XPOSURE

Maoz Nagauker

Video games can be a great space for exploration, asking questions, and learning new things. This is what I hope to achieve with my project. My name is Maoz and for the past few months, I have been researching the Dark Web. For my grad project, I have decided to develop a video game inspired by my discoveries. I hope not only to expose people to the concept of the Dark Web but also to raise a conversation around the functionality and necessity of it in our world. This is my story.

An animation prompting scroll-down action to see more content.

SO, WHAT IS IT?

A gameplay from the Xposure game, showing the main character hiding in a bush from his enemies.

Xposure is a 2D, platform game where players need to hide to survive

A gameplay from the Xposure game, showing the main character running around a building, trying to avoid being detected.

Exploring a new and dark environment while avoid being detected

A gameplay from the Xposure game, showing the main character trying to solve a puzzle by rotating different parts of a relic - a floppy disk.

Solve puzzles to get answers and reveal secrets

A gameplay from the Xposure game, showing the main character facing a mysterious entity.

And engage with different, mysterious, and hostile characters.

PROBLEM SPACE

Now that you get a general sense of how the game looks, I want to go back a little to the topic that has initiated this game, the Dark Web – and the problem space it creates.

An infographic chart that portrays the internet as an iceberg, broken down to three parts where 5% represents the clear web, 90% - the deep web, and the last 5% are the dark web.
The iceberg diagram that is used regularly to explain the web structure.

If the internet is an iceberg, the Dark Web is nested inside the deep web. This section is only accessible through special browsers like TOR and uses different URLs that end with .onion instead of .com or .ca which we are familiar with in the Clear web.

If you google the term “Dark Web”, the keywords that come up are: Drug trafficking, attacks, malware, and more…

A bar chart displaying the different feelings people associate with the dark web such as unsafe, stress, fear or traumatized
Mental models I made after conducting an online survey about the internet experience.

So it was no surprise that mental models also connected anxiety and fear as emotions people had when they thought about the Dark Web.

“People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.”

– Andrew Smith

Although the Dark Web can be a hotbed of criminal activity, it was initially an online space for people to be in, without being tracked, and even nowadays, the Dark Web functions as a platform for people to share and have a discussion while keeping their identity anonymous and untraceable from big corporations or oppressive governments.

Both The New York Times and Facebook have a “dark” version of their website accessible through the TOR browser. More and more companies understand the need and potential of the Dark Web and media publishers like the NYT encourage their journalists to use the Dark Web.

An animation of Frames, the main character's companion in the game, represented by a vibrating white dot that changes its colour to red when in danger.
Frames, the main character’s companion in the game. Frames will change his colour to red when in danger.

SCENARIO

The scenario I have chosen to focus on for my game is Journalism. Journalists use the Dark Web not only to find leaked secrets but also to communicate securely with their sources, protecting them from governments and others who would harm them.

By using game design, I can provide people a safe space to explore and think about the Dark Web experience without any risks or consequences.

INSPIRATION

The gameplay for this game was inspired by the experiences people who used the Dark Web had shared with me. Many of them described mixed feelings of curiosity and dread of “what’s hiding around the corner”; That you are just one click away from seeing something that you will regret.

“Clicked a link out of curiosity and had to go for a walk to clear my head after.”

– Anonymous reply to my online survey

Daenerys Targaryen arrives at House of the Undying.

If you didn’t watch Game of Thrones, first of all, you should. There is a scene where Daenerys is trying to get into the House of the Undying to get back her dragons from the mages. She starts circling the tower looking for an entrance, Jorah Mormont follows her but she disappears while he completes a full circle without getting in. The magic of this tower lets only people who are invited in. I really liked it and decided I wanted to create something similar in 2D.

DESIGN PROCESS

The final level design structure.
  • I have started with laying down a round platform and placing the player in the center of the view.
  • Then, I have added a center point object that not only acts as a background but also as the axis point that all other things revolve around.
  • Finally, I have added all the other objects that rotate around the axis point and help to build the atmosphere of the environment.

PROMO VIDEO – DRAFT

SCRIPT OUTLINE

If you are interested to see the full script outline or you like to read a short story I have written based on my script – Please feel free to check these links out.

FINAL PROMO VIDEO


REFLECTION

Since a young age I was always inspired and intrigued by video games. I could, and honestly still can, play for hours without noticing the time passing by. But the experience, working on my grad project has taught me so much about what it takes to create a video game. 

In the beginning, when I started working on my project I used to think that this is going to be easy because I know video games and I played them all my life so it’s a piece of cake – I couldn’t be more wrong! Video games usually require a whole team to work on them for a very long time just because there are so many components like story, graphics, level design, characters, programming, and more that need to be worked on to create a whole game and to create my game I had to wear different hats and play different roles. Sometimes it made me feel overwhelmed and that maybe this task is too big for me but I am very thankful for this opportunity because I feel like this project taught me to look at video games from a different perspective, a lot of respecto for game developers, and made me more curious about the industry. 

I really hope that in the future I will be able to experience more from the game design field. I need to point out that this project wouldn’t get to the point it is right now with the help of my classmates who participate in my workshops and exercise and my instructors and mentors who provided me with useful feedback and directed me whenever I felt like I am stuck.

Thank you : An animation showing the main character walking on a suspension bridge under blue night skies and a pink moon.
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed my project.

Maoz Nagauker

I'm seeking opportunities
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Hi! I am Maoz and I am an Interaction & Visual Designer. Growing up, I have always been passionate about design, and using it to solve complex problems continues to intrigue me. Design can tell stories (and who doesn't like a good story?). It is a powerful tool that can completely change the experience for a certain product or service. I am passionate about game design and although games can be fun and make us feel young, I also believe they can teach us and provide a space for our creativity.
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