Radical Games: Down and Out & Event as Narrative


My game story is radical in that even though the protagonist of my game has amnesia recovering her memories isn’t her primary goal. Her primary goal is to find a stranger whose ID she found in the swamp. This stranger turns out to be Kaira’s sister. While some parts of it haven’t come up in game yet there is the fact that Kaira, my main character is a queer black trans woman. This is always how I have conceptualized the character but she really isn’t the type of protagonist a lot of games have unfortunately.    


How have you used events in your main and secondary level to express your game story?

I have used character conversations to push the story and the player along. My main level is largely used to establish setting and what constitutes “normal” in this rather abnormal place. I also establish the varying dynamic between the animal species and humans with these first few encounters. For example even though the swamp wolf doesn’t speak like Shari and Zhis do he still communicates with the other characters, establishing him as a member of a sentient species.



How have you used hitboxes and triggered animations as expressive elements?

As of right now I haven’t implemented hitboxes or triggered animations but I will be using them in future editions of the game. I will be using a hitbox to introduce one of my favorite characters in the game so far, Shari the four eyed cat.



How have you tried to surprise the player?

I’ve tried to surprise the player by having seemingly meaningless interactions be the precursor to more events in the game. I also hope having Zhis know more about the player character than the player does most of the time will also be a bit of a surprise.

Running into a tree makes an angry cat who talks like he's from Brooklyn fall out and yell at you.
Running into a tree makes an angry cat who talks like he’s from Brooklyn fall out and yell at you.


Is your game entertaining? In what way?

My game is very narrative focused so a lot of the entertainment comes from conversations and character interaction. The varying personalities of the characters is something I hope the players are entertained by. At game night several people who playtested the game seemed to enjoy it as well.


Where in your game would you like to push the player away from calculation and towards conflict/choice?

I want the companion characters and their requests of the player, which will at the very least make other companion requests Harder if not Impossible to complete. This will make the player basically have to choose which character they would rather please.

Where in your game could you offer conflict/choice?

I could offer more conflict/choice by having the character not have to go to Nadia’s tavern, which would make things interesting since that is where the player character Kaira learns her name.

Where in your game must you offer conflict/choice?

I must offer conflict in whether the player truly wants Kaira to continue on her mission to find her sister or not. Because if there is no conflict within the player or the character then the game will be boring.
Where in your game must you never offer conflict/choice?

I think one place my game must never offer conflict/choice is in the player doing something. I have had many gaming experiences where I simply lose motivation even with quest markers and the like. I want the player to remain engaged with the game and not lose their reason for playing even if they aren’t focusing on the story quest. Being sedentary cannot be an option in this game.

At this point my dedication to characters that haven’t been introduced is keeping me going on this project. Characters like Nadia and Shari who while they do have a few conversations are not as involved with the plot of the game so far as Zhis is. 

As for new inspirations, I haven’t really had many as of late unfortunately. Hopefully working more on the music over the summer might give me some new ideas.

Author: Emory OConnor