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Developing the tech spec

What ties the game to the place?

People share the vocabularies of their place (and its possibilities) for the game. These include landmarks, hang outs, scary places, economies etc. This vocabulary could only be developed by locals. A game created for a different locale would have a different vocabulary.

What shapes the game?

At all stages of the design we start with workshops and local groups of people to build the game framework. Their responses to the project inform the shape of the technical platform. This process incorporates the dynamics between people as they make drawings together based on their experiences and visions of a place. Our first drawing jam explored ways (in this case game cards) in which people might be prompted to make unexpected connections and dip into their imaginative faculties while drawing on personal experience of Southend producing ideas very particular to the place.

Should we produce a single platform game or an arcade of different kinds of game?

Workshops and drawing events might each produce different kinds of games. We will feature each of these in an arcade of online games and then include a selection of them in THE platform game. This could be curated or selected by participant voting.

Different kinds of game creation create different sets of technical challenges for constructing a game

1) Drawings by many contributors are brought together create the background and elements for one platform game.
This is like a large exquisite corpse project. How important is the drawn quality of the original image?

How do we create a coherent gaming level from lots of people’s drawings?

- matching up edges of drawings: calibrating images by giving participants templates that set the ground plain, horizon line and scale.
- dealing with different drawing styles eg cartoon, expressionistic, impressionistic: image processing – could we convert all images to vectors? or cut outs?
- distinguishing categories and/or styles of drawing: contributors could categorise their own drawing styles and elements environment, player, object etc

2) One single very wide or very tall drawing is created by one person as the basis for a game.
The drawing provides the environment in which gamey things happen: things falling down, things bouncing up etc
The drawings are then marked up so people can assign attributes and behaviours to elements of the drawing.
- use trace paper to trace the physical drawings before scanning: these are then read by the software (somehow!)
- people assign platforms properties, behaviours and interactions to different elements using a ‘rubber stamp’ this would function to say “Here are the kinds of things you could do.”

more soon….

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This work by Local Play (based on a collaboration between Ruth Catlow and Dr Mary
Flanagan) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

The free software, that enables anyone to draw, make and play their own platform game levels, developed with Soda was first published to Github October 2013