Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sheol and the town of Kold

So this is a finished(?) concept of the main character for my game design pitch.
I've named him Sheol:

Sheol (pronounced "Sheh-ole")[1], in Hebrew שאול (Sh'ol),
is the "abode of the dead", the "underworld", or "pit".[2]
Sheol is sometimes compared to Hades, the gloomy, twilight afterlife
of Greek mythology. The word "hades" was in fact substituted for
"sheol" when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek

I'm hoping the picture and the name convey the kind of 'feeling' I'm going for here. I have revised both the story-line, the setting and the mechanic since my initial proposal. One of the most important areas being the location which is now a fictitious mountain village in Eastern Europe. It's weird out there. And weird works well with this story. (I thought Sheol could pass for a boys name in Latvia =P) I also like the idea of a run-down, archaic community within a modern day setting. A place that's secluded, maybe a little inbred and generally primitive through lack of contact with the outside world. Somewhere between the village in RE4 and the Chernobyl level in CoD4?

I want atmosphere to be a huge part of the game. The beating heart as it were. So creating a mood is essential. As I always do with these kinds of projects, I have found myself latching onto music as a source of inspiration. Try listening to the track "The Ghosts you draw on my back" or "The ballad of the broken birdie records/The ballad of the broken string" by Múm whilst perusing the images (I think they're up on Youtube).

Newayzzz, here's my new overview. I hope it reads more clearly and focused than the last one. I do also have a more solid view of how the mechanics are going to work but I'm still attempting to translate them from my brain into some kind of decipherable description that others may be able to read/view.
Hopefully I'll be there soon! =P

'Again' takes place in a small mountain village deep in Eastern europe called Kold. The player takes control of 'Sheol', a 10 year old boy who wakes up to the realization that he has been trapped in a time loop for the equivalent of thousands of years.

After a cataclysmic disaster in early 2010 which killed everyone in the village, the inhabitants found themselves waking up at the beginning of the day before the accident. The day played itself out exactly as it had done previously, the people were killed and then returned once again to the previous morning. After a long time, something within the minds of the creatures in Kold begin to realize that something was wrong. Nature rejected the recurrence of the same day over and over again and they begin to retain slight fractions of memory from each loop, as if resisting it's sadistic power. Their physical bodies began to show evidence of this repetition; although they never aged, nature adapted to the endless cycle that they endured through their doing the same things every-day. Men who had spent the day doing physical work began to grow massive muscle mass while those who spent it in front of the television grew frail and weak. People who spent the day learning a certain subject became masters of their art while those performing certain skills achieved perfection. They were evolving.

This urged them to the realization that they were not simply waking up as they thought they had been on a normal timeline, but they were trapped in an endless cycle of the very same day.

As people tried to come to terms with this idea, many of them found it impossible to comprehend and having to deal with the concept that they were essentially physically mutated and forever cursed to live in a single day with no growth or change caused many to lose their minds. This divided the people. Some, who refused to believe despite being told day after day by those who had accepted their fate, chose to carry on as they always had done - attempting to ignore their reality in the vain hope that eventually the cycle would stop and they could finally rest in peace. Others changed their ways and stopped repeating the day as they had been doing for so long, As they began to retain more memory, they could predict the future of the day and hoped they would be able to alter it's events and save themselves. Their obstacle became the mystery of the source of what killed them. No-matter what they did, or how they acted, it seemed the events of the world were destined to play out the same way and they knew that every time they were killed, they would re-awake the previous morning. A rare few who simply didn't work it out and were not showed by the others, carried on as if on autopilot. The worst effected were those who couldn't handle the repetition. The mundanity and monotony of their daily lives drove them insane. They became beast-like and roamed wild, evolving predatory features and attacking any who crossed their paths. The sane labelled them 'The Departed'.

Sheol was one of the last to be 'awoken'. He was only discovered after many cycles since a small portion of the communities initial 'awakening'. Although he had been in the village on that day, he had obviously spent it alone and it was only when others began to dramatically deviate from their set routines that he was found and awoken. As is the same with everyone who has realized that they are in this cycle, Sheol's memories of what he had originally done the first time the day had occurred quickly faded. His thoughts were replaced with the perception of what was going to happen and his freedom to do whatever he wished during this time. Very obviously, whatever Sheol had been doing day after day for so long had led him to attain dramatic physical abilities to the extent of no other in the village. Like many, he had evolved a tail for extra balance and had physical fitness beyond that of an olympic athlete. His hands and feet had become almost claws and his 5 main senses had become finely attuned, matching those of specialized animals in the natural world. For a young boy, he now had the maturity of someone way beyond his years. To the other residents of Kold and unto himself, Sheol is a mystery.

Does this make sense??? I have know one around me to validate my scribblings!

Here's some NPC's too =)

"Why are all our eyes blacked out?"

"After years of witnessing the same faces and places, our eyes grew tired. Nature felt them to have no more purpose and they began to recede back into our heads. Maybe now that we are finally attempting to change things, they will come back out to view the world once more."


  1. In short John, I really dig the whole universe you have created. Although the "Groundhog Day" concept is not new, you have taken a very unique approach; I am particuarly impressed with the idea of the towns people evolving to suit the activities they spent the day doing, and the grey bittersweet atmosphere of the game.

    The washed out colour palette and sunken eyes of the towns people instantly gives your game a very sullen depressive look, but retains enough stylistic "cartoony" aspects to reflect a subtle (but vital) element of fantasy and even humour akin to that of Majora's Mask. Very macabre. Much like the music from "Mum". ;D

    My question is what Sheol was doing that day that made him become so good at everything and develop that nifty palm lasoo thing! I know that is likely one of the games "twists", but the biggest conundrum is why this 10 year old boy developed THIS skill set and is so special among the others who have "awoken". Why doesn't he end up doing the same thing every day like the others? And what exactly is the disaster which ends that day? Good stuff though Mr Appleby. Well played!

  2. Picture of some of your NPCs really helps to explain the concept. I like the idea, a perpetual groundhog day situation with some gruesome evolution thrown in, quite a dark tone to the game without being over the top or horribly cliché. Seems like quite a difficult story to try and convey in words, but it made sense to me.

    Looking forward to see it progress some more.

  3. hey John, here's John (Smth, matteo's alter ego),
    thank you for appreciating my works, yeh I had my positive experiences but the path to become big is still in the beginning. Thanks also for the link, I like their website, I will ask you about them by person on thursday.
    But hey, I'm on your blog and I speak about myself??
    I like a lot your pencil and the attention for the details you put in the characters, I see you have more references for your style, this is important, I like it. Even if i will rarely do them, I appreciate some scary things (my favourite are Tim Burton style, I think you don't dislike too)
    Can't wait to see more ideasby you, I'm sure you still didn't show everything. Good job liverpooliano