And now for something different

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aeroprism
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And now for something different

Post by aeroprism » Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:25 pm

Good day all.

Some months ago, through Steam, I discovered Loren and WinterWolves. I was so pleased with my experience that I reached out on the forums and initiated my first contact with Jack. Some discussion later, he tasked me with something quite a bit different from what you find in these parts. A sci-fi game that shares equal parts of mood, madness, mystery and horror.

So there we are, some months later. Plans were drawn, stories were written, characters have been created and each day, the story gets a little more complete, complex and twisted around its own little core of insanity.

This brings me here with a question for you, dear players. We are attempting a game that breaks from the usual. No combat. No inventory. No exploration. This game aims at being solely story driven.

My storytelling experience mostly comes from my years of game mastering around the table and my players were often divided when it came to my storytelling methods. I was never a popular choice with dungeon crawlers and number crunchers. Compared to many other DMs/GMs I have known and played with, I tend to leave a lot less latitude to my players. When I write a story, I generally have a few key moments that have been "decided in advance". My goal is rarely to let you choose the road you take but instead, I aim to take you for a ride you'll not soon forget. As a general rule, my players accept this and once they do, they enjoy the experience and no not hesitate to ask for more. (How else would I still be in this business otherwise?)

So my question to you is this: In a world where video games give you a lots and lots of control at the expense of thinner, shallower stories, how do you feel when what we offer is an intense story-driven game full of twists and lore and at the cost of some liberty of choice?

The only true liberty of choice the player has amounts to the romance choice (which also decides the ending you get). Because yes, I intend to include romance in a horror game.

So see this as a roller coaster. You never really get to choose where it goes but you can take whoever you want with you and the sights will be quite many…

Thoughts?


(Note that I might again use this topic to ask further opinions regarding this project)

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jack1974
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Re: And now for something different

Post by jack1974 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:10 pm

This is the project I started back in... 2011, originally named "The Hospital", which of course now has changed quite a bit from the original idea.
Just wanted to add to what writer said, that there will still be choices (visual novel style choices) and different endings / variants based on the choices you make.

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aeroprism
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Re: And now for something different

Post by aeroprism » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:17 pm

Basically, most of the choices will not dictate how you proceed through the story directly. However, every single choice the player makes will influence the NPC's attitude toward the main character. Remember how in Loren, you needed five "hearts" to romance an NPC and how some dialogue choices added or removed these hearts? Well in this game, pretty much every dialogue choice will do that but to a lesser extent.

So to get inside the hot nurse's pants, you will need to do more than just find the 4-5 right key answers, you will constantly need to build a relationship with her but by doing that, you may make the lovely psychiatrist hate your guts. Same applies for the other romance NPCs.

This is the liberty I intend to give to the player. The main story, however, will play out like a book or in this case, a visual novel: pretty much always the same.

The only other true choice I want to add is to allow tje player to dig as deep as wanted into the lore or to ignore it altogether. But hey, who doesn't want lore!

Alex81
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Re: And now for something different

Post by Alex81 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:29 pm

aeroprism wrote:Good day all.


This brings me here with a question for you, dear players. We are attempting a game that breaks from the usual. No combat. No inventory. No exploration. This game aims at being solely story driven.

I certainly love a great story, especially, whether it's -fairly- linear or not.
I've enjoyed combat heavy games like the Gears of War (for their story) ,and I absolutely love many of the games over at Choice of Games, which are pretty much text only, interactive books.

I also enjoy Visual Novels, of the kind there's no such thing as combat, as such, this project is an interesting one.
Even though I love great stories, I've always felt that, Choice Is King, and this is the one reason I -really- deeply prefer a great game (which can tell 10 different stories within the same overall "framework", world or narrative.

That the story remains pretty much the same, but your relations with other player characters change can more than make up for a fairly linear story.
Again, I love linear stories where they're done right, even if I've completed such a game / book, I might return to it later, but possibly a -lot- later as I need to forget/ get some distance to the story to truly enjoy it again.
Reading / watching something a new is often a great experience in itself as you often discover details you missed the first time around.

Storydriven games are awesome :)

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Re: And now for something different

Post by Miakoda » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:34 pm

So my question to you is this: In a world where video games give you a lots and lots of control at the expense of thinner, shallower stories, how do you feel when what we offer is an intense story-driven game full of twists and lore and at the cost of some liberty of choice?

The only true liberty of choice the player has amounts to the romance choice (which also decides the ending you get). Because yes, I intend to include romance in a horror game.
I have no qualms with this. Having played many Choice of Games, most of their works tend to be along these lines, and I've enjoyed them. To me, the biggest thing is the romance, and you have that covered by having each one done individually.

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Franka
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Re: And now for something different

Post by Franka » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:45 pm

Regular visual novel with a few paths is fine with me, but the closer it gets to a kinetic novel (no chocies), the less interested I become. My cloned cents.

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Re: And now for something different

Post by fleetp » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:53 pm

I don't have a problem with the idea (at least one of my VNs follow a similar pattern), as long as any promotional material makes clear what the game buyer (player) is getting.
Why? I like big ones, that's why.

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jack1974
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Re: And now for something different

Post by jack1974 » Tue Nov 24, 2015 7:07 pm

Yes of course once is finished, the game description will clearly say what kind of game it is. Also since I have free demos, playing it should already give an idea of how is the game/gameplay (and also the story).

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Re: And now for something different

Post by kadakithis » Tue Nov 24, 2015 10:08 pm

As another DM who combat was more of a side dish and has a similiar style, I can say definitely I don't mind a story driven narrative and in fact want it very much.That said, I don't think choice makes shallower gameplay or stories. Some of my favorite games have tons of choices, while some of the most linear stories are fairly shallow just coming up with an excuse for the action.

I mean anything I say just take it that I would definitely buy it day 1 and am absolutely hyped, but I agree that a lack of choice for awhile can make you feel like you are reading a book, not necessarily a bad thing, but can take away from the game aspect of it. If there is a lot of choice I prefer it when games give more than just a Romance meter. If our relationships are the only things changing it would be nice to have something similiar to 7 Kingdoms demo where you have rivalry, friendship, respect, and romance on 4 seperate scales. This makes non romanceable characters more important since winning someone's respect can truly be something you take into account and try to achieve.

Also, I worry about the psychiatrist and the nurse scenario. 1 or 2 rivalries are fine, but arbitrary enemies can be just as immersion breaking as being able to befriend everyone. If they hate us for simply disagreeing at times, players might grow to dislike the characters and get frustrated. It would be a shame for a character driven story to have too many diametrically opposed companions, and thus prevent us from knowing and enjoying them.

But I am ecstatic about the idea, and can't wait to see what you will do with it.

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aeroprism
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Re: And now for something different

Post by aeroprism » Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:37 pm

@Alex81 = Your post sums up a lot of my thought process! I think you will like this game!

Franka wrote:Regular visual novel with a few paths is fine with me, but the closer it gets to a kinetic novel (no chocies), the less interested I become. My cloned cents.
I am not aiming for a kinetic novel, I definitely want to allow some liberty but since there are going to be some particular restrictions placed on the player character, the choices will all be through dialogue only.
kadakithis wrote:That said, I don't think choice makes shallower gameplay or stories. Some of my favorite games have tons of choices, while some of the most linear stories are fairly shallow just coming up with an excuse for the action.
I absolutely agree. I didn't mean that more choice automatically means shallow stories. I just think that in order to accomodate a vast array of control, the story quality can be the first victim. Take Kingdoms of Amalur for example. I LOVE that game for many reasons, namely mood and environmental immersion. The player can do ANYTHING, you have choice everywhere and in everything but the story suuuuuucks! Heck, I have played if for tens of hours and I can name you all the classes, maps and spells but I barely remember what the story is about.
kadakithis wrote:If our relationships are the only things changing it would be nice to have something similiar to 7 Kingdoms demo where you have rivalry, friendship, respect, and romance on 4 seperate scales. This makes non romanceable characters more important since winning someone's respect can truly be something you take into account and try to achieve.
That is actually a very cool concept. I don't know how well it applies to the game I'm writing though. It's a very particular context and it's very hard to ellaborate without spoiling.

kadakithis wrote:Also, I worry about the psychiatrist and the nurse scenario. 1 or 2 rivalries are fine, but arbitrary enemies can be just as immersion breaking as being able to befriend everyone. If they hate us for simply disagreeing at times, players might grow to dislike the characters and get frustrated. It would be a shame for a character driven story to have too many diametrically opposed companions, and thus prevent us from knowing and enjoying them.
I understand your concern. I can say this: you will have the option of making more than one NPC like/love your character but in the end, only one can be kept for romance. You can finish the game without anyone openly disliking you but you will not be able to get to the end of the game with everyone in your pocket. The NPCs are just too different. The context doesn't call for your usual cast of romance NPCs such as "the nerdy girl" or "the sports jock". Since this is an attempt at making an adult and grittier game, the NPCs will have certain traits that you usually do not find in a romance sim. It's very hard to be specific without spoiling anything.

kadakithis wrote:But I am ecstatic about the idea, and can't wait to see what you will do with it.
You and me both!!


I do not know if you guys are familiar with the concept of railroad games vs sandbox games but It all sums up to the idea that the game will be the antithesis of a game like Skyrim or Fallout. There will be zero exploration and you can literally NOT lose the game or get stuck. The only real, tangible choices will be how the NPCs relate to you, which will dictate which ending you get (5 different endings planned) and if you push hard enough with the NPCs who like you, you get a romance.

Note that there will also be puzzles in that game and lots of them.

This however does NOT mean that the game will be confined to what your character says or does. There will be a LOT of peripheral contents such as lore and background development. Jack did not simply ask me to write a game, he asked me to create a world. If this game meets success, there will be more games in that world and they will not necessarily be visual novels. So try to picture this game as a quick journey of a few days in a world where a lot can happen.

Am I hyping myself? Possibly. I'd be a terrible writer if I wasn't excited about what I write!

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