so I’ll let you know where I end up after that.

11/14 More planning!

So this is coming on pretty excitingly my friends. I think I’ve come to a fixed idea, which is rare for me when coming up with a project for myself. Here’s my second design plan that I made for class:

Alright, so I kind of had this in mind the whole time, or at least since the first design plan, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I suck at anything visual, which includes visualizing how this thing is gonna look, but while I was researching apps to make games in (because wordpress/reclaim hosting seemed to have a plugin for everybody’s project but mine), I came across the term “visual novel” and boom! It all came together. A choice based game, with different pathways, and endings.

It shouldn’t be hard to illustrate scenes that happen in a retail store using this format. It is simple looking, but I can tell a lot of retail stories through this because it’s all about the narrative.

Apparently the best application for making them is free too. It seems like it requires a bit of coding, but if anyone else can learn how to do it so can I! I haven’t been excited about many things relating to assignments for school, but I’m pretty hype for this. I get to learn some code, make an actual game, and have a pretty awesome project to add to my portfolio as a writer.

Welp I’m gonna get to it. Better to learn something like coding sooner rather than late.

11/17 Story drafting

I figured something great out! This whole time I thought I had to present research, and that brought me down, because I’m not a fan of scholarly writing. Plus, the project is called our “Feature Story Project”, so presenting facts and data didn’t really homogenize with that in my brain. Luckily, my initial understanding was correct! We only needed research so that our stories were based on something real; something that matters that we’re interested in.

Now you may be thinking, “Duh.”, and that’s fair. But you must understand; academic writing, and creative writing are at opposite ends of the spectrum for me. I’ll let you figure out which one is on the good end.

Anyway, as for story drafting, that’s the part I’m best at. Firstly, because I’ve worked in the retail dystopia for like 7 or so years now, and while I’m no where near a virtuoso or grandmaster, I’ve seen a hell of a lot in my time so far. The second reason is because in my drafting, I haven’t gotten too far and I’m already near the word limit. There’s a fair amount of non story related things for organization purposes because i’m writing it like a script. Right now, I’m just getting some stories down, and then I’ll trim the fat when I’m ready to go with RenPy.

11/27 Beginning RenPy

So learning this has been harder than I thought. It seems like it’ll be simple, because it’s kind of like coding with training wheels (I think), but there is a lot you have to do, and get precisely correct in order for your game to run. I’m also having to do a little image editing, so I’m learning how to use Gimp as well.

I’ve actually used Gimp before way way forever ago when I was a young teen and I made custom Megaman sprites. It was mostly in paint, but when you get more advanced you start using Gimp. I’m pretty happy to be using it again, since most of my personal fiction would be better with visuals (though I guess most would probably) and I was thinking about learning more about graphic design after I graduate. The more I can do for myself the better!

With another new thing to learn, and the days to the final due date for many assignments of mine winding down I’m off!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!

12/1 The Prototype is born!

This was our next class assignment for keeping up with the projects. We had to post it on the blog already so I’ll just drop the link.

I’m actually sad. I was pretty excited to be peer reviewed on this to see what other people think, because I think making a game is awesome, but the actual game wasn’t playable for anyone else, so I just walked through it while they watched. I mean it’s no Smash Bros (hit me up if you wanna play btw), but I never thought I would be making a game myself by any means really.

12/9 Drafting the rest of the story

I didn’t realize how small this word count ultimately is, because, since this is a school assignment, my brain automatically went to aversion. However, because this is a creative writing assignment for the most part I really burned through it. I think, because a lot of it is broken up into only dialogue it won’t be too bad though. I do have to cut back on the amount of stories I put in for this assignment. I also felt the need to establish a story for the project itself; around the protagonist, the company, his coworkers, etc. That took up some of the wordcount too.

That said, I’m definitely going to keep updating this with more, after the class is over. It’s really fun just to do, and see come together. This has been a pretty awesome project. Possibly my favorite of any school project so far. I haven’t grown this much as an artist from any other assignment.

I mean, not that I haven’t grown at all, just not this much. I used to be pretty worried about having an online presence, because I’m bad at visuals, and won’t admit I’m that great a writer, but not only have I been making content for the web, I’ve been using the web as a resource for my writing a lot more and I’ve learned a lot because of it.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as I did in making it.

12/17 Finishing Touches

I just realized I didn’t talk about the title, in the second design section, which is when I came up with it. It’s Malled to Death! I’m proud of this title. It’s multilayered, automatically catchy for being based on an existing phrase. Or at least I think. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard “Mauled to death.” more than I should have as someone who’s never actually seen or know someone that was mauled to death. I’m losing my mind. Totally forgot I changed it to the title of this post

Anyway, not gonna lie. I’m still putting these finishing touches on. So I’m just gonna go ahead and work on that and hope you all have fun playing it!