Exercise is great for the Body and Soul. It’s great for the Mind too, as this is the second or third time I’ve had an idea about my game development whilst on my morning run.
BBC’s Life on Mars is a unique drama in which a British Detective is involved in an accident in which he’s sent to the hospital. He then wakes up in the 1960s and continues being a detective in the past. Throughout the show, it's never clear whether he’s dead or in a coma. In fact, they play both angles throughout and eventually in the conclusion of the show, he makes it back to “reality” before realizing that it’s not what he wants and basically kills himself to return to the “past”.
My idea is similar, and I’ve not even seen Life on Mars for years, and not really sure where its come from.
The game is set in the future, where a space officer (the player), heads back to earth to “reconnect with nature” on solid ground and starts working on a farm. It’s set in a Sci-Fi world, but with Fantasy races and gameplay (sword n stuff farming which is similar).
The game opens with a Star Trek type opening about the nature of the mission with hints of the universal situation… maybe with some Star Wars type star date milestones (e.g. 2150 — Earth Colonize Mars and discover Helium-5). Gameplay starts and the player is the Horticultural Officer on the Starship Maddison (working title). Gameplay will begin and the player will have a few tasks to complete; go to the horticulture lab, clear out the failed crop batch, go to the requisitions officer for more seeds, plant seed, water etc. The final task will be to report to the bridge to see the captain…
Either on the way or after speaking to the captain, the ship is attacked by “ALIENS” (be it a race that’s already established or an unknown enemy whichever works in the large plot) and basically Emergency Protocol is initiated.
As Horticultural Officer, your job is to secure the lab, recover any vital data and sample and proceed to the Escape Pod. At some point during this, an explosion happens, radiation leak and the player is knocked out.
They come too and wake up in a bed. The idea I have for this is a first-person cutscene (classic view of lights above the bed views of blurred faces etc) and the dialogue is something like… we’re losing them… come back… come back…
Then the player is back in-game, in a Medical Center/Med Bay. The doctor explains you’ve been recovering for a few days and that he’ll fetch the Mayor.
The Mayor? Why would a ship have a Mayor?
He’ll ask where the player is from, the player mentions the Maddison, the Mayor knows it; “Didn’t I see the Maddison on a report last night… Something about an attack? Well, you're lucky to get back here, the Maddison was a long way out.”
Throughout the game, you’ll see and hear things that related back to the ship. First off, they’ll first refer to it as Med Bay… then Medical Centre.
I also have this idea of distorting the image. So the UI is nice and pretty and “farmy” but then you might be talking to someone and it distorts and underneath you see a cleaner more Sci-Fi style UI with the hidden messages like Med Bay or whatever.
People you meet, they will look like farm-game style Earth-bound characters, but the image might distort and you might recognise a uniform or an insignia. (this will only be at first meeting though and early on in the game. Because the longer you play the less it happens, lulling the player into this “false reality”.
Another neat feature is the Map and the Boundaries. The Map of the Town will mimic the Map of the Ship from the beginning of the game. The Farm will be in the same location as the Horticulture Lab. the Med Bay at the Medical Centre… and the Bridge the same place as the Docks… where a Ship is sometimes docked. When the ship is docked you can meet the Captain. Who is also the Captain of the Starship Maddison. They will always not have any time to talk as they’re “dealing with the current crisis”.
The town exit (to the East?) will be a big old farm gate. Or is it an Airlock? Either way, it won’t open. Can’t open… Could open if you tried…?
The entrance to the Mine (to the north?)? That just a Cave with a wooden mine door… Or is it the Starboard Airlock that was breached and the unknown “ALIEN” ship docked onto the Starship Maddison? The monsters inside… Cockroach Humanoids evolved over time… Ratmen bent on the destruction of the “surface dwellers”? Or are they the “ALIEN” boarding party?
Are you on a nice farm on Earth? Are you in a coma? Are you in some Radiation-induced Hallucination?
I was really excited at this point; I love creating the lore of my game, and this really excited me as it came really clear to me on a morning run. I just need to remember to keep this in mind and if the design process gets tough, this should help me push through it.