Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Divers vs. Inception

I went into Inception with a "baseless hunch" about what seeing it would be like for me, one that turned out about 80% correct. Among the expected factors: It's got a ton of parallels to Divers (enough that it'll probably be the biggest "so it's like ___" reaction I get for the project from now on, quite a feat when Divers has parallels to EVERYTHING). It gave me plenty of ideas for antagonists. It's got my mind racing enough that I'll be up all night and should definitely harness this energy towards somethings productive (like this blog plost).

The two big exceptions:

-It didn't give me many ideas about the environments for Divers. The film was too well-grounded for that.
-By having such a thoroughly explored internal logic, Inception provides a reference that helps me better understand my own ideas.

There's a few clear realizations this has currently produced. . .
Where Inception is about the subconscious and our imaginations, Divers is about our intuition and feelings.
The internal logic of the Depths (in Divers) doesn't produce a world where things having match events that could happen in 'reality'; it produces a world where everything 'feels' right. Punching through concrete with your bare hands? Clearly couldn't happen in the real world, but show it to us in a movie or comic and we readily nod along.

Instead of being semiconsciously built from our imaginations, the depths in Divers are formed through the experiences we have- from our feelings, if "feeling" is a label you give to the process of experiencing something.

Inception's world is an increasingly hostile environment that forces you to "lay low", fueling adventures similar to heist movies. Divers' world is an increasingly symbolic/fantastical/significant environment; it fuels adventures where you discover more about the world around you as you fight to better it.
I feel like I've had one element of a personal agenda with Divers, one conscious moral I built into the world's themes. It's simple: Everyone can have qualities that make them worth respecting. Any random person- a surly blue-collar worker in his early 50s, an anxiety-prone housewife, an incoherent bum on the bus- can turn out to have extraordinary depths to them, sides of their character whose virtues would never see the light of day in almost any other premise involving decent action sequences. :P

Mind you, there's a corollary: Anyone can and will have terrible, pathetic failings. Anyone can be force for ill through the Depths, be it through ignorance, denial, or pain too great to bear. That includes the same people who're worthy of respect. That includes you.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Idea: Provide a world for users to fill with secrets.

Just an open brainstorm as to how you might implement this. For a tabletop RPG, it seems like you could use a wiki-like approach to build a campaign setting full of intrigue and hidden motives; the person handling the meat of the setting serves as the admin, with others stepping up to suggest various motives/intentions/goings-on for everything from shopkeeps to nobles to the beggars in a given alley. The big design question is how you'd handle this in some kind of video game.

The approach I'd envision there is making a moderately expansive 3D world, with several different wilderness environments, some small and large towns, etc. It'd hopefully be done well enough that it'd be moderately interesting and beautiful, something you might enjoy running around in with no particular direction; at the same time, it'd all be within the bounds of normality (albeit with the landscape distilled a little, so that you've got more fancy waterfalls and so on). But you'd also provide a set of tools that users could use to modify or add to the world, providing various assets but also letting you make your own.

I can open up this toolset, go in, and add something like a small grove in the middle of a forest or a strange rock formation. I can also go much further than that, adding things like a hidden valley containing ancient ruins or an underground cave system. Other options could include things like giving a seemingly generic building a working door and an interior, and a creature creator that lets you give them all kinds of different behaviors (i.e. your little stick-man will always stay far away unless the player stands still for at least 10 seconds while the moon is full). There'd be a moderator panel I can check in with; they'd offer feedback and be the ones who'd incorporate the altered region into the world. (These moderators *could* act as quality control, but I think their main priorities would be to avoid having one user's additions conflict with another's (i.e. they'd inform you that there's already something going on with that cliff face, and suggest several similar areas to implement your idea instead) and maintain a couple of general guidelines (secrets shouldn't be obvious from a distance, though subtler clues are fine). Players should feel free to give their contributions all kind of unique quirks- winding trails of sky-blue flowers that lead to hidden cave entrances, inscriptions on walls that tell fragments of a story. . .

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Games as art- yea or nay?

I usually consider art to be abstract self-expression- having something to say. Working off that idea, it's safe to say that almost anything can be art once you're fluent in it.

That being said, I make games, and I know I personally am no artist- the label I do use is /craftsman/. It doesn't really matter whether the core premise is my own or someone else's; my focus is on running with that concept and implementing it in the best way possible.

Ask me anything

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