Unpacking details in ‘Winter Nightmare’
Delicate details and strategies in this game make the whole winter journey thrilling and agitated.
Natural disasters like blizzards, earthquakes, and hurricanes are common on our earth, and with increasing human activities, the likelihood for a person to confront natural disasters is also increasing. However, many people including me are not prepared for natural disasters, and we need to get to know these disasters instead of ignoring them. This game simulates some possible situations in a snowstorm, and I get inspiration from other adventurous games when creating ‘Winter Nightmare.’ Although this game is all about my imagination, I incorporate many great strategies in these imaginations so that players can have an enjoyable gaming experience.
Audios in this game:
In my opinion, I think one of the most essential elements in games is the use of sounds. As a game player for years, I find that most of the games that I am interested in incorporate many audios. Audios in a game can actually bring me into the game world, and I can imagine myself as one of these characters in the virtual world. For instance, when I play The Wolf Among Us Episode 1, I really like the sounds in the fighting scenes. When the Bigby Wolf fights in a bar, there are sounds of breaking glasses and tables in the bar. Besides these, I can also hear the sounds of punches and bone breaks. These sounds stimulate my nerves and feelings, and they make me feel excited. Furthermore, I did some research about the use of sounds before I start to create my game, and an article named “Eight Essential Ways to Use Sound in Video Games” convinces me to include audio in my game. According to this article, the use of sound in a game can give players an adequate emotional impression. This article gives the example of Bioshock to show the importance of audio in a game. It will be totally different if we play that game on mute. Without the sound, Bioshock will not be creepy and scary for players because it lacks the part of the emotional impression. In my game, I embed sounds of strong winds, bears’ roars, and campfires. My topics are about surviving in a blizzard, so these sounds create the atmosphere of possible situations in a blizzard. These three sounds actually create different atmospheres for players. The sound of strong winds is sharp, and it can remind players of their experience on cold days. The sound of bears is loud and horrible, and this can create tension and nervousness for players. At last, the sound of campfires makes players feel warm and calm.
The Hero’s Journey:
The template of The Hero’s Journey is used in many aspects of our daily lives including literature, TV play series, and games. This pattern is popularized by Joseph Campbell who was an American writer. This pattern is widely used in modern times because different myths and stories share strong similarities, and the use of this pattern can make your whole storyline become clear and easy to modify to fit in various settings. According to the academic article “The Hero’s Journey: Life’s Great Adventure,” the author Reg Harris illustrates many examples in Greek Mythology that have the same pattern: Heroes depart with missions, meet mentors and overcome difficulties, and return to their original world. However, the Hero’s Journey is not only for hero stories. This pattern can also reflect our daily lives, and it is for all of us to use. My game is an adventurous game in a blizzard, and I incorporate this pattern in my game to make the whole storyline easy to follow. In the game, the character comes across a blizzard, and his car is trapped on a road, so he has to find ways to survive. The character later meets Daniel who helps him to escape this disaster. Finally, this character returns to normal life. I was not so sure about using this template at first because I think my game’s story is too simple to fit in this pattern. Nevertheless, this article helps me realize that experiences in our own life can also fit in this template. This template also reveals the truth that our life is a journey, and we might meet various supporters and haters in this journey. We do not need to gain many victories and success in this journey. Instead, we should focus more on the process of self-discovery. My game is just like a small journey, and I hope my players can learn to make decisions and solve problems through this pattern’s stages.
In class, we have discussed the use of realism in Rosemary’s Baby, a horror novel in the 1960s. Ira Levin put many real-life elements into the story to make the novel realistic. According to the article “The Legacy of Rosemary’s Baby,” to make readers feel that horror in Rosemary’s Baby was close to their daily lives, Levin carefully observed details in his life and wrote them into his novel. For instance, he explored many parts of New York City like the Yankee Stadium and the best places to buy cheese and swordfish steaks in Manhattan. The use of realism is one of these important reasons that Rosemary’s Baby can become popular. Realism in the book brings horror outside of papers, and readers can feel this horror around them. After learning this strategy in class, I continue doing some google research on realism, and I find one article really interesting. This short blog “Realism in Gaming” illustrates some video games that bring realism into the game world. This blog mentions Battlefield 3 and Crysis 3. These games have photo-realistic graphics. Developers try to embed the real-life experience in the game: realistic street views, weather, and characters’ clothes. I also put a lot of real-life experience into my game. Many environmental descriptions are based on my trip to Leavenworth in winter. Snowflake was flying, and my vision was blurred because snowflake could melt in my eyes. There is a thick layer of snow on the ground. When walking, I had to be careful with any sharp things beneath the snow. I write these real observations in my storyline so that players will understand that a blizzard makes everything really hard.
I like the idea of using the time rewind feature in Life is Strange because it gives players more control to the game. In Life is Strange, players have to solve some puzzles in Max’s high school, and its storyline is complex. It takes players hours to play this game, so I think time rewind is really needed here. If players make any mistakes, they do not have to restart the game and waste time, and they only need to click the rewind button to reselect other choices. With the time rewind strategy in Life is Strange, players can go back to previous scenes to collect more clues and details hidden in the storyline. In the article “My Favorite Features — Time Rewind in Life is Strange,” blogger Niklas Walenski shares his favorite feature Time Rewind in Life is Strange. Walenski explains that in other story games, he might click a wrong choice accidentally, but they do not have rewind buttons. He has no choice but to pause the game and restart. This greatly influences his experience of playing that game. In Life is Strange, he can rewind whenever he wants, and this makes him have enough time to explore the whole game. Nevertheless, in my game, I choose not to have a rewind button because I think when I am trapped in a blizzard, I cannot go back to the last stages and change my actions. My game is not complex compared to Life is Strange, so I think it is fine to restart it gain if I select the wrong choices.
It is important to create tensions in my game, so I add a timer to set time limits for choices. In some emergency situations, we have to make our choices as soon as possible because any delay can put us in danger. In my game, I set a timer when the character decides to leave the car and choose one way to go. It is very cold outside, so players have to make their decisions quickly: enter the forest or continue walking along the road. There are thirty seconds for players to make the choice. Since my text is not long, so thirty seconds are fair enough for players. Can we make the countdown shorter or longer? At first, I set only ten seconds for that page, but later I realize that ten seconds are too short to make the choice. I changed the timer to thirty seconds, and this time is perfect for players to finish reading the plot and make their decisions.
Through the process of creating ‘Winter Nightmare,” I have gained much knowledge about the story games. These narrative strategies look simple, but they can make a big difference in story games. If I lack any strategies above, my game will not be thrilling and interesting.