The Scientific Method, Peer Review and Fake News: Gameplay Mechanics of Trip the Ark Fantastic Explained Step By Step
With Trip the Ark Fantastic, we’re striving for a rich and varied narrative experience, but that doesn’t mean that story takes a back-seat to gameplay, quite the opposite. So let’s talk about the gameplay.
Btw, we’ve talked about it before but it didn’t have concrete examples back then:
As a scholar, your main method of solving the quests and mysteries of the Kingdom is by employing the scientific method.
This means that you first gather clues – such as testimonies from other animals, physical evidence, facts from books and so on.
Afterwards you choose which one of those clues you want to use to form your thesis or argument. Specific combinations of clues unlock unique conclusions, which you can then use to submit your report and finish the quest.
As a famous scholar, your scientific peers will diligently follow and review your work, which you always can read about in the Kingdom’s newspapers, and so can all other animals.
This means that you have to be careful because if your report meets with disapproval from the other scholars, you will lose reputation in the scientific community, or in extreme cases, when many of your reports sway too much towards one single faction, you might be seen as a political pawn and some doors in society might be closed to you.
While this might seem very punishing at a glance, there will be many sidequests and smaller scientific reports which will give the player an opportunity to rebuild his bad reputation
While gathering clues is intuitive as it features gameplay mechanics seen in other RPGs such as Exploration, Branching dialogues and Interaction with the environment; the scientific report mechanic and the reputation needs a more in-depth explanation.
In the example above, the player is investigating a famous legend that general Lav infiltrated the city of Blackbark using the sewers. The legend holds an important place in the public perception of the Lav rebellion.
However, modern architectural accounts agree that the sewers become flooded during heavy rain and are therefore un-traversable.
The player could conclude that the whole thing is just a tall tale, but he decides to purposefully ommit an important weather report from his thesis and conclude that the legend is true.
Btw, here is a bit more about Blackbark from one of our previous blogs:
As there are many ways to find clues – such as from books or from testimonies, and many ways to combine them and weave them into different conclusions, all of which impacts the world in a different way, the game will offer a significant replay value.
Also, as the story unfolds, you will get entangled further and further in the social, scientific and mythological intricacies of the world: will you adjust your discoveries to suit your political goals, or will you follow the evidence wherever it leads you? Do you wish the Kingdom to prevail or to change, and how?
Questions like these form of the brunt of the conflict the player will need to resolve, culminating not only in different quest outcomes but ultimately in three distinct endings – the preservation of monarchy, a demoratic reform, or a revolutionary coup.
Btw, more about the factions can be found in a separate blog:
Don’t forget to ask them here or elsewhere. On our Discord perhaps.
Regarding Peer-Review, one of my best Professors at University explained to us that Peer-Review can be a very flawed System for two Reasons: 1) The Peers chosen to review one’s Paper tend to be selected randomly, so it is not always guaranteed that one’s Paper is reviews by Peers who are actually Experts on the Paper’s Field. 2) The Peers chosen to review one’s Paper might include Individuals who happen to dislike you and your Work, and if they know that the Paper they are reviewing is from you, they might judge it badly even just to spite you. I… Read more »
Thanks for the thoughts!! We’ll try to use this mechanic to make players think about the method, both with its positive and its negative sides. But of course we’ll make it a bit more exaggerated because it’s a game so you’ll have peers who are ardent monarchists or ardent anarchists and who’ll really dislike it if you aren’t a pawn of their faction, etc. Hopefully not too caricaturist or exaggerated, it still needs to be believable and interesting for us to posit any good arguments.