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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Gaming Gets Real

    - Danny Cowan

  • Alex Thompson, University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ, Torn Realm

    In the universe of Torn Realm, a person's spirit is tied to a journal that archives their lives. Pages aren't predetermined, but rather the actions one takes reveals the type of story encompassed within.

    When a person's ‘story' ends, the journal is complete. Long ago, these were safeguarded by a trusted few, passed down from generation to generation. However, one individual, fearing their own mortality, attempted to change their fate by stealing pages from others. He succeeded, but forever opened a rift between the world of the spirits and the world of the living.

    Most people live comfortably, ignoring the rifts, but many have diverging beliefs and venture toward the rifts to uncover the truths that they seek. These are the: Brimstone, Diamond, and Crystal Sects. Brimstone believes that the rifts are proof that we're truly immortal, and should make ourselves stronger by whatever means necessary for the benefit of all. Diamond believes that we should seek harmony from within the rifts and find enlightenment. Crystal believers take a neutral stance and intend to subvert the efforts of both Brimstone and Diamond, believing that the rifts are a warning sign that we mustn't interfere with the natural order. Players will eventually choose which side to support and gain benefit in the ways they grow as well as change the stance in PvP settings. Brimstone players have a higher chance to find rare and strong pages from rifts. Diamond players gain experience at a much faster rate. Crystal players have a higher amount of traps they can carry and gain more from others falling into said traps.

    Primarily players will find rifts by physically searching for them, and having them appear in an augmented reality space using mobile devices. Through interacting with the rift events players can expand their abilities, change classes or weapons, learn to summon familiars, and more. Besides using the rifts, they can also lay traps for other players, create gathering spaces, or lay down PvP fields. By interacting with these different environments, players can grow and change their playstyles in many different ways; and while most of the combat is easily performed using taps and swipes on a touch screen, some of it will require the use of the accelerometer.

    Rifts will lie dormant, and have a certain difficulty and level requirement/recommendation for interaction. Interaction requires bargaining a page from the player's journal in order to expand the rift. Once started, the area will become active with an event while certain conditions remain true. These events may be single-player only, or can host many. Here are a few examples:

    Dark Riddles

    Setting: The immediate physical area is covered with dummy pages while a demon holding an hourglass utters a riddle with various rules in each one.

    Objective: Tap the desired pages amongst the many fake ones before the time runs out. Tapping incorrect ones do various things like reducing the amount of time remaining, summoning a monster for the player to fight, shifting the pages, adding pages, etc.

    Gentle Spirit

    Setting: A light spirit spawns which attempts to cast a spell revealing(adding) rifts around the area. It acts like a tower-defense, as many monsters are repeatedly coming toward the spirit to stop it.

    Objective: Fight off the monsters and defend the spirit. If the spirit is defeated, then the event will end with no reward. If cleared, then the players will be awarded with extra/unique rifts spawning on their maps and something related to that specific spirit.

    Lost Zone

    Setting: The area is shrouded in mist on the players' device. Both light and dark spirits manifest.

    Objective: Destroy all dark spirits or find all remaining good spirits. Defeating a dark spirit will guide the player toward a light one, and finding a light spirit will guide the player toward another light spirit or possibly a dark one.


    Setting: A unique and powerful monster will appear to challenge all players in the area.

    Objective: Defeat the deity of legend, either through combat or some other means.

    Rewards for these events will be experience points, custom skill pages, and completion credit for sections of pages.

    There are several different types of pages that can be placed inside a journal, but each will follow a similar pattern of unlocking its power for the player through a series of actions/conditions defined about said power. These could be performing certain actions during certain events, completing specific events, or doing something a certain amount of times.

    Combat consists of physical strikes using weapons, magic attacks, and the aid of familiars and all can be used offensively or defensively. On the player's device will be an assortment of icons like a menu which they can customize for combat. Preparing combat actions would look similar to a classic turn-based RPG, but execution requires tapping, swiping, and pattern matching. Shielding oneself is achieved by quickly turning the screen of the device away from the player.

    Every action will cost a bit of energy, and energy is constantly replenishing itself based on player level and skill customization. To further enhance attacks players can mix magic with weapons, familiars with weapons, and magic with familiars. PvP zones act as areas to train one's skills, acquire extra experience points, or completion for their Sect/page. These aren't ‘active' though, players will only ever be able to face AI-controlled ‘clones' of another player's avatar.


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