- I wanted a fairly athletic character who could traverse a 'platformy' landscape,
- he had a 'lasso' in the brief, which was used to pull objects towards him and interact with the scenery so I thought 'why not have it be a part of him?',
- and he was supposed to have three main weapons, light, medium and heavy. Since there was no ammo mentioned in the brief and due to the fact that I had already decided on a bio-lasso, I decided the weapons could be kind of built-in too.
Game Design Idea...
A young boy wakes up and looks around. It is 8 am and he is lying on the roadside. The street is on the route that he follows to school every morning and leads into a small but well populated village. It is misty and he can't see anyone else around even though at this time on any other day, the road would be littered with other children on their way to school. He feels a strong sense of familiarity, like he has not only been in this place before, at this time of day, but he's experienced this PARTICULAR day before. As he pulls himself up he realizes that he's not dressed in his school uniform. In fact, he's not dressed at all! And his body has changed. His skin is thick and tight and on his limbs and chest, large muscles are exposed. His spine has elongated into the beginnings of a tail and his feet have mutated into much stronger forms and now bear large talons. Most noticeable of all, his eyes have gone. Where they used to be are now large black holes, yet somehow, he can still see. The boy begins to walk, heading in the same direction he does every day. Before long, he approaches a set of roadworks. What used to be a large rectangular 'Give Way' sign now has tiny scribbling etched deep into the surface. Immediately the boy recognizes the letters as those of his own handwriting. It is a note to himself.
"On this day, Monday, January 4th 2010, you went back to school like any other day. The mornings lessons began as usual but shortly after 11 am, something happened. The world plunged into chaos and began to fall apart. You, like everyone else around you desperately tried to find your loved ones, stay alive and work out what was going on. At 2:23 am on Tuesday, 5th January, you died.
With no obvious explanation, you woke up here at 8 am, shortly before the events that would lead to your death. For a moment you could remember what had just occurred, but like a dream, the memories faded and you carried on with your day as you had done 18 hours earlier. The days events played out once again, you and many many more around you were killed again and you returned to this road to replay your day again. Every time this occurred, a sense of dread among the population increased and people began to realize that something was happening to them - that this had already happened to them. Every day they could feel an impending doom but were completely powerless to stop it. Over 'time', people started to lose their minds. The strain of their repeating lives, both mentally and physically caused them to alter in both shape and personality. Many became aggressive, some depressed and lonely, while others like you somehow stayed strong of will and continued to struggle on.
I don't know how long we've have been trapped in this cycle. It must have been the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of years because we have evolved. You can see, you are not physically the creature you once were. And it is only you who has uncovered the truth. I ...you have discovered the endless cycle of birth and death, purgatory, or whatever you want to call it and from this point on, you won't forget. The newfound awareness of your own time and space is a gift and it will give you the ability to alter this cycle and perhaps eventually even bring a stop to it. There are many out there now who have become hostile but there are still a few who have shreds of sanity left. You must use your developed strength to fight and your insight to solve our mystery."
Like a slap to the face, he remembered everything. And he did feel stronger and better equipped to deal with the situation. He had 18 hours and counting...
'Again' is a 7th generation (Xbox 360/PS3) 3rd person action/adventure game with a major focus on puzzles and including RPG elements. Very much in the same vein as the Legend of Zelda series. The entirety of the game takes place in a medium sized sandbox environment, the setting of which is a (fictional) small suburban English village called 'Ceaseston' (Cease - Stop, ton/tun - an enclosure/farmstead). It is made up of streets of houses, a town centre shopping area, police station, hospital, school, various places of industry e.g. factories, offices, docks and a countryside area made up of fields, forests, rivers etc. Ceaseston has a large population to support the story. About 60% of the original inhabitants are now hostile - enemies of the player and occupy the streets and open areas. The other 40% are NPC's that the player may interact with in a manner of ways, the most obvious being the ability to talk with them. They still occupy many of the buildings in the game-world and all have independent situations/stories/dialogue options and often quests to provide for the player. The world has a day/night cycle which takes place over the 18 hour period leading to the inevitable death of the player. There are scripted events for the environment since it is a recurring day e.g. weather/the 'end of the world' event/certain areas being destroyed, blocked off or opened to the player. Also in a similar way to Oblivion/Fallout/Majora's Mask, all of the NPC's will have scripted routines such as traveling from one place to another or sleeping.
The main mechanic of the game revolves around the theme of time. Inspired by 'Majora's Mask' and 'Flower Sun and Rain', the story is based on a groundhog day style event. The player begins at 8 am on Monday and has until shortly after 2 am on Tuesday to explore the environment, interact with various NPC's undertaking quests for them and battle hostile enemies. With every action the player makes, the timeline of the day is altered. When the day comes to it's conclusion. A second day is created as a parallel timeline which the player can select as a second 'level' to play through. Events and location will differ slightly from the players first experience, based on their actions the first time round. The player can use this dynamic to create multiple 'levels' and gain new abilities for the player character by performing certain actions a set amount of times in one level or completing particular quests, thus 'evolving' the next time round. An overall puzzle will bein to develop where the player can learn the outcomes of decisions made in the alternate levels they have created and combine them in order to play the day through in a 'perfect' way, finally completing the game. The main objective of Again is to uncover the cause of the disaster, the time-loop and eventually break it and escape the cycle.