It's been a while since I last updated this place. It's not that I've done no work on games; I just haven't been able to muster up the energy to write blog posts here! I've been struggling to cope with life, though. I found out there's something wrong with my brain. I've come close to suicide. I wrote about it all in ∞ my personal blog ∞
. I'm trying to use this all as inspiration... Seeing my current phase of inactivity as a time for a meaningful idea to form rather than rushing into something half-heartedly.
I've said all this before, but I want to use my skills to make something that has some meaning; ideally something that would affect people's lives beyond the experience, or which would resonate deeply with them, move them. Fighting silly villains to save the world holds no appeal to me anymore... But making a game which explores issues like mental illness or isolation does.
I've been playing around with many ideas, but I've yet to settle on anything for sure yet. Depression, academic commitments, and my few social encounters have been getting in the way.
Taming Dreams was an attempt to draw upon things that resonate most with me in order to make something that'd resonate with others, but I felt it was too... inaccessible, I suppose, or so steeped in typical fantasy stuff that the key themes were lost. There's a whole lot I like about it, though, which is why I keep saying I don't want to give up on it. Still, for now I'd rather cannibalise the bits I like most in order to make a stand-alone game which cuts out a lot of the fluff to focus on what I feel matters most.
The idea that I have is still very much a sketch at this point, but I'll write about what I've got so far then I can develop my ideas openly in this blog.
It'd be an RPG using Taming Dreams' 'agitation' mechanic; 'battles' which are based around emotions and building rapport rather than violent conflict and conquest. The whole point of this is to take something familiar but to express it in a different way; to show that it's possible to have the same sort of gameplay to depict something constructive rather than destructive.
Rather than having scores of 'random' encounters, though, I'd like for them to be triggered by interacting with NPCs directly. Sort of like trainers in Pokemon games. Each 'agitation' then would allow you to essentially tame the mind of the NPC; it'd be sort of like exorcising their demons. I liked writing stories for the NPCs in Taming Dreams, but several people expressed disappointment that they lacked any gameplay purpose or sidequests. Others didn't like that agitation felt unnecessary or unrewarding. Combining the two in this way seems to me a good way of addressing both concerns.
Some NPCs would be special, and could be recruited onto your party by completing quests for them. Each one would have six quests, and completing each one would increase your closeness to that person. You'd become true friends when all were completed. I like the idea of 'making friends' in this way, and it's similar to MARDEK's system of unlocking backstories for your allies as you levelled them up.
The game's protagonist would likely be a young woman called Oneira who's either socially isolated or dissatisfied with her life. The game would take place either in her mind or in her dreams, and would involve her exploring her inner world and overcoming her fears and hang-ups by doing so. We all have to overcome our inner worlds if we want to be truly happy... and I'd hope that depicting that process as a game would allow me and maybe even others to struggle less with the challenge of it all.
I was thinking that maybe she'd fantasise about having some ideal 'soulmate', who she talks to in her head, and who she imagines will bring her true and lasting happiness when she finds him. The game might begin with a fantasy where she expresses her love for him, only for him to be stolen away by a villain called Ego (or Aego or something like that), who tells Oneira that she's unworthy of such love anyway. Ego steals Soulmate away and hides him in some kind of prison, telling Oneira that she can only get to him if she can prove that she can make friends... or something. I still need to clean this bit up. It'd be sort of like an inversion of the save-the-princess thing, but not in a "look at this tough badass girl take the male role and be subversive and feminist for doing so!" (I feel that's been done to death as it is anyway). Oneira would be the typical sensitive sort I like to write; a character who cares too much and doubts herself. Something I can relate to.
The world would not be linear. There'd be the hub area where Soulmate was held captive, but you'd be able to explore the rest in whatever order you wanted. There'd be six of the important NPCs who could join your party scattered around the world, and you'd have to befriend three - to make up a party of four - before you could free Soulmate. This addresses the complaint of linearity that people had about Taming Dreams.
Along the way, Oneira would learn that she doesn't need Soulmate, that Ego is just her inner critic... And that taming both is the key to freedom. It's hardly subtle, though, so I feel I need to think about it more.
The world - being a manifestation of her mind or dreams - would be somewhat surreal. I want to possibly incorporate the 'three ideals' concept from Taming Dreams, and was wondering whether to divide the world into three regions: identity, longing, and judgement. I have ideas for them all, but I'll develop them more before writing about them here. I'm inspired by the game Yume Nikki, though, which had a fairly eclectic dream world to explore, so maybe I'd end up doing something more like that.
Each of the characters could represent a facet of Oneira's own personality, which I'd find interesting to design and to write. I'm unsure whether to make them all look like her in different outfits, or whether to play around with interesting designs that don't necessarily have to even be human. Being free from the constrains of a physical world gives space for imagination to really stretch its wings.
It probably wouldn't be set in Alora Fane, though... which is a shame since I've developed that world quite a bit. It might still use the sentiments and things though. I was thinking that the setting might actually be modern; if there were scenes set in the real world, they might include smartphones and things like that.
I'd love to explore an idea like this, and I will... I have to deal with exams for the next three weeks, but after that I'll have four months of isolation to devote to games development.
I don't want to be too heavy-handed or preachy with whatever I make, but I would like for it to be something that'd resonate with people.
Anyway. I'm still here. I'm still trying to be creative. Life's been getting me down a lot lately, but I have hope that I'll be able to learn from my experiences, mistakes, and my few good social experiences and that I can use what I learn to make a game that'll really mean something, even if it's just to me.
(I've also made more progress on Cultivate, but it's nothing exciting at this point.)