Phil: the Quota

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Phil is a 21 year old high school drop out at the end of his rope. Having recently lost his job and with no way to pay his rent, Phil is forced to take the only option left available to him, which is to sign with Tomatrix Industries. As an employee, Phil now is tasked with the job of either selling the company’s herbal mood enhancers or recruiting more people to sell for the company. As he goes along, Phil has the chance to recruit or sell to every person he meets. Without knowing anything about these people’s backgrounds or lives, Phil will be required to make decisions on the spot, the consequences of which will determine his future. Will you play nice and empathize at the risk of your own finances, or will you bite the bullet and do what it takes to….

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The Plot

The storyline of Phil: the Quota revolves around the decisions that the player, through the main character of Phil, makes as he or she progresses through the game. We wanted to create a game where the player’s actions have direct consequences in the game world that can be witnessed by changes to the plot line within the game itself. At the outset of the game, Phil is living with a friend of his in a relatively well-to-do neighborhood in an ordinary city setting. The people that Phil meets run the gambit from struggling interior designers to out of work ex-marines, though most follow the common theme of financial problems. The “goal” of Phil: the Quota is to turn a profit for Phil, and this is where the moral debate of the story comes to play.

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As Phil decides whether or not to take advantage of his neighbors, the city setting will begin to reflect those decisions physically. For example, choosing to take advantage of a man Phil meets in a park (one who clearly is in no place to afford what Phil offers but whom Phil can convince to buy his product) will change both the park setting and the character’s dialogue. The park will be rundown and graffitied, and the character will be angry or despondent. Each character interaction will have options like this, with each outcome riding on the decisions that the player makes.

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Our main character is Phillip “Phil” Smith, a 21-year old high school drop out who just recently lost his job.

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Without the support from his family, he is forced to resort to desperate measures in order to get by. Thus, he is roped into the slippery and uncertain world of pyramid schemes. As the player, you will be in charge of Phillip’s economic and social well-being. As a young white male, Phillip feels the socio-economic pressure to be a successful provider. Because this is clearly not the case, Phillip accepts the Pyramid scheme as an easy way to attain that position of success without doing much work. This plays into the “youth entitlement” issue of today.

Game Development

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Ren’Py is a visual novel/simulation game engine that runs on Python script. It is open source and free for commercial use. It supports Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android. We want to use this platform for it’s in-game menus, preset functions such as save file systems and easy customization. The player must make unethical decisions by clicking on the in-game menus, created generally with Python’s If statements, that appear during scenarios. For example, the player will be given a choice to either recruit, sell, or say something else to an NPC and by clicking on one of the choices it will add to the player’s total score which will then lead to a certain ending. The preset save function will be helpful for players because they can save right before a question to try out all the answers without re-playing the entire game.As Phillip sells more of the product, his stats will change to reflect the new totals, which will then be representative of what type of ending the player is heading toward. Phil: the Quota currently has one full programmed ending.

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There will be a main menu screen with menu options of: “Start Game”, “Load Game”, “Preferences”, “Help”, and “Quit”. Also, we will have in-game menu options: “Stats”, “Save”, “Load”, “Options”, and “Main Menu”.

Our game will use an encompassing soundtrack to create a somber and fitting atmosphere for the player. Emotional songs will provide a backtrack to the player’s actions, while realistic sound effects will help to immerse the player in the world we have created for him or her. From the park to the bar, the game’s soundtrack will provide an ideal ambiance for the player’s current setting.

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Our game’s soundtrack has been legally found, downloaded, and edited to the proper specifications via Audacity. Most of the music has been found on the Creative Commons website Jamendo, which is a database of music that is legal to use.

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