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Author Topic: No Pulp-Sci-Fiction ? Plus an alternative Gameworld Setting idea  (Read 7401 times)
Gaspard
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« on: February 28, 2009, 03:43:26 PM »

First of all - hello to everyone. My first post here and all. I've spent the past.. very many hours trying to catch up with the brainstorming and as a long-time Fallout/Arcanum/PS:Torment fan a big question rose up for me:

Is there going to be any pulp science fiction implemented into the story ?


So far the discussions have been about the most 'logical' backstories for anything that has happened in the GW (short for Game World). There's the map discussion and the historical aspects and so on so forth.

To the point then. I've had my own ideas for a PARPG for some time now. So I'll modify them enough to fit into an already sort of agreed-upon setting.
How about it if we start the holocaust in a more pulp-ish way? I'll throw my own idea into the mix. Comments and modifying my ideas encouraged.
I'll divide the following paragraphs into a loose set of cathegories: BACKSTORY, MAP, FACTIONS whatnot

BACKSTORY:
Let's say a biological weapon from a European science lab gets onto the streets. Biohazard. Quarantine - military troops are in the streets with mass-control non-lethal weaponry and equipment. Virus is not airborn but the continental travel has helped it spread across many countries (some may have been unaffected) Settlement and country borders are guarded by heavily-armed forces. There's panic, violence, the civilians go nuts and to top it all off on the other side of the world the Cuban crisis goes all bad and triggers a nuclear war which (let's take into account pretargeted automated launches which are not that impossible during general panic) in itself due to the domino effect (missiles launched on all fronts) engulfs the whole world in mere hours if not quicker (there's missile travel time to take into account).
And then: silence.

RESULTS FROM VIRUS
The virus itself is neutralized or rendered dormant in the subjects/victims by the high doses of radiation in the atmosphere. This might make it a bit too Fallout-ish but mutated strains of the virus could cause various physical mutations, let that be weird pigmentation as in albinism or blue skin or crazy rashes which could evolve into elephant-men (thick skin) or hairy people. As a spreading disease that could happen in a 20-year time-period after the war.


RESULTS FROM NUCLEAR FALLOUT

This has been talked about a lot in other topics. I'm all for the coming of another fatal Ice-Age

EQUIPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
I'm all for sci-fi power sources like fusion or some-such. It would have to be scavenged from old pre-holocaust experimental labs because during cold-war days they were not in use but may have been taken into use by the desperate survivors - maybe even distributed by the scientists themselves in an attempt to restore a kind of civilization

weaponry ? I'm not against the omitting of laser-type weapons or beam guns and plasma rifles. Just regular cold-war weaponry would be fine. With dominating primitive weapons like bows and makeshift crossbows or harpoons. But without many guns the game would be like.. a regular D'n'D. Instead of a mace+2 you'd bash a fur-clad eskimoe's head in with a titanium crow-bar while the little guy tries to block your attacks with a fishing-pole or a stick. Is that much fun ?

As I said before the military was in the streets, armed to the teeth, during bio hazard and the quarantines. Whatever defences they would've used, the surprise nuclear blasts would still wipe them off their feet. That would leave a lot of scrap metal and not so little working military equipment literally ON THE STREETS. Later the survivors of the holocaust would scavenge some of it for protection against.. well... Post-war Vikings on motor-sleighs. Some military groups might have survived in bunkers or subway tunnels.

POPULATION
Slightly back in time again: Due to the chaos wrecked by the bio hazard and military quarantines not many people managed to get into hiding or into shelters, fallout-shelters, whatnot. That would give us a really small population (which I find more interesting). In whole Europe there could be no more than a couple hundred thousand people, million tops. Let us take into account that as the infrastructure as we now it (OK - as they knew it back in the Cold-War era) would be gone. I know too many people who would not ever s u r v i v e without pizza-places, Internet, McDonalds and supermarkets. I heard that it's even worse in the States (I'm from eastern Europe myself). So - low low population

MAP 1. (taglines - secluded populated areas, means of long-distance transport)
So if we have a bigger map, it would not be populated as densely. Maybe three-four different various-sized settlements to a region (I show them as blue dots on the following map which I took from the brainstorming topic)



Of course the game does not have to have so many settlements (If the map's going to look fallout-ish), some of them may be just shantys or interesting places with nice scenery or some valuable items. Arcanum for example had tons of various locations on it's map ranging from a nice-looking magical rock or a pit with two spiders in it to a huge metropolis.
The idea for this big map with scattered areas of populated areas is that you would need a means of transport for longer voyages through the mostly empty frozen wilds. Let's say still working or repairable railways (there might be a faction in control of that + it might need a pulp-sci-fi energy source), ATVs or SUVs for rough terrain and/or crossing the expanses of frozen seas-lakes (ie Baltic Sea which might be 75% frozen).

Pros of this kind of map:
+ a lot to explore
+ quests related to finding transport into newer areas - this way the game could be separated into chapters of sorts even
+ can work easily with many very different ethnic groups (although the map is mostly Scandinavia and surroundings... therefore the temperaments do not vary as much; less racial but more national harrassment ? There should be a social aspect to problems in a wintery wasteland)
+ ...

Cons for this kind of map:
- difficult to set up in a well-playable way - a lot of material to prepare, therefore helluva time-consuming
- it is more difficult to find some tying social element in the game. What I mean is that in Fallout it was the US national propaganda. The American Dream and the art and posters and scenery reflected that. America has had a huge impact on world pop-culture or actually any kind of culture. Therefore ironic references to the superficiality of such things added to the Fallout setting. In a smaller map this would be more difficult because of all the different countries involved. More on this in a following paragraph


MAP 2. (taglines - small, easier to work with, more possible meaningful material)
What if the map really would be smaller. A LOT smaller. Maybe something like this:



maybe something a lot different.

Anyway. In this map we would have a smaller area to work with and therefore a lot more meaningful content can be seamlessly implemented into the Game World. The Baltic Sea would be frozen to a degree and then there would be easier access to all the little islands on the coast of Finland
With a map like this the faction possibilities could involve the Commies from the east - from here we could get a lot of Communist propaganda material into the game. The Soviets didn't have the American Dream but they had their Communist Utopia - pretty much the equivalent of the other in my opinion though...
Sweden was mainly neutral in the Cold War, but it's Scientific Institutes provided the Allies with technology to upgrade their missiles and what-not (also the source of the aforementioned virus ?). The Soviet Union took it's raw material for the very first atomic bomb actually from Estonia, from a mine-lab-processing plant location a little west of Tallinn, the capital. The Finnish people were notable in the Winter War against the Russians. They put up crazy resistance on skis and with snow-camo clothing+rifles, burning their own villages in retreat from the Russian troops to leave them nothing to live off.

The settlements themselves would still be scattered and with a very low population, but using trucks or SUV's or motor-sleighs to get over the frozen Baltic Sea would sound a bit more logical than getting a huge Ice-Breaker Tanker under your own control to crash through waves and ice wherever you please. Aerial craft is.. Well. If you're a tribal or a regular guy/girl then where would you get your flying skills in a world with absolutely no piloting schools left (Of course if the game is let's say 20 in the future there might be a war-vet or two flying over the icy expanses in a two-seater or a little copter like in Mad Max for example.) The eastern coasts would have old Soviet military and/or intelligence installations and/or subs which might be stuck in ice. In the forests of Estonia in some places there are still the radio-waves blockers - the purpose of those was to block the western radio stations from broadcasting their 'enemy propaganda' into the Iron-Curtained Soviet areas. Another quest material

FIN
So here we go. From here on the Ice-Age main plot can be implemented nicely into either type of my proposed map and.. yeah. Well. My fingers feel funny after all this typing and my head is a little dizzy.
If the admins think that this didn't deserve a separate thread then I apologize and feel free to drop it into brainstorm for example, but I thought the Pulp aspect should deserve a topic on its own.
I haven't gone in-depth as much as I'd have liked, but it'll have to do for now.

This type of origin in itself leaves a lot of pretty realistic possibilities for a post-apoc world.

What's your thoughts ?
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zenbitz
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2009, 07:43:25 PM »

Gaspard -
First off, welcome and thanks for the ideas! 
In my opinion, much of your story is HIGHLY similar to fallout:
1) Pulpy
2) Wierd super virus (=FEV)

Quote
Instead of a mace+2 you'd bash a fur-clad eskimoe's head in with a titanium crow-bar while the little guy tries to block your attacks with a fishing-pole or a stick. Is that much fun ?
 

Sounds like fun to me.
Well, sure.  You could just as easily write "instead of blasting them with a fireball, you shoot them with your AK47".

I don't see why you want fusion technology in the game.  I mean, sure, you could contrive some excuse for it.   But since we are at least 50 years away now... we were 90 years away in the 80s. 

However, my primary duties are not writing and setting, so if the creative writing team wants more pulp, then they will probably get it.

We discussed smaller maps in another thread.  It's not really relevant at this stage.  A big map gives us flexibility to add different ideas.  The first "game" demo (Milestone 2) will be 1-2 locations at most, so the world map is only relevent for long term planning.  You can always cut the map down for "early" releases.

I forsee the story/quest writing driving the actual locations in the game.  It doesn't make sense to try to map out all the possible locations until we agree on some more basic story stuff.

If someone wants to write a location(s)/quest line about "Viking" tribes - they can do this almost independent of the map - we could move it around.  Ditto other towns, or Finnish tribesmen, communities based on army remnants...   I just don't see a reason to confine it.  Realistically, I suspect we will produce locations based on an area similar to size in your smaller map - I just don't see a reason to pick that smaller area NOW.

I think your comment that there would be a lot of military equipment around (relative to surviving population) is a good one.  However, one can also postulate that much of the ammo gets used up in the ~19 years post war before the game starts.  Also, military vehicles require an enormous amount of maintianace and spare parts... so we would expect this logistical pipline collapse to render "most" complicated stuff inoperable.

I think your population numbers seem a little low.  Current european is 730M or so.  1990 was maybe 600M? (Guessing here).  Kill 95% in war and "secondary kill" you are down to 30M still, which is the peak population at during the classical era and about 1066 AD (was higher during roman empire).  That seems about reasonable.  Could modify this by a factor of 4 either way, but not much more.   Not that until industrial revolution, population grew at 20%-33% per CENTURY or so (except when it dropped 25% due to black death or something)  (here is my source: http://migration.ucc.ie/population/4%20eupophistory.htm).
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Lamoot
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 03:26:20 PM »

Usually RPGs have a far smaller population than a post-apoc Europe Smiley

And yes, the map is so big intentionally - to be future proof. We can always focus on a smaller region of a bigger map, but it's harder and it requires more work to expand a small map. The amount of work isn't really a concern since we'll limit ourselves to only a few locations in the first stage of the project that is the demo.

Not much of a fan of pulpy approach to be honest, not in this setting that is.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 03:30:38 PM by Lamoot » Logged
Gaspard
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2009, 12:56:41 AM »

heh, well I sort of gathered from the rest of the discussions that pulp is not the most popular um.. genre in this community.
but one can't blame a guy for trying, eh. So I guess we might drop that issue.

Quote
I think your population numbers seem a little low.  Current european is 730M or so.  1990 was maybe 600M? (Guessing here).  Kill 95% in war and "secondary kill" you are down to 30M still, which is the peak population at during the classical era and about 1066 AD (was higher during roman empire).  That seems about reasonable.  Could modify this by a factor of 4 either way, but not much more.   Not that until industrial revolution, population grew at 20%-33% per CENTURY or so (except when it dropped 25% due to black death or something)  (here is my source: http://migration.ucc.ie/population/4%20eupophistory.htm).

I would not disagree with those numbers and statistics of the population in the past.
But wouldn't you agree that back (way back) then the people were accustomed to their, let's say, pretty firm lifestyles. If you took all the farmer's cows away then he would surely starve if he didn't have some sheep stashed away just for an occasion like that, no ?

Would these modern people have the skills necessary to survive a mere setback like the apocalypse, and not only survive that but survive in an environment which not only lacks the commodities of the recent past but is offensive and throws at them harsh weather conditions; there are the arising social problems, diseases and accidents with probably close to no active professional medical aid available, those wild animals mentioned in other threads and possible roaming remnants of various armies or factions trying to get by by raiding and pillaging ?

I would still think that the population would be a lot smaller than what you said it might be.
And Lamoot, I was thinking about that only in terms of background story. Of course in the game we do not meet every single surviving individual, but thanks for reminding that Smiley
« Last Edit: March 02, 2009, 12:59:05 AM by Gaspard » Logged
DK
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2009, 01:05:18 AM »

Not against pulp itself.
Would love to see the more pulp-y things incorporated as a half-joke into the world, maybe as in terms of rumours as to what's going on in the world outside of our bubble.

On the second point.. survival yes yes and yes...

I think we could make this a central theme of the early game if we are starting small town/village before reaching the bigger communities.. (ok a cliche but every cliche has its merit).


In fact I am tempted to say lets make this first and foremost a post-apocalypse survival simulator, and then see how we can organically grow our story and migration of our pc from there.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2009, 02:45:53 AM »

heh, well I sort of gathered from the rest of the discussions that pulp is not the most popular um.. genre in this community.
but one can't blame a guy for trying, eh. So I guess we might drop that issue.

No blame at all!  And what DK said we have already been kicking around.... take "typical" PA pulp or sci-fi elements and turn them into RUMOURS and SUPERSTITIONS in the game... but when investigated (by a player/PC who like to ignore "dire" warnings), these "zombies" or "vampires" or "giant mutants" turn out to be something different...

Quote
Would these modern people have the skills necessary to survive a mere setback like the apocalypse, and not only survive that but survive in an environment which not only lacks the commodities of the recent past but is offensive and throws at them harsh weather conditions;

Yes, these are the 5% who do survive.   I guess you could argue that it's 1%, but you still get 5-7M inhabitants in europe.

Oh, and of course not all these people are NPCs in the game!
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Lamoot
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 10:15:44 AM »

My point was that even with very pesimistic predictions, for example 5000 people surviving in Scandinavia region, would be more than enough for all PARPG needs Smiley
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DK
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 05:32:51 PM »

My point was that even with very pesimistic predictions, for example 5000 people surviving in Scandinavia region, would be more than enough for all PARPG needs Smiley

They breed them tough up north.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2009, 06:42:26 PM »

Aren't there at least 5000 sami _reindeer_ herders alive today?   I mean, 5000 is ridiculously small.  But I get you point about being "more than enough for a game".
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Slaughter
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2009, 09:00:22 PM »

My suggestion would be making a map of reasonable size. Look at Arcanum, for example. Totally unreasonable. Its the map of a entire continent, and there are only three big nations (United Kingdown, Cambria and Caladon). Meanwhile, the north was a strangely deserted, with only the occasional dwarven clan, two hidden elf villages and Bedokkan. Arcanum looked like a post-apocalyptic steam-punk fantasy world at some points.

My suggestion would be stickying with a Fallout 1 sized map (probrably smaller, europe has a high pop density) with five cities. Its good enough and there's enough space for cities, villages that exist but don't appear in the game, city ruins and secret places to explore.

Location: I would suggest southern Finland and parts of Russia near the border. Not only we have russian influence, but also finlandian influence. So we can have post-apocalyptic vikings, evil commie russian invaders, mad-max style bandits and winter. And a lot of russian tech.
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