Solarpunk, paper ‘feel’ and Weaving the Argument Together with Inkle

Sprint Goal: Game Design & Prototype

Sprint Planning:

  • Art Direction Document
  • Prototype Planning
  • Paper Prototype Send for feedback
  • Protoype in Ink & Send for feedback

Art Direction

The visual aesthetics of Solarpunk are open and evolving. As it stands, it is a mash-up of the following:

  1. 1800s age-of-sail/frontier living (but with more bicycles)
  2. Creative reuse of existing infrastructure (sometimes post-apocalyptic, sometimes present-weird)
  3. Appropriate technology
  4. Art Nouveau
  5. Hayao Miyazaki
  6. Jugaad-style innovation from the non-Western world
  7. High-tech backends with simple, elegant outputs

The Solarpunk Manifesto


“Solarpunk is really the only solution to the existential corner of climate disaster we have backed ourselves into as a species,” says Michelle Tulumello (2021), a solarpunk art teacher in New York state. “If we wish to survive and keep some of the things we care about on the earth with us, it involves a necessary fundamental alteration in our world view where we change our outlook completely from competitive to cooperative.”

My inspirations and portfolio are heavily inspired by ‘solarpunk’ ideas, a term coined in 2008 that applies to art movement that envisions a technological and sustainable future.

Prototype Planning

To begin with, the game should be satisfying to play, and I will prototype the city-building elements with a paper prototype and iterate on balance and strategy.

Once the paper prototype takes shape, I will develop the choice and consequence questions as a web-based game using Ink and this is where I will explore the role of player agency, reflection and branching narratives in persuasive games.

Finally, I will develop the game in Unity, using Ink and digital cards, while I continue to iterate on my choices and consequences through a series of player studies. A combination of Google Sheets, JavaScript, Ink and in-game assessments will provide mixed-method data for my project. I will then iterate the narrative/decisions based on the findings.

At the prototype stage, we should start considering ‘game feel’, ‘making deep games’, ‘persuasive games’ and other established game design practices and aesthetics are an important part of world-building.

Prototype Brainstorm

Premise: A floating city at the end of the world… or is it? The world is suffering, how will you build a new sustainable future, what sacrifices will you need to make and how will you decide?

References: Castle in the Sky, Frostpunk, Maichi Koro

Paper Prototyping

“Persuasive games expose the logic of situations in an attempt to draw player’s attention to an eventual site and encourage them to problematize the situation. Videogames themselves cannot produce events; they are, after all, representations. But they can he;p members of a situation address the logic, that guides it an dbegin to make movements to improve it” (Bogost 2009:332).

Iteration 1

  • A deck of cards to represent building a futuristic city.

Notes on Playtest

  • A stronger focus on time.
  • Instead of a point system introduce a metre
  • Event Cards

Iteration 2

Notes on Playtest

  • Instead of a point system introduce a metre
  • Instead of starting on a blank slate, reperesent the world as it is, have CO2 producing cards that you will need to adjust or destroy through a series of choices and consequences
  • Consider further currency options
  • Map Points – Idle Activities, along with event cards. Gather resources to build cards.
  • Still need more timer mechanics

Iteration 3

Insert Map Points

  • 2 Metres suggested, one for gaia and one for ‘persuassion’ or ‘influence’, natural disasters will convince people to take action but also be devastating. When things are good it will be harder to convince people.
  • Geo-Political Footprint?

Procedural Rhetoric: Every action to cut emissions or adapt matters

Alok Sharma, who led the Cop26 climate summit last year, said: “The changes in the climate we are seeing today are affecting us much sooner and are greater than we originally thought. The impacts on our daily lives will be increasingly severe and stark. We will be doing ourselves and our populations a huge disservice if we fail to prepare now, based on the very clear science before us” (Harvey 2022).

“Quite possibly, then, this era, which so congratulates itself on its self awareness, will come to be known as the time of The Great Derrangement” (Ghosh 2017:11).

“losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming”, meaning every action to cut emissions or adapt matters.

The Climate Change Track

Fig 12. Masters 2022. Paper Prototype CCT

Designing a track inspired by Arkham Horror’s Terror Track and other similar mechanics. The track will present known climate change issues such as ecological damage, severe weather.

The ‘Apocolypse Thread’ will determine the likelihood, intensity and catastrophic nature of random event cards that might appear.


Fluctuating temperatures.


Climatological, Hydrological, Metrological events (droughts, forest fires, floods, tropical storms, local storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and so on). The consequences of extreme weather include damage, mass movement and loss of life.


Atmosphere (including Air Pollution), Power Outages, Disease, Trauma and Mental Health Crisis, Malnutrition, Starvation and loss of life


Crop shortages (which lead to inflation, malnutrition, starvation and loss of life), Extinction (which will lead to ecological damage)


Rising Sea Levels, Ice, Drinking Water, Grey Water,

Prototype 4 – Testing Character Profiles

Tools: Ink, Javascript and Google Forms

My digital prototype was played through with my Academic Supervisor, Jeff Howard. I narrowed down the choices, avoiding over scoping. My second iteration is a selection of leaders, associated traits and the setting of the world to garner feedback on how players may identify with climate change attitudes and ideas.

  • The Climate Change Track
  • A selection of leaders
  • Input Box – Player adds their name
  • Ink +
  • Influence Points

Paper to Ink – Prototyping in Ink

Fig 13. Masters 2022. Ink Prototype


Sprint 2 suffered from a lack of precise planning and realistic scoping. I scoped too high and then scrambling to keep up my organisation became chaotic. I plan to improve and stick to a structured development plan for Sprint 3 where I will focus on Greybox-ing my prototypes and analyse mixed-method data from my survey and prototype on character archetypes at the end of the sprint.

List of Figures

Figure 1. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Phorkys.

Figure 2. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Watercolour Robots.

Figure 3. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Alchemys End.

Figure 4. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Phorkys.

Figure 5. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Miro Prototype.

Figure 6. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Miro Prototype branching.

Figure 7. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Paper Cards.

Figure 8. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Paper Points.

Figure 9 Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Paper Cards 2.

Figure 10. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Paper Points 2.

Figure 11. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Red Paper Cards.

Figure 12. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Paper Prototype CCT.

Figure 13. Sarah MASTERS. 2022. Ink Prototype.


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GHOSH, Amitav. 2016. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

HARVEY, Fiona. 2022. ‘Impact of Climate Crisis Much Worse than Predicted, Says Alok Sharma’. The Guardian, 28 Feb [online]. Available at: [accessed 28 Feb 2022].

‘Hopepunk and Solarpunk: On Climate Narratives That Go Beyond the Apocalypse’. 2019. Literary  Hub [online]. Available at: [accessed 23 Feb 2022].

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