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11:19 pm, October 17, 2014

Turning Idea Into Reality. Assistance Required


WARNING: this is going to be quite a long read. And probably quite boring for most.


So, I played "The Evil Within" recently. I am still on the fence about the game itself, but I liked the general style of it. hat led me to thinking: Hey, I can try that with Bethsoft!" By "that" I mean finding a group of people (a tam), which can help me to turn my idea into reality. I already tried contacting TellTalle Games and Square Enix regarding this, but they still have not got back to me, so in case of Bethsoft, I decided to try the forums. At the least, maybe I'll get some community input. What comes next is slightly edited mail, that was sent to TTG and SE.


First, I'd like to tell you the history of the idea in general.

It started as coping mechanism for a school crush. You know, like when you like a girl, but understand, that nothing will happen between you ever (or maybe she even told you so), but you still fantasize, that she somehow ends up in a pinch and you swoop in saving her. And then there is all that love and ponies. I had such a fantasy. But somehow it felt like something more than just a fantasy, and I started writing it down. I got it down to, like 2 or 3 small chapters and then for some reason stopped. When I returned to it, I understood, that it was too clichd, and I decided to re-write it. And I actually turned it into a book and even started writing a second one. Then again for some reasons I stopped. Because I felt, that something was missing.

Someone who liked the book and had read some other minor stuff I had written by that time, told me, that I could actually write something more in Stephen King's style. And since I just finished his last book in "The Dark Tower" series and was watching some TV series at the moment, which were dark and gritty, I started reading my own book, while analyzing, whether it could be turned into King's style. I read. Then read it again. And again. And again. And then I started re-writing it from scratch, because it was too much like a fairy tale and it even managed to bore myself.

And the current version is being born in pain for several years already. I constantly re-write some parts of it, unable to finish it, because I always feel like something is missing. I took a break last autumn and after it... It started hitting me. I started to understand what I was missing the most: lore (and I mean lore, not character background) and visualization. I mean, I want it to be as deep as possible and as graphic as possible, but I can't seem to make it so.

Yesterday (it's not yesterday already, though) a stray thought hit my brain: and what if it was a game? And all the pieces seem to fit now. A game does provide visual representation and it may allow feeding lore to gamers, while not actually breaking the tempo of the actual narration. Thoughts started pouring into my mind: how this episode could look in a game? And this one? What about that one? What elements would I add to a game based on this specific story? How can I diversify it to increase replayability? And I do have answers to some of the questions, that rose in my mind. But I am not stupid enough to not understand, that I won't be able to do that alone, even if I had enough skills (which I don't, even though I do have coding experience and do love coding). But I am stupid enough to try to find a team which can help me make it a reality.


So, what is the book about?

The start-up is quite common, I believe: a random guy practically becomes a god, without knowing it himself. And this also affects his mental stability. Like greatly. What's unique is the approach I try to follow: describe how that feels both physically and emotionally. And even if he is, practically, a god, he still has limitations and, actually, can even die (or can he?). And all of this is done in a multiverse. It even collides with one of the Marvel Comics universes. In fact, the initial source of power (or so it seems) is a symbiont thing from Marvel Comics universe. Like Venom, Carnage, Toxin and whatever. Different, but similar. It's even more like Todd McFarlane's Spawn. And in some ways I have been trying to create a universe similar to Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" with codex (or lore) close to Frank Herbert's "Dune". And for some episodes I plan to use style elements of Tolkien's "The Lord Of The Rings" or maybe "Silmarillion".

That is I try to provide an elevated view on the story, and yet keep it personal, like... "gonzo". I actually write a lot of the story from first person. And I use different characters for that. Sometimes I describe one scene from different perspectives. Oh, and it has both sci-fi and fantasy inside of it. And lots of killing and generally dark scenes. Like I have a scene, which is an alternative version of the past of a female character. A dark scene, which can, actually be banned somewhere, I guess.

To give general understanding of the plot, but without the details, here are some points of the story (still putting it into a spoiler):


1. A guy is kidnapped by demons for an "experiment" of sorts. Which, partially fails.

2. About a year later (he is a highschooler now) with, seemingly, no reason his "powers" start awakening

3. After a few minor "incidents" he meets main female character. Female is even more broken in terms of her mind, than the main character. She, actually, fantasizes about becoming a shadow of her fated one. And for some time she does believe that the main character is that fated one (he is not. Or is he?)

4. They hookup through an "incident" where someone may have even died

5. After the hookup on his way home the guy gets attacked by hired thugs and... Kills them all when losing control. Actually activating (at least partially) his symbiont (which I prefer to spell as simbiot, or in his precise case - Simbiat)

6. Additionally loses some of his sanity when simbiot sucks out the blood from all of the victims (except for the one who was incinerated)

7. Sees a dream where the world gets destroyed by his version in another universe

8. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is sent out to retrieve the simbiot host and the simbiot itself (since they are considered a threat: his other versions are also tracked down for extermination). The agent himself is also a bit in the head. I called a backstory chapter about him "Pusher", because he used to push people to strong emotions for kicks, which in the end almost resulted in his own *******.

9. In an attempt to collect himself the main character goes for vacation in Tunisia

10. In an incident of losing control he burns and ices up two sisters while trying to have a threesome with them

11. Gets approached by the agent. Agent feels for him. Because they are actually versions of one man from different universes, except the agent is older (different time flows)

12. Meanwhile the female character gets kidnapped by the same demons. And punched out hard: broken jaw, knocked out teeth, stripped skin, collapsed tongue. A vital item is left behind cause of ignorance

13. Guy returns home with the agent. While guy sleeps it off, agent is deep in thought about corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. in general and Nick Fury in particular. Or was it a shapeshifter similar to the one he ****** not long ago, and not Nick Fury himself?

14. Main character and female see the same dream at the same time (from different perspectives). This scene was, actually, influenced by 30 Seconds To Mars's "Buddha for Marry'. Future, Mars colony. Pastor in a foster care... Violates a little girl and chokes her afterwards. Then gets ******. This is actually an alternative version of female's past. I did say she is broken, right?..

15. Guy finds out, that female is missing. Gets the mentioned ignored item, just as a memento.

16. Guy does not want to go search for her, but he suddenly start feeling a wormhole to another universe nearby, which was left open by the demons who stole the female. 'Cause of lack of caution (he is not that much bright as he want to believe) he and the agent get sucked in into it

17. Guy hears some stuff about him being special, which he does not believe even for one bit (good choice) and thus slaughters lots of demons, because the female is not there. 'Cause she broke out of there, while breaking a few ribs and a leg, receiving an internal bleeding.

18. While escaping the castle where the guy slaughtered the demons the agent gets ****** and advises the guy to get the hell out before S.H.I.E.L.D. gets there.

19. Guy leaves the agent and goes home. He decides not to get involved with anything of this anymore, since he has no motivation to do so.


This wraps the 1st book, actually. In 2nd he snaps so utterly complete, that he starts to question his own existence and acquires motivation to understand what the hell is happening to him. Most part of the 2nd book is bound to happen in Marvel's universe where some light is shed on "my version" of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its involvement in all of this. By the end of the book he does not get enough answers, but he does get a 'task", which potentially can help him to get those answers or at least some kind of closure. Task is a reference to King's "The Dark Tower" - gather people. 12 people to be precise (with him as 13th, which is another reference to The Dark Tower with its prime numbers and number 19). And he starts doing so in 3rd book. 3rd book returns the female character and also involves massive war scenes in LOTR style. And destruction of a world. And another female near-*****. And magic (maybe Elder Scrolls style). Further books involve resurrections, incest and swinging, pregnancies, slaughters, vampires and more demons (with even more swords), return to Marvel's universe, more insanity, split personalities and in the end ***** of it all - the guy dies in 9th book. But the story does not end with his *****. He stays dead, but story does not. Reference to "Dune" here.


Of course such description does not provide a taste for the book itself, for the style, for the atmosphere, but I am doing it this way to protect myself until a miracle happens and it somehow takes off as a game. Besides it is written in Russian at the moment. But I hope to start translating it soon. Your interest would greatly speed me up :D


So, how can this be turned into a game? What kind of game?

It will definitely be a story and character driven game. That is it can't be made into an RPG with open world, action (FPS, TPS, slasher, whatever) and definitely not an RTS. I see it as something TellTale has produced already: episodic game. It can be episodic by books (each book an episode) or split in any other convenient way. In terms of overall graphic style it should be something like Todd McFarlane's Spawn and some issues of Thunderbolts and X-Force (and Carnage U.S.A.). I mean some realistic-ish like Wolverine and Domino cover for X-Force #9 (I believe it was volume 3 of the series), but yet fluid like Spawn. Maybe close to what I see in The Evil Within.

General narrative should go similar to episodic games. Like story-telling with simple choices. Most choices, probably, won't affect the story drastically, but may affect some minor details, availability of some content and... General mental state of characters. Yes, characters. I did mention, that I show things from perspective of different characters. Which also means, that most of the game should be in 1st person. Regarding that "most" part.. Here are some of the ideas for gameplay stuff, that I have in mind:

1. Some fighting scenes can change perspective to 3rd person and turn into kind of slasher-game (DMC-style). Some of them may be repayable as "nightmares" if they did affect mental stability of a character and character does have a "base" where he\she can sleep

2. Some scenes, that are not mass-slaughters, like one-on-one brawls, may be like a Mortal Kombat fight or can be designed similar to action scenes in Wolf Among Us, for example, but with more freedom. Like more choices how to hit, with some choices killing instantly (where applicable)

3. As I mentioned main character's mental stability is degrading. Thus he sees world a bit... different. For example, looking at some objects (including people) in some roaming episodes should bring out a "what if" image (image showing something resembling a portal from Portal, but of different color, maybe). Like ***** of a person. destruction or decomposition of an object. Thoughts (happy or not so much). Possible actions. This should be made to emphasize on mental instability of the character

4. In previous point I did mention "actions". I am not sure if this can and should be implemented in the 1st book, but in the 2nd one it should be a major part of gameplay in first part of the game. Point is, you see an action playing out in that "portal". You click it (or do something else with it) and it actually conducts. If it conducts it may change some parts of the story or even open some parts of the content. Like you may choose to get involved into something and save someone or not save someone. Or you can simply **** someone (like deconstruct a person with your mind while riding in metro-train). Obviously you should then get a choice whether to completely lose control and **** everyone (here comes some DMC-like action) or run as hell (Mirrors Edge, Assassins Creed, Spider-Man?) until you vanish or until you become "wanted" and you have to... Move to another world (in book 2)

5. In book 3, there is even a place for possible RTS level(s). There will be a massive war going there and gamer could have a choice to play parts of it DMC-style or StarCraft-style. Or maybe even both (like Savage)

6. Character commentaries. You know, like developers commentaries they place in some games, but characters commentaries. Like ability to pause some episodes and hear the thoughts of current character regarding other characters (not necessarily currently visible) or objects or events. Or just some singing in the head. With ability to make that signing soundtrack to a fight :D To be done to make the characters deeper, more complex. To get more involved, if desired.

7. The game should also allow to gather some lore info by interacting with appropriate objects. Sometimes similar to what Wolf Among Us has, and sometimes like what "Murdered: Soul Suspect" offered through letters and newspapers. And not necessarily about the story background it can be references to pop culture (read it as convenient product placement, thus some extra sponsorship, if possible)


Reading the above myself, I start to feel like it can be an average indie game. But I'd like it to be more. I want it to feel real, as if it happens right near you. I want it to be gritty. I want it all close-up. I want it so that some scenes would make people literally sick with disgust. I want it to be like "Irreversible", like "Clockwork Orange", like that episode of "Psycho-Pass" (I think it was 15th one), when a girl gets beaten to ***** among the flock of people, not even understanding, what the hell is happening before their eyes. I want it to be a story of a man who falls deep into this dirty world (because of his irrelevance, among other things) and then struggles to get out of it and live a simple life. It does not need to be like that in all the scenes, since there are different perspectives, different characters, different views and there is some light in all this, but still. The dark should be dark. Disgusting should be disgusting.


I know that all of this is, basically a wishful thinking. I understand, that developer\publisher teams have other way more promising projects ahead of them, but I do believe, that this can be done if appropriate amount of resources is provided, so... Why not try to reach out? TellTale suited the concept due to their experience with episodic story-based games, Square Enix suited due to experience with lore-deep games and multi-format content. Bethsoft may suit with style of "The Evil Within", lore-deep stories (TES) and.. Ability to somewhat experiment with some part of gameplay. I know that, despite me writing so much in this post it's still not enough to get a grip of what I envision for the idea, but maybe if people will ask questions, that can become more clearer.



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