What follows is a design/plotline for our game.
We see a bird's eye view of a small college campus on the Sunday before spring break. The scene cuts to a classroom in the middle of campus filled with about a dozen students chatting away, devouring the free food and drinks. We overhear them talking about the experiment they are about to participate in. Something to do with the company DrugCo and some new drug they've invented. One person says that it supposedly improves test scores. Another has heard that it'll increase stamina. It becomes obvious that no one knows for sure what they'll be subjected to, but it doesn't seem to be an issue since no matter what, they'll each be getting $500 for 4 hours of their time.
The camera focuses on Henry (player), a nice, nerdy-looking, clean-cut guy who came to the experiment with his good friend Phil Phillips, a tan, good-looking alpha-type baseball player who is forever trying to solve the Rubik cube. They're talking about shooting some hoops on Tuesday when in walks Stan, a teammate of Phil's, and Stan's close friend, Sandy. Instantly, Henry is attracted to Sandy, and who could blame him! She's a hottie! All four of them hit it off, phone numbers are exchanged, and they talk until they are split up into different rooms. All the students in the experiment are given either a pill or an injection and subjected to various hand-eye coordination, reflex, memory, and endurance tests. The last shot is on Henry in his experiment room. The camera zooms in on him and all goes black.
Scenes and faces flash by. Birds flying. Sandy talking. A fish in a fish bowl falling off a table. Water dripping from a faucet. Stan laughing. Brown snow. The words "can't escape". Scurrying rats. A black gloved hand reaching.
[The player is in first-person from the perspective of Henry.]
Henry wakes up. In this scene, the player, in a first-person view, gets to explore Henry's apartment to find out more about him. They will be able to see his overdue bills, his checkbook, woodworking magazines, an eviction notice, a letter saying his scholarship has be rescinded due to a clerical error, a sticky-note on his bed stand saying, "Hoops with Phil, Tues. 10 a.m.", a bill for a storage space, a letter dating back 2 weeks from his cousin stating that Henry's mom has finally been moved to a feeding tube and his dad has lost his job, the waiver he signed for DrugCo in an envelope with the company logo, a hand covered in a dark shadow from the torch it holds.
When the player has found the pieces above, Henry gets a call from Sandy who sounds hysterical. Stan is missing.
Henry arrives at Stan's house and finds Sandy sitting on the front steps sobbing. Henry talks to Sandy and finds out that she tried calling Stan this morning, but oddly, he didn't answer the phone. So Sandy dropped by only to find the door ajar, the place a mess (very unusual for Stan), and her friend gone. She tells Henry that, in her panicked state, she didn't call the police, but instead, thought to call Henry for help. She tells Henry she didn't touch anything in the house.
Henry notices things. The door was not forced open. Papers are strewn all over. On top a wet pile of paper lay a dead goldfish surrounded by broken glass. (In the background Sandy sobs, "I gave that to him a year ago as a housewarming gift!") Henry picks up an empty envelop with the DrugCo logo on it. On a wall, he notes a black handprint and a message in big, black letters: "You can't escape the Black Hand!" Henry asks Sandy if she knows what the message is talking about, but she has no idea. Henry decides it's best they call the police now.
Sandy thanks Henry for walking her home, since she was so exhausted from the grilling the police gave them. Henry examines the beautiful dream-catcher hanging outside of Sandy's door. She comments that she just bought it because it was a close replica of the one her family has back home. It was passed down to them from her great grandfather who was a Navajo shaman and it had brought her family luck ever since. They enter her apartment.
It is a tiny studio apartment, made even smaller by all her clutter. Sandy excuses herself and goes into the bathroom, leaving Henry free to explore. He finds magazines, photos of family and friends, and in the middle of her kitchen counter, a glass vase filled with 2 dozen long-stemmed roses. Examining the roses, Henry notes that they couldn't have been sent more than a few days ago. He finds a card next to the roses. It reads: "Sandy-- Happy Birthday! Hope this year is as wonderful to you as you are to me. Call me. Love, Phil" Once Henry reads the note, Sandy comes out and offers to cook him some dinner, but Henry, looking upset, makes an excuse and rushes out of her place.
Henry arrives back at his apartment, and is too distraught to do anything but sleep.
Scenes flash by. Black gloved hands griping tightly onto a Rubik cube, then letting it fall to the floor. Water whooshing by. Brown snow. A fish in a fishbowl falling off a table. A close-up of a rose. Rust on walls. A black gloved hand reaching for a doorknob.
Henry wakes up to his alarm clock buzzing. It reads 10 a.m. He sees the sticky note by the clock to remind him about his game with Phil at 10. Henry thinks to himself, "Phil won't mind me being a little late. He's late all the time." He gets ready to play basketball with Phil.
Henry arrives at Phil's apartment at about 10:30. He knocks. No answer. Henry thinks to himself, "He wouldn't leave without me." He pounds on the door, and it swings open. In the middle of the kitchen floor is Phil. He is dead. From what Henry can observe, he was strangled. The handprints are visible around his neck. A little ways away on a cabinet door is a hand print in black. Henry looks around Phil's apartment. It is a mess. But something catches his eye; an empty envelop. The same kind he found empty in Stan's place. Coincidence or connection? Henry takes the envelop, and with nothing more to do there, leaves.
Henry knocks on Sandy's door. Sandy motions him to come in while talking to someone on the phone. Henry overhears the ending part of her conversation: "Thanks again for the roses, Phil. Talk to you later. Bye." Henry, not being able to keep his emotions in any longer, explodes with rage. He asks Sandy if she was trying to pull some kind of sick joke. Sandy, utterly confused, explains to him that she was just talking to her brother Phil. Just thanking him for the flowers he sent for her birthday. With that, Henry breaks down and blurts out what he found in Phil's apartment just a while ago. Sandy, comforting him, asks if Stan's disappearance and Phil's murder were connected. Henry tells her he's not sure, but at both places, the contract they signed for the DrugCo experiment were missing. And what about this mysterious Black Hand, Sandy questions. Again, Henry doesn't know anything, but figures it would do him good if he went to the library and did some research on it. Off-handily, he mentions that he's been having some weird dreams. Some are of the events of the day before. Others are oddly about the next day's events. But Henry laughs and tells her it's probably him just imagining the future events in his dreams... nothing more. Sandy agrees.
Henry decides to look up the Black Hand and DrugCo on the internet. There seems to be nothing about the Black Hand, but a lot of information on DrugCo. They seem to be a squeaky-clean organization. They don't have a single mark against them or their products. On their website, it claims extensive research and testing for their success.
But wait. Henry finds a link to a website all about bringing DrugCo down. They call themselves Halo. They claim the company is up to no good and their perfect record is proof. No legitimate corporation ever has a perfect record. They say that money is being passed under the table and innocent people are being used (though they don't elaborate). Henry looks on the site for a way to contact Halo, but there is none.
Henry walks into the front doors and speaks to the receptionist. He asks if he could speak to someone about the mysterious disappearance and death of two students who participated in a DrugCo experiment less than 2 days ago. The receptionist tells Henry that she has no idea what he is talking about. He insists that she does, explains to her about the empty envelopes found at the crime scenes, and threatens to go to the press. The receptionist gets very angry, tells him he has absolutely no proof of his conspiracy theory and has security guards escort him out of the building.
Not to be deterred, Henry sneaks around to the back of the building, hoping to find some evidence for his theory. He finds a dumpster and decides to look through it. Everything in it seems to be shredded except for two things, a manila folder and a blank company letterhead. On the tab of the manila folder has the name "Phillips, Phil" typed on it. "Why would DrugCo be throwing out Phil's folder unless they knew they wouldn't need him anymore?" Henry examines the company letterhead. Nothing on it but DrugCo's logo. Now that he looks at it more carefully, there's something odd about the picture. The torch the hand is holding seems bright, but not bright enough to be throwing such a dark shadow, and not in the direction it is in the image. It's only thrown over the hand. A dark, black shadow. Gasp! Henry realizes it now! The Black Hand! He gets out of the dumpster before anyone catches him and goes home.
Henry meant to visit Sandy again today, but he was a mess, and it was very, very late. He decided that his breaking news can wait a few hours more till morning. After taking a shower, he goes to sleep.
Scenes flash by. Black gloved hands griping tightly onto a Rubik cube, then letting it fall to the floor. A fish in a fishbowl falling off a table. A close-up of a rose. Brown snow. DrugCo's company letterhead. A black gloved hand reaching for the doorknob, twisting it, pushing the door open slightly and looking up and seeing a beautiful dream-catcher hanging on it...
Henry wakes up with a start. That was Sandy's door! The Black Hand was going into Sandy's place! Dream or not, he has to make sure Sandy is safe. He rushes out the door.
He runs up to Sandy's door. His hand reaches out to the doorknob, just like he's been seeing in his dreams for the past 3 nights. The door opens slightly and he is about to yell out her name when all goes black.
Henry is just coming-to in a psychologist's office, an armed guard clearly visible through the door window. The psychologist's speech is as follows:
"Hello, Henry. You're just coming out of a hypnosis state, so don't be alarmed if you're a little woozy for a few seconds. I doubt you know why you're here, so I'll tell you. But first, let me explain to you about split personality disorder.
"It is a mental condition brought on by enormous stress in one's life. Most people are emotionally developed enough to handle such stress, but in your case, you were not. Your eviction notice, your scholarship being taken away, your ailing mother and your father loosing his job; all of those were a big burden on you in the past few months. But what we believed finally triggered your personality to split was the introduction to the girl by the name of Sandy. The thought of you not being able to have her was too much for your already fragile emotional state.
"That is why we believe you kidnapped and, we assume, killed Sandy's close friend Stan. He was TOO close, wasn't he, Henry? That's why you had to get rid of him.
"So why did you kill Phil, Henry? Oh yes, that's right. There were flowers in Sandy's apartment sent by her brother, Phil. You jumped to conclusions, didn't you, Henry? You must have been thinking how your best friend could have betrayed you like that while you were watching him gasp for air.
"But why kidnap Sandy? Did she reject you, Henry? That must have been it. If you can't have her, no one could.
"Yes, I've heard your version. That DrugCo is actually behind everything. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? It's all a hallucination, Henry. That's also a symptom of split personality disorder. You're subconscious blames DrugCo for your stress. That's why you created the Black Hand from their logo. That's why you imagined finding a website supporting your crazy theory.
"And you told me about your dreams under hypnosis. How else can you explain seeing things the day before the crime if it wasn't you who committed them? I know you've begun to suspect the drugs DrugCo gave you during the experiment on Sunday. Well, the police called the company and asked what they gave you kids. They said they were just sugar pills and saline injections. Harmless. All they wanted to test was how the brain functions when it thinks it's given a boost of energy but not.
"The only way any of this makes sense is if your other personality was to blame. If you accept this, we can move on to the next important step: finding out where you took Sandy.
"If you don't accept my diagnosis, I cannot help you and you will be on your own to prove your innocence and find Sandy."
At the realization of him possibly being a murderer, Henry jumps up, pushes the psychiatrist to the ground, jumps through a window and escapes to straighten things out in his head.
Henry realizes that the psychiatrist is right! The only logical explanation to these past three days is that he was the one behind it. So that means he's the only one who can find Sandy. Maybe if he does, and rights the wrong his other personality has done, it'll go away!
He clears his mind and makes himself go back to Sunday night. Now he can see himself waiting outside Stan's door ringing the doorbell. Stan answers, invites him in. Once Henry is inside, he drugs Stan, but not without a fight. That's when the fishbowl gets knocked over, making Henry curse. He hoped the neighbors didn't hear that. After he had Stan unconscious on the floor, he wrote his message on a wall, took the DrugCo contract which had his black hand emblem on it, and dragged Stan out of the house. What happened next gets a bit fuzzy, but if the authorities needed to know, he could point out where the body was buried.
Monday night. Henry sees himself standing outside Phil's door. Phil finally answers, having been waken by the knocks. He sleepily lets Henry in. While half in a yawn, Henry pounces on Phil, throwing him to the ground and holding him there by the neck until he no longer moves. Henry leaves his black handprint on the cabinet, rummages through Phil's place until he finds his black hand emblem, takes that stupid Rubik toy with him to maybe burn later, and leaves.
Tuesday night. Henry sees himself walking towards Sandy's door, calmly opening it, and stepping inside. She's sleeping so peacefully. In quick, swift motions, he gags, blindfolds, and ties her hands and feet. He easily throws her over his shoulder with strength he didn't know he had and walks out of her apartment. He comes back a little while later, setting up what seems like a booby-trap behind Sandy's door.
Henry jolts back to reality. But where is Sandy? He's able to connect almost every recurring thing in his dream to what really happened, except for the brown snow. Why is he dreaming about brown snow? It never snows past February around here. Then Henry realizes it isn't snow at all. It's saw dust. The same kind of saw dust that gets all over his clothes when he does his woodworking in the storage space that he rents. That's where Sandy must be!
Henry rushes over to his rental space. He fumbles with the combination lock, but finally gets it open to find Sandy lying on her side on the floor. He stands there for a few seconds, not being able to move himself forward. Then suddenly, he shudders. His posture changes and a weird smile creeps over his face. He steps inside the storage space and closes the door behind him.
Henry is sure he is not crazy. Nor does he have split personality. He has a gut feeling the company is connected to everything and as far as he can remember, his gut feeling has never been wrong.
He decides to go back to the library to see if he can find more information on Halo. He types in the web address, but instead of getting the Halo homepage, he finds a web page with a message: Henry--you'll find what you need by the encyclopedias.
With really no other choice, Henry goes to the encyclopedia aisle and finds a middle-aged woman smiling at him. She tells Henry she was sent by Halo to investigate and intervene. DrugCo has been doing experiments on sixth- and seventh-sense drugs. Sixth-sense drugs, usually in a pill form, when given to a subject with a certain DNA configuration, gives them the power to read people's minds or see through other people's eyes (which explains Henry's dreams). The seventh-sense drug in an injection form gives some subjects different powers (like being able to walk through solid matter, super-human strength, etc.). After exposing the test subject to the drugs, DrugCo secretly monitors them. If the subject shows signs of sixth- or seventh-senses, they try and "recruit" them. The woman believes that is what happened to Stan. But if they resist, like how Halo suspect Phil did, they terminate them. There are some who resist, but DrugCo take by force because there powers are too valuable. Halo believes Sandy falls into that category. And sometimes, said the woman, Halo gets there before DrugCo does and saves the subject. Puts them into a type of witness protection program. And that is why Henry is here now.
Henry, although grateful, tells the woman that he cannot go with her right now. He must save Sandy if, indeed, she has been kidnapped by DrugCo. He asks her if she knows where they might have taken Sandy. The woman tells Henry that Halo could never figure out where their secret headquarters were, but that those whom they saved thought the directions to it were in their dreams. With that, the woman turns and leaves.
Henry closed his eyes and tried to remember his dream these past three days. What were not consistent with the crime scenes? Water dripping from a faucet. Brown snow. Water whooshing by. Red-speckled walls. DrugCo's company letterhead. So two references to water. Brown snow? Henry takes a closer look. Wait! Not brown snow! Rust! Even the red-speckles on the walls! Henry got it! DrugCo's secret headquarters is in the sewer line below the company building he went to on Tuesday!
Once at DrugCo's headquarters, he quickly finds a manhole and climbs down. He is met by little security and easily finds his way to the laboratory. That is where he catches sight of Sandy, smiling away about to inject a purely terrified-Stan. "Sandy?" Henry calls out. Sandy turns towards Henry and giggles at the shocked look on his face. "Whose eyes did you think you were looking through, Henry?" she asked with an evil grin.
CIS: 491--Project, Part 3
|Last Edited: 10 Nov 2003|
©2003 by Z. Tomaszewski,
J. Kaneshiro, & N. Phan