Howdy, folks! Well, it's that time of the year when we here at Mutants Rising feel that we owe you -- our avid supporters -- an update. So, what's been happening with Mutants Rising in the past nine months? Where to begin:
Firstly, you may be wondering 'who is this guy?' or 'what happened to ardent and cp?' Rest assured, folks, they are alive and well. I joined MR at the start of the year as a Writer, and have since been promoted to Producer. My main function is to alleviate some of ardent's massive workload. But enough about me, let's talk about something interesting.
Game design has been progressing at slow and steady rate. From a design standpoint, the game is 100% complete -- in fact, just last week, we finalized design on MR's big bad boss. I'd tell you more about him/her, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, so I'll simply say that he/she's a doozy, and you will thoroughly enjoy thwarting his/her plans. See how I'm even keeping his/her gender ambiguous? >:D
Normally we'd have some sort of content update with a newspost like this, seeing as how we go so long between updates. Instead, we're going to have Jinx, one of our lead game designers, give all of us some insight on his design process. So, without further ado, here is Jinx:
How do I go about designing a location and writing the characters in such a way that they feel genuine and 'in place'? I pretty much just did what I used to do when I was a P&P game master way-back-when: I started asking myself questions. Who lives here and why? Why would a large mass of people from different places in the wasteland decide to settle on this spot? What are the natural resources available? What threats and calamities plague these people on a day-to-day basis? What does the culture look like when such diverse people gather, and what situations arise from that? As the process progresses and more and more of these questions get answers, the design document grows and the desired theme of the location can be realized. Pretty soon I have the basics ironed out; history, economy, culture and available resources to name a few.
Armed with this, I set about creating quest seeds, which pop up pretty naturally to be honest. You just need to keep in mind what quests would be appealing, which depends on how far the game has progressed at large. Few players would feel a quest about killing rats worth their time if the location where the quest is given is a late mid-game location. The fact that there is a rat problem could still be present, but rather than make a quest about it, it would probably fit better as area flavor, or help establish a larger more interesting quest seed.
As the quests get properly fleshed out there is a need to start creating the characters involved.
The characters develop in a very organic way, as I fall back on my earlier answered questions to give them personality and motivation.
I'll use the town I was assigned before I was let loose on Elko as an example:
The people come from varied backgrounds and there is a clear social divide between the mover and shakers and the worker populace, attributed to the means in which the town was established in the first place. The town is fairly isolated, but caravans come through a few times a year. While the upper-class citizens take care of trade and protection, the worker class is tasked with the more dirty but necessary tasks. This has been going on for many years, so the tension between the social classes has had time to grow. Add into the mix the liberal use of the common desert dog as a pet, guardian, and hunting companion, and the people populating the town have a few building blocks needed when it's time to single out characters deemed important enough to be fleshed out and turned into player interactive NPC's.
I take note to have all the facts mentioned above affect the characters' mannerism, speech, outlook and even such things as if gender and social class should have any effect on how the character develops and reacts when interacted with by the Dude, MR's codename for the PC. A lot of the characters won't be apparent or even accessible to a player when they encounter them, but all the details helps in the development of the character as I write them, which in turn has a (hopefully) satisfying result when the player interacts with the character. I try to develop all characters I write in this manner, even if it's cannon-fodder raiders or mutated beasts. They have to make sense in the setting, or they will risk breaking it.
One has to keep in mind while writing all this that there is a much larger story being told that must follow a set of themes, giving it a coherent feel. While any writer naturally wants to give their creations their own twists, these can't stray too far from the main themes or it will feel out of place. Likewise, sticking too close will result in a repetitive story that risks becoming boring very quickly.
The wasteland is a hard, unforgiving place, and the Dude is essentially on a mission for revenge. The locations and characters encountered need to reflect and react to this, and quest motivation needs to spring naturally from it. When I write locations, characters, and quests, I use them as tools to subtly weave the main themes of the game world into the story. There is still some elbow room for sidetracking, but the balance between too close and too far always needs to be considered.
I think The Glow from Fallout 1 would be a prime example of doing this right. While being pretty much a 'classic dungeon crawl' in a game virtually bereft of these, it still managed to stick close enough to the theme of the game and not become alienated. The result was a unique feeling of awe as you ventured through the radioactive hallways of a by-gone era, the folly and hubris of mankind still lingering like a phantom feeling.
A drawback to this process is that it takes a lot of time, so I'll end with a few tips for some of you aspiring game designers out there:
• Knowledge is power. Know about the things you try to incorporate. This means research, especially if you're not from the area you're designing, as is most of MR's team.
• Game writing is very different from writing a novel, where you control the whole of the story, or writing for a P&P game, where you can always improvise as you personally interact with players. What you write in a game is set in stone once it's done.
• Writing is a creative process. If you want quality, don't force it.
• Know when enough is enough. Perfection can be what sinks you unless you know when to say 'this works, this is good'.
• Remember to breathe. Hiccups never help the creative process. :)
That was Jinx commenting on game design. In the next newspost, we'll be highlighting another key member with a similar essay.
Before I go, I want to mention that we here at Mutants Rising are still looking for new members to join the team. We're always looking for any passionate Fallout 2 modder who is highly skilled in multiple areas, but we are actively seeking a 3D Artist to "animate a couple of talking heads and do some custom items and scenery art." And, per usual, we're looking for writers to help complete MR's massive dialogue undertaking. What does it take to write at MR? Let me break it down for you:
- Have expert-level knowledge of Fallout 1 & 2. If you're reading this, you probably meet this requirement.
- Have a high school/university-level grasp of the English language. Our writing team is very small -- enough time will be spent editing for content. Editing for basic grammar is not an option, and (sadly) won't be tolerated.
- Ability to produce on a consistent basis. Mutants Rising is a hobby for almost all of us (other than ardent, who continues to amaze with his bossness). We don't expect 40 hours a week from you. But if you think you may disappear for months at a time, please don't apply. Lack of productivity has been the bane of MR in the past, something which we've been slowly changing.
And that's it. It might not seem like much, but (surprisingly) few applicants are able to meet these requirements. If you're passionate about Fallout 1 & 2, you WILL like this mod, and we want you to be part of it. To apply, visit the forum at http://www.mutantsrising.info/ and post in the recruitment section, or send me (Angry) a personal message.
That's all for now, folks! As MR's new Producer, I plan on significantly decreasing the time between updates and newsposts. Expect one around American Thanksgiving or before the end of the year.
aka, "The Dude Next to Cabbot" on NMA
Writer/Producer for Mutants Rising