NOTE: Originally posted on Feb. 5, 2012 at Write4Games.
Reckless Abandon (working title)
Modern-day/near-future military FPS
To kick off this blog, I thought I'd start with one of my favorite game genres, the First-Person Shooter, or FPS. Before I get into the backstory for this one, let me setup my reasons and whatnot.
I've always been amused by games where the player controls a character that's already well-established in the game's world. I'm talking about games where you play a legendary war hero, someone who's seen it all. But since you, the player, are new to this world, the game needs to stop and explain stuff to you.
It seems strange to me. After all, if you're supposed to be this experienced soldier revered by others and feared by his enemies, shouldn't you already know what's going on?
Some game's handle this well (Halo, for example). I've played a couple, however, where the dialog is clearly directed at the player and not the character the player is inhabiting. It breaks the illusion and takes me out of the game world and story.
Some games get around this by giving the main character amnesia, so both the player and the hero have to be told what the hell is going on.
Me, I like approaches like the movie Inception. Specifically, Ellen Page's character. While everyone else around her knew the rules about dreaming, Page's character was clearly the rookie. She provided a logical reason for others to explain concepts they already knew. The audience could simply learn along with her.
With all that in mind, here's my pitch for Reckless Abandon (working title):
The game starts out with a very quick block of text establishing the year and the fact the U.S. is at war with....someone (more on this later in the week). Instead of playing a solider, your character is simply a college exchange student. Unfortunately for you, when it came time to study abroad, you picked the wrong damn country. You came to this (fictitious) country when everything was nice and peaceful. Now...not so much. In fact, at the start of the game, you've been kidnapped and your family hasn't heard from you in days.
When gameplay begins, everything is black. You hear sobbing, sickly coughs and foreign languages being spoken. Suddenly, you hear explosions in the distance followed by bursts of gunfire.
Somewhere, angry men are yelling and shooting at other angry men who are yelling and shooting. As they get closer, you realize some of the angry men are speaking English. The good guys have found you.
The screen jumps from pitch black to blinding white as a US solider pulls off your blindfold. Your eyes eventually adjust to see the chaos unfolding. Other soldiers are trying to lead your fellow hostages outside. As you're being untied, the soldier rescuing you is attacked. You have to help by throwing some punches. Since you're a college student and not a war hero, your melee attacks are crude and slow at first. As this first level progresses, the game directs your view to watch the soldiers as they use hand-to-hand combat. Slowly, your melee attacks become more and more precise and effective.
The soldiers escort you and the others outside to troop transports. You watch as other hostages (students, most likely) board the transports for the ride to safety. As you walk closer, the transports suddenly explode.
It's just you and a handful of soldiers now. You must make it to headquarters on foot while still being chased by the enemy. During this first mission, your small group will regularly come under fire. As an unarmed civilian, all you can do right now is fend off enemies if they get to close to the group. Thankfully, your melee attacks get better and better as the level progresses and your receive tips from the soldiers.
Being a cocky, young college student, you implore the soldier to give you a gun so you can do more. They naturally refuse, since they have no idea what kind of weapons training you have (by the way, you have no weapons training).
Throughout this first level, you hear bits and pieces of story regarding the overall war. You hear how suddenly things became violent, how foreigners like you were kidnapped.
As you get closer to headquarters, you hear soldiers discussing how things could get much, much worse if some other powerful country decided to move against America. Then, at the end of the first level, your group finally nears headquarters. As you climb a small hill, you're told the base is just on the other side. Once on top of the hill, you look down and see...
The base has been completely destroyed and all attempts at radio contact are unsuccessful. There's no friendly voices for miles in any direction. The soldiers wrestle with the very real possibility that they are the only ones left in a very hostile land. At that point, the commanding officer makes an unexpected decision.
"Sergeant," he says to the solider next to you. "Give that guy (or girl, your choice) a gun and show him (or her) how to use it."
END LEVEL ONE and Cue Title.
As the game progresses, your character develops the skills necessary to become a fighter. You start with small sidearms. As you gain the group's trust and confidence, they issue more powerful weapons to you. By the end, you get to wield some serious firepower.
I suppose it's somewhat like the create-your-player mode in some sports games. Like those games, your character here would start out as (essentially) a nobody. As the game progresses, your skills improve and your responsibilities grow.
I'll write more about the overall story in the coming days. For now, feel free to tell me what you think!