Friday, 12 June 2015

Unit 74: Story Development Assignment

BTEC Extended diploma in Games Design
Unit 74: Story Development

Initial PowerPoint presentation
This presentation details our initial ideas for the game:

Task One and Two
Roles within the Team:

- Team Leader
- Artist; Backgrounds, Locations & Objects
- Lead Writer; Beginning & End
- Plot Development
- Artist; Character Design & Objects
- Writer; Middle
- Character Development
- Plot Development

Charlie and myself decided to make a game based on adventuring and puzzle solving, as we felt that the dual timezone nature of the story would present some good gameplay opportunities. We came up with an idea and both wrote a draft of the story. Following this we looked at both drafts and pooled our ideas. The results can be read in the section below entitled ‘Plot’. Sections in regular weight font are by myself and sections by Chalie are in bold.



During the Second World War, Robert, a soldier / secret agent for the British Government goes
missing in action. His mission is to recover an artifact that could turn the tide of the war. Knowing
the dangerous mission he was about to undertake could be his last, he writes a coded diary to leave clues to his whereabouts to anyone who finds the book in the future. The diary is also the key to an important historical puzzle concerning the ancient artifact which as at the centre of the mystery. In the 1982, Lisa, a young ancestor of the man receives the diary from an amateur adventurer and historian, James. James’ father Henry was Robert’s partner during the war and the last person to see him alive. Henry is now dying, with his final wish being to discover the truth about Robert’s disappearance. Lisa’s father George is Robert’s brother, and last saw him in 1944 at the age of 2. He gives his permission to allow Lisa to travel with James to decode the diary and discover the truth about Robert’s life.

Reading from the diary entries, Lisa and James must piece together the clues to solve the mystery of her ancestor’s disappearance. Their quest takes them across the world to reveal a powerful secret and a dramatic conclusion.

From left: Lisa, Robert, James and Henry

James, an amateur archaeologist, has just solved the final riddle to unlock a secret mechanism in an old grandfather clock. A secret compartment pops open inside to reveal a dusty old book that has been hidden there for nearly 40 years. Opening the book James is confronted with pages and pages of a complex code. The writing is almost unintelligible, punctuated by diagrams and sketches. One picture stands out in particular; on the inside front page an intricate drawing of a locket has been carefully rendered in black ink, with what appears to be a family surname next to it.

The locket is very real and hangs amongst other jewellery on the bedroom mirror of a young girl, Lisa Walker. Lisa is a typical teenager - smart but restless, spirited but bored and desperate for something interesting to happen. In the small Devon village where she lives with her father, life is pleasant but slow. The summer holidays are becoming slow, lazy and boring. All Lisa wants is to get to September and the beginning of university life. She is due to study history in a far away Midlands town and is looking forward to experiencing city life. Her summer days are currently spent reading, relaxing, drawing, taking photographs and watching TV.

James goes to look for the house of the Walker family.

“It’s got to be one of these houses, there’s not many to choose from!”

James was frantically walking through the fields of Devon in search of any clues of where to find his brother, or at least know what happened to him.

“Ahh, here it is”

James walked down the long driveway to reach the door of an old farmhouse. He stepped up to the door, knocked and waited patiently for an answer.

“Hello, can I help you?”

“Oh, Hi. Yes, well I hope you can at least… Does George Walker live here?”

“Yes, hold on I’ll go get him for you.”

The door closed as the young woman walked away a figure of a man appeared in the doorway.

“Hello, I’m George… How can I help you?”

“Erm, Hi. My name is James and I was hoping you could help me with something very important to my father and me.”

George sensed the franticness of James’ plea and invited him inside.

James sat on the very edge of the couch, George and Lisa could sense his nervousness.

“Lisa, why don’t you go and pop the kettle on” George suggested as he ushered his daughter from the room.

“Ok George, I’m going to get straight to the point. My brother, Henry Ronald Fisher, was just
eighteen when he went off to the war. You see George, we believe that Henry was partnered with your father and you see, my father is a very sick man. We don’t know how much time he has left and all he wants to know is what happened to his boy.”

“Well James, I haven’t seen my father since I was two years old so I’m not sure how I can help?”

“I was hoping you would join forces with me to find them, or at least find out what happened to
them,” He took a deep pause “I know you probably don’t want to go digging up the past now you
have a family of your own, but I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important to my father.”

George began to feel emotions he didn’t know even existed.

“I can’t help you, I’m sorry.” George got up from his seat and left the room.

“I’m sorry Sir, he’s a bit all over the place when it comes to his father. However I would like to help you.” Lisa offered as she walked in from the kitchen holding a tray of tea and biscuits.

“Oh, will your father be okay with that?” James asked in an unsure tone.

“He may not like the idea, but he needs closure as much as you do sir.”

Despite George’s earlier sudden exit, when Lisa returns, she finds the two men leafing through the pages of the book with a mixture of sadness and bewilderment on George’s face.
George has realised that he holds the one solid lead he has ever had to finding his father.  Misty eyed, he tells his story.When the war was won,  he and his mother never saw his father again as the British Government declared Robert missing in action. When the war ended, the boy and his mother expected to hear news of Robert, but received nothing. They lived believing that Robert died helping turn the tide of the war and was an unsung hero of the conflict. Mary felt unable to move on from the Devon village where they lived just in case Robert returned. As such George has lived in his mother and father’s home his entire life, with Lisa being born there. The farmhouse where they live is part of several acres of property owned by the Jackson family. Robert’s old watchmaker’s workshop stands on the site, ironically virtually untouched by time.

James has been listening intently the entire time and chooses that moment to reveal a second piece of news: that Robert was a secret agent for the British Government during the war, and had a partner, Henry. Henry is James father. George and James look at each other across the table and realise that they share a connection - they are both the sons of brave men who risked a great deal for their country. The main difference between them is the fact that Henry, though old and terminally ill, is still alive. His one wish before he dies is to know what happened to his friend and partner. James has recently solved a riddle engraved into a grandfather clock that Robert gave Henry as a birthday gift. It arrived shortly after his disappearance. Henry believed it was from Robert, and has always believed that he is alive somewhere. That is why is he desperate to know the truth about his friend before he dies. Inside, James found the coded diary with picture of the locket. James believes that the locket holds the key to decoding the diary and discovering the fate of Robert and the truth of his mission. He asks Lisa if she has ever seen the locket before. She excitedly goes to fetch it from her bedroom and brings it to the two men at the table. Opening up the locket, it contains small oval sepia pictures of Robert and Mary. On the back of the locket is a small latin inscription:

Tempus fugit, non autem memoria (translated to ‘Time flies but not memory’)

Henry once explained to James that he and Robert would use coded messages in the war that required the use of a cipher. A cipher could be solved using a keyword. James, Lisa and George deduce that the keyword to decode the diary is Tempus. This is doubly clever on Robert’s part as it is a common English word translated into Latin.

Decoding the diary is slow work, but James, George and Lisa make a good start on the first 10 or so pages. They very soon decode a letter that has been written in the diary specifically for George:

Charlie's artwork for the Walker farmhouse, the locket, the diary and the final island

Monday 18th June 1944

Dear George,
I know you were too young to understand why I wasn’t around anymore, but I’m hoping that when this journal gets to you it’s easier for you to forgive me. I’m sorry I wasn’t around when you were growing up and I hope you begin, or have accepted the fact that I have always loved you but I had a job to do. You know my father always told me that there are some things in life would mean sacrificing others and I never really understood that until now. I guess what I’m trying to say George, is that I know you’re probably angry and confused right now and it hurts me every day to know that.

There are multiple things I am unaware of right now and I’m scared George. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you and your mother again. I don’t know if you’ll ever receive this journal. And I don’t know if I’m going to be alive tomorrow. War is hard George, war is not what it’s all cracked up to be.I have to stay strong though George, not just for my own sanity but for Henry too. He’s just a kid you see, eighteen years old and been thrown into a warzone. I’m beginning to think this war is never going to end.

Goodnight George,
My love always, Father.

“So you don’t remember Grandpa at all Dad?”

Turning to Lisa and James, he tells them what he can remember….

In the spring of 1944, George is 2 years old. Robert his father, is 22, still a young man himself. In the churchyard of the same Devon village on a spring afternoon, George and Robert sit together sharing a small bag of sweets. Robert gently explains to George that he has to go away for a while and is uncertain when he’ll be back. His work with the British government means that he has been called away to work on a special assignment. Robert explains that there are bad people in the world who live far away, but would come closer to their home if they could. Robert’s work will involve keeping the bad people away forever so everyone can sleep safely at night. Half understanding, George looks up at his father and asks why the bad people would want to come to their village. It is too difficult to explain the plans of the Germans to the boy, so Robert merely tells him that the bad people would travel all over the world if they could. Robert smiles at George and tells him something remarkable - that there is no need to worry and that there is magic in the world that will keep the bad people away forever. The men in charge of Robert need him to find the magic that will keep the world safe. George asks why they need his Daddy, a man who makes watches, to find magic. The small boy looks up and asks why they don’t they have special people to do that for them? Robert smiles back and explains that he is that special person and cuddles his son. George laughs and smiles before Robert lifts him up onto his shoulders and the two walk home.

A few days later Robert says goodbye to his wife Mary and George and leaves for London. He promises he will return as soon as his assignment is over. As the car that has come to collect him rounds the corner, Robert waves through the back window at his wife and son before disappearing from view.

It reveals that Robert was called upon by the British Government to discover an ancient artefact that could literally stop time. It has changed hands many times over the centuries, but appears to have been protected by an ancient secret society. This society tasked itself with the one sole purpose of protecting the artefact, which the diary refers to as ‘The Tacet’ (Tacet being latin for ‘Silent’). The Tacet appears to have the ability to stop time and was created to combat forces of evil whenever they appeared around the globe. It has been used covertly over the centuries to halt advancing armies, avert disasters and save lives. However, evil forces learnt of the artefact and sought it out for themselves. Destroying the device would be extremely dangerous as it could cause time to malfunction all over the world. Instead, the protective guardians hid it. They believed that there would come a time when the forces of good would need it more than ever, so hid it away via a series of elaborate clues. Robert’s mission was to find the device before the German / Axis armies. To have The Tacet fall into their hands would mean disaster for the Allies and losing the war. The coded diary reveals several locations of famous ancient landmarks and seems to point to the beginning of a trail that will eventually lead to the whereabouts of the Tacet and presumably Robert’s fate.

Thursday 30th January 1944

I haven’t wrote for a while, and with good reason too. Henry and I have been hiding under an old
army bunker trying to listen to any information that could help our case. We’re moving out soon to follow a lead. I don’t know if I can write anymore, I just wanted you to know I’m safe and on the way to Ne---r-

“See that James, We should go there! There might be more clues or evidence as to where they are!”

“Lisa, don’t get too excited. We have to figure out what the smudge word is. That could be anywhere in the world!” James looked back to the book and continued to read.

There is an uncharted island in the South Pacific just south from here. This is where will be.
I’m sorry I won’t be home soon George.

My love always, Father.

George closed the old book of which he was reading from and set his eyes on his daughter, he could see the confusion and sadness in her eyes. It was a feeling he knew all too well. He knew that feeling because he felt like that himself at that age. A small two year old boy asking his mother why his father left them all alone.

Continuing on with decoding the diary, it reveals locations in several locations around the world:

  • Boasley Cross, Devon (England)
  • New York (USA)
  • Buenos Aries (Argentina, SA)
  • Skeleton Coast (Namibia, Africa)
  • Patong Beach (Phuket, Thailand, Asia)
  • Sydney Harbour (Australia)
The trio of Lisa, James and George spend a week decoding the diary via the keyword and find that the trail mentions a number of uncharted islands. The diary seems to end abruptly there with no trace of Robert’s fate. However they realise that the trail begins in their village of Boasley Cross, right in Robert’s old watchmaker’s workshop. Solving a cryptic clue reveals a small hidden trapdoor in the floor. Unlocking it, Lisa, James and George find a small carved egg timer. Tipping it upside down drains the sand from one end to another, revealing numbers carved in the inside glass. The amateur detectives realize that they are latitude and longitude coordinates that point to the first location in New York. The search for the Tacet and unravelling the mystery of Robert’s disappearance begins.

George must stay behind to look after the family farm, but gives his blessing for Lisa to travel with James on the global hunt that lies before them. Providing Lisa with money, George reasons that was clearly important to Robert and Henry so it is important to him also. Lisa and James set off and promise to inform George of all developments along the way.

Lisa looked up at her father, tears in her eyes, and embraced him in a warm hug. “I’ve got to go now Dad, I love you” She told him as she began to walk down the long driveway of
their farmhouse.

George watched as Lisa got into James’ car and drove away.

“You know, it’s not too late for me to turn around if you don’t want to do this...” James stuttered as he adjusted his hands on the steering wheel. “What do mean turn around, we’ve only just begun and you already want to quit? Keep Driving.”

“Oh ok, sorry.”

“So, where do we start with all of this? I“

It wasn’t until four days when they were at James house they found anything of help to them.

“James?” Lisa questioned “I think I may have found something!”

James lifted his tired head from the desk and walked over to Lisa’s chair and began to read:

“Ne something something something r something…” Lisa kept rereading the same line over and over again in her head, desperately trying to figure out where this could be. “Where did I put that book?” James said to himself as he frantically scanned his bookshelves.

“What are you looking for?” Lisa questioned as she walked over to him.

“A map, well a book with a map. It has sea charts and well known towns in it. I figured that could
help” He paused as he stretched to the top shelve. “Got it!”

“Ok, so South Pacific” There was a long pause as they both scanned the book looking for any

It transpires that each of the locations contains an astronomical or analogue clock, working on principles of time, the seasons or the weather. Each location contains a riddle that reveals a hidden artefact in the structure. Each hidden artefact contains a coordinate and a strangely shaped cog. Collecting each of them reveals that they are part of a set, with some obvious significance to their assembly.

James and Lisa eventually arrive in Australia, where they expect to find the final clue.

They discover a coded sundial which offers up a puzzle involving it’s highly decorative, number covered surface. As all the other answers have been coordinates, it looks likely that this will be a coordinate answer too. Solving the riddle engraved in the surface using the same system as the diary, the answer reveals a time of day. Returning at that time of day, Lisa and James discover that the elaborate sundial pointer casts five small shadows on the surface, whilst pointing to numbers. They are indeed coordinates and match the location of five small islands in a group.

The final island location

Chartering a helicopter and arriving at the islands, Lisa and James land at a large stone structure and use the collected cogs to solve a final puzzle. This unlocks a door in a cave, allowing Lisa and James to enter a hidden monastery.
Inside, they find Robert and Henry frozen in suspended animation clutching the Tacet and surrounded by armed enemies. In what was clearly a desperate moment, Robert deliberately activated the Tacet, freezing himself and everyone in time to prevent the item falling into enemy hands.

They were the ones who created the coded diary based on Robert’s description of the family locket. Robert was the one who hid the diary in the clock, knowing his family would retrieve it one day and find him and Henry. They were the ones who laid the cryptic trail across the world, leaving the solver with enough cog pieces to unlock the monastery door.
Robert created the diary and the trail so that his family might come to look for him and Henry in the years in the future. They discovered the Tacet in the island temple in 1944 and unfortunately reached it at the same time as the enemy. To preserve peace, he set it off, freezing himself, Henry, the enemy and the entire island in a silent, still state.

Lisa and James gently tie up the enemies and remove Robert, Henry and the Tacet from the island. When they are far enough away in the helicopter, the Tacet effect will wear off. This will leave the men safe, the Tacet reclaimed and the enemy stranded on the island.

Despite the tricky situation, the friends have one key factor on their side - they can take as long as they need.

The friends decide to wait until nightfall when the monastery will be in complete darkness. The utter pitch blackness will momentarily confuse the enemy agents when they awaken, buying Lisa, Robert, James and Henry precious time to escape in the helicopter.

Lisa and James find a way to move Robert and Henry and get them to the helicopter.

Robert and Henry reawaken in the helicopter and it takes several moments for them to register where they are.  Lisa quickly explains the situation and the three make their escape. In the confusion and noise, In the darkness above, eerie German voices shout and snarl in surprise and confusion but it is too late. The island springs back into life as the time freezing effects are removed.  The helicopter is soon away, flying across the sea with Robert, Henry and the Tacet intact. The journey home gives everyone a chance to fill each other in on their sides of the story and for James and Henry to be reunited

Back at home George is in the kitchen when there is a knock at the door. He opens it to find his father standing there, who amazingly is younger than he is. With tears in their eyes the two men embrace before sitting down at the kitchen table to begin 38 lost years of getting to know each other. Everyone is excited, relieved and anxious about what the future may hold. For the time being however, everyone is happy knowing that the Walker family has been reunited.

The Tacet is placed in the trapdoor under the workshop, locked and hidden away safely once again. The object can be allowed to sink into legend once more.

The story ends with Lisa, George and Robert sitting in the same village churchyard, agreeing that there is indeed magic in the world. The two men laugh slightly when they realise Robert is 38 years older than his son yet looks younger, and agree that magic is a strange, wonderful, and powerful thing.

Task Three

This is my idea for a game script detailing the intro section where the characters meet.
Story script dialogue for game ‘The Tacet’

Extract - Game beginning

Scene - The year is 1982. James, an amateur historian and archaeologist is examining an old grandfather clock that is in his study. He runs his fingers over the highly decorative and complex clock face, turning dials built into it and lastly the clock hands. The dials are covered in details and information, measuring the weather as well as the time. James is consulting scrawled notes and keeps glancing back at the clock face. He runs his fingers down the back of the clock woodwork and presses a small hidden button. From within the clock there is a loud ‘click’.

James (to himself): That’s it! Got it! Now let’s see what you’ve been hiding shall we?

James opens the grandfather clock’s door. A secret panel has been revealed inside the timepiece. James reaches inside the secret compartment and is surprised at what he finds.

James (to himself): Good lord, a diary! So Dad had it right all along, they are out there somewhere. Doesn’t seem to make much sense though.

He leafs through the pages and tries to make sense of the complex symbols, punctuated by drawings.

James: Looks like it’s in code. Typical - you solve one problem and just end up with another. What’s this though?

On the front page of the journal is picture of a locket with a family surname - Walker.

James: Well that’s a start. And if that name refers to who I think, the game is very much afoot.

Scene - The kitchen of the Walker family farmhouse. Lisa and her father George are sat drinking tea at the table and discussing Lisa’s summer holiday and upcoming start at university.

George: LIsa, we’re not even halfway through the Summer holidays. You can’t be bored yet - what about the photography you said you wanted to do or the drawings you wanted to work on? Or the bike rides? Or the reading?

Lisa: I know, but the days are going so slowly! It’s only been four weeks and it feels like four months! Roll on September when I can start at uni and life will become interesting again!

George: Well i’m sorry you feel like that. But when uni starts, trust me, you’ll miss all this quiet peaceful time you have to yourself. Count yourself lucky we live somewhere where it’s so quiet. I reckon 6 months living in the city and you’ll be desperate to come back here for a rest. Personally, I love it here. The fact there is anything to do just makes me appreciate it even more.

Lisa: But you’ve got the farm to run Dad, it’s not like you have a choice is it?. This is your life, and you know I love it here. It’s just every once in a while I wish something exciting would happen.

George (smiling): I know love.I remember being your age, wanting to do and see it all. As I’ve got older I’ve realised it’s the little things that make life interesting though; a cup of tea at the table like this, summer evenings in a pub beer garden, doing a good crossword every once in a while. Of course, making sure the farm is running and the animals are ok is a reward in itself. This was my grandfather’s place, given to Dad and it’s our livelihood……...

There is a knock at the door

George: Get that will you love, see who it is. You never know, it could be that adventure you’ve asked for!

Lisa: Oh Dad, please. It’s probably just the postman…….

Lisa crosses the room and opens the door. James is standing there, framed in the doorway and silhouetted by the late evening light.
Scene - Walker farm house front door

James: Is this the Walker household?

Lisa: Yes it is, can we help you?

James: Quite possibly, quite possibly. I wanted to talk to you about something I’ve discovered that I believe is tied to your family. It really could be very important to everyone. Could I perhaps come inside?

Lisa: Errrrrrrr………..

George (calling through from the back of the room): Lisa? Who is it?

Lisa (Turning to the stranger): I’m sorry I don’t think I got your name Mr……

James: Compton. James Compton. I’m sorry I should have introduced myself first. I’m afraid that what I have to say is quite important and I forget my manners. I do apologise about the…………..

George appears behind Lisa in the doorway.

George: Hello, can I help you?

James: Hello, I’m James Compton. I was wondering if I could possibly come inside to discuss something very important with you?

George: Well, you can tell me here if you like and we’ll see.

Lisa: Dad, don’t be like that!

George:Sorry Lisa…..and I’m sorry Mr Compton but you can’t just turn up and expect to come inside. You could be anyone! Why should I let you in just because you’re being so secretive. If you want to tell me something tell me here.

James: Understood, really, but it’s tricky. What I have to tell you may come as a shock. It would be better if we talked calmly, sitting down.

George: Why? (Laughs in a slightly irritated manner). Are you going to give me a decent reason?

James: I think I can tell you what happened to your father in 1944.

Lisa: Grandad?

At this, the colour drains a little from George’s face and his attitude and expression changes. Stunned, he asks more questions but now in a genuinely curious manner.

George: How? Did you know Dad? Did he write to you, what did he say? What happened to him?

James: What I have to say would be better discussed indoors. May I please come in?

George: Sorry, forgive my manners. Of course. Lisa, get the kettle on.

James walks past Lisa, nods and smiles and follows George into the KItchen. Lisa shuts the front door behind them.

Lisa (to herself): Looks like there was an adventure in the post after all.

Scene - The kitchen of the Walker family farmhouse. George and Lisa sit listening to James amazing story. The more he talks, the more George listens, asks questions and the more emotional he becomes. Lisa just finds it all really exciting as she senses something big is about to happen.

James: It was the riddle you see. That was the start of it. The riddle my brother Henry told my father before he went off to action in 1944. With your father, George. Robert. They couldn’t say much at the time for obvious reasons, but they were both British secret service men. Their part in the war effort was more pivotal than anyone knew. Henry told Dad that they were going off to look for something, something that could change the course of the war forever. He never said what it was, but as Robert was a watchmaker before the war and Henry a historian, we can only guess. Two young men, recruited by a government to find something that only they could understand. It’s really baffling. And the fact that neither came home after the war is really strange. But the riddle, that’s what I was talking about wasn’t I?

Lisa: Did you solve it? What was it?

James: I solved it. About seven days ago. It referred to a grandfather clock that Robert made for Henry on his birthday. Really elaborate, your father was genuinely a clever man George.

George smiles

George: I know. Me and Mum miss him not just for that, but for his kindness too.

James: Henry always spoke highly of him to Dad. Looked up to him. Respected him. Relied on him.

Lisa: So what did you find?

James: This.

He places the coded diary on the table.

James: I believe that Robert wrote this. He hid it before he set off on his assignment with Henry knowing full well that something could happen to them. He wrote this, told Henry the riddle, and told him to tell Dad. All these years Dad has wondered what happened and the clues to finding out were under our nose the whole time.

Lisa: Why is it in code?

James: Well whatever is in these pages, I would imagine that Robert didn’t want the enemy to know about it. Whatever he had to tell us was important and he wasn’t about to take risks. Here, I want to show you this……

James points to the page with the locket drawing on it, and the surname ‘Walker’.

James: I don’t know why, but this is important. Does it look familiar to you?

George: That’s my Mother’s locket, the one Lisa owns now. I’d never get rid of it, Dad gave it to Mum when they got married. It’s beautiful. Lisa, go and fetch it to show James.

Lisa: Ok, won’t be long….. (she gets up and leaves the table)

James: Forgive me for asking George, but is there anything you can remember based on what your father told you? Maybe there is a clue in there somewhere?

George (frowns and looks a little sad): In the spring of 1944, I was 2 years old. My father, just 22, was still a young man himself. In the churchyard of this village on a spring afternoon, I remember we sat together sharing a small bag of sweets. Dad was explaining he had to go away for a while and was uncertain when he’d be back. His work with the British government meant that he had been called away to work on a special assignment. Dad explained that there are bad people in the world who live far away, but would come closer to our home if they could. Dad’s work involved keeping the bad people away forever so everyone could sleep safely at night. I remember asking why the bad people would want to come to our village. Dad told me that the bad people would travel all over the world if they could. I know now he was talking about the German army. Dad smiled at me and told him something remarkable - that there was no need to worry and that there was magic in the world that would keep the bad people away forever. The men in charge of Dad needed him to find the magic that will keep the world safe. I always thought of Dad as just a watchmaker. I then remember asking why a man who makes watches needs to find magic. Don’t they have special people to do that for them? Dad smiled back and explained that he is that special person and gave me a warm cuddle. I then recall Dad lifting me onto his shoulders and us walking home.

A few days later Dad said goodbye to his me and Mum and left for London. He promised he would return as soon as his assignment was over. As the car that came to collect him rounded the corner,Dad waved through the back window at us before disappearing from view, as well as our lives.

The two men sit for a moment and realise how closely bonded they are by events of the past. They quietly drink their tea, at which point Lisa returns.

Lisa: Here it is! The locket, look!

She passes it to James who opens it up. Inside are photos of Robert and Mary. On the back of the locket is a latin inscription: ‘Tempus fugit, non autem memoria (translated to ‘Time flies but not memory’)’.

James: This is a cipher key. I just know it. Men like Robert and Henry used them all the time in the war.

George: I’m sorry a what key?

Lisa: A cipher Dad. It’s a code that relies on a single word to unlock it. And if James is correct, this locket is the key to understanding the diary.

George: Oh right, I get it, I see. This seems like your department though, not mine. I enjoy a good crossword puzzle as much as the next man, but this is a little bit beyond me I’m afraid. It did always strike me as more than coincidence that Grandad was a watchmaker and he references time on this locket. Maybe try that?

James and Lisa try the word ’Time’ as the word to break the code, but have no luck. They realise the word that they need is the latin equivalent of ‘Time’, ‘Tempus’, which soon causes the diary to begin to reveal it’s secrets.

James: This is amazing. The artefact your father and my brother were looking for literally stopped time - ‘The Tacet’, ‘Tacet’ meaning silent in latin. ‘The Silent’ - sounds a bit creepy and very dangerous. Can you imagine what would have happened if the Germans, the Russians or the Japanese got their hands on it during the war. An army with that in its arsenal would have been almost impossible to stop. No wonder the British Government wanted it found so badly. And according to this diary, it’s old - I mean centuries old and has been around the world a whole lot of times. It says here it’s stopped disasters, saved lives and changed history on many occasions. Too powerful to destroy to stop the enemy getting it though - there is a danger of time rupturing and being damaged too. No, according to this journal written by Robert, it was last seen in the late 18th century and then hidden somewhere in the South Pacific. Wait…….

Lisa: What is it?

George: Yes, what’s there? What is Dad trying to tell us?

James: That the Tacet is dangerous, and there are those that want to find it very badly……

Scene changes to the same kitchen in 1943. Robert sits writing in the journal by candlelight. He writes quickly and pauses often to look around and think about the code he is writing. What he is doing makes him a little nervous, yet there is so much he needs to say. He reads the initial pages back to himself:

Robert: I need whoever finds this to understand. The Tacet is an artefact of immense power and needs to be found and secured before our world is plunged into chaos. At the moment, the war is not over and we still have every chance to find it. If we do not come back, something has gone badly wrong. I need whoever finds this diary to follow my instructions. I will lay a trail, tell you what to look for and where to find it. I will point you in the right direction and tell you what you must do next. Following it will lead you to us, the Tacet or both.

In the village of Boasley Cross you’ll find my watchmaker’s shop. It’s on the land of my family and I left specific instructions to my wife not to disturb or remove anything. If you’re reading this, you figured out what to do with the locket so you’ll know why I referred to time and memory. I need my memory preserved in order for this journal and it’s clues to work properly. A riddle for you:

The dragon at midday
The ship at midnight
The morning star

You should be able to figure that one out. I’m sorry I’ve had to be so cryptic, but when I say this is a dangerous undertaking, I mean it.

Lisa, James and George go outside, cross the yard and enter Robert’s workshop, still untouched after all these years. Dozens of decorative clocks line the walls. Some are even still ticking.

James: I think I see what Robert is saying from his journal. Look at the designs on the clocks. I can make out a ship on that one with stars and moons on it….

Lisa: There’s the dragon, though no sign of a sun.

George. That one has stars on it…..

James: It’s the hands! Robert wanted us to set the hands on the clock to the times in the riddle! Lisa, take the dragon one at the far end of the room. George take the morning star! I’ll take the ship. Set the time to midnight, midday and 7am!

The trio get to work, and sure enough there is a soft ‘click’ like the one that came from the grandfather clock in the first place. A tiny panel has opened up in the floor in the corner of the room.

Lisa: Ok guys, great! We did it! Lets see what Grandad wanted tell us (she puts her hand into the hidden trapdoor and feels cold glass and wood)......

Game and genre
The genre of the game ‘The Tacet’ will be that of a point and click adventure. I believe that this would make the most sense because of the nature of puzzle solving within the game. The player must use logic, brainpower and lateral thinking to solve the riddles of the diary and the game’s various environments. There will be a strong emphasis on collecting, examining and using objects and non player character interaction to gain information.

As the game focuses on at least three playable characters, Robert, Lisa and James, the format of a point and click adventure means that the narrative viewpoint can easily shift at any time. It will be a 2D game with this shift in narrative occurring at key points in the story. For example:
  • When Lisa reads a diary entry to see what Robert did, the action can shift to 1944. Puzzles solved here can affect the environment in 1982, allowing the player to progress.

  • Sometimes Lisa and James will have to split up to accomplish certain tasks. The narrative can jump from one to another - i.e one character can acquire a certain object that subsequently only the other character can use.
  • Characters could have different abilities - James size and strength could help physically, whilst Lisa’s slighter frame and mental dexterity could help in other areas.  

The game will feature around 100 hand drawn locations spread over various countries and cities. The game will take Robert, James and Lisa all round the world before culminating in a stunning revelation in the far away Temple of the Tacet.

The look of the game will be very illustrative and cartoony, akin to an animated movie. The emotions and mood in the game will range from drama to action to comedy, all created by the dialogue between the characters. The use of appropriate music and sound will also help to reinforce the emotional journey that that characters will be going on. All of these elements will hopefully combine to make a rich, rewarding graphic adventure that resonates with fans of old school adventuring.

Fitting the characters into the story
The story will be primarily told through the eyes of Lisa Walker who finally gets her request for an adventure answered. The story for her is an emotional one as she gets to see the world, learn about life, have the adventure she dreams of, but ultimately solve a longstanding family riddle - just exactly what did happen to her grandfather Robert at the end of WW2.

The play will control Lisa as she explores the environments for clues and objects to help her solve the puzzles in the game. She will communicate with the player by speaking her mind about certain decisions, both whether she thinks they are good ones or bad ones. She will be able to…….

  • Give
  • Open
  • Close
  • Pick up
  • Look at
  • Talk to
  • Use
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Walk to…...

to solve the puzzles in the games environments. She is the character who will move the story along and players will be spending most of their time with her. There will be events and sequences where the action switches to James, but Lisa will be the one who starts and finishes the gameplay. She will fit into the game by becoming the on screen avatar that players use to explore the game world. James will be controllable for some sequences too, but play will always eventually switch back to Lisa.

The game becomes more complex with Robert’s role in the story. In many sections of the game, Lisa will be able to view the diary and read about what Robert wants them to do next. At these points, the gameplay will shift to Robert in 1944. These sections will require Robert to solve a puzzle to make a change for Lisa in 1982. It would be an interesting concept as we help to impart knowledge on Lisa through knowing about events in the past. We know because as a player we directly influenced them. I want the puzzles to be challenging using this mechanic, but here are some ideas:
  • Robert must find a hidden location of an object in the 1944. Once Robert knows where it is, the player will naturally know too. Therefore, the player will then be able to ‘lead’ Lisa to the object in 1982.
  • Robert must speak to a character in the past to give them information. This character will then be able to tell Lisa something in 1982. The information could be passed to descendants of the character in the 38 year gap between the two timeframes. Therefore, asking around in 1982 will allow the player to find that descendant and pick up valuable information.

  • Not everything could go to plan. A building could have a very different floorplan in 1982 to what it did in 1944. Accessing an area within that building could prove tricky and lead to a whole string of puzzles on its own. Lisa and James will be very much forced to think for themselves at these points and find a solution using the objects around them.  The game will give a very clear outline of the objective for the player, but at times like this it will be made apparent how much the world has changed.

    Other minor characters such as James and Henry’s father Frank and Lisa’s father George will serve to give the characters motivation. At the heart of the story is a tale of families wanting closure on things that they are sad about but there will ancient myth and mystery entwined in the narrative.

    As the player makes progress in the game, they will meet many other minor and supporting characters who will have information and objects necessary to move forward. They will reflect many different types of class, character, lifestyle and country. As opposed to just voluntarily offering the player what they need, these characters will often want something doing in return. For example, talk to A to find out B. Use object C on D to obtain new object to give back to A. This is just one rough example, but serves to illustrate how the chain of using objects will work. Some ideas could include:

    A small boy at a boating lake whose boat has drifted too far into the middle. Help him get it back and he will tell you something useful.

    A museum curator who cannot help you unless you present him with a VIP invitation to access a certain exhibit. Getting this will require helping another character who happens to have one spare.

    Talking to a shopkeeper who has something that Lisa and James urgently need. In return he will need a little help in his shop selling a few things…..

    You can see how these tiny character driven stories will all make up a larger whole and be a welcome diversion from the main quest.

Role of characters
  • Lisa - Our guide and ‘eyes’ in the game.The game is played out through her experiences and understanding of the adventure she is on. Searching for Robert and the truth about the Tacet. Out of all the characters, hers is the greatest emotional journey. She matures and learns a little about growing up along the way.
  • James - Searching for his brother and the guardian of Lisa on her trip. He brings historical knowledge that Lisa does not have, allowing them to access greater mysteries. In return Lisa encourages him when he feels like giving up - he can be quite despondent when things don’t go to plan.

  • Robert
    Robert’s presence in 1944 and his hard work in deciphering the ancient trail of clues that lead to the Tacet allows Lisa to undertake the journey. Decisions and choices that Robert makes in 1944 allow Lisa to be illuminated on clues in 1982 via the diary. His purpose is to make the dual time zone gameplay function seamlessly, with Lisa able to push forward via information he gives her through the coded diary.  

Artists impression of the game
This is what the game is intended to look like with some characters, environments and the interface combined. The blank squares under the playing area are intended to be the inventory, where players will collect and store useful objects that can be combined with the commands on the left:

Game storyboard
Below are the storyboards to give an indication of what happens during the intro, middle and end of the game.


  1. James solves the riddle of the grandfather clock, revealing a strange coded diary inside.
  2. Using the surname that is written in the diary, James deduces where to go from his own knowledge of his family history and it’s acquaintances. Additionally, there is a picture of a locket in the book which he suspects will be crucial to solving the mystery. Arriving at the Walker house he asks to come in and talk, but is met with scepticism from Lisa’s father George.
  3. When James reveals that the diary was written by Robert, George’s father, George is shocked. He last saw his father in 1944 at the age of two. The british government declared him missing in action. James also reveals Robert’s partner Henry was James brother George. James talks about the locket being the key to unlocking the code in the book and finding out what happened to them both.
  4. Lisa owns the locket, a gift from Robert to his wife Mary. On the back is a latin inscription about time and memory. One of the words is the keyword to unlocking the cipher.
  5. Once the trio begin reading they discover that Robert knew his mission was dangerous. Should he ever go missing, he has left details about where to look for both himself and mysterious, time-stopping artefact, ‘The Tacet’.  This was the target of Robert and Henry’s mission in 1944, aiming to reach and retrieve it before the Germans did. The book is heavily coded and contains a great many secrets and pieces of information that they will need.
  6. The diary tells them to begin the trail in Robert’s old watchmakers workshop. Solving a puzzle involving three clocks on the wall unlocks a secret trapdoor. Inside is an hourglass with coordinates engraved into it. These refer to a clock in New York, the location of the next clue.

Middle of game
7. Solving a sequence of puzzles in the New York clocktower reveals more coordinates.
8. These take Lisa and James to another location - an ancient village…….
9. Then a mountain top monastery.
10. Every location contains another puzzle, another riddle based around clocks and measuring time.
11. Every puzzle solved rewards Lisa and James with a small component. Collecting them one after another suggests they fit together somehow.
12. The final puzzle reveals the coordinates of a group of South Pacific islands. Lisa and James feel sure that the trail is coming to an end.

End of game
13. The pair charter a helicopter to reach the island. They discover the island is eerily silent.
14. Searching the jungles and beaches, they find a massive statue that is the entrance to the temple of the Tacet.
15. The components the pair have collected through their quest turn out to fit together to operate a locking mechanism on the temple door.
16. Venturing inside, they find Robert and Henry frozen in time, surrounded by several dozen frozen German soldiers and agents. They realise that both the British and German men reached the island at about the same time. Clearly about to be overpowered, Robert activated the Tacet. This self sacrifice prevented the enemy from gaining the device but froze Robert, Henry and every living thing on the island in a permanent state of suspended animation. The diary and the trail he laid have turned out to be his backup plan in case anything went wrong, regardless of 38 years passing.
17. Realising that time is on their side, Lisa and James return to the island with lots of rope. Their plan is to deactivate the Tacet and take it, Robert and Henry home with them. They know that the German soldiers will reawaken and be as dangerous as they were 38 years ago. Lisa and James bind every German with rope so that when they re awaken they will be at a disadvantage. The plan works and the island springs back into life. Robert, Henry, James and Lisa fly home with the Tacet, securing it in the secret trapdoor in Robert’s workshop.
18. After 38 years of not knowing the truth, George is tearfully reunited with his father and James begins to get to know his brother again. The Tacet is securely hidden once more, safe in the hands of the Walker family.

Significant differences
The game differs heavily from the story in that it takes in a far wider array of characters. Like all good graphic adventures, the environments are characterised by the people who inhabit them. This was difficult to get across in the story, since that needs to focus mainly on the narrative. To begin talking about a sequence of side quests just to get to the next part of the story would be quite odd. It works in a games narrative however as games are largely about play and exploring. If the player just went from A - B each time with nothing to do in between, it would be a very quick, short game. Probably quite boring too! Introducing a wealth of supporting characters to populate the world with not only gives the player a reason to venture off the beaten path, but challenges them too. If the objects and clues they need are out there somewhere, it is a fun challenge for the player to work out what is where and how to get it. A story does not give this kind of freedom, since it has to work within some boundaries.

Another significant difference came about with the ending. I always knew that I wanted Robert to be alive and under the power of the Tacet, and I knew that I wanted him to be found in a dangerous situation - the kind of situation that only careful thought from Lisa and James could save him from. The big challenge as a game is how to turn that into a final puzzle. To be honest, I’m still not 100% with the solution of tying up the German soldiers. I feel that the temple has more to offer in terms of solution to the puzzle. Maybe there could be a way the temple could reverse time and get the men to safety? The sheer amount of German guards could be the problem. The large number of them adds drama but makes it difficult to see a way out for our heroes once the Tacet is activated. SInce everything will spring back into life, subduing the Germans seemed to be the only way forward. I did originally think of having Lisa and James somehow manage to move Robert, but couldn’t see how an 18 year old girl could help move a grown man. Thinking about it now, perhaps the temple could offer a solution? The Tacet freezes all living things, but what if there were non living things there too? Like giant robot guardians, built via the same mystical technology as the Tacet? Harnessing one or more of those could provide a solution for rescuing Robert amidst the German forces. This is a really interesting problem… but difficult. I feel that the tying up solution is fair and do-able but that there could be a more fantastical end to the adventure. A little more thought required I think, but I’m sure there is an imaginative, innovative solution to be had. It probably hinges on giving the temple more secrets and character, something I was not able to do in the story.

I think all the character motivations are good as everyone has a reason to be on or support the search. I do think that all good games have some kind of villain or nemesis however, and that factor is absent in the story. What I would like to do is create some kind of darker driving force in the game. All the graphic adventures I have played have always featured some kind of baddie. In ‘The Tacet game, I think I would like one but in Robert’s wartime sections. As there is a clearly defined race to find the Tacet in 1944, it would be good to show the opposing force. I wouldn’t like to have a bad guy in Lisa’s 1982 timeline as her story is just not about that. The focus there is on the emotion and drama of a girl discovering the world and her independence, a happy and exciting time. She is surrounded by people who all have lost love in their lives and who are seeking to reclaim that love (i.e the brothers James, Henry and their father Frank, and of course Robert and George.) To bring in a subplot of a villain in 1982 wouldn’t be appropriate at all, it would just be a strange, jarring distraction. In wartime however, it is completely appropriate and brings an Indiana Jones style adventure feel into the mix.
Another difference I chose to make was the name. I felt that ‘Missing In Action’ was fine for the story, but in a market that is full of military shooters, our adventure game may get a little lost. I decided on ‘The Tacet’, as there is no other game called that, and it is quite original as well as intriguing.

I also decided to make some differences in the purpose and content of the diary and which locations it leads Lisa and James to. I decided to have the whole book in code and have it deal with the trail to the Tacet. The bits I left out, although I did like them, were the coded letters to George. I decided to keep the book’s purpose focused purely on providing clues for the hunt. I also felt that if Robert and George finally communicated at the end, the emotional impact would be greater.  

A final crucial difference between the story and the game is the amount of locations the characters visit. The story more or less just pointed Lisa and James straight towards the South Pacific islands, whereas I wanted the game to be more roundabout than that. Maybe it works better in a story as it cuts to the quick and doesn’t try to spend time describing how a location’s puzzle is working. A story needs to be edited in such a way that it is concise and doesn’t waste time on unnecessary details. In a game the focus is partially on creating a world to explore - a place that the player can go and lose themselves in, regardless of whether their actions are pushing the plot along or not. Games are essentially about escapism, so I definitely want to give the player a choice of places to escape to.

No comments:

Post a comment