A conceptual sketch for a game world design

2020-08-18

The assignment for week 3 for CalArts’ World Design for Video Games asks us to conceptualise our game world, to build on the visual style of your world and begin to give it shape and volume.

For the accompanying paragraph, some tips for completion:

  • Is the game linear or non-linear?
  • Is your map or model the entire world or just a section of it? Is there something implied outside the playable area of the game world, either seen or not seen?
  • How does a player move through the world? Are they walking, running, climbing, riding a horse, jumping through portals, or a combination?
  • How much time will it take a player or character to explore the world? Will exploration happen in real time, or will players be able to jump between areas of the map?
  • How is the world unified, ie., is there consistency from level to level? If the levels are not consistent, please explain why!

The game

Go and recap on the visual style I made for this game, but for the impatient, I’m thinking of making a game similar to Jones in the fast lane currently code-named SuperMe.

First, the conceptual map:

Conceptual map

My submission

My game is inspired by Jones in the fast lane. You start out uneducated and jobless, and having enough money to pay rent for a few months. You have to start thinking about getting a menial job and going to night school so you can get a leg-up.

From the conceptual map you can see there are various locations you can visit. You’ll start off living at “housing cheap”, which is a rat-infested broom closet right next to the smoggy factory. (Think of the city as an American-style grid city.) As per the original game, travelling takes time, so you don’t have the luxury of walking across town to “entertainment expensive” yet (nor can you afford it if you got there).

The game is non-linear. You can go anywhere you like, and choose any first job you want. The map currently represents the entire world, although I might think of introducing other cities where you can “fast travel” to for other purposes, e.g. to broaden your empire, or to go on holiday.

The player moves through the world by walking, but then later as you make more money, you can start using public transport, or buy a car. Walking takes the longest, so you have to really think hard about where you want to go early on in the game, otherwise you might run out of time in your day and end up collapsing in the street and get robbed.

You’ll be able to go anywhere you want from the first moment, but like I said, it might not be a good idea. It’s best if you find a job close to home at the start of the game.

The entire game is one level which you slowly progress through until you die. The score is the amount of money you’ve amassed in your lifetime. I remember playing Jones and in some cases getting quite rich early on, which made the rest of the game boring, so I still have a lot of thinking to do about how to balance the game and keep it fun, e.g. perhaps you can land a great job and have a good paycheck, but then you acquire some sort of ailment which needs frequent medical attention, or the stock market crashes and everyone suffers, etc.

Conclusion

(This doesn’t go into the submission.) Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, there’s still some designing to do around balance and keeping it fun. Time is one of the main scarce things in the game, but I’m also thinking of introducing subsistence - maybe your character runs out of energy due to all the walking, and you need to eat. This accurately reflects poverty in the world today: the poor has to walk everywhere and can’t afford great food, so they’re stuck in this prison of trying to survive.