How long would you survive in Roman Malton?

Friday saw the birth day for our game, consisting of painfully intense conversations about narratives and object choices. Despite our discussions bordering on gladiatorial combat, we can finally reveal the premise of our game!

How long would you survive in Roman Malton?

You are thrown into Roman Malton, where you must use your historical knowledge, creativity and intuition to survive for as long as possible. Guide our siblings, Lucius and Claudia, to thrive or suffer an early demise based on your decision making! The game follows them through their three main life stages of early life, middle age and old age exploring what it was like to be a real live Roman in Malton. Answer the questions correctly and progress  through the life stages, or get it wrong and start again. Set in and around the Roman fort and town of Malton and inspired by the objects recovered at the site from various excavations, from military to marriage and farming to weaving the game leads you through many aspects of Roman society. See Roman artefacts which have been out of the public eye, in the museum stores, brought back into the spotlight once again.

You’ll need your wits about you to survive..!

Today we leave you with our fantastic game panels. Tune in next week for the launch of the game!

Being more than archaeologists

After our short tour of the village of Malton and our meeting with the volunteers  of the museum, we found an avalanche of ideas that had emerged from our brainstorming. All of this was overwhelming, due to the fact that we actually have to put all those ideas in a video game. It may seem attractive to design a videogame that will be played by real people, but taking into account that none of us has any experience in this, the prospect was no longer so appealing. So in our first seminar on Thursday, our faces of confusion and perplexity seemed to had been recorded in our professors’ retinas, since at the end of the session they looked really concerned about us. This was not surprising because the ideas that came out were so different from each other that practically were impossible to put all of them together. Between our antagonistic ideas we went from a time traveler, to a soldier who had to survive in the “Roman jungle”.

Trying to made up our minds with Twine
Working on Twine ( Screen capture: Isobel Christian)

After a little break, we found ourselves heavily deep into an intensive course to learn game programming with a program called Twine. At the beginning, feeling confident after a week on the “battlefield”, we said to ourselves “this can’t be so difficult”, but the reality was quite different. As we progressed I realized that all my experience playing with Flappy Birds or any other game was useless, and my sketch started to seem like an incomprehensible tangle of hieroglyphics. However my brain and my heart beats returned to normality when I realized that in the notes that they had given to us were all the keys that could prevent the disaster in our video game. But we will have to wait until the end to see what results from our “computer mastery”.

Photography Voodoo

With minimal computer skills, not usually branching beyond opening Netflix or a Pages document, I was surprised to find that when faced with the programming code for Twine I was able to do more than create a steaming hard drive and a black screen of death. This may have lulled me into a false sense of security however, when the next day we were to take on Photoshop and photo editing. With the common phrase used for photography “oh it can’t be that hard” and “anyone can do that” it became very, very apparent that no not anyone can open Photoshop for the first time and create work on par with Ansel Adams.

As we were asked by the university graphic design, photography and website expert what experience we had with photography, I proudly dropped in that I had borrowed my fathers camera and had a dabble; moreover as the £2000 camera and additional £500 lenses were produced my comfort zone quickly disappeared. Various techniques were covered including lighting, the importance of angles and the positioning of what you were photographing — with insight divulged that could only come from a true professional and enthusiast.

I became lost in the photographic jargon that was not only going over my head but taking a running jump to gain as much height as possible. Moreover, the importance of these terrifying-to-achieve prospects became clear for our upcoming data collection day as the comparison between amateur photos and those with depth and accuracy were presented. Unless we wanted our work to look like well, probably what the amateur photos I had already taken looked like, we need to become photography voodoo masters in 5 weeks. As this session drew to a close we found ourselves on a break, sat in a slumped rather depressed looking circle googling the meme “when the lecturer asks you if you have any questions but you sit there in silence because you don’t even know what you don’t know.” The giant safety net comprised of our incredible supervisors and all those experts dedicating their time to this project could not have been felt more than in this moment.

Nothing could prepare me for the next session though, as my abominable IT skills flourished into a horrendously edited photo. Although very enjoyable this session left me staring at the screen thinking some kind of wizardry must be occurring to allow my peers to not make their image go an unappealing shade of off-pink like mine were. The enthusiasm and outstandingly patient persona given off by our lecturer allowed me to keep my cool and fully appreciate what we would be able to produce for our project with more than a little bit of practise.  

Come the end of the day I felt both mortified and excited at the prospect of the task ahead of us, urged on by what I can only assume is sheer insanity.

A computer screen with photoshop loaded displaying an autumn scene mid editing with the editing panel at the side.
Working on Photoshop (Photos: Marionna Sandin)