Link to Game: https://the-girl-by-the-bus-stop-2.streamlit.app/
Link to GitHub: cyu60/The-girl-by-the-bus-stop (github.com)
Overview: In today’s fast world, we often forget the importance of deep connections and empathy. “The Girl by the Bus Stop” is a game that helps us remember this. It is a story about a meaningful meeting at a bus stop and the different ways it can go. The game has three acts, each with conversations that make players think about others’ feelings. By stepping into the shoes of the main character, players practice empathy in a safe place. This is important in a world where real connections are often replaced by quick, surface-level talks. “The Girl by the Bus Stop” is a reminder to step out of our comfort zones, break barriers, and make real connections with people around us. It is a game, but also a tool for personal growth and positive change.
This text-based interactive fiction game was inspired by my fond memories of meeting someone special at a bus stop. It recreates and explores alternate paths for that serendipitous scenario through directed conversation across 3 acts.
History and Improvements:
- Version 1 (GPT-4 playground): https://platform.openai.com/playground/p/nX0AIvBezAdClx3cIrvFsDXQ?model=gpt-4
Refined prompts/text, revealed need to incentivize full progression.
- Version 2 (Streamlit web app): https://the-girl-by-the-bus-stop.streamlit.app/
Vastly improved transitions between scenes. Overcame bugs coding natively in Python/Streamlit.
Added hint system when stuck. Enabled conversation checkpoints to revert back after dead ends.
Playtesting and Changes:
- 10+ playtest sessions logged in chat_log.json on GitHub.
Version 1 (2 players):
- Female, mid-40s: Unsure of plot, adjusted player description text to set expectations.
- Male, mid-20s: Felt story was not going anywhere. Provided feedback to incentivize progression.
Version 2 (3 players):
- Female, 20s: Struggled to advance story. Added act progress indicator at the start of feedback.
- Male, CS PhD: Frustrated restarting conversations. Implemented checkpoints to reset the current act rather than the whole story/game.
Version 3 (5 players):
- Female, 20s: Felt the need to please “agent”, and felt really stuck. Added hint system when stuck.
- Female, college: Felt agent went off track. Shortened act length.
- What I did: Recreated fictionalized personal story and impressive conversational interface.
- What I learned: Players didn’t always connect with specific scenario. Felt like appeasing an “agent” vs free-flowing conversation.
- Next time: Explore more varied plots and immersive mechanics beyond directed conversation. Some ideas include:
- A branching narrative follows a homeless person, allowing players to learn about the character’s backstory while managing resources.
- A murder mystery party with timeline manipulation, enabling players to repeat key scenes, gather clues, and experience different endings.
- An immigration journey that incorporates moral choices, challenging players to navigate checkpoints, seek aid, and make sacrifices along the way.