Friday, March 5, 2010

Setting and Progression, Part 2

Last time was a sort of exploration of how to train the player and use the setting to accomplish this transparently. Many of our ideas are rough and have not necessarily been planned or thought out fully. And all will likely change. But this is our/my current design, for the setting of the game.

First and initially, before actual playing: Your character belongs to a relatively advanced technological society. To give it some style, we're thinking of a sort of steampunk civilization. In this case the 'steam' technology will be substantially more advanced than actual steam technology. It's a sort of 'future of the past' setting.

However, the society is crumbling. As the game opens the player is escaping his homeland, through desperate measures. The civilization is under sudden and relentless attack, and the living remnants of society abandon their lands in Exodus. Their exodus takes them to a new land, hopefully beyond the reach of their aggressors. The exodus, however, has not allowed them to bring anything more than their technological knowledge. There was no time to bring artefacts and tools.

The nature of the attack and exodus is still up for debate. I personally have some ideas that are a bit out there, but I like that. Since I'm the one typing this, I get to say them. The nature of the attack is largely unknown to the players, but the attackers bear an unknown power that grants them swift victory. This power is, naturally, learned later as a course of the game and plot. My idea for the exodus is rather extreme; I want to ship the players to a new planet. More specifically, a new moon around the same planet. Bringing in the concepts of the victorian age, we'll have the space between filled with the aether, which the increasingly absurd 'steam' power propels the player through. The aether, though, is partially responsible for the new power. Travelling through it leaves the mark on the player, establishing their exceptionalism in the new world.

The player lands, regains consciousness in a hostile environment, and must survive. A few others join him for the previously mentioned tutorial segment. The new world is largely untamed, although ruins are scattered here and there. The player discovers a settlement of refugees learning how to survive, and a top level gameplay tutorial commences. The next major milestone is learning the power of the new world. The refugees are too hard pressed to spend time relearning lost steam technology, but instead make contact with intelligent local species with similar powers to those that destroyed the homeland. Let's just call it elemental magic. Through various means the ability to manipulate natural forces is learned. The survivors latch onto this power in order to survive. At this point the player is introduced to new class types and abilities.

Contact between survivors is reestablished, and factions begin to emerge. The player joins a faction, not unlike a guild, and begins settlement and exploration of the new world. They begin to make the land their own.   Naturally, a new foe emerges, an aggressor of the new world to prevent indefinite and total expansion of the now-colonists. The factions, their power unsufficient to continue expansion, need to learn more about their foes, to learn their weaknesses and defend themselves. The NPC factions begin attacking player settlements on the frontier of the new civilization. The players begin to uncover ruins of the old civilizations, and learn about their specific foes, which may differ from area to area. The deceased civilization is remarkably recent, and the factions learn that this land was wracked by wars of the elemental powers. The old civilization was destroyed utterly and left only ruins. Of course they are not completely gone, but we can reveal that later.

After some time, the colonists' resources become sufficient to rebuild their old technologies. Some turn to technology as a weapon, rather than the natural forces. Again, new classes and abilities are unveiled to players that pursue these options. About now we should hint that their destroyer is pursuing them through the aether, but will take some time to land. But when it does, the factions will be ready to defend themselves, with their newborn powers and technology rebuilt.

Shortly before the destroyers land, a breakthrough is made. A ruin is discovered with a special mineral in it. This mineral twists the natural elemental energy of the planet, and converts it into similar form as the colonists' technology requires. It is revealed that the steampower their technology is based on is rooted in the same physics as the local powers, and so the two can be combined, setting up the 4th Tier of classes and abilities: The merger of magic and technology into something greater than either alone.

The destroyers land, and epic battles commence.

The important bits, gameplay wise, are the four tiers of abilities: Survival (simple), Elemental, Technological, and Combined. Each of these involves granting new classes to players, which may merge or work with existing classes. Each also involves a decision, which will limit the player to a partial set of each tier. For example, there are 4 'survival' classes, and the player may only use 2. Further tier limitations haven't been decided really. The Elemental tier will probably constrain the 'methods' for using elemental magic, rather than the elements being consumed. The Technological tier design is still quite a ways off. The Merged tier will probably not involve any decisions; but the decisions in technology and elements will decide how the player can merge them together.

So much to do.

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