Yes, we all overlook paths, options of choice, you, me, we all do it. It has nothing to do with intent. Most of the time we forgot that the option was there. Yet this time around it becomes an essential part, you see 2021 will offer a larger stage, a stage where Microsoft has an advantage (Bethesda, Bioware, EA), they might be in denial and some will make carefully phrased denials or reconsiderations with last November “PS5 will still get Bethesda games — but they’ll be ‘first or better’ on Xbox”, now, the first part is fine, Microsoft paid $7,500,000,000 for that privilege, it is the ‘or better’ part that I have a problem with, as such I set out and designed (conceptual design) of a new RPG to be used freely by Sony in previous blogs, but that is not enough. There is every indication that Mass Effect might not make it to PS5 either and that too is fair, it is a Microsoft stage and I worry, because Mass Effect remastered will contain Mass Effect 2, which is pretty much one of the best games in history, anyone denying that is nuts. So I need to have to be creative and set the stage for Sony too. Now, Sony has its own stage of exclusives and they are way good, but to set the stage that an independent software house can freely use for a PS5 exclusive is not the worst idea, I am a writer, not a game programmer. Intelligence and business intelligence yes, games no, I am a simple guy (to some extent).
As such I started to work and after half a dozen ideas (that looked too much like something that existed already), and after I had set the stage of a completely redesigned Murder on the Zinderneuf (optionally now with a different title) and a completely new approach to Seven Cities of Gold, I found the setting I forgot about (all whilst I also made an approach towards Fallout Shelter, yet not the same game, but now set on a space station called Babylon 5) I found the solution in this in an approach taking a coin from the TV series Smallville. Yet this is not a game about Superman, Superboy or Tom Welling. Consider a city, I would say Any city and perhaps that is apt, you see there will be 4 towns, the size of Lancaster, PA. In these towns (you get one randomly assigned at the start of the game). We have a town with 12,000-18,000 NPC’s, we will also have events that impact the town (not unlike the TV series Haven), but not the same, anyhow, you start as a boy (or girl) as a sophomore and you will have abilities and there you can make a directional choice. But here the complication starts, the powers you have have limitations, they drain after use and take almost a full day to recharge, yet as you use a power, you make the power stronger and as such it can be used faster (up to 3 times a day) and as you use one power new options will evolve.
SO you need to be wise in its use and also consider the option of being clever and find another solution. This will not make it easy, but that is the challenge, get to the end of high school and win all challenges. We have seen a partial setting in Buffy, Angel and Smallville, but no one considered to make a game out of it.
So why will it work?
I believe it will work as the game maker needs to evolve the NPC part of the game way beyond Ubisoft ever achieved to do so. You need to keep track of up to 18,000 people and their family, if one person will not make it, it will affect at least a dozen people and as you fail to save people, there is a chance that the police will start to investigate you as an optional criminal.
It sets a new stage where you need to plan your steps ahead, it is no longer fly by the seat of your pants, it becomes fly by wire and you are the Boeing 737, as far as I can tell, it has never been done before and if the makers pulls it off, it is the setting for an almost legendary achievement. And let’s face it, these series have had its settings of antagonists, in this we get the setting that we make some of these antagonists heroes. Some of them have been unfortunately in that regard. A nice example is Sandman (Spiderman), Alicia Baker (Smallville), Amy Madison (Buffy), Sylar (Heroes), the list goes on and on and no one considered to set this approach of abilities in another frame and not merely there, there are a few more settings.
Why this path?
Well, we can have another run through the story games like there are so many, but games like Spiderman (PS4, PS5) are successful, not merely because they are perfect, but because they offer choice, we get to go into the game in whatever direction we want to take it. We know that at times we need to follow the main story, but the large stage of freedom is why these games are so adored and replayed. We never considered to take that stage and evolve it. Yet we must also see the path of originality, which is why I merely gave examples. I saw ‘inFAMOUS Second Son’ as an average game, not because of the start, the start is pretty fantastic, a smoke ability? The issue becomes that the game based in Seattle becomes linear way too soon, so as you mark of all the missions per district, as you clean up each segment, you end up with enough power-points to immediately upgrade whatever power you unlock, the stage of choice is great, but always per district and always linear, that is why it is not a great game, but a good game, and the concrete power at the end is not used to the larger stage. Laser power is too powerful. All stages of near hits, but still an original game. A 90%+ game that ended being a mere 80% game, such a shame, such a waste. In my mind I am setting stage that avoids that, and a stage where the town becomes the sandbox and the NPC’s are the triggers that starts missions (optionally puzzle inclined), and as I do this, I am wondering what happens when we remaster Soul Reaver to a new stage, enlarged, interacted and also take away the weakness the first one had (repetitive and a little shallow). Sony has great IP, I wonder who was sitting and considering what they hd only to fall into the same trap Microsoft is in (it needs to be new, it needs to be cool), and all that time, Sony has access to IP 20 years old that was regarded as an original game. It needs work, no one denies that, but it is something Microsoft does not have, as such we need to consider it, because the more exclusive games, the less chance Microsoft has and we need to acknowledge that the Bethesda deal gives them an advantage, not enough, but why give them that much leeway in the first place?