Voyageur Research

Idea Development Sketchbook page 8-10

I looked into one of the original uses for portage which was for transporting furs for trade across Canada. I did this as to better understand the process of portage and learn things about the voyageurs that could influence our final game (even though our game is about a peaceful, solo experience and not a gruelling work experience).

The most interesting things that I came across were about the typical day for these voyageurs; they worked 14 hour days for 6 to 8 weeks and often ended up suffering from a number of injuries or sicknesses. One fact that caught my attention was that they stopped rowing every hour or so so that the men could smoke a pipe which meant that the distance they travelled was often measured by ‘pipes’. I don’t think that we should let our character smoke a pipe in the game, but having a task/action that recurs at set intervals could be a subtle nod to this tradition.

Another neat action that we could make use of is the fact that they would use their canoe as a make-shift shelter at night and sleep under it. We discussed how we could use this and thought it would be cool to let the player rest for the night almost anywhere and have them use their canoe as a shelter when they do.

I also learned that there were sub-types of voyageurs for each portage, most of them simply sat in the middle of the canoe and paddled whereas a couple got to guide or steer the canoe and were paid more for it. None of these roles really apply to our game since there will only be one character on the portage but I did come across a role called The Express which referred to someone that got to travel in their own canoe carrying an important package/message at a faster rate. This was interesting to us at the time as we were considering the idea of having our player be delivering a package of their own. It is also because of this research that we came to our work-in-progress name of The Voyageur for the game.

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