The Syringe in First Class Trouble is the means to which the Personoids acquire the ability to carry out a solo elimination on another player – most likely a resident.
So how does it fit into the game that a Personoid can use this weapon to kill other residents? Lore wise, the syringe is a tool for the Personoid crew aboard Alithea, which they would have access to assist an ill passenger e.g. the passenger could be seasick (more likely space sick if that is a thing). The syringe stands are like much of the other electronics and technical equipment hidden away, which makes for a more enjoyable cruise without these visual nuisances for the residents aboard.
Personoids are programmed to only help and assist the human residents. Thus, they are unable to harm them unless it in some form benefits the resident that they are helping. This can be seen in the cooperative kill where the Personoid merely assists the residents in the act of killing. The same laws are applicable when a Personoid want to use the syringe to kill a resident, they logically construe that they are administering medicine to alleviate their pain – however they might be giving a little bit to much causing the target to unfortunately overdose and die.
The Design of the Syringe
The syringe was one of the first items that was designed. It took quite a few iterations as we knew the technology and look would dictate a lot of the items and props that came after it. First Class Trouble takes place in an alternative future where the 1950's design aesthetics of form and function has kept their design ethos throughout the future. We have been very much inspired by the functionalist approach of Dieter Rams and Braun, which hopefully should be visible in the different concepts below of the syringe.
Just by looking at the form and shape of the syringe you should be able to see how it mechanically functions, which lends a nice aesthetic to our imaginary world we feel.
It took quite a few tries to get it right by we ended up settling on the concept that we felt were best suited for First Class Trouble. From there on, a mockup for the 3D artists were made so they could implement the model in their prefered 3D software - this can be seen below.
Finally, the model was implemented into our game engine, Unreal Engine 4, and we think we came to a pretty convincing and unique design, well suited for the game.
The Design of the Syringe Stand
Designing a means for murder to be visible in the open aboard a cruise ship in space took quite a few iterations. The design and gameplay goal for the syringe stand is that is is clear to see when a syringe has been taken by a Personoid. We want the residents to be able to clearly look in the direction of it and realise "Shit! The weapon is gone!". Below you can see all the iterations that we went through when deciding what fit the world best.
Regarding this initial iteration we ended up choosing the design below to the right - see image below. It had the organic wooden elements and we could place most places and it would seem like the stand itself was built into the pillars of the ship themselves. However, there were some flaws with the design that did not surface until later in the development. These design flaws let to a reiterated design.
The problem with the design was that it lent itself too nicely to be built into the ship, however some places the ceiling is just too high and therefore would not be suited as a standalone column. We always dreamt of having all the electronics and technology hidden away, which you can see on the early iterations above, but had not come to actually envision that yet.
It was not until we built a few other interfaces and computers that we realized how to properly make the design appear to go flush with the flooring when not in use. As you can see above then we created a design with more details and almost invisible profile with a minimalistic cylindrical design, which you would not notice were there unless of course you did not see the huge warning sign, warning people not to step on it. We are super happy with this design as it also solves some dynamic gameplay issues for us, because before we randomly swapped the whole syringe pillar around in different locations, but now it can simply go flush if it not to be shown in that location, in that particular match.
Below you can see the final implemented model inside Unreal Engine 4 where it has gotten more emissive patterns and lights, which makes it easier to see and standout in the environment.
To conclude, we are super happy that we sat down and took us the time to rethink an old interaction. We were already quite happy with it as it were, but now we are we ecstatic!
Watch out for those pesky Personoids waiting by the stand - lurking about waiting for their chance to strike! - Invisible Walls