Play Ledges here!
Story Premise, Setting, and Characters:
Ledges aims to be a brief exploration of class, resource management, and labor distribution to the lower class to the benefit of the upper class. In Ledges, characters live in a setting called the Staircase, which has 100 floors and a landing at each floor, with the Floors at the bottom (larger Floor numbers) being structurally larger than those at the top (lower Floor numbers, highest is 1). You play as a character who works as an Air Tank Deliverer for the 70th to the 80th Floors — in this world, Air is not a guaranteed resource and people have to either breathe from Air Tanks they use (think of scuba tanks) or stay in Cubicles/rooms that have a constant supply of breathable air. One day working as a Deliverer, you see someone stealing Air Tanks from storage, and from there your journey exploring the Staircase begins!
- Initial plan: My first plan was to create a story that would include some sort of commentary on class and labor, and the benefits/necessity of wealth redistribution. This plan included an ending that would involve the playable character being part of or leading the Rising/coup/revolution, and with various endings relating to the success/failure, tied into the main character’s newfound popularity/power with the group of people that they are leading.
- Next iteration: However, I decided to not include the part about a successful coup/Rising/revolution because with this addition the story was getting a little too out of scope for me to handle without much more extensive thought and revisions. I instead made the decision for the system (Staircase) to have been rigged against a group revolution from the start, and for it to fall when many players try to rush it.
- Future iterations: I want the characters to be more compelling, and I also think I could add more information/flesh out more details about the setting. I want to include more information about the Floors and explore more about the Cubicles/open air areas, as well as more background on the “Ledges” (the people planning the Rising). I would also like to explore paths where the Rising is successful, and potentially go further into depth why residents from the Middle Floors are moving to to the Lower Floors in large numbers.
- Feedback I got from playtesting included:
- Extending the story because the ending currently feels anti-climactic; I would implement this by including several paths forward with different results for/preparations for the Rising
- Extending the shorter endings, the decisions here could be made more compelling/interesting if the player was more invested in the setting/character/other characters.
- Have more backstory/setting information and descriptions, as well as the situations of the people on the higher floors
- Breaking the text up into smaller paragraphs would help a lot for readability and retention of what happened
- Make it more clear why air is an important resource/what happened/have clues to have the reader figure out the context of this situation
Final Twine Map:
When making this game, I think the hardest part of making this game was thinking of decisions that would be interesting enough for a player to actually have to carefully consider (weighing benefits and drawbacks, questions of morality). For me, with the story I originally was working with, the decisions that I would make as a player were pretty clear and I struggled a bit with thinking of decisions that would make the player have to give more thought for. I think the way I would solve this in future potential iterations would have to be through developing the character/other characters emotionally so that the player gains more attachment to certain events/outcomes/players and thus will be at least more invested in the decisions they are making and how they are impacting not just themselves as a player or the story, but also the other events and characters.
In this process, I learned that when writing my fiction, I might want to have a better idea of not just the general story, but also of my character, their development, and their motivations. I think this would have helped me a lot to motivate their decisions, as well as helping ensure that the player is more conflicted when choosing paths (making the game more interesting). I also learned about writing endings, and some good advice I got from Christina was that when thinking about how to end a story, think about what message you want to leave the player/reader off with. As I was making this game, I was conflicted about how I wanted the main ending of the game to pan out, but in the future I’d like to implement more endings/paths.
While working on this game/story, I did start thinking of a lot more possibilities of ways to expand the story and setting and potential future ideas as well as things that I could have done differently from the start, which is part of the writing process and I might implement those later (described previously in the “future iterations” section). I think that fleshing out an overall idea of the story from the start was a good idea, but I got so many more ideas while iterating that without a set deadline I would have liked to modify things that I had already completed from earlier. In the future, I’d also like to take into account the feedback I received about making the pages more broken up so that there weren’t large chunks of text for better playability.