How can we write a story based entirely on player actions?
Why not make the player the primary plot device?
Team Size: 2
Role: Lead Designer
Illustrious was designed as a student project in the fall of 2012. It doesn't look like much in still images, but to some degree, that's the whole point. Illustrious is designed to be an abstract representation of the Hero's Journey. Its minimalist structure removes preconceived notions the player may have about the game's characters and allows the player's personality to be mapped onto the avatar. In this sense, the player becomes a direct character in the story, detailing the plot almost entirely through his or her own actions. This implicit narrative culminates in fourteen possible ending scenarios for this simple, three-hour game. My objective with this project was to create a game experience that blended story and gameplay into a single element, and while it remains to be seen how effective it would ultimately prove in practice, I'm confident in where the design has come.
For this project, I took the role of lead designer, pitching the initial concept and writing much of the design document. I was assisted throughout the process by Ben Snyder, who devised many of the enemies and collaborated deeply on developing player abilities and world obstacles, as well as researching some of the technological aspects of the game's target platform, the iPad. Additional feedback from the remainder of the 2014 M.S. Game Development class at Rochester Institute of Technology helped to shape the design into what it is.