Since my prototype from 5B, I have completely shifted the overall plot — originally I wanted to have the player simulate out an entire day in someone’s life while they are forced to deal with intrusive thoughts, but after struggling with it for some time, I realized that making the story about the entire day, I could narrow down the focus into a single point in time. My story now revolves around playing through a much smaller period of time: cleaning a room
Tightening the scope of the story made writing much easier and also the decisions that the player would make would have more immediate impact. Next, I wanted to introduce the ‘intrusive thoughts’ mechanic slowly — the very first time the player cleans their room they are mostly unbothered, except for something small.
Then, the next time the player cleans their room, the thoughts get more intrusive and take up more space.
I playtested this with a male, 26-year-old PhD student. From this playtest (alongside the one in class in 6A), I found that the intrusive thoughts element was still largely positively received, and the setup and premise for why a character might be thinking this felt overall believable. One pointed out how the game “seemed to use [his] curiosity against him”, as he was compelled to click further and further by his own desire to explore the game, which evoked similar feelings to that of continuously obsessing over a negative thought. Another point of feedback was that the act of obsessing over a thought didn’t seem to have a strong consequence for the player themselves — clicking through a stream of negative thoughts didn’t have a strong impact, as the room got cleaned anyway. To address this, I was thinking of adding some form of timer or clock that persists while the player cleans, and delving into those negative thoughts makes them take longer. I think this could be an interesting way of making the consequences far more clear. I wonder though if this might also promote the wrong type of behavior, where if the player is incentivized to spend as little time as possible, that they might just avoid reading the text altogether?