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AspireAN

All Kinds of Advice Welcome: "WAKE - Evolution through Extinction"

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Hello guys and gals!


I am developing a story that I conceptualized long ago, and am looking for any and all criticism or ideas that would help strengthen the plot, characters, etc. It is essentially, Mass Effect meets I Am Legend meets Singularity meets Life After People.


This is merely a synopsis and not a fleshed out story (Which I am working on in the form of a screenplay/game script), but it conveys the main characters, their struggles, their goals, and the main story line.

 

Thanks ahead of time for all constructive criticism and pointers/ideas.


Here is the synopsis of WAKE: Evolution Through Extinction:

 

 

 

Synopsis:


You are awakened from a hyper-stasis chamber by an alien expedition team. Your chamber is among the debris of a severely degraded structure. A power source, not unlike a battery, has kept the stasis operational for five hundred years and likely would have for another five hundred.


The aliens pull you from the chamber. It appears, oddly enough, that they are speaking your language. They have a translation device that scanned your mind and is altering and translating your perception of their sounds into English, as long as you are in range of the signal.


The prolonged slumber in stasis has degraded several memories. You remember your first name (Entered by the user) and you remember a reasonable amount about humanity at the time, but most of your personal memories that are attached to emotions seem to have been lost. The aliens confirm this through neural scans, but they suggest that the effects are not necessarily permanent.


The aliens are extremely excited over their discovery of you. When you ask why, they say that all appearances suggest that humanity went extinct around five hundred years ago, when you likely entered stasis. We are the only intelligent life they have found in the Milky Way.


“Ziggy”, an emotional alien, seems to grow an instant attachment and fondness for you. “Duffy” (Ziggy’s partner in life, and an associate on this small expedition team), is a dry and blunt, but helpful, alien. In anticipation of answering their own questions and empathy towards offering closure for you, they decide to discover the cause of humanity’s end.


You find snippets of vague information – preserved newspapers and recordings - in the ruins of the nearby city.


These details start off vague but eventually indicate a spreading disaster; something one would expect from a high-level extinction event. But the details of the extinction still elude you, and one thing is clear; the extinction event was not over in an instant. People suffered.


Without warning, you come under attack from a mutated creature. You are knocked unconscious, but your friends save you. They inform you that they have examined the creature they have killed. They show you an image of what you remember is a raccoon. They explain that the creature mutated from this, and is entirely made up of cancerous tissue. A contagion is isolated. The results indicate that a rogue nanite is the culprit behind the mutations and you now have them replicating in your blood stream.


Time is limited as you continue exploration, with finding more answers about this plague being your only hope at finding a cure. You discover that the nanites, created by “Ashland Nanotech”, were originally created to cure cancer, which would alter DNA to remove or repair “onco genes” (genes that lead to or cause cancer). They were soon used as an augmentation to our immune systems.


Somehow they changed – maybe evolved.


Normal EMP’s and chemicals would have no effect of the nanites without killing the host. In your search for answers, you learn that the only way to destroy the nanites is to activate a special nanite control/purge core built at the Ashland Nanotech Facility.

 

Ziggy and Duffy decide that the only way this disease can be eliminated is to prevent its creation via a time portal. But these portals are highly illegal among their species. The penalty of trying to use one, without legal authority, is death. The aliens believe there is limited proof that going back in time can change the present. Some speculate that your destination is an alternate universe. Despite the uncertainty, no unapproved experimentation is permitted.

 

Ziggy and Duffy are part of a larger scientific expedition that carries the technology necessary to create a portal. Risking their lives for you, they obtain the device. This is all they can do for you, and finding out how to get to the purge core and activate it is your responsibility. But if you succeed, the nanites in your body, and all the nanites in the world at the time you have returned to, will be destroyed before the disease can form or spread.


Sensing importance in the location in which you were discovered, Ziggy and Duffy send you back in time from the stasis chamber. Conveniently, you find that the chambers were in the Ashland Nanotech facility.


You stumble through the building, regaining several memories that lead you to the nanites control/purge core. Employees look on in near horror at your mutating form. Security attempts to stop you, but their commander orders a retreat for some reason.


You muse out loud to yourself that your proximity to the purge when it goes off will fry the corrupted nanites in your body. Without the nanites in your body, the cancerous tissue will probably spread out of control, killing you very quickly. The purge will then kill/deactivte the remaining nanites across the globe.


After the purge, you black out.


You wake up in a medical facility. The doctor has “Ashland Nanotech” written on his coat. He thanks you for likely saving the species – calling you, “Mr. Ashland”.


After the credits, audio is played of a news report.


“The massive global nanites failure has been traced to the Ashland Nanotech facility in New York. The company’s owner, Mr. NAME Ashland is suspected to have activated an emergency purge of all nanites technology. Reports suggest that he wasdelirious, claiming to be from the future, coming back to save the world.”


“In related news, reports indicate that not all nanites were eliminated by the purging event. Meant to fry the nanites, the purge may have merely damaged a few, which remained functional. There have been two cases of victims developing cancerous growths. These are suspected to be caused by the damaged nanites. The government assures us that the corrupted nanites will
easily be dealt with.”




**END (seemingly)**



 

But this is not actually the end. After this, the player is prompted to start a second playthrough of the campaign that is entirely different, where you correct the incidental mistakes. You survived the nanite purge and the cancer did not kill you, but you are still partially mutated. You go into stasis again at the Ashland Nanotech Facility, while the other "you" has already entered stasis to survive the coming catastrophe. 


This incident has been looping forever, and each outcome is slightly different, but the original “you” has died in the future every time, allowing the healthy Mr. Ashland that is also ignorant to his coming mistakes, to survive. This time is different. You are playing the one loop in this tragic event where, if you do things right, you can finally stop the plague and this cycle.


A cave-in disables your stasis pod, but you somehow survive. You realize that you must replace yourself with the "clueless" Mr. Ashland which allows you to survive and be awoken again by Ziggy and Duffy - but this time you have a way to win this. You are cured of the nanite infection because of the purge event in the first play through. This time, you can stop the purge from being set, which will prevent the nanites from evolving.


But there’s a problem, and it’s internal. The whole future looks a little different than you left it. Was it something that you did? Or was it something that the nanites did to you?

 

Game Type: Narrative and atmosphere told and shown through series of hidden object and puzzle screens.

Edited by AspireAN

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Crap, my response was sent to internet nirvana... here it is again:

This isn't really a criticism, it's more an observation: your draft reads similar to a holliwood blockbuster with a nice happy ending plus room for a second part. It isn't a bad thing, quite the contrary, it works very well if you want a casual game, a game you play when you come home from work and just want to "shut down" for an hour or so.

But you seem to want a game with emphasis on storytelling, if so you need a story that is engaging to the player. That makes the player explore some concept, feeling or question. You need a topic for your narrative and your game.
You have bits and pieces of one lying around in your story. A theme about the duality of technology, that it serves both as the saviour and doom of humanity. You also introduced time travelling, you could use it and enforce your topic by introducing unforseen consequences to the travel to the past. Otherwise it seems a bit out of place to me.

My real criticism is about your last sentence. How you tell the story is as important as the story itself. The later iterations of Call of Duty had nothing interesting to tell, but they tell it interestingly. You possibly already know this, just that you put a lot of thought in that too.

You have an obvious hero that sometimes goes throught some phases of "the hero's journey", maybe this video can help you designing your story:
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In a nutshell, what kind of game do you want to have? How good your story is may also depend on what you have in mind. Edited by Bluefirehawk

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Thanks for the reply!

 

 

You also introduced time travelling, you could use it and enforce your topic by introducing unforseen consequences to the travel to the past. Otherwise it seems a bit out of place to me.

For this, I thought the fact that going back in time and having him actually be the one that started the plague, even though he was trying to stop it, was the unforeseen consequence.Am I wrong on that?

 

Edit: After thinking about it for a moment, I am guessing that you stopped reading at "**END**" and "After the credits roll". If that is true, that is entirely my fault and I've fixed that. But directly after that, the "consequence for his actions" is conveyed, which is also the (hopefully) nifty twist in the story.


Also, awesome video. I learned something from it. Thanks.

Edited by AspireAN

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For this, I thought the fact that going back in time and having him actually be the one that started the plague, even though he was trying to stop it, was the unforeseen consequence.Am I wrong on that?

 

Edit: After thinking about it for a moment, I am guessing that you stopped reading at "**END**" and "After the credits roll". If that is true, that is entirely my fault and I've fixed that. But directly after that, the "consequence for his actions" is conveyed, which is also the (hopefully) nifty twist in the story.

Uh... no offense, but that part after END was the part I thought sounded awful.  The rest is interesting, but I would be really irritated if I played a game which is ostensibly about using time travel to fix a tragedy (a theme I really like) but it turned out that I hadn't fixed anything at all and all my effort was either wasted or misguided.

Edited by sunandshadow

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For this, I thought the fact that going back in time and having him actually be the one that started the plague, even though he was trying to stop it, was the unforeseen consequence.Am I wrong on that?

 

Edit: After thinking about it for a moment, I am guessing that you stopped reading at "**END**" and "After the credits roll". If that is true, that is entirely my fault and I've fixed that. But directly after that, the "consequence for his actions" is conveyed, which is also the (hopefully) nifty twist in the story.

Uh... no offense, but that part after END was the part I thought sounded awful.  The rest is interesting, but I would be really irritated if I played a game which is ostensibly about using time travel to fix a tragedy (a theme I really like) but it turned out that I hadn't fixed anything at all and all my effort was either wasted or misguided.

Ah Understandable. Which leads me to a part that I didn't think I should post as I didn't want to throw too much at potential critiquers. So what happens after this, is a second playthrough of the campaign that is entirely different, where you correct the incidental mistakes. You survived the nanite purge and the cancer did not kill you. You go into stasis again, while the other "you" has already entered stasis to survive the coming catastrophe. 


This incident has been looping forever, and each outcome is slightly different, but the original you has died in the future every time, allowing the healthy Mr. Ashland that is also ignorant to his coming mistakes, to survive. This time is different. You are playing the one loop in this tragic event where, if you do things right, you can finally stop the plague and this cycle. A cave in disables your stasis pod, but you somehow survive. You realize that you must replace yourself with the "clueless" Mr. Ashland which allows you to survive and be awoken again by Ziggy and Duffy - but this time, you have a way to win this. You are cured of the nanite infection, and can stop the purge from being set, which will prevent the nanites from evolving.

 

In retrospect, that point is pretty critical, but I thought I was taking it one step at a time by leaving that out. My mistake. 

Edited by AspireAN

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Hmm.. well here's my problem with this thread. You left out the most important pieces from the OP, that being the fact the PC is responsible and then you go back through the whole game again to fix it. 

 

On-topic, I don't like the concept. Not because its uninteresting, but because you force the player to go through the game twice just to get the entire story line. I think you should regroup and try to change up the concept so that you are not just reusing the same things. 

 

Just my opinion.

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Hmm.. well here's my problem with this thread. You left out the most important pieces from the OP, that being the fact the PC is responsible and then you go back through the whole game again to fix it. 

 

On-topic, I don't like the concept. Not because its uninteresting, but because you force the player to go through the game twice just to get the entire story line. I think you should regroup and try to change up the concept so that you are not just reusing the same things. 

 

Just my opinion.



Cool - I appreciate you taking the time to let me know what you think. Although the second playthrough would be nothing like the first. Other than the part where the player wakes up in the same stasis chamber, and is greeted in the same way as before, but he now knows the aliens, and all interactions are different as they try to grasp that he has already met them, etc.

 

But making the two playthroughs an entirely different experience would certainly need to be a focal point.

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Sweet! I really liked the twist near the end, where the player realizes that they are Mr. Ashland, and that the creator of nanites was responsible for the future destruction of humanity. There were a couple of things that jumped out at me:

 

I am a bit confused about the Ziggy/Duffy part. Time Portals are highly illegal (in regards to their species), yet their faction carried tools necessary to create a portal? I figured if having a time portal was punishable by death, it would be highly difficult for their species to obtain the materials needed to create one. Another thing is the relationship between Ziggy, Duffy, and the player. I was wondering how much time will pass between the initial introduction of Ziggy and Duffy to the player, because it seems as though Ziggy and Duffy get attached to the player REALLY quickly. With Duffy being dry and blunt, I find it odd how she/he (it?) would be willing to risk her/his (their?) life for an organism they don't know without clearly assessing the situation beforehand. 

 

My other comment is on the second play-through. I really dig the concept, it's just finding a way to make it seem as though the player isn't simply starting over. I'm sure that isn't your intention, it just happened to be the vibe I got after reading the initial post.

 

All in all, if the game-play is handled right, this will be a really cool game.

Edited by M4uesviecr

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Cool, thanks. Yeah, I need to clarify how different I envision the "second playthrough" to be. Maybe it would benefit from a different name. Rather than a "second playthrough", maybe, it can be referred to as the "second leg" of the journey.

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[quote name='AspireAN' timestamp='1358619878' post='5023232']
For this, I thought the fact that going back in time and having him actually be the one that started the plague, even though he was trying to stop it, was the unforeseen consequence.Am I wrong on that?
[/quote]

 

Essentially you are creating a paradox with this thought i.e. the destroyed world he wakes to is the result of a future action of his. This can open up themes revolving around fixed causal determination, free will, multiple worlds theory (resulting from changed decisions) etc.

 

One way in which you might play 2 run-throughs is in the first playthrough the uninfectected human views the current devastation of the world through the eyes of horror, whereas on the second playthrough using the mutated cancerous state you start seeing the changes through a different perspective i.e. has humanity necessarily died out? or evolved into something incredibly different which you being infected can now connect to, leading to the determination of whether this "new" form of existence (while vastly different) is something to embrace or must you race back in time again to attempt a further change.

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