In Metanoia, the gameplay is found in the missions given to you by the animals of Tambopata. These missions are linear, and the majority of them take place in areas outside the main forest camp. Typically, the animal who gives you the mission will come along with you, to give assistance and explain the areas you will discover. In these missions, you are tasked with helping an animal out with a problem they have, which can range from their home being threatened by gold-miners, to saving a friend who has been kidnapped as a pet. You will need to interact with objects and people on the way, to find out the best way to deal with the situation. Using the mechanics detailed in the next paragraphs, you can complete the missions, gain the respect of the animals and gain invaluable knowledge. As the story progresses, the complexity and significance of missions will increase, until it peaks when the miners launch an attack on the rainforest. To initiate a mission, simply walk up to the animal offering the missions and interact with them. They will brief you on the mission and ask if you are ready. You can then accept the mission, and it will be initiated. You will then automatically walk with the animal and dialogue will pop up. While on the way to the mission location, this dialogue window will stay up and your character will walk without input from the player. During this time, you can ask questions about the mission, and discuss other things with the animal. A missions consists of segments where the player can freely explore, interact with objects and work out how to proceed, with other scripted segments to move the mission along.

dialogue tree.png

The dialogue mechanic is the main way that the narrative will be delivered. There are multiple options to choose from when talking to other animals or people, including standard answers, knowledge based options, and if you have the right item for a situation in your inventory, it will come up as an option in dialogue.

indoors selection 1 with bat and knowledge.png

Dialogue can be started by walking up to an animal or person, or sometimes it will initiate automatically. These moments will be the most important to the mission. In these situations, choosing the wrong option could mean failure, in which case the instance will restart. Sometimes, you won’t have a right answer, and will need to find it through talking to other animals or people to gain the knowledge necessary to answer it. Item and knowledge options won’t appear until you’ve got them, so you’ll have to work out what you’ll need in order to progress. When you initiate a conversation with someone, your character and the person you are talking to will appear as 2D sprites above the dialogue box. Your character will always appear on the left. To distinguish who is talking, the character will show a facial expression matching what they are saying.

outdoors man 1.png

To make a selection or proceed through text, press the button. Text will reveal itself as the person is talking; press the button before all the text has displayed will skip the animation and immediately show all text. Once a mission is about to end, a special dialogue option will appear. This option will end the mission, and is always a reflective statement from the player about what they have realised having completed the mission. I have implemented this idea to fulfill the goal of highlighting the change of heart that the player slowly goes through during the game. These moments show that the player is learning, and analysing what they have learnt.

interaction mechanic

There are many objects to discover and use in the Tambopata National Reserve. Objects that can be picked up or observed are highlighted in black outline, and are filled in with block colour, in contrast to the background. To interact with an object, walk up to it; the outline will turn white, prompting you to interact with it.

indoors bat interact.png

If it is an object you can pick up, it will appear in your inventory, which is shown at the bottom of the screen when dialogue is not showing.

indoors bat taken.png

If it is an object that you can only observe, a dialogue box will appear describing that object, which works just like the dialogue system, except there are no names and images. Once the description has been read, the player can move again. I have implemented this to try and achieve the design goal of providing an educational purpose. As the player doesn’t know whether an object can be picked up or not, they will end up learning about the area through these observations. Most of these observations will have no effect to the main story. During missions, you will find objects that need to be interacted with using an object in order to proceed. It works much like normal observations, except if you have an object that can interact with it, an option will appear to use that item. If you have no item to use on it, you can choose the “Do nothing” option. By only showing the options you can use, it removes the frustration some games have, where you hopelessly try using all your items on an object, hoping it will work. While I would like the player to have think about the choices they make, the challenge should be related to the narrative, not particularly the gameplay.

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