So in this post I’d love to introduce you to my game, The Lonely Planet. However before I continue, I’m extremely happy to announce that my first developer diary has been uploaded to YouTube! For any of you interested in making similar videos, please get OBS right now! It’s a beautiful piece of software that allows you to screen capture/record/stream on your computer, and you can learn how to use it here. Oh, and it’s FREE! Three cheers to Dael for recommending me the software!
New Town, Level Up, Dungeon, Boss, Repeat.
Rather, I’d like to introduce the character to a living, breathing world where the player’s actions and decisions in turn shape the fate of the world and its characters in both major and minor ways.
If you saw my first blog post, you would have seen that this decision was inspired by Fable. However, once again, unlike Fable, I want to take the complexity of the decisions offered beyond the Good/Evil dynamic, and bring them closer to the world of moral ambiguity, much akin to the brilliant moral ambiguity of The Witcher titles.
The Lonely Planet is Earth, the game taking place in our far future. The concept is inspired by an idea I had for a series of novels I’d love to write. I don’t want to reveal too much for the sake of creative privacy, however I will reveal that it involves beings from another dimension, who like humans, have for many years lived on planet Earth, (unbeknownst to us.) Something happens, two worlds collide, interesting things happen. You’ll learn more in the near future.
Ultimately this in itself is also a world building experiment, and as such I’d love to create a world that’s believable. I love and am inspired by the words of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writing Goddess Ursula K. Le Guin who in an open letter titled “Plausibility in Fantasy” muses,
The fantasy writer must “believe in” the world she is creating… in the sense of giving absolute credence to the work of the imagination — dwelling in it while writing, and trusting it to reveal itself.
The touchstone to plausibility in imaginative fiction is probably coherence. Realistic fiction can be, perhaps must be, incoherent in imitation of our perceptions of reality. Fantasy, which creates a world, must be strictly coherent to its own terms, or it loses all plausibility…
This is probably one of the reasons why fantasy is so acceptable to children, and even when frightening may give the reader reassurance: it has rules. It asserts a universe that, in some way, makes sense.
It is here where I would say that, while I’m attempting to create a game that’s fun to play, I’m also simultaneously attempting to write fiction that’s both engaging and believable. In fact it is here, in my opinion, where many modern story driven games falter severely. And if the incredible success of The Witcher 3 should tell us anything, it is that gamers want engaging and believable narratives. Gameplay is one thing, the narrative is another, and often I find that a well conceived narrative will provide that compelling purpose that drives the player forward, even in the face of repetition.
Marie Laure-Ryan refers to this type of interactivity as “Internal-ontological interactivity,” a type of interactivity that I’d like to replicate in my game project. Ryan unpacks the term in her paper “Beyond Myth and Metaphor*-The Case of Narrative in Digital Media,” where she states:
The interaction between the user and the fictional world produces a new life, and consequently a new life-story, with every run of the system. This destiny is created dramatically, by being enacted, rather than diegetically, by being narrated. The player of a game is usually too deeply absorbed in the pursuit of a goal to reflect on the plot that he writes through his actions, but when people describe their sessions with computer games, their reports typically takes the form of a story.
I admit I’ve set lofty goals, but hopefully my ambitions will push me to create a title that I can truly say I’m proud of. And even if it isn’t an incredible work of art, it’ll act as a stepping stone to grander things!
Wishing you all a wealth of luck, and can’t wait to hear more about the projects you’re working on. Also, please take the time to leave me both your thoughts and suggestions.
Also, for those who read to the bottom, here’s a bonus video where I demonstrate my work-in-progress crime system that I’m super proud of:
Le Guin, U. K. (2016). Ursula K. Le Guin: Plausibility in Fantasy. Available at: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/PlausibilityinFantasy.html.
Ryan, M.-L. (2001). Beyond myth and metaphor: The case of narrative in digital media. Game studies. The international Journal of Computer Game Research, 1,1. http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/ryan/