CIRCA:Charade of the Dead


Jump to: navigation, search



Something has gone wrong with the tar sand refinery facilities in North Alberta. We report hordes of monsters coming down South, and the first target is Edmonton. You are on the front line to stop their advance, but for now, you must get through the night yourself. Facilities and building on the University of Alberta campus provide the perfect opportunity to gather material to aid you in your adventure.

Charade of the Dead is a locative game where you must scan QR code in specific nodes provided by the the Layar application. Scan those codes to get words (items) and find their common association (craft the item) to get the word (combined item) you need to get through the night. For example, the story might need you to help a fellow survivor from hypothermia, but the solution is not provided. However, the map indicates that the nodes for this challenge are located at the Biochemistry Lab and at the Emily Murphey House where you respectively scan the words ¨matches¨ and ¨scrap wood¨. How those two items might help you find a solution to the challenge?

Combine objects by combining words. Find the solution to the scavenger hunt charade by crafting the appropriate to survive another night!

Charade of the Dead in 4 points:

- Survival game in a zombie-apocalypse setting
- Gameplay mechanics based on ¨crafting¨ items based on the QR codes users gather
- Narrative embedded with an environment-awareness discourse on oil exploitation
- Hall of Fame showing the names of players who survived through all challenges

Project Planning

What's the point of the project? Who are the stakeholders? The stakeholders of this project include the FarPlay platform, the GRAND research network and the Office of Sustainability (or other organization set on environment consciousness-raising).

FarPlay platform: Since this project taps heavily in the culture of gamers in terms of fiction (zombies) and game play mecahnics (collecting, crafting, high stakes challenges), it has the potential of increasing gamers' attention on the FarPlay platform and ultimately, get media coverage necessary to increase the number of people interested in contributing to the locative gaming project.

GRAND research network: Any form of public interest towards Charade of the Dead will translate into further acknowledgement of the team that will create it as well as the research network that will provide the resources to fund it. Additionally, the creation of the game also provide an opportunity to test the game design framework that the team already engineered that may result in a published paper or conference talk. If we reach outside interests, the game could migrate from the Far Play platform into the hands of a small scale studio that could help make a ¨app¨ version of it, resulting in another to extend public acknowledgement of the GRAND research network and the team behind the original ideas.

Office of Sustainability (or other organization set on environment consciousness-raising): Since the initial game's narrative heavily focuses on a zombie apocalypse that finds its way into the savage exploitation of non-renewable and environment-damaging on a global scale, this might attract the attention of consciousness-raising organization that focuses on such issues. Should we decide to engage the issue more deeply during the design process, we could involve such organization to provide data and statistics that could be embedded in the game's fiction in the form of complementary information or as the origin of the game's challenges. This involvement could help bring more attention to the game and environment at the same time.

Since the heart of this project lies in the testing of the game design framework and the promotion of the FarPlay platform, efforts should be mustered to make locative game that works well, keep it simple and reaches an end. The main objective is to make an engaging locative game that gamers can ¨get¨ easily. If this works, the project would be much more interesting to present in academic events as an example of successful locative game made in an University. All effort towards adding consciousness-raising content should come afterwards if resources and interest by organization is there. We don't want this aspect to be a burden for the initial game design.

Persona Tests

Persona 1 - Zach Romero: Zach is based in Edmonton and is what we can call a ¨power gamer¨. He plays a lot of videogames on traditional consoles and he is always up to date in regards to the latest tendencies and newest products related to gaming culture. This knowledge comes from online gaming publications such as Kotaku and Gamespot. From those news outlets, he heard that the University of Alberta developed a mobile game using locative technology that requires users' wits and urban exploration skills to survive a zombie apocalypse scenario. Living in Edmonton and owning an iPhone device, Zach's interest was picked by the game and he decided to try it. The game accompanies his daily routine as he scans QR codes near him and makes quick detours to reach those that fall outside where his commuting habits bring him. In the evening, he tries to complete challenges with the words he got from the QR codes by solving the charade.

Persona 2 - Janey Raimie: Janey Raimie is a student from the University of Alberta. She is not really a gamer: she possesses a single outdated game console that is not used often. However, Janey, like most students, has a smartphone that allows him to got on the net and use augmented reality applications. Janey is curious about new technologies and what she can do with them, but has never really tried locative applications before. Through the University's news outlet, she hears about a locative game that uses her phone to access a QR code-based series of challenges while following a zombie apocalypse-themed narrative. Janey is intrigued by this concept and decides to install the game and try it for a while. She does not go out of her way to scan QR codes too much, but having tried the game, she knows more about how locative application work and she will apply this new knowledge with her phone use in the future.

Persona 3 - Alex Johnson: Alex is a resident of Edmonton and works in the city's downtown. Alex is married and has a happy life communing to work in the weekdays and staying at home on weekends. He owns game consoles and mobile devices that allows him to check his email and social media information wherever he goes. One day, he notices a weird signs on the front of one of the buildings he often goes to an decides to take a closer look. Under the sign is a small paragraph that says that this sign is part of a locative game called Charade of the Dead where users scan codes to complete challenges in a zombie-apocalypse narrative setting. It just so happens that Alex is a big fan of zombie-related media such as The Walking Dead and Resident Evil, the game's premises has him hooked. Owning a mobile device, he signs up for an account and starts integrating the game to his daily routine, aiming to achieve completion and confirm, once again, that he would be alright in the event of a zombie disaster.

Survey of Ressources

Programming: The barebone framework of the game would be relatively simple to implement. Each challenge would start with an expository narrative along with a map showing where the QR codes (two or three per challenge) are located. Each challenge page should welcome player to put the answer of the charade in a small text box. The webpage should verify if the input provided is the correct word to clear the challenge. If so, the user advances to the next challenge page. This is the most basic functionality that the game would require. Additionally, we could think of a ¨save¨ function for all QR code gathered. Once discovered, the words associated to any QR codes would display in a sort of ¨inventory¨ page, easily accessible for future reference. This would help players have everything they need to complete the challenge in a single spot (no need to take notes separately).

Hall of Fame Feature: In order to add a reward to the completion of the game, a Hall of Fame feature could be implemented. This page would display the name of all player who sucessfully completed the game along with a comment on their experience. Depending on the capabilities of the fAR-Play platform, this could be integrated to the game's main interface.

Environment-damaging practice awareness: One of the prospect of this project would be the integration of an environment-awareness discourse to the game's fictional narrative. This discourse would be implemented slowly throughout the narrative: while the first challenges should mimic a standard zombie-apocalypse themed survival scenario, the latter challenges should focus on the exploration of the origins of the disaster tied to the infection of the population living around the tar sands area. Ideally, the last challenges of the game should make use of the knowledge acquired in the previous discourse focused expository elements in order to craft the necessary items for both the player's survival and to bring the game's narrative to a satisfying end in regards to the world in general.

The creation team should ask the help of the Office of Sustainability in order to gather the necessary empirical information that could make the backbone of this part of the project. In the event that their are interested in getting involved in the project, they could counter-verify the final version of the narrative to confirm if the fact presented are correct and if the game could be integrated to a large environment-awareness plan on their part. Complementary information on global warming and soil contamination that would not directly be part of the narrative could also be implemented in the final project to fulfill that purpose.

Integration of narrative and information: The game's success would depend largely on how engaging the narrative is and how tightly woven its environment discourse is. To fulfill that purpose, we could ask for graduate students in the English or Comparative Literature departments to provide an short original narrative separated in several chapter that takes place in a zombie-apocalypse. The subject matter is not particularly difficult to grasp and it would be the chance for a group of student to demonstrate skills in creative writing as their work would be credited as due.

Idea - fictional blog website: It was suggested that the project could make use of a fictional website to deliver critical plot information related to the environment consequences of oil exploitation, similarly to Jane McGonial's game I Love Bees. The idea would be that a specific challenge of Charade of the Dead would require players to combine words found in a fictional blog instead of using locative QR codes. The basic gameplay idea would remain mostly the same: users must look for specific words within the blog entries based on several hints. After identifying the words, the user must then type them in the command line in order to complete the challenge. This part of the game should not be especially challenging, but should mainly have players read through what could be a personal account (or an fictional activist blog) relating how the ¨zombie apocalypse¨ came to be (until then, the player is left without background information on the event of the game so that information could be gradually integrated, hopefully making the game more directly engaging). The blog should relate the events while integrating an easily readable account of how long term damage are enacted on the land where tar sand exploitation is done. The objective is that this small interlude in-between regular missions should be the climax of the environment-awareness goal of the project where users acquire information on sustainability for themselves.
In order to make this idea possible, we will need a server onto which host the website as well as a programmer in order to build the basic framework the fictional blog. The website is meant to be static so that all users have the same experience while trying to complete the challenge.

Personal tools