Shared house was made to express an idea of home and what home means. This idea is that home is a private place filled with personal things and information. But, instead of expressing the game as the players personal space, the player is invading someone else’s. To do this and to deliver the feeling well, it was important to make the player feel like an invader. The way I tried to do this was by filling the room with secrets about it’s owner. These secrets were varying in severity, some being somewhat harmless and others being almost devastating if they were to be spread. Another important part of the game is trying to make the player feel like they are playing as themselves in the world, rather than someone else. Part of doing this was to make the game in VR. This let the player be in the space themselves and rather than embodying another character or person, they embody themselves. This was accompanied with a few other things to try and let the player feel like themselves in the game.
Building the room was a key part of the games development, since the game takes place almost entirely in the room. I started this by thinking of an interesting shape to make the room. I chose an L shaped room to create a space that didn’t instantly tell you everything about the room, but instead made the player interested in the rest of the room when they enter. It was also important to have the room in proportions that make sense to people, so that the room feels like it’s part of the house rather than any other type of building. Once the room was set out in shape, it needed to have furniture. I placed the bed in the far corner so that the bed can be seen from all points in the room. Putting the tv and a shelf next to the door, with a couch across from them. Then around the corner I placed a desk against the far wall, some shelves on the at the end of the room and a set of drawers across from the desk. This allowed for a flowing path past all the key locations to the point where I placed a key item for the game, making the player see everything first and travel to the end of the room, then turn around and see more on their way back out. The players room and the hallway were designed to fit the main room and also furnished to block off areas that wouldn’t be used. However, the rooms initially were not built with windows, so they did not feel anywhere near to a house. More like a bunker. So I placed 3 windows in the full structure, two in the player’s room and on above the desk in the main room. The rooms looked like this in the end
Pretty much the most important part of this game was the secrets. They were what would convey the largest piece of the story, and what would hopefully make the player feel like an invader of someone’s personal space. To start with these, it was important to have the character set out, thankfully I had done this quite a while beforehand. I knew that the character Zeke would be bisexual, have split parents, be raised religious by his parents but is questioning it now, and be into biology and entomology. From this, I created pieces of information in rough blocks that would tell these pieces of the character in small parts. For example, when it comes to his sexuality, there was 6 different written notes alluding to this. Two of which were related to partners, and ex girlfriend and a crush. Because bisexuality is harder to express with just one relationship, I needed to show two to make it clearer. I also needed to show his struggle between his faith and his sexuality, as the two would be conflicting pieces of himself, and with his faithing coming from his parents, he would not be confident to come out to them. So I created three notes that describe his relationship with his parents, the first being a half written coming out letter, another being an aggressive not lashing out at the fact that his parents are split and can’t make comment on his struggle when they can’t follow their own faith, and the third being directed at his struggle with his faith. But the point of the notes and other secrets were to describe the character in many parts, so that the player creates a slightly different idea of the character based on what they do and don’t find.
The secrets were one thing to write, but I also needed to put them in the level. It was really important to make them feel hidden, but also make the player know how to get to them. This was done by placing things in more obvious viewing positions, colouring things to make them stand out and a few other methods to attract the players eye to the secrets. One key one was positioned in a very out of place spot, but so many people still found it due to the signs that I placed to lead them there. This was a written note about Zeke’s struggle with his sexuality and figuring out the label that best suits him. It was placed beneath a set of drawers next to a bag, with not much light on it. But what lead people to it was a sticker I had placed on the side of the drawers that isn’t visible to the player until they go right to the shelf at the far end of the room and turn around. This sticker was my interpretation of the bisexual pride crescent moons. Most people didn’t understand the symbol, but it caught their eye enough to make them interested in the area. Once they are interested in the area, they can look down and see the corner of a note sticking out and investigate further if they wish. Another of these would be where I placed the code for the lock. I wrote the code at the end of a password on a sticky note that was stuck to the pc. The code was the end half of the password but the numbers were underlined to stand out. There was also larger images on the note to attract attention and it was a green post it note on a grey pc so it would stand out more.
Making the room a home
There were a few key decorations to the room to let me make the room feel lived in, and actually be a home rather than a display room. These were the posters on the walls and the dirty clothes on the floor. It was important to have these in positions that would attract the eye and fill in the large blank spaces, because to make a room feel like a home it’s important to have less perfect lines and more angles and broken segments
We worked really well as a team on this project. There were points where our communication broke down slightly, but for the majority, we were able to complete tasks well and within our standards. There were a few things that could have been improved if we had some better communication between our team, but that could have also been done with some more time, which is always the dream.
One thing that I would have loved to improve if I had time was our game audio. We only had one person doing the audio for our game, and so we had pretty limited sound effects. If I had more time or better communication skill I would have asked more people to be working on the audio. But that wasn’t the only part of the audio that could have been improved. This was the first game that we as a team had used fmod, so we really weren’t aware of what we were doing. We didn’t devote enough of our time to understanding fmod so that we could implement the sound to the best of our ability. Lastly with the audio, the person that we had doing the audio is much better suited to engineering audio rather than composing music, so if we were able to do it again, I would have liked to have someone who is more musically minded to work on the main track to better deliver the desired mood. But that’s getting really nit picky.
All in all this project went really well, our team learnt a lot about VR and I was able to apply a lot more knowledge about design to deliver the experience to the best of my ability. There’s obviously things I would change, but that’s the case with everything I work on.