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The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

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A Critical Eye

Halle Konicki designs a roleplaying video game for Senior Project
Artwork+by+Halle+Konicki+for+her+Senior+Project.
Artwork by Halle Konicki for her Senior Project.

Senior Halle Konicki is teaching herself to program with Javascript and RPGMaker to create a meaningful, eerie roleplaying video game with something to say about the often superficial nature of society.

“The whole idea for the game started with the idea of the visual aspect of the extra eyes on people’s faces,” she said. “Not to give anything away, but the extra eyes are not drawn but are edited images of real eyes. I thought it would look weird and wrong, which would reflect the world the story takes place in. From there, I thought, ‘Where would the extra eyes come from?’ Then it became a setting that reflects the value people place on shallow things, such as beauty, and the harmful things they will do for them.”

Konicki said the game is titled “Iridum: Hunted” and will follow the story of a girl with sectoral heterochromia, which is when someone has eyes with multiple colors within each individual iris, and her journey as she evades being hunted down for her eyes in a world where people have additional eyes surgically implanted as a way of reflecting their status, wealth and beauty. 

“In this world, it is not all that uncommon for people to be attacked and have their eyes stolen to be sold later as an implant,” she said. “The game is a story game more than anything. [It] will have pixel art and the character can walk around and interact with people and things, but there won’t be much exploring involved. Characters will have talk sprites and there will be some illustrated scenes, but otherwise, it will mostly consist of pixel art and text.”

Despite having no prior programming experience, Konicki will be programming the game entirely by herself. AP Computer Science Teacher Debra Jerdon commented on the ambitious nature of this decision.

“I think Halle’s project sounds very challenging; teaching yourself a new programming language is no small task,” Jerdon said. “Knowing Halle though, I’m sure she will do an awesome job. I think this sounds like an amazing Senior Project.”

Despite taking on the programming and visual aspects of the project alone, Konicki will receive a helping hand for the creation of the game’s fully original soundtrack.

“[Junior] June Griffith will be making all of the music for my game,” Konicki said. “I am eternally grateful for her.”

Griffith said that she has begun working on some of the main tracks for the game but is waiting for Konicki to make further progress in the game’s development to continue the process.

“Me and Halle are friends and we eat lunch together every day, so one day she just told me about [the project],” Griffith said. “Then, like a month later, I think I was bored one night and just convinced myself I could probably make a videogame soundtrack. I asked Halle, and she said yes.”

She said she is taking inspiration from many other game soundtracks that she thought might be similar to Konicki’s vision for the project, such as “OMORI,” “OneShot” and “Yume Nikki.” She mentioned that she has begun work on some of the main leitmotifs and themes that will play throughout the game, such as the title screen theme, which she plans on playing multiple times throughout the game.

“A personal pet peeve of mine is when plays and movies don’t use their themes and overtures enough,” she said.

Griffith said she is used to working with analog, physical instruments in a more traditional fashion since they help keep her grounded. However, for Konicki’s project, due to the virtual nature of video games as well as the aesthetics and sound that Konicki said she was hoping to achieve, Griffith has shifted gears to a more digital medium.

“I’m trying to make things that won’t contrast Halle’s vision and atmosphere but rather push it farther,” Griffith said. “I like some of the allegories and nuances I’ve noticed when Halle describes the plot, and I also think the artwork and color palette for the game is super cool. I’m just happy to be working on something like this because it’s so, so different from the music I’m comfortable with and what I normally make.”

Konicki said that when complete, the game will be available for people to play on the itch.io website, and it will likely have a runtime of about one to two hours.

“I have many inspirations for this game,” Konicki said. “I’m a big fan of RPGMaker adventure and horror games. Some of my inspirations are ‘Hello Charlotte,’ ‘End Roll’ and ‘OMORI,’ but my game is on a much smaller scale than any of those.” 

For the research paper students must write to accompany their Senior Projects, Konicki said hers is on the subject of animal testing in cosmetics and how it is both morally wrong and ineffective. Although she will not directly be including anything in relation to animal testing within the game, she said there is still an overlap in the main themes of both her paper and project, with both of them critiquing the same facets of society.

“The two are connected, as they both involve incredibly harmful processes used for beauty and aesthetics,” she said. “I think it means a lot in general. From animal testing in cosmetics, to violence between sports fans, to sweatshops for clothing, there is a constant flow of examples of unnecessary harm caused for the sake of luxury items or other shallow reasons. People in general really need to take a step back and put everything in perspective sometimes.”

By Catalina Pelli

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