My Starting Questions (Sinister RPG)
Sinister RPG is the newest in the line of games developed for Third Eye Games. For this one, you get to come along for the ride.
Funny how it works when you say you’re designing a game. You are constantly bombarded with “you know what you should do…” and “this is how I’d design it…” from all sides. It’s just a part of the job. Now, just think about what you’d get if you said you were openly developing. Haha! I’m getting even more. Not trying to say anything bad though, since there’s already some good ideas that have come out of a few conversations, but I’m lucky that I already have a strong idea of where I’m going or i might have been lured away from my own vision. Be strong, Eloy!
Now that I have the initial idea for the kind of game I want to design out there, I need to go over the approach I want to take and start plotting it out. The first question, though, is where do I start? I’ve always had 3 main questions that I ask myself when I’m designing a game, so going over those first is the best way to go. The questions might sound familiar, as they mirror other design philosophies out there, but these are the ones that I use that work best for me.
There are a lot of different ways to go with the idea of a “sinister pokemon”, but this is the way I’m choosing to go. Hopefully, it strikes a chord.
1. What is the setting of the game?
The game is going to have a setting, but no metaplot, like my other games. I’m currently working through a lot of the details, but there are a few ideas that I have that are pretty solid at this stage. First is… this game is set in a Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy world.
100 years ago there was a horrible world war that encompassed the land. One of the nations, in an attempt to win the war single-handedly, not only opened a portal to another theoretical world, but harnessed its power into a weapon. Random portals opened, letting through terrible monsters that slaughtered thousands, and the portals’ energy warped the land and mutated normal animals into monsters.
It also mutated the human race, rendering them frail and incapable of producing offspring for over 40 years. The war continued until the human race was decimated by casualties or by being eaten and killed by the various monsters. The best and brightest of human kind were stuck in a shuttle and sent to Cloud Nation, a floating continent, where they developed genetic advances that allowed them to cure themselves of the breeding pathogens before everyone else that lived below. It also gave them insight into the monsters that plagued the world.
The regular people left behind made the best of their lives, living off the scraps sent down from Cloud Nation. Some areas are still rampaged by rogue militia groups or street gangs not scared to shed blood, but the majority of the people have agreed that violence between humans is a bad idea, especially with such a small population that is still attempting to reach 1/100 of what it used to be. Instead, the people use special collars to control the monsters, settling their differences by seeing who can train their monsters the best. the first collars were just another piece of rubbish dropped from above, but the technology has spread and each of the remaining nations has their own tweaked versions of the collar.
Now, after 100 years of silence, Cloud Nation has invited the best trainers in each nation to compete for the world monster trainer trophy. Not only is winning a trophy worth more than the average person’s entire estate a huge deal, but the chance to see Cloud Nation with your own eyes is too much to pass up.
Currently, the game is taking bits of Children of Men and Golden Compass and Pokemon and mashing them into one.
2. What role to the players take in the game?
This is where the players come in. Decades of intense practice and warring has made monster training into an everyday norm. Every trainer wants to be the best. It’s not just a want, its engrained into the children when they’re young and being the best is all most ever think about. The players take the role of these trainers, hoping for a chance to make it to Cloud Nation. Most will be younger people, but not necessarily kids. Due to the gap in their breeding, there’ll basically be old people and young people and not much in-between.
The splats (archetypes, classes, what-have-you) will be split up into Nations, looking at 8 currently. I’m working on the exacts and I’ll be going more into them as I go along the development. Much of the game will revolve around testing your monster against others, hunting other monsters to capture and challenging anyone you can to prove that you’re the best and you deserve the chance to go to cloud nation. Schools will have rivalries and quests will be had to find rarer and rarer monsters and challengers to defeat. I’m also looking to have about 40-50 fully fleshed out monsters for easy choosing as well as a monster generator for those that want to get tricky.
3. What mechanics are used to reinforce the theme/mood of the game?
The players will create their trainer and pick a monster to begin with. The goal is to make a capable trainer that works hand in hand with their monster type that will have stats of their own, but will also give bonuses to the trainer.
I want to work on some sort of relationship mechanic for the trainer and his/her monsters, as different trainers will be using differently designed collars that aren’t always friendly to their monsters. Some will be friends and others will simply use the monsters as tools to get to Cloud Nation for their other selfish reason. Besides their relationship with their monster, they will have certain Passions and Desires that urge them on. This may simply mirror the past Passion mechanic for API and Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade or may take a more fleshed out approach like in Part-Time Gods. It’s still up in the air.
I’m working on a new combat system that I’m affectionately calling DGS-Battle, as it will take its basis from the DGS system I have used in my other games, tweaked to make it fit this kind of platform. The monsters will also have some fiddly bits so that the trainers can actually have the same monsters, trained in different ways and it will make a difference.
Until next time.