The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Game Ideas #2

Posted by Matt on August 29, 2009

(Note: I originally wrote this in April. I’m reposting this so I can continue on with my game ideas posts without confusing the lot of ya’. Also because I like them.)

And just to show that I’m not totally lacking in original ideas, I will pitch an idea not based on a long-established game franchise…

Idea: Heart of Darkness: The Videogame

Now, I only said it wouldn’t based on a videogame franchise, not that it would be completely original.

I bet you’re wondering why I decided to go with the original Conrad novel rather than just make a game based on Apocalypse Now. It’s quite simple, really: there’s slightly less baggage in adapting the classic novel rather than the classic movie, and, much as Apocalypse Now changed the setting of the story, so too would I be able to change the setting in the game. In short, it frees up the game for ideas.

How would one translate this story into a game? The plot does give you one big concept to develop around: you’re tasked with finding Kurtz, somewhere in the massive jungle and river environment. The whole game, then, would be about you travelling around a well-developed world, filled with unique places and NPCs, trying to find information about where to find Kurtz. That is the primary thrust of the game, and it provides you plenty of opportunity to include some great game concepts around it.

The game world, for example, can be made into something really cool. Like I said, it’s large and populated by lots of unique characters. And stuff would always be going on, either on a random (more realistic) basis or on a scheduled (probably more fair) basis. For example, say you know of a guy upriver who has important information, and you want to track him down. However, the guy is also a rebel leader, and could be assassinated at any moment. Stuff like that. Suddenly, a new sense of urgency, and a far more organic world. Of course, you don’t need to find every single person with information to complete the game…in fact, if you are so inclined, you could probably just travel around for hours and you’d eventually stumble upon Kurtz’s whereabouts. Of course, then you’d have no idea what to do.

Just like in the book and movie, you’re not alone. Over the course of the game, some of the people you meet can be convinced to join your little boat crew, some for higher prices than others. There would a limit to the number of people you can take with you on your dinky little boat; it’s not a goddamn clown car. So this means you have to really think about which guys you will recruit. Each one has their own unique set of skills that may come in handy: some are better marksmen, some are better navigators (which will help you during some of the rougher moments on the river), some will help you better communicate with the locals, some provide you a stash of useful items…the list goes on. It’s all up to you to prioritize things on your boat. Of course, considering this is a Heart of Darkness game, you’re likely going to have plenty of…drop-outs…to make room for other guys if you need it.

It’s essentially a text-adventure/simulation hybrid with elements of survival horror (you never know when you’ll be attacked by rebel fighters or wild animals) and sandbox games. The final part of the game, when you finally track down demi-god Kurtz, will add one last bit of intrigue. What DO you do? Do you fulfill your orders and eliminate him? Do you leave him alive and go off? It’s up to you. Or maybe not. Who is to say that some of your crew members don’t have their own agendas in the situation?

The other good thing about this game? It doesn’t necessarily have to be based on Heart of Darkness, and is pretty free when it comes to settings. Of course, you could say that about my Mario game idea too, but I just like the idea of Mario teaming up with a robot.

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