Color. Sound. Story.
A Personal Note on Designing BANKWAVE
July 7th, 2023 by Alex Mills

I woke up this morning in a bit of a slump. I had spent the last two days in prototyping dialogue for BANKWAVE. We were testing out some ideas for injecting more fun into the game via deep customer interactions.

Writing branching dialogue from scratch takes time. My neurodivergent brain tries to take every decision in every direction all at once, leading the conversation off along rabbit trails. Left unchecked, it’s easy to lose track of the overall arc of the interaction I’m prototyping.

Sometimes you have to step away from the details to get a clearer view of the big picture. Today I learned that I do that best when I am away from technology – which might be a strange thing for a software developer to say. I’m guessing that it might have something to do with how the brain works. In my office, in front of my laptop, I’ve trained my brain to go into ‘detail mode’.

People talk about being ’too close’ to a project, or ’needing some distance’ to get a clearer perspective. I’ve always understood what they meant in theory, but it wasn’t until I took a pencil and paper to the lake that I experienced it for myself. There, surrounded by birdsong, under a blue sky, I was able to write out my thoughts and gain some much needed clarity on the direction of this project.

Here’s some of what I came up with – I can’t wait to start prototyping them to see what works!

  • Tantrum Mechanics: Maxxing out the stress meter causes the player to seek an immediate release by venting at their current customer in a monologue. Each line of dialogue reduces stress, but also risks losing the customer, or being reported to management.
  • Requests of Management: Every morning, the player gets an opportunity to chat with their boss about one topic, including pay raises, longer breaks, and opening an employee checking account. Persistence will be key to ensure your concerns remain top-of-mind.
  • Feedback Surveys: A director starts rolling out feedback surveys you can hand to customers. The player only gets a few survey forms a day and has to choose which customers to give them to. Wildly positive reviews can negate all demerits for the day. Wildly negative reviews can actually be a source of demerits. Good luck!

Taking some time away from my personal tech bubble gave my brain the environment it needed to get creative again. Try it sometime for yourself and see how it works.

Check out BANKWAVE: Neon Networth for more about the game.

Keep being awesome!

Alex Mills