Field of Cures is being made by Daniel J. King using GameMaker Studio 2.
Field of Cures will be a vibrant, thoughtful game that raises awareness of ethical issues in science, while also raising funds for science advocacy. I am designing it as a casual puzzle game where you develop medicines by cross-breeding flowers and directing clinical-trial research. You will have the option to support pro-science causes through in-app purchases that personalize and enhance the game.
Design Practice and Milestones
Summer 2018: Version 0.1
At this early stage, I focused on the core puzzle-solving mechanic of the game, which is based on a simple model of genetics. The macro-narrative about drug development is not present yet, but the game mechanics at the micro level are almost fully functional.
The game requires players to crossbreed flowers in order to collect plants with the correct genes. Each plant has 6 genes that each have 6 alleles. In version 0.1, there are 46,656 possible genotypes, resulting in 756 functionally different species.
Fall 2018: PHP/MySQL Feature
For my core T&T Design class, I made a website to showcase the version 0.1 game-play video, and I built an interactive feature using PHP and MySQL to go with it.
The "Gene Machine" allowed users to plug in genes and see the resulting phenotype, as well as store and retrieve suggested names for each type of flower.
Spring 2019: Visual Novel
One of the assignments in my Applied Interactive Story class was to make a visual novel. I used this project to work on developing the ethical themes and non-player characters in Field of Cures.
This game loops through the cyclical clinical trial process for drug development, showing how the consequences of player decisions accumulate. While version 0.1 focused on puzzle mechanics without any broader narrative, the visual novel focused on the broader narrative without the puzzle mechanics.
Fall 2019: Version 0.2
Field of Cures version 0.2 began to put the puzzle mechanics in the context of the broader narrative of running clinical trials to discover cures to diseases.
Building this version allowed me to practice coding and iteratively improving the interface. Once I built all the features I had planned, seeing how they work together in practice gave me ideas for how to improve the overall game design in the next version.
Spring 2020: Version 0.3
Field of Cures version 0.3 was a leap forward in complexity, featuring a more sophisticated interface, guidance from NPCs, and tutorials levels that gradually introduce the game's mechanics.