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Modern Times

Brainstorming: skill ideas for satirical adventure game

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Dear GameDev community,

I'm working on a satirical, text-based multiplayer adventure and role-playing game set in modern-day London. The game is supposed to be fun because of a myriad of (venomous) allusions to all the things that go wrong in this world.

[b]Some details about the game[/b]

Players can choose between character classes like bullshit artist (consultant), bankster, lawyer, mobster, celebrity, politician, etc. In order to complete the game, the player has to live so sinfully with regard to any of the seven deadly sins that a demon is willing to offer them a contract of sponsorship. (The player then has the option to play again with slightly different rules.) On their quest to live a sinful live, characters explore more and more locations of modern-day London (on a GoogleMap), fight "monsters" like insurance sales agents or Jehovah's Witnesses, and complete quests, like building a PowerPoint presentation out of marketing buzz words, selling overpriced loans to poor bastards, or following any of the seven sin paths. Defeated monsters sometimes drop their contact details, and after some "treatment" -- bribes, seduction, threats, blackmail, etc. -- the contact can be exploited in different ways. One of these ways is to combine several contacts to setup a crime. For example, two bribed bureaucrats of some influence, a hired smuggler, two blackmailed doctors and five threatened poor fellows result in a successful organ trafficking operation. Unfortunately, crimes and exploiting contacts result in bad conscience, which players have to get rid of in order to be able to continue their mischief. There are more mechanics, but I think you get the idea.

[b]Brainstorming session[/b]

Players can have three kinds of skills: passive skills just provide some kind of bonus in the background. Battle skills can be used against "monsters". Non-battle skills can be activated outside of combat for various effects, buffs, cures, etc. Battles are over when one of the combatants is subject to a nervous breakdown (0 hp), or if any of a monster's special win conditions is met. (See below for examples.)

[b]I would like to ask you to come up with funny ideas for skills that either the player characters or "monsters" in the world might possess.[/b]

Here are some examples that I have already implemented:

- The bullshit artist's standard attack is babbling. ("Our biggest challenge is cultivating fully operational performances at a much shorter duration and more limited scope" and other such nonsense.) Babbling adds a battle effect called "babble momentum", which makes successive babble attacks more deadly.
- Middle management manager guys try to setup a meeting. If that succeeds, the player is trapped and their skills are blocked with a certain probability. While trapped, the manager can waste the player's time, causing a high amount of sloth damage.
- Sales agents try to sell the player worthless items for cash. Lulling them into a positive relationship increases their chances of succeeding but makes them more vulnerable to getting finished off before they can finish their combo. (If they succeed, the fight is over and the player has lost.)
- Jehova's Witnesses appear randomly throughout the game and give you the current issue of the Watchtower. If the player collects too many of these, they become a Jehova's Witness themselves. (Groups, societies, and affiliations offer access to special skills, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.)

[b]Collaborative game design[/b]

The project is an experiment in collaborative game design. The current code base can be found at [url="https://github.com/ModernTimes/ModernTimes"]github[/url], and once my development preview version is finished, it will be uploaded with options for designers, texters, programmers, and gamers to add their own ideas, jokes, drawings, and game elements to the game. But feel free to join right now!

[b]Name[/b]

The working title of the project is "Modern Times". If you can think of a better title based on what I outlined in this thread, please let me know.

[b]Screenshots[/b]

[attachment=10683:2012-08 - London.jpg] [attachment=10680:2012-08 - Battle.jpg] [attachment=10682:2012-08 - Contact.jpg] Edited by Modern Times

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When male/female battle, you could have the skill "sue for sexual harrasment".

Passives: "Sugar trip", "coffee trip". Sugar trip increases your speed, coffee trip your agression.

BTW: If you want to dynamically generate babble, there are some simple babble algorithms that yield nice results.

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@Amadeus H: Thanks! :D

@Bluefirehawk: "Sue for sexual harrassment" is very nice. I already have a secretary monster implemented that fights depending on the player's sex. If it's the opposite, it starts to flirt. That could put in place some kind of battle effect like aroused, which could trigger weird and unwanted behavior, which would then enable the secretary to sue for sexual harrassment. I might just add it as a simple skill, though.

There are already all kinds of effects, with different degrees of severity, that result from drugs, including sugar, coffee, alcohol, dope, heroin, mushrooms, etc. In order to progress on the gluttony path, the player has to have more and more of these effects at all times. I'm still looking for some particularly weird ways to get high, though.

Right now, I just use a static list of babble phrases and choose one randomly. I already looked for a babble generator, but couldn't find one that was both funny and open source. If you know one, I'd be grateful for a link.

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This looks hilarious! Look forward to seeing more of this!

Have you considered team combinations? e.g. a lawyer and a bankster could get up to all sorts of mischief

Other ideas for classes
It would be pretty funny to add a 'liberal lefty' / 'Guardian Journalist' / 'Left wing blogger' / 'Equality pressure group' - someone / or some group that uses sue/criticise for 'inequality / sexism / racism / ageism /etc as attacks.

Maybe also 'Environmentalist / Green protester' - which use 'picture of lone polar bear stranded on iceberg' to make the character have a bad conscience or something

And what about CEO of a Giant corporation - uses 'you're fired' technique (reduces your self esteem)

Obnoxious footballer - uses 'racist abuse' / 'headbutts you' / 'sleeps with your wife' (no reference to any particular footballers there ;)

A lawyer for their attack could uses 'legal obstacle prevents you from acting' - (not sure what lawyer currently does in the game?)

Celebrity could be split up into other categories - Reality TV star (uses 'ignorance' to not understand whats going on thereby evading damage effects) , Pop star, and Talk Show host. But could be making too many classes here! Edited by absurdism

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@absurdism: Thanks a lot for your suggestions!

"Team combinations" are going to be part of the game insofar as certain treatments of contacts, certain items, and certain crimes are only available to certain character classes. As a result, some crimes can only be achieved by cooperating with other players. For example, stock market manipulations can only be done by banksters, but they need trusted contacts in the financial sector to do it. Since no two players in the financial sector trust each other, some other character class has to step in to provide the collaborators. Similarly, only lawyers can produce letterbox companies (up to three times a day), which are required for some crimes.

Environmentalists that cause bad conscience would be extremely dangerous enemies, since a good conscience is one of the most important resources in the game. If you try to play the game with an overly bad conscience, you end up wasting your turns in churches, at psychologists, and other randomly chosen nonsense. I might use environmentalists as bosses, make them show pictures of cute animals before they can cause bad conscience, or give the player the opportunity to give money to their cause to prevent getting a bad conscience.

Fireing people only works if the enemy actually is your boss, which is probably not going to happen. Highly influencial corporate guys could use a variety of patronizing attacks that do pride damage, though. I'm sure that there are some really nasty quotes from bosses out there that I can feature in the game.

I haven't touched the battle skillset of the lawyer class yet, but legal obstacles or maybe small print as a defensive skill sounds good. Same for ignorance, which I think is even better.

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Haha -these all sound like great ideas.
How can players cooperate in the game? Are you talking about NPCs or is this MMO? Or is it like traditional RPGs where you have a team, that occasionally is joined by characters as you progress (e.g. Final fantasy style)

Also environmentalists as bosses would be funny, but won't they need lobbyist minions who you have to get past to fight the boss?

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[quote name='Modern Times' timestamp='1345220285' post='4970593']
There are already all kinds of effects, with different degrees of severity, that result from drugs, including sugar, coffee, alcohol, dope, heroin, mushrooms, etc. In order to progress on the gluttony path, the player has to have more and more of these effects at all times. I'm still looking for some particularly weird ways to get high, though.
[/quote]
Sniffing Paint/Glue/Markers
Putting a vodka tampon in your rectum (don't know if this actually works ;) ),
Strangulate yourself while masturbating, maybe this is too gross, then just strangulate
smoking hair, could be from your last opponent.
sniffing on exhaust pipes
chewing on computer mouse wires
hyperventilating
licking newspapers
snorting fundip
snorting pepper (for glutony beginners)
drinking absinth, this can cause halucinations, for real, but maybe too mainstream

I implemented a babble algorithm once, it was fairly simple, it's hard to explain without drawings. It was quite cool. I can try explaining it to you if you are interested.

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[quote name='Bluefirehawk' timestamp='1345444376' post='4971358']
[quote name='Modern Times' timestamp='1345220285' post='4970593']
There are already all kinds of effects, with different degrees of severity, that result from drugs, including sugar, coffee, alcohol, dope, heroin, mushrooms, etc. In order to progress on the gluttony path, the player has to have more and more of these effects at all times. I'm still looking for some particularly weird ways to get high, though.
[/quote]
Sniffing Paint/Glue/Markers
Putting a vodka tampon in your rectum (don't know if this actually works ;) ),
Strangulate yourself while masturbating, maybe this is too gross, then just strangulate
smoking hair, could be from your last opponent.
sniffing on exhaust pipes
chewing on computer mouse wires
hyperventilating
licking newspapers
snorting fundip
snorting pepper (for glutony beginners)
drinking absinth, this can cause halucinations, for real, but maybe too mainstream

I implemented a babble algorithm once, it was fairly simple, it's hard to explain without drawings. It was quite cool. I can try explaining it to you if you are interested.
[/quote]

you scare me.

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@absurdism: Each player can only play one character at the same time.
There are different ways in which you can play the game: You can beat the game on all sin paths with all additional burdens that you can unlock after you finished the game without interacting with another character once. However, if you want to get a position of influence in the underworld, bureaucracy, financial sector, etc., then you and your coterie will have to get other coteries out of the way first. You can also role-play in the in-game chat room locations and cooperate with other players via trade and jointly organized crimes. (Disclaimer: These and a couple of other things are just part of the game design document, not implemented yet, and not scheduled to be implemented in the development preview.)

Also: Yes, the game definitely needs lobbyists!

@Bluefirehawk: I couldn't think of a better way to complete the Gluttony path than to lick a newspaper with a vodka tampon in your rectum, on top of a dozen other substances in your body, resulting in the ultimate, literally mind-blowing high. "Combine tampon with vodka. Use vodka tampon. Use newspaper. Game over." Great stuff!

PS: Could you send me your babbling algorithm design via PM? Edited by Modern Times

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@Orymus3: I found a little trailer, but all the links seem to be broken. If you know where the game's website has moved, or where I can find a review, I'd be very grateful for a link. If it's indeed no longer there: do you remember anything in particular that might work as a skill or monster?

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[quote name='Modern Times' timestamp='1345654522' post='4972264']
@Orymus3: I found a little trailer, but all the links seem to be broken. If you know where the game's website has moved, or where I can find a review, I'd be very grateful for a link. If it's indeed no longer there: do you remember anything in particular that might work as a skill or monster?
[/quote]

It has been 2 years now, so I'm assuming its dead. Last time I played, the connection between the client and database seemed severed from some reasons.

I wasn't specifically referring about "monster skills" though, but the general idea. The bureaucratic bullshit with a strong humoristic tone and tongue in cheek humor. There were interesting gameplay mechanics, but the bulk of the idea was trying not to get caught while obviously not working efficiently. I thought it could be of use "in general".

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