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ruben tan

Help review my game setting

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Hi Gamedev. I cooked up this setting during pre-production of my post-apocalyptic CRPG, and would like your constructive criticism. Please let me know of your thoughts about it, thanks!

Quote:
Basic Premise

The game(s) is set in a "post-modern, post-apocalyptic world where every human is a mutant of some sorts" world. It revolves around the question "what does it mean to be a human" to the extreme, with each mutant species convinced that they are the logical next step for the human species, while viewing the rest as nothing more than failed evolutionary variants.

The game's aesthetics resemble an apocalyptic parody of modern day life, with a slight touch of advanced technologies like hydroplasma cells, rail guns, powered exoskeleton suits and advanced all-terrain personal hovercrafts.

And it is in this world that the player creates their own story - of their journeys in the desolate and deadly Wildlands where every next step could very well be their last.

Cause of Apocalypse

The world woke up one day in the near future (2013 to be certain) and realized that all the world's leaders have boarded into 7 massive Eden ships and fled into space, leaving the world behind to total anarchy. For the first week there were riots and skirmishes all over the globe as people scrambled to fill in the leadership void; but just when things were starting to sort itself out a deadly epidemic broke out all over the globe, wiping out tens of millions every day. In mere months the entire world's population had been reduced to mere millions, who no longer had any food left as the virus affected all living beings.

The general consensus amongst the survivors of the First Deadly Epidemic was that those who left in the Eden ships foresaw the apocalypse event, and rather than fighting it they fled instead. The exodus would come to be known as the Great Desertion in history, and turned into the source of universal hatred and blame amongst the survivors of the epidemic.

South East Asia Survives

Miraculously, survivors of the epidemic found out that South East Asia were largely untouched by the epidemic, as well as isolated islands in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Knowing that their survival now hinged on the small little third world continent, survivors from all over the world packed up their gears and made the long journey to the last sanctuary on the planet.

For a while the South East Asians welcomed these people with open arms: a testimony of humanity and compassion long thought forgotten in the cynical and apathetic first world.

However, as more congregated in the continent, resources began to dwindle and soon a deadly tension between the natives and the foreigners threaten to spiral chaotically out of control.

The Outsider Wars

Nobody remembered how it happened, but the uncomfortable tolerance between the natives and the foreigners finally broke in the year 2014, one year after they voluntarily offered their homes and food to these immigrants.

Quarrels quickly escalated into skirmishes, and subsequently into total war. Thousands laid dead every day from raids and ambushes, and rival villages and towns sent war bands against each other for all sorts of reasons, of which many of them were trivial in retrospect.

Though the exact cause for the Outsider Wars would probably be lost in the annals of oral history, one thing remained for certain: the war became the herald of the dark age and the dawn of mutantkind when one of the skirmishes accidentally destroyed an experimental research facility, which released gallons of mutagens into the atmosphere.

The Dark Age

The airborne mutagen were not detected until years later when its effects began to manifest. Babies were born with severe defects and adults began suffering from strange and incurable diseases. More people died of cancer than bullets, and soon scientists came to the harrowing conclusion that South East Asia was no longer safe anymore.

Protective gear were quickly issued to all those who could afford it, and for the unfortunate they either stole or murdered for it. Travel became tedious and dangerous, resulting in communities being isolated from one another as time went by.

Not every community were fortunate enough to receive these protective measures however, and were forced to weather the mutations. Tens of thousands of deaths through cancer and diseases soon paved the way to a new generation of mutant variants.

The Mutant Dawn

While many humans were killed by malicious mutations, small numbers of them benefited from it instead, providing them with new means to survive the desolate lands. Soon, their fortune spilled over to their descendants, and from their bloodline came a new generation of humans who bore little to no resemblance to pre-desertion humans, but retained similar culture, mannerism, tradition and lifestyles.

Communities blessed with protective gear believe themselves as the last remaining "pure" humans, and zealously enforce this fact by exiling/executing any community members who display but the slightest sign of mutation. This xenophobic zeal soon redirected its attention outwards, and a genocidal scheme soon brought these communities together in unity. They formed the Confederacy of Pure Humans, locked and loaded their firearms, and launched the Great Purge.

The mutants were caught by surprise as armies of biohazard suited clad militias tore into their peaceful villages and slaughtered every men, women and children. At first the mutants fled from the "Pure Men", but soon they began to fight back. The mutants rallied under the inspirations of a visionary mutant by the name of Criss, who then formed the Crissen Order whose membership was open to any mutant who were ready to shed blood for the better of mutantkind.

The war between the Confederacy and the Order ground down to a stalemate in the fields of Blacksand before a massive pre-desertion metropolis ruins, dying the earth red with the blood of the fallen. It was there upon the stained grounds that both sides began questioning of the reason for warfare. For the first time in centuries of bloodshed, they finally pondered about peace.

The Combine

The Confederacy and the Crissen Order finally merged after a long truce, uniting into a new entity called the Combine that promised a fair future where mutants and pure humans could live alongside each other in peace.

Because many were unprepared to discard their prejudices and vendettas for fallen comrades and family, the early days of the Combine were stricken by many difficulties; many of which led to brawls, murders and discriminations. Legislation of a constitution that advocated the superiority of the Pure Men (who happened to be the majority race in the Combine) led to even more dissatisfactions, and soon a scheme was hatched to wrestle the society under control.

From the vaults of pre-desertion technologies the high council of the Combine approved the release of the same virus that wiped out all civilizations after the desertion. The virus was deployed in the guise of a research facility accident, which many found to be questionable given the high council's lackluster efforts at containing the spread. Citizens of the Combine were then forced to wear the same biohazard suits that were once associated with the very identities of the Pure Men in order to survive the Second Deadly Epidemic.

Rebellion and Splintered Core

Many vehemently protested the new measures of donning the biohazard suits, as they deem such actions as discriminatory and a subjugation of their mutant identities. Instead of biohazard suits, the protesters suggested that the Combine redirected all its resources towards a two pronged strategy: (1) connect all existing airtight residential vaults called biodomes with a network of tunnels; and (2) accelerate the development of a vaccine that was supposed to have been completed years ago. The first measure was agreed by many (even amongst the Pure Men) as the most viable strategy, which made the rejection from the high council raise even more questions and conspiracy theories. Despite the rare joint protests of all mutant groups (including many Pure Men as well), the high council instead sent riot control police to suppress their dissenting voices, resulting in unnecessary bloodshed over the course of two weeks.

This dissatisfaction quickly led to the formation of two splinter groups; with one preferring to leave the Combine in peace and the other choosing a more violent route.

Those who left the Combine traveled north and eventually settled down in Oasis. They eventually merged with the Lorekeepers whose sole objective in life is to rediscover pre-desertion knowledge, forming a semi-religious order known as the Awakened Order.

Those who chose to resist the Combine's new law with violent means escaped into the underground tunnels beneath the Combine cities and called this new home the Gloomy Tunnels, from where they plotted rebellions against the government. In honor of the first mutant who was executed for refusing to put on the biohazard suit, they called themselves the Saberions after her maiden name Sabari.

It is during this time that the protagonist is born, in a quiet little village in Oasis called Moonstone.


More Info On Mutant Species Here

Attached an image of a rebel soldier and a Combine soldier here, both unmasked.

Combine soldier.



A soldier in the rebel forces.



[Edited by - ruben tan on July 12, 2010 2:38:08 PM]

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Re:

When you say that the game is CRPG, what does the player actually do in the game?

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Original post by Wai
Re:

When you say that the game is CRPG, what does the player actually do in the game?


The player starts off a silent little town, goes out on a solo hunt, and then comes back to find his village massacred by raiders. He sets out to the wildlands alone, but barely hours beyond his village he is captured by slavers and sold to a nearby city as a slave. End tutorial (and skippable).

Flashfoward to 3 years later, where the PC had been pretty much locked up in the pens all these years without an interested buyer. Unsold slaves are useless, and thus as a last ditch effort to make some money out of them, the PC is shoved into the underground arena and made to fight for the entertainment of the crowd. The first battle ends in questionable circumstances - regardless of whether the PC wins or loses the fight, the opponent dies of cardiac arrest. Before questions could be asked though, the entire city comes under the siege of an army, blasting the path to freedom open for the PC.

Seeing his chance for freedom, he escapes into the wildlands. Having nowhere to go, he remembered a tale told to him by his war veteran surrogate grandfather of a beautiful city to the far south. A prosperous city free of slavery, strife and suffering. A utopia in the middle of the desolate wildland, free from the constant threats of nature's deadly beasts.

Having nowhere else to go, the PC sets out on a journey to find that city, and leave this hell hole behind once and for all.

That's the storyline for the first game.

This is an old-school-like RPG along the veins of Fallout, Darksun and Eschalon. You control one single party member (with recruitable NPCs along the way), explore the lands, meeting new people and interesting locales, etc.

- Combat will be turn-based
- Multiple solutions to ALL quests
- Branching and mutually exclusive plot lines
- No trivial quests like fedex quests, kill x number of y, etc
- No good/evil solutions, only choices that has morally gray consequences
- Isometric 2.5D engine with 2D tiled background and 3D characters
- 2D normal map per-pixel lighting and shadow maps

[Edited by - ruben tan on September 21, 2010 7:30:59 PM]

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To think of it as player,i believe the storyline for a RPG isn`t so important.(It IS important,but not that much!).If i were you,i would think of different solutions to every level.The thing that makes a RPG interesting is the variety of choices that you can make in it and different consequences that every choice has.

You must cook up a setting for these:

No good/evil solutions, only choices that has morally gray consequences
Multiple solutions to ALL quests
Branching and mutually exclusive plot lines

Because just mentioning them is something,performing them properly is something else.

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@Wai

I needed input on the game setting. On whether is it too far fetched, too cliche, etc.

I'm going to lock down the setting soon and then update my design document before sending it to a contract artist to get a quotation, so this is my final revision.

@kasra5004

Cut and paste from my design document:

Quote:
Ok, maybe its easier for me to just lay down a summary of how it starts and the various ways to solve it.

If PC chooses to play the tutorial, he'll start in his hometown in a flashback. The flashback ends with his village being raided and razed, and him being sold into slavery.

After that, the real game begins in the slave pens, where the PC is dumped unceremoniously into the arena and have to fight for his life for the entertainment of the crowd. Thing is, the fight is rigged in favor of the PC, and the PC easily wins the first fight.

From there onwards, the PC can continue fighting or return to the pens. Returning to the pens will trigger the bombardment script, which will destroy the guard house and the containment control center, which automatically unlocks all cells, giving the PC an opportunity for escape.

However, if the PC chooses to fight in the arena, after winning the third fight a VIP will show interest in the PC and buys him out to serve as his personal body guard. If that's the case, the PC is taken to the VIP's house, where the PC can make new friends with the bodyguard squad leader (let's call him Bulky for now). The bombardment will trigger once the PC talks to Bulky or leaves the house.

So either way, the bombardment will trigger and the PC will be afforded with the chance to escape.

If the PC is escaping from the slave pens, he has two options: follow the rest of the slaves into the slums or go through the sewers by himself.

If he decides to follow the NPCs, he'll need to decide which of the three groups to join, of which each group will take a different route through the slums, and the PC's social skills will help or harm the group's survival through the bombardment in the slums, and once the PC leaves the city, those who survived in the group will indirectly benefit the player in his later adventures (e.g. if a particular smith survives thanks to the PC talking down the group leader and assuming leadership, the smith will reappear in the second chapter and offer to train one of the PC's skill to master level).

If the PC decides to go through the sewers, he'll have two exits to choose from: (1) go through a sneak heavy section where he needs to sneak pass a company of soldiers who bombarded the city; or (2) resolve a conflict between two sewer dwelling groups by using his medical, engineering and science skills. Being successful either way will lead the PC out of the sewers and into the open world.

Here's a summary:


  1. PC has to fight at least ONE fight in the arena, which the PC is guarantied to win (even for a non-combat build).
  2. PC has two choices: (1) return to the pens; or (2) fight on
  3. (1) If PC returns to pens, bombardment will trigger (Step 5)
  4. (2) If PC fights on, after the third fight the PC will be bought by an NPC (Step 8)
  5. The PC has two choices: (1) follow the rest of the slaves; or (2) enter the sewers
  6. (1) If PC follows the slaves, it'll be a social-skill heavy section
  7. (2) If PC enters sewers, it'll be a utility-skill heavy section
  8. If PC is bought by an NPC, the bombardment will be triggered after either: (1) the PC talks to Bulky; or (2) the PC leaves the guard house
  9. (1) Bulky and the PC will make their way to the NPC's secret escape tunnel, fighting soldiers along the way. It'll be a ranged combat-skill heavy section
  10. (2) PC makes his way to the city square, and tries to get on the last outgoing caravan. It'll be a melee combat-skill heavy section where the PC has to fight against the horde of townsfolk scrambling to get on the caravan.


As you noticed, each branch is catered towards a particular build, which I have broken down into 7 main specialized build that's possible through my character system:


  • Ranged combat build - cont. fight in arena, talk to Bulky, fight through the city streets against soldiers
  • Melee combat build - cont. fight in arena, don't talk to Bulky, fight refugees in city square to get onto caravan
  • Thief build - win first fight and return to pens, go into sewers, sneak through soldier patrols
  • Geek build (engineering/medicine/science) - win first fight and return to pens, go into sewers, resolve the conflict between the two groups
  • Charm/persuasion social build - win first fight and return to pens, escape with slaves, join group 1 (impressionable group)
  • Leadership social build - win first fight and return to pens, escape with slaves, join group 2 (anarchic group)
  • Intimidation social build - win first fight and return to pens, escape with slaves, join group 3 (jocks and veteran gladiators)


    This is heavily revised from my original design, where I paid complete homage to Darksun by having a complete arena fight and then a subsequent sewer section with tons of side quests. After designing it I felt that it was too linear, and decided to reduce the length (linearity) and increase its width (choices), allowing the PC multiple choices through a short 1-2 hour starting area before entering the world map.

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Well,the level plot is really nice.If the rest of the levels are with this quality,i`ll say you`ve got quite a game!

So, i just talk about the main storyline.The story is kinda` cliche,but that`s something that you can say about every post-apocalyptic game!The details are good and new.But i`m afraid there are too many small points,especially names in it.(maybe you wanted your document to be as complete as possible and you want to cut some parts in the final version.)But it`s really hard to fit this great deal of information in a single of game without boring and confusing the player with long cutscenes and notes.( In a part, you mentioned "the first game",so, maybe you want to explain the past gradually in several episodes.I don`t know.)

But anyway, keep in mind that the story must be told in small parts.It can`t be told at once,it`s not like a book.So i really think that it`s better that you omit some unnecessary names and details in the final version of the story. Like the names of some tribes that disappeared after a short time or names like "Great Desertion".what i`m saying is,it would be really disappointing when a player hears the name "Crissen Order" for the second time and ask himself: what was that one?


But in general, well done.

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Original post by kasra5004
Well,the level plot is really nice.If the rest of the levels are with this quality,i`ll say you`ve got quite a game!

So, i just talk about the main storyline.The story is kinda` cliche,but that`s something that you can say about every post-apocalyptic game!The details are good and new.But i`m afraid there are too many small points,especially names in it.(maybe you wanted your document to be as complete as possible and you want to cut some parts in the final version.)But it`s really hard to fit this great deal of information in a single of game without boring and confusing the player with long cutscenes and notes.( In a part, you mentioned "the first game",so, maybe you want to explain the past gradually in several episodes.I don`t know.)

But anyway, keep in mind that the story must be told in small parts.It can`t be told at once,it`s not like a book.So i really think that it`s better that you omit some unnecessary names and details in the final version of the story. Like the names of some tribes that disappeared after a short time or names like "Great Desertion".what i`m saying is,it would be really disappointing when a player hears the name "Crissen Order" for the second time and ask himself: what was that one?


But in general, well done.


Thanks for the compliment. Generally, the design philosophy behind the delivery of the game backstory is that I only give if the player asks for it, and even so, always in small and easy to remember portions.

I haven't decided on this idea, but right now my approach is this: At the beginning of the game, the player should only know these facts:

1) The world ended because the world leaders left
2) The world leaders left because they knew a plague is about to hit earth

That's all. The rest is hidden from the player, because there's a dark age between the apocalypse event and the game's current timeline. Much of history is lost in this period, and everybody would have their own "speculations" of history. History after all, are written by the victors. Over the course of the game the player will stumble across various pre-desertion artifacts and relics, thus unlocking more of the world's history. At the same time, there are multiple versions of it, and if the player so wishes, he can embark on a completely optional sidequest to find the "ultimate truth", which I plan to make it the hardest and most obscure quest ever in the entire series.

The key to successful delivery of important names in the game world is repetition, in my opinoin. "Crissen Order" isn't important, but "Great Desertion" is. So is "Pre-Desertion", which is used similarly as the term "Pre-Apocalypse". Everybody would talk about it all the time in the game, and even treat it as vile curses (e.g. calling somebody a "deserter" is an extremely offensive term, even more so than outright calling somebody a "traitor"), which ties into the culture of the setting itself.

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Re: ruben tan
Quote:

I needed input on the game setting. On whether is it too far fetched, too cliche, etc.

I don't have a system to tell whether a game setting is too far fetched or cliche. I don't think this is an important evaluation, because if your game has value to the player, the player is going to forgive the holes of the story.

I suppose a story is too far fetched when it has soring plot holes. What are the signs when a story is too far fetched?


Unsupported Surprise

This is an event that is presented as a surprise, but the entities in the world have no reason to be so. In your story, you mentioned that one day all the world leaders fled to space in 7 massive spaceships. For this to be a surprise, it is implied somehow the people do not know that it could happen. Since the spaceships are massive, it violates common sense that the people don't know about them in advance. As they are constructed the people would assume that they are for some purpose. If they know about the ships, then it wouldn't be that much of a surprise.

Technology Gap

If the governments can create and hide massive spaceships, the people probably has the technology to create medium or small spaceships. That technology should already exist. When the Eden ships leave, you would expect many more people are capable of leaving in smaller ships, but there is no mention of such event, and the option to leave is never mentioned again.

Discrepancy In Cooperation

In the story, the world leaders leave in peace among themselves but the world immediately turns chaotic. I think that if the leaders are capable to abandoning civilization like this, they must also be capable of killing each other on the Eden ships. And each of them will know that their fellow passengers are capable of doing so.

Resilience

If most people are killed by the virus and the South East Asia welcomes those affected, it is impiled that somehow those people, their plants and animals are immune to the virus. Why don't they start breeding the livestock and planting elsewhere? If there is no completition, wouldn't they thrive like weeds? Why are they stuck in SEA? If the lifeforms there are not immune, why isn't SEA also wiped out once the infected arrives? Why don't the leaders left in Eden ship return?

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Quote:
Original post by Wai
Unsupported Surprise

This is an event that is presented as a surprise, but the entities in the world have no reason to be so. In your story, you mentioned that one day all the world leaders fled to space in 7 massive spaceships. For this to be a surprise, it is implied somehow the people do not know that it could happen. Since the spaceships are massive, it violates common sense that the people don't know about them in advance. As they are constructed the people would assume that they are for some purpose. If they know about the ships, then it wouldn't be that much of a surprise.


I omitted a lot of details on this part. My mistake.

The "Eden Project" was initially started off as a collaboration between the world's seven continents to build massive self-contained space voyagers. At that time of its construction, it is tauted as the most expensive project ever in history. It is not concealed at all.

The key here is misdirection. The world leaders planned in secret the exact sequence of the exodus. First, china and russia would stage a massive military confrontation to take the attention away from the project. With world war 3 looming over the horizons, I don't think it's hard to envision it.

Unfortunately, if that's not logical enough, I don't have a better explanation. Deus Ex Machina maybe?

Quote:
Original post by Wai
Technology Gap

If the governments can create and hide massive spaceships, the people probably has the technology to create medium or small spaceships. That technology should already exist. When the Eden ships leave, you would expect many more people are capable of leaving in smaller ships, but there is no mention of such event, and the option to leave is never mentioned again.


Eden ships are built in space, and the leaders would have to board smaller rocket shuttles to reach the ships.

The whole idea of the exodus is that it was such an orchestrated move in such an epic scale that it leaves zero room for debate on the true reason of the desertion. To pull this move off in complete secrecy can only mean one thing - that the leaders had foresaw the coming of the plague and had "deserted" the world population, abandoning them to their own devices.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
Discrepancy In Cooperation

In the story, the world leaders leave in peace among themselves but the world immediately turns chaotic. I think that if the leaders are capable to abandoning civilization like this, they must also be capable of killing each other on the Eden ships. And each of them will know that their fellow passengers are capable of doing so.


No they don't live in peace. Eventually they'll split into two groups and...

Suffice to say, many of those who boarded the ship do not know of the true reason of the project. There will be protests and bloody confrontations in these ships, but that's not really related to the central story itself.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
Resilience

If most people are killed by the virus and the South East Asia welcomes those affected, it is impiled that somehow those people, their plants and animals are immune to the virus. Why don't they start breeding the livestock and planting elsewhere? If there is no completition, wouldn't they thrive like weeds? Why are they stuck in SEA? If the lifeforms there are not immune, why isn't SEA also wiped out once the infected arrives? Why don't the leaders left in Eden ship return?


It's not that these people, plants and animals in SEA are immune. It's just that "miraculously" the continent is spared from the plague (the virus is not airborne). The real reason of this is part of the storyline of the game - along the course of the game the player will realize that there're no miracles in this world. Everything happens for a reason.

They are stuck in SEA because the rest of the lands are tainted by the virus. Think of it as this way - these viruses are incredibly aggressive (killing living beings through accelerated necrosis affecting both plants and animals) but have a very short lifespan, which prevents them from spreading too far away from the intended target.

So if these viruses would have burnt itself out in a matter of days, why did these survivors had to make the journey towards SEA? Why not wait until the virus is gone and then start life anew? Two reasons: (1) They don't know the virus have a short life and (2) the virus left them with zero natural resources: all plants, wild animals and lifestock are consumed.

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