Monday, September 14, 2015

RPG Brainstorming

While the rest of this month is being dedicated to the MMD Demo, I'm already thinking about the RPG's development as that is something I actually can release since I'm essentially going to be making every part of it, save for the engine, from scratch. Being that I want this game to be out before the year's end, that'd gives me a 3 months of development time to work with. It's a bit tight, but I think for what I'm aiming for, it should be sufficient.

The goal of this project is to get the control system I outlined in the RPG Musings posts a game to work off of. I'd go with a fighting game for this, but I don't have enough experience with multiplayer to set up something like that, much less the servers to be able to support it so the best shot was an RPG. Being how difficult an RPG can be to develop, I'm going to have to take some time in this month between the development of the MMD Demo to work on some preproduction for the RPG. RPGs are mainly founded in their narratives and world dynamics, so I'll need to have those down pact before I really kick things into high gear. Narrative wise, I have most of it already thought out as I'm not really going to emphasize it in this project. Here's rough a prologue for anyone interested:

<BACKSTORY>
On island floating in an endless sky, there is a small society of people living in peace. There isn't much of immediate note on their island, except for an enormous mountain on its far end. It's a steep mountain, seeming more a bizarre cliff than a mountain really. At it's peak, visible even from the ground below, there is large tower of unknown origins, reaching skyward into the heavens. Many people have fancied the idea to seek out the tower, hopeful to ascertain it's properties and it's meaning. Unfortunately, there is no way to scale mountain from the outside, as it is much to steep and high for any person to climb, assuming of course the sky beasts didn't consume them first. Apart from the tower, the only really remarkable aspect of the mountain is it's bizarre inner caverns.These caverns stretched on within the mountain in an almost maze-like form. They were intriguing, but few would dare to explore them much as they were filled to the brim with monsters and traps, obstacles of such brutality few souls would hoist unto themselves without a bountiful reward for their work. Even with the passing of many generations, no one would seek out the caverns since it seemed as though there would be no treasure worthy of risking one's life for at the end of the trek. That was, until one day, that treasure came.

After a powerful storm, the likes of which had never hit the island in all its time, a hint of what could be found in the caverns was laid bare before the people.It was noted that one of the massive jewels that seemed to have ordained the tower was displaced. A bright red jewel had fallen from it's place in the tower and shattered into many pieces. This would not have been cause for much interest as the incline of the mountain would not have sent any of the fragments in the direction of the people's villages, yet in the days following the storm, fragments were found. As the people of the isle sought the gems, they found that they increased in density the closer to the mountain one went. They found more and more fragments, until eventually, they were led to the entrance of the caverns. Examining the area, it seemed as though the caverns had been flooded! Red fragments of the jewel were scattered about the damp ground everywhere and puddles of water could still be found along it's depths. That was when everyone realized what these caverns must have hidden with them: a way to the top. This news caused a stir among the people, but they weren't about to just go on into caverns just for a bunch of pretty rocks. But as people examined the rocks further, their value became clear. Mages had found that gems contained enormous stores of mana within them.

Mana was the root of life in the world. If you found mana in something, it was likely alive in some capacity. Anything without mana exhibited predictable, common patterns that clearly identified their make. The more mana an entity had, the more strayed from normacy. Things with little mana would likely be unable to move or do many complex activities. Such beings were commonly plants of some variety. With a bit more mana, beings started to be able to move and engage in more complex behaviors. At baser level, beings of this ilk were common animals like birds, elk, and fish. Upon reaching greater levels, they started to exhibit more powerful forms such as being humans, angels, demons, and monsters. These kinds of beings could control their own internal mana to perform a variety of different feats. Humans, angels, and demons had a large portion of their mana devoted to keeping themselves as sentient entities. Monsters by comparison were beings that bore little intellect, but had great power as a result. Everything that had been found in the world up that point seemed to follow this kind of logic strictly. But the gems were different. Each fragment had an enormous amount of mana contained within them, but lacked any traits that would seem to point towards being alive. This mana was merely concentrated within and altered the gem's appearance, nothing more. This meant that the gems were in essence, a pure source of mana. Unlike other, more normal mana entities, the gems didn't have to be destroyed to take their mana. One could harness and use the mana freely to amplify one's strength well beyond it's normal state. Spell casters could fly briefly and shoot powerful flames while warriors could exhibit superhuman reflexes and power that went well beyond their normal reaches.

At the discovery of the fragments' power, people began now sought to reach the peak and harvest the greater mass of the shattered gem in full. While the gems were powerful, the sky beasts that flew around the mountain were still far more so than the populace, so they set about explore the caverns with vigor. Drunk on the power the gems provided them, the people believed themselves unstoppable. They created a massive force of willing and unwilling warriors to conquer the caverns once and for all. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that the monsters within the cave had also harnessed the power of the fragments and found themselves too far in to return easily, yet also too far from the end to complete it without dying. Divided in spirit, the forces split in half, one part trying to escape, the other trying to finish their task. Little by little, the forces dwindled, being killed by monsters or buffeted by traps in their recklessness, until eventually, there was but one person left in the caverns.

</BACKSTORY>

The story is rather simple as you can see and our place picks off right the end. The last remaining warrior hadn't actually wanted to go on the expedition. They'd only recently been married and went so that their frail spouse wouldn't have to. Knowing they couldn't conquer the caverns themselves, they used their last mana stone to cast a new type of spell they'd theorized of in a last ditch effort to save themselves, an Ethereal Spell. Unlike normal spells which manipulated the corporeal world, Ethereal spells interact with the metaverse and allow manipulation of the very ideas behind existence. I won't go into much more detail than that on Ethereal spells for now since it's WAY too deep a rabbit hole to cover in this post, but this particular spell was one of possession. The mage's spell would go into ethereal plane and call upon another consciousness to take their body and finish their journey for them. This of course isn't without a cost. The only way to get the new data in is to overwrite the old one. The mage, in summoning the player to finish the deed, has essentially died, leaving the player to finish their journey. Furthermore, Ethereal magic has the unfortunate problem of being weaker when near other Ethereal entities. This of course, includes other people. So should the player come into the sights of others, they will perish. In the process of casting the spell, the warrior imparted their last wish to the player. 

"Let it not be that I die here in these caverns. May it be in my love's arms or on the sight at the end of this peak."

The idea I have in mind would give the player 2 main options: return to the warrior's village to see their lover or to finish the conquest. Each choice would offer the player a different experience. The choice will be made organically by the player. Systemically, I've got it mind that the player will end up going with the first choice simply due to inexperience. The starting area will have a traversal situation (likely some kind of platforming challenge (trap)) that the player will be unlikely to know how to traverse upon first playing the games and getting a grasp of the controls. 

In the first, the primary threats will be the traps and the lower leveled monsters. I intend to design this route to be a bit more like a tutorial. Having it so following through the sections will steadily impart the intricacies of the control system through each step. The traps will teach you how to move. The weak monsters will teach you how to fight. Finally, upon leaving the caverns, it becomes a matter of finding the village, which will more or less be a leisurely traversal across a scenic countryside, meant to be more relaxing and inspiring than tense.

Upon completing the game for the first time, I think players will likely want to test their abilities by initiating the game again and going through the second route where enemies are far stronger. This is where the meat of the game will be situated. Combat will be the focus and whatever few traps remain will be mainly focused on really strong execution of the locomotion maneuvers that will be available to the player. Enemies here will be rich in HP and will require the player to fight using their sword skills and magic to the best of their ability. The end of this section will probably end up being a final boss that appears at the end tunnel a special encounter at the end of the tower. Sorry, not going to spoil that one here ;)

I think this gives me a good foundation to work off of. I'll try to figure out how much time I'll need for most of this, though it shouldn't be too bad if I work small.

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