Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Paratopian City (Part 2)


"Paratopian." Neither uptopia nor dystopia; something beyond the bounds of what you'd ever see in a "normal" society.

(8:15:22 PM) Dagda: Gotham's not really a representative sample anymore, but I'm still after that interesting "metanormals & normals who've adapted" dynamic.
(8:15:53 PM) Dagda: The city tends to have its own way of doing things, on every level.
(8:15:56 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yeah, I like the idea of it
(8:16:04 PM) Dagda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGyVZRHZ2ow is another inspiration here
(8:16:44 PM) Dagda: (I have very little interest in actually playing that game, but HNNNGH that concept and aesthetic are amazing)
(8:16:53 PM) Sylvia Viridian: That is very pretty
(8:17:51 PM) Dagda: Final Fantasy, plus Kingdom Hearts, plus modern day upper-class urban society, plus the mafia? V Yes.
(8:17:58 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Oh, yes
(8:18:07 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Very, very shiny
(8:18:32 PM) Dagda: Gonna actually get into the next bit, feel free to keep watching & read later
(8:18:44 PM) Sylvia Viridian: oh, okay
(8:19:15 PM) Dagda: Basically, I'm thinking that for every protagonist/PC who's a paranormal being, there'll be 2 humans.
(8:21:21 PM) Dagda: One of whom is just skilled- skills meaning all the sorts of things we see Jason Bourne get up to. The ability to break in & infiltrate urban environments, fight with guns or martial arts, escape & evasion, taking on & subverting institutions. . .and awesome chase sequences, natch.
(8:22:28 PM) Dagda: The other one? Well, they're human, but honestly it's a stretch to call them "normal"
(8:23:53 PM) Dagda: A paranormal person can't teach a human to use magic. But some humans are. . .sensitive to a particular class of supernatural being.
(8:25:39 PM) Dagda: Sustained exposure can trigger physiological changes, giving someone one of several "conditions" based on which type of beign they're sensitive too. Their paranormal natures rub off on us, but in a more grounded sci-fi way.
(8:25:55 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I see~ Interesting
(8:26:58 PM) Dagda: An inspiration that comes in here is an anime called Canaan, which is pretty amazing for about 2-3 episodes (and then runs out of steam)
(8:27:49 PM) Dagda: It has several characters who have abnormal nervous systems, giving them a sort of savant-esque synesthesia with a side order of bullet time
(8:28:59 PM) Dagda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o06weVt9j0 <-Best example occurs at about 19 minutes in
(8:29:34 PM) Sylvia Viridian: /watches (8:31:11 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I see, cool
(8:31:39 PM) Dagda: So yeah, ripping that off
(8:33:02 PM) Dagda: Will probably have the reflexes and synesthesia perception be two separate things, but hey
(8:35:14 PM) Dagda: Other options would be someone who's empathic to a degree that's clearly ESP (i.e. they feel what someone else is feeling even though they're in another room or something), or someone who can do adrenaline-fuled, mother-lifts-minivan-off-kid feats of strength almost at will (regardless of the terrible strain it puts on their bodies).
(8:35:54 PM) Dagda: All things you can theoretically imagine as being within the realm of human potential
(8:35:59 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yeah
(8:36:48 PM) Dagda: So yeah. There's about one other key thing I've figured out that I should mention.
(8:40:36 PM) Dagda: The Gotham Central-inspired police, the ones that "have their own way of doing things", that have their share of corruption and abuse but by & large are made up of decent, pragmatic human beings? The ones who go out and walk/drive their beats, keep the peace, know the guys on the street corner by name? There are limits to their authority.
(8:41:36 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Oh, that sounds ominous
(8:45:10 PM) Dagda: The border guard, the ones in the helicopters and gunboats- originally a PMC that was contracted in the 70s, reports directly to the federal authority? They're active in the city, too. They're the ones in black helmets who do immigration raids, break up protests & riots (& claim they were riots either way), and do their best to hunt down the players (who are either part of the underworld or deal with it enough that they could wind up in serious trouble)
(8:45:21 PM) Dagda: This is that Mirror's Edge influence coming in.
(8:45:30 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Gotcha
(8:45:55 PM) Sylvia Viridian: So the cops are decent guys, but there's also military type forces
(8:46:18 PM) Dagda: More or less.
(8:46:40 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Who are much less nice and understanding about the whole supernatural deal
(8:48:04 PM) Dagda: The peacekeepers are the equivalent of cops who'll go out and ask prostitutes if they recognize a woman who turned up dead. They know this stuff goes on and if someone's being blatant/stupid they'll do something about it, but it's the status quo.
(8:48:51 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Makes sense
(8:48:53 PM) Dagda: The enforcers, they're not exactly military- but they carry guns and will use them, no question on that.
(8:49:03 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yeah
(8:49:30 PM) Dagda: They're "The Man", not to mention "La Migra".
(8:50:20 PM) Dagda: No engagement with the community, just a force that's not to be reckoned with. (Since if there's any reckoning going on they're the ones who're carrying it out)
(8:50:31 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Of course
(8:51:00 PM) Dagda: Now, 95% of them have no chance of matching the speed of a character with moderate parkour-type skills.
(8:51:17 PM) Dagda: (Which I'm thinking will be a significant portion of them)
(8:51:28 PM) Sylvia Viridian: It'd be a necessary survival skill
(8:51:31 PM) Sylvia Viridian: and also really really cool (8:51:53 PM) Dagda: Exactly!
(8:52:30 PM) Dagda: But they're still a serious threat, for one key reason: Coordination.
(8:52:54 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Right. Outrunning an individual doesn't mean as much when they have comms
(8:56:14 PM) Dagda: When you're being chased by enforcers, somewhere out there is a dispatcher- one of the ones with live access to every security camera in the city. And their career is going to be set back or forwards a good two years based on whether or not you get caught.
(8:56:32 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Aha.
(8:57:14 PM) Dagda: You had better believe they're going to throw everything they possibly can at you, on-duty or no.
(8:57:23 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yes, indeed
(8:59:00 PM) Dagda: You're able to build up a good lead on your pursuers, cutting down one particular back alley and managing to get up over the edge of the rooftop right before the first of them rounds the corner.
(9:01:46 PM) Dagda: And then the maintenance doors on 3 different neighboring rooftops are kicked down simultaneously, and snipers are dashing out to take aim. The dispatcher's voice yells orders at you from the Public Announcement system, telling you you're dead if you so much as move a muscle.
(9:02:16 PM) Dagda: Looking back, that was the point where things really got interesting :P
(9:02:21 PM) Sylvia Viridian: lol
(9:02:23 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I like it!
(9:05:54 PM) Dagda: Since that delay gave the gang lord's men (the ones you'd been fighting in the first place, until the enforcers took notice) chance to catch up, and everything descended into chaos from there.

Image was done by this artist on pixiv.

Read all

Paratopian City (Part 1)


Work and classes keep me busy as usual- I've been one of Applecare's senior-tier agents since the end of last year. Some big game design efforts that'll have to wait for another time, but I wanted to share this one while it was fresh.

(7:25:15 PM) Dagda: Been brainstorming a new setting, actually- yesterday and today, it's coming together nicely. Think I could bounce it off you?
(7:25:22 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Sure
(7:25:30 PM) Dagda: Awesome, was hoping to get your input
(7:25:46 PM) Dagda: Are you familiar with any of the Abhorsen books, by Garth Nix?
(7:26:04 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I am not, unfortunately
(7:26:09 PM) Dagda: No worries
(7:26:29 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I am familiar with some of his Keys to the Kingdom books, but not the Abhorsen ones
(7:27:23 PM) Dagda: Main relevant thing is that Abhorsen's setting had two countries that shared a border.
(7:28:22 PM) Dagda: It was something of a gothic fantasy story, main characters are necromancers whose arts are used to *counter* undead raised by other, irresponsible necromancers.
(7:28:36 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Oh, interesting
(7:28:44 PM) Dagda: But the other country is actually a secular, rational nation alot like 1920s britain.
(7:29:23 PM) Dagda: Most people there are highly skeptical about magic being real, and remain that way for a bit in the instances where they see it firsthand.
(7:30:15 PM) Dagda: This setting is. . .half that, half District B13 (or Mirror's Edge, if you prefer)
(7:30:38 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Ooh
(7:31:16 PM) Dagda: You have a particular region where supernatural stuff goes on. In this case were talking a large island or two of the coast of a larger landmass, a la great britain
(7:33:24 PM) Dagda: That's not the setting, though, the stories never directly show what it's like there. The setting is a massive modern-day city that's right across the English Channel-equivalent.
(7:36:11 PM) Dagda: See, the goverment for this nation takes great pains to keep the supernatural region contained. Helicopters and patrolling gunboats serve as a border guard, concentrated on the channel but also covering the islands as a whole.
(7:37:58 PM) Dagda: They downplay the paranormal side of things to the public, dismissing the old tales of bogeymen coming ashore to terrorize families in the night as a bunch of quaint rumors and superstitions (which, to be fair, is mostly true)
(7:39:16 PM) Dagda: But for both political and pragmatic reasons, they go to great lengths not to let anyone in (without clearance) or any*thing* out.
(7:41:15 PM) Dagda: Knowingly harboring or failing to report any supernatural being, artifact, anything of the sort is a serious crime.
(7:41:32 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Of course
(7:41:49 PM) Dagda: In theory, this particular harbor city is no exception.
(7:43:15 PM) Dagda: In practice, there are hundreds of illegal border crossings each year. Within the borders of this city, as long as you don't do anything obviously paranormal in public you're relatively safe.
(7:43:25 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Oh, fun
(7:44:19 PM) Dagda: Mind you, the people from this region might have different skin/eye/hair color but they're still flesh and blood the same as anyone.
(7:44:49 PM) Dagda: The supernatural elements are seen in the effects they can have on people (and sometimes the world in general) around them.
(7:45:02 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Like what?
(7:46:12 PM) Dagda: Someone who's utterly, fascinatingly beautiful- but looks pretty darn plain if you're looking at them in a photograph or via security camera.
(7:46:27 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I see
(7:47:16 PM) Dagda: Or someone who can move around as though their body (and whatever they're carrying) weighed less, a la Spring-Heeled Jack
(7:47:31 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Sounds neat~
(7:47:50 PM) Dagda: Or telekinesis
(7:48:04 PM) Dagda: Of a relatively raw and uncontrolled variety
(7:53:02 PM) Dagda: The scene at 1:30 in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDcxuiFLA64 being an extreme example
(7:54:12 PM) Sylvia Viridian: /watches
(7:55:03 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Whoa. Cool.
(7:55:47 PM) Dagda: It's a neat set of movies- not something I'd objectively argue as great, but I'm a fan
(7:56:09 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I like the animation
(7:56:32 PM) Dagda: Yeah, it's very well done. Consistently, too, doesn't just spike in the fight scenes
(7:56:46 PM) Dagda: As for her attacker, in the red jacket- that's a nice tie-in to another key thing about this setting
(7:57:41 PM) Dagda: What started me on this concept was reading some recent Batman comics, and thinking about how much I like the better-written portrayals of Gotham city.
(7:58:49 PM) Dagda: And how I could keep alot of that while removing the superhero thing from the equation.
(7:59:12 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I see.
(7:59:38 PM) Dagda: Specifically, keeping things like the police department- there was a great comic series called Gotham P.D., police procedural format but in Gotham city.
(7:59:53 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Oh, that sounds fun
(8:00:14 PM) Dagda: It was, I'm sure I could track down a DL for the scans if you wanted.
(8:00:24 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Sure
(8:00:56 PM) Dagda: To rs.4chan.org I go!
(8:01:03 PM) Dagda: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=kco7igqj
(8:01:12 PM) Sylvia Viridian: That was fast
(8:01:20 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Awesome
(8:04:08 PM) Dagda: Anyway, part of what I really liked was this idea of a city that had these metahuman elements going on in it, good and ill, and had adapted accordingly.
(8:04:44 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I do like that idea. Sort of similar to one I've been working with myself, anyway
(8:05:01 PM) Dagda: Oh? Interesting
(8:05:20 PM) Dagda: This is a good point to pause for a bit- would you be up for sharing your concept?
(8:05:36 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Basically, an urban fantasy setting ten years after the masquerade broke
(8:05:46 PM) Dagda: Ahaha nice
(8:05:52 PM) Sylvia Viridian: The FBI has a Magical Crimes Unit
(8:06:03 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Atlantis - where the elves live - has its own seat in the UN
(8:06:10 PM) Dagda: Nice
(8:06:12 PM) Sylvia Viridian: That kind of thing
(8:06:40 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Most magical species are actually still under the masquerade
(8:06:48 PM) Dagda: Huh
(8:06:58 PM) Sylvia Viridian: it's just elves and mages - who are humans with elven blood - that are out and about
(8:07:01 PM) Dagda: So there's a twist that this is just the tip of the iceberg
(8:07:03 PM) Dagda: Interesting
(8:07:09 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yeah
(8:08:01 PM) Dagda: Kind of a different bent, but that has something else occur to me
(8:08:32 PM) Dagda: That in my setting, maybe yours too, the full extent of what paranormal things could actually do would almost be ambiguous
(8:09:38 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Magic as almost a force unto itself, one that can be tapped into but never fully defined
(8:10:11 PM) Dagda: You'd have rumors about power to bring cities crashing down, and then the truth of some scared migrant family whose middle-aged grandpa can throw you out a window in a pinch but that's it.
(8:11:00 PM) Sylvia Viridian: I see. But who knows - *someone* out there might have that much power
(8:11:08 PM) Sylvia Viridian: And there would be people seeking those that did
(8:11:15 PM) Dagda: Yep on both counts
(8:12:38 PM) Dagda: And then you get a fight scene like in that youtube vid, with some scared, desperate half-crazed prodigy cuts loose with no restraint. And an awful lot of load-bearing walls are getting wrecked.
(8:13:25 PM) Dagda: And what do you know, it's starting to seem like a building might come tumbling down after all.
(8:13:37 PM) Sylvia Viridian: Yuup


Art by Kweli

Read all