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1776 Game Design Document

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1776
Joseph Grant

Table of Contents
Introduction ...............................................................................................................1
Design History............................................................................................................................................................1 Vision Statement .......................................................................................................................................................2 Logline............................................................................................................................................................................... 2 Synopsis ............................................................................................................................................................................ 2 Game Description .....................................................................................................................................................2

Formal Elements .........................................................................................................3
Objectives.....................................................................................................................................................................3 Gameplay Description.............................................................................................................................................3 Tutorial:............................................................................................................................................................................ 3 Character Selection ..................................................................................................................................................... 4 Conflict/Argument ...................................................................................................................................................... 4 Challenge/Procedures ............................................................................................................................................... 4 Outcomes: ........................................................................................................................................................................ 5

Dramatic Elements......................................................................................................5
Game World ................................................................................................................................................................5 Characters ....................................................................................................................................................................6 PCs ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 NPCs ................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 Story ...............................................................................................................................................................................7

Reflection ...................................................................................................................7
Dissoi Logoi .................................................................................................................................................................7 Composition ................................................................................................................................................................7

Introduction
Design History
The idea behind my educational role-playing game (RPG) 1776 started as a class writing assignment at The University of South Carolina. The inspiration for 1776 draws heavily on my past experiences playing role-playing games like Pokémon, Skyrim, the Mass Effect series and the Bioshock series. I realized while playing these extremely detailed immersive games that I gained a deep understanding of the world that the designers created. I could name almost every Pokémon to this day, and understood the interworking of dwarven politics in Skyrim. I realized that the intimate interaction a videogame provides its players with the perfect medium to absorb a lot of information. Unfortunately the all of the

role-playing games I knew so intimately provided me with a strong understanding of many things that are completely irrelevant to the real world.1776 takes that level of immersion into a different time, but bases it accurately off of historical events like the American Revolution, a topic that every American school child learns about but sparsely commits to memory. By playing an educational game that looks, feels and plays like a fantastic role-playing game, the player will ultimately gain the same deep knowledge of real historical events.

Vision Statement
Logline 1776 is an immersive educational role-playing game that educates players about the American Revolution by allowing them to experience it for themselves. Synopsis In 1776, players will assume the role of a young assistant to the founding fathers of the revolution like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. The audience for 1776 is 12-18 year-old boys and girls, in order to supplement traditional American History teachings in school. Middle and high school students are hard to captivate when it comes to dense American history, but those who play videogames certainly know the names of nearly every character and remember each event. The idea behind 1776 is that by learning through playing, students will better internalize the information surrounding the founding of our country, while still having a good time playing a professional caliber videogame.

Game Description
The basic mechanics of 1776 closely mirror other guided role-playing games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Bioshock in the sense that there is room to explore, but in order to progress certain quests and objectives must be reached. In order to assure that the lesson is learned the student/player will be required to answer questions from their quest giver. 1776 is not an open world game but there is a treasure hunting aspect in order to gear up the character for the game play based aspects of 1776. The look and feel of the game is as realistic as possible, the player has complete control of his/her character’s actions as far as jumping, running, attacking, interacting, all very similar to Dragon Age and Mass Effect. The game is set in colonial America on the eve of the Boston Massacre in 1770. The players will get to experience first hand the oppression of King George, the actions the founders took to combat this, and the events of the revolutionary war leading up to the framing of the Articles of Confederation. The player is essentially facilitating the communications between the founders and helping coordinate the major events that lead to American Independence.

Formal Elements
Objectives
To aid the founders in freeing the Colonists from the oppressive British rule. To successfully navigate history to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. To upgrade your characters clothes, weapons and abilities. To gain a deep understanding of the philosophy and rationale behind the founding of America.

Gameplay Description
The individual character played by the user will be controlled through a mouse and keyboard. This will allow the user to view all aspects of the environment surrounding the player and facilitate ease of use for students as most of them have now have laptops. The basic layout of movement controlled by “awds, space for jump” and viewpoint controlled by mouse movement and scrolling in and out closely resembles the game-play aspects of World of Warcraft. The view will be 3rd person, switching to a first person view when engaging in conversation with NPC’s. The player will be able to access an options window that details current active quests, shows a map of the area, the current wardrobe and gear for the player, and the skill tree as the players level up. The skill tree will give the character more abilities to make performing the tasks necessary to complete quests easier and more fun. These two skill trees will include statesmanship, combat. As the player advances he or she will gain rapport with the leaders of the revolution and take on more important and comprehensive roles. The graphics for 1776 are designed to be as realistic as possible, providing the player with the most immersive and believable experience. Interacting with the environment is key for this type of game. Like many roleplyaing games before it, 1776 also attracts players with a treasure hunting aspect. The player will be able to find hidden weapons, clothing upgrades, and items that increase their other skills. These will be used during the physical game play aspect of 1776. Players will also be constantly surrounded by NPC’s that will have period specific commentary to provide them when interacted with. Players will experience main story and sub-plot quests at each quest hub as well. Tutorial: The tutorial takes place at the beginning of the game when the player’s character witnesses the Boston Massacre in 1770. He/she is then approached by a NPC, Quincy Adams, and drafted into the revolution movement. He becomes the players first quest giver, assigning tasks that involve learning the movement controls, game mechanics, and skill tree functioning. Once the player completes the tutorial from Quincy, they are passed along to John Adams who begins the main story quest line.

Character Selection Before the player enters the world of 1776 they are provided the ability to create their own character. Ideally each player will be able to make their character look similar to themselves. There will be a selection menu for face/head, body type, gender, and all of the details involved in that. Similar to Skyrim, the player can adjust everything from the facial features, to hair color, height, weight, and starting garb. Conflict/Argument The conflicts in 1776 mirrors the conflicts of colonial America in the mid 1770’s. The players must accomplish the task of successfully starting and finishing a revolution, but must demonstrate knowledge to the NPC quest givers to advance. In order to complete a quest, players will experience player vs. NPC conflict in order to complete the mechanical requirements of each quest. This can vary from collecting materials for writing, or supplying troops, all the way to participating in battles during the war. Players will also be faced with a conflict of their own, along with the physical act of completing the task assigned, the player will be asked a multitude of questions to insure their knowledge of the significance of what they just did. This knowledge is gained by the conversations and interactions with non-player charcters in the world. The player has to challenge him/herself to pay close attention to the game dialogue, rather than quickly skipping through it like many gamers do. If they complete the Boston Tea Party mission for example, but don’t pass the quest completion quiz assessing why it happened and what it meant for the revolution, the player would have to repeat the mission and pay closer attention to the information given them by the NPC’s. 1776 provides the enjoyment of an immersive role-playing game, but provides the player with knowledge and insight that is relevant to the world we live in. Challenge/Procedures When a player receives a quest there will always be two aspects involved in completing it. The physical actions their character must complete in order to progress the story, as well as the knowledge of important historical persons, ideas, and motives that lead to those actions. A player may get to join a raid on the ships in Boston Harbor where they engage in hand to hand combat with British traders, or fight alongside George Washington in the Revolutionary War. This interaction provides the engaging fun aspect of videogames that captivate so many people. Along with that each player must closely listen to or read the descriptions during the cinematographic scenes to learn what is necessary to pass the quest completion tests. If the test isn’t passed the entire mission must be completed again, this will challenge the player to remember names, ideas, sentiments, and the philosophy that went with revolution. This bolsters the educational aspect of learning through

playing because players will interact with important leaders like Thomas Paine, Paul Revere and George Washington quite often, and repetition builds memory. Outcomes: The outcome of 1776 is reflective. Ultimately a player can’t lose the game, although they may fail quests or quest completion quizzes that will demand a retry of the quest (lesson). Because 1776 is a supplement to traditional historical education in schools, teachers could assign game-play as homework and allow students 10-15 minutes of class to discuss what they did and how it went for everyone. This will also provide the community for the game, so students can discuss what their character looks like, wears, acts like etc.

Dramatic Elements
Game World
The game world of 1776 is meant to be as realistic as possible a representation of colonial America. The writing fonts will all be calligraphy as if written from a quill and ink, buildings are wooden or thatched, and clothes are extremely colonial. As the player advances through out the game they will be able to improve their wardrobe to higher-class examples of colonial garb. The men will eventually receive top class jackets, tri-cornered hats and fancy adornments for both. The female characters will eventually upgrade and find more elegant dresses, upgrading from plain colors and materials to those that are vibrant and lavish. The world will have multiple major quest hubs detailing the events prior to, during and following the Revolutionary War. The first quest hub is Boston, beginning with the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea party. This early game play will be very action packed to get the players hooked on the game. There will be an element of realistic blood and gore involved as well because this is important in gaining an immersive experience. The Boston Massacre likely was not cleaned up immediately and this type of attention to detail will be reflected in 1776. The second quest hub is Philadelphia as the first continental congress meets. This will feature the Liberty Bell, cobblestone streets, candle box street posts, and will be an accurate map of Philadelphia. The third major quest hub is enlistment in a military troop detailing all of the battles involved in the war. This will be based out of a military encampment related to the time showing the hardships of living in linen tents and having limited supplies. The military encampment will closely reflect the camp that George Washington set up during his retreat to Valley Forge. The graphics and game world will be realistic enough to show the deteriorating condition of the army as the war progresses and the hardships of winter set in. Likewise, when morale is high for the American soldiers the camp will have a cheerier uplifting attitude. This follows the progress up to 1785 when the British finally leave New York, Washington resigns as commander, and the Constitution is finally signed. The player will enjoy a detailed

depiction of the debates and personalities involved in the drafting of the constitution.

Characters
PCs The player character is created at the beginning of the game and includes all physical details of the character. First, the player selects gender, body size and shape. For the face, the player will have the opportunity to adjust the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and facial structure of their character to look essentially however they want it to. The game will automatically assign traditional colonial dress for the character. The male characters will start out wearing common colonial dress of a white collared shirt, brown trousers high socks and black leather shoes. The women will wear the traditional bonnet, and colonial era middle class work dress. There will be a variety of skin tones available in order to not alienate any players. The player will be able to move freely, jump, look around, and interact with the environment provided to him/her. NPCs NPCs are broken down into main quest givers, sub-quest givers and environmental NPCs. All NPCs move around within the area like normal people living in a town or troops stationed for battle. They are all voiced. Quest giving nonplayer characters are distinct from the environmental NPC’s, as they have tasks that need accomplishing. They also have a variety of conversation responses based on the performance of the player as well as their progress on the current quest. Environmental NPC’s exist to enrich the world the players are experiencing. They are used to give appropriate commentary about the world the player is exploring. The major non-player characters in 1776 that will guide the player through the course of history will have the most distinct voices, personalities and the widest array of responses to conversation. The first quest giving NPC is Quincy Adams, he sends the player through the tutorial quest line. The player then is introduced to John Adams, who assigns all quests relevant to the Boston area. In Philadelphia, the major NPC’s are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and eventually Benjamin Franklin. The user builds the trust of each quest giving non-player character as history progresses, and the way they communicate with the user adaps to that as well. The farther along in the game the player gets, the corresponding quest givers will talk to them with more enthusiasm, respect and in a more complimentary tone. The environmental non-player characters will also enhance the game play by changing their responses to the user as he/she gains more esteem in the game world. At first the environmental NPC’s do not really play any mind to the users character and do not engage them in conversation, but rather require the player to interact with them. As the user gains more notoriety as a revolutionary, environmental NPC’s will reinforce the feeling of importance by waving, calling out to, and generally recognizing the player.

Story
The story of 1776 is a comprehensive detail of the founding of the United States of America. The player enlists as an aid to key revolutionaries and participates in an important time in our country’s history. The dialogue will feature iconic American speeches ranging from people like John Revere, George Washington and Ben Franklin. 1776 is an emotional ride that plays out the strife of the colonists under an oppressive rule, and how it escalated to nation-wide violence. Players will ultimately feel the varying emotions from oppression, revolution, and ultimately victory for a cause worth dying for. The game begins in Boston, Massachusetts in 1770 on the eve of the Boston Massacre. Your character walks out into the town square just in time to witness the British firing on your fellow Bostonians and you quickly run to help the wounded. As you are helping Quincy Adams approaches you and commends you for your patriotism and convinces you to join him and aid the revolutionaries. It is now your turn to recreate history and help the colonists free themselves from the tyranny of the British. Your player aids in important events like The Boston Tea Party, the ride of Paul Revere, Lexington and Concord, The first and second Continental Congresses, Bunker Hill, Paine’s “Common Sense”, The Declaration of Independence in 1776, The battles of the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge, Benedict Arnold, Ben Franklin and the French, The Articles of Confederation, and finally the adoption of the Constitution. Your character interacts directly with each major revolutionary war icon and helps them complete their various tasks leading up to each major event in the war.

Reflection
Dissoi Logoi
The intended effect of 1776 is to allow students to gain a more concrete knowledge of the events surrounding the founding of the United States, however because it is very game play intensive a lot of the points could be lost. Students could essentially loophole the learning aspect of the game by repeating quests until they’ve memorized the right answers to the post quest assessment. While they may retain some information that way, I think that ultimately students would grow tired of repeating quests and eventually learn the information. The game also makes the assumption that the students will enjoy playing videogames in order to learn, some students who are not inclined toward videogames may be alienated by this concept. 1776 could also be viewed with heavy scrutiny for historical accuracy, as a videogame it is already at a disadvantage as far as educating goes. Parents of the players could see this game as a waste of time relegating it to the status of mainstream videogames. Failure to notice the depth of the story and the attention to detail and historical accuracy is a very legitimate drawback.

Composition

The benefits of a role-playing game include immersion, understanding and detail. Unfortunately with all of these aspects included the games are usually very long and intensive to play, as well as expensive to make and purchase. This causes many players to get tired of the game and often fail to complete it. 1776 covers the events spanning nearly 10 years of history, so playing every major event could potentially take anywhere from 60-80 hours of game play. A benefit of this long game time though, is that a long game is more easily stretched over the course of a semester, allowing it to apply well with class topics This could be augmented if game play was a mandatory class assignment but that could result in taking the fun out of the experience by turning a game into work. This effectively ruins the concept of learning by playing. A reduction in detail, or scrutinizing which Revolutionary War events to include more heavily could also shorten the game and increase the chance of players finishing it. Unfortunately that would come with a drop in educational credibility.

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