One of the overarching themes running through Citizen Participation Mandatory is that of the separation of roles. While playing the player must take on 2 entirely separate roles, one of a manager in a dinky office managing an arena and the other of a plant participating within this arena. These roles were designed to feed into each other with each role having a noticeable and real impact on the other.
The biggest challenge that came from this separation was making it clear to the player at the beginning and throughout the game that there even was a separation to begin with. Through internal testing early on we would find that players either wouldn’t notice it at all or brush it off as unimportant. In response to this we tried to make the two roles as visually and mechanically different as possible without either feeling out of place in the game as a whole.
The first major step towards this goal was the manager portion of the game. In this section we really wanted the game to feel like it was taking place on an out of date unregulated computer system. To this end we created what would come to be known as Govornet. This design choice paved the way for how we designed the look of the entire manager portion.
Throughout this section a lot of primitive shapes and colours along with distinctly electronic sounds for menu navigation and option selection were used to paint the picture of exactly what this OS was capable of doing. These design choices were also the first of many tid bits included in the game that would serve to inform the player about the nature of the job they had been roped into and why it was so important that they get out as soon as possible.
This was where the meat of the game lay, in contrast to the slow and methodical approach that was taken with the manager section, this second half of the game was all about non-stop action. The short reprieves that were allowed within the tournament were designed to be spent either looking for another weapon, grabbing an item or reading one of the many extra pieces of dialogue found on fallen enemies. These extra pieces of dialogue were another example of the tid bits that served to inform the player of the world this game takes place in.
Another very key aspect in the plant section was the lack of player identity. At the beginning of each tournament the player would take control of a new plant. What happened to this individual plant was of no real consequence. This choice was made to further separate the player’s actual character (the manager) from the plants that they were controlling within the arena.
In summation when designing a game that features two prominent roles that the player must fill, it is important to not make the roles completely different from each other, but at the same time not feel restricted in how different they can be.