©2019 by paulinemartyn

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Project Madison

unity / Fungus Plug-In || c# || 2019 || collaboration

roles: narrative designer | co-game designer / Programmer

Office simulation, strategy, and petty revenge in 1960s Madison Avenue.

* Featured on itch.io and Rock Paper Shotgun in June 2019!

PROJECT BRIEF & FEATURES

Graduation project combining narrative and multi-layered systems design in an iconic 1960s setting.

  • Dynamic setting featuring NPCs, objects to interact with, and work tasks to achieve.

  • One winning goal that can be achieved in multiple ways over the course of three in-game days and nights.

  • Multiple game phases allowing for different, specific actions.

  • NPC schedules and conversations that change daily.

  • NPC trust and gifting system.

    - - Click HERE to view the Game Design Document (PDF) - -

THE TEAM

This game was made in collaboration with Taylor Adams-Harriott*. My roles for this project were:

  • Narrative Designer: writing and scripting dialogue, designing narrative flow and choices, harmonising gameplay (player actions, win/fail states, scenarios) with narrative direction

  • Co-Game Designer: setting, experience of play, mechanics, prototyping

  • Additional Programming: programming dialogue, basic AI (schedule, movement), trust systems, and associated variables via Unity plug-in (Fungus)

*Taylor's roles included: Art & UI Design, Co-Game Design, Principal Programming (core gameplay, UI). Please visit her portfolio to see her other projects!

DESIGN CHALLENGES & DECISIONS

With Project Madison we wanted to create a game with an iconic setting, and strong narrative and gameplay mechanics working to support and enhance each other:

  • Build a world with a strong visual identity, full of interactive elements for players to discover (locked objects, paintings, broken machines, coffee/water dispensers, containers, etc.)

  • Structure the narrative around one single goal that could be achieved in multiple ways (multiple scenarions and interactions)

  • Create NPCs complete with schedules and trust systems, offering dynamic conversations (changing depending on day, trust level)

 

As the narrative designer on this project, my tasks and challenges were to:

  • Create compelling NPCs: I used dialogue to communicate personality traits and help players navigate work relationships, and worked with the artist/level designer to ensure visuals supported the narrative needs. I also created basic AI (schedule, movement) and made the dialogues change every day to make NPCs more dynamic and exciting to watch / talk to.

  • Design a trust level system: I implemented a trust level and gifting requests / objects to embed the narrative in minute-to-minute gameplay. This allowing players to try different options and gradually learn how to best handle NPCs.

  • Make the narrative elements thematically relevant: I used language and historical elements of the era in text and item descriptions, with some references to 1960s office objects (liquid ink) and pop culture (paintings).

  • Co-create and advise on winning and losing scenarios, ensuring they supported the overall themes and narrative needs.