Faint Ideas Pfhor a Potential Project (Or Story, Who Knows?)

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Born on Board
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Joined: Jul 22nd '18, 02:14

I hope this is the right thread to post this.

I was thinking of possibly writing the backstory of a potential scenario. Here's a few of the ideas:

1. Horror based theme.

I know RED tackled that theme to some degree, but I'm thinking of a scenario that would genuinely scare the player, preferably psychologically. Deranged AI, unknown horrifying lifeform hiding right underneath the player's nose, questioning reality to a horrific degree, mental illness, terminals with scary philosophy, e.g.

2. Progressiveness.

Take the first point and place it on a linear or exponential scale. Have the first couple levels be reminiscent of the original Trilogy and then slowly take it in a twisted and bone-chilling direction, and then play it 'Up to Eleven' near the end, making the player dive into the darkest recesses of his mind.

3. Poetry.

Lots of poetry. (I am an active poet in real life and would love to author most of the terminals somehow. PM me for a link to my current work, one work which actually uses Marathon terminal artwork.) Lots of dark metaphors and atmospheric descriptions to set the mood in an already-unusual level design.

4. Real-life emotions.

This might seem a little strange but putting my real life feelings (Dark feelings) into the story/project would make it 10x more convincing since I've had some really sour life experiences. (Might have c-PTSD.) A sense of utter isolation and helplessness would be a focal point, as well. A complete lack of knowledge of how to deal with the problems at hand, e.g.

Any input or interest in the idea? (I have rudimentary knowledge of Weland and know how to make rooms and whatnot, but switches/terminals are lost on me. Texturing knowledge is scant but present.)
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To flesh out the idea a little (I ruminated for about an hour):

1. There will be an AI that slowly distorts the player's reality somehow. How? I don't know yet.
2. As the game progresses, textures will become increasingly erratic and eventually become misaligned.
3. Gun mechanics will be altered. (I have specific ideas.) [Each one comes after the other.
a. The assault rifle will shoot pistol bullets.
b. Juggernauts will fire grenades instead of flame particles.
c. The SMG will fire charged Fusion bolts.
d. The Fusion gun will fire grenades while firing normally and will fire missiles when charged.
e. Troopers will shoot missiles from afar instead of grenades.
f. Fighters will shoot charged Fusion bolts instead of Fighter bolts.
g. Troopers will shoot regular Fusion bolts instead of machine-gun bullets.
h. Enforcers will shoot charged Fusion bolts.
i. In the final level, there will be hordes of Fighters on either side of you and they will relentlessly fire missiles at you, triggering massive carnage amongst themselves. (At the end, the textures will be badly misaligned Jjaro textures and a final switch will cause a hectic running scene as the level collapses in itself, leaving only the epilogue terminal untouched.)
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I like the idea of the world looking progressively more messed-up as the scenario goes on, but deliberately mis-aligning textures might be confusing in a bad way (not to mention look amateurish).
ForeverBlackened wrote:To flesh out the idea a little (I ruminated for about an hour):1. There will be an AI that slowly distorts the player's reality somehow. How? I don't know yet.
If the player has neural implants (not necessarily Jjaro?), the AI could screw around with those.
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Interesting. I would only apply the misaligned textures in strategic locations, e.g. in a hall that slowly closes in on the player and the textures for the doors swim around as if it were liquid and textures missing and whatnot, y'know.
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The Man
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I like a lot of these ideas. Some of them aren’t actually too dissimilar from what I’ve been working on in my own scenario, Chronicles, although thus far I haven’t gone too far down the horror road. There are some levels that are definitely creepy (“Kill Your Sons”, “Entangled”, and “To Make an Idol of Our Fear and Call It God” in particular) but not to the point where I’d class it as a horror scenario. I’m… picky about horror. I think most modern horror relies too much on cheap tricks like jump scares and gratuitous gore. I love the old atmospheric Universal horror films, psychological horror, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft (racism and other issues aside), and similar works/authors, but I want the scares to be earned, and I don’t feel like most modern horror does that.

However, I definitely want to explore the limits of human sanity in a game. The idea is that after the events of the trilogy, Phoenix, Rubicon, Eternal, etc., (plus Pathways if you subscribe to the thesis that it’s the same character), the player is going to have a massive amount of psychological baggage, no matter how much cybernetic technology they¹ have assisting them. I suspect that amping up the horror factor in the later levels of the scenario would certainly assist in that direction. I’ve had my own share of psychological issues and I want to build a game that addresses them honestly, because I feel the discourse about such matters, particularly in American society, is far from constructive.

One idea that I’ve had is that the player may progress through several different realities through the course of the game. It’s not exactly what you’ve written above, but I intend to explore sanity through this method – specifically, the simple question, “What is real?”, which I feel is often not given due consideration. I’ve been replaying some of Rubicon and this bit of writing jumped out at me:
They’ll say that things this bizarre don’t make sense, reason doesn’t apply, and that the world is not a logical place. I think the problem is not that the world isn’t logical, but that we don’t understand logic as well as we thought. How can you possibly understand logic? With logic? You can’t see the eye you see with. Or so they say.
Humans like to think of ourselves as rational beings, but we are not. Logic and science are the best tools we have for understanding the world, but we are not logical. We are good at rationalising, but we are not rational. We understand the world through what we perceive, but even if we are perfectly sane, what we see may not be accurate, because we see what we’ve trained ourselves to see – the brain discards signals it perceives as irrelevant, and it does that based on past memories, which themselves are fluid: the act of thinking about a memory changes the memory.

So all of this ties in with perception and sanity issues, and I definitely want to create a game that causes the player to question the reality of what they’ve seen, not just within the game but outside it as well. Another aspect of Rubicon’s writing, where the player can’t be sure who around them is telling the truth, is an additional aspect I wish to address. I want the whole thing to be incredibly mind screwy, in order to train people better to understand when to trust others, and, for that matter, when to trust themselves. Understanding how the human memory and human perception work will make people… I’m not going to say saner, but less naïve. Less likely to get scammed.

In any case, I don’t think I’d have room to implement every idea you’ve suggested above in my scenario (for instance, I’d have to completely rebalance the guns and enemies if I were to implement all the behaviour you’ve noted above, and while I am pondering making a few changes to their behaviour, I don’t think I have it in me to make that many), but there certainly are elements that closely align with aspects of the story I’ve already written and/or outlined. IDK. You might want to browse the Chronicles thread and see if the ideas interest you. It’s certainly easier to join an existing project than it is to create one from scratch. I’d certainly be willing to implement any writing or levels people sent me that were good and worked with the existing content.

Although the game is already completely playable, it is in nothing approaching a finished state; it’s still in a relatively early alpha stage, so there’s plenty of room to overhaul levels, add new ones, and alter the story (large portions of the terminals aren’t even written yet, as I’m not always easily able to write well in Durandal’s voice, or for that matter Rubicon Tycho’s).

I also intend to completely overhaul much of the artwork; RADIX has kindly offered to contribute artwork (and, if needed, story) assistance, and I will probably write to her about that when I’ve gotten more of a concrete idea of what direction I want to go in.

If it’s not interesting to you, I’d still be interested in whatever you’d produce, because there are a lot of great ideas there, even if I doubt I’d be able to implement every single one of them myself.

¹I’m using gender-neutral pronouns to refer to the player throughout, awkward as it is, because at least two Pfhorums members – RADIX and ravenshining – are women. “He or she” is even more awkward than singular “they” and excludes non-binary people, and Strunk and White can suck it with their advice to use “he”. Plus, Shakespeare and Chaucer used singular “they”, so the whole idea that it’s ungrammatical is just wrong.
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” —V, V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

“If others had not been foolish, we should be so.” —William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

“The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.” —Frank Wilhoit

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Born on Board
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Thank you for the in-depth reply. It's just a plot idea at the moment. (Takes me a LONG time to get an idea off the ground, frankly. I'd need at least two other people to assist me in my level creation, frankly.)

Me: Mapping, enemy physics/placement, overall plot.
Person 2: Terminal programming, advanced texturing. (I an do primitive textures with a bit of Vasara.)
Person 3: Horror sound effects. (Not jump scares but stuff more like disturbing ambience.)
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Born on Board
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I like the idea of a horror based game and I've thought about it in the past. Case and point, that first bit of EVIL where you turn the corner and those Devlin things spin around before you can react. Shit still gets me even though I know it's coming.

RED was interesting in that it took a bit of a weird turn near the end replaying old levels and ghostly enemies. Although it's a really good scenario in a lot of ways, I feel like it got too long and drawn out by that point so the story started to matter less and really didn't go anywhere by the end.

I think in order to really pull this off you will need to think a bit more than just twisting the physics to do fire different shots. We've all changed the guns to shoot crazy things and I don't think in a scenario it would have much effect. For what it's worth, I'd like to see more scenarios move away from the Marathon environments and try to do something a bit different but that's just me.
"He looked at his hands, but the fire in his eyes made him blink."
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