Braving New Worlds

Hey guys,

So in this post I’d love to introduce you to my game, The Lonely Planet. However before I continue, I’m extremely happy to announce that my first developer diary has been uploaded to YouTube! For any of you interested in making similar videos, please get OBS right now! It’s a beautiful piece of software that allows you to screen capture/record/stream on your computer, and you can learn how to use it here. Oh, and it’s FREE! Three cheers to Dael for recommending me the software!

The Game

final-fantasy-xii-12-every-rpg-ever

The Lonely Planet is an RPG aesthetically akin to the early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles. However unlike these titles, it breaks from the formulaic mould of monotonous grinding.

New Town, Level Up, Dungeon, Boss, Repeat.

Rather, I’d like to introduce the character to a living, breathing world where the player’s actions and decisions in turn shape the fate of the world and its characters in both major and minor ways.

If you saw my first blog post, you would have seen that this decision was inspired by Fable. However, once again, unlike Fable, I want to take the complexity of the decisions offered beyond the Good/Evil dynamic, and bring them closer to the world of moral ambiguity, much akin to the brilliant moral ambiguity of The Witcher titles.

The World

The Lonely Planet is Earth, the game taking place in our far future. The concept is inspired by an idea I had for a series of novels I’d love to write. I don’t want to reveal too much for the sake of creative privacy, however I will reveal that it involves beings from another dimension, who like humans, have for many years lived on planet Earth, (unbeknownst to us.)  Something happens, two worlds collide, interesting things happen. You’ll learn more in the near future.

Ultimately this in itself is also a world building experiment, and as such I’d love to create a world that’s believable. I love and am inspired by the words of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writing Goddess Ursula K. Le Guin who in an open letter titled “Plausibility in Fantasy” muses,

The fantasy writer must “believe in” the world she is creating… in the sense of giving absolute credence to the work of the imagination — dwelling in it while writing, and trusting it to reveal itself.

The touchstone to plausibility in imaginative fiction is probably coherence. Realistic fiction can be, perhaps must be, incoherent in imitation of our perceptions of reality. Fantasy, which creates a world, must be strictly coherent to its own terms, or it loses all plausibility…

This is probably one of the reasons why fantasy is so acceptable to children, and even when frightening may give the reader reassurance: it has rules. It asserts a universe that, in some way, makes sense.

It is here where I would say that, while I’m attempting to create a game that’s fun to play, I’m also simultaneously attempting to write fiction that’s both engaging and believable. In fact it is here, in my opinion, where many modern story driven games falter severely. And if the incredible success of The Witcher 3 should tell us anything, it is that gamers want engaging and believable narratives. Gameplay is one thing, the narrative is another, and often I find that a well conceived narrative will provide that compelling purpose that drives the player forward, even in the face of repetition.

Marie Laure-Ryan refers to this type of interactivity as “Internal-ontological interactivity,” a type of interactivity that I’d like to replicate in my game project. Ryan unpacks the term in her paper “Beyond Myth and Metaphor*-The Case of Narrative in Digital Media,” where she states:

The interaction between the user and the fictional world produces a new life, and consequently a new life-story, with every run of the system. This destiny is created dramatically, by being enacted, rather than diegetically, by being narrated. The player of a game is usually too deeply absorbed in the pursuit of a goal to reflect on the plot that he writes through his actions, but when people describe their sessions with computer games, their reports typically takes the form of a story.

I admit I’ve set lofty goals, but hopefully my ambitions will push me to create a title that I can truly say I’m proud of. And even if it isn’t an incredible work of art, it’ll act as a stepping stone to grander things!

Wishing you all a wealth of luck, and can’t wait to hear more about the projects you’re working on. Also, please take the time to leave me both your thoughts and suggestions.

Anthony.

Also, for those who read to the bottom, here’s a bonus video where I demonstrate my work-in-progress crime system that I’m super proud of:

Le Guin, U. K. (2016). Ursula K. Le Guin: Plausibility in Fantasy. Available at: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/PlausibilityinFantasy.html.

Ryan, M.-L. (2001). Beyond myth and metaphor: The case of narrative in digital media. Game studies. The international Journal of Computer Game Research, 1,1. http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/ryan/

 

7 thoughts on “Braving New Worlds

  1. Hi,

    I love that you’re focusing on building an immersive world and experience for the player, but I am left wondering what the mechanics of the game will be. You mention Final Fantasy and how you want to avoid the seemingly endless grind (I feel you there), but it makes me wonder how the player measures achievement. I feel that a player needs some sort of yardstick to work towards, to feel that they are achieving something and progressing. Will your only combat be in the form of boss battles (since you want to eliminate random encounter type grinding) and how will this work? Will there still be some RPG or FPS elements, just with less/no grinding?

    I am excited to see what sort of world/experience you’re going to create.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting Emily! A lot of this is still in drawing board territory – however I suppose to clarify,
      I still want it to be a system where your character grows and becomes stronger since that’s one of the tropes of an RPG. Only, I just want to kind of construct it in a way where it feels believable and engaging in relation to the world.

      So while there would be many significant instances of danger that may lead to combat, perhaps the player could also be rewarded for diplomacy in certain cases. It would be fantastic to experiment with some form of skill system.

      And the yard stick would be narrative driven, ie. this is a big problem, work towards it in your own way. And then every time the player say closes a major story arc or completes a side quest, I want the world to respond. So for example a trader you might help may provide you with discounts, or a major decision you make may alienate you from a group of people you were allied with.

      Atm the combat is turn based and will remain as such, HOWEVER, I would love to experiment and maybe try to work out how to implement a real time combat system which takes place on the field… Will see…

      Like

  2. I admire your desire to want to heavily incorporate a story into your game. Not only that, but you want it to be an art, the narrative to truly touch the player in ways that any other intriguing game would. I think you definitely can pul this off. Narrative can be such an important thing in games, and like you said it can be the reason someone keeps playing despite repetitiveness or even the game getting a bit dry. Narrative keeps it moving. This reminds me heavily of the Zelda series. Especially how you are trying to steer away from hours and hours of killing random creatures in order to move forward. Zelda incorporates narrative perfectly while keeping the game play very interesting and minimising the amount of grinding style playing you have to do. I have always found Zelda one of the most interesting games to play.
    I think that beautiful art would work great with a strong narrative. Maybe focus on how you want to present the game, even getting an artist and getting them to draw things up for you? If its good to the eyes and good to the ears I’m sure your game will be a success!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the idea that you are using a novels as part of your inspiration for your game. I have found that it is a good idea to use sources that you understand and really enjoy, because from a creative point of view most game ideas or films that use an already structured point of inspiration tend to do really well. The popularity of shows like The Walking Dead (based off a comic book series), Harry Potter (based from books/novels) etc… is a testament to the previous statement.

    As you have said in your post “I’m also simultaneously attempting to write fiction that’s both engaging and believable. In fact it is here, in my opinion, where many modern story driven games falter severely.” I like that you are trying to achieve this because games like the original Bioshock for example, without the collection of the diaries you miss half of the individual character stories and I see this as a good and a bad thing, because if your really invested in the story and the game you will try to go out of your way to get every last diary, but if your just playing it for the sake of playing it the player misses a lot of opportunities to get the extended story and actually know why Rapture was there to begin with

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Anthony!

    The Lonely Planet looks like a very solid concept so far, and you’ve actually gone ahead and started developer diaries (which no matter the game, I enjoy watching from a creative point of view).

    You mention in your post that you want to differ from the traditional “grinding” of RPG’s, but didn’t really go into it from there. As this is a regular part of many RPG’s I would love to see how you’ve overcome that challenge, or what you intend to do to overcome it. Unfortunately the limitation of RPG’s is that their levelling systems mostly require grinding, which is one of the many reasons I am not a huge fan of the genre.

    You seem to really want to break out of that rhythm and make The Lonely Planet something unique, and I’m very excited to see the final product because of that.

    I wish you the best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment! I think a few people were confused when I spoke about the absence of grinding – the way I look at grinding is having to stop what you’re doing to continue killing things for the sake of leveling up – I’d rather my experience be more stream line, where an abundance of quests, enemies, and other opportunities will award you with experience – check out The Witcher 3 – as an RPG it’s been made so grinding is invisible, not once do you really need to go in to the wilds to farm enemies for XP since they give you next to no XP, however by doing quests, exploring, among other things, you’re awarded XP and your character grows. That’s the kind of experience I want to create! 🙂

      Like

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