Letters from a Maladroit

Math RPG - Part 6: Storyline

I started thinking about storylines and game play mechanics the last few days. That’s a good sign. It means that I’m starting to believe I can follow through with this project. The self-doubt has faded for now and with school out there’s just more time to work on this every day. The big test will be when school starts again. Will I make the time necessary?

My very tentative storyline and game play goes like this: Corrina has the ability to communicate with nature and it is up to her to save the world. Aliens have started infesting animals and taking control of their minds. Corrina learns that she can tame the infested animals when she is attacked by one of them. She is then able to take control of the animal and use it in battle. Corrina is able to apply special abilities to the animals under her control. For example she can add a fire ability to a bear. The animals get stronger through Corrina applying power ups. Corrina is protected by some kind of magic shield that protects her from getting injured, however if the aliens can weaken her shield enough, they can send to her to another planet. Corrina never kills the aliens, she has the ability to turn them into energy, which she can use to improve her skills.

Since I’m developing a game geared toward a younger audience I wanted to steer away from death and excessive violence. However I don’t want to water the story down, as I think kids can handle a real story that doesn’t insult their intelligence. Plus a strong story can be told without excessive violence.

My main inspirations were Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering. In terms of the former, it’s one of the most popular video game series ever and it appeals to both kids and adults. The game gets around excessive violence through the use of Pokemon battles and the cute character design. In addition it has high replay value because there’s incentive to collect all the Pokemon. As for Magic, the players cast spells to summon creatures, shoot fireballs, etc. The use of magic allows direct combat to be avoided. So no swords and crossbows. It just seems less violent. Granted a fireball is probably a pretty brutal way to die. Like Pokemon, Magic has good replay value through collecting cards and building new decks.

That’s the general idea for now. There will be more refinement as those features get developed and play-tested further. Right now I’m just working on getting a very basic combat system implemented, hence the characters are using weapons in the current demos.