2020/04/12 Status Update
This week will be a shorter update. We are digesting and working to respond to all of the feedback players game us from our first playtest. Because we saw a lot of excitement around the characters, we started a new Discord server for players to get together and talk about what they loved. We worked with narrative designer Tori Schafer on improving our writing. And we also got a start on writing for a new episode and a character creation for players' doctors in response to players' feedback.
Showcase the game
Apply to GameScape (Deadline: March 31st, 2020)
- We submitted for this last Tuesday. We expect to hear back during April
- Demo at CCBC Tech and Gaming Expo (Event: April 25th, 2020)
A rising concern with this goal is the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences for large group gatherings and school closures. We are keeping a close eye on this developing situation and understand if some events end up postponing or canceling as a result.
We are continuing to get feedback from our more recent playtest. We plan to send out a new playtest build this upcoming Friday, April 17th, at 5 PM ET, available to subscribers of our newsletter. We are trying out the cadence of updated playtest builds every two weeks to see if that is enough time to get significant updates in the build and address feedback.
We were blessed to have some time last week with Tori Schafer to help us with refining our script development process and making dialogue that flows much better.
Tori has worked at ZeniMax Online on the Elder Scrolls series and is now working at Proletariat as Content & Narrative Designer on their new game, Spellbreak. She recently gave a talk at GDC 2020 on "Representing LGBT+ Characters in Games: Two Case Studies". I highly recommend watching her talk as it has given me new ways of thinking about narrative design in games.
With our previous script in hand, we did a Table Reading across a virtual table. Each of us chose various characters to read for and we took turns reading dialogue lines through the script. This was a lot of fun, as we heard each other do our takes on our favorite characters. Tori owned the western delivery for Big Tex. I took pride in my rendition of Billy, inspired by having played a kid in a recent Dungeons and Dragons game.
As we read through the script, we would frequently stop after, or in the middle, of lines that sounds too wordy, too janky, or unnatural for the speaker to say. This process helped to polish the rough edges on the script. It made the delivery for lines much smoother and more natural to read and to say.
We also started to develop more general philosophies for how we should write dialogue. For example, we found the we would frequently have sentences that run on. A sentence like: "The patient is bleeding a lot and to deal with that you need to use the suction" could be broken down to "The patient is bleeding a lot. Use the suction to deal with that" Adding a hard period in the middle of the line worked well for readability and clarity. The part "and to deal with that" is just a long transition into the next thought.
Another benefit from this process was gaining a strong sense of each character's voice. How does a given character talk? How does what is being said make the character look? Some of the feedback we got was about some characters not taking situations serious enough or resolving a conflict to early, and we took the time to have more depth in the characters' words and reflect on how they appear in a scene vs how we intend for them to appear.
This approach is another tool to improving the quality of writing and our ability to tell players the stories we want to tell. I look forward to the next Table Reading we do for future episodes and sharing the results of it with the players.
We did our first playtest. We got feedback. We are working to refine the game. And soon, we will share the results of the work with our newsletter subscribers. I cannot wait to see what you think!
JT has started working on episode 1. We have a rough outline for it and potentially an episode between it and the current playtest episode. I am excited to see the story unfold and give players a better sense of who they are in the game and what the hospital is all about.
Zac Bolubasz is working with us more to develop the options for the main character (or PROTAG in game). Based on the feedback from the playtest, we started exploring what a character creator would mean for players. We plan to give players a few different options to customizing how their doctor looks, including body, face, hair, and skin tone.
If you have any questions, comments, feedback for me, you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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