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Author Topic: [Proposal: main story arc] Based on zenbitz proposal  (Read 5396 times)
readlock
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« on: June 24, 2009, 04:57:30 PM »

I put it in the other thread, but then saw how it all grows rapidly into spaghetti. So I'll re-post it here.

The bulk of this proposal is based in the initial idea by zenbitz, with an additional "positive" ending that needs most play to work out.

In this case, I started from the climax, imagining how the story might end, and then went backwards, to find a fitting origin for it.



Here's something from Wikipedia (Snowed Earth, see zenbitz' proposal) that could be/have been an interesting part for the "Snowball Earth" version, about how the ice age ended:

Quote
Global warming associated with large accumulations of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over millions of years, emitted primarily by volcanic activity, is the proposed trigger for melting a Snowball Earth. Due to positive feedback for melting, the eventual melting of the snow and ice covering most of the Earth's surface would require as few as 1,000 years.

So the possible game endings could be:

- walking south, alone or with some party; the ending is cold and nihilistic;
- finding the "vault" party and joining them, without finding high tech; the ending slides are quite uncertain and, again, nihilistic;
- finding the "vault" and bringing an energy source, guaranteeing survival of the small group; in-the-middle-ending;
- additionally devising a way to put lots of carbon dioxide in the air, before the ice age starts, so there is hope the planet is livable within the next 1000 years; the ending is uncertain, but positive.

A twist would be finding the "vault" party, but eradicating them after joining some competitors.

With the endings outlined above, the PC would be going from North to South, the "vault" residing somewhere in current Denmark / southern Sweden. The encroaching ice would mark game chapters: with years passing, land becomes uninhabitable, forcing gameplay lower down the map.

This would mean the game starting up north. The PC could be a member of some party abandoning their habitat due to changing climate. To avoid the cliche of "Chosen One", he could be one of the many who set out to find a better place for his party and gather information.

With each season, the party moves south (along the Gulf of Bothnia, and then the Baltic Sea). The PC can come to a rendezvous point and report on progress (or decide to abandon his fellows altogether), eventually bringing his party into the "vault" (possibility for politics with both persuasion and combat).

If the player chooses not to stay in the "vault", at the final rendezvous point he may re-join his party to become an eternal nomad.



The plot of such a scenario would revolve around following the original party down south, constantly looking for a way to secure their future. Or, again, dissing them to become a loner.

This story presents a lot of decisions that would effect the outcome of the game, allowing multiple replays and different ways to develop the character based on personality.



tZee's reply:

Quote
If you make the incoming ice age the main antagonist in the story the game will be quite pointless - you don't stand a chance anyway and you have zero influence on the outcome.
The incoming ice age could be something that drives some progress in the game, but the main plot should be about something else - or there should be a means that gives the main character a chance to do something about the ice age - even if he eventually fails.
The player should feel that he is able to influence the outcome of the game.

To which I replied:

That's exactly why there's a possible positive ending in my proposal above - stopping the cooling before a full-scale ice age starts. In the end, the PC descends into the "vault" with the promise that humanity will survive.

The "wander off south" ending could be eliminated, only leaving the player a choice of conditions underground that he manages to secure.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 05:05:05 PM by readlock » Logged

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tZee
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2009, 05:09:04 PM »

Frankly, to me this sounds so boring. (I assume this is only a basis from which we could start refining the story/add more arcs.)
There is no tension/drama here, yet. It's missing something troublesome which has to be resolved, something urgent, pressing. Something that changed the PCs world dramatically. (Even FO1 has that: Immediately we're set off on a journey to find the chip, otherwise the PCs known world will die.)
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zenbitz
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2009, 05:41:30 PM »

Frankly, to me this sounds so boring. (I assume this is only a basis from which we could start refining the story/add more arcs.)
There is no tension/drama here, yet. It's missing something troublesome which has to be resolved, something urgent, pressing. Something that changed the PCs world dramatically. (Even FO1 has that: Immediately we're set off on a journey to find the chip, otherwise the PCs known world will die.)

Well, there is a lot of room for specific tension.... I think my original idea was to come up with a generalized "plot driver" that can handle a wide variety of starting situations.  For example, in FO1, you are THE VAULT DWELLER.  In FO2 you are THE CHOSEN ONE.  I never liked that (although I have played PnP games that had such fixed origins and they are OK too).

I mean, what if I want to pump up my energy weapons at the beginning of FO2.  Now I am a highly skilled laser gun wielder... who's from a tribal villiage?   With a spear he cannot use???

I think part of the appeal of a wide open character design, is that you pick an origin...   and I wanted to think of a main arc that encompassed a variety of origins and character types.

This is also why there is not so much on the "start of the game"... what I would call the "initial quest".  In a sandboxy game where your characters can vary tremendously, I think the PLAYER should decide his or her initial motivations.   Lots of people played basically disregarding the "initial quests".

What I am envisioning - at the moment is something like this: 

o Player choses from a "chinese menu" of origins, which restrict/influence his skills and starting equipment (and possibly other personality traits or stats as well)

o We design a "generic" initial quest to get the "ball rolling" which works equally well for "all" possible starting characters

o This initial quest - no matter what the starting parameters - dumps the player in a location (or possibly one of a few locations) where upon new quest streams are started.

The obvious choice for an initial quest is that the player is lost in the wilderness during a blizzard or something, has to fight off or sneak off some wolves or something, survive a couple nights in extreme weather, and then finds "a town" (or possibly one of a few towns)

This is kinda "tutorial-ly" but I am not sure that's a bad thing.
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We are denying them a DISNEY ending - Icelus
Gaspard
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 08:24:11 PM »

I don't know, I do not find it boring in the least. The ending would be something like Deus Ex where you pretty much have to sacrifice your character no matter what...

But the beginning drive should be something simple (depending on a background - for the demo we could have two backgrounds for starters - a) a wanderer who stumbles onto a village of survivors or b) a local from that village).

<brainstorm>
Let's say the protagonist witnesses an act of violence: A group of villagers pick on another villager. If you're local then it could be your friend (player makes the decision in dialogue) or long time enemy (both had crush on same girl/boy) if you just wandered in from the wastes you have the option to interfere. If you do not interfere in either case then the topic will be brought up no matter what at the village itself - the harassed villager was carrying a piece of equipment/technology/ten tins of food (something which would be considered important by the player from the protagonists viewpoint).

Where did that piece of equipment/food/whatever come from ? That very harassed (and killed, if the protagonist did not interfere) villager would have carried that information.
</brainstorm>
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zenbitz
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 09:16:38 PM »

Gaspard - I like your plot here, but it just sort of seems better as a mid-game side quest... I mean, I guess it could LEAD to something bigger an better... but as an intro it seems too specific and short sighted.
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Gaspard
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2009, 09:37:13 PM »

Sure, why not
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DK
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2009, 10:07:31 PM »

If we are talking intros then my thoughts :

Multiple random intros based upon the initial stats/background etc... choices of the player makes from the startup screen.

The intros should be very low-key, perhaps fedex mission, perhaps escort, but something that involves the pc travelling a short distance through a population so that there is a enough of a hook given so that further exploration of land and of people is taken.

The initial quest does not have to be finished immediately, if at all, it can wait if the pc sees something of more interest while they are attempting it.

If the player decides to complete the quest then it should amount to roughly half the first level exp. requirements (or w/e system we are using) so that very quickly the player might begin to define his character.

Physical reward for the quest should be given also, money or a basic item, or both, but once more a choice that allows definition of character.





Example 1:

Background... combat orientated youth

You are hired by a friend of your father's to kill the rats in his basement (cliched but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaait)...

After killing a couple of rats you hear whimpering in the corner and as you approach, a young wolf approaches, you prepare to fight..

Upon hearing the fighting your father's friend heads downstairs.. if you haven't killed the wolf yet then he joins in. With the wolf dead, your told its your kill, the markets that way, enjoy your spoils.

You get to market, have a conversation about your killing of the wolf and offered a job as a hunter.

etc...


Variation -

You have an animal affinity-esque trait.. you go into the basement and the wolf doesn't attack but sits in front of you. You walk it upstairs, or rather it follows you, on your heel. Your father's friend shocked, runs to get your father..



The village thinks you are possesed, they run you out of town.. unless your talky skills are good enough.

OR

You are offered a place in a dr. doolittle freak show in which you can talk to the animals.

OR

Hunters see you as a good luck charm and offer you a place on the hunt with them.
Possibly your father's friends is a hunter and so wants to take you and your wolf ahunting.. but then the thing with a wolf hunting wolves hmm...

Anyway... you can see how the initial quest doesn't have to be spectacular, just enough to show the world some talent of yours that others want to exploit.
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mvBarracuda
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2009, 02:59:26 PM »

Just read the whole post in detail and I really like the idea. Having varying starting equipment depending on the character background sounds like a good idea to implement multiple solutions to quests. You would still have the choice between different solutions to a quest but if a certain solution requires a rope for example, the character that already starts with a rope won't need to get ahold of one if he doesn't sell / loses / uses it before he tackles the quest.
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