Recent Game Story Issues

Today I want to share some of the issues I have had to deal with while writing the story for the launch title of our studio (‘our’ meaning me and two others).

The Tutorial Stage

The game begins with a tutorial stage explaining the controls of flying a ship. But here is the problem: the protagonist, French-woman Violeta de Lucia, more commonly known as Violet, is an experience pilot. Having her go through a tutorial session therefore makes no sense in the story.

Fortunately we created a solution to this problem without realizing it. In the early drafts of the character stories and settings we established that Violet works for Dyson Science and Research (DSR)—and yes, it is a nod to Freeman Dyson. This mega-corporation sends people like Violet out on a variety of missions, but not before surgically inserting a device allowing them to remove the pilot’s memories about each mission. In this way they protect themselves from their trade secrets and activities becoming know to their competitors if a pilot decides to quit and take up a job elsewhere.

We were able to leverage that idea to explain the reason for a tutorial. Violet still has all of her innate piloting experience and instincts, but before each mission she needs to be reminded of the controls for each ship since that is knowledge about proprietary technology that DSR always erases from her memory.

The State of Technology

The game takes place in the future but not too far. We have not picked a specific year but it will be less than a century, probably seven decades at most. Our game contains an amount of social commentary about the state of modern business practices and the conflicts they create with the working-class. If we put the game too far in the future that subject would feel less relevant.

Technology is closely related to that subject, and to the entire plot itself. In order to make the setting more believable we are examining various modern-day technologies and attempting to make predictions about how they may be used in the future. For example, we will use Bitcoin as the in-game currency, for a number of reasons. The creation of bitcoins will not stop until the year 2140, which is comfortably farther ahead than the start of the game. Since bitcoins are not controlled by a central authority we believe they would become an attractive choice for these mega-corporations, especially since a lot of them are starting to see themselves as more influential than national governments—another conflict that the game will explore. Anonymous transactions are more-or-less impossible under the Bitcoin system, and projects like Zerocoin attempt to address this. Corporations in our game like DSR will not want a public ledger of their activities floating around the Internet, and so we are investigating this technology and how it may affect the entire landscape of bitcoins in the coming decades.

That is just one of many examples of where we are thinking about existing technologies and attempting to predict their future status. Even though our game has elements of science-fiction we want the technology to be as believable as possible. More than anything that will help plant the premise firmly in reality, and that is an important goal.

Religion

During the course of the game humanity learns they are not alone in the universe, and that is all I am going to say about that topic. It forces us to consider how that knowledge affects religions. Pretending that no character in the game is religious would be fake, unrealistic, and a lazy cop-out. At the same time, however, we must be very careful about how we approach the subject. Learning that other intelligent lifeforms exist is a revelation likely to affect religions in a major way.

We have no intent to make religion a prominent factor in the plot but it would be dishonest to pretend it does not exist and that certain revelations throughout the game have no effect on the beliefs of certain people. It is going to be something we must approach character-by-character, carefully considering and planning how their beliefs may change, if at all.

It is a touchy subject and one that could easily make the game sound preachy if not handled with great care. I will have more about this particular issue to write in the future. But for the time being it is perhaps the biggest challenge in crafting our game’s story.

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5 thoughts on “Recent Game Story Issues

  1. If Christianity is one of the faiths you intend to address in the Religion category, you might get some interesting insight from C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, particularly the first two books (“Out of the Silent Planet” and “Perelandra”). He addresses the topic as if Earth alone is the focus of the Christian faith- That God himself is universal, but the Fall was terrestrial only. That’s one of the two major viewpoints I’ve heard from Christians on the topic of extraterrestrial life- The other being that the Fall is universal, and that the Christian faith is therefore universally applicable. Perelandra is the shortest read and by far the best book out of the series if you just want the highlights, but there’s a lot of stuff to chew on concerning this topic in the first book as well. The question of extraterrestrial life actually comes up a lot in Christian circles, heh.

    1. We don’t intend to ‘address’ any religion so much as try to present them fairly as what they would be like after humanity learned other intelligent life exists. So thanks for the suggestions because I already know Lewis’ writings will help a lot.

  2. No problem! Actually if you’d like to borrow any of the books I have copies around. Sorry for the word “address;” the more I look at your post the less appropriate it sounds. I also didn’t mean to sound as if you wouldn’t have heard of Lewis’s treatment of the topic in general or the books in particular. Just trying to help in case you hadn’t. That’s actually a topic I get really excited about; the clarity of my communication tends to suffer as a result. :) Can’t wait to play the game; the topics you guys are approaching are so diverse and the gameplay sounds unique and fascinating.

    1. Thanks, borrowing them would be a big help, especially for speeding up references heh. Remind me Tuesday if I forget and I’d be happy to bounce ideas off of you to see what you think sounds plausible or not.

      1. I actually just ordered new copies. :) They should be here Wednesday; I’ll bring ’em by yo’ crib. If I hurry I might even be able to read Perelandra again Wednesday morning before I drop it off. And yeah, I’d be happy to be an idea-trampoline, if it would be helpful. Honestly, even if it wouldn’t be helpful- I’d be very curious about your perspective on the matter, as well.

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