A Student's Life
A narrative game created using Twine
A Student's Life is a Twine-based narrative game in which you navigate a day in the life of a college student, dealing with the irritabilities of managing a social life, good grades, and maintaining a part-time job. The game starts out as just another twine game about student life but then it devolves into madness. The main game design concept I wanted to emphasize was Player Agency.
I highly recommend playing through my game once before delving deeper to learn more. A full playthrough should only take 5-10 minutes. You can download the game here.
Summary & Design Decisions of Act 1
Act 1 showcases a typical day of a college student
The game begins with you, the student who wakes in the morning. You're already faced with a choice of either getting out of bed and getting ready for school or deciding to go back to sleep. I decided to give the player this choice as my target audience is college students. It is not uncommon for students to feel unmotivated on certain days and decide to not go to class, especially if it's already late in the quarter/semester. If the player chooses to go back to sleep the player will wake up many hours later and allow them to miss a sizeable chunk of the game. They are still given the decision to either get out of bed and go to their second class or go back to sleep. If they choose to go back to sleep, then the game will return back to the beginning of the story, where they will wake up again.
If the player initially chooses to get out of bed at 7AM then they then begin getting ready for the day. They perform the necessary hygienic necessities. Some choices are left to the player such as making their hair or making a tasty breakfast versus making a quick and easy one. I decided to give these options to the player because college students can sometimes not have the energy to put in a little more effort into themselves. These choices eventually play a bigger role later in the story.
After the player is finished getting ready, they then get to the bus stop. They find out they just barely missed a bus and now decide if they want to wait for another bus or just simply walk to class. This is where Player Agency starts to come into play. If the player chooses to wait for another bus, then they will have waited for a long time and no bus came. The player automatically begins walking to class anyways but on the way there they see a bus zoom past them from behind, realizing if they waited for just a few more minutes then they would've been on that bus. If the player chose to walk instead of wait for a bus, a similar result would have happened. This plays around with that Player Agency because it shows that life is unfair and will screw you over when you least expect it.
The player finally gets to class and sit down. After some time goes by, the class ends, they see that they have a 4-hour gap until their next class. They now have the decision to either go to the on-campus library and study or go home and take a nap. If the player goes home and takes a nap, then they will skip a small but exciting portion of the game. If the player goes to the library then they will find an interesting encounter.
The player gets to the library, sits down on a table and begin studying. They see an attractive person sitting across from them and decide that they want to make a move. This is where previous choices begin to make an impact. If the player decided to make their hair in the morning, the chances of the other person being attracted back would be 75%. If the did not decide to make their hair, then the chances of success would be 25%. However, regardless of the chance of success, the player would find out the other person is already in a relationship and that they've failed. This reinforces the denial of Player Agency. I wanted to teach and/or remind the player that life won't go always the way they wanted it to even if they made all the right choices.
The player then attends their next class. They sit down with their friends and have to take a daily quiz question (This is actually a real quiz question from my college game design course with a correct answer. I included this as a small Easter Egg for myself).
The class ends and the player now has to go to their job. They show up to the pizza parlor they work at. Their boss immediately starts to make ridiculous demands and the player has to choose how to respond but nonetheless they begin to work. After some time, they finish their shift and go home.
The player gets home at around 12AM and begins to work on their homework. They are too tired to even understand the physics question they just read. They instead decide to go to bed.
Summary & Design Decisions of Act 2
Act 2 is where the narrative of the game begins to devolve into madness.
The player wakes up at in the morning feeling extremely sluggish. They get out of bed and head to the bathroom. After opening the door, they see that it is actually a door to a beach in Mexico. Similarly, as the first act, the player is given the decision to either stay awake or go back to bed. If they go back to bed, they find themselves in another dream. If they decided to stay awake, the beach dream will eventually have turned into a nightmare and they will eventually wake up.
The player wakes up at 6:55AM. They get up and get ready for class. They get to the bus stop but oddly find the bus to be a giant banana slug. They accept this phenomenon without question and just get to class only to find out it's suddenly 4:30PM.
They then rush to class to find the professor handing out a midterm that wasn't scheduled for until a week later. The player begins to panic but begins taking the exam. The question and multiple choice answers are extremely ludicrous and non-sensical. Regardless of the choice, the player has no Player Agency as none of the answer choices are correct.
The player then finishes their tests, leave the classroom, and head to the library. They sit down to study but find that all the other students and workers there are all deer wearing clothing and walking on two legs. The player's crush from Act 1 walks up to them and insults them and tells them to stay away.
The player then heads to work and has their boss demands them to work at a rate that is impossible for a normal human to complete. The player finishes their work shift and heads home.
The player gets home and find out their midterm scores have been released. They received a -120%. At this point, the player loses their mind and goes mad. They suddenly wake up from their dystopian nightmare. The player finds themselves in bed staring at the ceiling. The game ends with the player swearing that they will never procrastinate ever again, a promise that just about every college student has told themselves at some point. The entire second act was all a dream. During this act, the player had zero agency.