The very first round of capstone pitches starts with the five minute pitch where, as the name implies, students have only five minutes to pitch their game idea to the students and teachers. Because time is so limited, students can only present a very, very broad description of the game. In my five minutes, I wanted to communicate my ideas about how gameplay would work in The Network. I described The Network as a free running, first-person platformer. A cyberpunk Mirror’s Edge if you will. I talked about the three main hierarchies of the game’s environments, how one would navigate those environments, gave examples as to what those environments might look like, and gave a brief demo on how I envisioned combat would work.
The game’s world (or in this case worlds) would include the “real world” as well as The Network (a digital world). Players would freely move around the real world. In the real world, there would be “terminals” that allowed access to the digital world known as The Network. The Network would differ from the real world in terms of aesthetic and level design, but would be similar to the real world in that players could freely roam the environment. Scattered throughout The Network would be access to the game’s “levels.” These levels would be linear in that they had a clear start and finish that players would run to, but they would be non-linear in that they would have multiple different paths to get from start to finish. Ideally, certain paths would be easier to progress through but would take longer while other paths would be harder to progress through but would take less time if played correctly. The example I gave to express this notion was how levels in Sonic the Hedgehog often have varying paths to get from the level’s start to its finish (refer to page 3 of the presentation). Higher paths are harder to stay on but lead the player to the finish much quicker than the easier, lower paths.
While the main focus of the game would be the exploration of these environments through free running/parkour, there would also be combat involved. Because the characters of this game were mostly human/machine hybrids, combat would be initiated in the real world but mainly performed in the digital world. If enemies approached the player, he/she could “hack” the enemy, allowing the player to enter the digital mind of the assailant. Then, the player would quickly run through an abstract environment, similar to those described above only shorter and more intense (in terms of platforming). If the player successfully got to the end of the level within a certain amount of time, the hack would be successful, and the character would disable the enemy back in the real world. If the player did not get to the end in time, the enemy would hurt and/or kill the player. In order to not disrupt the constant feeling of flowing movement I wanted the game to possess, players would immediately be thrust into the digital world when a hack was initiated, and the game would start the player off already running. Meanwhile, in the real world, time would effectively be slowed because things in the digital world move much faster than those in the real world (and some such fictional reasons). When the player reached the end of the hacking level or failed to complete it in time, he/she would be immediately thrust back out into the real world and a corresponding animation would follow (dependent on the player’s success).
I’m sure I just went into more depth than I did in the original five minute pitch, but those were the ideas I was trying to convey for the presentation. Fortunately, the idea was popular enough to get voted to go to the next round of pitches. The work for that presentation can be seen here.