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Author Topic: Main Story Arc idea - "Encroachment of Ice Age"  (Read 34464 times)
zenbitz
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« on: February 25, 2009, 07:38:06 AM »

This is kind of a weird one, but it's related to other story posts I have made.  It will make for a very grim, even nihilistic end.

PC is a Northerner.  Could be a tribal, town dweller or loner - the key is that he (or she, from this point on, all prounouns will be masculine) starts at the top of map.

It is the end of a very long, very harsh winter.   The winters have been getting harsher for years now, and food and heat is getting harder to come by.  PC may or may not know that "Nuclear Winter" after the wall should have ended 5-10 years ago - but he should be able to find this out early by talking to folks in the early locations.  Even "anti-social" characters will fee

PC sets out south, for the dual purpose of finding a warmer spot to winter next year and maybe with some seed of an idea in his mind to find out more _why_ the winters are so harsh.

As time passes in the game, the northern parts of the map get more and more inhospitable.  In mechanics terms, it's harder and harder to hunt/forage for food.  This should be reasonable obvious to a player who's trying to feed his PC+party, but we can always drop dialog hints along the way.    As the food supply drops- population in towns drop too (we may or may not want to actually model the migration south - or partial die-offs, partial migrations).  Over the course of the game, northern towns may even become totally deserted ghost towns.  I am currently of the opinion that we should model the seasons - with spring starting later and later, and fall starting earlier and earlier.

Eventually, the PC meets some scientist/meteorology/geology types.  They believe that the Nuclear Winter has triggered another ice age (for the geology nerds, the more ice on the planet - the more sunlight is reflected, leading to more cooling).  They may suggest some further places to investigate this theory.

As the game progresses, the player meets more folks who have more theories.  First "We should just move south to Germany" ... or Italy"... or "Africa".  Finally some "incontrovertible proof is revealed to the PC that the ice age will very likely blanket the whole globe - a near "snowball earth" (SEE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_Earth and http://www.snowballearth.org/ ) Some start to give increasingly outrageous plans to stop the Cooling and the coming ice age.  Roughly speaking, every time the PC "finishes" an area (and gains the full information) it will turn out that "our plan was flawed" but we heard about maybe these guys....  Unclear how many "main-line sub quests" this should be - but "three is the magic number" in most cases.

Finally - the winters are very long now (this could be after several game years) ... maybe there is no summer one year at all... the PC encounters a well equipped group of scientists who, strangely, have no plan to deal with the ice age.  In fact, they are resigned to it by trying to preserve all of mankinds' knowledge and technology for "an extended period of time" (thousands of years).    It is important that at least one of the "save the earth" plot quests remains active at this stage.

Here is the awful truth.  There is no water chip.  You cannot save the planet.  It's doomed.  You can either join the "scribes" and "seed vaulters" or just live out the end of your days meaninglessly (I would represent this in the game by simply walking off the south edge of the map after certain quests have been triggered).


« Last Edit: June 22, 2009, 09:59:36 PM by zenbitz » Logged

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Sirren
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 11:42:49 AM »

Totally anti-commercial and anti-XBox/WII/WoW crowd... The game itself woul'd better to be fun to play... I know we aim for a mature audience but somehow I feel that such an ending shouldn't slip past the developping crew.
I like your ending idea though. As far as I'm concerned this is a viable option. I'm in.
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mvBarracuda
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2009, 12:40:26 PM »

Totally anti-commercial and anti-XBox/WII/WoW crowd...
I should add that to one of the drafts at the wiki, prolly under "target audience" :-)

Personally I really enjoy the concept zenbitz! No sign of the usual RPG cliches so count me in as well.
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egalor
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 04:43:38 PM »

Sounds like a pretty cool idea.

Maybe it's impossible to save the planet, but yet it is still possible to build some "island of life" suitable for the survivors (like the Vault City)?
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Kukkakaali
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 05:06:30 PM »

How about if the war was keeping on going after the war and the harsh winter and the players destiny would be to either make everything work again peacefully or join some side of the war and finish it on their advantage ending the whole game in a huge fight killing civilians and other parties members?
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DK
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 06:58:43 PM »

At first I hmmmed.. but it grows on me.


I can't see opportunities for combat presenting themselves too easily, though fixed if wanted with some easy twists.
How long does the game play? Both in terms of player time and in terms of in-game time.
How is the user interface envisaged? can see this working well if something like Realms of Arkania.
Not sure on having "completed" areas.


 
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zenbitz
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 09:17:30 PM »

Well, I am glad that it's not hated...
One thing I thought of after is that is might screw up the "ending slides" if they all "But of course, like everyone else, they froze"

I might be willing to consider some kind of "mine shaft" / vault at the end... it would be cool if we could somehow make it so that  the player has a real choice whether to join or not.   Like enter the vault, or save a friend.

Also - if you think about it, we are looking at late 20th C technology.  I am PRETTY SURE that there is nothing that exists even now that can keep a population of humans alive "indefinitely" (i.e, 1000 years).
BUT I think it makes a great "quest" even if PC is doomed to fail.   The key for 1000 years is energy.   Some kind of fusion reactor... oh, I guess solar.  PC has to try to figure out a way to make 400 square km of solar panels!

OK, I withdraw the "impossible" objection.  As long as you can get enough power, you can live.

It's a reverse Fallout!  (Note that this is the plot of many old sci fi things:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044207/ )
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zenbitz
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2009, 09:24:21 PM »


I can't see opportunities for combat presenting themselves too easily, though fixed if wanted with some easy twists.

Given the penchant for players to pick fights, I don't see this as a bad thing necessarily.  Also, there can be any number of combat oriented side plots.  Or maybe the part you need for your reactor is guarded by bad ass banditos.

Quote
How long does the game play? Both in terms of player time and in terms of in-game time.

Until it's done!  Probably as long as it can be will be until writers run out of ideas or get bored.

Quote
How is the user interface envisaged? can see this working well if something like Realms of Arkania.

Well, different thread.  I don't see how it makes much difference.... what about RoA interface do you think suits this?  From screenshots it appears to be party-based...

Quote
Not sure on having "completed" areas.

Well, it would be done in a subtle way - not like some platform jumper locking you out of levels.
In any finite RPG (no quest generation), the player is going to exhaust the pre-written "questyness" of a place eventually.  So they will become more and more boring (although can still fufill generic functions like healing, employment, etc.).  I guess I would consider the ice age a "global time limit" on quests, and it effects North-most quests first.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 10:15:53 PM by mvBarracuda » Logged

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DK
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 01:37:11 AM »

ok just had a thought of interesting idea for the main story arc. What if we had 2-4 main stories occuring at the same time. So we have this going on, but then from the beginning other stories are present that are potentally important to the player as well. In one play through you couldn't know the full extent of each story, and each story would require at least an adjusted playstyle. So its up to the player to pick up on the memes of our story and follow the ones that seem closest to their own characters curiosity/needs etc..
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zenbitz
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 07:48:52 PM »

Excellent idea, as long as we have the writers/developers for it.
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DK
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2009, 08:11:00 PM »

thanks..

glad you understood.
My head has been off all week, suffering from illnes but body+brain on the recovery so hope to make more coherent posts next week.
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Lamoot
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2009, 09:48:23 AM »

Me likes:

* nihilistic endings (though some should be positive in spirit (but not cheesy positive) - even it the world is becoming a snowball)
* parallel storylines - however won't this make things deterministic and thus against the choice&consequence thing rpgs really like? With this approach you don't affect how the events go, simply decide which part of the story you'll participate in.

and as a point of general interest, here's how the main plot in the indie RPG Age of Decadence is branched. A nice insight on how they did stuff (the events start at the top):


« Last Edit: February 28, 2009, 09:51:37 AM by Lamoot » Logged
DK
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2009, 06:29:02 PM »


nihilism at end = all choice no consequence

but talking about within game c&c..
yes it's important, but I think it's awesome important that the player is not bigger than the narrative, in that whatever the player does, he is only part of the story, cannot control those events outside of himself by his actions.

In one way, I would see it as a rollercoaster that pushes the player along for one reason or another, and at a cetain number of important points we can make the player choose a track among a few, and the trick is to do so cleverly so that the player both feels there was no choice and yet feels in total control. (ambitious eh?)

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zenbitz
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2009, 07:47:06 PM »

DK -
well there are two parts to C&C in computer RPG.  Only one part is the ending slides.  The rest (and I think the most important) are the in-game consequences.

Also - even in a nihilistic ending, the player should have the ILLUSION that his choices have (slide show) consequences.  It would just turn out that it didn't actually matter...  Think about Fallout for example.  You have to play the game twice - or talk to someone later to even know that your actions effected the end slides!  So, it's really the illusion that that your choices had consequences post game that was important.

This is not to say we couldn't have different versions of nihilistic ending...
 
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DK
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2009, 10:47:33 PM »

yes I get the two parts (why I said within game c& but anyway not so important), was me being an ass and going nihilism? nothing really matters  Cry

Yes.. the ending slides should relate to the players actions and inactions, in more ways than is obvious at the time.

My philosophy of game story building would be to define some loose aims/goals that we want our player to have then look at our starting position and drawing the dots in as interesting way as possible between the two, multiple paths prefereable, and failure as an option.
 
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How about one arc in which a resurgent red army is sweeping across the tundra?

Could be they are just claiming the land for russia.. but maybe they are looking for something, or someone, even somewhere...

Maybe they are not the red army at all, a force under the banner but made up of bandits and hoodlums that found the equipment somehow.

(I know this post is quite bare on ideas but as an initial ball roller for ideas will suffice)
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