COMPLEX ARTEFACTS AND SYSTEM DESIGN STUDIO 2018

Aerilon Kingdom

ACADEMIC
GAME DESIGN
STORYTELLING

The project was developed during the 2018 edition of Complex Artefact and System Design Studio at Politecnico di Milano, with the aim of learning interactive narrative, its concepts, vocabulary and production as applied in media, and how to use its approaches in one’s own design and artistic work. As a group, we investigated how to conceptualise and design interactive narratives for new digital media including storytelling structures for writing concepts and content for narrative interactive/generative (audiovisual) new media work, from personal media to community experiences.

My Role

My role covered the whole design process: I contributed to the development of the storyworld and of the story, to the character and to the interactive system logic, together with the themes, structure and character/agent/player/user relationships. I designed most of the background illustrations and supervised the whole realization process, finalizing all the illustrations in Photoshop by adding lights and shadows.

Design Process

We started our project from a quote by Jean Michel N'Draman—a young man from Côte d'Ivoire—and from his story of loneliness and disorientation since now he is living in Lombardy, far away from his family and his hometown. By highlighting seven key concepts, we developed the main settings and values of Aerilon's storyworld.

"Pini 3 street is in Piave Emanuele, in which I live since I am in Lombardy. When I have free time or I’m bored, I take a walk in this street to observe the trees with their beautiful flowers. It reminds me of my childhood, when I used to go to the field with my uncle. Sometimes I sit next to the fountain to read or to look at people or cars passing by. So, I forget for a moment the problems of loneliness and disorientation. This is a street of concetration for me."

The trees with their beautiful flowers watched by Jean Michel turned into our hero's home and interest, and the fact that they reminded him about his childhood is a crucial theme in our story. The fountain where he used to go to relax and concentrate is another reference, since it's a place that that will occur again and again throughout the story. Another important theme is that of the memory loss, and of the loneliness and disorientation since our storyworld is initially dark and lonely.

The project's aim was to highlight that people can possibly achieve every goal by sharing memories and participating in a linked community by stressing the fact that verbal communication is a key to a better community and that appearance is not important. We wanted to communicate these topics with a mystery and dark fantasy genre, by talking especially to young adults. So, we developed an Instagram based game, connected to a Facebook page, which is a maze-like game in which people can actually get lost, and is a treasure hunt since people need to search for clues to get on with the story.

The Storyworld

SYNOPSIS

In Aerilon, because of a mysterious monster that steals people's spoken memories, people can't communicate to each other easily, and are affected by memory loss as soon as they talk aloud. The only way they have to communicate is by whispers and gestures. Moreover, the kingdom is ruled by a powerful evil queen, who controls everything, even paper, in order to discourage people from communicating to one another.

TIME SETTING

Aerilon's story doesn't have a specific time setting nor a historical period.

Narrative Architecture and Final Output

The main story is developed on Instagram, but we also developed the background story both of the characters and the storyworld on Facebook.

For the Facebook page we followed an editorial plan in order to engage people and to keep their attention and curiosity while waiting the launch of the Instagram game. We started to post the storyworld rules, which explains the general rules of the kingdom. We created a dedicated album to each character and we explained their background stories. The Aerilon Kingdom Facebook page is the rabbit hole of the Aerilon Kingdom Instagram game, since we put a call to action button that links the two platforms.

For Instagram we have designed 36 different profiles that together narrate the story throughout the channel. On every profile’s bio there is the link to the Facebook page; every post has a unique caption and hashtags to identify the image itself, using both general hashtags and a specific hashtag for the project. The user is called to look for the tag that links him to the next profile, in order to continue the journey. Moreover, some things in some profiles are important for further steps in the story, so captions will suggest the user to save the content in a personal collection. At the end of the game players are invited to share their best memories using our specific hashtag #sharememoriesforaerilon.

The narrative structure of the story is multi-linear, since users have the possibility to choose between two main different storylines to follow, living the story different points of view: the one of Hilay and the one of Queen Lilith. Since some profiles are in common, players have the possibility to switch from one storyline to the other, following the journey of a specific character. Each of the profiles have 9 posts, except from the first one and the endings, which have 12 posts, and the second last profile which have 27 posts.

Team

  • Simona Astuto
  • Yixiao Cai
  • Rebecca Di Turi
  • Jingjing Gui
  • Seyedsajad Kasaee
  • Erica Pellegatta
  • Jacopo Poletto
  • Yueling Wu

Faculty

  • Mariana Ciancia
  • Ilaria Mariani

Teaching Assistants

  • Walter Mattana