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Dream Prototype - OCD Shopping Carts

How would a person's profession, interests, and hobbies manifest themselves within dreams? How does this work with dream logic?

This is the idea behind the prototype I'm working on for Clara. I wanted to think of something that a person working at a supermarket could possibly experience that would give them nightmares. How about terrifying shopping carts that act suspiciously similar to the friendly creatures in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds? The prototype itself is laid out so that the player can see the entire parking lot, free spaces, and obstacles as well as the carts. The core verbs for this will be "run" and "throw" since your only defense against the carts will be taffy (my highly researched guess as to what shopping carts fear).

Initially, I imagined the carts moving similar to birds in real time. Not necessarily in a "v" formation, but in some kind of grouping where the carts can break off and "dive-bomb" the player, all while remaining on the ground. If the cart gets within range, the player will have to retaliate at the proper time or receive damage. To keep the game interesting, the carts would eventually encircle the player and they would have to break through the formation by attacking more than one shopping cart.

However, after thinking about this set-up for a while, I decided to go with something slightly different for the actual prototype. Instead, the shopping carts will only move or change position if the character turns around. I imagined the character having an irresistible urge to look back as they walk. Every time that happens, the carts rearrange themselves so that they are within attacking range of the player. I tested this with Clara in the very early stages of this and many problems were brought up. For one it was too easy to just use the taffy to get rid of the carts. I didn't think of creating grids on the board, so player movement was not clearly defined. Also, the game seemed to deviate from what Clara originally requested. The idea seemed interesting, but execution gets a 3/10.

Now I am back to the drawing board and am trying to a new approach. Clara suggested looking at this through the mind of the character and trying to inject their personality/interests/etc. into the actual game. Maybe the character arranges carts at the supermarket constantly and suffers from OCD as well. How can I communicate that through not just a narrative, but also through the game mechanics? What would be the best way to combine the character's personality, mostly their OCD, with pattern recognition? Hopefully I can find a concrete, interesting way to implement all of this for the next prototype.

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