A 2D adventure that's self-aware

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A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:15 pm

I want to make a stylized 2D action/rpg game that addresses the alternate reality of a video game. The main conflict of the game is something that's been done many a time before: the world is decaying into ruin and the hero must save it. Here's the catch. I want to break the 4th wall in that the gameworld is devolving into program code and machine language and the main characters know this, and the player has to decide by the end of the game to save this fabricated reality or let it unravel.

Story
I'm still working on the details of the story but I have a small list of characters:
  • A customizable main character that is a vessel for the player's decisions, both in gameplay and story.

  • The public that represents those who are innocent in their understanding of the program. Their purpose is to represent the opinions of the average person.

  • A character that wishes for the world to decompile. (A nihilist)

  • A character that wants to find meaning in the program and why it's going to shit. (An existentialist)

  • A character that believes the program will sort itself out on its own, and believes it should not be disturbed because there is nothing that can be done about it. (An Absurdist)

  • A character that prays for the creator to solve the errors of the world and recompile it. (A Theist)


These characters will help shape the world and the player's doings and undoings within it. None of them are set allies or enemies just yet, if at all. I would like for the player to decide who is they align with and who is the antagonist.

Gameplay
I had the idea for an Action/adventure game with a nice big splash of RPG mechanics thrown in there. I'd most like the player to be able to chose their play style, whether they want to run in guns-a-blazing and tear through their enemies, sneak past their opposition, or sweet talk/fast talk/or mean talk their way through the game.

I definitely want some input from the programmers in what to call some concepts and items in the game. I want this to be a game code monkeys can enjoy and I'd like the power ups, items and some dialogue to have some of those inside jokes.
("All variables where created equal") (a religion that praises the programmer "All hail, Bob" and having teachings or commandments based on his //comments) (an item that increases your inventory size "You have found a-rray uninhibitor")

A very particular idea I had was to increase "lives" while playing is to engage somebody (enemy or not) in persuasion, and if succeeded, get them to join your cause and thus get a 1up.

Art and Music
I'm really interested in the input for artstyle for this. I'd like something simple yet artistic. Anything with a good simple aesthetic. I imagined something as simple as Sword & Sworcery's retro 8-bit look.
I like the idea of two main themes in the music. Nice and lush classical scores representing the beauty of this world, and some glitchy electronica pieces for conflict and "binarization" of the world.

I hope you all like the idea!
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Pugovitz on Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:15 pm

I love the idea for the juxtaposition of the music. A classic, fantasy, adventure score for the moments where you want the world to be real and beautiful; vs a digital/mechanical score for the time when our reality intrudes on the fantasy.

Thinking about the 4th wall humor, I couldn't help but picture the cartoon Code Monkeys. Sure it was silly and juvenile, but it's love of video games was evident and it use the "we're actually a video game" 4th wall breaking worked.

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  IAmSerge on Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:19 pm

I like the 4th wall breaking idea.

In this idea... think about this possible twist: The fact that, when the player wins the game, the game doesn't continue. So, to win the game would be to end the world. Twisted Evil
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Pugovitz on Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:23 pm

Oh, I didn't think about that. That's a good twist. Even the good ending ends the world.

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  IAmSerge on Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:33 pm

Pugovitz wrote:Oh, I didn't think about that. That's a good twist. Even the good ending ends the world.

Cool
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Break Man on Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:46 pm

At that point, it's just a matter of whether or not you want to allow the protagonist to truly feel like he's done something before he becomes nothingness, or if you want to make him feel the failure of having your entire world collapsing around you, and you helpless to do anything about it. Sounds like a bit of a nihilist ending all around, but I give you kudos for the idea, good sir! Just the premise sounds fantastic.

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:42 pm

Pugovitz wrote:I love the idea for the juxtaposition of the music. A classic, fantasy, adventure score for the moments where you want the world to be real and beautiful; vs a digital/mechanical score for the time when our reality intrudes on the fantasy.

Thinking about the 4th wall humor, I couldn't help but picture the cartoon Code Monkeys. Sure it was silly and juvenile, but it's love of video games was evident and it use the "we're actually a video game" 4th wall breaking worked.

Music following the story is definitely a must for any artform. I hope the musicians on the forum can have fun with writing songs in classical/folk form and rewritting/mixing them electronically. And kudos to those who can mesh both styles together.

That show was a trip, I need to go back and watch it for some inspiration

IAmSerge wrote:I like the 4th wall breaking idea.

In this idea... think about this possible twist: The fact that, when the player wins the game, the game doesn't continue. So, to win the game would be to end the world. Twisted Evil

Me like! That's what I was thinking for certain endings of the game, particularly if the player aligns with the nihilist.

I pictured the game would start with a command prompt that asks you questions about the character creation process and a few questions about their philosophy (if I decide to start branching the plot that early in the game). After all that is done the game would prompt "Run: WakeUp.exe (Y/N)" to start the game. If the game does end with the world reverting to code, it would be a nice book ending to have the game go back to prompt with "Terminate: WakeUp.exe (Y/N)" or something along those lines.

Break Man wrote:At that point, it's just a matter of whether or not you want to allow the protagonist to truly feel like he's done something before he becomes nothingness, or if you want to make him feel the failure of having your entire world collapsing around you, and you helpless to do anything about it. Sounds like a bit of a nihilist ending all around, but I give you kudos for the idea, good sir! Just the premise sounds fantastic.

Thanks, I'm glad you like it. Very Happy

I'm trying to be reasonable with how much work it'll take to let the player choose play style and shape the outcome of the world/ending. Decisions make a game for me, so I'd like to give the options as early as possible, but I'd need some feedback from programmers to see how doable it is. I want each player to be able to get the ending they want out of the game, playing it their way.

EDIT: Longpost is loooooong.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Pugovitz on Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:50 pm

From a programming/level design standpoint, I don't think any of it should be too difficult to implement. The conversations and endings may actually be easier to implement, especially if the story is mostly told through text boxes rather than voice. The different play styles could be a little more difficult, but I don't see why I couldn't be done.

I absolutely love this game idea; I really hope you get together a great team to make this.

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:08 pm

Pugovitz wrote:From a programming/level design standpoint, I don't think any of it should be too difficult to implement. The conversations and endings may actually be easier to implement, especially if the story is mostly told through text boxes rather than voice. The different play styles could be a little more difficult, but I don't see why I couldn't be done.

I absolutely love this game idea; I really hope you get together a great team to make this.

Shocked Wow thanks!

I imagine there would be little to no voicing unless it became a very doable thing (which might be possible with this many people in the club).

There's some things I'm considering that I'd like some feedback on, at least something that aught to be addressed now. Do you think this is fine as a 2D game, or maybe an angled over the top camera like GTA Chinatown wars or, more relevant in style, Bastion?
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Kevin on Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:53 pm

Pugovitz wrote:The different play styles could be a little more difficult, but I don't see why I couldn't be done.

This wouldn't be too hard to implement; basically what you want is just a big if statement.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Break Man on Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:03 pm

Kevin wrote:
Pugovitz wrote:The different play styles could be a little more difficult, but I don't see why I couldn't be done.

This wouldn't be too hard to implement; basically what you want is just a big if statement.

But how easy would that be to optimize? I could see writing a few functions and seeing where that got us, but isn't the if statement a bit clunky on its own?

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:15 pm

I'm not much of a programmer, but I imagined once you're posed with a decision, your answer would affect a variable that keeps score of how Nihilistic, Existentialist, Absurdist, etc. you are. And when dialogue and events branch because of it, you refer to these School-of-thought stats.

Once again, I'm very very new to programming so this might be a terrible idea. lol.
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Story/Dialogue, Music

Post  Duke of Spoot on Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:48 pm

If you need a dialogue writer, character writer, or story writer, I'd love to work on this project. I've read some philosophy as part of coursework and I've done some writing on philosophy and video games as art.

Also, if you haven't already, you should consider finding composers willing to try their hand at chip tunes. Chiptune music has come a long way since we were young, and artists like Tristan Perich are challenging the limits of the genre in very interesting ways. In addition, freeware for composing chiptune music is readily available, such as famitracker.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:11 pm

Duke of Spoot wrote:If you need a dialogue writer, character writer, or story writer, I'd love to work on this project. I've read some philosophy as part of coursework and I've done some writing on philosophy and video games as art.

Also, if you haven't already, you should consider finding composers willing to try their hand at chip tunes. Chiptune music has come a long way since we were young, and artists like Tristan Perich are challenging the limits of the genre in very interesting ways. In addition, freeware for composing chiptune music is readily available, such as famitracker.

I'm having way too much fun with famitracker, this is sweet!

Me and my roommate are working on the plot/story and characters, but I'm definitely open for advice and criticism. Once we get the ball rolling you can definitely help write dialogue, there's going to be a loooooot to go around.

Back on the music subject, here's some more (peaceful) examples of the glitch genre, if any musicians needed a reference.

Dntel
Ametsub
Autechre
edIT
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Mat on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:31 pm

What were thinking in terms of art direction? I think a similair style to Braid would be good. Let me know what you think about that, and I would be willing to help with the art side, just let me know.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:08 pm

Mat wrote:What were thinking in terms of art direction? I think a similair style to Braid would be good. Let me know what you think about that, and I would be willing to help with the art side, just let me know.

That all depends on if it's going to be a 2D game or not. If so I would like art in the style akin to either Braid, Limbo, Outland, or Sword & Sworcery. If it's a high angled camera, which might serve the RPG style better, then we can do some more developed character sprites. Maybe something akin to Okami or El Shaddai in style, or even Bastion.

Either way I prefer the game have art that artists can enjoy when they play it. Stylized and fun to look at, rather than gritty and realistic.

I may sound very specific with the music and art ideas, and I don't mean to sound bossy. I'd love to see everyone's own personal take on these suggestions. We gotta be original too, lol.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Jake on Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:26 pm

The gameplay could also be implemented by making the main character a state machine:
Code:
enum PlayerState {
attacking, sneaky, diplomatic  //etc...
};

// Within Player class declaration:
PlayerState currentState;

// To change:
Player::currentState = sneaky;
Then enemies could switch-case through currentState and take action accordingly. Virtual functions could be used to make this easy to implement per enemy, though may slow down the game slightly if used too much.
The Nihilistic-o-meter variable thing reminds me of the horns and such in Fable. Smile It shouldn't be hard to work with either.

I like the glitch music and 8-bit graphic idea, as the world is all fabricated. When the world deteriorated enough, you could have intentional bugs like walk-through walls, gravity inversion, or enemies that appear out of nowhere, giving you a lot of creative freedom. The art could even be sharp and dynamically pixelate via fragment shader as the world glitched Twisted Evil
A first person pov would also work well, and could make the dramatic irony part fit naturally. As long as the main character was abstracted as "the player" rather then a fully fleshed out character, he/she could be killed off and still have a very satisfying ending.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:21 pm

Jake wrote:The gameplay could also be implemented by making the main character a state machine:
Code:
enum PlayerState {
attacking, sneaky, diplomatic  //etc...
};

// Within Player class declaration:
PlayerState currentState;

// To change:
Player::currentState = sneaky;
Then enemies could switch-case through currentState and take action accordingly. Virtual functions could be used to make this easy to implement per enemy, though may slow down the game slightly if used too much.
The Nihilistic-o-meter variable thing reminds me of the horns and such in Fable. Smile It shouldn't be hard to work with either.

I like the glitch music and 8-bit graphic idea, as the world is all fabricated. When the world deteriorated enough, you could have intentional bugs like walk-through walls, gravity inversion, or enemies that appear out of nowhere, giving you a lot of creative freedom. The art could even be sharp and dynamically pixelate via fragment shader as the world glitched Twisted Evil
A first person pov would also work well, and could make the dramatic irony part fit naturally. As long as the main character was abstracted as "the player" rather then a fully fleshed out character, he/she could be killed off and still have a very satisfying ending.

I'm not quite sure what the programming jargon means, so help me understand if you can. If you're saying what I think you're saying, then I like the idea.

All great ideas on the level design btw, (didn't think about reversing gravity, been playing some VVVVVVV lately?) I'm not sure how I feel about a first person pov though, I don't know if it'll fit the game.

I would like the art to be pretty developed, along the lines of Braid (simple but with personality) and the art "quality" can deteriorate over the course of the game into sections of 16/8bit graphics and glitches. I wouldn't want it to be too uniform, because I still want the artists to show off their skills on the environment towards the end of the game.

I came up with the source of the decompiling of the world. More technologically developed areas of the world tapped into the programming of the world. (I guess like machina did in FFX now that I think about it). Thus the later parts of the game will showcase a more industrial environment with megastructures and such.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Jake on Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:01 am

Code:
enum PlayerState { attacking, sneaky, diplomatic };
This sets us an enumeration (basically a custom variable type) named PlayerState. This declaration specifies that the three possible values that variables of the PlayerState type can have are "attacking", "sneaky", or "diplomatic".

Code:
PlayerState currentState;
When the Player class is created, a variable of type PlayerState is initialized so that the player can have its state stored. (Player will be able to use any state in the list above.)

Code:
Player::currentState = sneaky;
This sets the player's current state (In this case the sneaky state), and can be called during certain events (like when a key is pressed).

Hopefully that made sense. Very Happy There are probably better ways to handle gameplay style variations, and I may have made an error, so if anyone wants to challenge my code then go ahead!

Dariel00 wrote:...been playing some VVVVVVV lately?
I was actually thinking Sonic CD... but now I'm not quite sure if gravity ever even reverses in that game...

Dariel00 wrote:..along the lines of Braid
Have you played Machinarium? Not quite the same art style as braid, but IMO it has the whole glitch music style captured well (and could probably work with the classical stuff you mentioned too).
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:26 am

That is what I thought you meant Very Happy (hey, I'm getting a hang of this programming stuff). I like the idea of switching between combat and stealth mode. It'll make the decisions more defined and neat for the player.

I reconsidered how a social conflicts might not be a reasonable substitute for combat/stealth in most situations. Rather, the character would be given chances to converse with a particular obstacle and chose to either Intimidate, Persuade, or Deceive. Not only would these options decide if you succeed in that certain conflict, but also help shape your characters personality.

I got Machinarium as part of the Humble Indie Bundle, but I haven't played it yet. I will soon, though!
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Threepwood42 on Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:13 pm

I love this idea, cheers
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Kevin on Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:13 pm

Jake wrote:
Code:
enum PlayerState { attacking, sneaky, diplomatic };
This sets us an enumeration (basically a custom variable type) named PlayerState. This declaration specifies that the three possible values that variables of the PlayerState type can have are "attacking", "sneaky", or "diplomatic".

Code:
PlayerState currentState;
When the Player class is created, a variable of type PlayerState is initialized so that the player can have its state stored. (Player will be able to use any state in the list above.)

Code:
Player::currentState = sneaky;
This sets the player's current state (In this case the sneaky state), and can be called during certain events (like when a key is pressed).

This would work. In any function, we could use this:

Code:
// example function
void Player::function() {

  if (currentState == sneaky) {
    // if sneaky, this code block is ran
    // and the other else statements are completely ignored by the program...
  } else if (currentState == attacking) {
   
  } else if (currentState == diplomatic) {

  }
}
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  TheWritingWriter on Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:45 pm

I saw "break 4th wall" and I knew I needed to be at least somewhat involved in this. How can I help?
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Dariel00 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:52 pm

TheWritingWriter wrote:I saw "break 4th wall" and I knew I needed to be at least somewhat involved in this. How can I help?

Most of the 4th wall breaking will be references to the programming, level design, and general makings of a game. If you come up with any clever item names, power ups, minor characters, or just some funny dialogue ideas, shoot 'em at me. We're going to need a good amount to add that kind of flavor to the world.
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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

Post  Jawnnypoo on Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:09 pm

As far as the musical aspect, I would love to try my hand in producing some of the electronica music in the game if no one else is up for it. I have a paid version of FL Studio and I mess around with it in my free time. If you want, I can try it out if you will give me some direction as to how you might want it to sound. How long, stuff like that.

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Re: A 2D adventure that's self-aware

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