From our original pitch to Weston Park Museum:
WESTON PARK IS UNDER ATTACK!
Arrive at the museum and enlist in T.I.M.E.P.E.A.C.E Academy – a daring initiative that recruits you and your mobile device to save the space-time continuum! Using the museum’s free Wi-Fi and the T.I.M.E.P.E.A.C.E site on your mobile, you’ll explore and discover the museum and help return a collection of historical artefacts back to their rightful place in history.
It probably shows, but right from the beginning I had a lot of fun working on this project. The above paragraph describes how we hoped to tackle the brief to create a game that would provide visitors with new way to experience the museum’s collections. If knowledge truly is power, then why can’t discovering facts about stuff save entire universes? Call me old-fashioned but, in my mind, it can!
Even though this initial blurb encapsulates most of what went into the final game, it doesn’t mean I didn’t also discover and re-discover things while writing the game’s content. A lot of it seems common sense now – but that’s hindsight for you… Pesky space-time continuum!
1. REWARDING THE EXPERIENCE
User testing quickly showed that kids instinctively got to grips with the notion of this being a digital treasure hunt supported by a fun, heroic narrative (find this object, find the answer to a question about it = universe saved!) This is why the majority of the content I wrote is the large number of variable responses acknowledging your success against the Tempus Fugitives.
2. REWARDING EVERY EXPERIENCE
The above also included a number of different (hopefully) funny responses should you get your question wrong and the Tempus Fugitives win a round. Win or lose, you did something, you had a go, and whatever happens we always want to acknowledge this because, let’s face it, the universe doesn’t always!
My original instinct was to try and throw in as many science fiction sounding phrases as possible. But if you’re also using multiple terms to describe how to play the game then this gets confusing. It’s unwise to try and force a meme-y catchphrase into the zeitgeist. Just write your dang script and if something sticks it won’t be you who decides. When ‘locking reality’ became how we discussed the game in the office, any other descriptors quickly got dropped.
One of you reading this owns something with a Superman logo on it. Someone else owns a T-shirt featuring a brand that only exists in fiction (feel free to own up on the comments below 😀 ). It’s not for everyone, but in creating the good guys you’re questing alongside, I find it important help players feel they’re joining in something bigger than a one-off game. If a story world feels lived in, it helps audiences live that world!
5. SHARE THE FUN
I have a myriad of back stories for the Academy’s formation, how the Tempus Fugitives banded together and why. But any hints at this I wrote quickly bogged down the player’s path to the game. Writing instructions ‘in character’ takes longer – and feels even longer if you just want to get on with it. More importantly, I had such great fun imagining all of the extra back-story which there wasn’t room for, so who the heck am I to deny the fun of imagining from the player too!