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The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


So I'm in the process of outlining and developing an adventure/puzzle video game based on The Lost Room using the Source Engine (Half-Life 2, Portal, etc.) The following few posts are about the core concepts of the game and what my general plan is.
8/15/2010, 8:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


Story
I don't have a great deal of time to work on the game, and at the moment, it's just myself and a friend cooking up ideas. I am a programmer, so I actually can do some of the coding. But, at heart, I'm a writer. The first thing I want to do, though, is come up with a good storyline for the game.

The initial premise is that you fill the role of the new Motel Man. You're a guy who has discovered The Key and is just learning about The Objects. I don't want the protagonist to be Joe, because I feel that makes things a bit too easy. For one thing, Joe can't be hurt anymore now that he's an Object. Plus, he did what he set out to accomplish: rescue his daughter. Also, he already has a rather good understanding of some of the Objects, leading to a storyline where he shouldn't NEED to have things explained to him, but invariably would for the sake of the player.

Anyway, the player is not Joe. He is just a guy that gets caught in the middle of this new world and doesn't know what to do. Because he doesn't know anything about The Objects, I want the player to be able to choose from a couple different story lines that would affect how they play the game and what ending they get.

It occurred to me that the different Cabals in TLR would be perfectly suited for this. They could act like guilds in The Elder Scrolls games, where you can get quests from members of the Cabal you join. Each quest would result in obtaining at least one new object for you to use. If you joined The Legion, let's say, you may have the chance to collect The Scissors, The Nail File, and The Radio, while joining The Order avails you of The Deck of Cards, The Pen, and The Glasses, or something to that effect.

I feel that the Cabals would be mutually exclusive (they're not exactly friendly with each other and I imagine wouldn't take kindly to finding out that one of their members is hanging out on the other side of the line). Although, perhaps it could be worked so that the player can choose to spy on the other Cabal for whichever one he first joins. For instance, if he joins The Legion first, he can access the other Cabal's quests by spying on The Order. Ultimately, though, I feel the player has to choose one of The Cabals to settle on for an ending. It would be something like the Light Side/Dark Side endings in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Additionally, it might be nice to have more than just The Order and The Legion. Maybe you have your own storyline to follow. Maybe there's someone else like Kreutzfeld out there (or, *GASP*, Kreutzfeld himself!) that still wants to recreate The Conroy Experiment and you can join in on that. I don't know exactly what I want. Which is why I thought I should ask around. I mean, we are all Collectors. It's not like I'm the only one with ideas!

What do you think the storyline should be like? I'm rather enamored with the idea of the Cabals acting as guilds and having alternative endings. So... you can try to dissuade me, but I suspect it will be a fruitless endeavor emoticon What I'm looking for is motivations. What makes the player get more involved with The Objects? Does he have a goal? What are the Cabals doing these days? What endings should they have? Since The Legion is unlikely to obtain all of the items, we can't have an ending where they do so and wind up talking to God. What is their mission during the game then? And The Legion will probably never find a way to destroy all of the Objects either. Their ending?

Hey, maybe Joe does show up! Maybe they're all looking for The Miller Object now. I put it to you then: what would you like to see happen?
8/15/2010, 8:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


Gameplay
Despite the fact that I'm using the Source Engine to do this, I don't with this to be a First Person Shooter. That just feels cheap. I like FPS games, don't get me wrong. Love 'em, in fact. But TLR isn't about killing things. It's about The Objects, which is why I thought it might be best suited for an adventure/puzzle game. That's not to say it has to completely lack any combat... but what combat there is, would be Object-centric.

Honestly, I first thought about this game when watching the scenes where Joe and Kreutzfeld try to obtain The Scissors. I saw Joe getting flung around the apartment and thought: I want to be able to do that to enemies in a video game. There are a few different Objects that could be useful for combat purposes. It was my thought that you would only be able to carry a few different Objects with you at any given time and could cycle through any combat-usable Objects as you might weapons.

And weapons aren't out of the question. I envisioned it somewhat like Mirror's Edge, in which you are most often simply trying to evade the enemy, but when you DO choose to face them, you can use melée actions (punches, kicks, etc.) or use a weapon that may be lying around. You could do it like The Elder Scrolls does, also. The Thieves Guild does not allow you to kill anyone while actively working on one of their quests. The Legion states that they don't kill, so it could operate in a similar fashion. The Order seems to have no qualms about it, however, so maybe you can use weapons on those quests.

I'm going to briefly return to The Scissors. They were partially the reason why I chose the Source Engine. Half-Life 2 is well-known for The Gravity Gun, and I feel it could be easily tweaked to recreate the effects of The Scissors. Oddly enough, I've actually done some physics programming that was solely about learning how to rotate things.

But again, I don't want combat to be the main focus of the game. Sure, it's something that's bound to come up, but I want the player to be doing other things most of the time. Like puzzles. Man. Do I love puzzles. It could be a lot like Portal, or the Half-Life 2: Episode Two mod entitled "Research and Development", or even Mirror's Edge, where you would have to navigate obstacles (while contending with enemies) to achieve a goal. You'd have your select set of Objects to aid you in this process.

And then I remembered The Collector's Vault. That gave me some interesting ideas. Wouldn't it be fascinating if The Collector's didn't have just one vault, but many? There were only a handful of Objects in the Vault... perhaps they stored other Objects in more locations! I'd like to make side-quests, outside of Cabal quests, where you would discover the locations of these vaults. Perhaps there are some more polaroid clues lying around for the Motel Man to use. Then having specific Objects in your inventory would be important.

Each entrance to these vaults would require you to have the proper Objects and use them in the correct ways to gain access. Your reward? A hidden cache of new Objects! Though, let's say you can only carry 5 Objects with you at any given time and it takes 3 or 4 Objects to open any of the vaults... then you've got to choose which ones you leave with. Tough choice. (Sure, maybe you can come back... but I like having to make a choice you can't revoke.)

Any suggestions on gameplay? While I don't want a focus on combat, I do have some very interesting ideas for it. Plus, I don't know how easy it would be to make a game that was solely about puzzles or obstacle navigation. It's not a very real-world scenario. And TLR, though somewhat out-there, still takes place in the real world. You're not going to find castles with spike pits and blades on the walls, or series of scaffolding positioned perfectly for swinging from building to building, or anything like that. So how would you set up the gameplay?
8/15/2010, 8:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


The Key
The Motel Room Key is a major part of the game, as it is in TLR. It is crucial to both the plot and the gameplay. I want the key to be used both inside and outside of combat, which is actually a rather difficult task when thinking about it from a programming perspective. Most doors should accept The Key. They should immediately open up to Room 10. You should be able to step inside, close the door, and depart through a list of doors you know (or have pictures of). That, though, could make for a long list.

I can see, for the sake of the gameplay, that your list of exits could be restricted to quest-related doors or something. But then, you can't use it for combat. And I thought that would be brilliant--to use it like Joe does on more than one occasion. You're in a firefight with no gun. It's too far to reach your target without getting shot. Instead, you use The Key, enter Room 10, come out next to the guy and knock him out. Fantastic! But... how do you choose that door? I thought, maybe, if you had a mini-map that shows where you've explored in unfamiliar territory (as is common in many RPGs), you could select viable doors from it when you leave Room 10. That seemed a plausible idea.

I find there may be issues with coding a fluid transition from main world to Room 10 and back again. Because you should be able to leave the door open and run back and forth. Objects don't work in the room, they do outside... resetting the room... all of these provide more coding troubles, but nothing that can't be handled rather simply. What I do believe may be a problem is rendering the room for every door. Because I don't want there to be a loading bar every time you open a door to Room 10... but the amount of time it would take to pre-render the room FOR EVERY SINGLE DOOR IN THE LOADED AREA would be absurd.

And then also, overlapping geometry can get wonky. I mean, you've got Room 10... but there's an actual room there too, that you'd see if you hadn't used The Key. But the Source Engine provides me something I could potentially use to cheat my way around this problem. Portal's big thing was the Portal Gun. Opens up fluid transitions between two portals for you to step through. I'm sure I could teak it so that The Key operates in a similar fashion, just opening up a portal to an always-reset Room 10.

Do you have any suggestions on how The Key should work? Or things you'd like to see be done with Room 10 physics?
8/15/2010, 8:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


That is really all I've got at the moment. I have some other thoughts and funny ideas (like meeting Wally on a side-quest or having a money system so you can pay Suzie Kang [and then finding The Pencil and the fun you could have making a penny each time you click your mouse!])

But those are all just ideas floating around in my head, nothing concrete. Maybe I'll post some of those random thoughts a bit later. For now, I've written a rather long post about this game and am going to take a break (which in reality means thinking about it some more). Let me know what everyone thinks!

And I would of course be more than excited if anyone else actually had experience modding games (particularly using the Source Engine) and was interested in helping out with this project. I did see the older thread regarding mods for Oblivion and Crysis. There was a good deal of work done for the Oblivion mod it looked like... perhaps some of those models could be reused *cough* emoticon
8/15/2010, 8:18 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod




Whoa, that´s lot to digest. emoticon

I like multiple player online games myself the best, because of the social approach.

I like the idea for the protagonist to be able to pick a cabal he likes to join into.

I anticipate heavy artillery at the moment it leaks out he/she has The Key, maybe even 1-on-1 battles over an Object.

Being a mmporpg would result it being a rarety to actually posess an Object.


I do think puzzle-solving is one of the best gametypes for TLR game. And I agree to actually ever be able to finish making the game would be to keep the storyline neat and simple, the more straight-forward it is the less complex it gets.

Pick one theme and stick with it, do not try to cover every detail.

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8/17/2010, 9:55 am Link to this post Send Email to Cattrina   Send PM to Cattrina
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


TLR would be interesting as an MMO, but I agree, it would not function properly. There can be only one Motel Man at any given time and no duplicates of any Object... so you'd quickly run out of people with Objects.

As for the cabals and knowledge of The Key, I feel as though it is so central to the game that the cabals would already know he is in possession of it and accepting of his role as the Motel Man.

And I am... so bad... at making story lines straight-forward. I tend to flesh out even the minutest of details in the universes I create for my fiction (most of which can be found here.) I do have a bad habit of making stories more complicated than they need to be.

With that said... I am about to make it more complicated again. Here's some new ideas I thought up and discussed with a friend.


The Watchers: A Third Cabal
We already have The Order and The Legion. Both of these groups treat The Objects as supernatural artifacts. The Order, religiously, believing them to be pieces of God, and The Legion as something unexplainable or unnecessarily explained.

But remember what Wally said to Joe in the diner after they met? Joe asked him what happened in the motel room. He responded with a few different things about what people believe. What really stuck with me was this one:

"They think that some part of the universe broke down and it's just physics gone haywire."

This is a side of Object collectors we haven't seen yet. As a scientist myself (computer scientist and former physics minor) this always intrigued me. I do love the stance TLR takes in never trying to explain The Objects away with any rational physics argument, but I don't think that everyone in the world would accept this. I figure that someone, somewhere, once in contact with The Objects would have the motivation to attempt to analyze and explain them with science.

One man alone would be unable to accomplish such a task. But a research group... now you've got some possibilities. They would be reminiscent of something like the Black Mesa Research Facility from Half-Life or Aperture Science from Portal. In fact, I took their motivations from a line in "Still Alive", the ending song in Portal. Aperture Science says: "We do what we must because we can." I want them to be an ominous entity in the game, but one that eventually becomes the clear antagonist (albeit, an antagonist you can still side with).

Unlike The Legion, they have no interest in ridding the world of The Objects. That would be bad for business and bad for science. And unlike The Order, they have no reverence of The Objects. To them, these are just oddities of our universe--something that has gone amiss and should be studied. I call them The Watchers because they take less of an active role in collecting. They have no apparent goal except to gain more knowledge about The Objects and The Event. At least, not at first.

Let me take a brief detour into the philosophy of science. What is the goal of any scientific endeavor? To understand the workings of some part of the universe. How does one accomplish that? Through experimentation. Once you have test data, what must you do to prove its validity? Recreate the experiment. What if The Watchers want to recreate The Event? Kreutzfeld and The Collectors wanted to "open the door the right way". They still treated the motel room as the most important part of The Objects. The Watchers, however, consider it just another part of this anomaly. And what better way to understand this anomaly than to create another one?

If that isn't enough for an antagonist, I did think of an added possibility. We are not Joe. But it'd be interesting to have him in the game at some point. He is, now, The Occupant. He is a living Object, just like Eddie was. Of all the Objects to experiment upon, wouldn't he be the most interesting? Perhaps Joe has gone missing... perhaps The Watchers have something to do with this...

As a cabal with quests, you would obtain fewer Objects through them, but their benefit is that they have a better grasp of what exactly each Object in their possession does. You can learn to do more with The Objects and even are trained in combining certain Object properties.

I feel as the main antagonist, all of the cabal story lines could converge on The Watchers. If they are trying to recreate The Event, then both of the other cabals would take issue with that, I imagine. The Legion would try to stop them from destroying the universe and The Order may consider it blasphemy to, essentially, make a second God. It would be interesting to see the two cabals independently storm The Watchers' facility to stop them (or maybe to rescue Joe as well).

As a side-note, I would never have The Watchers call themselves by that name. No research corporation would go by that name. I just wanted it to fit with the titles of the current cabals: "The --------". But I could see the other cabals calling them The Watchers, as word of their observational and scientific tendencies spreads among the other collectors. As for their real name, I'd have to come up with something good. Any suggestions?

The Protagonist
I realized that once I had an antagonist, I'd need a reason for the player to become involved. And I just couldn't figure out what gives the protagonist his motivations. What about his back story? Who is he? How did he get The Key? I thought about it for a while before joking "Hell, maybe he has amnesia. Then I won't need to think of something." And it occurred to me... that actually... isn't as terrible of an idea as I thought.

Imagine an introductory cutscene where you are waking up in unfamiliar territory. Nothing looks familiar to you. You look at yourself and don't even know who you are. But what you notice is what is in your hands. In your left hand is one of The Objects, one whose properties we haven't determined, and in your right hand is The Key. You don't know it yet, but the left-hand Object is what has made you lose your memories.

Maybe it's lazy writing. Maybe it's just my inability to come up with a good back story. Or maybe I really like the idea of the protagonist trying to find a way to use the Objects to get his memories back. I think it might be interesting if you unlocked your memories and discovered that you worked for The Watchers. And now you have to decide whether you are still on their side or not.

What do you think?
8/17/2010, 11:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to enderxenocide0   Send PM to enderxenocide0 Blog
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


"I do not recall" has been done sooo many times already.

It would be so fun at the beginning to be able to choose one´s 'character' perhaps there are like 8 prewritten backgrounds etc with different agendas, and the player has to pick one before starting to play.


The Watchers sound like a cabal I could join. The perfect name for them?

Perhaps "The Scientists" or "The Researchers" but as you put it, that does not 'sound' like TLR cabal name.

"The Observers" ? or maybe "The Delvers"



Last edited by Cattrina, 8/18/2010, 10:04 am


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8/18/2010, 9:58 am Link to this post Send Email to Cattrina   Send PM to Cattrina
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


How about "The Equilibrium" ?

Sounds posh, sounds savant, enigmatic and luring all the same time.

The Watchers are studuying how to keep things in balance, hence the name

Last edited by Cattrina, 8/18/2010, 12:47 pm


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8/18/2010, 12:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Cattrina   Send PM to Cattrina
 
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Re: The Lost Room Video Game: A Source Engine Mod


The amnesia plot is rather trite, I will give you that. I'd rather not have multiple possible backgrounds for the protagonist, though. It seems simpler from both a writing and coding standpoint to have one background for the character, but allow the player to choose how the protagonist changes over time.

As for the research group, I thought of "The Observers", but dismissed it because it is too reminiscent of the same-named group on the show Fringe. I kind of like The Watchers as the name the research group has been given by other collectors, but I like "The Equilibrium" too. Perhaps the company's real name is "The Equilibrium Research [Group/Facility/Corporation/etc.]"

Last edited by enderxenocide0, 8/18/2010, 5:23 pm
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