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This is important
Got sick! Goodness this first week has been weird. Because I'd rather not spend my devlog complaining, I'll say that I haven't made much progress. Considering putting most of the game into a tabletop experience, coding one or two scenes, and committing to a more "traditional" project, as this one is, almost humorously, becoming more and more personal and emotionally involved. Still it's nice to chat and be inspired by the creative energy of others, something I don't get very often here in this locked down suburbia. Good luck everyone! Here's to some creative progress!
CW: It addresses the reader more closely
Not much in the way of actual development or research, as I've been busy with college apps and school in general. After a lot of doubt and confusion on where to go on the project, I've decided to focus my game on two separate emotional experiences across 3 "Acts".
Well, first there will be a prologue, of which I have given the least amount of thought. But I guess I'll just try to show how life was as a free person. Give the player enough context to understand their freedom being taken away and giving them a family to try to come back to or something.
So, the first act will consist of the breaking of the will. Focusing primarily on tedious events reminiscent of the Fish Factory scene in What Remains of Edith Finch. You'll be completing tasks and going through the day. I will try to engineer the tasks so that there is no score or proficiency markers. Like, I want to focus on making sure the player doesn't "feel good" about these tasks. I would LOVE to be able to actually incorporate mechanics that facilitate a "good slave," "lazy slave," "violent slave" playthrough, but I just don't have the time (or skill, really) to actually get that going right now. I imagine the player moving through several jobs as the game progresses, working the farm, picking olives, and such.
Here's the main loop of Act I: The player will be forced to participate in some tasks, such as tilling the soil in a vegetable farm. The player will complete a set of simple rote motions. The play is uninspiring and tedious, but just engaging enough to get the player to think that by participating they might actually get somewhere with it all. If they decide not to work, well, they will be negatively reminded of their position as a slave. Perhaps this starts by getting scolded. After some time has passed, and the player feels they have made the task a simple computation of their limbs, the screen begins to recede. The playing screen slowly fades into a void, getting smaller and smaller (think Get Out's Sunken Place). Simultaneously, the play speeds up, and it becomes clear that the player has left the conscious body behind, and is disassociating to ease the pain and pass the time of such a menial task. I might include things about moving around the house, going to bed, eating, but I haven't much thought about that.
The Climax of Act I: After several tasks, the master of the house somehow catches word that you are well educated, and insists that you take up tutoring his son, who is now of age for that sort of thing. You have a general good time with your new job, as your work is diminished and you get to hang out with a nice kid, telling him about the studies you so much love. During a tutoring scene, you are asked to explain slavery, or perhaps exactly what a slave is. You're given the chance to condemn it, ignore it, promote it, and just in general discuss it with the child. However the conversation pans out (mostly for time reasons), the player character eventually cracks under some insult, and will condemn his enslavement in some way. The master of the house will over hear this, and brutally scold the player for trying to trick the child, and that he was definitely not a fit tutor, and is sent back into the fields.
Act II: The player is sent back to working in the fields. However, now, if the player stops working, they are no longer scolded. Instead, after a mere moment of "laziness," the screen flashes red, the sound of a flog meeting skin! Then back. The player becomes weaker and weaker with each flashback to their beatings. It is becoming too much to bear. I want to capture the feeling of transitioning from having outside forces coerce you to work, to inside forces coercing you to work. I want the player to feel like they can't rebel like they could in the first Act, because a voice in their head is stopping them. I hope to capture a lot of disenfranchisement and stress here. The void that the player recedes in is now noisy and upsetting. The movements of the character become unresponsive to controls (hopefully that doesn't come off as a bug) to show a loss of energy and focus, which makes it easier to have the flash.
Climax of Act II: This is where things get hazy and under developed. I want the game to give the player a moment where they are going to break. The character cannot handle the player's input, and it seems there will never be peace for the character or player. I'm trying to find a way to show that the player can force the character to not give up, and through the game becoming much more difficult and intense on the player, the character and overcome the stresses of being controlled, and begin to move towards finding an escape, which would be Act III, of which I have no idea what happens besides an escape connecting to the massive slave escapes during the Pelop War.
That's all I got today, thanks for the thoughts and feedback, everyone!
Criticism? Critique? Inspo? Please let me know!
I'm glad you liked my post, as I like yours. I really like what you're going for, and am excited to see it grow. If you want someone to bounce ideas off of, or just someone to help with a little scripting or something, I might be able to help. I'm also super touched that you would offer to make a piece for my game, and I would seriously love to have it as a part of my work. Good luck! I have a discord I sometimes use: VarickTheVolsung#8122
Thanks for the awesome response. Best Jam Host ever!!
I will definitely be checking out Helots and Melos + Sicilian Expedition.
And thanks for the kind words. I hope you are doing well, too.
CW: Slavery and abuse. Nothing too detailed.
After a lot of pondering on how to express an aspect of ancient Greece not only in aesthetics, but mechanics as well, I decided to focus on the experience of slavery during the Peloponnesian Wars. Possibly exploring the ideas of the emotional and societal/systemic, not just the physical, obstacles of living with and eventually overcoming of one's free will being broken through servitude.
I decided to keep a devlog including my pre-production phase because I think reading the early thoughts are the most interesting and valuable as a student of design.
So, I spent the last few days milling around the links included by gia-grimoire and Wikipedia, trying to find some good stuff for games. I'm not too big on designing a game that just has the aesthetic of ancient Greece, I want to explore it mechanically. This is always tough because most traditional game mechanics serve power fantasies and game-genre tropes, so I had to really think about how an idea can be explored through play. So, thought I found much of the history and mythology I read about interesting, I was a having a hard time thinking of a way to make meaningful mechanics from them while staying in scope of time and my limits as a designer.
At first, I enjoyed the story of the Peloponnesian War, reading it like fiction. But, in a block quote in the article, there read this: "Never had so many human beings been exiled, or so much human blood been shed. - Thucydides." And I was reminded of how brutal war was. The author Mark Cartwright includes this note at the end of the intro paragraph: "Civilians became much more involved in warfare and entire citizen bodies could be wiped out as happened at Mykalessos in Boeotia." Following with: "The number of casualties in the wars was, therefore, far greater than in any previous conflict in Greece’s long history." I mean, holy heck, like, that's tragic. The rest of the article is relatively cold and removed from the atrocities, but lets them be known. This hit me hard, as I was raised with a very romantic view of Greek life. I remember learning about the gross and upsetting aspects of Roman life, but I guess I never really thought about any of it applying to the Greeks. And I'm not saying everything about them is bad now, just that, like every war ever, it was stupid and not worth wiping out whole peoples.
So, I went on a tangent and looked into the tragedies of war during ancient Greece, and landed on the concepts of conquered civilians as slaves. This is crazy. People who probably never wanted a war getting enslaved because the rich in their community decided Sparta was cooler than Athens. Then I moved to Greek slavery in general. (I had recently read a book on the history of mathematics that attributed the abstractness of many old academic fields such as mathematics and logic to the "slave-society" from which it was born. Whether ancient Greece really was a wholly slave-society or not isn't my point, but noting that the thinkers of the time didn't necessarily believe in doing anything physical; they felt the cerebral was their realm.)
I found that Greek slavery is not like the slavery I have come to understand in American history. It isn't necessarily race-based or chattel slavery, though at times, and depending on who was talking and who was the slave population at the time, it could be. The slavery was more like becoming a seriously second-class citizen or indentured servant (Colonial America style). I mean, a slave was treated with minor respects, but they were still beaten, treated as lesser than full human, and forced to work the land they were tied to. Slavery was also different depending on where you were from and what laws were in place under what king. Some generals enslaved entire cities they laid siege to, others hated the practice, and went against the orders of their kings in doing so, others enslaved, and then emancipated people as a sign of prestige and honor. People who were free citizens for years were could be slaves in the wake of a single battle. The rich, obviously could have their wealthy friends or family buy them out through ransom. Heck, slaves were so common, that it was considered a sign of extreme poverty to not own even ONE slave. It was a "buyer's market"...
Reading about the specifics of Athenian slaves was interesting, because they were treated relatively well for slaves. I mean, still, they were slaves. But they were "allowed" to back talk their owners, or were protected by law against being struck in public (possibly just because everyone looked the same, so striking a slave looked like striking a citizen, and made people upset).
I related to their plight in a weird way. Obviously, I will never know what it was like to have your whole people erased, or be permanently taken from those you love, but until my late teens when I got the strength to gain some independence, my mother treated me like an Athenian slave in some ways. I was often forced to work long hours in the house, cleaning for upwards of 3 hours a day on average. I was bullied and insulted constantly. After an incident with my sister getting a massive bruise, the abuse remained almost wholly emotional, so I don't know a lot about physical control. However, I was often locked in rooms for weeks at a time, let out only to attend school, eat, clean, and participate in martial arts classes. For a long time, I felt I had no free will of my own. This is feeling was really expressed in the feeling of helplessness at the ending of Bioshock 1.
I realized I could use this to play with the feelings of slavery in Athenian society after being taken in the Peloponnesian Wars. Overcoming the oppressive training of servitude is brutal, something I don't think a lot of people understand. It is difficult just to feel emotionally strong enough to do anything on your own. It takes a truly iron will to walk out of slavery.
I also just read there was a sort of mass slave-escape during the wars. I'll have to look more into that, might be a good setting for the game.
Wow that was a lot of thoughts and rambling on the pre-stuff. Sorry if that was weird or comes off as pretentious.
Let me know what you think.
Hey thanks! That means a lot! It's waaay down at the bottom of the code. All you need is:
<source src="kml.mp3" type="audio/mpeg">
somewhere in your work. The .mp3 is the file you want. You can't change songs on queue or anything fancy.
Thanks! I just used a simple html audio tag I slapped on the end of the code. So, in my game, it looks like:
<audio src="kml.mp3" autoplay><\audio>
At basically the bottom, after all of Adam's killer work.
Love the UI environment. What if you added eventual towns that one could purchase and manage equipment at, stuff that allowed the rogue-player to do fast dodgy moves and get lots of gold, the barbarian to smash in one hit, and the ranger to find special items and dungeons?