In the (long) time that has passed since my last post, which included some vacation time for the holidays, I have been working on the narrative for the game.
The subject of narrative and video games and whether a narrative even exists in video games has been long debated. The question lies mostly on the definition of narrative, a term that in the last 20 years has become very broadly defined (Juul 2001
). However, when talking about adventure games, a narrative is part of the definition: "A video game in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle solving instead of physical challenge" (Rollings and Adams 2006
), or a more concise version: an adventure is the deterministic intellectual problem solving in the context of a story" (Newheiser 2008
In our case, some aspects of the story such as location and time are predefined. The location - the city of Bologna and the time, or actually times - the protagonist's time of origin which is the 13th century CE. and the time he finds himself in, which is around the 2nd century CE. Both time settings, of course, effect the story in terms of what is possible and what isn't. For instance, one of the challenges we faced was trying to connect somehow the Medieval 13th century bologna with the 2nd century Bologna by placing a roman object or element in the medieval setting, so that our hero would be drown to it. The problem here is the fact that in 13th century Bologna they didn't care much for roman artifacts or any of the old stuff we refer to as "antiques", so there was no reason to keep a roman artifact or to be drown to one.
To solve this issue we turned to the afterlife and gave the role of the roman representative to a ghost. Where is the ghost coming from and why? Well, without giving away the plot, lets just say that there is a dog, an urn and a somewhat paranoid roman ghost.
We need to keep the historic and archaeological information accurate, but there is nothing wrong with using fantasy and imagination. I think players will not be mislead to think that ghosts were part of the daily life in the medieval or roman times, and if they end up believing in ghosts who am I to say that they are wrong...