Queen Dick

“In 1664, the exiled Lord Protector Richard Cromwell, on his way to Geneva due to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, finds himself in Languedoc, in the court of Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Comti.”

Available on itch.io.

Queen Dick was made for the Games Design BA course at Middlesex University, on the Storytelling for Games module, where the task was to create a single scene of interactive dialogue and an accompanying document detailing various elements of a larger game into which this scene could fit.

I quickly decided I wanted to make my game about the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), the Commonwealth (1649-1660), and the Restoration (1660), and about Protestant-Catholic relations in general, but was not sure when during this large period to set it. This was until I learned of a conversation between Richard Cromwell and Armand de Bourbon, taking place some time during the former’s exile. I was also interested in ideas of alternate history, and so made plans to design a visual novel game about Richard Cromwell attempting to overturn the Restoration and re-instate himself as Lord Protector.

I did as much research as I could on the setting and figures of the time, and on the beliefs of the Puritans. I then began to fit these into the structure of The Writer’s Journey, fitting various historical figures to character archetypes, and real and alternate events to the stages of the journey.

Once I had all of the surrounding plot and character elements figured out, I wrote the scene intentionally laying thematic groundwork for the rest of the game as I had described it. While I devised the personalities of Richard Cromwell and Armand de Bourbon from historical accounts, I intentionally wrote their dialogue as a “clash”, not just of personalities, but of beliefs. Both are religious, but Richard Cromwell’s Puritanism and moral reservedness contrasts with Armand de Bourbon’s Catholicism and hedonistic outlook.

In order to see how people reacted to the dialogue I had many different play testers, helping to determine the style of English (early modern or modern) and the usage of French (frequent or occasional), as well as more general aspects of the interaction. Most came away noting the palpable tension between Cromwell and de Bourbon, but interpreting it differently depending on their interactions and the way they personally steered the conversation: some told me it was friendly, others found it full of animosity, and some even found sexual tension between Cromwell and de Bourbon.

Due to time and length constraints on the course, I could not add as many dialogue “branches” to this scene or give as much detail in my documentation as I would have liked to. However, both the documentation, and the dialogue scene itself, gave me an excellent opportunity to research history and create a story with themes I am deeply passionate about, while also leaving players feeling emotionally affected.

The final documentation produced for Queen Dick is shown below. In it, more details about the world and characters beyond the dialogue can be found.

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