In this post, I am talking about the mini-game I created within last week, which I named as Root.
We were to design and develop an experimental game with autobiographical significance in a few days as learning by practice. After I did some online reading, I learned that to design an autobiographical game, I needed to select a specific part of my life, get inspired from it and create a gaming experience, which makes the player feel in a similar way as I do at that instant in my life.
"Look, you’re a complicated person and so am I. There’s no way to tell the whole story of a person in a single short game. So scope down your ambitions and pick one or two aspects of a single personal experience" (Stark, 2015).
I had been thinking about a game concept on chakras, which are, according to Eastern traditions, energy centres within the human body that interact with physiological and neurological systems that help to regulate all its processes, from organ function to the immune system and emotions. I thought about having 7 chakras as levels of a game.
7 basic chakras positioned throughout your body, from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Each 7 chakra represents different aspects of our psychology, and parts and systems of our physical body. Each chakra has its own vibrational frequency, that is depicted through a specific chakra color, and governs specific functions that keep you alive and well.
I thought I could use a part of this initial idea for this assignment. Since it is a 1-week long assignment, I decided to only focus on the Root chakra , which is the first chakra located at the base of the spine. The color is red. It is associated with survival, the feeling of safety, basic human needs (such as food, sleep, shelter and self-preservation), physical identity and aspects of self, and grounding, which builds a base/foundation for living our lives.
I chose the Root chakra because when I live in my home country, even though I can be with my family and friends, I do not feel safe because of the political situation and social unrest. I have been thorough multiple terror attacks, many riots and an attempt of military coup d'état. In addition, I happen to be a relatively young and small-sized woman, which does not make neither professional life nor daily life easy for me while living in a very patriarchal society.
The chakras can get out of balance, and this might cause functional problems in our bodies. As in my example, when I do not feel safe my root chakra becomes imbalanced. In my game, I wanted to represent the act of re-balancing the Root chakra.
I included the symbol that represents the root chakra to the game. A chakra is a vortex of spinning energy, so I decomposed the parts of the symbol and made each part spin towards different directions at various speed. There is a spinning triangle right at the centre, and the player can shoot energy beams (line renderer and ray-casting) through the tips of the 3 corners of the triangle. The player is trying to push away the little triangles spinning around the large circle by shooting at them. When shot once, they start shaking (vibrating) randomly, and when shot twice (or for a longer period of time) the triangles fall down. The player needs to protect the little circles (I will call them eggs), not shoot them, in order to win the game. There are 4 eggs, and if the player shoots all of them by mistake, the game is over and he needs to start over. The objective is pushing away (dropping) all the triangles without damaging all the eggs. If the player can save at least 1 of the eggs, he wins the game.
I got inspired by the Tesla Globe toy for designing the mechanic of shooting energy beams from the centre.
It is not an easy game, because everything spins. Eggs are attached to a square, and the square spins at a different speed than the centre triangle. The little triangles are attached to a large circle; this circle spins as well, and also towards a different direction.
Sound is becoming very important for me while creating games. I think as if a game is a choreography, so I find it helpful to select a background music for the game and design with it. Initially, I selected a song of a DJ whom I like to listen as the background music, but later I realised that the game and music combination did not give the effect that I was going for, so I changed the background music to a more instrumental one (also loyalty-free). The new music is less stressful, and it is more harmonious with the game objects.
When the little triangles vibrate, they seem as if they are synced with the guitar in the music. The tempo of the piece is also coherent with the spinning of the different parts. If the eggs are shot, they get popped and spoiled (popping sound effect and change of sprite). When the little triangles are pushed by the energy beam, there is a sound effect which resembles puffing smoke/air.
I came across this explanation on shapes in Gamasutra, based on art and design principles (Solarski, 2013) :
Circle: innocence, youth, energy, femininity.
Square: maturity, stability, balance, stubbornness.
Triangle: aggression, masculinity, force.
In this game, I included all of these shapes by chance. It was interesting to learn about their psychological reflections.
Designing Autobiographical Games by Lizzie Start, Leaving Mundania Inside the World Map - [http://leavingmundania.com/2015/03/30/designing-autobiographical-games/]
The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design article by Chris Solarski, Gamasutra - [https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/185676/the_aesthetics_of_game_art_and_.php]
Chakras.info - [http://www.chakras.info/]