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Report article RSS Feed The Player-Character Connection In Unicorn Training

Posted by TonyYotes on Jul 8th, 2014

     Unicorn Training suddenly holds more meaning now. Thanks to the latest Sequelitis Video I've been thinking more about aligning player goals/desires with that of the in-game avatar. When the story matches with what the player wants to do there is an immediate connection. You can relate at least on that level to the character you're playing as and immersion is key to a good experience.

With my new plan of spreading the game into 2 parts I can create a story that matches my feelings as the creator, the player's desire to explore and fight, and Clover's desire to grow stronger and see the world.


     The story needs to be brief and impactful. I want the game to start with something that makes players think "I like Clover. I'm excited to play this game!" so I wrote this in the design document to help give me an idea of how the game should begin:

  • Start game with Clover’s thoughts as white text over blackness.
  • “Forest scenery. Magic studies. And the same old town.”
  • “I wasn't around when he founded the place, but I find myself wishing Swirllock picked a place with a view to do his research.”
  •  “Same old food… Trees for miles… Nopony is my age...”
  • “It hasn't been too long since we moved here. I can still remember living in Bright Valley.”
  • “Why did we have to shut out the outside world? It’s like he has us hiding from something…”
  • “But what does the greatest sorcerer of all time need to hide from?”
  • “He won’t tell me anything. It’s always ‘When you’re further along…’ as he scratches his lengthy beard.”
  • “I think I need a change of pace. Maybe if I practice harder Swirllock will see how good I am with magic and let me explore!”
  • Fade to Clover in her room at the observatory. Game start. Mute for the rest of the game. Never explain outright in-game that it was Clover’s thoughts.
  • Like Link or Red, the player is Clover so the rest of her personality is built by player imagination. Is her strongest desire to become more powerful, explore, or live up to her master's name as savior? It's whatever the player wants most. The goals of the game match what the player is playing for.

     I made sure to squeeze in some world building things in this opening monologue too. Phrases like "nopony" and "everypony" will be used frequently. I also put in a few words to build up Swirllock's reputation and mental image (you'll hear a lot about him from NPCs). Plus I made sure that for this instance Clover has a voice that makes her seem young and yearning to escape boredom (which is exactly what she is). I think this will successfully set the mood for the game and let players who like story have something to start with while letting players who don't care get to the action quickly (hopefully with a bit of curiosity to make them care more later).
     The game is about preparing for something big that is to come. Sort of like the buildup to the beast in Infamous 2. Your mysterious mentor (who is busy doing something important in that place you want to go to) is gearing you up for something dangerous. This game is about becoming the strong heroine you will be in Unicorn Quest. 
 

    Another thing I realized when writing this was how the altered story perspective matches my ideals as the creator. Like Clover I'm not yet ready for big adventure to come. Sure I'm eager and can see I have the talent, but it's still not time. I need this last spurt of practice which will teach me so much more that will better prepare me for a large adventure.
      When Unicorn Quest comes out it'll be a year post-game and Clover will have grown into an adept mage who can take on the world and I will have grown by a year in real life as a developer proven capable of delivering huge promises. Clover will have grown from some off-screen training and I will have grown from making another small RPG and one huge RPG (for my mobile games class).
     I suddenly see the game world in a whole new light. This series means the world to me now. This is my first RPG. I care about the world of Equica. I can see myself making bigger and better sequels ten years from now. And it all starts here.
     Clover and I are connected in that we are preparing for greatness by seeing what Unicorn Training has left to teach us. First I'll deliver a good RPG, then I'll take that experience and deliver great ones.

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