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Author Topic: Setting Ideas: Brainstorming  (Read 41188 times)
zenbitz
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« on: February 09, 2009, 11:20:41 PM »

I know Lamoot has some cool ideas on his User wiki page, but I will let him post them here.

I had some thoughts as well:
1) Game takes place in Germany/Central Europe
2) Sometime in 20th century, WWIII breaks out between US/USSR.  Europe is wasted.  US/USSR... unknown (to player... but the tanks and planes - from both sides are gone).  Game starts ca. 20 years later.
  - Some dates to think about:
   1968 Cuban Missile Crisis
   1989/90 Berlin Wall / German Reunification
   1991 Soviet Coup d'etat attempt

In game world, one of these things went "wrong"  => increased soviet aggression or us senstitivity => Nuclear (or NBC) holocaust.  Note that leaves a low-tech world - no lasers/vaults/plasma guns; barely even computers in some cases.

One I thought was an interesting idea would be that Berlin was somehow spared total destruction - neither side wanted to Nuke it (although population was devastated by bio/chem or neutron bombs or something).  That would force the "war" timing to be pre-fall of the Wall (although I guess they could tear it down - then put it back up within a year or two)

What I think is cool about this idea is that we can use historical stuff from the 70s-80s to flavor the game, and taking place in europe allows a good mix of NATO/USSR hardware etc.  Plus, if we postulate a conventional war there is some _reason_ for guns/weapons to be lying around..

EDIT:  I remembered a 90s PnP RPG I played a couple times that had a very similar theme:
GDW's Twilight 2000.  The game (out of print, but I would spring for a copy if this idea had legs) was not really post apocalypse but rather "Secondary Kill" - the war is grinding down.    I think this would make cool background material, but I think 10-30 years post war makes a better cRPG (during war = better tactical/strategic wargame? - not surprisingly there is a 1991 MS-DOS game of Twilight 2000. 

Of possible interest: http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/ - Parallel history project re: NATO/Warsaw pact ( I think mostly useful for de-secreted Warsaw pact documents)



Also - I floated this on NMA, but may as well add it here:

Bioweapons have caused extreme outgrowth of plant life - forest/jungle!  Everything overgrown.  Animals (released from zoos, free of human predation run wild...).    This is actually quite plausible (well, sorta) - Agent Orange is actually a plant GROWTH hormone, that "grows plants to death"  however, at lower levels it causes plants to grow.   I can find a source for this if you want...   it's not too great a stretch to imagine some bio/chem war agent + a little good old fashioned mutation = The Black Forest.

Wherever in the "real world" the game takes place - I think it's important for SOMEONE to know the (current) world geography quite well.   One thing that bugs me about Fallout2 is that there's a San Francisco that is nothing like the real one (I know cause I live there)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 12:23:54 AM by zenbitz » Logged

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zenbitz
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2009, 08:03:48 AM »

Well, sure - [cue barney voice] The only limit is your imaaaaaggination [/barney].

Right now, I am partial to the Soviet hook.  I have sort of a "thing" for the USSR and alt-history in general.  The advantage of an alt-history approach is that it's a simple hook to hang your rhetorical hat on.   Another thing is that I think it helps the artists and modellers out to have a theme to draw from. 

 One reason to have a post NATO/Pact war for a game set in Central Europe is that it is a ready-made excuse for there to actually, be, you know, GUNS lying around (Ever some time after).  Europe is not the US - they don't have 2.4 .45 Colt ACPs per household.* (this is when the Germans come and correct me)

Another idea (still post Cold-war based) would be to set it in the US, BUT after a Soviet takeover!  "Somehow" the US loses the cold war - badly.  The Russkies take over (a la Red Dawn).  Secret loyal americans go underground, plot revenge.... start up a new War of Independence... it goes awry "Civil World War III".

I think the hard part about setting a game RIGHT after the "cataclysm" is that there are still too many people around.   The RPG Aftermath! (A great resource for you PA game afficionados) - which is setting-independent describes the "Post Ruin" world as "Primary Kill" (some event that kills 50% of the world's population) followed by "Secondary Kill" - which kills 90% of the remaining 50%....   What makes this hard to game is that the environment would be changing SO fast, it would become difficult to code.  Although if you like to watch movies of people starving to death...   I would think of this kind of game to be basically like "Dawn of the Dead" or "28 days later".  Instead of "real" zombies you just have starving desperate people.  Probably make a good FPS game though.

After everything settles down - stabilizes a bit - is when you get your more typical RPG FedEx quest action.  I think you could maybe do 5 years after, if you wanted a game with basically "No shops".   20 years after is a cool mix because you get the "clash of cultures" where you have 40 or 50 year-old survivors who remember the old days AND 17 year old kids who were born in the wasteland and raised by hyenas or whatever.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2009, 05:43:03 PM »

Well, in San Francisco city - 90% of the guns belong to cops or hoodlums (illegal to own a handgun). 10 miles out in the suburbs, there are some more (I pass a shooting range on the way to work).  30 miles out = loads of guns.

But I was talking about Germany and central europe.  Not so many guns, right?
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zenbitz
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2009, 10:21:32 PM »

We should go back a step anyway - what tech level should this game be?  How prevelant should guns and ammo be in the game in the first place, then we can worry about whether or not the back story is plausable.

I would like to see  a reasonably low tech game.   Highly restricted ammunition.  Like - you don't find a case of 50 5.56mm rounds, you find 4 shells.  Should also have low tech missile weapons - bows and crossbows.  Exotic firearms don't interest me - the utility of the  weapon should mostly be how much ammo you can find for it (so, in the US this would be mostly stuff like .22s, .38 special, .45 ACP, 12 (and smaller) gauge shells... much of it bird shot.   Maybe some miltary 5.56mm and 7.62mm.

But the equivalent of a "BFG" would be a hand grenade of questionable provenance.  There might be a few machines guns - they would be big problems for the PC to solve - but they would be hard to move  and go through their ammo in about 4 minutes.

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Lamoot
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 01:26:09 PM »

Hmmm hmmm, many things to read and think over. Will reply later this week Smiley
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zenbitz
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 11:44:08 PM »

I am just going to link Lamoot's User page, since it is teh awesome!
http://wiki.parpg.net/User:Lamoot

Atomic Wikings FTW!   

One thing we should consider - can't make the game too far north in latitude "just to be cold" because duh, move south.
Oh wait. Hold that thought.

We are in Central Europe - beginnings of new ice age.  Main plot line:  Lets figure out how to move to AFRICA where it's warm. Although I am hesitant to make a "save your village chosen one" plot....     Game ends when PC hits the Mediterranian sea, and maybe can't cross it?  It's too toxic?  Too many pirates?
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 03:29:23 PM by mvBarracuda » Logged

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zenbitz
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2009, 05:11:47 AM »

Martin has decent reasons for not setting this in Central Europe (basically conflict with Projekt Zero).

I am OK with moving it to the US.... I even came up with a back story to keep Soviet crap around (assuming we go that route).

US is a big place... keeping with the "move south or freeze to death" maybe the PC starts in Canada (less touched by big war) and moves south.   I think West Coast of North America works... with Los Angeles as "the holy land" sought.... BUT this is pretty much the exact geography of FO1/2.  I like it because I am a Californian and the mountain ranges / pacific ocean form natural barriers to force player on a North/South axis.  I always hate it as a player when "I want to go west, but game map stops there", but this is a small thing.

Another choice is a slice of the North America corresponding roughly to Hudson bay, Ontario and points South. The Great Lakes are Frozen!   The PC could walk (drive? ski?) south from Ontario, towards Toronto/Detroit/Chicago...   
Hmm... I originally thought this was a disadvantage - but I think the Mississippi river makes a great natural barrier to the West.  As an eastern barrier... Hmm.... maybe it's plague infested.  Or don't worry about it - it's not like any other game does!

Note that this is a ridiculously huge area!  I am not suggesting we map it all... but we could.  It might make sense to write the game in terms of modules that gradually move south as the global temperature drops.

If this sounds ridiculous:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter  Note _recent_ research from 2006-7!   

Oh we could still have atomic Wikings... Minnesota Wikings!
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 05:13:41 AM by zenbitz » Logged

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Lamoot
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2009, 12:51:18 PM »

Ok, my opinion on these things.

  • Reason for the atomic war: can be really elaborated (like cuban crisis gone bad), or simply a small glitch in the system that caused it, like in "Fail safe" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail_Safe_(2000_TV) No need to complicate with this one imo, there are other parts where we'll have that chance Smiley
  • Central Europe (germany) is already done by "Projekt Zero" and is more prominent than other remote places and I like fresh ideas, new environments etc. so I'm not fond of this setting.
  • Tech level - I like the proposal about conventional weapons and no lazers. The standard tech should not be that fantastic, but we still need some weird stuff. I already included some links at my wiki page about such weird stuff. Adding fresh new elements will also make the setting more interesting.
  • Visual aestethetics - whatever cool stuff we find from the cold war. Mainly from the 60s-70s, but we can take stuff from earlier or later periods if it has a cool design and fits in.


US, hmmm. One con is that it has already been done in Fallout 1, 2 and 3. But if we give this idea a new twist? Let's say that instead of the ice age, you get massive global warming. Pre-war temperate climate gets most of nukes, so it's uninhabitable with the addition of really extreme weather. Also the ozon layer is (more) destroyed at ecuator area  (for some reason - nukes?) than at the poles. + you have a rising sea level that floods many parts of the world.

This would then result in: world map around the north (preferably) or south pole. There is still ice and snow and ice there, but it's easier to live, not as harsh as today. You get a new cool world map http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/gotmaps/maps/Map_North_Pole_Base.gif + the map would be modified so represent the sea-level rise. This would make the map harder to recognize as today's earth and would thus be something new. I personally really like world maps that show things from a different angle. It's the same thing really, but looks so much more interesting from a different view.

We could pick alaska + the soviet union from across the Berring strait. You would have the soviets and the allies and inuits and some syberian wild-tribal folk. No vikings though Smiley http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/chapter54/Ch54-intro/BeringStrait.jpg

Or you could take the same part of the world and still have an ice age with the sea frozen, creating a natural bridge between syberia and alaska.

But we should also limit ourselves with the game world. I'd say 1000x1000 km as the biggest possible area, perhaps smaller. The reason is simple, we will have to create more stuff. In any case, there is alway the chance of expanding the game world later.

One drawback to this setting is, that the area is rather uninhabited today and wouldn't have that many cool pre-war locations, than some area that used to be more populated (like scandinavia for example Wink ).
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egalor
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2009, 01:14:06 PM »

Gentlemen, my two cents, if I may.

1. As for me, I would find it interesting and challenging to use Soviet Union as the background setting. The basic idea is that subway transportation networks (metro) across major cities of USSR were designed to be the anti-nuclear threat shelters in case of atomic war. Even today, while travelling by metro (I do this often), it is really curious to note certain specific design solutions across the stations. For example, special rails on the floor to drive the enormous metal doors. In fact the only difference from the trademark Fallout Vault door is that it is square, and not round. Really sparks the imagination.

2. Concerning the historical event which would have led to the WWIII in PARPG I would vote for the 1968 Cuban crisis, and here is why.

a) At the time, both US and USSR were more or less equally strong, and an atomic war could have happened then, quite realistically, and much devastation would have been wrought.

As opposed, 1991 Soviet coup'd'etat and 89/90 German Reunification - that all took place *well* after the much feared USSR has lost its power, and there was simply no realistic reason for US to launch nuclear warheads at an almost harmless (but very natural resources-rich!) country.

b) That epoch strongly corresponds with that Falloutish 50-s Americana touch that made Fallout Fallout to a large extent.

As opposed to 90s - that aroma would be most likely lost. I wouldn't say that it would be worse, no, but different from FO - and here we will have to explore the unexplored areas. A classic example of a PA game which started in the end of XX century, as you most likely remember, is Wasteland. However, that game didn't have any specific and memorable references to XX 90s culture (at least none I remember of now), and that was a potentially good point lost, I think. Anyway, Wasteland was a really, really great game, I would only dream to re-make it someday Smiley

3. One thing I definitely agree with Zenbitz and others -- is that there should be a generally low-tech world. Laser/plasma gun just don't make sense there, in my view. I would even expand this by adding that we should ensure that there is a catastrophic commodity shortage. Examples:

1. getting hold of a poor quality hand gun and hide armour would most likely make one a very dangerous adversary in the area, among local club-wielding tribals/scavengers/nomads etc.;
2. Finding any quality goods should be extremely difficult. The PC (player character) should start with melee weapons (clubs, jagged and rusty knives, spears, broken bottles, bicycle chains, exhaust pipes, axes, etc.) and primitive missile weapons (mainly, throwing), slowly and painfully gaining access to something more dangerous (homebrewed molotov cocktails, 9mm clip pistols, prone to malfulctioning frag grenades, battered assault rifles, etc.). The same thing should concern:

- food;
- water (a really precious thing it should be - maybe even currency?);
- travel equipment (unequipped traveller will end up dead very soon);
- fuel (if there are any vehicles);
- ammunition.

Most likely, first more or less (rather less, actually) decent weapon should be manufactured by the PC (or its production arranged by the latter).

On the other hand, there should be a distinct feeling of getting in touch with the remnants of a once great pre-war technology. For example, discovering and exploring some factories/powerplants ruins, warehouses with some useless stuff, underground facilities, aircraft remains (no, I don't mean Megaton Smiley), rudimentary military equipment,  maybe even a crashed space station or a submarine lying in the desert...

I would appreciate your comments to my view above.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 01:27:54 PM by egalor » Logged
mvBarracuda
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2009, 01:45:54 PM »

Just my two cents as well.

Snow vs. desert vs. jungle vs. etc.:
I personally really like the snow setting. As we might need to make some first basic decisions sooner or later I wouldn't mind setting the snowy environment (for whatever reason there may be, we can agree on an explanation later) in stone. Desert wasteland has been overdone and I simply can't imagine a PA jungle.

Place:
I'm objecting to setting PARPG in Germany as such a game is already in the making with Zero-Projekt. My main concern is that we'll need developers on the team who know either life there or have done quite some research in the field because of personal interest. E.g. I know little about Russia and would therefore prefer a snowy place in North America.

Historic timeline:
So far I got no preference in this field. But maybe we can agree to setting the timeline after WW2 so that at least such pre-war technology would be still found in PARPG?

Low-tech vs. Hi-tech:
Low-tech is fine with me. I haven't been a huge fan of the whole energy weapons thingy in Fallout. Scarce ressources make sense in a PA world so technology, weapons and ammo should be limited indeed. I had the same idea about scarce water and food supply and using this as a game mechanics (hunger / thirst meter) but I'll elaborate on that topic at another thread. I'm compile some game mechanics proposals at the wiki and post a link to them at the forums later.

Crafting:
Egalor pointed into the direction of crafting and I think that's a great idea. I really liked how crafting worked in Arcanum and if certain very powerful weapons would be rather limited to the people with excellent crafting knowledge, that would fit into the whole scarce ressources idea quite well.
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egalor
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 02:40:53 PM »

Environment:
If it is decided to switch to the snow setting - that is OK, at least with me. Nuclear winter makes sense in PA games, so we might be getting somewhere in this direction. And, I agree, desert wasteland is far too cliche, already.

Place:
If we regard Zero-Projekt as a problem for us, then I still suggest to move eastwards -- to USSR for two reasons at least:

- I live in Moscow, and remember well Soviet period (not to mention I may get access to many untranslated historical documents in Russian, if needed) - meaning I could provide some info;
- at the time, the world was bipolar, as there were only two major rivalling powers -- US and USSR;
- vault concept (metro stations) is readily available and is credible.

In any case I am prepared to work on other setting, if the community decides otherwise.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 02:43:54 PM by egalor » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 03:18:08 PM »

Concerning snow PA setting, I knew that I spotted something along these lines at NMA before. Here we go:
http://www.forlornworld.com/index.php?lang=uk&site=news&cat=latest

Might be a nice source of inspiration for PARPG as well :-)
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zenbitz
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2009, 06:25:33 PM »

Wow, some great stuff here. 
Check this out: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/gmap/hydesim.html
Also, I have a list of probable soviet nuke targets in the US (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary)

I don't have the data for USSR targets... I am also going to create a thread for "meta" setting; what should we consider when we consider the setting.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2009, 06:28:45 PM »

Concerning snow PA setting, I knew that I spotted something along these lines at NMA before. Here we go:
http://www.forlornworld.com/index.php?lang=uk&site=news&cat=latest

Hey, they saved us a lot of work!  Takes place in Poland "post socialism".... However, this game was abandoned, right.
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Lamoot
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2009, 08:09:23 PM »

Quote
http://www.forlornworld.com/index.php?lang=uk&site=news&cat=latest
Might be a nice source of inspiration for PARPG as well :-)

Yp this is useful, nice find. They even have some artwork and music there. I wonder how they would feel releasing their stuff as GPL/CC so we could use it in PARPG.

So snow is set in stone then Smiley decisions like this should be written down at the wiki, so we gradually start fleshing out the setting.

Quote
Place:
If we regard Zero-Projekt as a problem for us, then I still suggest to move eastwards -- to USSR for two reasons at least:

I like the idea of having the successors to the soviet union in the game, but I wouldn't make the setting pure USSR. What if we found a place in the world, where the two cold-war super powers were bordering each-other? This way some of us can work on the western part of the world and you can contribute stuff for the communist blok part of the world, since you have more experiene being exposed to the whole culture and political system of this part of the world. In my opinion, having a diverse setting will be more interesting.

At my wiki page I wrote down my initial idea about using Scandinavia around the Baltic sea. Soviet Union is close and I'm sure we can somehow find a city with an underground subway system. Or we can create one, saying the soviet leaders wanted glorious subway for one of their beloved city, for the capitalistic west to marvel and be jalous of.



Anyway, this is my idea of the world map. The scale is 1000 km2 and the square representing the world map can move, but in general, this is the part of the world I'd like to have in parpg. I believe it's a good compromise, so you have all sorts of possibilities for factions. You have the USSR, soviet puppet states, the west and all sorts of other factions. There is even Poland and a bit of Germany in there. This way there is something interesting for everyone.
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