Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Bad Games Can Give You Good Ideas

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 6 Aug 2013 12:00
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Rogue Legacy

And secondly, boss fights don't work with this idea at all. 'Cos a big bad boss becomes not a challenging hazard that you have to work at but a free super body you only have to die to once to attain. Some different rules are needed. Let's just say boss fights are the only things that kill you permanent like, and if you fall to them, you have to start all over again. That'd be in keeping with the spirit of Roguelikes, I suppose.

The idea of a transient player character puts me in mind of another game idea I've had stewing for a while. This is one of the bad ones, the sort I know I'll never actually make because it would need triple-A tech for the concept to work, and yet squats unfulfilled in my head space regardless. How I picture it is that it starts as a generic third-person space marine shooter with some thick-necked fellow in power armor riding a transport bound for the battlefield. The player controls them as they step out onto some brown war-torn terrain, but after walking a few feet forward, someone shouts 'NOW' and then a cage drops down upon the area directly behind the soldier. For you see, this was a trap, with the intention of capturing this strange and seemingly malevolent entity codenamed Protagonist, an invisible bodiless force that possesses soldiers and heroes.

The Protagonist - now controlled by the player in first person - is subjected to various scientific tests as the NPCs of the world attempt to understand its strange, nihilistic instinct to push individuals into violence and adventure for the apparent sake of a vicarious thrill. But then there's a security slip and the Protagonist escapes by possessing a guard or researcher in the facility. The gameplay then would be a Hitman-esque experience twinned somewhat with the Assassin's Creed Brotherhood multiplayer mode where the best course of action is to shuffle about pretending to be an NPC - the Protagonist must avoid doing anything that might give away its presence, and must find a body that can fulfill its agenda without causing suspicion. Like finding the one scientist who is permitted to enter and leave the facility at will.

Upon escape, the Protagonist seeks a purpose. It notices that the future society is somewhat corrupt, and by chance is able to possess a member of a militant resistance group. It enjoys having the opportunity to fight for a purpose again, but it soon becomes clear that the society isn't that oppressive and the rebels are essentially terrorists. It moves on and finds itself embroiled in the life of a vigilante cop with nothing to lose trying to bring down an organized crime empire, but that too carries complications as the investigations take a toll on the cop's mental and physical health. In the end, the Protagonist must realize that its fine motives and intention to 'fix' the problems of the world are just a slim rationalization for what it really wants: to reap praise and excitement without consequence. It must realize that the world is better off without it, at which point, the game ends.

Like I said, just an idea. I doubt I'd want to make it even if I did have the resources, because the whole theme of the thing is basically "Fuck you for playing this game". But then again, that worked for Spec Ops: The Line, didn't it.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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