Spellbound is intended to be a story driven game. I feel that's the only thing which can make the game interesting on its own. The story of Spellbound has gone through a lot of evolutionary changes throughout the development process. When I initially conceived of the game, I just had a game concept: "Throw fireballs at zombies in VR, using your hands". As a game premise, that's mildly interesting but it would quickly lose its novelty and appeal. How do I make it interesting? I needed a story.
Initially, my writing approach was to ask hard questions about the world: Why are there zombies? Where did they come from? Why is the wizard in a zombie infested graveyard? What's going through the wizards mind? What was his life like? What was his past?
So, I tried to find answers which made sense, given that you're just some red cloaked dude in a wizard hat, slinging fireballs at zombies. The first version of the game and story was embarrassingly bad. The synopsis of the story: "You were a wizard whose wife had died, and you were searching for a way to bring her back to life because you missed her. So, you casted a spell promising to bring her back to life via resurrection, but instead, it just reanimated her and turned her into a zombie. The spell worked so well, that it also brought all of the corpses in the nearby graveyard to life as well! Your undead wife flees to the graveyard, so you have to defeat infinite waves of undead zombies. After a while, you face a big boss monster who was behind it all!"
As far as stories go, that was pretty pathetic but also short. I'm a half decent writer with imagination, I know I can do better if I just spent some time to work something out. I needed to ship something playable to people, quickly. I thought that the main map would be my main game play, but it wasn't completed yet and ready for public consumption (it didn't satisfy my quality standards). So, I created an early "prelude" level. I also needed a main menu in VR, and since this is needs to be a seamless experience between game world and game menu, the menu itself can't be a static 2D screen like you'd have in traditional 2D games -- the menu itself had to be a level which you interact with. I was ruminating on story in the back of my mind for a while at this point, and I decided that I eventually wanted to have five wizards, each from a different school and theme of magic, each with unique story lines. My game universe was growing in complexity.
But, I can't focus on developing the story. I need to ship as soon as possible to get something playable out there! I had chosen the "Red Wizard" as the first school of magic and theme to focus on. I didn't know what the story would really be, but I had written a really rough outline which served as a rough map on where I wanted to go with the plot. I would come back to the story much later and flesh it out, but for now, I just needed to create the prelude story and introduce players to the game universe and introduce a character or two. I wrote the prelude story in a day, polished the dialogue, and kept it somewhat vague, but also left a cliff hanger as a lead in for the main story. Then I shipped it. Currently, you can still only play the prelude and experience that story, and its short at best, but it shows the story telling model I'm using for VR:
1. I introduce an illustrated storybook and a narrator reads the first six pages. This serves as an establishing shot / context, and also establishes the narrator.
2. I fade to black, load the game world, fade in, and the story resumes from the first person perspective. The wizard talks to himself as a way to guide the player on what to do (a bit weird), and the narrator adds story as well, sort of like how a dungeon master would.
3. At the end of the VR experience, we fade to black and return to the library menu, and resume reading 1-2 illustrated pages as sort of an "epilogue", which can serve as a seamless lead-in for the next story.
This month, I decided that I was a bit too aimless with my development and I needed to get more focused on shipping the next set of content. Okay, where do I begin? I don't have a level made, no story, barely any functioning spells, no crafting system, etc. What have I been wasting my time on?? Oh right, an AI system with machine learning. I realized that the pragmatic thing to do is stop everything else and focus on fleshing out the story for the red wizard. Once I have the story complete, I'll have a much better idea on the scope of the project, what scenes need to be built, what's important and what's not important, and I can start focusing on actually building my game around the story. This seems like an obviously good idea in hindsight. The story is like my game design document, and if the scope is too big, I can change the story until its achievable. So... I just have to write the story.
The problem is, I just had a really rough outline on what I think the story should be about. Despite the outline, I actually don't know what the story is. Okay, so how do I figure that out? I just have to start writing. But, I can't just start writing blindly! I need to spend some time crafting the world, the characters, the history, the lore, etc! My approach to writing my story is to write out the very best first draft that I can, as completely as I can. The point is not to have a story ready for production, but to just figure out what the story is. What story am I trying to tell? Why is it interesting? What captures the readers attention and holds it? What can the audience get out of the story? What makes the story emotional? What creates a sense of wonder and amazement? What are the high points and low points of the story? Who are the protagonists? Who are the antagonists? Who are the supporting characters? What is every characters motive? Every character needs to have a flaw to be interesting, so what are the character flaws? How do those flaws get revealed? How does the character flaw play into the story? How does the story begin? What's the problem the characters are trying to solve? What's the struggle? How do the characters overcome the problem? How does the character need to grow in order to overcome the problem? How does the problem get resolved? How does the character feel about the resolution(s)? How does the audience feel about the resolution? How do we set ourselves up for introducing the next episode? Oh, and by the way, all of this has to be done in VR so we have to assume that the protagonist has total agency over decisions made, so story has to account for that.
It's a bit of an overwhelming puzzle to work out.
It's extremely important to note that since my game is going to be story driven, where the story either makes or breaks the final result, I cannot afford to half heartedly write a mediocre story. I have to write the greatest story I'm capable of writing. My game depends on it. The future of my one man company depends on it. My income depends on it. The story is the backbone. It's my secret sauce. My secret weapon. It's going to be what makes it a "must have" for every VR gamers library. And it can't just be a story which was shoved into a VR game, it has to be a story built from the ground up, specifically for VR, to make use of the unique story telling capabilities VR offers. So, I cannot just write out a first draft, call it good, and move forward with production. If it takes two weeks or two months to get the story perfect, then so be it.
So, I'm thinking that I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to story writing. I have never published a novel. Never wrote a screen play. Never wrote a story for a game. At best, I've written a few short stories for a community college class. But, I have good story ideas, damnit! That's my stubbornness and ego peeking through, insisting that despite my lack of experience, I'm more qualified than anyone else to be the one who writes the story. How do I account for my lack of experience with "officially" not being published? I say, "It doesn't matter, I don't care, fuck it, I will just have to write 20 drafts to be on par with a professional." I think that's the right intuition though: Write 20 drafts of the same story. The first few drafts are going to be exploratory. You don't know what the story is until you've written it. You don't know who the characters are yet. You don't know their motives. The first version of the story is just a congealing of the oatmeal, where you bring it all together and sort of figure out what the real story is. This is where you answer all of the questions I listed above. You might need to write several versions of the story. Think of each version as sort of like a parallel universe, where each version can explore different possibilities in plot development. Eventually, you'll find that you're drawn to certain plot highlights and themes more strongly than others, and those become your story.
At this point, you have written your story about 3-5 times. You're familiar with it, but not intimately. Now, the story becomes more like sheet music to you (the author), and it's a bit of an unfamiliar song. You can kind of play the notes and create a semblance of what the song sounds like, but it's rough and spotty. You know what notes you need to hit and when, so the only way to properly hit those notes is to practice, practice, practice. This means you're going to be rewriting your story, over and over again, each time getting more and more familiar with the plot. There isn't a fixed number of times you need to rewrite the story, but you'll know when you've written the final version: It'll flow like beautiful music off the paper, wrapping the reader in a warm hug before fleeting away. The reader will be embraced in a feeling of warmth and happiness for a moment, and then left wanting more, more, more. You've now got a page turner. A novel people can't put down. A movie which demands your attention. A game people can't stop. What happens next?! ...Turn the page to find out!
I was recently encouraged by a blog article I read on the writing process of William Shakespeare. Most people think that his writings was pure genius, written from divine inspiration, and it just flowed to him easily via unnatural talent. Historical records of his writings show that actually... he wrote many, many revisions of his plays over the years. Even Shakespeare wasn't some savant writer who wrote perfect first drafts, and he's considered to be the best writer in the history of the English language.
But I realized that I can't just start writing successively better iterations of the same story. There's SO much more to the story world than what people read on the pages. You know how when you pick up some fantasy books, and on the first page they have a map of the world, with kingdoms, city names, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, and all of that stuff laid out? There is a whole story universe which the story events are set within! Each kingdom may have different politics. Different cultural customs. Different building construction aesthetics. Different values. Those background differences will and should make an impact on the story as its being told! Is slavery legal in one kingdom but not another? How does the climate affect clothing and customs? How does a traveler from one kingdom deal with the differences in culture in another? Is it a source of character conflict? What are the motives of each kingdom and its political leadership? What is the history which shaped the current state of the world? How does the past factor into any current conflicts? There's a LOT more investigatory questions to ask, but you get the idea.
I realized that this narrative background stuff is very important to establish! It is literally the foundation upon which your story rests. The presence of this background scaffolding may never actually manifest in your story directly, but it is the world which contains your narrative events. If you don't build the world, your story doesn't rest on anything solid and it will be very wishy washy. So, before I started earnestly writing my actual story, I spent a lot of time writing about the world and its history. When you read my story, you are only experiencing 10% of the universe/work. The other 90% was scaffolding which was put into place, and then stripped away when it was no longer needed. People will just see the finished product and think, "Oh wow, this looks easy. I bet they just started writing from pure inspiration!", but that illusion is so far from the truth of the underlying writing process.
I spent nearly a week just writing scaffolding background material. What are all the races? What are they like? What are their values? What institutions exist in the world? What is the history of the institutions? What is the common sentiment in the kingdoms? What landmarks exist? Why are they important? What creatures exist? What's their lore and background? etc. etc.
You know what? I'm glad I did this. It created a nice background framework for me to work within. I, the writer, know everything about the Academy of Magic, who's really running it, where it's located, and its deep history, but the reader gets to discover little tidbits about this institution and they can gradually put it together like a puzzle. At the end, the reader may not know everything there was to know about the Academy of Magic, but maybe there will be more content later which brings those interesting details to the surface?
Just think about it: How much did you know about Hogwarts after the first Harry Potter book? How much did you really know about Luke Skywalker after only watching Episode IV: A new hope? And after you experienced all of the content and had a better understanding of the world, and then watched it again, how much more sense did the actions of the characters make when you understood the background context?
Anyways, I'd like to share with you a few select pieces of narrative content I've worked on recently. Keep in mind, all of this is first draft material, so there's a high likelihood that the 20th version will be very different:
~~STORY BOOK OPENS~~
[Narrator]: “The legend of Rupert the Red… goes something like this”
[Narrator]: “Over three thousand years ago, there was a grand battle between magicians of ages past. They nearly ruined the world, but instead, they set civilization back by thousands of years.”
*Picture of wizards at war, volcanoes exploding, land tearing up, red sky*
[Narrator]: “The kings of old, never forgot the calamity. They unanimously decreed that henceforth…”
[Kings voice]: “all magic must be banned. Those caught practicing sorcery, shall be put to death!”
*Picture of kings sitting around a round table, one king is standing and leaning forward with a raised fist, addressing the other kings*
[Narrator]: And kingdoms across the lands, knew peace... With the exception of magicians.
[Angry crowd]: “Burn the witches! Burn them all!”
[Narrator]: “But while magicians and sorcerers can be hunted and killed, magic itself can never be extinguished. What the kings of old didn’t quite understand, is that magic itself is a gift bestowed upon mortals by the gods themselves. Oh, how they tried to kill magic though.”
*Picture of an angry mob with torches and pitchforks, surrounding posts with silhouettes of people tied to them, as a massive fire burns them*
[Narrator]: The gift of magic was a sliver of the gods themselves, given to mortals to fight against darkness. When darkness came again, the kingdoms were defenseless and fell like wheat to the scythe.
[People] : *anguished screams of terror*
[Monsters] : *roaring, gnashing and slashing*
*Picture of men, women and children being chased and killed by demon spawn. Sky is red, filled with smoke. The face of a grinning devil can be faintly seen in the clouds*
[Narrator]: A few sorcerers who had evaded the murderous clutches of men, stood united against darkness and sealed it away at heavy cost.
[Magician Group]: Chanting in unison
*Picture: 5 men and women, holding hands in a circle, with red, blue, white, black and green magical flame pillars, and connected lines of magical color in a star pentagram shape. In the center, stands an old man (Sassafras).
[Narrator]: The kingdoms were safe again, but the kings… they blamed the magicians for their destruction.
*Picture of a group of soldiers nailing wanted posters to lamp posts*
[Narrator]: A young boy, with the reddest hair you’d ever see, was born to a pair of humble farmers living on the edge of the Black Forest.
[Baby] : Crying sounds
*Picture of a crying baby being held in the arms of a mother, with a red shock of hair on its head*
[Narrator]: His father named him “Rupert”. The boy grew up, as all young boys do, and trouble followed naturally, as it does with all young boys.
*Squealing pig noises and boyish laughing sounds*
*Picture of a young freckle faced farm boy with a pot on his head, chasing a terrified pig with a stick*
[Narrator] : But, as fate would have it, the natural troubles of boyhood soon turned into supernatural troubles which only followed Rupert.
*burning house & inferno sounds, screams*
[Narrator] : Rupert was a magician. The villagers were afraid and angry.
[Villagers]: “Rupert is cursed! He’s a witch! Burn him!”
[Narrator]: Rupert ran, and he ran, and he ran, deep into the black forest. The village hunters eventually gave up.
(picture of rupert hiding under a stump while a dog search party with torches looks for him in the distance)
*barking sounds in the distance*
[Narrator]: Rupert wandered through the forest for days, getting hungrier and hungrier. He stumbled on an old, broken tower of mossy stone, and made it his home. He lived on bark and berries.
*picture of a young boy trying to eat bark in a forest, with teeth almost breaking against it*
[Narrator]: He lived for years, completely alone, terrified of the supernatural troubles which seemed to follow him everywhere.
[Narrator]: Last night, Rupert discovered a book as old as time: The lost book of Sassafras. He was about to change the course of history -- FOREVER.
*Picture of Rupert sleeping soundly on his back, with drool coming out of his mouth. A black crow with red eyes watches.*
Snoring noises, followed by “Caw, caw! Caw!” from the crow.
~~FADE TO BLACK FROM STORYBOOK MODE, FADE INTO GAME VIEW~~
Note: Cawlin has somewhat of a German accent.
[First morning, wake up]
Rupert is sleeping in his bed after his late night journey into the undead infested crypts. He has been sleeping restfully for 11 hours and it is now nearly noon. An impatient crow stands at the foot of his bed.
RR: "ZZZzzzz...ZZZzzz...huuuurffffgll, guuurffflllghh..." (deep snoring)
Cawlin: "Cawww... Cawww... Cawkadoodlydoo! Wake up, you!"
RR: "ZZZz---huh? Who said that?! Who's there?!"
Rupert awakens slowly, the VR camera opens eyelids slowly, blinking awake. The player is looking down the foot of the bed at the crow.
RR: "Oh… it’s just a stupid bird."
Bird cocks it head to the side in curiosity.
RR: "Oh, just listen to me. I'm already going mad -- first it starts with talking to the birds, then its rocks and then its trees."
RR: "Say now, how did you manage to get in here? I didn't leave a window or door open last night, did I?"
Cawlin: "Caw… Caw..."
We wait for the player to get out of bed. They can either click the bed or walk out of the bed zone. Once they move out, we quickly fade to black and fade back in, to the wizard standing at the bedside.
RR: "If I'm going to be a raving madman talking to bird brains, you must ... have a name... I shall call you..."
Cawlin: "Caw... Cawlin."
Cawlin: "Caw! It's about time you got up, it’s well past noon! And just who might yewwwww be??"
RR: "What?! A talking bird?! Now, I've certainly gone mad!"
Cawlin: "Yes, yes, you’re a certified loon and I’m a crow.” (rolls eyes)
Cawlin: “Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, who are you?"
RR: "Well...I'm Rupert!”
Cawlin: "RRRrrrrupert… what is it that you’re doing in these woods?"
RR: "This is my home! I live here."
Cawlin: "Ho… how unusual... a huuuuman living in the black forest..."
RR: "Unusual? ...Why?"
Cawlin: “Humans haven’t ventured into the black forest for centuries. Those that do… never come out alive. There’s something… peck-uliar about you Rupert… What ees it?”
*Rupert feels afraid for a moment because his secret about being magical might be given up*
RR: “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Cawlin: “No, there’s definitely something about you…. I can… smell eet… ah, there eet ees again! You’re… magical!”
RR: “...Magical? I don’t believe in magic...”
Cawlin: “You fool! Here you are, speaking with a talking bird, and you don’t believe in magic? I watched you last night as you rrrRRrroasted the walking dead with fi-yar.”
RR: “Wait, you were there? You saw that?! It was real?!”
Cawlin: “Of course I was... I had been waiting for you... all night! Quite the pyrrrrrotechic display, if I might say.”
RR: “I still can’t quite believe what I saw. I almost thought it was just a bad dream -- I just -- haven’t been sleeping well lately.”
Cawlin: “Yes, yes, it was all real. No matter! … Eet has come to my attention… that you have acquired a certain… book.” (pronounced almost like “buch”)
RR: “Yeah, it was a really weird book… I heard it speak! A strange voice called out to me.”
(Cawlin jumps up and down in excitement, flapping his wings)
Cawlin: “Ah… do you know what you’ve found? Theees ees sooo exciting! You’ve finally found eet!”
RR: “Ehh… what?”
Cawlin: “The buch! The long lost book of Sassafraaaaaas! …. Eets verrry special to me. I must see it!”
RR: “What’s so special about this book?”
Cawlin: “Oh, eet ees only the most powerful buch of magic in the heestory of the world! It has been lost for thousands of years, but lost eet ees no more! You have eet! Eet is very special.”
Cawlin: "Thees book, you know, it doesn't just get found by anyone. It... choooooses... Yes, that's the right word.. The book chooses ... who it uses. Many wizards think they use books, but never does it occur to them that the book uses them! Sassafras was it's last chosen wizard, and that was thousands of years ago! And last night, it seems to have chosen… RRRrrrrrrupert. Now, ...Why did it choose rupert?!"
RR: "I don't know! I barely know anything about magic.”
Cawlin: “The book must have it’s own reasons… muahahahaha”
RR: "So, what now?"
Cawlin: “We must read the magic buch, of course! Let’s go find eet!”
Cawlin jumps onto the left shoulder of Rupert. There is no further dialogue until the player goes downstairs.
A large book sits prominently on a table next to the door. It is sparkling and glowing, softly illuminating the darkness with red light.
Cawlin: “Oh… there eet ees! ...thees ees so wonderful. I can feel eet… so close… yet so far.” (said in a deeper ominous voice)
Cawlin flies from the wizards shoulder to go over to look at the book on the table. This helps direct the players attention.
RR: “oooh...kay…” (said in the tone of, “who is this bird?”)
Cawlin: “Open eet! Let’s see what secrets eet contains!”
We wait for the wizard to use the book. When he uses it for the first time, the book opens and a bunch of green energy swirls from the book to the wizard. Upon the pages of the book is nothing but symbols and gibberish.
RR: “What was that?!”
Cawlin: “I don’t know. Magic maybe? Who cares, read the book!”
Cawlin: “Well? What does eet say? What do you see?”
RR: “It’s just a bunch of symbols and gibberish. I can’t read any of this!”
Cawlin: “What?! Oh no...I hadn’t counted on thees. Why did eet have to be him? ... Why?”
RR: “What? What do you mean?”
Cawlin: “You… you don’t actually know magic. Not yet, at least.”
RR: “I don’t? How is that possible? I was just throwing fireballs last night.”
Cawlin: “Ahem… yes… you’re welcome for thee assistance.”
RR: “Uh… what?”
Cawlin: “That fire essence you used last night… I put eet there for you. Eet was just a temporary conduit for your latent magics… You don’t *actually* know how to use magic yet...”
RR: "Okay, so what? How do I read this book?"
Cawlin: "I don’t know. I’m just a bird, I can’t read!"
RR: “So… then this book is useless to both of us.”
Cawlin: “Maybe you can find a clue which could help us?”
Cawlin flies back onto the left shoulder of the wizard.
When the player walks away from the spellbook, it disintegrates in a puff of green particles.
RR: “What happened to the book?! Where did it go?”
Cawlin: “Oh… amazing! …Eet’s bound to your magical spirit. Eet ees always with you!”
RR: “I don’t understand.”
Cawlin: “The buch! You can call eet back at any time, and you will never lose eet! Try it now… Just focus on a hand, imagine the book in it, press your fingers inward…”
We wait for the player to press the book button on the motion controller. When they do, we spawn the book in that hand in a shower of green magical glitter.
Cawlin: “...and poof! There eet is! What an extraordinary book!”
The book is turned to the first page, and as we look at it, some of the symbols transform into letters and words.
RR: “Well -- I suppose, but again, what use is a book I can’t lose if I can’t read it?”
Cawlin: “Well, It’s a magic book, and magic itself is composed of symbols or something like that -- don’t ask me, I’m just a stupid bird -- but I’m sure there’s some way you can figure out how to read those symbols? Yes? Let’s open eet and see what clues we can find!”
The wizard opens the book, and on the very first page is a small set of instructions on its use, written in a poetic style:
It’s an empty book
It stores the spells a wizard learns
It has a few left over runes from Sassafras
Cawlin: “Oh, dear! The years just haven’t been kind to the pages of parchment. Even magic itself can’t protect its pages from the sands of time forever… Oh, no… oh, woe… it seems, knowledge… it has all been lost. Whatever will I do now?”
RR: “Uh… you make less and less sense by the minute. You seem to know more than you’re letting on, so tell me bird, what do you know about magic and this book?”
Cawlin: “Ehe. Well. ahem… Magic is just a tool used by mortals -- I mean, men… and eet can be used for evil or good. It just depends on the contents of the heart of the magician. Good magicians, naturally choose good magics, while evil magicians will choose… so called “evil” magics.” (Cawlin says “good” with disgust, and “evil” with affection)
RR: “So what? How does that help us?”
Cawlin: “One thing you must understand about magic, is that eet is composed of magical words and symbols. Without the proper words of a spell, there simply is no magic! So, men with the talent for magic, would often work very hard to find the proper symbols for magical spells. Sometimes, these… experiments, would go… very wrong! And they’d explode. Or turn into toads. Or become green for a day or two. Either way, playing with unknown magic is… dangerous.”
Cawlin: “Once a good sequence of magical words have been found, the magicians would write them down in their spell books. Then, they could say the magic words at any time, and… POOF! The spell would just happen!”
RR: “Just like that? It doesn’t sound so bad!”
Cawlin: “Well, it’s not quite so easy… There are lots of symbols to choose from, and just as important as the symbol itself, is the color of the symbol! Without the right rrrrecipe, you might be using the right words but never actually working the magic.”
RR: “So… magic words, magic orders, magic colors… why does it have to be so complicated?!”
Cawlin: *chuckles* “heee heee hee, you’re barely even a novice. Of course it seems difficult for you now, but in the hands of a master magician, magic can be wielded to shape worlds...and… make fooooood. Like… delicious corn! Let us start there -- you haven’t had breakfast yet, have you?”
RR: “I was just going to step out of the house to nibble on some delicious tree bark for breakfast…”
Cawlin: “You -- with your talent for magic -- have been eating bark this whole time?! Unbelievable! It’s time to change that. Fortunately for you, and my oh, so generous mood this morning, I happen to have found a few symbols of magic.”
RR: “What? You’ve been holding out on me. Why didn’t you say so sooner!”
Cawlin: “Well, they won’t do you much good unless you know how to scribe them into a proper spell.”
RR: “Where do I begin?”
Cawlin: “First, we must go forage the forest for ingredients with magical properties. The first thing we’d like to collect, is a red pepper. Let’s go find some.”
Rupert and Cawlin go wandering through the forest until they find a red pepper growing on a bush.
Cawlin: “There! Right over there! A red pepper!”
Rupert picks the red pepper.
RR: “Okay, I’ve got the red pepper. Now what?”
Cawlin: “The red pepper has the essense of red magic! That’s why it burns your mouth when you eat it. We must extract this magical essence and use it to write your first spell. Let’s go back home.”
Rupert and Cawlin return to the mossy tower.
Cawlin: “Everything has a bit of magic in eet. It is the job of the alchemist to extract this magic and brew bottles of magical extract. Many mortals don’t rrrrealize what they’re actually doing, but they treat these magical extracts as ‘medicines’, but it’s actually magic at work. A brewed potion has potency, depending on the skill of the alchemist and the ingredients used.”
RR: “I’ve never brewed a potion. Where do I begin?”
Cawlin: “Well, you don’t really have a prrrrroper alchemist work bench, so we’ll just have to use the most rrrrrrudimentary tools available to extract the magical essence from the red pepper. You must crush the red pepper between some rocks, and you’ll get a little bit of red magic essense. Try it now.”
Rupert places the red pepper on a slab of rock and smashes it with a rock. A few seconds later, small vial of red liquid emerges.
Cawlin: “You did it! A vial of red magic!”
RR: “How do I use this?”
Cawlin: “If you drank it, it would burn your mouth and upset your stomach, but we’re going to use it as ink to write magic symbols. Let’s go to your test chamber… Oh... you don’t have one. Well, that table will have to do then...”
When Rupert approaches the table:
Cawlin: “Fortunately, I happen to know two magical symbols -- ‘Li’ and ‘Tu’. We can write them down on a magical parchment, in any order and with any ink, and if the symbols match a spell, you’ll be able to save it in your magic book and cast it any time.”
Cawlin: “To begin, grab a parchment and a quill!”
Rupert performs a “use” action on parchment paper. The spell crafting UI pops up on parchment.
Cawlin: “You’re barely even a novice, so you can only discover spells with two magical symbols. Later, you can cast much more complicated spells. Let’s begin with novice level magic.”
Cawlin: “You don’t have a lot of parchment to work with, so you’ll need to find a spell quickly. To begin, select a symbol slot with your quill…”
Rupert places his quill on a slot icon and a dialogue window pops up.
Cawlin: “You only have a red magic essence, so choose that as your ink. Then, pick a symbol to write in this slot.”
Rupert chooses a symbol (either “Tu” or “Li”) and writes it into the slot. After the symbol has been picked, it is written into the slot.
Cawlin: “See? Even a novice can do this! Next symbol!”
Rupert repeats the same process for the second symbol.
RR: “Now, I’ve got two red symbols written down. Now what?”
Cawlin: “Now, you try to cast these words! It’s already in your hand, so just give it a throw and see what happens…. I will just fly over here… and stay well out of the way...”
Rupert throws the current magic spell. It either creates a magic spell (if correct), fizzles out, or creates a magical disaster. (Let’s assume it fizzles out)
RR: “What? Nothing happened!”
Cawlin: “You’re spell fizzled. Consider yourself lucky! That combination of symbols and ink was not a spell, let’s try again.”
Rupert uses the parchment again.
Cawlin: “This parchment is magical! As you can see, you got the right symbols and right color, but in the wrong order. Now, we can try a different sequence.”
Rupert keeps trying out different symbols, until he writes out “Tu-Li” in red ink. When he gets this sequence:
Cawlin: “You did it! You created your first spell! This is so exciting… I remember now! Tu-Li is fire, but your TuLi is very weak because you used a red ink with low magical potency. However, this spell is now saved in your spell book!”
RR: “So, I can fling these little fire darts at any time now?”
Cawlin: “Yes… you’ve begun the journey of a magician! You can find more symbols to discover other spells, and brew more potent potions to create stronger spells.”
RR: “Wait a minute… my essence of red magic is gone! Did you steal it from me?!”
Cawlin: “Relax yourself, Rupert! Whether you fail or discover a spell, the used ink is consumed. Magicians are always scavenging for ingredients to brew -- you magicians are scavengers, just like me!”
RR: “Now what?”
Cawlin: “Well, I must go. I smell a dead racoon down by the lake, and I’m absolutely starving. As for you? I saw an abandoned ruin this morning, but it was too dark and scary for me. Maybe your fire could shed some light on the situation? Or perhaps, you can find other ingredients?”
RR: “You’re leaving me?!”
Cawlin: “I’m getting rather...peckish. I’ll be back... Muahahaha!”
Cawlin flies away and the wizard is left alone. There’s not much to do, other than hunt for ingredients or check out the abandoned ruin. At this point, we spawn clovers, blueberries, red peppers, orchids, and black lotus flowers. These are collectible ingredients which can be ground up and turned into vials. We also unlock the ancient ruins and make it accessible. Within the ruins is a new magic symbol which can be learned and a mortar and pestle. The player can summon a small flame to light their way through the darkness. There is a section of the ruin which is sealed off with a heavy door and some other strange symbols of magic. When the player emerges from the ancient ruin, the day has turned to evening.
RR: “Wow, it’s evening already?”
RR: “It’s getting late, I’d better get home before the forest monsters come out!”
When it’s dark, we start playing large monster noises in the distant forest, mixed with snorting noises (like a sniffing pig), and something large crashing through undergrowth.
RR: “There’s something out there… it’s hunting me!”
Rupert returns to his wizard house. He’s tired and ready for bed.
RR: “Whew, safely home at last. I need to get some sleep.”
We wait for Rupert to go to sleep OR until it is 2AM in game time. Either way, we fade to black and we begin to hear snoring noises.