In essence of what Patrick Curry did in 2006. I will be releasing my ideas(except the ones I don’t want to give away), every now and then. I’m not going to try and over-romanticize it, so here goes. Be wary, it might be a long read.
Game Idea #1: Experimentation
Plot: An authoritarian government of sorts is voted in, because the people are so sick and tired of the previous government and they want to experiment with other options. Whether or not it is a good option, they figure it can’t be any worse.
After two years of abuse of the people, the government puts forward a conscription act, which includes conscription of men, women and teenagers. The idea of conscripting teenagers is to hook them before they establish a political point of view. On the battlefield no plot regarding the war, what the war is about or even who the enemy is (hostiles are assumed) is portrayed or discussed. One thing about the battlefield though is that it will change setting regularly, but realistically (you’re in a peace-keeping corp that moves around a lot). Off the battlefield will be just propaganda regarding social responsibility and patriotism (considering the enemy is not portrayed), as well as allowing the player to talk with other soldiers.
Each time the player gets a chance to speak with other people, different social groups and structures should be emphasized heavily. When you speak with other soldiers and if you can relate to them, they will give you military equipment and recognize you as part of their little group. The ways that the player relates to other people can be by bragging about a large frag count, talking about philosophy(pacifism specifically), bitching about conscription or even assisting in an uprising. The protagonist as well as the soldiers in his/her corp are teenagers.
Gameplay: Action-RPG in similiar vein with Bioshock. The weapons are provided by the army and are chosen depending on the situation(shotguns for close-quarter, silencers for stealth etc) and the player is given formal tutorial and documentation. The additive equipment like special ammo types or weapon attachments are given to you by the people you are surrounded by off the battlefield. The player has little or no knowledge of how the ammo type functions before prior use, the provider claiming “I found this lying around, not sure what it does.” The exception for this rule is when you join the rebels, they will tell you exactly how something works, provided you don’t use it on the parliament’s battleground. The player knows what an attachment does, but doesn’t know what it is like, the provider claiming that the player might steal it during practice usage.
On the battlefield the player’s favoured weapon is tracked and their ethical and tactical data is collected. This data is collected by whether or not the player completed a secondary objective, why they completed the secondary (an operator asking you why you’ve bothered), how they complete the primary, how many people where killed and whether they follow the army’s tactical suggestions or not (going loud on stealth, going in a different direction). The favoured weapon, tactic and performance is commented on in a formal manner by your superiors and your ethics, performance and initiative are discussed casually by other soldiers (especially your social group).
When the army notices a favoured tactic, they will send you to missions “putting your skills to appropriate use”, while still giving you an opt-out to “mix up your agenda”. When the army notices your favourite weapon, they will “build your strengths” by upgrading those weapons, while still providing an opt-out to “prepare yourself for any situation”. When your training officer notices these patterns, he comments in a similiar way, but adding a more human touch. When soldiers in a group realize you are approaching situations with similiar style, they’ll invite you. When your fellow soldiers notice you like using a particular ammo type, they will supply you with more of that “stuff you like” and give you recommendations on other “stuff you might like”. When your fellow soldiers realize you have similiar tactics, ethics and style they’ll share jokes about the other contradicting groups. The more you interact off the battlefield, the more items you get to use on the battlefield. The levels will be designed to influence variety a bit.
Changing your style, ethics or tactics will cause you to be ridiculed from that group. Moving back to that style will re-exalt you as a member of that group.
Most importantly the game-play and level design should strongly emphasize experimentation.
What is the meaning? The meaning of this game concept is show how experimentation during adolescence both shapes the individual’s near-permanent adult persona and they’re membership of a demographic. The trade-off is that all normal parameters for adolescent experimentation are either censored, prohibited or restricted (Music, Films, Games, Books, Drugs, Intimacy, Sport). They are replaced by a dehumanizing element of military performance. Instead of music, it is ammo selection. Instead of mentors and teachers, it is training officers and quartermasters. Instead of political points of view (not recognised in a face-less war), it’s tactics. For this idea to work and not become an over-dramatized military Harry Potter, it needs to emphasize the player’s actions on the battlefield and portraying a side effect off the battlefield (you can’t always choose your friends).
Some possible endings for the game could be; You return home when your service is over and all manner of civilized society rejects you including your parents, because you are not what you once were. Another possible ending; You and your fellow soldiers are now 21 years old and the peacekeeping situation escalates to a war situation. Your group makes a relevant remark on the situation. Or the ending where the protagonist dies in a way that portrays the persona of the player.