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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Inappropriate Title

    [05.25.10]
    - GameCareerGuide.com staff

  • Nikhil Murthy, BITS, Final Fantasy

    With such tempting targets as Half-life and Starcraft to go for, I chose instead for Final Fantasy. When this name was chosen, it was thought that this would be the final game of both the company, and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator. However, this turned out not to be the case (not by a long way), and although the setting is in a fantasy world, there is really not much to connect the game and the title. Although Final Fantasy does invoke the image of a JRPG now, you have got to wonder, had it never been, would you think of the JRPG, or would you think about a psychological game?

    Imagine a game around a child of about four years old, who, like all children of that age has a number of personal fantasies. This game starts with the child lying in bed, scared of monsters under the bed. Logically, the child knows that there are no such things as monsters under the bed, but he cannot bring himself to believe in the fact. So, the child creates the player, an imaginary entity created for the sole purpose of dispelling the child's fantasies.

    The game is story-oriented, and the gameplay should support this, so I think that the game has to be a point-and-click adventure. This game has two meters, a persistent meter for the health of the player and a level meter for the amount that the child believes in the current fantasy. There is also a persistent list of the number of fantasies that the child still holds. This list starts with the ones that the child consciously knows about, such as the fact that there are no monsters under the bed, and later grows with fantasies that the child is not even willing to consciously accept, or has not realized yet.

    Each level has the player going around the house, finding and connecting clues to form evidence to help disprove the fantasy. At any time, evidence can be presented to the child to try to disprove the fantasy. Depending on the strength of the clue, the level meter will drop by a certain amount. When the level meter drops below 0, then the level is finished with the child accepting that the fantasy is false. A clue can be shown to a child as part of one piece of evidence, and then later shown as part of another piece of evidence, but doing so will result in less of a drop to the level meter than presenting both pieces of evidence simultaneously.

    The health meter represents the amount of belief that the child has in the player. When it drops to zero, the child no longer believes in the player, and so the game ends. This game is about the maturation of the child and his dependence on the imaginary creature he has created to help him face his fantasies. So, for each level, after every few minutes (say five) of real time that elapses, the player loses a small amount of health. This is to drive the player to remove the fantasy fairly quickly. All of them can be done in under the time limit easily, so placing this penalty shifts the player focus from finding all of the possible evidence, as would be natural for a player, to instead removing the fantasy. Besides, it is only natural that a child will believe in a creature that actually does remove the fantasies rather than one which only searches for clues about the fantasy.

    As the player removes fantasies which upset the child, such as the monsters under the bed or the scissorman, the health of the player increases as the player becomes more dependent on the player to remove the fantasies that scare him. However, as the player removes protective fantasies, like the belief that he has friends at school or that his parents are not going to separate result in a direct hit to the health as the child tries to disbelieve in the player in order to continue the fantasy. However as time progresses and events prove the fantasy false, the player health increases as the child comes to accept the truth. The player should start out with a few upsetting fantasies, at which point the child will believe enough in him for him to take on some of the protective fantasies, while mixing in enough upsetting fantasies to keep up the health, finally, if the player can survive long enough, he must disprove his own existence.

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