Because of the drastic change to the nature of the project, I have had to redesign certain elements from the ground up as well as adding components which would not have been present in the old concept.
The new High Concept Document for Stellar Final Major Project is available HERE.
In the second year, whilst producing my Self Initiated Project I created a narrative for the RTS/FPS hybrid game which is featured in the High Concept Document.
My Final Major Project will be set within in the same universe or canon, keeping the science fiction setting. Due to the change in the nature of gameplay however, the time period and factions featured will be slightly different. Below is an outline of the background for the narrative of my Final Major Project. The “plot” of the project is simple and ambiguous, poking fun at the cliches of science fiction and leaving much to the imagination of the player.
The year is 2138. Earth as we know it is a drastically different place; technology has progressed at lightning speed due to the technological singularity which took place in the latter half of the 21st century but the Earth as we know it is a very different place. Climate change, overpopulation and decades of war have left vast tracts of land uninhabitable. To counter the decline of our homeworld, the largest corporations on the planet have pooled their resources into the Exodus project, constructing orbital habitats with the objective of resettling our population in space.
The Horizon is the first orbital of it's kind. Situated amongst the Jovian asteroid belt and orbiting the protoplanet Ceres, the station was designed to serve as a launchpad for deep space exploration vessels in the search for habitable planets. It is on the Horizon that you were stationed. After two years in cryogenic sleep you awake to begin your first shift as crew chief only to find the station deserted...
The background story frames the narrative of the project in the science fiction universe and gives enough information to the player to explain their presence on the station, while still leaving the fate of the station ambiguous.
When considering the catastrophe which has afflicted the station I looked at other science fiction games which have a similar presmise, the first being Dead Space.
In Dead Space, the player assumes the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent to carry out repairs on the USG Ishimura. Upon arriving at the ship however, the player discovers that a parasitic alien entity has assimilated the crew and transformed them into undead creatures. The game itself builds atmosphere spectacularly with grafitti, audio logs and notepads helping to describe the events which befell the ship before the player’s arrival. The game utilises plenty of jump scares and “Quick time events” to panic the player. Upon first entering the ship the deserted ship builds a great atmosphere, but ultimately the repetition of combat negates the eeriness of the game and instead uses shock tactics to keep the player on edge. While the game itself is enjoyable, this is not the type of atmosphere I am looking for in my Final Major Project.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is much closer to the kind of atmosphere that I want to build in the project. The player is given no weapons, and spends most of the time running from enemies instead of engaging them, which creates a more subtle sense of urgency than Dead Space does. It also creates a challenge for the designer to not rely on combat to allow the player to progress.
One feature that I will investigate is the possibility of multiple endings. In one ending for instance the Player may discover that the crew members were drove insane through isolation and murdered one another. In another ending the Player may discover that the station has been infected with some kind of alien parasite. This creates re- playability which is a key feature of many new games.
Taking this into account, I have decided to focus the player’s progression on two key aspects; Exploration and Puzzles.
The layout of the station will be relatively non-linear, with the player being able to explore at their own pace. Certain areas will locked, and the player must find keycards to open doors. Secondly, because of the player’s role as an engineer, I want to create certain puzzles in which the player must fix components on the station to progress. Jammed doors, broken computers and pipes as a few examples.
As a side-objective, I may also integrate simple combat such as robot drones which the player must destroy using objects in the environment such as a cargo crane or electrified pools of water.
Structurally, the project will feature several levels based on the various decks of the station aswell as a training level set within the confines of a virtual reality (The pretense being that the Player character is engaging in virtual training during their cryogenic sleep aboard the station) and obviously a starting menu with which the player can start a game or quit. (Depending on the difficulty, I may also implement a save/load feature or at least allow the player to start from a level upon unlocking it)
The overriding objective given to the player will be to discern what has happened to the crew using the captain’s log. Hints and objectives will be given to the player in the form of GUI prompts.
The levels will be featured in the following order:
– Main menu: A scene featuring the asteroid belt and the station orbiting Ceres: animated in a slowly rotating manner to add visual interest.
– Training: A small tutorial level featuring a virtual reality, tron-esque level tile set in which the various controls and in-game systems are explained. Features covered are: Movement, sprinting, interaction using the “E” key, keycards, text logs (datapads which contain backstory information on) and possibly combat
– Medical deck: The player awakes in the cryo chamber and finds that some of the other crew members in stasis are deceased. The player’s first objective is to acquire clothes from a nearby locker. The player is then free to explore the medical deck and find clues pertaining to the disappearance of the crew. As the player progresses through the various corridors there will be signs of distress (Papers on the floor, chairs knocke over etc.) The tile set of this level will be sterile and white, reflecting a hospital.
– Engineering: The player cannot progress to the bridge without first hjeading to the engineering deck and fixing a door subsystem which will allow the elevator on the medical deck to be used. The engineering deck will be in stark contrast to the medical deck. Closed quarters, dark and the level tileset will be rusty, dark metals as opposed to the sterile bright interiors of the medical deck.
– Residential: After proceeding back up to the medical deck, the player uses the elevator to get to the residential deck to find the captain’s quarters. The residential deck will be the largest and feature a variety of rooms such as canteens, offices and of course residential quarters. It is here that the full extent of the mystery will be shown, with doors barricaded, cupboards and storage containers ransacked and clothes left lying on the floor. Upon finally reaching the captain’s quarters the player will discover the grueseom truth behind the crew’s disappearance…
Each level will utilise a unique tileset which will give each area it’s own characteristics. The overall game will be quite dark and require the player to use a flashlight (Whihc can be found within the game)
Depending on the progression of the project, I would also like to feature a level inside the Ceres asteroid, to practice my organic sculpting skills and to contrast the mechanical and man made surroundings of the other levels.