Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
blarkfase

Post-Modern Society story I'm writing

This topic is 2332 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I am in the process of working on a couple game ideas and I was hoping to get a little feedback on this one. I'm pretty new at writing for video games, but I am extremely excited about the process and trying to get into the industry (I am a recent, jobless, graduate, from Art School). Anyways, this is my first post, this is one of my first video game concepts, and if I could get some feedback or criticism on it, that would be amazing! Thanks!

------------------------------------------------------


"Locked in a small apartment, just my 80 year old father and me, a 24 year old college graduate that decided to make it in the big city. Now, we're trapped in this shitty little 4th floor apartment with no hopes of escape. Society has collapsed, bandits are roaming the streets, and we are forced to hide. My father complains about how he is holding me back and that I will die because of him. I've caught him trying to take my gun a couple times, so he could kill himself. At night, I sit by the front door to guard it, not honestly thinking I'll be able to if someone comes. Sometimes I can hear him crying from the bedroom. I know what he's thinking about; I miss mom too. Some days I go scavenging for supplies, leaving him in the apartment on his own and I try to ignore my fears of returning to find him dead. Staying alert while sneaking around a city is hard enough when you're malnourished and sleep deprived. Why do we do this? Is living in this hell really worth what we're going through? No, but giving up is not an option either. We've got to do the best we can to survive, wait for a rescue, and see mom again."


Game-type: Sandbox RPG; I want the vast majority of decisions to fall on the player in order to immerse themselves as much into the role of the son as possible. This is meant to be a very emotionally deep storyline that is hard to handle, so the more the player is immersed into the situation, the better.

Plot: The main character is tasked with keeping his elderly father alive and safe during a post-government society. Every decision made is one that is extremely emotionally difficult for the main character. Every aspect of surviving in desolate city should be taken into consideration (barricading the door and windows, scavenging for supplies, getting rest, making weapons, etc.).

Mechanics: I want every decision made to be something that could not work, so there is always a chance of failure. (Example: If you decide to go scavenging for supplies across the city you could be gone for a while and by the time you return the secondary character could be dead, completely changing the direction that the game would take.) Outside of this, there should be a sense of resourcefulness that comes into play, such as breaking down a table to use the legs as clubs or something to that effect. Also, I want the characters' story to come through as the game is played, instead of putting all the cards on the table at the beginning. So, as you move through the storyline you chose, you learn some things and don't learn others as they come up in a more natural fashion, through events and conversations.

Combat style: Dependant on how the player wants to handle situations. There could be opportunities for guns, but there may be limited ammo and they may attract a lot of unwanted attention. This is where scavenging through other apartments, breaking chairs or tables, etc. comes in to make melee weapons. There is also the possibility for hand-to-hand combat, when weapons aren't accessible.

Setting: A large city. I would prefer it stay unnamed to get away from cultural ties that are attached to each city. Something large and New York/Philly-esque. However, the majority of the game would be played from the inside of this one old brick apartment building. Old peeling wall-paper, wooden steps, thick wooden doors, fire escapes, the works.

Main character: Mid-to-early 20s, fresh out of school and into the city. I'm trying to keep everything very neutral right now and stay away from race, sexual orientation, etc., so I can focus on the core elements and a solid foundation, for now. A vague description of him would probably be; 6 ft tall, 160-170 lbs, possible short beard or scruff, no tattoos, piercings, or anything that is overtly noticeable.

Secondary character: Late 70s - 80 years old man that is fairly feeble. I see him as a man that has a hard time moving around a lot and possibly has heart or lung issues. General description would probably be; 5'6 ft tall, 150-160 lbs, bald spot, mustache or beginning of a beard.

Enemy characters: Tattered clothed people of all types, from full grown men to small children. Some are travelers that may or may not be trusted, some are obvious bandits with guns and bulletproof vests. This category is fairly predictable as far as the equipment carried. One thing that I would like to be different about them is that they have plans that are carried out. Such as, searching through all the buildings down one street, then moving a block over. May have a large truck or something they drive around to carry off supplies and such.

Allied characters: I would eventually like there to be a chance where bands of x-military or cops come through to disband bandits and such. This could be a limited chance for rescue that the player would have to knowingly search and wait for. They would be in tattered versions of their uniforms with bulletproof vests, guns, possibly in military vehicles or cop cars.

----------------------------------------------------

The first paragraph is a short, introduction, foundation I'm trying to use. I know it seems kind of thrown together, but I'm trying to have any narration of the story come from the main character and seem as sleep deprived rambling (not a cop-out, I swear). I'm pulling my inspiration from The Road, but with opposite character roles and without the romanticized narration.

If there are any questions or concerns, I'm more than happy to answer or reply to them! Otherwise, any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

  • The main character is tasked with keeping his elderly father alive and safe during a post-government society. Every decision made is one that is extremely emotionally difficult for the main character.


    • If you decide to go scavenging for supplies across the city you could be gone for a while and by the time you return the secondary character could be dead, completely changing the direction that the game would take.

      The contradiction in these two points concerns me. If I am to play a game where I know RNG can ultimately affect my purpose with no recourse to my having done everything possible to avoid a negative outcome. I might revert to an earlier save thus in effect editing your storyline. On the other hand "The Road" from which you take inspiration is in itself a case where hope has gone. If you can mesh that theme well i.e. it doesn't matter how much you struggle you will still lose, then I withdraw my objection to the contradiction.

      I should also point out that if an option in a post-apocalyptic world affords you the freedom to "accidentally" let your old man get eaten by cannibals thus freeing you of your "burden" but making survival a lot easier. You may well find many of your game players possessing a patricidal inclination. There must be a reason more than simply being his father (especially a suicidal one) to keep him alive. Although many people did get upset when they had to kill their "weighted companion cube".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Agreed, gamers can be pretty cold-blooded. Maybe your character has a happiness / sanity meter. Things like letting someone die impact that meter, significantly if you know them well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The contradiction in that point is something that I was hoping would have more of an impact on the decision making that would be done and make it more of a struggle, so you couldn't be gone for too long or something to that effect. I didn't take into account the ruthlessness of today's gamers though, so that kind of dismantles that idea, unless I can think of some negative action that can come from the father dying.

The only options that come to mind right now are :
1 - let the player decide to kill supporting character without any consequence other than an alternate ending
2 - put some type of negative reinforcement for losing the secondary character (whether it's a happiness/sanity meter, a huge removal of xp or skill points if that's a part of the game, or something similar/combination)
3 - make the secondary character's role a shorter part int he game, such as only the first half
4 - have a fixed storyline that prevents the father from dying

Well, come to think of it, the player would also be losing their home and all of their supplies, along with the secondary character, if the apartment was attacked while gone. That would mean they would have to find somewhere else to stay, gather new supplies, make new weapons and defenses, and then possibly have some type of negative effect applied to their character. Which would end up pushing the player further behind, but in an easier position and alternate ending. Personally, if I had to do all of that work again in a video game I would be sufficiently angry, so maybe that would be enough? Anything involving the secondary character killing himself or the player trying to kill them could just not be possible, since the main character isn't suppose to see that as a possibility anyway.

When it comes to the actual HUD design or game layout, I'm trying to stay away from happiness/sanity meters and HP/ammo bars, etc.. I really want the mentality of the characters to come through their actions and things like ammo to be something the player keeps up with or has in an inventory list in the game. I feel like having meters and gauges in a game is just too easy of a go-to for a solution and removes the player from the experience, to an extent. Not that it's a bad thing, but I don't feel like it would work in this situation. I guess I'm just trying to make things harder on myself and reinvent the wheel while I'm at it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Getting beyond the fact that it is a game, how realistic do you seek your setting to be? In a collapsed society I would not necessarily want to situate myself within an apartment block. Too many uncontrolled factors i.e. essential services such as water would fail, electricity has probably already failed and escape routes in the event of an attack are limited (meaning you have to descend to escape (unless of course you live on the ground floor)).

Again I do think you need to give an ingame value to the father figure. Perhaps make him less frail but physically damaged so that his function persay is to act as the defender of your sanctuary or some role that brings value. Oh and if the father is 80 years old then kudos to him for having a kid at 56 :)

What interests me most though is this. What is your end point of the game? Rescue, continued survival till you die, or another alternative? Is their hope or will you remain with the theme from your inspiration and take away all hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, as realistic as possible, but within the confines of the established foundation of the storyline. I've thought about the power and water issues that would come into play, but in reality someone may not use those anyways in fear of attracting unwanted attention, so instead if becomes something that needs some type of resourcefulness to manage (such as cooking food over a fire in different locations and finding running water somewhere else). As for an escape, that wouldn't really be an option with the secondary character, but could be done. I guess the more I think about it, the more the main character's duty is to stay alive and protect the secondary character until the very end. If that means they need to move buildings, they can do that, but it would mean making sacrifices and risk being found.

Yeah, it pushes the boundaries of the characters' ages, but I'm trying to base as much as possible on my life, so I can relate to the story more and keep it as truthful as possible (I turn 24 in July and my dad would have turned 80 in March). As for the frailty of the character, that's something that has been bothering me a bit. That's probably the Achilles of that character and it bothers me. If I make him too self-sufficient, then it's easier to leave him. If I make him too weak, he's too much of a burden. I think my solution to this is to make him intellectually powerful, with some type of engineering experience or architectural experience that would help the main character make weapons or defenses or navigate buildings to find hiding spots and such. Also, he won't be so feeble that he can't walk across a room or something of that nature. My idea for him is to have the strength to walk half a mile/a mile before needing a break.

My idea for this game is to be something based on hope, but with no promises of such faith. The player should feel like there is some type of end resolve that could come, but whether they make it there or not is up-in-the-air. I plan on writing multiple storylines that lead to both characters dying, secondary character dying, the main character dying to save the secondary, both living and making it to a military outpost, one or both characters finding a convoy that leads them home and the adventure along that. There will be some resolve, but it will most likely not be very promising. Very much trying to stick with the hopelessness from an outsider's perspective, but with hope still alive in the characters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sounds interesting. My only comment is that there is too large an age gap between the father and the son (Something Stormynature mentioned as well).
Certainly it's possible for him to have a son at 60 years of age, and more extreme age gaps have occurred before, but because it's not too common, it might be a slight immersion break.
If you up your main character's age slightly, making him closer to 30 than 20 (For example, 27 or something), and you lower the father's age slightly, making him closer to 70 then 80 (such as 73 or 74), that's a much more reasonable gap of age (73 - 27 = 46 year age gap). 73 is still old, 27 (or even 24) is still young. You can augment the frailty of the father, and the weakness/youthfulness of the main character, because of the malnutrition you already mentioned.

[Edit:] You addressed the issue while I was writing. =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, it pushes the boundaries of the characters' ages, but I'm trying to base as much as possible on my life, so I can relate to the story more and keep it as truthful as possible (I turn 24 in July and my dad would have turned 80 in March). As for the frailty of the character, that's something that has been bothering me a bit.


Kudos to your Dad then...I am guessing by the use of past tense that he has passed away, so please do not take anything I say as insulting to his memory. I like the fact that you want to keep aspects of your storyboard close to your own reality of yourself and your father. It will help you keep fighting to make this more than an idea. But and this is a big but, don't lock yourself on it so much so that you have no flexibility. A project on the scale this appears to be heading to, will most likely result in a team-based effort and you need to keep that flexibility for their input. On the other hand don't be so flexible as to lose what you consider important.

One aspect you might look at is the actual relationship dynamic being a lot more intense than you might initially think of right now. What if the value that the father provides is an oral history of his own life and in that oral history you literally have a game within a game? This life affirmation could also be used to foretell the backstory to the societal collapse as well by providing a rich history that give absolute credence to the age gap. The sheer desperate moments of the day to day survival leavened by the alternate game within a game could prove a rather interesting game.


edit note: I said history and game waaaay too much. ><

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One aspect you might look at is the actual relationship dynamic being a lot more intense than you might initially think of right now. What if the value that the father provides is an oral history of his own life and in that oral history you literally have a game within a game? This life affirmation could also be used to foretell the backstory to the societal collapse as well by providing a rich history that give absolute credence to the age gap. The sheer desperate moments of the day to day survival leavened by the alternate game within a game could prove a rather interesting game.


It would also supply a real non-artificial reason to keep the dad alive. The dad becomes, in the flashbacks, a secondary "main character", so there's some attachment there. If he dies, you 'lose' the sub-game (since there are no more flashbacks as he is telling his story), while still getting to continue in the main game. You don't get to hear that backplot of how the world ended up in the state it is in, but you still have to survive to go find mom (in the OP it's implied that she might still be alive).
It could even be that in the flashbacks, you find out, and participate in, hiding caches of food/guns in certain locations in the city. Now, since that dad is dead and you won't see anymore flashbacks, you lose out on knowing where additional caches are, though you might still happen to stumble upon them by chance, most of them are really well hidden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The danger of a character being for information only is people will expect they can get the info from walkthroughs and ignore the character. Not all people, but some people. I think some concrete usability would be good, e.g. he knows how to fire up a generator or fix the plumbing. Something you can't do without him. The backstory etc would be a nice extra. Maybe he helps in small ways that aren't immediately obvious, but if he dies the apartment becomes untenable to live in without his assistance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!