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Introducing Morpheus

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Note: This is a repost from our website www.dinggames.com.
Original Post Date: 3/30/2015

Over the past few weeks I've dropped a few not-so-subtle hints about what our next project is going to be. However, I've just been saying that I'd talk about it more at a later time. Now, this isn't some grand reveal like you'd hear about at one of the big AAA studios. I'm not that egotistical (or at least I try not to show it). In fact, this is less of a big reveal, and more about me finally taking the time to write to you about it. So lets get to it!

Codename: Morpheus

We're sticking with our mythological gods as project code names in order to have some way to reference the game before it has a title. I'm big on not giving the game a title until some point in the middle of development, but it makes it easier to have some way to reference what we're working on with the team. As Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams, this works perfectly with our overarching story. Also, did anyone just think of Matrix and get a light bulb?

Now, I'm not going to go into all the details of the game, mostly because we're still working them all out, but here's the high level concept of the game. First and foremost, we're switching from Mobile to PC for this game. It was always my intent to only do one or two games on mobile before moving away from it, and I think we're ready for that. This is both a very excited and nerve wracking move, as it means we all have to step up our game. At the same time, it gives us a lot more freedom and flexibility that we didn't have on mobile.

Morpheus will be an RPG (or role-playing game for any laymen that happen to be reading this), with a strong emphasis on the story. We're looking to do a rather deep story, stretching my storytelling skills to the max. The main plot is about a young girl who is dealing with the loss of her father. The actual game itself will take place in a series of five dreams, each representing one of the five stages of grief. Within each dream, the young girl will be working to overcome that stage of grief and move on.

This basis has led us to some interesting design challenges that we've been looking at. First is the actual gameplay itself. Our primary focus has been for each of the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) to evoke those emotions in the player themselves. How do we present these emotional states and this story as a whole as an interactive story? By putting this within the base framework of an RPG, how do we utilize things like combat, experience and leveling, without breaking the player out of the story.

Well, I'd like to think we have some interesting ideas for how to tie all of this together. As I mentioned earlier, detailing out everything in this game is a bit beyond the scope of this blog post, I will give an idea of what we're looking to do. Here are three examples of some of the ways we're looking at trying to really tie the story into the mechanics.

First, we're looking at combining the players "health" and "mana" bars into a single bar, called emotional state. This both simplifies things, by giving the player a single resource to manage, but also adds a level of complication, as using certain abilities will cost the player emotional state.

We're also looking at tying character progression very closely to the story. As the player completes significant story points, they will be awarded with emotional points, tied to the dream they're currently in. These points will then be able to be spent to give the player additional passive and active abilities which are also tied to that dream.

Finally, we're looking at affecting combat itself within each dream. I'm not going to go into too much detail on this one, but we're thinking of making some small random fluctuations to combat that will differ depending upon which dream you're currently in. I know that's vague, but we're still reviewing these, so I don't want to give anything away yet here.

So that's just a taste of what our next project is going to be. I'm very excited about it, and really looking forward to getting some initial prototypes together to start testing things. Hopefully I have more to share on that in the near future.

Now, since this post has been all about things to come, I'm going to share a couple of other upcoming tidbits. First, we're completely looking to switch up how we're doing project management, version control, bug tracking etc. We're actually looking at doing a cloud server solution, setting up Perforce, etc. I plan to get that set up in the next couple weeks. Once I do, I plan to do a lengthy post here and the pros/cons, challenges, etc.

Second, and more exciting, I'm going to start live streaming in the near future. My plan is to set up a regular weekly time that I'll be streaming, with some odd random streams thrown in as I have time. I'm not sure exactly when that's going to start, but hopefully it will be within the next week or two.

That's all for this week. Take care and happy gaming!
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