Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wai

Battle Angel Valerie

This topic is 1897 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

Eight years ago, I joined a group of fellow graduate students to form a company to develop a game that would use the live data collected by a large social network. The key technology of our development was an engine that would express the live data into coherent and responsive characters for the game. This technology allowed the game to emulate millions of unique and realistic characters without us creating a single one. We believe that such a game would be revolutionary and would bring the world a lot closer when people could understand one another better.

 

The game was launched six years ago as a life simulation game but it was a failure. The game could not draw enough players and got entangled with a horde of legal issues, leading to the bankruptcy of our company. After a year of despair and litigation, a client contacted each of us and recruited us to work on a similar system for him.

 

Our client had his own private life data network for us to use, and relocated us to a secluded location for the development. We were assigned to develop an arena combat platform using the data. Using various informatics gathered from the data, we developed an interpreter to translate them into combat attributes, and created an engine to visualize the fighting for the client to see.

 

Since the system did not allow any human interactions, thus had no players, it could not be called a game. It was more like a fish tank where periodically, some of the fish would be selected to fight one another. The system was never released to the public and remained unknown outside the client's circles. From what we understood, our client most likely used the closed system to allow gambling to entertain his circles to make a profit. We believed that his business model might be similar to that of a horse-racing organization.

 

After the project was completed, the client continued to pay us a sizable dividend every two weeks. We effectively became retirees.

 

Some of us had found other job or endeavors since. Some decided to enjoy life and travel the world.

 

As for me, I decided to settle down.

 

Since I was small, I had always been a quiet loner. My family had moved a few times. In each time I lost my friends and a part of myself. Over time, I developed a tendency to not have friends to avoid the loss. Now that I no longer had to worry about my living, I decided to settle down at the small university town where I spent my academic years.

 

 

At the edge of the university town, I brought a small house overlooking a wheat field.

 

"Congratulations on your first home! How do you feel to be a home owner? Aren't you excited?" My real estate agent asked me as she handed me the keys.

 

"Not really, I feel rather normal," I replied honestly.  "I am at the age where I should be having a home. It feels like just a normal part of life."

 

I was such an emotionally neutral person that if I were a character in that game, I would probably have no combat attributes.

 

The game was designed to simulate the instantaneous emotional attributes of the characters to determine the skills they can use and the effects of the skills at any given moment. I still remembered the long nights we stayed to design and balance the skill sets to give a good show with great varieties. To balance the combat mechanics, each of us had a favorite archetype that we used for play test. Since I did not strongly identify with any emotion, my archetype was a combination of emotions that was never found in the data pool. We designed the rules to balance that archetype anyway, just to cover the theoretical loopholes.

 

 

We named that character archetype Valerie.

 

 

Not to break the mood too much, I smiled momentarily for my real estate agent, to ease the diverted chain of thought happening in my mind.

 

Although we knew that the system we created was not a game, we developers still fondly called it a game. By calling it a game, we could pay homage and reincarnate our lost dream. This gave us closure for our shared chapter.

 

 

"Well, in any case, this is a great investment! You should be excited about it! I am excited for you!" My agent said, bringing me back to the present.

 

Perhaps I should be excited. I thanked my agent again for her help.

 

As I watched her drove off, I acknowledged that a new chapter in my life had started.

 

Starting tomorrow, I will reconnect to the community and find my new role.

 

 

~ End of Chapter 1 ~

Edited by Wai

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

I had to mull this over for a few days before I could decide why I was reacting to it the way I was.  My reaction was mixed, and I couldn't communicate that well through the straightforward poll questions.  The content is mostly interesting, but I think there is a presentation problem; the presentation problem isn't what I would usually call "writing style" though.  It's more an issue of what content needs to go into an introduction to orient and hook a reader.

 

As far as the content goes, I like stories about starting over at life.  I just finished reading a novel about a similar topic - a female lawyer living in New York City realizes she hates the city and her life in it and needs to flee and find time to relax and think so she can decide what she wants to be different about her future life.  I am also interested in systems that analyze people and represent them with archetypes.  I was confused why emotions would be converted into fighting characteristics; this is one of the two points that made me unsure whether I would want to play the game or work on the design.  The second point was that I have no idea what genre the game would be or what it's main activity would be from this intro.  Would the player be in the role of the emotionally neutral narrator here?  This is an interesting character, I do want to hear more about him(?) but might be an awkward fit for a player who isn't emotionally neutral.  I strongly wanted more clues about what the theme or moral was going to be, since it seems like a story where there will be a strong theme.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

High Concept

The main character acquires the emotion archetype "Valerie" by risking his own life to fight personified consuming emotion so that he could save his friends trapped by a system he helped create.

 

Theme

There is an emotion that prevents a person from being consumed by strong emotions. Those strong emotions include Despair, Greed, Grudge, Guilt, Lust, Rage, Self-righteousness, Vigilance. In the story, the archetype that prevents a person from being consumed and saves others from being consumed is named "Valerie".

 

Genre

The genre depends on what can be finished in reasonable time. If I am the only one working on it, then the genre is a short story with no illustration. The short story would have about 12 chapters, so perhaps 10K words total. If I get that done, then I either upgrade it or work on a different project. In terms of upgrades, it can be turned into manga, interactive story, turn-based RPG, action RPG, etc. Since I cannot finish those in reasonable time by myself, I work on the common asset, which is the short story.

 

As a short story, the genre is drama with fighting. The fighting does not occur in the real world but in the world of the game the protagonist created. The link between emotion and combat was created to visualize and test the emotional strength of individuals. For the plot, the link exposes the true feelings of the characters. For the storytelling, the link dramatizes the display of emotion. The dramatization of emotion is used to help the audience remember the characteristics and effects of the emotions. The story follows the perspective of the protagonist trying to save his friends who had become trapped by the system he helped create. To save his friends, he will fight in the system with them. They will fight all 8 of the strong emotions. They are saved when one of them gains the strength to become a Valerie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ohhh, ok! :)  A battle against being consumed by overwhelming emotions sounds like a good topic to me, and people getting trapped in a game they made is a good workhorse of a plot; has been done well a few times, so there are some examples to look at, but hasn't been done a huge number of times or recently.  I think it would work better if you started in a different place; buying a house doesn't seem directly relevant to the heart of the story.  Instead I'd start either with the team excitedly creating the game, or with the main character finding out people had gotten trapped in the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emotion is the urge that affects one’s decisions. In the live data, Greed was the most common emotion.It describes urge to get more for not reason other than to satisfy the urge to get more. It is in the bargain shopper who likes to shop for good bargains when they don’t need the merchandise. It is in the gambler who could not resist betting when they had just won a bet. Greed is probably in all of us to some degrees.

In the game, the archetype of greed is a treasure hoarder. The archetypical traits include a huge backpack, a searchlight, digging tools, and various treasure-hunting gadgets. Characters with high level of greed would also have an aura around them, where they could archive and retrieve objects that would not fit in their backpacks. They fight to get what they want and to keep what they have. The outcome of their fight is mainly determined by the items they possess. The more powerful items they have, the better chance they have in winning a fight. However, it is important to note that winning the fight is not their goal. Their goal is the items. Fighting is just a mean to achieve that goal.

There is a difference between fighting to get an item and fighting to take an item away from someone.

 

The first emotion focuses on self-gain, they care less where they get the item from as long as they get it. The second emotion focuses on harming others, they are willing to destroy the item so that the others cannot have it.

The first one we call greed.

 

The second one, jealousy.

 

“I am glad that you are still the philosophical type. I can count on that to never change.”

Sitting before me was Lea. We were classmates back in college when she studied mathematics. She had become a high school teacher in town. I met her by chance at the farmer’s market. We sat down at a café to catch up. She made that comment when I told her about my goals to settle down and reconnect.

“You certainly have changed quite a bit,” I said.

She had lost her dorky look of big glasses, pigtails, and hoodie. She had now learned to style of her hair, to put on elegant clothing and on cosmetics. By her changed appearance, I would not have recognized her if not for the way she startled when she saw me.

“I am happy for you,” I added, noting her engagement ring that she seemed to unknowingly touch as she wrapped her hands around her warm cup of drink.

Upon hearing that, she became self-conscious and hide her hands under the table in embarrassment.

 

“He is a banker. He is really sweet,” she said, “We are getting married in June.”

 

She said so with downcast eyes, as if recounting the sweet but embarrassing moments with her fiancé. I had no doubt that they loved each other very much.

“Am I invited to the wedding?”
“I'd love to! But it will be out of state….”
“I don’t think that will be a problem for me.”
“If you come, you will be one of the few people I know!”
“The more reason for me to go,” I said.
“Thank you, this would mean a lot to me.” She said as she reached and held my hand.

 

Lea did not have many friends. Since she was small, she had always had good grades and good manner. She became a target of jealousy among her peers. She was the one that her classmates wanted to defeat. They watched her, wishing for her failure. She had always found herself alone and isolated. I was one of her few friends.

“I am sorry,” I said.
“What for?”

 

I closed my eyes to look for a way to verbalize my reason.

 

“I am sorry for not being there earlier. This time I will see it through.”

 

Time seemed to have stopped for a moment. All I could feel was the warmth of her hand on mine.

Eight years ago, I left to make a game to bring people closer. Eight years later, I had just started to regain one connection I lost. My life was a joke.

I opened my eyes when she withdrew her hands to dry her tears gently. Her bittersweet smile carried a sense of serenity that her hardship was understood, and an acceptance of the irrevocable decisions that brought us to the present.

“How about you? Are you seeing anyone?” She asked.
“Nah, I feel as if I had been living in a prison,” I said casually.
“It couldn’t be that bad!”

 

She said with a chuckle.

When I returned home, a heavy feeling brought me to lie down on the floor. I opened my phone to see Lea’s old photo taken ten years ago, which I had just linked to her new phone number.

The thought of us shopping for furniture, and falling asleep in a cuddle after furnishing the living room filled my mind. If I had stayed with her, the present would have been very different.

I closed my eyes to let the emotion pass.  
 

~ End of Chapter 2 ~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alternative Openings

 

1. Start with a celebration where the team had concluded the project with the client, and the team members are going separate ways. In the celebration, the team would watch the archetypes fight, and in their conversations, they will talk about what each of them will do. The conversation then leads to the main character saying that he would settle down at the college town. To have this opening, the length of the opening would increase, because I would be expanding a description into a scene. The design of the developers would need to be complete. This might distract the player too much because the developers are not main characters of the story. This might introduce too many characters that the player does not need to know. This opening might show too much about the powers of the archetype, and reduce the surprise when a power is used for the first time against the player

 

2. Start with the main character finding out people had gotten trapped in the game. I think this opening might draw too much attention to the game and trying to survive it, but not enough on what the main character and others are doing before they are trapped. I think I will know whether this can be done when I continue chronologically to the point where the main character finds that people are trapped. Then I can rearrange that section to the beginning and check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about starting the story with the main character observing how the emotions of some of the other team members have changed dramatically when the first game fails and then when they are hired by the mysterious guy to rework the concept?  Then skip ahead.

 

Emotion is the urge that affects one’s decisions. In the live data, Greed was the most common emotion.It describes urge to get more for not reason other than to satisfy the urge to get more. It is in the bargain shopper who likes to shop for good bargains when they don’t need the merchandise. It is in the gambler who could not resist betting when they had just won a bet. Greed is probably in all of us to some degrees.

I tend to think bargain hunters and gamblers are more addicted to the thrill than greedy; I'd personally characterize greed as being inability or unwillingness to understand that one doesn't need to own everything that catches one's interest.  Also being unable to mentally redefine what constitutes a collection to remove that one item which is 100 times more rare than the others.  Greed is a compulsion, but not the same kind as making bets or seeking bargains, I don't think.  YMMV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Self-righteousness is the urge to protect one’s own decision or perspective. This urge is not about finding the truth, but to maintain one’s image of being correct. In the live data, self-righteousness was the most persistent emotion. While other emotions might override a character at times, self-righteousness tended to stay with the character when the other emotions subside.

In the game, the archetype of self-righteousness was a knight warrior with heavy armor, tower shield, and heavy melee weapon. We referred to this archetype as the paladin, same as how this combat archetype was called in other games. The paladin draw their power from their conviction, which is displayed as a symbol on their equipment. At high level, this archetype had an aura that debilitates those with less resolve.

For this archetype, fighting was their normal way of existence. They would fight to protect their convictions, and to eliminate those with contradicting convictions.

“Do you believe in karma?” asked Jeremy.

Jeremy was one of the developers of the game. He was a colleague with many talents. He was the architect, both in the development of the game as a software, and in the visual design of the arena. Our client gave us the design freedom for the arena. The final design was a network of Gothic towns connected by catacombs. In each town, the sky was replaced by a stone dome, where stairways and dwellings were craved into the dome. By the end of our development, we had only created one of the towns. The arena was the plaza of that town.

Tonight, we met again at a local bar in downtown for the first time after leaving this college town. I had known Jeremy since I was first year in college. We met in the laundry room of our dorm discussing random philosophical questions. The question he asked was a typical kind of question we would discuss.

“If by karma you mean an external force that rewards good deeds and punishes bad deeds, then no.” I said, anticipating him to further clarify the topic.

Jeremy seldom asked questions merely to get other opinions. He asked questions to test his conclusions to make sure that his conclusion could withstand counter arguments. He would not disclose in the beginning what conclusion he had reached, so that he could see whether others would reach the same conclusion.

“Do you mean that you believe in karma in some other way?” Jeremy said.

“I think that a person who believes that their action is correct could find happiness regardless of the outcome, and that a person who believes that their action was wrong could be tormented by their own guilt.” I said.

“Very well,” Said Jeremy, “What about a person who did something wrong but finds happiness because they thought they did the right thing, and a person who did something good but is tormented because they are misled into believing that they were wrong? Should society do something about them?”

I gave his question some thoughts. On the surface, I would like to say yes, that the society should do something. However, I did not believe that that was the complete answer. Humans are prone to various forces that affect their judgment and decision. A society might act, but how would society know that it made the right judgment?

In our play test, his archetype of choice was the paladin. If we were in the game, I would have been stunned by his aura, giving him the opportunity to strike me at his discretion.

“It depends on the action,” I said, “I think each of us has a responsibility to set things right, but punishment goes beyond what it takes to restoring a situation.”

“But how could a society set things right if they don’t have a way to tell what is right?” Jeremy asked, “Whether there is punishment or not, society needs a way to judge.”

I felt that I was stunned again. I felt that I was trying to oppose his conclusion out of fear even though I did not know what it might be. Was I afraid of being judged? Had I already done something wrong?

“The way to judge could involve all the stakeholders,” I said, “It is a way to decide how to restore a situation that everyone involved would agree. This way, the ‘judge’ is not a single perspective and does not need to know everything to make a decision that would work in all situations. The ‘judge’ is everyone involved, and they only need to decide on an agreement for their particular situation.”

“What should society do when someone refuses to subscribe to that kind of resolution? Do you mean that society should never enforce any rule because all rules should only be followed voluntarily?”

A fight against a paladin is typically a war of attrition. We continued the conversation for longer than I intended, until Jeremy was too drunk to continue. At the end of the conversation I still did not know the conclusion he had. However, I gathered that after the end of the project, he continued to work with the client to expand the game for Phase Two development. In the conversation, he neither disclosed the details of Phase Two, nor asked whether I was interested in joining. Perhaps I was being interviewed, and I flunked the interview.

As I was carrying Jeremy to his hotel room, I thought about whether I would work on Phase Two if Jeremy asked me.

 

At that moment, the thought of Lea flashed in my mind.

To me, the thought of her meant that I did not want to go unless Lea would go with me. However, I did not want to acknowledge that meaning because it was an unreasonable desire. I had no choice but to dismiss that pointless thought. Maybe I should go, just to help me let go of Lea.

“By the way, you have only been back recently, right?” Jeremy asked, in his drunkenness.

I said yes.

“You should go aboard for sight-seeing until next month,” Jeremy said.

I found Jeremy’s comment odd, even though I knew that he was drunk.

“Well, any place I should visit in particular?” I asked, to play along with him as I lowered him in his bed.

“How about Japan?” Jeremy said, “You don’t know anyone there, right? You won’t recognize anyone, and no one would recognize you….”

I stepped back in an unexplainable apprehension. The sudden disorientation made the room seemed bigger in a heartbeat. I noticed myself in the mirror. There was a feeling of watching a stranger from another world.

Driving home through the empty downtown, I saw no moon and no star.
I had an eerie feeling that the night sky was really a stone dome.
 

~ End of Chapter 3 ~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

High Concept

The main character acquires the emotion archetype "Valerie" by risking his own life to fight personified consuming emotion so that he could save his friends trapped by a system he helped create.
I miss the simple old days. There was the dragon and the princess. You took your sword, slay the beast and marry the princess (or slay the princess and marry the dragon - a nice twist if you watched Half-Dragon anime :D)

Today everything is so complicated and psyhological :D

 

Genre

The genre depends on what can be finished in reasonable time. If I am the only one working on it, then the genre is a short story with no illustration. The short story would have about 12 chapters, so perhaps 10K words total. If I get that done, then I either upgrade it or work on a different project. In terms of upgrades, it can be turned into manga, interactive story, turn-based RPG, action RPG, etc. Since I cannot finish those in reasonable time by myself, I work on the common asset, which is the short story.
Don't get me wrong, I totally disliked the story and would not play the game, but... I was able to understand what you wrote (rare thing), it was clear and decently well written (and I'm picky), and, even through it's completely unappealing to me, I can see some people wanting to play such a game.

 

Turning it into an interactive story (with some illustrations) sounds worth a try.

(but really, there should be slying dragons and a princess in my opinion :D)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about starting the story with the main character observing how the emotions of some of the other team members have changed dramatically when the first game fails and then when they are hired by the mysterious guy to rework the concept?  Then skip ahead.

 

The story is not about the developers. They are mostly part of the back story. I think it would make sense for the narrator to mention them, especially when the narrator encounters the corresponding archetype in a fight. However, it would not make too much sense to associate an archetype strongly with a developer because people aren't normally strongly emotional. Even if a developer identifies themselves with an archetype, they are still far from the strongest instance of that archetype. For the emotions that they go through during the failure, I think it is enough to take the narrator as a representative.

 

The main protagonists are:

 

1. The narrator, who was one of the developers, and the one telling the story

2. The narrator's old friend, who the narrator left to make the game

3. An investigator who is trying to solve the case

4. A friend of the investigator recruited to help solve the case

 

In the high concept, 'friends' refer to these four characters, not the developers.

 

 

but really, there should be slying dragons and a princess in my opinion biggrin.png

 

There is a dragon.

I think there is no princess.

Edited by Wai

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.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!