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Topics - vultures

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Design / Felon, the video game
« on: March 13, 2015, 12:13:58 AM »
Lemme just point out I'm offering a concept for all of us to discuss, not an ongoing project or an existing game. To ensure the validity, I'm gonna offer an approximate time(guide)line which represents the general order to the frames describing this concept. What it means is that I've been thinking about the game for a while, summing up some of the ideas, and I would like to share them with you with high hopes for some feedback and/or insight.

A while ago this team of german programmers published a game called The Sting!. It was appealing to different crowds and altough it didn't achieve that much of a mainstream success, it lived through another sequel. By the time I was enjoying this another instance I was ecstatic about the concept of roleplaying a whacky character who's attempting to solve timebound puzzles with nothing less than burglary and theft.
I guess there's no explaining to do when it comes to corellation with RLs; simply, you loot a dungeon in order to become a hero of your own cause. The Sting! 2 had no random content to be considered a Rogue descendant, but it had its perks that spoke to me how, perhaps, there are people who've seen the value in this concept and have attempted to expand on it since.
I was dubbed wrong.

However, one or two (german) aspiring indie devs have elaborated on the idea. They've released some kind of a build based on their work and released the work under an all-open license of sorts. The project lifespan was short and the idea was back in the chest deep down in the dungeon, where it came from. Oh, I'm sure. :)
I've decided not to discuss GTA series at this point. Not because of the suspicious morals to the game series nor the mistaken sense of humor that comes from the authors' attempt to embue simulation elements on the top of an arcade game, but for the sheer amusement of ignoring the series' producers. The total 2% of the fun left from the initial concept was overrun with hardware requirements and an endless flood of media atention riddled with YouTube videos made by 9yos. No thanks.

I've never really written a concept for Felon. I thought about making it an acronym of sorts, but then my thoughts floated about and far away; I was really excited imagining it from the bottom up. Altough I have half a dozen games pending, half of which I'm sure will wait quite a while until I give them breath and some wind under their wings so anyone can see them - this one I feel is closest to the core concept Rogue and its incarnations had; such is the reason for sharing this.

The plot

I though somewhat rustic enviroment should be relative to the absurd of the story. I've really meant for it to keep the looks of a Northern American town, somewhat central-western portion of the States. Thoughts of economic uncertainty of such small communities led me into picturing some Eastern-European, ex-USSR half-abandoned apartment blocks, but I've already imagined a storyline to myself. Our character is a yankee-doodle and it must stay that way. :)
An accountant for a small enterprise, he/she (see, it's a roguelike! :) ) got into deep trouble with some murky characters. A small debt from betting on a local college basketball team, mixed with wrong connections and a shift in power in the underground layers of the lead character's home community ended really badly; a couple'a thousand $ was easily mistaken for several tens of thousands of $ worth of loan debt to some really shady individuals. Life or death situation, it was time to skip town and start from scratch. But wait...
Who would've perceived they would've tracked his (let's stick with him for a while) whereabouts in such short notice? A god-forsaken nothing-of-a-town couldn't keep him safe for a week, and there it was - a letter. Details of rebel youth sent chills down his spine as he started remembering the old high, the vice he'd forgotten about... the score he kept and the fence he looked across to make it work. He was a felon, a deviant locksmith; even though he burried this youthful way of life the recent shift he's made to his habits made him realize how easy it was for him once. Or maybe triple-dozen-twice. :)
The next, and final letter was an eye opener; if he was to keep his limbs intact, he should take interest in what they have to say. And they are a train station locker key, with a deposit due within a week. 1000 $ should kick it in, but only through their fence who should visit him in a day or two.
Did I say it's a dungeon? No? Or a torment? Neither?! Perhaps because it's even tougher? Let's see...

The Setting

Our character rents a place in a town of several thousand souls. With some skills and a basic toolset at his disposal he's oughta scout downtown & suburbs for ripe pickings. After planning & timing, it's a go.
What's very important here is - an era our character exists in. I've been looking into reasons why some RLs choose 80s and 90s as inspiration for their plots, and the reasons for these decades being their rightful choices are the same - the sheer knowledge of the mentioned settings. But, there's more to it.
See, we're living in a cuberpunk era when it comes to "cracking vaults". Codebreakers, hacking panels and encryption algorithms have replaced crowbars and lockpicks, smoke screens and batons. In 2000s and 2010s your ninja burglar would prolly have his ass caught in a web of surveilance, GPS tracking -- or worse. Creating such a game based on a modern-era setting would look like a mindgame-puzzle, whereas we're asking for a tactical / action approach to this dub.
So cross the precipice between the 80s and the 90s in the continental USA. Feel the breeze, sense the spirit of the age. Hear the dog barking in the backyard and think what would it take to divide his attention. Pick the lock, try the window. No, wait - see if there's an alarm. Find the wires and play with them. Sharpen your senses and hone those skills. Take a look down the lane, maybe there's someone passing by. Is there a red-and-blue reflection on nearby buildings? Perhaps it's time to bail, just-grab-what-you-can sort of thing. The time's ticking...

Is That All?

Besides different game modes, such as Storyline (main), Random Raid (quick run) and perhaps some other challenges with adjustable difficulty, an *Unlocked* mode should exist. Only if certain requirements are met should the player be allowed to enter this hardcore dungeon meant for master rogues - or thieves, if you prefer. An ancient oriental Dragon Eye stone, or a priceless historic document kept within the most secret vault - you place the treasure, and the game generates the code for the lock you've put there.
Even though one particular raid should last one or two coffeebreaks, those difficulty changes should drastically improve the replay value and offer near-impossible puzzles with some really thoughtful planning on the player's end.

Oh yeah, one last thing - the game should be allowed a 2x timescale, which is a double of real-life speed of occurences. I thought that adjustable difficulty should work well within these boundaries.
That's it for now. Feel free to comment and expand on the concept!

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