Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Concept/Context ideas #1

Right. I've just had a brain wave earlier today and I'm going to post up some plot line ideas and it'll be essential for everyone to comment back.

Since this game is heavily story based the narrative and creep factor is probably most important. Here goes!

(I'm not sure whether you'll play as a male/female character.  See which one is most likeable first I guess.)

- 3rd person
- Train ride back to your home city, sunset.
- Your 'laptop' (ie it was playing the opening credits) dies so you explore the train out of boredom.
- Cue some creepy events but make it subtle.
- You get a phone call from your bro/sis (depending on main chara) that they need your help.  (I'm not sure how 'urgent' to make it yet.) and the phone call will get cut off [I'd expect it'll be a tunnel].

- You get home
- [If it's not that urgent, make the player feel comfortable with a routine like getting ready, going to work and coming home or whatever].
- You find that your sibling's co-worker (or something) was found dead so your siblings in police questioning.

- Next day your sibling is arrested so you go and see them. Sibling claims that they didn't do it and that there is 'something' else that's part of it.
- You need to work out/find clues to help your sibling. Each time you visit sibling gets creepier and creepier until they're moved to a psychiatric hospital (yes Rumzi you can now have your SH inspired hospitals).

Other notes:
- I'd like to incorporate the Chinese 'Hungry Ghost Festival' or something similar just to make it a bit different from the usual 'Halloween' time frame.  The Ghost Month is basically a festival where it is believed that the Gates of Hell open for spirits to visit the living and be comforted by them.  Burning incense, paper signifying money/material possessions and sending out paper boats/lanterns on water to give guidance for spirits to return.

- Perhaps, when you're on the train ride, you're returning from a family reunion and your sibling returned back to the city a few days before you left.

- Incorporating the menu system with the phone: perhaps make the player really depend on it then disable it when the time is right. I'm thinking Eternal Darkness vibes here for this.


Eyup, that's it so far. Now go forth and brainstorm! :3


  1. Yeah overall this sounds like a great start. I am liking all the ideas so far.

    The part where the player goes through a daily routine would serve well as a tutorial for basic gameplay. You also have already set the main goal for the game, trying to free your sibling, which is a good motivation.

    The backdrop of the festival is always good as it keeps the cause of weird events vague yet not too much.

    An idea to show the sibling getting worse is by making them do bizzare drawings or writing weird things like what you would find scattered in Silent Hill.

    Also having something along the lines of Eternal Darkness with the player losing sanity is good.

    Overall good start!

  2. Cool, then the phone call with sibling won't be so urgent in that case. A tutorial section will be brilliant (with maybe a skip function). Cheers, I totally forgot about the whole motivation aspect of a game but it seems good enough.

    I will do more research into the Ghost Festival and upload some more weird stories and pictures when I come across them. You celebrate festivals like these Rumzi btw? Or are there similar traditions that you do in your family?

    Lol I hate Eternal Darkness for some of their weird tricks that they pulled but it's amazing.

    Once everyone has commented the next step will be to brainstorm a likeable character and start posting some concept art for them :D.

    WOO! Some progress! Thanks guys ^-^

  3. I love the concepts you've come up with there! They sound well creepy! I agree with what Rumzi says there.

    I love the train idea and the festival a lot. I'm just wondering whether you should simplify the concept done to just the train. It forces the player to continue down the train. I dunno just a thought I had. The festival sounds really spooky too!

  4. Excellent. I'm glad that everyone's liking the concepts so far!

    Yeh, Halloween has been done to death XD Plus I don't think many people will know about it which makes it slightly scarier I think. I'm not sure how long the Halloween period is technically but I do know that the Ghost Month is a whole Lunar month.

    I'm not sure how to simplify the concept to just the train lol, care to elaborate? :)

    Thank you!

  5. Michael's comments and inital thoughts Part 1: The Beggening

    Warning: I ask a lot of questions but these are more rhetorical questions then anything else, I don't expect you to have an actual answer its just to bounce ideas around. Also I realised while writing this that I wrote a lot of stuff you already had pretty much said but in a quarter of the word count so this is very rambley.

    Seriously love the idea, I can really imagine the train ride being really creepy - there's something about trains - maybe cause there so closed and claustrophobic. I'm not sure if this is what you had in your head but I imagined one of those old style trains which you'd stay on for several days and you'd have your own room. Maybe the characters been really far away and coming home from a long journey? (Just re-read your post and realised you actually already pretty much said that XD But I agree!) I just think that cause of the film Murder on the Orient Express, which is quite creepy for the reasons I already stated.

    For the characters maybe its a brother/sister combo? Rather then two brothers or two sisters? (Dam it just realised you pretty much already said that too).

    This is probably a given but maybe there's something slightly wrong when you get home - again something subtle but enougth to keep people interested.

    Possible thing to think about - whats the characters job? They;re going to be finding clues to help their sibling so maybe they work in a field that makes them suited to that like a private detective. OR maybe their not suited to it so its a more fish out of water type story. Though its worth thinking about as if this isn't something that links to their profession then why don't they hire a someone better suited? I think there has to be some solid reason as to why they feel the need to investigate them self. OR (lol this is very much a stream of consciousness writing) they decide not to investigate it but get dragged in and begin to realise that the weird goings on and the murder are connected.

    Whats your siblings job? Maybe you don't fully know or understand what it is and as the game goes on that in itself becomes clearer. Like maybe it turns out they worked in something dodgy.

    Will there be other suspects other then your sibling? It seems a given but maybe there isn't and this is were the creepiness begins?

    Alssoooo, I know you want to go for something ambiguous so how will that factor into the ending of the game? Will you discover the true killer? ORRR will it be too late and your siblings gone completely mad? Or have you gone mad? Maybe you begin investigating the murder and it leads you to discover something else?

    Hell maybe there's a point in the game were you really flip the shit and the persons who's supposed to be dead turns up alive and you seem to be the only persons who's like 'errm hang on'.

    To be Concluded

  6. Michael's comments and initial thoughts Part 36: The Revenge of the Comment

    I like the idea of the phone being an essential part of the game and it will be disabled at key points. With a point and click game I'm not too sure how you would make the player dependent on it though. It needs to be important enougth that once it is taken away you feel crippled by this. I'm not sure if this is what you already meant but maybe you use your phone to save files/load/close game etc, so its a familiar place and one that most games treat as independent from the story. Maybe have it so that even the phone can succumb to weird behaviour such as the image on the phone changing, maybe new phone contacts will randomly start appearing or disappearing. Maybe really simple thing like the font suddenly changing - like you already said, eternal darkness-esque.

    I like the idea of incorporating the Hungry Ghost Festival (which keeps making me want to say hungry hippo festival). Reminds me of how Grim Fandango is pretty much all about the Mexican day of the dead. Random thought - where is this game set? Like what country - not that it really matters of course. It's just that this is obviously a festival that isn't celebrated in England. Maybe its something the main character learns about as the game progresses? Or maybe the character already celebrates it. Or maybe its neither and the game takes place in its own world. I don't think its a hugely important point but I think its one worth thinking about as it means the difference between the character learning about the festival first hand as the game progresses or the character already being aware of it and its a normal thing for them. I'm not sure which is better, I think it depends on the way you want to present the festival, i feel though it would be creepiest for us to learn about it at the same time as the character. OR another thought - maybe the family event your returning from was the hungry ghost festival.

    I don't think I've really added anything as re-reading what you've said I think you've already said most of it. I'll probably think of more things and write another comment but for now I'll leave it at this. Good idea, I think it will work really well.

  7. Michael's comments and initial thoughts part 57: Comments Reloaded

    This is kinda a reply to what Emma said but it occurred to me too that maybe simplifying the idea to take place on just the train. I don't think its a bad idea but I didn't mention it originally as partly I forgot to but also you run the risk of becoming dangerously close to being like Murder on the Orient Express. In that the orient express becomes trapped in a snowstorm and is grounded in the middle of no where for 9 days. During this time a murder takes place - the murderer must still be on the train as theres no signs of an escape and no way that even if they had escaped they could survive out in that weather as they are miles away from any towns. It's rather creepy as you know the murderer is near by so you're not sure who to trust. A similar thing happens in Professor Layton and Pandora's Box however the train stop at various towns along the way. While I think that would be quite a good idea it has several problems, the first that I've already mentioned being that the stories already been done, though with the added supernatural element this could be a null issue. Second problem is that it means your confined to one type of environment which could be an advantage actually but I get the feeling you want to include many more places and obviously it would mean cutting places like the mental asylum. Over and out.

  8. Brilliant Mike, you've essentially written like a 1k essay! I'm definitely mulling over your 'diary' and the whole idea bouncing is definitely working.

    These are some of my thoughts on your thoughts:

    - Definitely making it so that the character is travelling back from the Festival. Am thinking about how much the character should know about the festival but my initial idea was to have the character be highly sceptical of those kinds of things and really only joins in for family tradition and respect. That way the character is a bridge for the player and the player learning about the festival.

    - Definitely making it a sleeper train journey (over the course of 1-2 nights maybe?). I really like the idea of having your little room and providing the player with a false sense of sanctuary.

    - Yes it's slightly turning into Murder on the Orient Express, none the less! Instead of a murder an incident should occur that should freak everyone out. Someone makes a ruckus and tries to jump out by a little bout of madness? It could be a slightly prophetic situation that could occur later in the game.

    - For the phone part I should've elaborated on it before hand but you've pretty much typed what I thought out too. I was thinking about using the phone as a save/load thing as well as a map (access it to teleport to a place) and to save all notes/memos etc. Say if you found a map, the character can take a picture of it and it can be used as a torch light. Oh and a media player. Players can access the audio/game prefs and if we have time we can have it so that players can unlock cutscenes and artwork and access it through the phone XD

    - If protagonist is a guy, then sibling is a girl and vice versa. I don't know why but I've a strong feeling that they should be of opposite genders XD Regarding their jobs I'm not to sure just yet. Maybe you can have a detective character during the beginning but gets freaked out and quits a little after. Thus forcing the protagonist to do their own dirty work.

    I've a feeling this comment is too long....

  9. hmm.. you know i actually really like the idea of an urgent phone call that gets cut off in the tunnel.. but i think the story after that is not as creepy as it could be.

    and if the whole thing was set on the train im not sure personally how scary i would find it because it vastly limits what you can do and because trains stop at different stations there would be a lot of people around/escape routes available.

    if it were me, i would say that yeah.. you get the urgent phone call and go home to find something amiss but maybe the sibling is in deeper trouble than just being wanted for murder because that seems almost not paranormal enough XD maybe theyve either dissapeared in conjunction with being wanted for murder or maybe they were forcibly taken to the mental asylum straightaway because as they were being questioned. but it seems theres too much normal authority involved still and not enough paranormal like in creepypastas..

    actually, this youtube video on slenderman springs to mind;
    (watch between 3.22-7.10 (althoug even just seeing like a minute of that should be enough)

    i also like the idea of the phone being important and contacts that appear and dissapear at will from your address book.

    hmm.. im going to think on this and if i have anything more useful to say will post XD

  10. sorry jade, just read your last comment XD

    if you were going to play as both characters, how would the other sibling work whilst your on the train? would they be at a different location or would they eventually find their way on board as well?

    and maybe the character does leave the train in their minds.. like some paranormal force shows them different locations but essentially their still on the train.... uuugghhhhh i dont know >w<
    i need to go away and think properly about this sorry XD

  11. sorry - one last comment spam.

    i dont know if you guys have ever played paper mario and the thousand year old door, but level 6 of that game is set on a train. you're stuck on the train for 2 days and have to solve a string of thefts, dissapearances and threatening messages. there are about 5-6 other passengers on the train and its a bit like some of the other visual novels that have already been posted to the blog with you having to chat and gain evidence from them.

    anyway.. obv mario is not a scary game so not sure how useful that is XD but i might look into that a little bit further as well.
    the idea of it being set on a train is kinda growing on me now but it would all depend on how scary we made the train as well XD keep thinking random thoughts like 'maybe one of the back carriages come loose at one point which had some crucial evidence on it' hahaha...
    end of spam! ill check back with more tonight D:

  12. Jade - I like that the player is traveling back from the festivel as you're right it makes nice bridge between the player and teaching them about the event itself.

    Michelle - I quite like the idea that your sibling is accused of murder but has aloso gone missing. At first I thought that would be a shame as it would mean cutting out the mental asylum but maybe several 'days' into the game they suddenly re appear.

  13. Ooh that's a good point Michelle! How about a compromise:

    - Phone call on the train is urgent but MC gets cut off. During the trip home, MC still couldn't reach sibling (call can't connect/ phone runs out of battery) so while the player searched for batteries at the MC's house you play the voicemail on your house phone. Sibling is fine and is sorry for scaring you. MC is not impressed XD.

    - A little later the murder happens and either the police or the sibling contacts you about it so that the sibling is bought into questioning. During that time, sibling disappears. Because the sibling disappears that automatically warrants for an arrest.

    MC is not amused but is also very suspicious abt the disappearance. Maybe then we'll add the detective character...not sure yet. Sibling is found/arrested but has just gone mad and carted off to the mental asylum. OR sibling is found/arrested but very 'normal' as opposed to a bag of hysterics.

    Regarding playing both characters, I was under the assumption that you'd only play the MC but I quite like that telepathic communication. Not sure, we could incorporate it in if it works. Perhaps it only kicks in after the sibling disappears and the MC has to work out where the scene is from the dream sequence. OOOHH brainwave! If say in the dream sequence you play as the sibling and say you take a pic of the environment you're in. The data will magically appear on the MC's phone. But! The MC doesn't remember the dream sequence so they can only work out the hidden messages left on the phone. Telepathic communication creep factor +1?


    i think the idea of only controlling the MC is a good idea as it makes things less complicated to make haha.. but also then you dont have to emphathise with two charcaters.

    plus i dont mind the whole thing being set on the train jade, its your story so you dont need to compromise,ill happily go along with anything you choose ^^ im just honoured to be on the team!
    i guess if things get too difficult or the story too farfetched to put in the actual mental asylum it could always be limited to part of the dream sequence.. like you said that the sibling has, i like that idea ^^

    and thanks mike :D

  15. I've effectively made the sibling have the same ability as the MC in my TKoN game XDDD but it's good. I like this idea! You probably won't play through the sibling a lot; just make it more like an interactive comic strip and when you play the MC the playing style will be a lot more different (verging onto Phoenix Wright I'd guess)!

    It's ok, I want to compromise because I want to incorporate all ideas so far XD. For some reason I envision the mental asylum bit to be similar to the prison cell sequences in PW and that the sibling gets so unstable to the point where you can only communicate with tv cameras and a phone as opposed to face to face. Perhaps further in the game the electricity cuts out at some point so you have to wonder the corridors for a bit to talk to your sibling.

    Cheers guys!

  16. I really love everything thats been said so far. Sounds likes its coming along really nicely. I love the beggening of the story and then how as the days progress in the mental asylum your forced to start talking by phone and then tv. I think that maybe it should be the police or a detective that contacts you about your siblings commital as it seems to make more sense that they would contact you. I think its a good idea to add a detective character. Hey another random thought, im not sure how popular this idea will be but im just throwing it out there but maybe you have several characters you play as a bit Heavy Rain or Fahrenheit esque. But yeh I think there should be a detective character and he shall be awesome and we shall call him detetctive gum shoe and he'll be my favaourite character and I'll wub him forever and ever.

  17. Jade: No there aren't any festivals like that lol I think anything remotely do with the paranormal is avoided like the plague lol

  18. Oh and I think maybe its a good idea to not keep it entirely on the train as seeing the same scenes over and over again might get tedious, although im sure you can go with Michelle's idea (i think it was you) where the doors lead to other places. Variety keeps things interesting.

    One idea would be to have a moment where a train carraige, that the player has seen many times, just ceases to exist for a second. As in if its say, carriage 3, and they are in carriage 5:

    Walk through 5, walk through 4, walk through 2...wait what? Walk back through 3...

    Also if there isn't even any acknowledgement from the game or the main character it will seem even more bizzare. I remember Silent Hill 1 doing that except you ended up on a totally different floor when you entered a door, only for everything to go back to normal when you tried again.

  19. Rumzi: Ah fair do's...unlike the Chinese! XD

    Yeh I'm pretty much stumped if it is stuck on the same place; I'm one of those gamers who get bored easily if being stuck in the same place for too long.

    Ooh yeh I like that idea Rumzi, let's use that. For the script so far there's only a little bit set in the train. Was thinking of using that more of the tutorial section. Ah yeh I remember when SH did that...was so confused XD.

  20. Yeh I think thats a cool idea too. I think having one of the carriages disappear will make for a nice uneasy introduction to the game.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.