Experimental Games: Squishy

This is the second experiment game I made, by the topic of “Squishy“. Click HERE to play the game.

Game Description

  • Name: Havenless Heaven
  • Core Gameplay: Text-Based Interactive Novel
  • Tech: Twine2 / HTML + CSS + Javascript
  • Time Taken: 8 hours
  • Controls: Mouse Clicks

What Was My Goal

The topic of the experiment is “Squishy“, by definition, means “being soft” or “not firm or steady“.

The first thought that came to mind is to make a 2D platformer that uses a “squishy” physics system as the core mechanic, similar to games like “Loco Roco“. But I thought this path is too obvious a way out, so I decided to make something different.

Then I started to interpret the word “squishy” in a less literal way: “being vulnerable” and “easy to undermine“. From that I instantly realized I could make a game that creates a depressing atmosphere and conveys serious messages like these:

  • Meaning of words are Squishy 
  • Trust between people is Squishy 
  • Life is Squishy 
  • Mental State is Squishy 
  • Structure of a Society is Squishy 

And that was I set out to do.

How I Tried to Acheive My Goal

To create a depressing atmosphere, I naturally thought of making a survival game.

For the narrative, I thought of creating a confined mini-society that has a authoritarian structure, where people in it tell on, lie to and bully each other, the dark side of humanity gets magnified significantly.

In the beginning I wanted to make a 2D platformer survival game similar to This War of Mine with pixel art, then I realized I don’t have the time or the skill to create that amount of art work, so I decided to make a fully text-based game. After some research, I went with a tool call Twine2 to make the game.

Inspiration

For the narrative of the game, I took reference from the movie “One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest“, specifically the feeling and aesthetics of the confined social structure of the asylum in the movie.

Then I try to make it darker by applying the real story of a teenager’s addiction rehab center that uses electric shocks to modify behavior, directed by a Dr.Yang in China.

The Game

Due to the limited time, I only finished the character generation and the prologue of the game, but hopefully it can convey the feeling as I intended to.

In the character generation, you are acting as the parent of a new patient and filling out information that would define the actual character, and more importantly it decides several basic attributes such as Strength, Agility, Intelligence and Chrisma, that would differ gameplay a lot, by for example enabling and disabling dialog options.

The prologue tells the story of the first diagnose and becoming a new patient of the rehab. There is not many dialog options, the main goal here is to set the tone of the game, to show how the basic mechanics work and of course for narrative purposes.

choice.png

Potential Improvements

After the prologue the game would go into the actual survival gameplay. The general goal would be survive through a certain amount of time inside the rehab, or figure out a way to escape.

The gameplay would be trying to find different objects that would benefit your life in various ways in the rehab so that you don’t get beaten to death or get mental meltdown cause by more “treatments” than you could handle.

There would be multiple NPCs in the game, some being doctors and nurses, some being other patients. The game would maintain a NPC Favorbility System that keeps track of how much each NPC likes or dislikes you.

The game would have some Random Events, such as interviewing reporters or dying patients, that could change the gameplay drastically depending on the decisions made

The game would have Multiple Endings, each one unique and shows the darkness of the world in their own way.

What I learned

Technical side, I learned how to make a text-based game using Twine2, and how to use CSS and javascript in general.

The experiment also taught me the fact that it is hard and requires a huge amount of work to make a narrative game, also it is hard to do the writings in any games.

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