Remediation Essay: Gaming (Autumn 2013)

In my Remediation Class back in the Fall of 2013, we were challenged, in our last week of study, to design a hypothetical videogame based off one of the poems or stories we had learned about in our course.

Below I have listed my response to this prompting, and my hope and desire for this hasn’t changed. Perhaps one day, I will have the skills or perhaps the money to see this game made into a reality.

Note: The following essay has not been edited in any way since the day I submitted it for grading.

 

Focal: Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
Gametype: Hidden-Object Picture Game

The Childe Roland poem can be broken into four sections; the crossroads, the desiccated horse, the river of cadavers, and the Dark Tower’s proper. Were I, myself, to make this poem into some sort of game, I would follow on a hidden-object picture game; a game specifically designed to see how much stuff someone can hide in a scene without it being readily available to your optics and then saying “Find Me”.
Hidden Object games hide various objects inside other objects; a dirigible inside a painting of a hot-air balloon, if you would, or a magnifying glass hidden inside a scene of frying pans. A multitude of objects may be hidden in something complex or mundane, and it is your job, as the player, to find them. Every portion of the visual spectrum may be played with in order to hide these objects; from shape to angle to color. Often the objects to be found is presented as a list to you, and may or may not be set to find them in a time limit.
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came would be a curious game where the end result would doubtlessly be for you, the player (“Roland”) to find the Dark Tower and blow your slug-horn.
The first ‘scene’, likely after a select number of levels, would walk you down the road to the crossroads, where the old man would give you an option of left or right. Choosing the correct path would take you closer to the Tower, whereas the wrong one would lead you in a long circle back to the crossroads.
Either pathway you choose, many of your “goals” after a level, bonus goals of you would, would be to find animals or plants and thus “treasure”, though the plants and animals would starkly differ from either pathway. Invariably the correct path would have darker animals– things assigned with death– and the plants would invariably assigned with poisons and the like. The objects to find in the correct path would be things like gravemarkers and nooses, whereas in the wrong path they would be things like flower crowns and butterfly nets. I would do this because the centerpiece of Childe Roland is not an island of cotton candy, puppies and butterflies, but is, in fact, a much darker story (to me) of loss, hate, and misery. And death. Obviously.
The second major scene, down the correct path (most likely a dark forest), would doubtlessly be the horse; I imagine it black as pitch, and skeletal, all bones and no flesh to speak of. It would be wearing gear, of course, though it would be thin– this would be the Grim Reaper’s horse– and eventually, after the assigned levels for the scene, you, the player (“Roland”), would find the slug-horn in the saddle-bags and continue on your journey to the river.
The trip through the river both the backing and the find-me images would change to something Hollywood-horror. A human torso with an exposed chest cavity, and in place of his own a stylized ‘Valentine’ heart and other such obviousness to lighten it, but invariably the river is the symbol of war and suffering, and it’s hard to make light of such an impactive thing like war. It is not a trivial subject. However, I would refuse to depict just horrors; other things to find would be gold trinkets or jewels, and probably bottles of “Love Potion #9”, a childhood cartoon staple of make-him-love-me. All of which are causes for war.
After crossing the river there would be more of the forest until it broke into the field with the Dark Tower in the distance, and then more levels as you crossed that field to the Dark Tower itself. At the tower you would be given a choice of blowing the slug-horn to enter, or turning around. Turning around takes you through the woods again… and brings you out in a loop, at the Dark Tower. Entering the Dark Tower finishes the game, but inside the Tower you can replay the various scenes as you wish, with shifting object lists.
This is the game I would build, if I could build a game.

 

 

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Remediation Essay: Variation in Lord of the Rings (Autumn 2013)

Below is the Essay posted in it’s entirety, without editing or revision by my current hand. It was written in my Autumn class of 2013.

 

Introduction: I have decided to write my essay based on my own personal experiences reading, viewing, and visiting Weathertop. I do this because choosing just one thing to focus on about this scene is a difficult thing for me, so I felt it best to give a rounded account of what I felt during each piece and how it influenced or effected me. The next three paragraphs cover each medium in question.

On reading the scene of Weathertop: There is considerably more depiction of Weathertop in the book, worldwise; it’s described fairly confusing, but it gives us more of a view around the hill that I haven’t seen in-game or in the movie. My upset with distance and space below, I’d rather focus on the descriptors we see in the book. There’s enough in the book, before and after Weathertop proper, that gives us a good view of it; it’s a scene of hope when they get there, because it gives them a wide view of the world that is around them, what they’re facing. In the book it also serves as a focal-point to coalesce how very dangerous the enemy they face happens to be. In the book the scene is rather dialog-heavy, with us learning about the history of the fort, elves, and the birth of Aragorn’s own bloodline. It’s a very rich, cultural experience, but it doesn’t really… give to anything else, even putting me in the area with them. But can I see Weathertop in my mind, with just what the book gives me? No.

On watching the scene of Weathertop: One thing that stands out concerning Weathertop in the movie is when you first see it, and you try to gauge distance between Aragorn and the ruins. It’s hard to get a good grasp of the presumed size of it; are those trees between them? Grasses? How big is this place? It’s impossible to tell, and it’s the only real good shot we get of the whole fort and mountain in daylight. We immediately move to Aragorn and the hobbit-folk tucking in under an overhang, and while we see a wide-view shot again, it feels… short. Stumpy? The characterization, however, really pulls home how much the hobbits really do not know what’s going on, how unaware they are of their danger and mortality. Aragorn goes to scope the area, Frodo takes a nap– everybody else lights a fire to act as a beacon and tell the whole world they’re there. Suddenly Weathertop has become a guiding lighthouse for the Nazgul. My issues of space being discussed in the next paragraph, the main point the movie drives home is just how unprepared the hobbits are for this journey, their fear, but their willingness to try and fight anyway. The one thing I really don’t like is how it makes Aragorn seem… equally unprepared for this circumstance, when he clearly saved their hides in Bree. Sure, he came back, but why leave four Shire-folk alone with so limited a rule-set in the first place? As a viewer, I would like to understand this motivation, but as a person I understand that Aragorn is being shown to be able to make mistakes, and this humanizes the character.

On visiting Weathertop: Visiting these old fort ruins in LotR:O was a pleasure for me in many ways, as it proved, once again, a certain faithfulness to the franchise. In the book and the movie both I had the feeling of a much smaller area than what I felt in-game, which had upset me because when I think “fort” I measure a great deal of space. In the movie the scene felt like it belonged to a watchtower as opposed to any kind of… castle of a sort, with limited space to move, little lone fight, but great for seeing large distances. However in the game I was much more pleased to find that it actually covered a great deal of area. I can imagine a nicely sized garrison in the space given, the fort itself in it’s proper glory capping the hilltop/mountain, and jutting like a spire for all the world to see, and to see all the world. Part of the “ground floor” arches and columns were depicted as well, but what really caught my eye was actually the way the “floor” itself was done. Most of the flooring is gone, except what appears to be a sliver of circle-motif buried under dirt and stones, but it still peeks out. It screams “age” and timelessness, but also it holds to the sheer stubbornness of the architects, the architecture, the people and culture that lived and fought there.

In conclusion: Although I love each and every different medium for itself, some things render easier a depiction for people to follow. There are not enough words used in the book for me to visualize Weathertop, although I desperately wish it were otherwise. While I also love the way it’s depicted in the movie, my favorite ‘vision’ of it is certainly going to be the space in the game where it’s settled. In my experience interacting with Weathertop in these fashions, the book left me wishing for clarification, the movie left me vaguely frustrated, and the game has made me feel longing. I would have loved to see what it would have looked like in all it’s glory.