Game Lab #3: Core Mechanics for Enduro Flux

Serious Goal                                                                                                                                             
Achieve a sense of Flow within a user through audio/visual stimulus and user-defined goals related to momentum management, promoting well-being by alleviating stress and providing opportunities for introspection.

High Level Concept                                                                                                                                 
"Enduro Flux" is a music rhythm game where players cruise down the streets of a retrofuturistic city on a motorcycle. Time key presses as you see fit and ride to your own rhythm by personalizing the game's music playlist!

Description + Visualization                                                                                                                    

Enduro Flux begins with a dramatic fade-in to the beginning environment scene. Here, the "Traveler" the player controls stands above their bike as ambient music plays. Behind them, a series of neon signs adorn the towering skyscrapers in the distance in front of a simmering sunset. Players are given no indication of what to do for a period of time, encouraging the user to take the scene in before experimenting with the controls. Before long, a prompt will appear displaying the arrow keys as potential input if the player doesn't opt to figure it out on their own.

Once a single arrow key is pressed, a couple of things occur. First, that input becomes temporarily unavailable and suffers a brief cooldown period. Second, the Traveler gains a small boost to their momentum, causing them to go from idle to moving if they are static or keeping them going if they are already riding along. Third, the ambient soundtrack playing will draw silent as a more upbeat track begins to play. As players begin to alternate between the four arrow keys, boosting their speed and triggering cooldowns, my goal is to have the players themselves find the right input timing to match their speed with the rhythm of the game's music. Here, Flow can most likely be obtained.

If keys are not pressed, momentum is slowed and the Traveler will eventually stop cruising along. In this case, the upbeat music will quiet down and the ambient music will return as they stop their bike and kick their foot out. There is no score, result screen or game over. The game is simply a Traveler cruising down the street and timing key input to beat of the music. As speed increases, cooldowns may be reduced or increased, which will be determined at a later date.

To add depth and personalization, players will be able to add their own music to the game. While a browser-based version will be made available for free, there will also be a free downloadable version that has the following instructions for adding your own soundtrack to the game. In order to add your own music you must have the following: an mp3 format music file, the file renamed to "track1", "track2" or "track3", and finally the file must be added to the game's included Music folder. Once the game is run it'll automatically load up these tracks sequentially as you begin to cruise. If you want to play another song, simply stop cruising and begin again to "skip" that track!

Progression within the game is entirely controlled by the player and can adhere to their own goals. Some players may seek to slow down just to switch tracks, while others will try to go as long and fast as they can. Others may simply find the right rhythm and try to hold on to that moment for as long as possible. Considering there are no required inputs or predefined patterns the player must master, things like skill and luck simply aren't involved. Despite the agent working against you in the form of managing your momentum, there is no defined limit or sweet spot. As you slow down, the general mood of the game changes to follow suit. Rain will slowly fall, lights will slowly flicker and the character will calmly breathe and rest. As you pick up speed particles will begin to trail behind the motorcycle, objects will become blurred and other special effects will take place to match a more upbeat mood.

Considering the emphasis on audio/visual elements for this project I have looked into a number of styles related to music, film and aesthetics that will prove more responsive to a specific audience that favors that particular style. Namely, fans of Retro Wave, Neon-Noir, Vaporwave, the work of Nicholas Winding Refn or other 80s-inspired works will dig this. These worlds encased by neon lights, signs adorned with Japanese characters, towering cityscapes and Retrofuturism have inspired the look and feel of the game's character, their vehicle, and the sprawling parallax landscape in the distance. Representing this style will elevate the game's potential for snagging a user's attention and allowing their creativity and imagination to take hold of the game's mechanics and rhythm,

As I have already discussed, much of my own design methodology relies on understanding and maintaining Flow within a game's narrative. By carefully balancing a user's skill level against their perceived level of challenge, you can incite a state of Flow that fully absorbs them in their activity. This distortion allows the person to alleviate stress and improve their well-being. While this game won't feature difficult challenges, just , achieving this state is entirely dependent on the user's interaction or choice to not interact with the game. By managing your own momentum as you deem it appropriate for the included or personalized music tracks, you define that challenge.

The Enduro Flux concept is directly lifted off of the "Cyberpunk Spinner" thought that I had for Game Lab #2: Game Concepts. As I was thinking of momentum I couldn't help but focus on rhythm games. As I'm mostly familiar with the Guitar Hero franchise of rhythm games, I was always engaged with the mechanic and getting into the groove but always disliked the visuals going on in the background. I was always really bad at even the moderate difficulty modes as well. I had trouble using more than a couple of buttons on the Guitar controller at any given point in time. Enduro Flux remedies this ailment, giving full control over the momentum to the player during play.

After sketching a bit and thinking on the concept, it made sense to utilize it moving forward. The scope is small and it allows me to flex my creative muscles to define a visual gamespace that simply looks cool and pairs well with some of the music I've been listening to lately. The name was formed after looking up a few key terms related to the project, like motorcycle and flow, and pairing up their synonyms until I found something that sounded cool.

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