Scotoma (2016) is an Alternate Reality Game that is played via the Internet. The player investigates the fate of a missing woman. To find out about her, the player has to follow clues and solve puzzles that are hidden in a multitude of different online media: websites, blogs, videos, photos and GPS-data.
We kept the game online and running from 2016 to 2017. Working on an Alternate Reality Game was an awesome experience & I learned a lot about multimedia storytelling.
I worked on this game as a game designer and writer.
Genre: Alternate Reality Game
Media used: E-mail, Tumblr, Websites, Photos, Videos, .gifs
Team Size: 5
Production time: 7 weeks
I worked on the following features:
• Overall game concept and storyboarding
• Defining the main player actions and type of interactive media to be used
• Puzzle design
Design tools I used:
• Scribus for mock-ups of websites
• MindMup for storyboarding
• Adobe Acrobat for making an offline prototype as PDF documents with hyperlinks
Above: An example of how I worked on the gameplay mechanics: by first finding the core players actions with different type of media (written, image, audio), I developed the core game-loop that would connect all these actions to then lastly design the first levels of gameplay around it.
Above: The final story overview contained three different paths to the endgoal of the game: finding the whereabouts of three missing persons.
Writing & Content Creation:
One of the big parts of any ARG design is writing loads of fictional content that poses as being “real”. I took over the following areas of writing and content creation:
• E-mails from NPCs to the player
• Tumblr blogs and posts by NPCs
• Fictional newspaper articles, police reports, reader comments and tweets that give hints how to proceed
Above: Three examples of fictional content used in this game: an e-mail that the player receives after signing up for the game, a “conspiracy website” containing the first hint, a Tumblr blog by one of the main game characters (including a conversation with another NPC)
Artwork by Sarah Engelhardt and Hans Reitemeyer
We used .gif-files seamlessly hidden in websites to suddenly change the appearance of articles.
The final puzzle requires the player to find three missing symbols connected to the three storylines.