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Story Design Challenge #4: Design a World
by Guy Hasson on 05/29/12 09:13:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

The monthly Story Design Challenge is cross-posted on Gamasutra's sister site, GameCareerGuide.

The Challenge: Design a New World

You know how games often have new worlds that are unique and special? Now it’s your turn to create something really special. You can create a magic world, a wondrous world, a paranoid world, a ridiculous world, a quirky world, or… whatever else you can think of. Amaze us with a world you’ve created.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a description of your new game world. Tell us what makes it special, and then give us a pretty clear picture of what that world will look like to the players.

Once you write an entry describing your new game world, be sure to send your entry via email to (guyhasson at gmail dot com) and submit it in the comments of the corresponding Gamasutra cross-post. That way, everyone can check out the other entries, and perhaps learn a thing or two from the other participants.

A Friendly Hint

Let your imagination go wild, but at the same time don’t forget to limit yourselves. Here’s a link to the Story Design Tips columns that lay down the rules for good world construction. On the one hand, everything is possible. On the other hand, the players need to believe the rules of the world you create. There are ways to fool the player’s subconscious mind to believe that something new, crazy and even impossible is, indeed, a self-contained world. These articles show you how. Use them to help you.

The Rules:

  • Please don’t use anything anyone owns the rights to, even if you’re the one who owns those rights. Let’s have no variations on existing games, movies, or stories. And nothing you or your company are working on at the moment.
  • Please keep your entry under 1000 words. 1000 words translate roughly to 4 double-spaced pages. That should be more than enough.
  • Winners will be announced in a cross-post like this one, in Gamasutra and GameCareerGuide on Tuesday, June 5th. This means you have six days to publish your entry (until Monday at midnight).
  • Please publish your entry in the comments of this article. If you want to do it anonymously, use Gamasutra’s system to log in anonymously.
  • Format: I don’t care what format you use. If you write clearly enough, and I can understand what you mean, the format doesn’t matter.
  • Important: When you publish your entry, send it to me simultaneously via email (to guyhasson at gmail dot com). That way, you make your entry public (in the comments), while ensuring I have your real email address if you win. Don’t publish the entry at your website or in Dropbox, then link to it. Use the comments so everyone can see.

The prize: The prize that’s mine to give is a free electronic copy of my book, Secret Thoughts. It’s science fiction, recently published by Apex Books. Here’s a link to the publisher’s website, where you can check out the plot and the reviews. When you send your email, please specify the type of file you want (pdf, epub, or mobi). If you’ve already won a Story Design Challenge, all I have to give you is glory.

Good luck to everyone! Go forth and create new worlds!


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Comments


James Coote
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The setting is post-apocalyptic Sichuan. For those that don't know, Sichuan is a province in central China that straddles the low agriculturally fertile eastern seaboard, and the foothills and mountains that border the Tibetan plateau.



Set ten years after the nuclear war that "destroyed civilisation as we know it" and plunged the world into decades-long winter, disparate communities of survivors struggle to make ends meet.



No one knows why the war started, (a quest to find out could be the theme for a game set in this world), but each day, people have to suffer its consequences; radiation-related diseases, chronic malnutrition, lack of clean water and so on.



However, people have also begun to rebuild their world, creating new towns and villages in less contaminated areas. Some have gone back to the old traditions and ways of life, whilst others continue to place their faith in 'modernity'.



Those differences extend to politics too, with some fervently extolling the virtues of democracy, others insisting that the Communist central government in Beijing will soon reunite the country. Yet others continue as the personal fiefdoms of the local administrators or warlords, detached from the outside.



The result is a diverse world, a mix of traditional (Han) Chinese, traditional Tibetan and modern/westernised architectural styles, technologies, cultures and characters





I wrote the opening scene of a story set in this world to help give a feel:

Zhang Yi pulled hard on the reins. His steed whined and shuddered to a halt, exhaling a plume of white steamed breath into the crisp mountain air. He scanned the wide, flat plain beyond, between distant snow-capped peaks to the South West, and the low, near-side Eastern hills.

The ever-present cloud blanket hung low and oppressive across the sky, the dull grey twilight drawing vague sketches of shapes and forms below. Even now, at the height of what was once summer, a deep layer of snow sat serenely across the vale.



At last he spied the unnatural line of posts and pillars marking a fallout path; the tracks and ways diligently cleared of lethal isotopes, so as to allow locals safe movement between places. To intercept its course, he would have to travel cross-country, over the snow field, kicking up further radioactive pollutants from the unscoured ground.

Zhang Yi scratched at his own protective face mask subconsciously. His horse was already saturated with contaminants from the journey thus far, and it was only a matter of time before it started weakening from radiation sickness. In this bitter landscape, no horse meant no hope.

Binoculars holstered, he slipped his rifle off his shoulder and ushered his mount cautiously forward from present cover, behind a giant billboard.

Ragged and faded in appearance, the billboard was a relic of the old times, when tourists' coaches would wind up the sealed highways from the mega-cities below, to be greeted with this image of smiling-happy locals in traditional dress. And they would read the herald the sign bore, in bold-red Chinese characters, with cursory Tibetan translation below, "Welcome to Shangri-la".

Sandell Wall
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As he opened his door he was welcomed by the sounds and smells of the slums of Detroit. His room was one of thousands in the plain concrete blocks that passed for apartments in this part of the city. His was on the sixth floor, so he had a view that looked out over the city as he walked along the railing towards the shower. He nodded to the security guard as he entered the shower. The showers were only open during the day, and because men and women had to share them there was always a security guard stationed outside. The showers were clean, if crude. Isaiah never noticed the condition of the showers, or the occupants. Trouble makers rarely bothered him; he had never actually been in a fight but the way he carried himself discouraged punks looking for easy targets. The women that worked the showers like a production line had long ago learned that he was not interested in being a customer.

The shower walls were covered in personalized advertisements for personal hygiene and contraception products. They tried to address Isaiah as he passed, but usually fumbled to find purchase history associated with him and ended up spouting the default ad. He walked to one of the stalls, ignoring the other people as he passed. As he washed himself his fingers rubbed over the bump on the outside of his right hand. As always he had to resist the urge to tear the chip out and smash it on the shower tiles. The chip was the minimum requirement to be a citizen, it offered only the basic functionality required to work a minimum wage job and live in an apartment complex like the one he was showering in. It did not allow him to operate vehicles or vote. Not that he cared.

As far as the government was concerned Isaiah was a genius, he had completed a masters degree in chemical engineering during his early twenties. Then when the techno-revolution happened and it was clear he was not going to be able to conform, he stayed in school and got a PHD in history. He had finished top in all of his classes, but lacked the ambition of his peers. He was not a good consumer, climbing the ladder of possessions had never appealed to him. Of course the psychological evaluations had much more serious terms for it, terms like rebel, anti-social, in need of medication. So he had finished school and accepted the bare minimum required by the government, the chip in his hand. Now he worked a minimum wage job as a fry cook in the city.

As far as he knew he was the only class A educated citizen in the city using the basic chip. Anyone who had the means, and those who were educated did, purchased extra functionality or higher grade chips. So he spent his days working eight hours a day without saying a word. He was a member of society, but not a part of it. He had no friends; other basic chip users thought he was crazy for staying in the slums. Everyone else thought he was damaged goods, not quite right in the head. Brilliant, but not well adjusted enough to apply himself and function in society.

Isaiah had always known he did not fit. But as society had slowly, and then rapidly, immersed itself in technology he had felt more and more alienated. He was not willing to outsource his humanity and individuality to computers and a communal mind. His soul, his being, was something he guarded zealously, and he would give it up for nothing. Even if it meant living at the bottom of society.

He turned off the shower, went back to his room to get dressed, and headed to work. It was a long walk to the bus stop. Even here in the slums most of the citizens had heads up displays. They were on the net every waking minute, the line where reality stopped and virtual reality began was becoming hard to define. The HUDs incorporated basic directions for getting around the city, as well as making sure the user was safe, into all the other functions like entertainment and media. The result was a city full of people immersed in their own personal reality, sidewalks and streets full of people whose faces are bathed in the glow of their HUDs. For a person off the net and with no HUD it could feel like you did not exist. Isaiah was used to it.

He got on the bus; it read his chip and deducted the fee automatically. He sat down next to a young girl, probably a student, jabbering away into her mic. He saw her HUD scan and register his presence and inform her of his basic data as he sat down, she glanced at the information, but never at him. The bus crawled into the city with the morning traffic. Isaiah watched the millions of people walk and drive to work. The big gaudy advertisements were being phased out, with the prevalence of the HUD companies were beginning to realize no one saw or paid attention to the physical advertisement. The signs were being replaced by smaller versions that could render fantastical ads for passing citizens HUDs. The result were streets that looked barren and harsh, Isaiah assumed they were full of alluring images if you were viewing through a HUD.

The only place he ever got to interact with other people was at work. HUDs were not allowed to be worn while on the clock. Most of the employees were surly and annoyed over having to be disconnected for several hours, and vented their frustrations on Isaiah. Even on a minimum wage job the employees made enough to buy added functionality for their chips, that functionality made them eligible for promotions and seniority. Which meant Isaiah was at the very bottom of the food chain with his basic chip.

He walked through the restaurant towards the bathrooms. As he examined the patrons he was once again struck by the declining health of the average citizen. Almost all of the heavy labor is now done by machines, and most people turn to the net for recreation and entertainment. Physical exercise takes a dedicated effort, and has no effect on ones persona on the net, so most citizens simply don’t bother.

He could see his chip being pinged as he passed customers at their tables. He felt the old impotent rage, squashed it, and went about his work.

Courtney Schwark
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Has anyone ever wondered where the imaginary creatures and things go when they are not needed? Sure, the good imaginations live and frolic in the tall, green grass and hide in the lollipop trees, while bathing in the warm light of the sun. Yet, with every good, there is an evil. Their home however, is covered with a thick smog that the sun had never been able to penetrate. Where only the screams of the innocent souls who dared to travel within it, could be echoing within the dead forest.

However, this does raise a few questions: What happens when something or someone is no longer imagined? Do they just disappear off the face of the earth? No. For in Imagination Land there is a large, rusting, gray factory, that lies on the border of the Realm of Dreams and the Realm of Nightmares. No one truly knows what goes on within the building, and no one dares to venture near it because of the dangerous guardians protecting it.

Yet, once in a blue moon something very odd happens. The building’s tall stacks begin to smoke and fall into the Realm of Nightmares, allowing the already thick smog build up, making it almost impossible for the residents to navigate through it. Though, after about a week, the smoke stacks subside, being calm once more. Not another single puff of smoke escaping from it. That is not all however, as the stacks subsides the creatures are able to look around, only to find that some of the imaginary creatures and items are gone and are never to be seen again.

Ammy was a very young, plum purple, chinchilla girl who wore a white school uniform, a yellow tie hanging loosely around her neck, with a black skirt outlined in the same color as her tie. She was created by a young man named Shawn, who had lost all interest in his creation as he began to find and date real girls. For awhile, she was sad, hoping for him to return to her. Forcing herself to believe that he would return to her. Yet, her hopes were quickly shattered after falling asleep under that blue moon.

While sleeping, she was taken away from her home and taken to into that mysterious factory. Only the door slamming behind her able to wake her. Frightened as she was thrown into a locked cage, she called out for her creator for hours, but to no avail. She soon became quiet as she sat in the cold, rusting cage and began to think of her creator, looking into his mind to see what could have distracted him so much from her. Through his eyes she could see another girl, kissing him. Ammy’s heart dropped. Sadness and frustration filled her heart until it shattered. She should feel her chest begin to bleed from the pain as her heart was destroyed by the sight of the other woman. At that moment something snapped inside of her. Anger and revenge filled into the place where her heart once was, a black, crystal sphere taking the place of the heart as her pupils turned from their usual purple shade, to a deep, glowing crimson red. She cried out to her creator again, cursing her vendetta onto him, to force him into the factory when he had fallen asleep. So he to could face the pain that she was now had.

When Shawn finally fell asleep for the night, he could feel that something was not right. He could not see anything but the darkness of the factory. He called out for Ammy, but with no response. Softly, he began to laugh, thinking that it was some kind of joke until he heard a cry for help. Someone begging for another name, but Shawn ran to it, hoping to help who ever it was. Soon he reached a door that he was unable to open until he broke it down. His eyes opened wide as he stepped out from the darkness and into the dark yellow light, looking over to a beaten, bruised, pink, and purple dog, crying out for his creator in a rusty cage as the rumble of a machine came from below.

The dog begged and pleaded for help from anyone who could hear it. In an instant a click could be heard as the bottom of the cage fell from its place, the dog falling from the cage soon after. Shawn’s eyes followed the dog as it landed into a large, and fully functioning grinder. For only a short moment did the dog scream in agony as it hit the grinder, the sickening sounds of the dog’s body being crunched soon following. Below was where the grinder emptied, and into a tray fell glittering white dust. It was what was left of the dog, he was no more than a simple dream and his body alone created a small amount of pure dream dust, for all the world to enjoy.

Shawn froze for a moment, thoughts his beloved friend racing through his minds. He needed to find her, before she came to this room. Before she would be destroyed and turned to dust. As he snapped out of his thoughts, he turned away from the machine as another creature was dropped into it calling for its creator to save it, as he raced off, back into the darkness of the Dream Factory.

He needed to find Ammy before it was too late.

Alexander Freeman-Smith
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Slowly over time, as globalization ran it’s course, nationalism decayed. Leaving in it’s place a period of unprecedented development. They called it the World Renaissance. Those who refused to open their borders to the new world sentiment quickly fell behind in to obscurity. At last all the world’s experts were able to work together, putting aside the differences in history or culture. New technologies spread like a blaze, catching the world in it’s wake, leaving behind a bright hope for the future. The human condition was redefined. Suffering waned, as large-scale war came to an end and high standards of living were brought to all. At last the Earth would see unhindered peace and development.

But eventually the greed sets in. In a refreshed world, the able are quick to flip the optimistic for their profits. While the common man was celebrating their new world, the wealthy and scheming worked their considerable might, seeking to control all of even the most basic of resources. Buying up or incorporating every aspect of life, the world came to be controlled under a group of those few CEOs who would become to be known as the UCC.

Once the haze faded, people had realized what had come to pass under their noses. The nationalist goals had been pruned, only to be replaced by corporate agendas. Only now instead of fighting over ancient grudges and historical land rights, the quest is much simpler in destination. Complete economic domination in the name of climbing profits.

The UCC, or United Corporation Council, is the new face of global diplomacy. Instead of fighting for religious rights or human freedoms, the battles are now over patent law and copyrights. Large sums of money, factories or even entire populations are traded for the rights to new production technology and techniques. And the UCC protects their spartan way of business, making sure nothing gets in the way of their insatiable need for improved profits.

Given the scarcity of resources in the new world, to say nothing of world wide demilitarization, few CEOs are willing or able to commit to full scale invasions. Wars are now waged on the trading floor. Instead of bloodshed, now living conditions are sacrificed. The working class is forced into preputial poverty, living in shack towns of an older industrial era.

With the suits controlling the lawmakers, it’s not long before the protections of the citizens are lost. Most now live their lives in a constant downfall, hanging on to multiple jobs, working in deadly conditions. No attention is paid to the worker’s conditions, prices rise as wages fall, forcing the masses deeper and deeper into poverty.

Few are privy to the lives of extreme luxury afforded by the leading members of the UCC. The elite class lives in their own private paradise. Stopping at nothing to ensure their continued control of all the wealth.

The UCC took strong steps to ensure their safety as the new world power. During the time of the World Renaissance they persistently lobbied to make illegal weapon production and ownership. The world’s governments latched on this initiative with fervor, and used this idea to rid the world of terrorist threats and warlords alike. Knowing that the world powers couldn’t be completely without the ability to protect themselves, the UCC in junction with United Nations worked hard to ensure that the only power left capable of defending themselves was the UN. Of which they were frighteningly successful.

It’s not without saying that there have been revolt attempts. It doesn’t take much for the landslide of a revolution to begin. In all places small pockets of violent resistance formed, fed up with the corporate ownership of their lives. But as part of the UN’s global initiative to demilitarize Earth the legal road was paved for UN peacekeepers to cut down any militant resistance with extreme efficiency. The people fought back with guerrilla strength, but with the UCC having the controlling interest in the all the manufacturers it wasn’t long until the rebel supply dried up and then quickly tossed aside by the superior forces. Without the resource to build their own effective weapons, the demilitarization was a landmark success, leaving only the best in the hands of global peacekeepers.

Eventually the spirit of revolution was crushed. The masses caved in to the twisted wills of the CEOs who now ran their lives. Accepting devastating losses in the richness of their lives, now the people live out their lives in company owned cities, organized and built to keep up the production levels of whatever resource a city is ordained to produce.

The UCC found out early the best way to control their employees isn’t through brute force, but rather through their salaries. Nowhere will you see an authority as a show of physical strength. Now managers control the daily lives. Stepping out of line now results in the deduction of an already meager salary. The coats and ties of the manager class now are the symbols of control and order. The low level members of the population are slow to make direct shows of disobedience around their bosses, for fear of not being able to afford food for the next month.

But the hope for a brighter future isn’t completely lost. Though the rules may be stacked against outsiders earning their own capital, there exists an internal threat to the UCC. All it takes is some business savvy and a good-hearted CEO and the process of a complete reversal can begin.

See the fight to the end and make the world remember what it’s people have forgotten. Play within the rules of this new economic landscape, work hard to get complete ownership from the hands of those that would see the lives of the people squandered in to hard labor and change the world to restore the freedoms and protections of civil liberties.

Sammy Hajeer
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World background:

Humanity had been trying to create a cure for aging and had engineered a vaccine “miracle cure.” The cure was engineered using genesplicing which was effective for 58% of the population and was distributed by injection or an aerosol form. Suffice it to say, the cure mutated, and you have your generic zombie apocalypse. However, humans still survived.

To stave off an impending plague, humanity went to desperate measures. Major cities were bombed or abandoned. In the present time, the cities that are not nuclear craters in the ground are referred to as hives, and are feared and avoided. Overgrowth of plants and trees have started to encrust the hives, and as the infected residents build their homes, strange tower structures begin to form in the center of the hive cities. No one knows why they build them, and those that venture into the center of the hives never come back. Residents of these cities are mutated humanoid creatures that behave with hive-mind-like actions. This affects the way this class interacts with the player and environment. These classes group together and often have alpha characters that the other infected follow or protect.

Governments, in desperation, have created high-tech airtight city vaults that are run in a constant quarantine environment. To the people of the vault cities, all outsiders are impure and should be killed before they can spread the infection. Cities are ruled by fear of the outside. Originally these cities had tried to use advanced science to reverse the plague, but each attempt only created different mutations. The vault governments realized they were better off, with the threat of hives keeping the population in check, and started sabotaging their own attempts at a cure. Now they just occasionally nuke a hive and call it a purification initiative.

Humans from the outside, who were immune to the plague, formed bands and built survivor settlements that are beginning to grow. There is somewhat of a pioneer aspect to these settlements. No government exists outside of the vaults, but the settlements are beginning to communicate with each other. Rudimentary utilities, like phone and water lines are being installed, and mail is delivered between settlements. People are scrounging any old or new equipment they can to rebuild their lives. Volunteers form scavenging groups to venture into the hives and bring back old equipment or vehicles. Unfortunately, these settlements face opposition on multiple sides. From the hives they face monsters that consider them food; from the vaults they face tyrannical governments that shoot everything in sight.

Intro scene:

The story starts out with a black screen, and then a large crashing noise erupts. The player can now see bright sunlight streaming through a hole in the ceiling at the side of the screen. The player is given direction (through onscreen text) to rotate the game camera to look at the light. Then the player is directed to move towards the light where something is glittering on the floor. It is a broken video camera. This will be a major plot driver farther down the road. The player is directed to pick it up, learn the basic “use” button, and then escape from the dark prison through the new hole in the ceiling. The player learns various move and climb tutorial functions as he/she climbs out. Higher pitched grunts while climbing or incomprehensible muttering give hints that this character is female. When the player finally reaches the top, she realizes she is in a mostly destroyed building at the cusp of a large smoldering crater. The player sees a close objective at the edge of the crater: a small town with a strange tower structure in the middle. The path to the objective is mostly destroyed, and the player learns the rest of the move functions (jump, run, or crouch) she needs to get there.

When the player finally reaches the objective, a cutscene is enabled where the player is surrounded by infected residents. The infected do not immediately charge the player and seem confused. One of the larger infected starts to walk toward the player breathing hard and baring sharp teeth. However, before the infected can do anything, shots ring out in the distance, and all the infected scream /growl and run in the direction of the shots leaving the player behind.

After the cutscene/tutorial ends, maybe with some hint to put suspicion about the humanity of this character, the player takes control of an immune survivor traveling with a band of settlers heading towards a hive to scrounge equipment from the ruins. This is where the player first gets a gun. The player faces a smaller challenge, maybe mutated dogs or something, before being sent off to fight a horde of infected and maybe an encounter against some vault soldiers. The player will switch between playing the survivor settlers and the character from the tutorial. The Vault soldiers start to hunt for the character from the tutorial as the importance of the video footage on her camera drives the plot of the game. Eventually the settlers and the intro character will cross paths. Perhaps the intro character loses her camera and the settlers find it. This creates a point to reveal some secret that is on the tape and give a new goal for the settlers to strive for, either hint of a cure or a greater threat.

Motivation:

The vault government wants, or wants to destroy, any evidence that is on the camera from the tutorial, but first needs to find it. The horde wants to eat everything that crosses their path, but they will not venture to far from their hives. The settlers want to rebuild but are confronted with infected and vault soldiers who want to kill them. The tutorial character does not remember anything from her past but is being hunted by everyone except the settlers.

Asaph Wagner
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The all out war on Pleiades, a star cluster nearby Earth, has entered a clam. The different factions rebuild and prepare to the second wave of attack. Earth, an undiscovered planet until recently, may sway the war to one side for its massive population. The people of Earth, under a shadow war between various governments and rogue organizations, received delegates of different alien cultures to trade weapons and technology for manpower.

Even with the relative calm of Pleiades, the shadow war doctrine of Earth moved to the cluster. Because there are 7 factions fighting each other, they fear to start a full scale war. If they would, they will be weak and be razed quickly after. Small proxy wars at border colonies and terrorist acts are quite common.

The people of Earth were given some perks by the visitors. The world's ozone layer has been fixed. The reliance on fossil fuel changed to sun relays bringing the sun power directly to all applications. Even with these accomplishments, the most notable one is turning the cars obsolete. The aliens brought technology fairly common in their cluster; three-story high robot suits nicknamed Spirits. While they can't reach atmosphere exiting velocity, the military-grade Spirits range between stealth, massive fire power and great armor among other things.

The technology of Pleiades did not end with just these luxuries. They could use the DNA strings to form cellular computers. These computers ran Algorithms. The Algorithms can perform from different actions from fast learning to igniting the air around you.

The Pleiadites used the heavy increase of population to take their broken civilizations to new heights and in relatively short time. The Earth-born, as called, were always felt inferior to the aliens while giving a fair shot in the new societies. As on earth, they did not get along with other Earth-born aligning themselves with other factions.

Many religious people of Earth have lost their faith, and many other joined new ones like mushrooms after the rain. Some of these communities relocated to Pleiades believing this may be the afterlife. Earth-born adventurers and mercenaries left to seek fortune and glory in the sector. Piracy operations by the Earth-born became more common.

A game in this world will tell the story of an Earth-born from Earth, looking for self-redemption in Pleiades. The player will be able to customize his/her player character, his/her Spirit and his/her Ship as the story progresses. Combat sections of both character and Spirit are third person action RPG.

The story of the game will mainly focus of the upcoming second wave of war on Pleiades and the involvement of both Earth and Earth-born. The player will be able to choose a side out of the 7 to fight for early in the game. Also with time, they will be able to hire crew for the ship when available and NPC to fight alongside you.

Altug Isigan
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Stitch, (or, the fabric nightmares are made of).

The idea of the world of Stitch is inspired by the wonderful art of the illustrator and designer Paula Sanz Caballero (http://www.paulasanzcaballero.com) (http://vimeo.com/32413730).

Stitch presents to the player an illusionary 3D world in which visuals (textures, characters, figures and ground, UI elements etc) are made of 2D fabric and fibers (wool, cotton, linen etc). Its fabric nature gives it a distinct style and interesting features that we cannot observe in much of the video games out there.

In Stitch, our goal is to find out about the secret of a semi-organic semi artificial smart fabric that killed its creator (a biogenetics engineer with a knack for fashion) and started to build a parallel world made of fabrics and fibers (it felt humans have no taste and thought it must do something about it). We are introduced to this problem as a detective who is asked to solve the murder/suicide (?) case of this fashion designer/engineer (his dead body has been found half flesh half fabric in his lab). During our lab investigation we are "teleported" by the "brain fabric" into the fabric world of Stitch. Now we must manage to get out of there, before we can then burn the lab with the "brain fabric" in it and restore world peace.

The parallel world in Stitch consists of two layers: The Fabric World, and the Undercoat. In the Fabric World we fight against enemies made of cotton, wool, nylon and other fabrics and fibers. Our weapons are overlock pistols, scissors, irons etc. We can use zippers to escape into the Undercoat when we find ourselves in a really desperate situation, but we have to remove the zipper before enemies can follow us into it. Plus, it may be difficult to find a zipper in the Undercoat that allows us to go back to the Fabric World.

The Undercoat is home to the "Fashionistas", a place where weird fashion factions can be found that uprised against the "Tasteless Master"s aesthetics. Some of the factions may help you, others may see you as a threat(d?), so being in the Undercoat can be good and bad.

Before we can kill the ordinary enemy type in Stitch, we have to sew it on another object in the environment close to it, so that it cannot move. We can then cut its head off with a pair of scissors. But there are many types of fabric that enemies are made of, and the best weapon actually depends on the fabric type: For example synthetic fabrics are very vulnerable to the heat and steam of irons, whereas woolen enemies can be simply "diswoven" into a wool ball if we possess the appropriate weapon (a fish rod like device).

One of the bosses in the game is the Magician, a guy who pulls out pieces of fabric out of his hat. These would instantly become enemies, so it's very important that we kill a Magician as soon as we see him, or he will constantly produce new enemies and unleash them on us. Magicians are usually very quick and know a lot of pockets to hide in. We can sew a Magician into the pocket though, if we manage to locate his hiding place.

There is no health in the world of Stitch. Instead you use patches.

Guy Hasson
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Hi Altug,

Please send your entry to guyhasson at gmail dot com, as well, so that I'll have your email in case you win.

Btw, at least two people sent entries to the mail that were not posted here. Please remember, everyone, to post here AND to send an email.

Guy

Altug Isigan
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Thanks Guy, my e-mail should have reached you already :)

Marius Holstad
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The world. Madness. The forest surrounding the little town was mysteriously secretive with its sounds. The wind stroke the leaves gently, making them silently sing their rustling song. The town stood silent against the wind. Only the sound of the Inn's partly detached wiggling sign could be heard in the empty streets. The town was gathered in the Meeting hall.

The people of this town was just like in any other town. Rumors had it that someone or something had started seeding some new strange seeds. New thoughts. You see, people of this town, people of any town, are born with blank minds. Fresh soil. Through childhood and education seeds are planted. Seeds that will grow into plants. Plants that reflect how humans think, how their mind work. These plants are located at the top of our heads. Some minds grow beautiful roses, others poison ivies. Each person has a special flower, a special gift, a talent, abilities. Each person is special, but someone or something is now uprooting peoples minds, resetting their soil and planting new dangerous seeds.

We lived in harmony, but the town has changed. We now receive reports of people being assaulted by monsters with plants so vicious that people wither in fear just by the thought of them. The town is gathered to discuss this situation. Someone will have to change the town back to the way it was. Someone will have to venture into the forest and figure out what is going on and stop whatever is causing this. It could be anyone. It could be anything. It could even be the Major himself.

Life starts when we start growing a garden. Imagine what madness can do.

In the style of great animators like Tim Burton and Walt Disney, you'll have to use your power, your flower, to fight off people whose minds have become tainted. While uncovering the mysteries of the forest you'll gather new seeds, giving you new powers/flowers to explore. The town depends on you. Stop this revolution before it gets out of hand.

Comment:
The world, the plot, the game-mechanics. They all fit together perfectly, telling a story through actions and not dialogue. The seeds metaphorically represent ideas. The ideas give you powers, some of which you will never explore, hence leaving dozens of "closed doors". The game is about finding the right ideas. The threat is of course bad ideas and brainwashing, alluding to totalitarian revolutions. This text is stripped of characters (paradoxical pun), but in a real game the characters' mental development, which can be seen physically in their flowers, would be the development driving the story forwards. The characters would of course have something at stake, forcing the player to take hard decisions. In addition to the individual characters, we can view the town as a whole. How mad the town becomes depends on how many people you manage to save from insanity.

Adam Rebika
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Excuse me if I make a few mistakes, English isn't my native language.
Here's my entry :

Dulla is a planet orbiting a very small and cold red dwarf star. It is actually so close to its star that the planet‘s rotation got stuck by tidal locking (like between the Earth and the Moon), meaning that there is one half always facing their sun, while the other is always facing outer space. The planet itself is roughly the size of the Earth, has an atmosphere, oceans and lands and temperatures pretty much in the same range that what you can find on our own.
Yet, it is actually very different from our home world. First, the planet is actually so close to is star that it rotates around it at insane speeds. Those who live in the “night” part don’t see stars, only white stripes on a black background. Those who live in the “day” see no sky, only red flames above their heads.
The “day” area is very hot, and most of it is covered by desert continents or warm seas with lush islands where huge fern-like plants grow. The “night” area is much colder, most of it covered by snow, and the only vegetation that grows there are small mushrooms and lichens.
Between the two areas is the “dusk” area, where even though the sun does not cover the whole sky, it emits enough light to conceal the stars and to help plants grow. It is temperate, humid, and all sorts of plants grow there. In the numerous deep canyons of that area, protected from the wind, huge tree-like fungus grow by clinging to the cliffs, with the goal to have their spores reach the top where the winds will take them to other canyons.
At the point furthest from their sun, the place where all the storms caused by the difference in temperatures between the day and night areas meet is a huge, everlasting hurricane, covering up to one fifth of the planet.

The local dominating species is a sort of big scorpion-like creature. They measure 6 to 9 feet in length, for less than 3 feet high. They have six legs, two big arms with claw-like hands, prehensile tentacles around their mouths and three long prehensile tails. They have six eyes, four of them facing downward. Their intelligence seems to be similar to that of humans, and they communicate through movements and small clapping sounds. They are divided in three groups:
• The burning ones, living in the day areas. They have a red skin, and are bigger and stronger than the other groups. They live alone or in small tribes, and are extremely territorial. They are seen like wild and violent creatures by the other species, and are often hunted for fun by the climbing ones.
• The climbing ones originate from the canyons of the dusk area. Having the best living conditions, they quickly became the most numerous and powerful group on the planet, digging huge underground cities and communication networks between their canyons but also towards the other areas of the planets. They are the smallest of the species, with brownish skin and longer and more agile limbs than the other ones. They also are very religious, praying the gods of rain and clouds for hope that the winds never bring the fire or the cold to their lands.
• The stripped ones are the second most numerous species. They live in the night area. They are black and paint white strips over their bodies, as a tribute to their gods that they see in the strips in their sky. They live in big covered cities to protect themselves from the winds and the cold.
• The unstripped ones, a group of stripped ones who refuse to put strips. They have more rational minds, and rely more on technology. They’re a small yet fast growing minority, and they seem to be the best candidates to the role of next dominating species.

For a very long times the climbing ones have dominated the planet, even though very few of them settled outside of their birth area, as they had no interest in invading lands that are not suited for them.
But recently, the unstripped ones have had very fast technological progress, reaching something similar to our current era – except nothing related to space exploration or flight. One of them has created the first telescopes, and realized that the strips they see are actually very far away and very bright dots – stars. This news spread like wildfire, and caused a lot of unrest among the thoroughly religious population, who until then did not even consider the idea of anything existing above their head except fire or strips.
These news, added to rumors that a creature from another world recently came, is rapidly reshaping the populations’ social structures and creating a lot of tensions both between and inside each group.

The player is a human explorer who crashed on this planet. While he landed on the sunlit face, it seems his beacon has landed on the other side of the planet. He will have to reach it by crossing half a world that he knows nothing of, with no weapon and very basic equipment.
The game will be centered on exploring all the environments of the planet, finding your way through them by platforming and puzzles solving. No fighting, no real communication with the native population except trying to understand how they feel with you around – aggressive, curious, afraid… - and how you should react to avoid trouble or benefit from it. Allthe data specific to the groups and relations between them will have to be understood by the player through careful observation – if he wishes to do so.
This shall bring the player an opportunity to explore a world alien to his one, and to observe a civilization and landscapes nothing like he knows. Alone, with no one to talk to or to fight with, yet surrounded by weird beings that he cannot understand – and that cannot understand each other despite living on the same planet.

Anthony Sladky
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The World

This is a world in which magic is a powerful, pervasive energy source. The world is steeped in magic, and all but the lowest castes of society have some faculty with magic.

However, prolonged use of magic causes mutations related to the spells cast. For example, casting fire-related spells all the time would eventually lead to your hands always being on fire.

Because of this trait of magic, the most powerful sorcerers cease to be even remotely human and become magical creatures, analogous to dragons or elementals. Similar fates await those who live in prolonged service to powerful sorcerers.

Magic applies to nature in a similar manner. Evolution has favored magical animals. Solitary animals often have one or two magical tricks to aid hunting or protect them from predation. Social creatures often have their own “sorcerers”, the alphas of the packs that can cast 'spells' on the rest of the pack.

Magic is a 'sticky' energy source. In places where it was used a lot (e.g. big magical battles or sorcerers surrendering the last of their humanity), there tends to be a residual magical energy, making those places into Places of Power, in which there is simply more magic to draw from, making it easier to cast bigger spells there, until the residual magic gets used up.

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Society

Magic use is common, and a powerful command of it is necessary for any sort of leadership role. Attempting to rule a city-state or lead an army without being a powerful magician is a good way to quickly get deposed by someone more powerful.

The fact that powerful magic is a necessity to rule and that powerful magic tends to remove a person from human cares like power means that attempts to build empires usually fall apart when their leadership transcends humanity. Thus, city-states and small principalities are usually the largest political units.

There is little standardization. Non-magical science, social progress and education advance with glacial slowness. Each city-state has its own religion, centered around their lead sorcerer as either a god or high priest to a previous leader who is no longer human (and thus, divine).

The technological stagnation does not, however, prevent monumental architecture. As long as even small city-states are ruled by sorcerers with god complexes, elaborate palaces, fortresses, and wonders are common sights, even in relatively small city-states.

Division of magic ability has led to a rigid caste system. Though distributions of the castes and mobility from caste-to-caste vary from city to city, the basic hierarchy looks something like this:
1. At the top are Sorcerers. These are the aristocracy of the world. They have the raw magical potential and the resources required to learn a wide variety of spells. These are the type most likely to eventually become magic creatures.
2. The next level down are Casters. They are less powerful than sorcerers and are unlikely to master more than a handful of spells. They often serve as officers in Sorcerers' armies or bureaucrats.
3. Glamours are the artisans. They have one spell they are able to use, or a narrow family of spells. Because this one spell tends to be their livelihood, Glamours tend to become permanently enchanted. For example, many professional thieves and assassins are Glamours, and it is not uncommon to run into a thief who is stuck completely invisible.
4. Receivers are the peasants. They are unable to cast magic of their own, but they are highly susceptible to it. This makes them useful as grunt infantry when city-states go to war, as the officers can easily enchant whole platoons.

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Sample City-States

The Tower: Named for the magic academy at its center, the Tower is a very populous city. It is a hub of trade, with merchants bringing magical artifacts from all over the world across the relatively safe lands around the Tower and selling these artifacts for high prices to the scholars of the city-state. Due to the academic nature of the Tower, the city-state's High Sorcerers tend to transcend humanity very quickly, leading to a perpetually unstable political landscape.

At the heart of the Blacktree Forest sits The Clearing, ruled by the powerful Sorceress known as “The Mother of Trees” or “The Dryad”. She views her subjects with a highly protective, maternal hand, and has been steadily enchanting the surrounding forests to serve as an impenetrable wall full of murderous plants and deadly predators, keeping out invaders from the outside world, but also trade. The forest is ever-so-slowly expanding towards a neighboring city-state. The magic to keep the forest under such tight control is slowly turning the Mother of Trees wooden, like an Ent or Dryad.

The Giant's Spine is built on the back of a humongous, human-shaped peninsula. Some say an ancient band of sorcerers bound a giant with spells that turned him to stone to found the city; others say a bookish geomancer coerced the earth into this shape so he could say he built the city upon a giant he slew. The Sorcerer Kings of the Giant's Spine have traditionally been savage warriors who used their magic to enhance their abilities to fight up close and personal rather than avoid it. The Arena is central to life on the Spine, and no day of bloodshed is complete without a display of the High Sorcerer's ferocity. When he finishes his slaughter, the whole mountain quakes, as though the king's magic causes the giant himself pain.

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Gameplay Idea:

I picture a game in this world casting the player as an up-and-coming sorcerer attempting to make his or her mark on the world. Perhaps they will attempt to take over one of the city-states. Perhaps they will try to build an empire, or rush to become a powerful magical creature and simply do whatever they want without caring about humanity at all anymore.

Faye Windsor-Smith
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LISP

BASIC
Inhabitants of LISP can hear, smell and to some extent feel other people, but can't see them very often. The world synchronises at midnight every night, creating a collaborative environment that is then seen by everyone. Between midnight and midnight, however, any one sentient inhabitant will not be able to see anyone else's changes. For example; you and Annie share neighbouring farms. You chat to Annie throughout the day, as you dilligently dig some holes to plant tomatoes near to the boundary line. Day turns to night, and you and Annie both retire to your respective beds. In the morning, you walk outside to find that Annie has dug an irrigation ditch running right through the area in which you planted your tomatoes, so all your work from yesterday was ruined. You can't see Annie, but you hear her asking if you like her brand spanking new irrigation ditch. She knows that you can now see it, since your worlds have been homogenised, but she doesn't know that you were also cultivating that area, as the ditch has overridden the tomato holes.

COMMUNICATION/SEX

Lisponians mainly communicate oral/aural-ly. They keep up an almost constant babble when alone, so as to let others who may be wandering by know that they are there. Being visually all alone in the world can get pretty lonely, so Lisponians welcome any excuse for a good chat, and tend to be very open and honest when involved in one. They also love poetry and singing, and many an epic tale is well-known throughout the land, and repeated ad infinitum. New songs sweep through the countryside very quickly, and songwriters are the biggest celebrities.

Even with the constant chatter, it still sometimes happens that two individuals will end up sharing the same physical space. When unexpected, this is considered largely unpleasant, but it's generally accepted that it's an unfortunate accident. When two Lisponians get close, they may choose to share the same space... this intimacy is akin to sex, though with obvious differences. Couples are generally referred to as 'hearing each other' rather than seeing. Lisponians can see each other, but can only see a static image of the other individual, as they were at the previous midnight. Particularly vain Lisponians may spend hours before midnight prettying themselves, whereas insecure ones take care to be locked away out of sight.

Reproduction is a shady business, conducted with the help of government-run sperm banks.

HABITAT

Due to difficulties in communication, technological advancement is mainly confined to LISP's capital city. Most Lisponians, however, live in the countryside. Each individual can request (or, in practice, receives as a matter of course) a portion of land, clearly marked, within which they can assume to be the only person making changes, and hence that after the midnight synchronisation their changes should still be current. As all sentient creatures are both invisible and affected by the synchronisation, however, most people tend to stick to farming vegetables and grains, and the vast majority of Lisponians are vegetarian.

Travel is difficult, and so the area of inhabited land is not widely known. It is believed, however, that the population is pretty small, and quite centralised.

TECHNOLOGY/EDUCATION/RELIGION

Inhabitants of this world are not quite sure of the criteria used to select which changes will be carried forwards if two or more people have made changes that counteract each other. The topic is the subject of hot debate; some Lisponians believe that it is evidence of a higher power deliberately interfering for the better of the people, whilst others favour scientific research. LISP's prestigious (and only) university runs tests daily, and conducts lectures between 11pm and 1am, so that any diagrams needed can be explained and produced over the midnight synchronisation. Every so often the diagrams will be overridden by crude drawings... although this is more often a problem at the schools than the university, and is sniggeringly considered 'an experiment' by the more precocious children.

Technological and intellectual developments are made difficult (stunted) by synchronisation, so the vast majority of LISP is agricultural and, maybe, a little backward.

ECONOMY/INFRASTRUCTURE/GOVERNMENT

The average Lisponian has little contact with or knowledge of their government. The only standard contact is when applying for children and being apportioned land; both of these are conducted mainly through official documents/letters. Special government couriers are considered prestigious outsiders in the agricultural districts.

The economy is pretty localised, as most Lisponians strive to grow their own food and are generally self-sufficient. Local markets are held in which nearby inhabitants can trade for luxury items, but these are few and far between, as they must range over several days to ensure goods are synchronised correctly both before and after being sold.

HISTORY

Synchronisation means that various historical sites have been unwittingly destroyed. Whereas previous schools of thought tended to hold that Synchronisation was intended to remake the world daily, and that therefore history was not that important, new thinkers with less belief in a higher power are now surfacing, and doing their best to preserve certain areas of national interest. As protection generally necessitates living on site, archaeological pioneers are generally seen as curious fanatics by the local communities. The general population still seems to prefer living 'in the now'.

SUGGESTED USAGE

Initially the player would take control of an agricultural Lisponian with little knowledge about most of the aspects discussed above, and maybe have a few days getting used to LISP and its synchronisation, talking to a few neighbours, and learning to use sound a little more than in reality. I'd like to see a change from quite a clean-living, sociable, small-town vibe to something quite threatening, and I think the atmosphere would work well if there were some kind of murderer on the loose. Since blood and other excretions can only be seen the day after they leave the body of the living, the player would hear atrocities happening before they could see them. If, for example, your tomato-ruining neighbour Annie were to be murdered in the afternoon, the player would hear a series of screams, and then be forced to suffer a lack of communication until midnight, when they'd be able to see a blood trail starting from the area right next to where the player was earlier working, and leading into her house. The murderer is assumed to be bending the rules of synchronicity somewhat, leading the player character to explore their conception of LISP.

PROS/CONS

Reliance on aural/oral communication could work well to immerse the player in the world (especially if combined with motion sensitive controller formats?), but LISP's rules will have to be set forth, which could take time to do unobtrusively. The delay between hearing and seeing could help create a claustrophobic, tense and memorable play experience, and synchronisation could be used both as an interesting plot device, and engaging play mechanic. It would be easy to make this world into a very dystopian, closely-controlled setting, but I think in the current climate it would be more novel to have the player faced with challenges they must solve whilst relatively isolated, and constantly battling through the protagonist's naivete.

Tristan Angeles
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The World of Hellespoint

The first thing any person see as he steps into the spaceport of Hellespoint is the crimson glow emitted by the world's atmosphere(in fact this low permeates everything in the world so that almost everything an inhabitant sees will be tinted with a crimson hue). This reddish glow coupled with an almost perpetual drizzle creates what the natives of the world call the 'tears of blood'. People describe Hellespoint as ' a world trapped in time' and this title is given rightfully so, as a traveller journeying across Hellespoint will find structures dating back across all eras of human civilization. These structures, an uninformed traveller will observe will not be as weathered by time as he expects, and in fact they look quite new.The structures were made by the inhabitants of Hellespoint. Both the living and the dead.
Above Hellespoint is a massive, swirling storm. It is from this storm which comes The Bound. The bound are the souls of people who have passed away. Once in a while the storm will let loose a barrage of souls(in the hundreds), and these souls will be seen falling from the sky in flames. A traveller seeing this event for the first time will find it magnificent and scary as hundreds of fiery souls fall down to the earth screaming.
No one knows why the the storm above Hellespoint sends out this barrage of souls, and when the bound are asked what is in the other side of the storm they can't remember.

Hellespoint, the Storm, and the Bound War
A long time ago, Hellespoint was just like any other world colonized by humanity but somewhere along its history something went awry. The natives of the world said that it was an experiment gone wrong or something, but whatever happened it changed the fate of the small planet. The massive storm which appeared above Hellespoint sent hundreds of the bound to the surface of the planet. The bound found themselves hungry, and growing mad with hunger they found that they could feed on the will of the living. Thus started the Bound War. During the bound war, the living found that their weapons did not have any effect on the bound and they found themselves on the losing end of the war. Fortunately, one of the living scientists found a way of 'binding' a soul to a living being so that a soul does not need to feed constantly(and thus not grow mad with hunger). Using this process, both the living and the dead lived in symbiosis(the living gaining some special abilities during the process as well). The tide of war was turned as the souls found that binding with a host was better than killing them(they were still thinking like humans after all).

The Unbound
When a soul falls down to the surface they are immediately beset by a very strong hunger. If a soul cannot find a host in time, it grows mad and forgets that it was once human or dead and feeds on both. The inhabitants of the world call them the Unbound and they pose the greatest danger to all life and unlife in Hellespoint.

The City of Hellespoint
The city of Hellespoint is the center of the world, It is a massive circular city that extends underground and inhabited by both the living and the bound. At the center of the city(and almost directly below the eye of the storm) is the Panoptica, a rotating orb floating above the city(at the center). It is here from which the rest of the world is kept in order.

Architecture
The architecture of most of the buildings in Hellespoint is similar to most buildings found in 1950s New York(or during the great depression), but with some cyberpunk technology thrown here and there. There are also gothic styled buildings like cathedrals with spires reaching up to the skies. Generally all types of architecture can be found in the city because of the bound

Other parts of the world
The Reich
To the south of the world is the Reich. A totalitarian state built by Adolph Hitler when he fell to Hellespoint. Adolph found a weak willed host and went to work again. There are rumors that the Reich is experimenting with technology to control the unbound.

Games set in this world
The games set in this world will have a film-noir feeling to them. A stereotypical story would start with: ‘It is a dark and stormy night..(the soul storm). The hero would be a private detective who finds an unlikely client in a girl who enters his office drenched in the ‘tears of blood’,and the game begins..

Ruston Coutinho
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This is my entry. I call it “Organia”. It is set in the same earth that we know, but in a distant future.

HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION

Long ago, a meteor containing an alien lifeform was discovered in the frozen wastes of Arctic sea. This life form would be named organocyte, and, not long after its discovery, it was found that organocytes could bind themselves with the genetic code of most lifeforms on earth, including humans, and grant them great regenerative abilities. This caused a great scientific revolution, as several medical conditions that were once thought to be incurable or untreatable were promptly healed by this new life form. No disease was incurable, lost limbs could be grown, paraplegic and tetraplegic people could walk again, all thanks to the organocytes. It didn’t take long for organocytes to start being mass produced, despite warnings from several scientists about the dangers of using something of alien origin that was not properly tested.

Soon, organocytes were being used as a form of cosmetic surgeries as well. Men and women who wanted to improve their physical traits were abandoning traditional cosmetic surgery and starting to use organocytes as well. At first, people just wanted simple things like a prettier nose, or to cure balding , but it would eventually be found that organocytes could also used to grant people traits that would be only available in other species of the earth. Traits such as bat wings, horns or cat eyes were readily available, provided you could afford it. These improvements would go beyond the cosmetic aspect, and people would start using organocytes to transcend their own limits. Things like Improved strength, improved sense of smell, improved hearing, a skin as hard as a crocodile scales, soon became the most consumed type of organocyte-induced augmentation. People no longer wanted to just heal themselves or get prettier. They wanted to transcend the very concept of humanity. This completely changed the human society.

Governments all over the world, seeing the political advantages that having a population with organocyte implants (since it meant, at least in theory, a healthier and more productive population), enacted laws that made mandatory the use of organocytes by the populations under their rule, with the argument that organocytes would be used to improve the living conditions of the people. Meanwhile, another startling discovery about organocytes was made: they could be used to make completely artificial lifeforms and organic objects from scratch. It did not take long for organocytes to end up replacing several objects used in the daily lives of many people. Computers, cars, planes, highrise buildings were no longer made using traditional materials. They now were made of organocytes, and they vastly outperformed and outlasted their equivalents made of synthetic materials, and also had a unique organic look and feel to them. They were no longer mere objects. They were alive.

The crackdown by the world’s governments on the people who refused to have organocytes implanted on them grew more intense as time passed. The punishments for not complying with mandatory organocyte implants became increasingly harsh. Most of the world’s governments had turned into totalitarian dictatorships by this point. Meanwhile, the world’s armies were using organocytes to produce a new generation of devastating weapons and a new type of army. An army in which each soldier and each organocyte lifeform are living weapons of mass destruction.

Eventually conflicts broke out among the nations of the world. Using of diplomatic subterfuges and false flag operations to justify their causes, these nations went to war, and laid waste to one another using new terrifying organocyte-based weapons. It was a war that none of these nations would win, but they would all end up annihilating one another.

The world as we knew it ended. However, many of the weapons used in the war are still alive, and they still roam their former battlefields (be they vast open fields littered with the dead bodies of organocyte-based life forms used for combat, or vast cities made of organocyte-based skyscrapers) eliminating any poor soul that wanders in their path. Many of the survivors of the conflict resort to use the same organocytes that were used to devastate the world in order to protect themselves from those living weapons, or in order to have the upper hand in their conflicts against other survivors. Also, while organocytes were once widely available, today they are no longer manufactured, meaning that they have become an increasingly rare and valuable resource.

Also, while organocytes are considered valuable, their use, however, can also have a wide variety of side effects, which range from mild headaches to transformation into horrible feral beasts devoid of any sentience.This is something that puzzles many survivors today, since there is no notice of such consequences from before the war.


GAMEPLAY POSSIBILITIES.

I envision this as a world of action, where the player character will have to make good use of the organocytes available to him or her in order to survive. The organocytes themselves can be used both as weapons and as special abilities by the player (and the fact that organocytes can also have detrimental side-effects can provide interesting gameplay possibilities).. Players can also expect epic battles against huge organocyte creatures (in the case of action games, for example). Also, due to the ascension of organocyte based technology, players can expected a very different look (rather alien, to be honest) to several very known places in the world. It is a world well suited for an action game or a RPG, for example.

Thomas O'Neil
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The Story of Mark Jepson McCreary


Clive Lightship rode into Dustbowl on the back of his faithful steed, Packie. Packie was just like any other loyal mount, except that Packie was an eight foot high land squid with a gimpy eye and three missing tentacles. Lightship tied Packie up to a post outside the bar and warned him not to eat any of the other men's horses. He was going inside for a drink.

Clive strode confidently up to the bar and ordered one whiskey, no ice. Ice was a luxury out here in Dustbowl, and one cube was liable to run you 6000 smackers. Instead, it was the local custom to order one's whiskey on the rocks.

“Sandstone or granite?” the bartender asked.

“Granite.”

“Real men drink sandstone. Puts a little grit in your stomach.”

Lightship didn't acknowledge the comment, and the bartender loaded two lumps of crushed granite into Lightship's drink. As Lightship sipped at his drink, some loud, heavy footsteps and the jangle of spurs came up behind him.

A shadow darkened the bar in front of Lightship. “Your in my seat,” a gruff voice said behind him.

Clive didn't say anything, but instead stared into his glass.

“You're in my seat,” the voice said again.

“Am I?” Clive said, starting to stand up, “Well, why don't you just --”

Clive Lightship's head exploded in a flash of light. The man with the gruff voice holstered his pistol, pushed Lightship's lifeless corpse on to the floor and ordered a drink.

“Whiskey,” he said, taking his seat, “Sandstone. No ice.”

Nobody in the bar seemed to care about Lightship. That's because this story isn't about Lightship. This story is about the man calmly sipping whiskey and sandstone out of a glass at the bar. This story is about the infamous space bandit Mark Jepson McCreary.


Dustbowl provides the setting for a western themed sci-fi adventure staring space bandit Mark Jepson McCreary. The world of McCreary is supposed to push the envelope of believability and immersion in a comedic atmosphere.

The setting of Dustbowl is not unlike that of a conventional western in that that environment is heavily desert based, and the town itself is a ramshackle collection of buildings along a central main street. After an initial introduction, however, the player is rapidly introduced to elements that suggest Dustbowl is based on an alien world. The natural flora and fauna are exuberant in style and color, and many of the town residents are anthropomorphic creatures wearing traditional western garb.


A stick of dynamite exploded in front of McCreary, sending a spray of dust and gravel over the large rock that he and his sidekick, Squibb, were using for cover.

“Now you listen here, Larry. I said I'm coming for what's in that mine, and I ain't leaving without it.”

“This mine is mine,” Larry shouted over the explosions, “and this mine is fine and I'll mine my fine mine 'till the end of time.” Larry continued to scream in between maniacal laughs.

Squibb lowered his head, “This guy's insane, boss.”

Another explosion shook the ground in front of the rock.

Prospector Larry's dezendust mine sat on top of a large hill, a hill that Larry was presently using as a vantage point to fling explosives at McCreary and Squib.

“We need to move now. Squibb, can you scuttle?”

Squibb stood on all fours, stretching his eight slender arms. “Yes, boss. I can scuttle.”

“Good. On the count of three, I'm going to draw his fire. You climb up there and take him out.”

Another explosion, this one closer to its mark.

“Ready Squibb? One... two... three!”


The characters are the driving force behind the Story of Mark Jepson McCreary. Because both the world and the terrain of Dustbowl are so bright, so too must the characters be excessively vibrant. This is done not only through their artistic design (Prospector Larry himself appears to be some sort of cross between an old, Grey-haired man and a bowl of blueberry pudding), but also through their archetypal personalities. Dustbowl's citizens are made up of stock characters, with important characters exaggerating these qualities to absurd degrees. The insane prospector, the apathetic barkeep and the cowardly merchant are just several of the common western archetypes that could make an appearance in Dustbowl. M.J. McCreary, despite his position of space bandit, is possibly one of the more level-headed characters, in order that the player might better identify with the main character.

The Story of Mark Jepson McCreary is supposed to introduce the player to a world that is primarily categorized as “fun.” Through the use of good writing and narrative, I believe that it is possible for the player to become fully immersed in the setting of an alien planet's western frontier. This immersion will eventually allow the player to take Dustbowl's natural and cultural oddities for granted and fully enjoy the story of Mark Jepson McCreary as a snippet of a larger alien world that begs to be fully explored and discovered.

david sawyer
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The alliance is decayed.

Old hatreds are rekindling.

Across the stars our home dies.

The Old One warns of a mission forgotten.

It is the reason why we came here, the reason we must fight with each other once again.

I have never beheld the wonders of our world. I came into being here. It is all I have ever known.

Our creations, those that helped us gather, those that helped us survive, our equals, are being enslaved and exterminated by my kin.

Their madness must be stopped.

The humans must be freed.

Those who will remember the truth must be united.

Our empty vessels still orbit above. There are portals still open.

There is still hope.

These are the last wishes of The Old One here in the East.

As the light leaves him, I recite our creed “This is not the origin, nor is this the end, we are of another, of her we remember, and for her we live”

I fear I face this task alone.

Somehow I know I am wrong.

WORLD

Prehistory Earth, the descendants of the beings that came here to gather precious metals are facing war with each other.

The stories of the Old Ones tell of a distant home, a noble mission and a betrayal that left their ships locked in a continuous orbit, and most of the crews marooned on the surface.

In desperation they blended themselves with native life forms to try to ensure something of them would continue.

Thus the humans came into being, a new struggle ensued and their dying home, was almost forgotten.

Edwin Rhodes
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Welcome to St. Petersburg, Russia. It is 2091 A.D. A mob has gathered in Red Square to protest the government sanctioned destruction of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. The protest in St. Petersburg is just one of many across the whole of the nation. The protesters are calling for the resignation of Russian President Alexander Vodnik, who sanctioned the destruction of the cathedral in order to add a new market district. The proposed destruction of the cathedral was just the most recent in a laundry list of corruption charges that the people were making against their venerable leader. Eventually the protests in St. Petersburg grew violent and Russian security forces opened fire. Thirty nine people were killed and another fifty seven injured. Among the dead were a couple, Vasiliy and Zara Agonskaya, the parents of Anatoly Agonskaya. After hearing of his parents’ death, young Anatoly became a drifter.
He eventually wound up in Moscow, but he had no means of support so he turned to crime. He became involved in the Russian Mafia at an early age. As the years went on, Anatoly began to distinguish himself among the other thugs. He could coordinate raids, and developed a knack for intimidating public officials. These traits caused him to rise through the ranks quite quickly. He eventually became a boss of sorts in Moscow, but he had higher ambitions. He wanted political power.
Unfortunately for Anatoly, the world went through a technological revolution in the first two decades of the twenty second century. These advances in technology led to mainly military applications like robotic soldiers, directed energy weapons, and unmanned vehicles. Suddenly, with the world’s military and security forces becoming more and more automated, Anatoly found corrupting public officials much harder. However, these new technologies also provided a new opportunity for the Russian Mafia.
The rise in military might across the globe also sparked a rise in nationalism. The rise in nationalism reopened old wounds between neighbors like age old territorial disputes. It even created some new ones like the constant trade disputes between the east and west over the resources needed to manufacture such advanced military equipment. Eventually, these disputes became so ubiquitous that they polarized the two main groups involved, the powers of Western Europe and the powers of East Asia. The polarization created two new alliance systems, The European Confederate States and the United Federation of Asian Republics. With the alliance systems in place the disputes now became more aggressive. Threats of military intervention by both sides were made in Iran when a new targeting system for a satellite based laser was stolen. Each side blamed the other until, in 2167, the third world war began.
Russia joined the United Federation of Asian Republics, and Anatoly saw an opportunity. Europe was small, and everyone believed it would quickly be overwhelmed. Anatoly believed that when U.F.A.R. crushed Europe he could spread his influence in the war torn areas much easier than he could in Russia. So, he volunteered for the new Russian divisions in the U.F.A.R. military. The early battles seemed to prove Anatoly right. U.F.A.R.’s vast numbers were able to sweep aside the Europeans on the plains of the Middle East and the Steppe of Eastern Europe and Russia. However, as the fighting took to the cities and mountains of Europe, U.F.A.R.’s pace slowed dramatically. The war became a metal grinder in the constrained city streets, tight mountain passes, and many river crossings of Europe. This grinder eventually stalemated along the Oder River in the north and the Danube River in the south. The stalemate was unbreakable for sixteen years as each side pumped massive resources into maintaining the conflict. This stalemate brought about frantic research by both sides in an attempt to create a new weapon that could break the stalemate. The Europeans, under Dr. Stanislaw, successfully melded robotics and the human brain in the first cyborgs. While robots now dominated the militaries of each side, neither had developed particularly intelligent artificial intelligence. With the advent of combat cyborgs humanity once again returned to the battlefield. They were so effective that they began to push U.F.A.R. back.
In desperation, U.F.A.R. scientists began to experiment with laboratory synthesized hallucinogens in order to create “super soldiers.” Anatoly volunteered to be a test subject in one of these experiments in the hopes that as a super soldier he could finally crush the Europeans. Anatoly became experiment number six, six, seven using a derivative of dimethyltryptamine. The substance heretofore had only been ingested illegally or by religious groups as a means of connecting with their gods. In Anatoly’s case though, it seemed to work scientifically. He could manipulate matter by interacting with it from another plane as if he had gained some kind of innate skill through his experience with the substance. With the success of experiment six, six, seven Anatoly was renamed Codename Romanov. He was the one true success that U.F.A.R. managed to produce in their experiments with synthesized hallucinogens. Codename Romanov was immediately sent off to the Moscow Garrison as the European cyborgs were advancing on the city.
When the cyborgs reached Moscow they found the city evacuated except for its garrison. Codename Romanov utterly destroyed the attacking cyborgs. His newfound abilities made it impossible for those who could not interact on multiple planes to defend against his attacks. The battle ended with the Europeans on the run and U.F.A.R.’s more “conventional” forces in close pursuit. After Moscow, the Europeans remained on the defensive until Codename Romanov forced the last few diehards in Iceland to capitulate in 2183. U.F.A.R. now dominated both Asia and Europe just as Anatoly had hoped. Europe was also a mess just as Anatoly had hoped.

Daniel Cuatt
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Grop has been ordained by the Living Crownfish to rule as King over both their kingdoms.
And that’s, well, okay.

--------

Grop's feet were soaking halfway up to his knees in what, until recently, was the loneliest pond in the capital. The thought of discovering any location without throngs of people put a small smile on Grop's face. Wherever everyone was, it certainly wasn't here. Which was surprising, considering just how many people were included in “everyone.” It was said that if the entire population of the city left their homes at the same time, the streets would sink further into the ground from the weight.

The water in the ponds here was supposed to help relieve tension and sooth his soul. Or sole. Grop was never sure what people meant about that. He hoped it would work on the latter, he thought, as he slipped off his boots. Grop couldn’t wait to get off his feet, mystical powers of the water or not. He plopped down at the edge and the water lapped at his ankles. He was just starting to feel relaxed, until an excited voice overpowered whatever effect the water was having.

"Grop? Hey Grop! You here for the coronation?"

"Traff? What are you doing here?"

"Like I said, the coronation! The Crownfish is going to surface, and choose the king! I somehow thought I could get close enough to see, but it was getting too crowded. Half the land is packed into the mirror lakes!"

"Too bad it wasn't the whole land. The other half was packed into the Ministry of Non-Aquatic Beasts. I must've been shunted into the wrong line five or six times."

"So you're not here for the coronation?"

"Nah, a guard gave me trouble for my mule's license being almost -- ALMOST, now -- being up for renewal, so I figured I'd better come in and get that taken care of, 'cause I just KNOW they'll hassle me about it again. Which they probably will, by the way, so don't tell me I've been wasting my time."

"Why Grop, I'd never dream of it. You do what you've got to, and I'll leave you to it."

For a few seconds, the sound of water dominated the conversation, like the timid third wheel desperately trying to fill an awkward silence.

"You know they'll just find something else. They want to hassle you, they'll find a reason."

Grop's head dipped a bit and snorted an agreement. But he wasn't in the mood for agreement, so he shifted the subject back to Traff.

"Speaking of wasting time, what exactly brought you to THIS lonely, quiet, secluded little spring? I know it's crowded and all back in the plaza, but I think you'd have a better chance of keeping up on events way, way, all the way, over there."

"That's the thing. I don't think they WILL find the Crownfish today. People are packed to their gills and then some. On my way down into the square, you couldn't even see where the water ended and the paving began. It's worse than New Years. Yeah, I don't think he'll surface until he's got room to breathe, know what I mean?"

"Sure, yeah, I know the feeling."

The water quietly interjected a few words again.

"I'm actually... going to go on my way now. Already had to stand in line with the everyone, hate to have to walk home with them too. And these waters are hardly as soothing as they were earlier."

Grop waded in a little deeper and stooped over the pond. He wished he could stay longer, he really did, but Traff wasn't the easiest company to be in. Made him think about the wrong things. At least a splash of water might ease his mind for the walk home.

He must've used a little more force than he was used to, though, because a rush of water sent him reeling three quarters of a turn onto his back. His fall looked so graceful that an optimist -- or maybe a smart-alec -- might think that he was giving his legs a break, and letting the rest of his body soak. Grop was not an optimist. His head throbbed heavily as he brought himself up out of the pond.
"REVEL IN YOUR HONOR FOR YOU ARE BLESSED BEYOND ALL OF YOUR KIND"
"Haha, that's great. Just keep your comments to yourself, Traff."
"MANY IMAGINE THEIR WORTHINESS, BUT YOU ALONE HAVE VIRTUE ENOUGH"
"Seriously, you're not clever. Give it a rest."
"I, I, Grop, you, you've got something on..."
"Way to kick a guy while he's down, by the way. I don't exactly feel "Blessed beyond all my kind" or anything, thanks."
"I, I didn't SAY anything! I, it's just, your head, you've got a.."
"What? What is it? What about my head is sooo hilarious?"
"I AM THE LIVING CROWNFISH AND I DEEM YOU WORRRTTTHHYYYY"
"The CrownFish, Grop, THE Crownfish! He's chosen you!"
"Chosen me?!"
"I AM VASILIS THE LIVING CROWNFISH. I BESTOW UPON YOU TODAY THE KINGDOM OF BOTH OUR PEOPLES FOR A HUNDRED YEARS"
"Okay. Hi, Crownfish. I'm uh, Grop."
"BLESSED LORD GROP, MAY YOUR DAYS BE LONG AND YOUR WINTERS SHORT"
"Good grief."


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