Continuing from the ∞ previous post ∞
, I'll be describing the development process of my current project, Soulmate. While the other post covered the general gist of the story, this one will sketch out the world it's set in.
The protagonist is Oneira, a young woman of indeterminate age (she could be in her teens, twenties, or even thirties; it doesn't matter). She's lonely and depressed and longs for her perfect soulmate who'll essentially save her from herself (the point of the game is to challenge this delusion).
I wish I had time to draw something better than this crude concept art! I'm unsure about the design though; I'll need to spend more time playing around with ideas. As the game is set in her dreams as she sleeps, she's wearing pyjamas. I feel her look is quite indistinct, though. Character design is an art in itself, and the best designs are recogniseable in different styles, when parodied, when chibified, etc. I feel that this design lacks anything to make it distinct or memorable... but that's why I said that I'll need to work more on it! It's still early days.
(I just searched for 'bad character designs' so I could link to an example of the thought that should go into character design, but just got annoyed by how scathing some people can be... I suppose I see little of acerbic attitudes in my life these days, to my relief. But anyway.)
In Taming Dreams, you engaged in agitation with miasmon, which were essentially thoughts and feelings given illusory form by the miasma. As Soulmate is set in Oneira's actual mind, I don't need to use that concept. Instead, you'd face actual thoughtforms, which I might simply call 'Thoughts'.
I wanted to combine NPCs and 'battles' in some form, and my original idea was to basically copy Pokemon by having trainer-like encounters; humans, perhaps, who sent out parties of miasmon. Maybe they'd each have a little story of their own, like the NPCs in Taming Dreams.
My current idea at the moment is to have Thoughts work something like this:
Like Pokemon trainers, they'd stand around in the environment, becoming alerted and approaching you if you walked within their line of sight.
What they'd say to you would be some kind of negative thought. For example "I'm really lonely, ignored by everyone...".
You'd then engage in agitation against the Thought (or a party of Thoughts). Some would be animal-like, while others would be humanoid; like most RPG monsters, really.
Once tamed, they'd say a positive spin on the thought they'd expressed previously. For example "I have plenty of time to do all the things that I'd like to do".
I think this could be both interesting and potentially useful to people, as it'd show that the same thing can be seen from multiple perspectives. And of course it'd represent in words the idea of the thought being tamed and turned nice (rather than simply destroyed).
You might not be able to tame and equip miasmon as in Taming Dreams, though; I'm not sure. Instead, taming every instance of a particular species of Thought in the current dungeon would reward you with a memento which you could equip to cast sentimancy associated with that Thought (the animation might include summoning it, though effects would be more like TD's sentimancy than its summoning).
I'll have to experiment a bit with the best direction to take that.
As I said in the other post, some NPCs can be befriended by doing quests for them. There'll be six of these.
The original plan was to have them be a varied assortment of misfits - some humanoid, some not - but as the game is essentially an exploration of Oneira's own mind, I've decided to take a different approach.
Each one would be essentially an alternate personality version of Oneira, with a slightly different name and a different outfit. They'd all be distinct, but they'd be recognisable as her.
I may call them Aspects, or maybe Alters (which seems to be the word that people who claim to have multiple personalities use to refer to theirs).
The game takes place in Oneira's mind/dreams... which gives me a lot of creative freedom. I'm more interested in exploring the concept of overcoming thoughts than in portraying wacky or nightmarish dreamscapes, though. I suppose her mind's interior will be more like that of Inside Out
than Yume Nikki
In particular, I want to explore the 'False/True Ideals' I came up with for Taming Dreams: three paths we believe lead to happiness but don't, and their three alternatives. Longing/Presence, Identity/Silence, and Judgement/Acceptance.
As such, I've divided the world into three distinct regions, plus the hub; one for each of the False Ideals. I've come up with ugly names for them that I may keep or discard when I think of better alternatives!
There'd be two befriendable Aspects per world, exploring different, uh, aspects of that world's Ideal.
Besomeone, the World of Identity
might be some kind of city with a face motif. Here, everyone is defined by their role or job, either modern (businessman, waitress) or fantasy (wizard, warrior), or a combination of the two.
One Aspect would wish to 'become someone'. They'd start off poor and alone, but they set their sights on becoming famous... only to discover that it's not as fulfilling as it might have seemed.
The other Aspect would be a counterculture nonconformist; a rebel who hates the 'mainstream' and sets herself apart from it because she refuses to be defined by it... only to realise that by defining herself according to what it's not, she's no less constrained by it (and certainly isn't happy).
Thoughts in this world might be mostly or entirely humanoid, representing various jobs, voicing dissatisfaction with the thought of doing that kind of work for a living ("I don't want to be a cog in a machine!") and - when tamed - its benefits ("at least it's secure and reliable and not too difficult").
The point of Identity is the belief that by becoming someone special, important and likeable, you'll be happy... And the point of Silence is that by shedding the 'ego', fostering an empty mind, you can transcend that and find less conditional bliss.
Couldbe, the World of Longing
, would be a world that's split into separate Past and Future sections. They could be different settlements at either end of a 'river of time', alternate versions of the same settlement that you'd travel between via portals, or one could be underwater and another above the clouds to represent how time consumes the past and how the future is out of reach... It's still vague at the moment.
One Aspect would live in the future section, but she longs for the past (either her childhood or society's past), when things were simpler. She might be an older version of Oneira, or a 'futuristic' sci-fi one.
The other Aspect would live in the past section, and she longs for the future when things will get better. She might be a child version of Oneira, or a 'vintage' version of her.
Thoughts could range from regrets, hopes, death, lost loves, technology, childhood toys... There's a whole lot of potential that I'll need to refine.
The point of Longing is the thought that you were happy in the past, or that you'll be happy in the future... while the point of Presence is living in the moment.
Shouldbe, the World of Judgement
would be divided into two clear factions. A central, luxurious city would be inhabited by angelic hedonists, who indulge in the fine things in life and reject anything not deemed pleasurable. Badlands outside the city would be inhabited by stern, disciplined, demonic monks who embrace pain and suffering as they feel it hardens them.
One Aspect might be a lusty, luxury-loving version of Oneira who finds herself in the badlands, and panics because she feels she can't possibly survive without her indulgences.
Another might be a stern, self-denying version of Oneira who learns that she's limiting her world by rejecting what it has to offer for arbitrary reasons.
Thoughts might represent concepts seen as desirable/undesirable, or even good/evil: sex, food, obnoxious things, pollution, comfort (beds, pillows)... Things that are rejected or which seem 'necessary' for happiness.
The point of Judgement is the feeling that you'll be happy if you embrace 'good' or desirable things while rejecting 'bad' or undesirable ones... while the point of Acceptance is that ceasing to label things 'good' or 'bad' allows you to transcend such pickiness and be unconditionally happy with whatever situation you find yourself in.
That's the basic idea that I have at the moment. Things may change over time, though, and I have a lot of refining to do! I'm probably going to focus on concept art first, so I'll likely post some of that once it's done.