Hypothetical Game Case Study

A Revelation Changes Everything

You and your squad have been making it across hostile terrain toward the enemy's stronghold. You've been getting orders from your higher-ups over a radio carried by one of your men.

And then comes the revelation: You learn that your radio is bugged. Your enemy knows where you are and everything you've been planning.

You can make it even more interactive if you didn't have to bring that radio with you, but you elected to do so as one of the five accessories you could carry on the mission. Because you chose to bring the radio, this plot twist won't seem as if it's "rammed down your throat."

Innocent People Are in the Way

The enemy has put his compound in the middle of a densely populated area. If you shell it, you'll kill many innocent people.

A Key Piece of Equipment Breaks Down

You're making a final assault on the enemy's fortified compound. The rocket-grenade launcher, your main and only sure way of destroying the ramparts, breaks.

A Character Changes Sides

Continuing the preceding story…You turn around, and there's the enemy's right-hand man. You panic! Assuming he's here to kill you, you shoot first. Blam!

As he dies, he confesses he had deserted the enemy and was changing sides. He tells you there's a lightly guarded, secret back entrance to the compound. He's about to tell you exactly where it is, but he dies.

You Fall into a Trap

You find that entrance and storm it but your enemy's men are inside, waiting. It was all a trap.

A Hostage Is Taken

No sooner are you inside the walls of the enemy fortress when your best buddy is captured. Do you go to rescue him, or do you go after your enemy?

Forced to Carry Out Another's Agenda

The enemy's henchman has got you in his sniper scope, and you're in an open area with no place to duck for cover. The way you discover you're doomed is that he's tapped into an ear microphone you've been using as part of a communications system, and he taunts you.

The henchman says he'll kill both you and your buddy (the one taken hostage earlier, who's still their prisoner) unless you tell your men to leave that you'll take it alone from here.

So, to save your and your buddy's life, you dismiss your very confused men. You've been forced to carry out another's agenda.


A Mini-Goal is a goal you need to accomplish first before proceeding to the main goal.

Let's say that there's an enemy soldier up in a guard tower, picking off your men. Before you charge the enemy's HQ, you've got to take out that soldier one way or another. This becomes a mini-goal.

Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

The solution to one problem gets you into an even worse problem. For example:

  • The enemy has a futuristic catapult that it was using to bombard you when you were outside the walls. You break inside, but can't get to the center of the compound because it's too heavily guarded. You get an idea: Have your men catapult you. You'll use your parachute as a break to slow down your descent. It seems like a great solution but when you do this

  • You land in the wrong place right in the middle of a munitions storage area. Enemy troops are swarming you. The solution is to use your flame thrower to start a cascade of explosions

  • You start the explosions, which destroy the troops, but they ignite a fire that rapidly spreads your way. You run out of the munitions area into some worse problem.

I think you get the idea.


A Problem with No Obvious Solution

In the hypothetical game depicted on the left, a destructive spirit has taken refuge in your space ship. You can't dislodge it or even harm it without damaging your ship.

Finally, you're forced to blow up your own ship. You don't kill the spirit, but you do succeed in injuring it. Unfortunately, you've also eliminated your only way off this planet.

Getting your player into problems with no obvious solutions can be quite dramatic and emotionally engaging.

Creating Emotion in Games. The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
ISBN: 1592730078
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 394

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