Gamasutra’s Story Design Challenge

Was a little bit rusty because of all the Quality Analyzing I’ve been doing lately so I decided to send a last minute entry to Gamasutra’s Story Design Challenge. I only got an honorable mention but I guess that’s not too bad for something I made during my one hour break. Here it is:

World of Hellespoint 

The first thing any person see as he steps into the spaceport of Hellespoint is the crimson glow emitted by the world’s atmosphere(in fact this low permeates everything in the world so that almost everything an inhabitant sees will be tinted with a crimson hue). This reddish glow coupled with an almost perpetual drizzle creates what the natives of the world call the ‘tears of blood’. People describe Hellespoint as ‘ a world trapped in time’ and this title is given rightfully so, as a traveller journeying across Hellespoint will find structures dating back across all eras of human civilization. These structures, an uninformed traveller will observe will not be as weathered by time as he expects, and in fact they look quite new.The structures were made by the inhabitants of Hellespoint. Both the living and the dead.

Above Hellespoint is a massive, swirling storm. It is from this storm which comes The Bound. The bound are the souls of people who have passed away. Once in a while the storm will let loose a barrage of souls(in the hundreds), and these souls will be seen falling from the sky in flames. A traveller seeing this event for the first time will find it magnificent and scary as hundreds of fiery souls fall down to the earth screaming.

No one knows why the the storm above Hellespoint sends out this barrage of souls, and when the bound are asked what is in the other side of the storm they can’t remember.

Hellespoint, the Storm, and the Bound War 

A long time ago, Hellespoint was just like any other world colonized by humanity but somewhere along its history something went awry. The natives of the world said that it was an experiment gone wrong or something, but whatever happened it changed the fate of the small planet. The massive storm which appeared above Hellespoint sent hundreds of the bound to the surface of the planet. The bound found themselves hungry, and growing mad with hunger they found that they could feed on the will of the living. Thus started the Bound War. During the bound war, the living found that their weapons did not have any effect on the bound and they found themselves on the losing end of the war. Fortunately, one of the living scientists found a way of ‘binding’ a soul to a living being so that a soul does not need to feed constantly(and thus not grow mad with hunger). Using this process, both the living and the dead lived in symbiosis(the living gaining some special abilities during the process as well). The tide of war was turned as the souls found that binding with a host was better than killing them(they were still thinking like humans after all).

The Unbound 

When a soul falls down to the surface they are immediately beset by a very strong hunger. If a soul cannot find a host in time, it grows mad and forgets that it was once human or dead and feeds on both. The inhabitants of the world call them the Unbound and they pose the greatest danger to all life and unlife in Hellespoint.

The City of Hellespoint 

The city of Hellespoint is the center of the world, It is a massive circular city that extends underground and inhabited by both the living and the bound. At the center of the city(and almost directly below the eye of the storm) is the Panoptica, a rotating orb floating above the city(at the center). It is here from which the rest of the world is kept in order.

Architecture 

The architecture of most of the buildings in Hellespoint is similar to most buildings found in 1950s New York(or during the great depression), but with some cyberpunk technology thrown here and there. There are also gothic styled buildings like cathedrals with spires reaching up to the skies. Generally all types of architecture can be found in the city because of the bound

Other parts of the world: 

The Reich 

To the south of the world is the Reich. A totalitarian state built by Adolph Hitler when he fell to Hellespoint. Adolph found a weak willed host and went to work again. There are rumors that the Reich is experimenting with technology to control the unbound.

Games set in this world 

The games set in this world will have a film-noir feeling to them. A stereotypical story would start with: ‘It is a dark and stormy night..(the soul storm). The hero would be a private detective who finds an unlikely client in a girl who enters his office drenched in the ‘tears of blood’, and the game begins.

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My conversation with Asi Burak of Games for Change

So I just finished pitching my game to Asi Burak of Games for Change last week. It was such a great experience to talk with and get feedback from one of the forerunners of Serious Games, and I really hope that it is just one of many. I was quite nervous while pitching my game, and I feel that I wasn’t really able to communicate my ideas very well. I guess that one of the realizations I got after the pitch is that I’m not very good with phone conversations( guess I need to work on this as well). Anyways, if you have not seen the rules for my game In the Court of the Spider King you can find the complete rules in my humble games section. Feel free to modify it as well for your own purposes if ever you decide to use it.

My first step into the gaming industry and how I’m turning my career into a game

The journey so far…

 They say that a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step, and if that is so, then I’ve made my first step into the game industry. Its been a long time since my last post so here is my update. I’ve just gotten into Anino games, one of the first game development companies here in the Philippines. Its a company that I’ve been wanting to be a part of ever since I got out of university. I still did not get a designer position but I guess quality analyst would do for now. Its still a very long way from my ultimate goal of making serious games but it’s a start.

I watched a video of game designer Brenda Bratwaithe’s talk during the Game Developer’s Conference 2010. The talk inspired me and made me re-evaluate what I wanted to do as a game designer( well a hobbyist game designer at least). The game was a board game called ‘Train’ and it was about the holocaust and from what I’ve heard the game moved people to tears. I thought to myself, “these are the kinds of games I want to make someday”. I want to make games that can actually move people, and make them ask questions. I want to push the boundaries of games as a medium for telling people’s stories.

I’ve also come back to my roots which are non digital games(board games and card games). I figured that it would be easier for me to create games for my portfolio if I make non-digital games also.

My Quest

I’ve been reading a lot of research and articles lately regarding the game industry, and its intimidating how competitive the games industry is. Sometimes I question myself if I have have what it takes to get into those big companies. Questions like ‘am I creative enough’ and ‘Should I stop this now and get a law degree’ always pops to mind. But then I’ve also read ‘Reality is Broken’ by Jane Mcgonigal and about those all those games that have actually moved people into action and I tell myself that I can take this journey a little bit further into the next hill or crossing. In order to motivate myself into accomplishing everything that I need to accomplish within the next two years I made a game for myself. The game is called My Quest.

The game is not really a game but more of a series of tasks that I need to accomplish before the end of the year. I’ve pinpointed some larger tasks which I needed to do in order to achieve competence and up my chances into getting into serious games or a AAA game company and they are:

  • Know the market and the latest trends( demographics, what is popular)
  • Know and learn the technology(learn a game engine, read about the latest research in game design)
  • Know people( make contacts around the world and meet people who have the same goals as I do so that I can learn from them and them from me)
  • Gain exposure( I need increase my online presence, by writing about games and be involved in forums)
  • Be the best game designer I can be( by playing games, making them and studying

I broke these tasks into smaller goals. Every time I do one of these smaller tasks I earn points towards a goal. For example:

To complete the Foresight achievement I need to get a total of 1000 points. Everytime I read a news article regarding the latest games I earn 1 point towards that goal.

Another achievement is the Designer achievement. This is a bit harder to get since in order to complete it I need to make a minimum of three complete and play tested games which are to be used for my portfolio.

There are also unlockable achievements that have pre-requisites like: Make a compelling resume, Make an online portfolio, and create a demo reel.

Finally there a NPC ( people that are not me) given tasks which are tasks given by other people to help me improve as a game designer. I’m going to post this in a forum to see if I can actually get people to help me improve by giving me tasks.

By the way, the game is inspired by Assassin’s Creed. So I’m calling the missions contracts. So yeah, I’m ‘assassinating’ these challenges one at a time. Someday I’ll be a full fledged Assassin and make games that will help humanity or something like that.