Schrodinger’s Jim

Schrodinger's Jim screenshotSchrodinger’s Jim is a 3D point-and-click puzzle/adventure game that requires the player to question everything they learn.

The player plays as Vincent, a delusional over-worked programmer in a large office building. At the request of his boss, Jim must leave work to get some sleep. However, his delusions constantly impair his judgement and progress. The player can explore the world to pick up “beliefs” that may be true or false. By toggling and combining these beliefs, the player can solve the puzzles and leave the building.

 View Design Doc

View Paper Prototype   –   View Script
(Paper Prototype and Script are both for Level 2 – the Lobby)

Download the game here (Windows Only)
Download the entire folder; executable needs to be placed in the same folder as data to run.

 

Schrodinger’s Jim was created by Gagan Basandra, Douglass Chen, Justin Chen, Jonathan Chu, Daron Lee and Katie Powell for USC’s Puzzle Game Design class.

On the project I played the role of writer, usability tester, game and sound designer. I purposefully excluded myself from programming during the project to practice my design and writing skills. The finished product includes two distinct levels. For each level, I wrote a initial paper prototype, which included characters, a map, hints and the clues the player would find during the game. I then tested the prototype with 3 – 5 volunteers to examine how long it took them to find a solution, how intuitive the game’s rules were, and the general difficulty of the level. Many times the testers would give me new insights on what players might examine during gameplay – in fact, during my first playtest I had to ad-lib nearly half of the game when I realized the player could get more information out of a character’s lack of an answer.

After playtesting I refined and fleshed out the script. I delivered the script to the rest of my team, and once the digital version was complete I tested that version as well (with a mix of the same and new playtesters).

Once the scripts were written, I had a lot more bandwidth to help the project in other ways. I designed the sound for the game (determining when sounds occur, and what sounds were appropriate) and found/created many of the sounds used in the final game. I also found and posed models for the final game.

One of the most difficult aspects of Schrodinger’s Jim was simplifying the gameplay into something easy to learn but still puzzling. In the game the player collects “beliefs” about the world – some of which are contradictory. Once the player creates 3 beliefs that are contradictory to the state of the world (for instance, a person acting abnormally, the player character’s cough, a dead body), they combine them in the menu to create a new belief (there was an explosion here). To simplify the puzzle component, we created the rule that only 3 of the total found beliefs in any level could make sense with each other. Out of all the false beliefs a player finds in a level, no more than 2 may be combined in a sensible way.

Although simplifying the idea of a false belief system was daunting, the gameplay mechanic of truth versus lies created interesting design opportunities. For instance, in the first level the player must pick up an object to progress, but may not pick up the item until they’ve combined beliefs and changed the state of the room. The unobtainable item acts as an additional hint to the player, suggesting how they must change the room to pick it up.

(Spring 2014)

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