Game-play: The player’s objective throughout the entire game is to build a planet, an atmosphere, organic life and civilization. Female Acquaintance will spend a lot of the time painting lovely artwork on the surface of your planets using different coloured minerals. Male acquaintance on the other hand, prefers to sit and watch the patterns of the universe. Male acquaintance also has a quote-book, he shares quotes with the protagonist when doubt descends. Quotes from philosophers, politicians, biologists, theologians etc. I have no idea how to implement this, but the player needs to be given the power to volumetrically paint a planet. Shifting cliff faces, deploying suitably sized tectonic plates. It’s not impossible, it would just require a lot of work. The resident artist also paints volumetric paintings. When you are out building, the protagonist shouldn’t speak, it should be entirely the player’s actions being emulated during construction. Whilst constructing the surface natural forces should kick in to make slight changes. Above all the game-play should establish an emotion connection with the player’s creations (like Viva Pinata).
After your planet is built it is time to get started on the atmosphere, male acquaintance should assist you. This stage of game-play will be less like a free-form sandbox, rather a strategic balancing act of chemistry. The balance will be difficult to achieve and have lots of factors involved, but the player will be assisted a lot by Mark’s philosophical friend. After establishing a balance it is stressed that your interaction with the planet from this point on would be very dangerous (could disrupt flow). The player can observe and intervene with the planet if necessary (male acquaintance will all respect for you if you do, he believes you should leave the planet as is). Now the player side is finished, the game will focus more on the social interaction of characters and their reactions to the planet’s changes.
When the construction phase is completed, the protagonist is emphasized more than the player’s actions. Like Mass Effect the player will only choose preset functions following a certain personality path for the protagonist. The paths are ignorant or open-minded, genocidal against civilization or protective for intelligent life (I’ll explain that later), tolerant or intolerant and creative or destructive (eventhough those are two sides of the same coin, because you have to destroy something in order to make something). Through clever script writing the player establishes sympathy for characters, including the protagonist. Depending on these different paths you take, changes the characters opinion on the main character. Until the player needs to check up again on the planet, there should an emphasis on sympathy (Deus Ex, Mass Effect) rather than direct empathy (Amnesia, Half Life 2). The ending changes depending on all the significant choices the player made throughout the game and how they shaped the protagonist.
In the next installment I’ll discuss the main body of plot and how the player can effect Mark and the final ending.