Game Development

The Screaming Sofa

This is a project from the course Building Virtual World.

The topic of this game is making a game that prompted the guest to help a character noted by Character A, who was afraid of another character, noted by Character B, out of a situation. It should be easy for the guest to tell which character in the game was Character A and his/her/its fear, as well as know how should he/she react to help Character A. 

In this round, my group was assigned to use HTC Vive, which is a virtual reality platform. VR is an   excellent platform to arouse empathy of the guest. Thereby, our group came up with an initial idea of making the guest a babysitter, putting him/her into an ordinary room and making him/her to help a pair of new parent to get ready for work while their baby was trying to disrupt them. We believed that babysitting was something that most people had experience before, thus, it should be easy for the guest to be willing to help as well as know how to help. 

However, after my group discussed with the instructor, we learned that the concept of “fear” in this idea was ambiguous. We were trying to make the new parents to become Character A, but we could not clearly define our Character B: it can be either the fear of being late because of their baby’s disruption, or the fear of their baby not being carefully looked after. 

When we figured out this problem, the artists had already finished modeling the environment and all the furnitures, so we cannot change our game to a completely different theme. As a result, we decided to change our Character A into a girl who was afraid of dogs, and change the baby into a dog raised by the girl’s boyfriend. The guest needed to use all kinds of dog snacks and toys to distract the dog from chasing the girl. In this way, we were able to reuse all the furnitures and toys made for the baby, while display the sense of fear in our game clearly.

Then, we discovered that it was a huge challenge for us both in modeling and designing. For artists, modeling a human, finishing rigging and animation for the model within one week was a huge challenge. Also, we would need a delicate level design to assign the guest with different tasks to attract the dog’s attention in order to form a decent interest curve. These tasks were over scoped for us since we had spend over a week in polishing our babysitter idea. So, we decided to remove the girl and made the furnitures in the room as our Character A. The dog would no longer chase the girl, but would bite the furnitures if the guest could not get it something to eat. We personated all the furnitures, gave them eyes and made them scream when the dog bit them. Although having screaming furnitures that scream was no longer an experience that ordinary people would have, we were able to clearly define our Character A and their fear in this game. 

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