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Ideas for game intros


Llyranor

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All of you must have wanted to make a game at some point in time.

 

Now, me and my buddies are in the process of making a mod for NWN2 (design docs and preplanning, for now).

 

We're planning to make a story based on war, and the effect it bears upon those who experience it. Now, war != endless fighting, as we actually intend to tell the story first and foremost via story-driven roleplaying with as little combat as the story dictates (whether or not all of it will be avoidable is hard to tell at the moment). We intend to tell the story of you, and your war buddies, as you are sent in the frontlines. Trying to recreate a 'Band of Brothers' like feeling, if you will. You are not a freaking Chosen One who must choose, you are a nobody, a simple soldier sent to war. You will not stop the war, all you can do is assume your little role in the grand scheme of things. It's all about how *you* and your squad members deal with the war.

 

Now, our planned intro is this: you are a soldier, having just enlisted. No background, no intro sequence, nothing. Everything before then is up to the player, nothing being forced. The only thing being 'forced' is that you enlist. We tell the player this at the very beginning, never hiding the fact.

 

Basically, the intro starts as you begin boot camp (the academy!). Only, this isn't a tutorial, it's boot camp. You don't learn the game mechanics. It's NWN2, you should already know how to play. You learn how to become a soldier. You learn what it means to wield a sword, or a spear. You learn how to adapt martial philosophies into the battlefield, and how magic affects this. And, you get to know your comrades. These are the people you'll be fighting on the frontlines with, the people who will live and die alongside you. And you all go through boot camp together.

 

Any opinions? It'd be nice to have feedback. Alternatively, use this thread to post your own ideal game intros. Or, I guess you could hijack it and try to marry Darque. You freaking nerds.

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All of you must have wanted to make a game at some point in time.

 

True. So I'll bite.

 

We're planning to make a story based on war, and the effect it bears upon those who experience it.

 

Platoon with swords, huh? Actually, that was trite but thinking about it now, it sort of makes sense.

 

Now, war != endless fighting, as we actually intend to tell the story first and foremost via story-driven roleplaying with as little combat as the story dictates (whether or not all of it will be avoidable is hard to tell at the moment). We intend to tell the story of you, and your war buddies, as you are sent in the frontlines. Trying to recreate a 'Band of Brothers' like feeling, if you will.

 

A war story with as little combat as possible? You're losing me dude.... seriously. Band of Brothers had freakin' stacks of combat. It was one of the reasons it was so cool. Oh well.

 

Now, our planned intro is this: you are a soldier, having just enlisted. No background, no intro sequence, nothing. Everything before then is up to the player, nothing being forced. The only thing being 'forced' is that you enlist. We tell the player this at the very beginning, never hiding the fact.

 

Ah, Full Metal Jacket with swords. Me like. Don't forget to have the fat guy impale himself with his longsword in the latrines, OK?

 

Basically, the intro starts as you begin boot camp (the academy!). Only, this isn't a tutorial, it's boot camp. You don't learn the game mechanics. It's NWN2, you should already know how to play. You learn how to become a soldier. You learn what it means to wield a sword, or a spear. You learn how to adapt martial philosophies into the battlefield, and how magic affects this. And, you get to know your comrades. These are the people you'll be fighting on the frontlines with, the people who will live and die alongside you. And you all go through boot camp together.

 

Right. There are loads of issues here, aren't there?

 

Firstly, in D&D a "simple soldier" is a zero level grunt with six hit points, a leather jerkin and a spear. Even first level fighters, it is suggested, are sort of NCO level, what with their nifty feats and high hit dice (compare and contrast with the NPC "Warrior" class). So how do we get around that? It would be very cool if you could code it so that your PC is actually a zero level warrior and has to "ascend" to level one fighter in the tutorial....

 

Secondly, simple soldiers are unlikely to "adapt martial philosophies on the battlefield", even today that stuff is reserved for officer training. Grunts are taught how to march to point "A", kill everybody there then defend that point until relieved.

 

Thirdly, what is your game world's culture like? Military organisations provide mirrors of them...from the regular post-Marian Roman legions to the tribal warriors of ancient Europe to the professional Fyrd of dark ages Britain. Look at our own times.... in parts of the Third World you might find militias who are nothing more than heavily armed bandits. In Scandinavian countries you still have citizen-conscript armies. In Britain and America you find professional regular armies with high levels of technology. Are your soldiers conscripted against their will, are they specially selected or what? Something to think about.

 

Any opinions? It'd be nice to have feedback. Alternatively, use this thread to post your own ideal game intros.

 

I'd definitely play a mod like this. A proper military-themed adventure would rock if done properly. I agree that you can find much to admire in old war movies, and the boot camp scenario is an old favourite (i.e. Band of Brother's "Curahee" sequence).

 

My own favourite opening to a war movie is that of The Dirty Dozen. Lee Marvin (looking extremely cool in his jump boots and ice-cold squint) rocks up in his jeep at a military prison in England and offers twelve convicts a suicide mission in occupied France in return for commutation of their death sentences. Most of them are scum with nothing to lose. The whole thing exudes old-fashioned machismo and grit.

 

Why not have your grunts start out in a penal battalion? They are urchins, debtors, the poor and petty criminals. Brutal "recruiting" sergeants scoop them up from the streets and throw them into ersatz military units to feed into the ever-hungry jaws of the front line. Some of these grunts develop enough skill to progress, even win their liberty back and join the regular army. Military history is littered with these sorts of stories, from the Napoleonic press gang to the Nazi and Soviet punishment battalions of WW2. When you think about it, weren't Roman gladiators also prisoner-warriors?

 

It also gives you a nice, neat way to start your module: a disparate mixture of people (from a guy who was simply drunk and captured by a press gang through to convicted thieves or addicts) in a stockade. They meet their sergeant-instructor, a "Trusty" veteran of the penal battalions. And off we go. Does the PC choose to try to escape after a while or carve out a career in this brutal new world? Do his squad-mates bond or fight like cats in a sack? And so on.

 

There's my tuppence.

 

Cheers

MC

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All of you must have wanted to make a game at some point in time.

 

Now, me and my buddies are in the process of making a mod for NWN2 (design docs and preplanning, for now).

 

We're planning to make a story based on war, and the effect it bears upon those who experience it. Now, war != endless fighting, as we actually intend to tell the story first and foremost via story-driven roleplaying with as little combat as the story dictates (whether or not all of it will be avoidable is hard to tell at the moment). We intend to tell the story of you, and your war buddies, as you are sent in the frontlines. Trying to recreate a 'Band of Brothers' like feeling, if you will. You are not a freaking Chosen One who must choose, you are a nobody, a simple soldier sent to war. You will not stop the war, all you can do is assume your little role in the grand scheme of things. It's all about how *you* and your squad members deal with the war.

 

Now, our planned intro is this: you are a soldier, having just enlisted. No background, no intro sequence, nothing. Everything before then is up to the player, nothing being forced. The only thing being 'forced' is that you enlist. We tell the player this at the very beginning, never hiding the fact.

 

Basically, the intro starts as you begin boot camp (the academy!). Only, this isn't a tutorial, it's boot camp. You don't learn the game mechanics. It's NWN2, you should already know how to play. You learn how to become a soldier. You learn what it means to wield a sword, or a spear. You learn how to adapt martial philosophies into the battlefield, and how magic affects this. And, you get to know your comrades. These are the people you'll be fighting on the frontlines with, the people who will live and die alongside you. And you all go through boot camp together.

 

Any opinions? It'd be nice to have feedback. Alternatively, use this thread to post your own ideal game intros. Or, I guess you could hijack it and try to marry Darque. You freaking nerds.

 

Thats going to be a tough one to pull off with a toolkit.

 

Your also going to have to write some really endearing characters, and then kill them off in a way that dosnt make it look like you just did it to drive the story along.

The whole war is hell with no solution also makes for a depressing game. One of the reasons than BoB worked so well is that it was essentially a flashback.

Which is an approach you can use while still keeping the character completely player created although it will require an intro and some creative story telling.

 

On the subject of intro's. One of the key things about war is that you need some sort of ideal. Just throwing a character into a war without anything to fight for would be pretty empty and you wouldnt get that feeling of something worth fighting for and dying for. Of course finding out that what you are fighting for isnt quite what you thought it was, well thats a great way of having a non character dependent twist.

 

The new Bards Tale game does something similiar and it works really well, whether or not you piece the clues together before the event. Because in the end it never limits your ultimate choices.

 

The other big challenge is going to be making a battlefield. One that actually looks like a battlefield, rather than just wave after wave of spawns.

 

Best of luck with it. But in my experience it's better to get your hands on the toolkit and see what it can do before making grand plans.

I have to agree with Volourn.  Bioware is pretty much dead now.  Deals like this kills development studios.

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A war story with as little combat as possible? You're losing me dude.... seriously. Band of Brothers had freakin' stacks of combat. It was one of the reasons it was so cool. Oh well.

Well, as little combat as the story DICTATES. Meaning, no pointless combat whatsoever, period. No freaking dungeons with monsters waiting for you to attack.

 

Firstly, in D&D a "simple soldier" is a zero level grunt with six hit points, a leather jerkin and a spear. Even first level fighters, it is suggested, are sort of NCO level, what with their nifty feats and high hit dice (compare and contrast with the NPC "Warrior" class). So how do we get around that? It would be very cool if you could code it so that your PC is actually a zero level warrior and has to "ascend" to level one fighter in the tutorial....

We're not very concerned about that. We're only following DnD rules out of convenience from the NWN2 toolset. The point is how it all fits in the story and world.

 

Secondly, simple soldiers are unlikely to "adapt martial philosophies on the battlefield", even today that stuff is reserved for officer training. Grunts are taught how to march to point "A", kill everybody there then defend that point until relieved.

 

Thirdly, what is your game world's culture like? ilitary organisations provide mirrors of them...from the regular post-Marian Roman legions to the tribal warriors of ancient Europe to the professional Fyrd of dark ages Britain. Look at our own times.... in parts of the Third World you might find militias who are nothing more than heavily armed bandits. In Scandinavian countries you still have citizen-conscript armies. In Britain and America you find professional regular armies with high levels of technology. Are your soldiers conscripted against their will, are they specially selected or what? Something to think about.

It all amounts to what kind of military organizations the PC is involved in, and what kind of war this is. We have a political student working *exclusively* on shaping the politics and world history, and everything leading to the war.

 

My own favourite opening to a war movie is that of The Dirty Dozen. Lee Marvin (looking extremely cool in his jump boots and ice-cold squint) rocks up in his jeep at a military prison in England and offers twelve convicts a suicide mission in occupied France in return for commutation of their death sentences. Most of them are scum with nothing to lose. The whole thing exudes old-fashioned machismo and grit.

 

Why not have your grunts start out in a penal battalion? They are urchins, debtors, the poor and petty criminals. Brutal "recruiting" sergeants scoop them up from the streets and throw them into ersatz military units to feed into the ever-hungry jaws of the front line. Some of these grunts develop enough skill to progress, even win their liberty back and join the regular army. Military history is littered with these sorts of stories, from the Napoleonic press gang to the Nazi and Soviet punishment battalions of WW2. When you think about it, weren't Roman gladiators also prisoner-warriors?

 

It also gives you a nice, neat way to start your module: a disparate mixture of people (from a guy who was simply drunk and captured by a press gang through to convicted thieves or addicts) in a stockade. They meet their sergeant-instructor, a "Trusty" veteran of the penal battalions. And off we go. Does the PC choose to try to escape after a while or carve out a career in this brutal new world? Do his squad-mates bond or fight like cats in a sack? And so on.

Hmm, that's actually pretty cool.

 

Thats going to be a tough one to pull off with a toolkit.

 

Your also going to have to write some really endearing characters, and then kill them off in a way that dosnt make it look like you just did it to drive the story along.

The whole war is hell with no solution also makes for a depressing game. One of the reasons than BoB worked so well is that it was essentially a flashback.

Which is an approach you can use while still keeping the character completely player created although it will require an intro and some creative story telling.

 

On the subject of intro's. One of the key things about war is that you need some sort of ideal. Just throwing a character into a war without anything to fight for would be pretty empty and you wouldnt get that feeling of something worth fighting for and dying for. Of course finding out that what you are fighting for isnt quite what you thought it was, well thats a great way of having a non character dependent twist.

 

The new Bards Tale game does something similiar and it works really well, whether or not you piece the clues together before the event. Because in the end it never limits your ultimate choices.

 

The other big challenge is going to be making a battlefield. One that actually looks like a battlefield, rather than just wave after wave of spawns.

 

Best of luck with it. But in my experience it's better to get your hands on the toolkit and see what it can do before making grand plans.

We've had ample experience with the NWN toolset, and chances are that NWN2 wouldn't be any worse. We're prioritizing and organizing other design points before going into the actual writing and scripting.

 

As for motive and the details of the war, like I said, we've got one guy specifically working on that. It's not necessarily a conventional war.

 

And for the characters dying, this is war - people die. The point isn't to go all Hollywood style and have the dying characters give 15 min speeches as you hold them before they draw their last breath. They die, they die. War is visceral, and you don't always have the luxury to tend to their final moments. Crafting endearing characters, however, is a top priority. Character interaction will be crucial.

 

As for 'war is hell', that's not much more depressing than a 'the world will be destroyed.... again!' scenario.

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My own favourite opening to a war movie is that of The Dirty Dozen. Lee Marvin (looking extremely cool in his jump boots and ice-cold squint) rocks up in his jeep at a military prison in England and offers twelve convicts a suicide mission in occupied France in return for commutation of their death sentences. Most of them are scum with nothing to lose. The whole thing exudes old-fashioned machismo and grit.

 

Why not have your grunts start out in a penal battalion? They are urchins, debtors, the poor and petty criminals. Brutal "recruiting" sergeants scoop them up from the streets and throw them into ersatz military units to feed into the ever-hungry jaws of the front line. Some of these grunts develop enough skill to progress, even win their liberty back and join the regular army. Military history is littered with these sorts of stories, from the Napoleonic press gang to the Nazi and Soviet punishment battalions of WW2. When you think about it, weren't Roman gladiators also prisoner-warriors?

 

It also gives you a nice, neat way to start your module: a disparate mixture of people (from a guy who was simply drunk and captured by a press gang through to convicted thieves or addicts) in a stockade. They meet their sergeant-instructor, a "Trusty" veteran of the penal battalions. And off we go. Does the PC choose to try to escape after a while or carve out a career in this brutal new world? Do his squad-mates bond or fight like cats in a sack? And so on.

Hmm, that's actually pretty cool.

 

Agreed, i can see the advntages and disavantages of this. Deffinatly worth some consideration.

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...a panning shot of a full-breasted female wit' no bra on joggin' up a slight incline is always a good openin' shot... :wub:

 

 

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Well, as little combat as the story DICTATES. Meaning, no pointless combat whatsoever, period.

 

"Pointless combat" is the very stuff of war. The Somme. Pork Chop Hill. The Retreat from Moscow. The Imjin River. Dunkirk. Almost every major engagement on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945. Pointless. Large groups of heavily armed men killing each other to dominate a topographical detail decided by men hundreds of miles away. Usually totally pointless.

 

I suggest your "political student" reads some military history if you intend to capture the "essence" of war. If your module starts with a totally unexplained and brutal, relentless assault by enemy troops for a half hour then it would be a pretty decent introduction. Think of the opening sequence of the otherwise execrable Saving Private Ryan.

 

War (i.e. the physical act) involves groups of (usually) men killing each other to sieze and dominate terrain. Period. Turning that into a gripping adventure for a computer game is your challenge.

 

Cheers

MC

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