Title of Your Work

Twine 7: Immaculate

Primary Faculty Advisor

Sandra M. Leonard

Presentation Types

Individual Presentation

Description

Need to Know

When writing the concept for the game, I wrote this with some form of an understanding of the Persona 5 universe, but I do hope that within the limited storytelling with the minimalistic format, I wrote the lore for this twine game in a way that needs minimal understanding of any other games.

Game Inspirations

The game was inspired by Persona 5, where I drew the inspiration of having a reflective world that ran on purifying hearts. I also drew inspiration from NieR: Automata, which lightly discussed the idea of what beauty actually means, and the lengths one will go to be this subjective beauty, beauty is an idea that varies from person to person, and no two interpretations will be identical. We as people have been trying to quantify and understand beauty and what appeals, but we don’t have a solid answer. So I used that idea as a starting point for the protagonist, where they think about what beauty means to them, and then how that thought of what it means gets incorporated to what they would do to obtain the eyes of those who they desired. I was inspired by Until Dawn, which was the first game that I played that felt like I was able to make meaningful choices, so I wanted to make something with that level of diversity with choices that have meaningful outcomes. Until Dawn is a jump-scare horror game where all the main characters can live or die, where not taking enough risks or too many could easily kill any character. I also was inspired by Final Fantasy XIII, especially the deity of Etro, who was the goddess of rebirth, but also found humans worth mercy, and often that mercy she presented were myopic, causing grievous consequences. I used her as a means for that narrative sense of trying again, seeing what other endings, and trying to give another chance to the protagonist. I was also inspired by the genre of Alice: Madness Returns, which was an interesting idea of psychological horror.

Game Story Background

When making this game, I originally conceived this concept over a year ago as a Persona 5 fanfiction based on NieR: Automata’s character of Simone. Simone’s character was a machine lifeform whose affections were unrequited by another machine who was not interested in love or beauty, so she committed terrible acts in the name of beauty. Venturing for beauty in material things, such as jewels, venturing in beauty even through the rumor of eating android corpses. Integrated with the idea of Simone pursuing beauty to the growing disgust of self at the drastic measures taken, I took the concept of that growing disgust and drastic measures into the world of Persona 5 where desires and hearts manifest and by stealing hearts do you fix society’s ills. The hearts that manifest in the world, and stealing those hearts usually take away the root of a person’s bad behavior. A stolen heart in Persona 5 meant that a person who was sadistic and abusive no longer had those tendencies after their heart was stolen, making them a good person again. I used these elements in the game very loosely, as a means of purity. Where the idea of a purified heart and a purified person and the way Persona 5’s reflective world of hearts wasn’t the actual extraction of a physical heart. In Persona 5, a person’s heart can only be cleansed by making the reflective version fear losing their most precious thing, but that also makes the target feel some element of panic. I used these elements so that it had a level of horror in it, that the process wasn’t pretty or enjoyable, but a necessary evil. I also used that sense of panic to warp this protagonist’s view of themself, to elevate that sense of monstrosity, as if they know their sins. I used these elements in a much looser sense, at least in the context of the game.

Originally, it was written as a story “Desire” with an element of queerness. The protagonist in the story, Akira, was enamored with an artist, Yusuke. In Persona 5, Yusuke thinks Ann is quite beautiful and wishes to paint her. I used this in Desire as a means of adding an element of misunderstanding and a means of fear of unrequited love, as the setting was modern Japan, where queerness is still highly stigmatized (although for different reasons than the west). Akira wants Yusuke to notice him, but Yusuke only has eyes for Ann, or so it seems. But this misunderstanding drives Akira to do anything for him to be regarded as beautiful, as his parents didn’t seem to miss him after he got falsely accused, so he felt this deep want for someone’s approval. So he did everything he could to earn it. In the end of the story, Akira dies and it’s revealed Yusuke requited Akira’s affections, but was too afraid to admit it to himself, and it cost him Akira. I removed the openly queer elements, and let the player be attracted to a vague idea of a person, so then it could be whatever gender they may be attracted to, rather than forcing something like heterosexuality on a queer player.

The concept with the Metaverse (Persona 5’s reflective world), where shadow selves exist as mirroring the real world, but the world is warped by the perspective of the person whose heart is being purged. The Metaverse is a reflection of the person’s perception, including the shadow people reflecting the person’s view of people, e.g. one character’s perspective of people are as if they are robots, only there to work and produce, and useless if defective or breaking down, disposable. So, in that character’s version of the Metaverse, the shadows are robots, and he is their leader in the infinite possibilities of the cosmos.

I used the concept into creating that the people were dark and terrifying, because initially it was unknown. But as the protagonist got more drastic, it evolved into a demonic version of themselves, but with a hint of truth to it. They believed that all these wrongdoings meant they were irredeemable, making them into a salvationless demon, and priests were to give the game protagonist a tangible representation of their thoughts that told them these horrible things and wanted that person to die. And the priests go and attack the protagonist when they’re in reach, that those thoughts had consumed them and killed them. But the protagonist’s shadow is there too, and it wants to live, but like its real counterpart, it suffers from the malice, but it cannot escape into the real world, forced to go through torture every night because of the protagonist’s belief that they are irreparable. It gives this sense of understanding how deeply affected they are by what they have done. Their shadow self is gaunt and terrified, reflective of how the protagonist is in several ways starving and terrified of themselves. I chose the church imagery to emphasize the wrongness, and irreparability, as many sects of Christianity often tout a narrative that people are irreparable and going to hell for their sins. The ornate designs make the church seem too bright on the interior, so that it’s unsettling for a person who may see it. The ornateness also emphasizes lack the protagonist has. A lack of self-perception, of people, of happiness.

Within the story, I also have the idea of rebirth and changing the past and the future. I thought about what I wanted to do with it, the fact that I wanted the protagonist and the player to have the feeling that what they’re doing does have the effect, but also to be malleable enough that it can change the outcome to perhaps learn how to find this semblance of a conclusion to the game.

Structure

In terms of structure of the game, I wanted there only to be a beginning. When making a game, I like the narrative elements, but also when playing the game more than once will reward the player with new content, otherwise it may not keep the person’s interest for long. I love the idea of possibilities within games, and despise the lack of choice available, or at least meaningful choice, wherein stories present us with options but it bridges to filler. So I wanted to make the game’s structure into something that actually had choice and where you could see the change happening. I designed it with a beginning in mind, but I wanted to have this idea of even though you may see the same parts of the narrative, you can’t change the past, but must move forward. It’s the idea of cycles, of seeking atonement, of trying to be better, by doing things right. I wanted to mimic that difficulty of figuring out how to be something beautiful and that can be loved. And that at the end of the day, worth is really something that takes trial and error to convince yourself that you have worth.I also want the game to have some sort of openness to it, so then it can be built upon. If at some point in the future, I want to expand it, to add more elements and to develop the ideas presented, I have the freedom to do so. I did however, want there to be something for someone if they did get to the ending, but integrated it with the idea of finding that their desire does requite their affections, but I didn’t want it to be a deus ex machina. For as much as this is fantasy, I wanted it to capture the emotional aspects of real-life worthlessness, depression, and those experiences don’t simply vanish when someone finds love, it’s a process of unlearning everything you’ve been taught.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game that I wanted to incorporate is the idea of multiple endings, rather than only a once-played story that doesn’t give many benefits to multiple playthroughs. Especially with a format as interactive fiction, it doesn’t exactly have other means of keeping players engaged. Depending on which endings you go through, you have different text depending on which ending you got. Music was also dependent on endings and certain story points. The music was designed to add some form of grounding in the story, as sound is a very effective medium to add. Horror films on silent are much less scary than with audio because the audio keeps you in the moment. I used various songs to try to mimic those moods.

Major Themes

In this game, I, as mentioned wanted to touch on the idea of beauty, sacrifice, and ultimately, humanity. By having the themes of atrocity, but that idealistic desire to be good, I wanted to ask the question of if the protagonist is human, or at what point does mercilessness become irredeemable, even if done out of sheer attempt of survival. Does the loss of humanity come from unwilling excess, or must it be through consciously doing the wrong when one does not need to? Is there such thing as being redeemable or irredeemable? At some point, does that even matter? And what constitutes as harm? I started working on these themes, but haven’t fully fleshed them out, between time constraints and the desire to leave them open to interpretation.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Twine 7: Immaculate

Need to Know

When writing the concept for the game, I wrote this with some form of an understanding of the Persona 5 universe, but I do hope that within the limited storytelling with the minimalistic format, I wrote the lore for this twine game in a way that needs minimal understanding of any other games.

Game Inspirations

The game was inspired by Persona 5, where I drew the inspiration of having a reflective world that ran on purifying hearts. I also drew inspiration from NieR: Automata, which lightly discussed the idea of what beauty actually means, and the lengths one will go to be this subjective beauty, beauty is an idea that varies from person to person, and no two interpretations will be identical. We as people have been trying to quantify and understand beauty and what appeals, but we don’t have a solid answer. So I used that idea as a starting point for the protagonist, where they think about what beauty means to them, and then how that thought of what it means gets incorporated to what they would do to obtain the eyes of those who they desired. I was inspired by Until Dawn, which was the first game that I played that felt like I was able to make meaningful choices, so I wanted to make something with that level of diversity with choices that have meaningful outcomes. Until Dawn is a jump-scare horror game where all the main characters can live or die, where not taking enough risks or too many could easily kill any character. I also was inspired by Final Fantasy XIII, especially the deity of Etro, who was the goddess of rebirth, but also found humans worth mercy, and often that mercy she presented were myopic, causing grievous consequences. I used her as a means for that narrative sense of trying again, seeing what other endings, and trying to give another chance to the protagonist. I was also inspired by the genre of Alice: Madness Returns, which was an interesting idea of psychological horror.

Game Story Background

When making this game, I originally conceived this concept over a year ago as a Persona 5 fanfiction based on NieR: Automata’s character of Simone. Simone’s character was a machine lifeform whose affections were unrequited by another machine who was not interested in love or beauty, so she committed terrible acts in the name of beauty. Venturing for beauty in material things, such as jewels, venturing in beauty even through the rumor of eating android corpses. Integrated with the idea of Simone pursuing beauty to the growing disgust of self at the drastic measures taken, I took the concept of that growing disgust and drastic measures into the world of Persona 5 where desires and hearts manifest and by stealing hearts do you fix society’s ills. The hearts that manifest in the world, and stealing those hearts usually take away the root of a person’s bad behavior. A stolen heart in Persona 5 meant that a person who was sadistic and abusive no longer had those tendencies after their heart was stolen, making them a good person again. I used these elements in the game very loosely, as a means of purity. Where the idea of a purified heart and a purified person and the way Persona 5’s reflective world of hearts wasn’t the actual extraction of a physical heart. In Persona 5, a person’s heart can only be cleansed by making the reflective version fear losing their most precious thing, but that also makes the target feel some element of panic. I used these elements so that it had a level of horror in it, that the process wasn’t pretty or enjoyable, but a necessary evil. I also used that sense of panic to warp this protagonist’s view of themself, to elevate that sense of monstrosity, as if they know their sins. I used these elements in a much looser sense, at least in the context of the game.

Originally, it was written as a story “Desire” with an element of queerness. The protagonist in the story, Akira, was enamored with an artist, Yusuke. In Persona 5, Yusuke thinks Ann is quite beautiful and wishes to paint her. I used this in Desire as a means of adding an element of misunderstanding and a means of fear of unrequited love, as the setting was modern Japan, where queerness is still highly stigmatized (although for different reasons than the west). Akira wants Yusuke to notice him, but Yusuke only has eyes for Ann, or so it seems. But this misunderstanding drives Akira to do anything for him to be regarded as beautiful, as his parents didn’t seem to miss him after he got falsely accused, so he felt this deep want for someone’s approval. So he did everything he could to earn it. In the end of the story, Akira dies and it’s revealed Yusuke requited Akira’s affections, but was too afraid to admit it to himself, and it cost him Akira. I removed the openly queer elements, and let the player be attracted to a vague idea of a person, so then it could be whatever gender they may be attracted to, rather than forcing something like heterosexuality on a queer player.

The concept with the Metaverse (Persona 5’s reflective world), where shadow selves exist as mirroring the real world, but the world is warped by the perspective of the person whose heart is being purged. The Metaverse is a reflection of the person’s perception, including the shadow people reflecting the person’s view of people, e.g. one character’s perspective of people are as if they are robots, only there to work and produce, and useless if defective or breaking down, disposable. So, in that character’s version of the Metaverse, the shadows are robots, and he is their leader in the infinite possibilities of the cosmos.

I used the concept into creating that the people were dark and terrifying, because initially it was unknown. But as the protagonist got more drastic, it evolved into a demonic version of themselves, but with a hint of truth to it. They believed that all these wrongdoings meant they were irredeemable, making them into a salvationless demon, and priests were to give the game protagonist a tangible representation of their thoughts that told them these horrible things and wanted that person to die. And the priests go and attack the protagonist when they’re in reach, that those thoughts had consumed them and killed them. But the protagonist’s shadow is there too, and it wants to live, but like its real counterpart, it suffers from the malice, but it cannot escape into the real world, forced to go through torture every night because of the protagonist’s belief that they are irreparable. It gives this sense of understanding how deeply affected they are by what they have done. Their shadow self is gaunt and terrified, reflective of how the protagonist is in several ways starving and terrified of themselves. I chose the church imagery to emphasize the wrongness, and irreparability, as many sects of Christianity often tout a narrative that people are irreparable and going to hell for their sins. The ornate designs make the church seem too bright on the interior, so that it’s unsettling for a person who may see it. The ornateness also emphasizes lack the protagonist has. A lack of self-perception, of people, of happiness.

Within the story, I also have the idea of rebirth and changing the past and the future. I thought about what I wanted to do with it, the fact that I wanted the protagonist and the player to have the feeling that what they’re doing does have the effect, but also to be malleable enough that it can change the outcome to perhaps learn how to find this semblance of a conclusion to the game.

Structure

In terms of structure of the game, I wanted there only to be a beginning. When making a game, I like the narrative elements, but also when playing the game more than once will reward the player with new content, otherwise it may not keep the person’s interest for long. I love the idea of possibilities within games, and despise the lack of choice available, or at least meaningful choice, wherein stories present us with options but it bridges to filler. So I wanted to make the game’s structure into something that actually had choice and where you could see the change happening. I designed it with a beginning in mind, but I wanted to have this idea of even though you may see the same parts of the narrative, you can’t change the past, but must move forward. It’s the idea of cycles, of seeking atonement, of trying to be better, by doing things right. I wanted to mimic that difficulty of figuring out how to be something beautiful and that can be loved. And that at the end of the day, worth is really something that takes trial and error to convince yourself that you have worth.I also want the game to have some sort of openness to it, so then it can be built upon. If at some point in the future, I want to expand it, to add more elements and to develop the ideas presented, I have the freedom to do so. I did however, want there to be something for someone if they did get to the ending, but integrated it with the idea of finding that their desire does requite their affections, but I didn’t want it to be a deus ex machina. For as much as this is fantasy, I wanted it to capture the emotional aspects of real-life worthlessness, depression, and those experiences don’t simply vanish when someone finds love, it’s a process of unlearning everything you’ve been taught.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game that I wanted to incorporate is the idea of multiple endings, rather than only a once-played story that doesn’t give many benefits to multiple playthroughs. Especially with a format as interactive fiction, it doesn’t exactly have other means of keeping players engaged. Depending on which endings you go through, you have different text depending on which ending you got. Music was also dependent on endings and certain story points. The music was designed to add some form of grounding in the story, as sound is a very effective medium to add. Horror films on silent are much less scary than with audio because the audio keeps you in the moment. I used various songs to try to mimic those moods.

Major Themes

In this game, I, as mentioned wanted to touch on the idea of beauty, sacrifice, and ultimately, humanity. By having the themes of atrocity, but that idealistic desire to be good, I wanted to ask the question of if the protagonist is human, or at what point does mercilessness become irredeemable, even if done out of sheer attempt of survival. Does the loss of humanity come from unwilling excess, or must it be through consciously doing the wrong when one does not need to? Is there such thing as being redeemable or irredeemable? At some point, does that even matter? And what constitutes as harm? I started working on these themes, but haven’t fully fleshed them out, between time constraints and the desire to leave them open to interpretation.