The final character in Hostile Takeover is Martin Ryker’s assistant, Pearl.
Pearl was an interesting character to develop. She started off as a joke in the very early stages of our planning on Friday night. Originally named June (she was renamed at the request of one of the volunteers running the venue here in Thunder Bay), she was going to be a character who gave you random hilarious side quests. We talked about a filing mini-game, where you had to file things for her because being a ninja isn’t your day job. Or while you’re hacking into Claudius Capital’s servers, you would need to find someone in the company who would be a good match for Pearl’s daughter or granddaughter. Of course none of these ideas made it into the game (we only got the very first level into the game, and that doesn’t even have all the basic functionality we wanted in it).
While the mini-game idea was out, I wanted to keep Pearl in the game in some form. We also ran into the problem of communicating the level objectives to the player (while the other three levels didn’t make it in, most of them all had slightly different objectives for you to accomplish before you could open the elevator and progress upwards). Having her helping Ryker break into Claudius Capital gave an easy way to both have some story and to communicate objectives to the player.
I had a fun time writing her dialogue (only a little bit of which made it into the game). I knew she was going to be a bit older from the get-go, so I spent a bunch of time on Saturday reading over Golden Girls quotes to get an idea for her voice. She has a bit of a playful air to her dialogue, which is at odds with Ryker’s more stoic and short dialogue. I also went through and removed words like “okay” and “intel” in favour of things like “great,” or “details.” The result is that she sounds like a genuine regular person rather than a professional intelligence officer, which is exactly what I was going for.
A slight snag happened while trying to figure out why your assistant would help you break into another company to frame them. I hit on the idea that she was an ex-Claudius Capital employee. I thought that she was fired by the CEO and replaced by a younger woman, hence her own desire for revenge against the company.
When we were later thinking about the setup of the game (and how Ryker really isn’t the “good guy,” we thought it was a bit ludicrous that he had an assistant. We talked about changing Pearl into his aunt, but by that point it was too late because the story screens were already added into the game calling her his assistant. And with being down to the wire on our 48 hours, we had no time to change it. And so she remains his assistant.