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Plot Idea, need feedback

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Well I don''t really know where to start so I''ll just start here now just to let you know I made this plot up and chances are it is probably similar to other things if so let me know so I can change it. SETTING: In the future. 2104 the world has undergone alot of changes wheras water levels have gone down considerable leaving the surface very dry. Sort of like in Judge dred but not that bad because there''s still water. Anyway technology has sky rocketed in the field of space exploration. (This was just a little bit of background setting) PLOT: (If you would call it a plot) A massive object with an area of close to 30 square miles is spotted moving on a collision course with Earth and it was assumed to be an asteroid untill it was discovered that it was mechanicle. Due to it''s distance from Earth, a team of was needed to examine it up close. And the player is one of those people. Once they arrive at the object scan it an find an entrance. Later it''s found that it''s a probe sent to collect data on every inhabitable planet it can find and if the planet is inhabited collect a specimen of the dominant species. It also rates the defence capabilities of the species. So by going to the probe one person is taken and placed in a suspended animation chamber along with 50 others each in their own pod. (Of course the one taken is the one in charge so it leaves the team without order so that they can all start getting to each other as the probe tries to kill it''s univited guests) the players job is to fight through the huge ship to find a way back home since the shuttle was destroyed shotly after the commander was taken. So the player is run trough a guantlet of traps and bots the emergency escape pods. (A basic plot using the KISS rule) (I tried to make this unique) Anyway I want to make this more like an interactive movie, with each character different and unique so a crew of 12 or so would be good. I need feedback and any sugestions.

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Sounds like The Dig. Some questions:

1. Why is the probe trying to kill creatures when it was specifically sent to capture them?

2. What does advanced space exploration have anything to do with this plot? I can''t see mankind flying to the stars in the next 13 years, and it''s irrelevant to your story when they only need to travel a few million miles atmost.

3. It''s a poor assumption that humans would be able to find a way into the object using ingenuity alone. My guess is, if thsi thing was intended to coast through space for years (or even decades), it''s probably sealed pretty damn tight. Maybe they can find a gaping hole in the side where it slammed into some debris.

4. How do they know it was a probe? Does it have "probe" written on the side? If this is an truly alien technology, it''s phenomonally unlikely that any human would be able to understand it in the least. To us, it would be a strange metal contraption with no definite purpose other than to wipe out our species. (After all, it started killing the occupants, right?)

5. Suspended animation. The technology gap works both ways. How is an alien species going to know how to put a human under cryostasis? This is never going to make the grade.

Anthropomorphism is a serious problem in sci-fi stories involving contact with an alien species (and this includes contact with technology from that species). Only through naivety can we assume aliens would be even remotely like humans, both physically and psychologically.

I suggest you read the novel Sphere by Michael Crichton and look at things in a different light. Hope this helps.

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Very good points. Too bad I didn''t mention this is the first of a trilogy and that this one is here to introduce the main character and the setting and the rest of the crap that people wonder WHO,WHAT,WHY,WHERE,WHEN and HOW about. Anyway your reply helps to bring new light into what it would really be like. Then again I could make this a comedy and the idea of somthing saying PROBE on the side is pretty funny, "How do you know it''s a probe" "Well Sir it says probe right on it"

And yes I do realize that if alien technology was introduced to the human species, we would have no clue about it. But this game
is to meet the demands of the average game player, who plays games for fun and doesn''t care (At least that''s waht I think, I could be wrong) what real alien technology looks like, how a person would use it, why this, why that, the average player only cares about one thing and one thing only (Is it fun?)
look a the success of Star Trek, now in reality every alien species wouldn''t speak english and look like a person with alot of make up. But people tend to let theses things go after all they''re just entertainment.

The dig was a good game and I can see the resemblance.

1. Why is the probe trying to kill creatures when it was specifically sent to capture them?

Not them, one it was given instructions to capture one, since
more then one went to the "probe" the rest are considered useless and useless items are usually discarded.

2. What does advanced space exploration have anything to do with this plot? I can''t see mankind flying to the stars in the next 13 years, and it''s irrelevant to your story when they only need to travel a few million miles atmost.

OK, I''ll give you that one.

3. It''s a poor assumption that humans would be able to find a way into the object using ingenuity alone. My guess is, if thsi thing was intended to coast through space for years (or even decades), it''s probably sealed pretty damn tight. Maybe they can find a gaping hole in the side where it slammed into some debris.

I like to debris idea and a huge gaping hole wouldn''t be hard to find.

4. How do they know it was a probe? Does it have "probe" written on the side? If this is an truly alien technology, it''s phenomonally unlikely that any human would be able to understand it in the least. To us, it would be a strange metal contraption with no definite purpose other than to wipe out our species. (After all, it started killing the occupants, right?)

As a matter of fact yes It has a huge sign that says probe
hehe hahahaha you''re funny.

No this is just their assuption and it ends up being right.

5. Suspended animation. The technology gap works both ways. How is an alien species going to know how to put a human under cryostasis? This is never going to make the grade.

Remember this is a game, you''re not one of the D&D freaks who cut themselves when their character gets hurt to make it "more real" are you?

Anthropomorphism is a serious problem in sci-fi stories involving contact with an alien species (and this includes contact with technology from that species). Only through naivety can we assume aliens would be even remotely like humans, both physically and psychologically.

Read above where I make references to Star Trek.

And again thanks for your feedback.

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I suggest you read the ''Rama'' series by Arthur C. Clark, your plot is identical to the first one ''Rendevous with Rama.'' Except for the fact that the probe starts killing people. I don''t mean to shoot down your idea. I say, if you like the idea then go for it, but, you may want to read the series and base a game off that. Anyways, good luck with what ever route you go.

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There was already a game based on Rama . But read it anyway, it is a great book!

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Some other books you might want to check out are Xenogenesis (also titled Lillith''s Brood) by Octavia E. Butler and An Alien Light by Nancy Kress. Along the lines of these books, you might consider that the ship''s alien ai is intentionally putting this group of humans through strenuous trial to gather psychological and physiological information on them. But if it were going to do this it would certainly remove all technological equipment from them before it started the run.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Nah. The probe couldn''t assume anything about the environment that the humans survive in, or even what constitutes the individual and what is the technology. It would have to leave the technical bits.

The idea of a space ship as a honey pot is ok. Why not change the plot so that it tries to grab as many people as it can? The game can start after the automated systems snag the commander and start trying for the rest of the crew.

The crew separates (or is separated) and doesn''t know that the probe is only putting them in stasis (use a temporal stasis plot device to avoid questions on biological problems w/ cold sleep). Then the player can run through the same game 12 times with 12 slightly different characters and areas of the ship and then get a final score based on how many make it back out.

If you felt like being really clever, then structure the plot so that the behavior of one member can affect the adventures of a later member. Not in any major way, since the 12 different runs are supposed to be simultaneous, but with a few minor tweaks.

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Very good points, I remember hearing about rama but never played it. I''m still going to go with this basic idea but make it more realistic. I also have to design a game that would work within the constraints of the engine, which is a heavily modified Quake engine, sort of like Half-Life but not as much.

Thanks to everyone for their advice.

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I hate to bring this to your attention, but Star Trek is the worst example of anthropomorphism in the history of mankind. Personally, I could criticize the series for weeks and not even graze its horrific lack of creativity, but there''s really no point in trying. I''d be flamed to hell and back for it anyway.

You''re saying the average gamer just wants to have fun at the expense of imagination. In my experience, the average gamer wants to be surprised. There''s a reason I stopped watching television nine years ago. If you do something unexpected, people will remember your game as being original, instead of saying, "Yeah, it was another Star Trek rip-off" and dumping it in the closet after a week.

What you see as average, I see as sloth. Peole simply don''t want to be creative anymore. They''d rather take a beaten, worn idea and refine it in some minor way to make it seem unique to great mindless pablum of gamers with far too much time on their hands. I''ve purchased one game in the last twelve months. Why? Because out of every thousand games released, only one of them is good enough for me.

But then, I''m hardly an average gamer. The average gamer plays to win. I play to have fun. There''s no way in hell I''d buy your game knowing what I know about it now.

Okay. That ends the rant.

Seriously, what you should do is make the probe adaptive. Id est, the probe is designed to analyze life on another planet (whatever its definition of life may be) and alter its ecological systems to support that life for the return trip. It would be cool if you could return to various parts of the probe and find that they have changed to resemble human settings (e.g., an empty room turns into a dining facility, complete with snack machines and whatnot).

Technology doesn''t have to be totally realistic. It just has to be plausible. A ship that morphs itself is not far-fetched.

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It''s not that people don''t want to be creative anymore, it''s that some people need/are driven to be creative but most people are deep-down afraid of the new and different.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Alrighty....you need to make somewhere within the story element an area of pre-arrival. For instance, if this civilization is that wide and intelligent enough to do this, why have''nt they come before?? Who''s to say they haven''t. But, now, they are in need of more testing. So, they return. This would start to explain the cryo sleeps you plan to put on our friends there.

Next, you need to realize that even if this is a ''fun'' game, you are still going to be sparked by some part of it, and creativity. There are certain games I will not touch, and others that I''ll play for hours, because it is fun to find something that is not found/given initially. When you make a story that has no reason for certain things happening, well, like this....

Why Luke? Why is Luke the key? Where did Boba Fett come from? Things get answered in certain ways, even when the story is over, and yet, still give way to more questions....what happened to make Darth Vader turn into a monster, instead of staying the Anakin we all knew and loved You see what I''m getting at? It''s one thing to ask about the subtle quirks in your story, it''s another to go, ''how are they gonna be able to store their rats, if they''ve never seen a rat before?

Finally, take your time with it. If you want max replay value without resorting to making pure kill!kill!kill!, then nurse your story a lot. I''m starting to realize writing in the real and for games is different, and sometimes so damn similar it''s ridiculous. You have to make things reasonable, not exact. You have to supliment fact, but still lay on some imaginative lies and deceptions to keep things open.

Anyhow, hope it goes good...and take care.

Also, I think a previous replier got a little math wrong, it wouldn''t be 13 years, it would be 103. Maybe play of of this with genome projects and such. Make the earth fully into classes. Scholars, warrior, workers, etc. This way, you would have a semi-plausible explanation for the advanced space searches......

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Hey!

The first post was right. When I started reading your story I thought of The Dig!

Here's a spin of question: Where can I find the Dig?? Pleeeaaaassseee e-mail me or something! I really really really want it! I love those cartoonish click and think games! I played a demo of the Dig hundred of years ago (yeah, before I was born ) But I never bought it *sob* *sniff* Is there an abandonware site that has it? My mail is kabooomm@hotmail.com

Now back to your plot!

I thought it was a really good idea! You said in your first post that it wanted to test the physical and psycological powers of a species. That explains why it wants to "kill" you. I mean, if it can travel really far (I don't know how far) it has superior technology. And it doesn't take much to hurt an human being. Of course, if you decide that this is the first time the "probe" visits earth and encounters humans it wouldn't know HOW to kill it because it doesn't know what makes a human "tick". But something as easy as a person tripping over and falling to the ground hurting his head would give the fact that a blow to the head does seem to "disturbe" the human because it suddenly stopped doing what it was doing and sat down yelling or crying (showing emotions) and takin a special note to the blow.

Throughout the game it would try to "kill" you, but it doesn't know how. So in the beginning it might assume that a human has high mental powers (telekenises) and use that against you. But a human doesn't (not much explored at least) so those "weapons" would only give you a little headache. But through out the game, the character gets hurt, shows intelligence (picking up things and using them as weapons, opening "doors", etc.) and reveals much of itself. But at the same time the "probe" is doing a more refined medical approach on the captured speciment, the captain. Revealing more ways about what makes you "tick", and what stops you from "ticking"...


Is the probe "evil"? Does it really want to kill them? Or just find out what _does_ kill and try to find a "cure" for it??? Like a big hospital/research ship?

I've read somewhere that the only common thing intelligent beings would have would be _logic_. An intelligent creature must have an _logic_ way of thinking, or at least mathematical. "If I do this, that will happen" Maybe that isn't true, maybe our way of _logic_ is different from another race. But I still think that the biggest logical thing would be "for every action, there is a REaction". So the ship could have some more refined way of finding intelligent life. I mean, the idea of a hole in the side was very good! If it was a ship that was not meant to be entered. But this one is! Wasn't it the idéa to capture species (for whatever purpose)? Then it would have some way of "opening a door" to let the creature in, or _force_ it in somehow. If you decide to make a morphing ship, you could do this two ways. Either just let it "open", a part of the wall just "opens" (in a spooky kind of way) so that the explorers just can walk in. Or it could have seen humans before and actually make a "door", a wooden door or something else familiar. This would really spoke with your head!

I could go on and on it seems huh? But I'll stop for now and wait for your comments

EDIT - accidently made the whole text italic *annoying*

}+TITANIUM+{

Edited by - Seriema on July 20, 2001 4:27:12 AM

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Ok, here goes.

It''s a probe sent on a pre-calculated course to find and study, and bring back a specimen of a technically advanced species.
If the species can''t travel through space and enter the "probe"
then they fail and the probe would move on to it''s next target.
(And don''t ask any stupid questions like what if they just don''t care about the probe enough to go to it.)

Since it was damaged, all it''s logic and mechanical devices were tuned into a killing mechine. So if it was working properly it would just test them, mentally and physically. But since it''s in a scence busted the obstacal course tunrs into a slaughter house.
So it takes on a mind of it''s own.

Now you wonder how does it know about human anatomy, (WTHC) but for thoes that do, the alien species that sent the probe programmed it to find the best suitable match of anotomy, shape, and living environment.

And finally the reason it tests them is to gather the information needed in order for the alien species to know the weaknesses of the human species in order to expand their race and to conquer others.

All of the things in this game will tie into the sequal which will be more action orientated.


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Are you going for story or 110% shoot-everything-that-moves?

Because... well it's too simple if you want a good story, but it's OK if you just want a reason to throw in some characters that's gonna blast robots all day long.

By the way, how good is a trained astronaut in combat? Just thinking of your team composition... Both ranged and close-combat? I think if Earth suspected that it was dangerous, and technology is that advanced that "normal" people (people not especially trained to _just_ live through the space flight like we have now, with all G-forces blabla) can travel using spaceships, then Earth would send some militias too! And if the probe looks advanced, not just like a rock (The Dig). Then maybe one or two engineers would be needed. Scientists are rearly sent into space, astronauts collect what's needed for them. But if the technology allows for "comfortable" space travel then maybe a scientist is part of the team?

PS. _ANYONE_ know where I can get the game "The Dig"????

EDIT - Who says a 110% shooter can't have a great story??

}+TITANIUM+{

Edited by - Seriema on July 22, 2001 9:57:47 AM

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quote:
Original post by Ominous
Later it's found that it's a probe sent to collect data on every inhabitable planet it can find and if the planet is inhabited
collect a specimen of the dominant species. It also rates the defence capabilities of the species.


I would think the best way to rate the defence/combat skills of a species would be attempting to kill the specimen through a series of increasingly deadly encounters with hostile entities..

so there's a great reason for the probe to try and kill the player. You could also use a berzerkers style plot where if the probe finds a species that can pass certain tests or overcome certain obstacles, that species is classified as a threat and the probe dispatches some kind of weapon to destroy the homeworld of said species...

those are just 2 reasons off the top of my head and I'm sure there are many more plausible reasons for the probe to go postal.

just my $0.02

Edited by - CatalystJones on July 23, 2001 8:51:27 PM

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Guest Anonymous Poster

CatalystJones wrote:
You could also use a berzerkers style plot where if the probe finds a species that can pass certain tests or overcome certain obstacles, that species is classified as a threat and the probe dispatches some kind of weapon to destroy the homeworld of said species...
quote:


That could make for a cool(?) twist in the plot. If the player manages to survive all the traps and dangerous things the ship throws at him, earth is destroyed Conversely, if he dies on the way, the aliens see that the human race is really weak and easy to kill, and they set out to conquer earth (for whatever reason)...

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*lol* that''s a lose-lose situation! 8)

As I said, the dangers should increase. But with an logic. Weapons that might kill one race, may not be as effective to another. Like a special sound that makes the bones rattle of ONE species, just irritates a human, etc... Still, I don''t agree with the hole on the side for 2 reasons.
1) it''s not logical that a realy big spaceship with probably a _central computer system_ would go berserk if you cut of it''s right arm (read: take a piece away), now is it?
2) if it''s sent out to find "capable" subjects, then the hole only allows "stupid" races to enter. Like a space-fly, or something. While a door or somekind of logical entrance proves intelligence.

I just thought of something!! Will they find other creatures on board? Free someone from a stacis field and they become an ally? Or they could just help you out for a few moments before they get freezed again?

}+TITANIUM+{

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Well actually I was toying with the idea of having a hostile alien species on board (somthing that had stowed away on a ship that entered the probe prior to the humans being there) somthing like the alien creatuires from the alien series. And changing a few things around to allow the ones who sent the probe to be on it but dead because the hostile aliens wiped them out and stayed alive by feeding off all the different species that enter the probe. So let''s add it all up.

Now the question is should I

1.) still keep the obsticle course and mix the aliens in it.

Or

2.) just have a busted infested ship and aliens the player has to fight.

If I went with one there would be alot of chaos and action with a killer obsticle course, and very hostile and powerful flesh eating blood thirsty aliens. This would allow for 3 sections
the first would be the obsticle course, the second would be the aliens nest. THe third would be where the probe species would have been to watch the obsticle course and the probe and just make sure the probe stayed in one piece.

2.) Everything is deserted and there are signs of a battle. And the player is separated from the rest of the team and he has to find his way back to the shuttle by fighting the hostiles and moving throughout the large maze like ship.

But I''ll need some second opinions.

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I think having aliens on board will be very cool if you actually characterize them and describe their culture(s), and let them be NPCs or talkative bosses and minibosses, rather than mindless monsters. The humans could find alien graffiti in some of the corridors, a cache of alien objects in the trash where cleaner-bots have swept them, etc. Other than that I reiterate what I said in my first reply.

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I like your second alternative best. The seemingly deserted ship with signs of battles etc. Kinda like System Shock (that''s a great game by the way

In my opinion you should try to give the spaceship an eerie/spooky feel, rather than throw heaps of monsters at the player.

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