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Wavinator

Setting tone with backstory

28 posts in this topic

I''m trying to set the tone for a game and was wondering if anyone had any advice. I''d like the game fiction to explain who you are, why the setting is the way it is, and why you''re doing what you''re doing in the game. But after several revisions I''m still unahppy with what I have. The game is an RPG / RTS. You''re in a solar system filled with asteroids (no planets). You pilot a single ship, and can trade, fight, and negotiate with different asteroid bases in the system (who are doing the same with one another). The catch is that you''re supposed to be something special. Your ship is faster and more powerful than any individual craft, but you could be overwhelmed by many. The idea is that you can tip the balance of power in a way that wins the game. Here are my (bare bones, few details) drafts: First draft: An industrial accident long ago fragmented planets and destroyed civilization. Your people were among the first to rebuild after the fall, and now your government has decided to rebuild the rest of civilization. Your task is to get the squabbling powers (asteroid bases) to unify so that you can complete this task. Benefits: Explains the game setting (asteroids) and why you''re special. Sets a pretty positive, high minded tone. Problems: Locks you into being goody two-shoes. Doesn''t leave room for some of the dastardly things you can do (steal from bases, start inter-base wars). Doesn''t support player vs. player conflict (aren''t you on the same team?) Second draft: You''re a privateer looking to make a fortune in a ruined but mineral rich alien system. So is everyone else (bases included). Benefits: Explains player vs. player conflict. Don''t have to explain why there are no planets (it''s a mysterious, alien system). Problems: Why are you special? Why are you high-tech? Third draft: Mixing first and second, you''re an explorer / freelancer recontacting a lost colony. You''ve come because there''s danger, mystery, and opportunity. Depending on what secret society / organization financed your trip here, your goal is to rebuild, conquer, or plunder. Benefits: Heh, looks more promising than the others Problems: ???? Contrived and unfocused, I think. Suggestions? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...
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Though the ancient and dead civilization is one of my favorite themes, it''s getting a little tired. If you can avoid moralizing, I''d say go with it.
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Haven''t had much time to write a little something, so before I do, you might want to chek out the source of my inspiration : the ancient RogueTrader background universe. As they say, they don''t do anything like that anymore ...
could you as well give your opinion on the page above, as if you don''t like the "atmosphere", then I might as well not write my ideas, and keep them for myself

youpla :-P
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How about:
You grew up on the [insert player''s chosen ship name here]. Everyone you knew was part of this self-contained little world. Your mom was the astrogator, your dad was the cook, your uncle was the captain, your uncle''s partner was the trade officer, your aunt was the weapons officer, your grandma was in charge of all you cousins, etc. Now all of that is gone.
[For some emotionally involving plot related reason] you are alone on asteroid base Zephyr. You have just enough money to outfit your own new ship. What will you do? Get revenge/luxury by turning to a life of piracy? Find a wife/husband and start rebuilding your dynasty? Roll with the punches and keep your honor by remaining and honest trader? Pour all your energy into uniting the political factions so that this kind of disaster will never destroy another innocent merchant family?

(This was loosely inspired by C. J. Cherrhy''s _Merchanter''s_Luck_)
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I think that you should consider WHAT the player can do, do you want to give them the freedom to cheat, steal, blow up etc. (Sounds like fun to me).

Or will you allow them THE OPTION to try and make the universe a better place?

Or just have them play for the cutthroat commercial & gameplay competition.

If you want to put in diplomacy features and dialogue trees or even just a sign language system?, then maybe the ability to try and change the social structure of the system would be worth putting in there?
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i like the idea of working to unifying the estranged colonist. that could only be a part of the game though. you could have the first part of the game consist of unifying these people and organizing in to a large force. then this entire organized colony can move as one from the asteroids to a new home world, and begin to 'move in'.

the game could start with the player returning from a long journey to find a new home planet for these people. you were elected because of family stature and you are the implied ruler. you are given the swiftest most confortable ship and a crew of the best and bravest to find a home. the game begins with your return; a home is found. you organize the race, gather resources, and prepare. then when you are ready you leave with only what you have amassed. you can leave at any time, but the more you get, the more you take with you...but patience comes at a price: if you wait too long the planet you found may have been inhabited by another race, and you'd have to fight for it.

once you leave and arrive at the new home world, you have to set up. this might require you purge the resident beings, and defend it from outsiders. you use the resources and people to gathered in the first part of the game to set up and begin the new civilization. the game ends when the civ is established, maybe when something like the first child of the new world is born or something.

this is probably way far from what you had in mind, but i just started typing and the ideas flowed...

<(o)>

Edited by - aDasTRa on September 21, 2000 4:05:02 PM
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As the aforementioned privateer or pirate, you''ve been chased (or exiled) into this region of space for your crimes. Alternatively, you could be a political exile fleeing assassins. This would explain why your ship differs from those in the current region, and allows for various plot points and goals. Maybe you must gain control of a large portion of the sector before your enemies gather an invasion force. Maybe you need the political clout of a large guild or nation (created in this asteroid field and headed by yourself) to negotiate your return to "civilization".
Also, this concept could be used to prepare for sequels... after gaining power in this space, the protagonist could move on to other regions, or into politics as a regional governor, etc.

"Don''t tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done." - James J. Ling
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quote:
Original post by ahw

Haven''t had much time to write a little something, so before I do, you might want to chek out the source of my inspiration : the ancient RogueTrader background universe. As they say, they don''t do anything like that anymore ...
could you as well give your opinion on the page above, as if you don''t like the "atmosphere", then I might as well not write my ideas, and keep them for myself




Thanks ahw, I checked it out. It reminds me a lot of the Warhammer or Emperor of the Fading Suns universe. It looks cool, but I have a pet peeve with science fiction settings that are really medieval dark ages with starships and blasters. Traveller, Warhammer, Noble Armada, EotFS, and a lot of other games seem to do this.

I think I''m looking more for a freewheeling, advemturous universe where the little guy has a chance. RT''s universe seems a bit darker and more formal / oppressive. (But thanks for the suggestion! )




--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

How about:

(snip great suggestion)

(This was loosely inspired by C. J. Cherrhy''s _Merchanter''s_Luck_)




S&S,

Thanks, I love Cherryh''s space trader writing. I just finished "Heavy Time" and it really captures what life might be like as a hard rock miner when we get out there.

Your story setup makes for some cool motivation and gives a lot of immediate character and flavor. My only problem is that I wouldn''t be able to apply such a specific situation to multiplayer. It''d work great for single player, tho!

It''d be great if I could compose a compelling setup that worked well for single *and* multiplayer. I''m trying to avoid the lame, crappy "You''re one of 4 factions fighting over..." nonesense that seems justify multiplayer mode in *every* RTS storyline.

Although... maybe I could concoct several stories like this? Then, relationships and abilities and such would be like playing a side in an RTS? Have to think about this more!


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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quote:
Original post by Ketchaval

I think that you should consider WHAT the player can do, do you want to give them the freedom to cheat, steal, blow up etc. (Sounds like fun to me).



Yup, they can do this!

quote:

Or will you allow them THE OPTION to try and make the universe a better place?



I''m struggling with this one, and *how* it might work.

quote:

Or just have them play for the cutthroat commercial & gameplay competition.



This seems to be the most straight forward and easy to understand. It also seems to work well for multiplayer.

quote:

If you want to put in diplomacy features and dialogue trees or even just a sign language system?, then maybe the ability to try and change the social structure of the system would be worth putting in there?


Right now it''s just a souped up game of Asteroids with some combat, trading and RTS elements. I thought diplomacy could work as it does in 4X civilization games: You make peace, declare war, give gifts, try to buy status, etc.

I''m not sure how changing the social structure would work. Are you saying that you could use different populations like resources? Any ideas how this might work?




--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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quote:
Original post by aDasTRa

i like the idea of working to unifying the estranged colonist. that could only be a part of the game though. you could have the first part of the game consist of unifying these people and organizing in to a large force. then this entire organized colony can move as one from the asteroids to a new home world, and begin to ''move in''.



Thanks aDasTRa! There are some nice empire building components suggested by your storyline. I think, though, that because the gameplay focuses on being a single ship and flying around and such, it might piss off people who were expecting more of a SimCity or Civilization experience. Do you think these two play styles would be compatible?

It *might* be cool to try to build up an empire of bases with only a single ship! Although, it could get frustrating if you lose bases and aren''t able to defend them the same way you do in an empire game.




--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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I''m reminded of a movie I saw a while ago called Last Man Standing. The idea is that a lone traveller comes into a town with two opposing gangs and does dirty work for both of them. In the end, both gangs are destroyed. In this case, our "hero" is somewhat of an outlaw. He does dirty work. After all is said and done, however, he leaves the town better off than it was before he arrived.

You could throw this idea into the game. It allows the player to do both bad and good. You could maybe turn it around, so that, rather than bad leading to good, he starts out with good intentions and ends up bad. The down side, depending on how you do it, is that it could limit the freedom the player has to choose his alignment.
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quote:
Original post by halfgold

As the aforementioned privateer or pirate, you''ve been chased (or exiled) into this region of space for your crimes. Alternatively, you could be a political exile fleeing assassins. This would explain why your ship differs from those in the current region, and allows for various plot points and goals. Maybe you must gain control of a large portion of the sector before your enemies gather an invasion force. Maybe you need the political clout of a large guild or nation (created in this asteroid field and headed by yourself) to negotiate your return to "civilization".




halfgold,

Thx! Just like sunandshadow''s plotline, I like that this gives you immediate focus when you arrive and explains why you''re doing what you''re doing. But I''m not sure I can apply this to multiplayer. Would everyone be exiles? I don''t know if that would work. I guess I''m looking for a more general situation. Everyone *could* be exiles, which would explain why there''s competition and backbiting among players... but it seems much more applicable to a cool single player storyline than multi.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
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Last Man Standing is a remake of the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo.Starring Bruce Willis and Toshiro Mifune respectively...
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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

S&S,

Thanks, I love Cherryh''s space trader writing. I just finished "Heavy Time" and it really captures what life might be like as a hard rock miner when we get out there.

Your story setup makes for some cool motivation and gives a lot of immediate character and flavor. My only problem is that I wouldn''t be able to apply such a specific situation to multiplayer. It''d work great for single player, tho!

It''d be great if I could compose a compelling setup that worked well for single *and* multiplayer. I''m trying to avoid the lame, crappy "You''re one of 4 factions fighting over..." nonesense that seems justify multiplayer mode in *every* RTS storyline.

Although... maybe I could concoct several stories like this? Then, relationships and abilities and such would be like playing a side in an RTS? Have to think about this more!


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...


I think that making several stories would work well for both single player and multiplayer. Or, why not let the players each make up their own specific story from some modular motivations and blanks for ships'' names? That would make every one unique, but you could use the modules to tailor the plot/NPC''s reactions to the character. And it would be very simple to code.
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LF : and some of his movies are taken straight from Shakespeare, but God, I respect this man so much
Ketchaval : LOL, if it was the only movie to do that. If you really want to see how fuck!ng useless some writers can be, look at the Seven Magnificent, and be amazed at how much as NOT been changed (I can imagine the writers saying "uh, yeah, but look! it''s a western"). I think there is also Three Amigos, who''s itself a remake of an old movie, itself based on the 7 Samurai ...

in the end, it''s all about style, I guess. Kurozawa is a genius.

Wavinator : well, AAMOF, RogueTrader *IS* the first game made by the Games Workshop team, which later evolved into a sweeter, more Hollywood rated universe... it was made in those times where their writers could do 700 pages on the 4 Gods of Chaos... but GW have sold their souls to the God of Money a long time ago (though now, at least, the drawings kick major a$$).
As well, my idea is to inspire yourself from the concept of the RogueTrader (did you read the description of their job ?), not to copy/paste the concept It seemes to me that your description of a lone ship, able to handle an army, to build bases, etc, is very similar to the mission of the Rogue Traders.

God, I have to find 5 minutes to write down my idea. Ok, more later.

youpla :-P
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quote:
Original post by Ketchaval

Bug''s Life borrowed and modified the plot to Seven Samurai..

(akk! Last Man Standing)


Modified = Ruined
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Sunandshadow Quote "You grew up on the [insert player''s chosen ship name here].
Everyone you knew was part of this self-contained little world.
Your mom was the astrogator, your dad was the cook, your uncle
was the captain, your uncle''s partner was the trade officer, your aunt was the weapons officer, your grandma was in charge of all you cousins, etc. Now all of that is gone.
[For some emotionally involving plot related reason]"

If the player spent a lot of time involved with these characters in the beginning chapters of the game, then I think that an "emotionally involving plot related reason" would work, but if they died in the game BEFORE you had even met them, I doubt that this would have any real emotional effect on the player. Unless it was the fake block-buster emotion of things like Armageddon.
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Wasn''t Last Man Standing made shortly before Bruce Willis and Demi Moore got divorced? (Bear with me, I promise that this really is on topic)

It may just be a coincidence, but I see a deeper meaning. I think Kurosawa and the other deceased gods of cinema were sending us a message: "Don''t mess with what works."

So, you take that thought and strap it to either the first or third draft. Going with the industrial accident scenario, say you have two factions. One has preety much dominated since the accident occured. They are lead by, not so much an evil overlord, as a paranoid control-freak. They immediately established martial law (with the best intentions, mind you). Later on, as stability is recovered, the leader, being a paranoid control-freak, refuses to believe that the people are ready for martial law to be lifted.

Now, enter faction two. These guys began as the common rebels that accompany the enforsement af martial law. Recently, however, they have gained organization in the form of a dynamic, charismatic, and brilliant leader who appears out of nowhere.

Now, here comes the moral conflict, for the player anyways. Martial law was probably necessarry, and has been very effective. Still, it''s probably time to move on.

The rebels seem to have the right idea, but at times they appear to be just money-hungry thugs; no better than the power-hungry Nazis they say the other guys are (and they might be just that).

So, do you go with what works (the Nazis)? Or help bring a welcome change (the Thugs)? Or maybe you take the place over for yourself?

Hey maybe you could get Bruce and Demi to do some voice work.
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quote:
Original post by Ketchaval

Sunandshadow Quote "You grew up on the [insert player''s chosen ship name here].
Everyone you knew was part of this self-contained little world.
Your mom was the astrogator, your dad was the cook, your uncle
was the captain, your uncle''s partner was the trade officer, your aunt was the weapons officer, your grandma was in charge of all you cousins, etc. Now all of that is gone.
[For some emotionally involving plot related reason]"

If the player spent a lot of time involved with these characters in the beginning chapters of the game, then I think that an "emotionally involving plot related reason" would work, but if they died in the game BEFORE you had even met them, I doubt that this would have any real emotional effect on the player. Unless it was the fake block-buster emotion of things like Armageddon.


I was thinking in terms of an actor asking "what''s my motivation?" You give the player a motivation that''s not actually part of the story but if they keep it in the back of their mind while they play the will be more emotionally meaningful.
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I''m thinking something like you were sent from a distant galaxy to this place for some sort of covert ops. Conquer, unify, make money, you''re not sure because you lost your memory for some reason. Your stardrive is destroyed so you can''t head home. Your mission is nowhere to be found in your computer''s data banks because you were probably briefed in person. A final long term goal (if you''re still looking for one) might be to rebuild your engines to get home.

I think this would be ok for single player, but for multiplayer the only way it might make sense would be if all players start in the same location. If everyone arrives seperatly then what are the chances the same thing happens to everybody. But if everyone started in one mothership and buggered off in smaller ships or something when they woke up, then that might be ok.

If you can''t start everyone in the same spot, then a possibility might be to do the 5 years later thing.
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