Creating a Playable Version
We have been able to create and polish a working visual novel version of the BurntOut gameplay that uses 2D sprites as actors.
The ICU Clinic is the first scenario that the player is exposed to in the game. Here, the player plays as a 3rd-year clerkship student that is on his/her first rotation in the ICU. The 4th year students, who had this clerkship last year, are not very cooperative with the player. Then, while shadowing a resident, you see a patient who may have a rare syndrome which you are not familiar with, which stirs up a situation. Additionally, the first solo assignment of setting up an EKG at a patient’s bedside is assigned to the player, which comes with an interactive narrative. So, in all, the player is exposed to crucial decision-making that will impact gameplay in an interactive experience.
The interactive narrative uses the framework we used in the previous version of the project, where the player had to interact with patients. We have expanded this system to allow it to call actions (such as “move here” or “enable/disable this object”) that can be performed to progress the scenario. We began planning the structure to make the framework more complex to allow the narrative/gameplay to branch out to different storylines based on the saved conditionals. But, for now, we have a rather linear, yet fully-functional gameplay experience.
We also vamped up various UI components to make the interactions with the actors a bit more immersive.
The new scene where Scenario 1 takes place has been designed using an ICU clinic photo as reference. We wanted to match the contemporary look and visual aesthetic of central with this scene as much as possible so we designed the scene with a more modern looking approach. Many of the assets including furniture and structures from central are seen in this scene as well to give the scenes a sense of connection and similarity. The level structure such as the walls and corners contains a lot of irregularities and asymmetry to further match the style we were going for when designing out level selection scene “Central”.
A Push to Virtual Reality
This week, we discussed BurntOut‘s current overall gameplay and player engagement, as well as the future of this project. We plan to begin integrating what we have so far into a virtual reality environment using the Oculus Go. We believe this shift will enhance the immersion of the game and fix many of the engagement problems we have in our current version. We will continue to experiment with new ways that can strength the purpose of this project and we will use the valuable player feedback from the various game conferences as a backbone to many of our changes.
You can read more about the BurntOut game at its website and follow along with our development on the blogs.