Genevieve wakes up in her bed. At the front door a mysterious figure knocks. The rooms in her house are empty and bare, no objects to capture the memories of her life. The world is in grays and browns, until she steps out the door to her room and is suddenly plunged into a memory of herself as a young child, chasing after the footsteps of her departing father. She tries to chase the giant footsteps but she can only crawl. She is 3 years old again. The feet of her father are gigantic, colossal. She crawls frantically through time and memories, crawling through her first, second, and third birthdays, faster and faster until she is stumbling uneasily on her two legs, then running with reckless abandon the way a child does as she chases a disappearing father. The feet of her father departing grow smaller, more distant, more real. Genevieve makes a leap...
Genevieve is an experimental two-dimensional platformer where themes of memory, identity, and choices are explored. Each level serves as a metaphorical depiction of a life changing moment for Genevieve, captured by her maturation from toddler to adult. We relive the memory of her experience as we play, and depending on how we do her memory will play out differently; perhaps she catches up to the departing footsteps of her father and grows up with a mother and father, or perhaps she misses him and lives a broken childhood of an absent father and negligent mother?
The core mechanic of the game builds off the established rules of already-existent platformer games and lays its metaphorical rhetoric over the established actions of running, jumping, and hiding. As stated earlier, each level is a surreal and symbolized actualization of one of Genevieve's memories, and as she traverses the level her abilities will change: as she moves from left to right, the avatar will age from one stage of life to another. So during the first stage we begin with Genevieve as a toddler growing into a child as she moves through the experience; the avatar change captures the process of maturation and aging, with time collapsed with left-to-right movement. Furthermore this mechanic lends itself to a naturally rewarding and progressive teaching style: as the player begins they start with little abilities, but growing from toddler to child may add the ability to run and jump, while growing into a teen will add more intricate abilities such as grabbing and rolling, etc. With this format, the mechanics naturally build off one another and reward the players by giving them more agency as they continue.
Although in any given level the "goal" may not be reached, this does not cause a failure status but simply provides one kind of result of the memory over another. For example, if Genevieve fails to catch her father, the level will end and the memory will play out as "Genevieve's parents divorced when she was little". This will make is so in the next level, the level may be of her being chased by an abusive step-dad vs chasing after the butterfly of her innocence. By doing this we encourage "King's Quest" replayability such that people may go through the game several times and intentionally "fail" levels to see what alternative stories they unlock.
The game begins in a home-base screen, which is a side cut out of Genevieve's house. As she travels from room to room, some will open up into memories which become levels; the avatar will change from the standard state to an appropriate life period (toddler, child, teen, adult), and then the level will play out. After it is over, Genevieve will return to the house and certain objects will be added, such as a picture of her family, a snow globe, etc.
The game opens with Genevieve in her bedroom in an empty house. A silhouetted figure knocks at the front door, and all we can tell is that it is a he. As we have no idea of her identity, there is nothing to fill the house. Each memory she lives through though will unlock furnishings that will reveal more about the kind of life she lived. For example, a stable life will result in fine curtains, idyllic settings, and a well-furnished house. A ruined life though will result in ruined rooms and furniture inexplicably piled against the front door (perhaps to keep the knocking man out?)
At the end of the game, we get a replay of Genevieve's life based off on the results of each level. We will see the literal depiction of the event each level; for example, the first level where the child Genevieve chases after the father's departing footsteps will result in scene where Genevieve watches her parents fight and acts accordingly. At the end, we discover who is knocking at the front door: it could be a concerned son or husband, knocking out of concern. Or it could be an abusive husband or step-father, which is why the furniture is piled against the front door. We also want to explore the gray areas between "good" and "bad"; if the player does everything that gives Genevieve a stable life and trouble-free one, it may lead to an ending of a feeling of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction.
Our overall style will be a highly stylized surreal and abstract style where we depict objects and locations according to Genevieve's emotional relationship to them more so than a real depiction of what the objects actually are. The tone can be as idyllic as the opening levels of Braid or as dark and demented as the levels of American McGee's Alice. For the house where the player begins, we decided it should be cast in shadows, monotone, and/or silhouette until more and more memories are unlocked, then color and definition is added into that world.
We've decided to pursue a vector art style that is both iconic (as opposed to representational/literal) and surreal. Our reasons are both practically and artistically motivated. We want the graphics to be simple so that players can better relate to the avatar. We also believe that a strongly pixellated look that is reminiscent of Nintendo or Atari graphics would add anything to our game, while the flat look of vectors can allow for a strong paper doll look that plays nicely with the cutaway dollhouse style of the house. Vectors also allow us to do animations by pieces, instead of creating individual sprites for each frame of action, which will make our work easier on the art end. Vectors are also more appropriate for the kind of surreal environment we want to create, and most of our team has more experience working with Illustrator and implementing vector graphics.
Within the next few days we will be posting concept art and sketches of ideas for characters, locations, and objects for our game.
Our first priority is to implement three different stages for our avatar: child, teenager, and adult. Then if we have time, we may implement a toddler and elder stage. Our goal is to have a working prototype of three different stages and a branching possibility of three different endings.
Oct 15th - Game Design Doc Due
Oct 19th - First Paper Prototype up and completed
Oct 26th - Basic input, action, collision programmed in;story script finished
Oct 29th - Iterim Team Evaluations
Nov 3rd - Final Design Doc
Nov 6th - First Draft of game finished - at least one level fully programmed out, no assets
Nov 17th - Almost Final Iteration - game is playable, most assets finished and implemented
Nov 24th - Final Team Evaluations
Dec 1st - Final Presentations begin!
-Jason Lee, Stevie Fredrick, Terris Johnson, David Kim, Zach Antoine