The Prototyping Phase – Part 2

Today we continue our breakdown of the Jacob conceptual prototype.

DSC_0771 - Colour Correction

The aim from the original proposal document was to design a puzzle game that represents the findings of the CLS cohort studies. The objective is rather simple, players must build their ladder as high as possible in the allotted game time. The number of ladder pieces discussed in the previous article represent the length of a person’s lifetime. The range of pieces offered to the player represents their opportunities, chances, successes, failures and personal life goals that are fulfilled in their lifetime.

Additionally in the environment obstacles pop up at random (as they tend to in life). Some may be relatively easy to overcome while others may take a person down a long winding path before they can divert around it.

The design team at Duck Duck Zeus decided not to label these life obstacles and leave them deliberately nondescript. The reason for this design decision was simple. Everyone’s goals in life are subjective and are different from one another. While one individual may strive to be wealthy, another may be perfectly happy living with far less money. Some people place more value over education compared to gaining hands-on life experience. While others see career advancement to be more important to them than raising a family. By labelling the game’s obstacles it would be considered extremely insensitive to imply that certain roles or aims in life are simply more important than others which is far from the truth.

Just like life itself Jacob is not exactly a fair game. As in life some individuals will have a better head start than others. Therefore before each playthrough several factors are randomised.

  1. The number of total ladder pieces given (Representing the life expectancy of the character in-game)
  2. The ‘quality’ of the range of ladder pieces given (Representing a character’s background privilege and their continuous privilege throughout life)
  3. The other background aspects of a characters life (Such as where were they born, eg, in the countryside or city; and when they were born, eg, 1958, 1970 or in the year 2000).

It may seem unfair and counterintuitive to force these random variables on the player and not give them their preferred choice. However, the reason for this randomness is to highlight the varied challenges different people can face during life.

Next time we will show the core gameplay loop of a single turn in-game and how these random values will dictate what type of ladder pieces the player will have at their disposal.

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