Apocrypha: The Emanation War

gender-locked-female
science-fiction

#1

Hi, everyone. I originally discovered the COG website through TV Tropes, and I feel this would be a great opportunity for me to try my hand at developing my passion for creative writing. I’ve begun work on my new game, tentatively titled Apocrypha: The Emanation War

Right now, it’s, let’s just say, gestating in the womb. My primary aim is to develop an interactive novel that’s as engaging as various visual novels I’ve come across over the years that have a lot of high-stakes action and very engaging backstory and lore. The two VNs that prominently come to my mind are Dies Irae and Fate/stay night.

To that end, I’ve developed a basic outline on how the world of my IF novel would look like, as well as the core plot and characters. I’d like your feedback on the quality and originality of the characters, as well as the possibility of implementing some ideas I’m considering in ChoiceScript (which I’m still trying to get the hang of)

In contrast to the modern-meets fantasy style of Fate/stay night, I’d like to go the route of introducing a cyberpunk angle to my setting.

Basically, in the highly futuristic Metropolis (which I’m planning to develop into a US city as my research progresses) the digital age has slowly but steadily resulted in a highly networked society. Improvements in the education system and the rise of the self-employed industry have allowed everyone to become a programmer and hacker in their own right, literally using a common pool of tech resources to craft their own worlds. People have taken responsibility for the software they use for computing, setting up their internet connections, even growing their own food supply.

However, this independence is only made possible due to an increasing interdependence on the Universal Code, a very crisp and versatile programming language that allows people to craft their own AIs that manage critical functions such as setting up supply lines for electricity, managing the wi-fi and telecom signals in order to become self-sufficient carriers and the like. This increased accessibility has also come with the danger of increased vulnerability, as a true master of the Universal Code could rewrite the very fabric of reality if they so wished.

Hacking has become weaponized to the point of serving as the new incarnation of magic. Exceptionally skilled hackers can literally turn their smartphones into swords, fashion a taser into a lethal weapon, and manipulate the environment to create traps or safe havens that would be indistinguishable from a magus casting a blessing or a curse.

In this world, where magic and technology have intersected and become one and the same, the story of Victoria Wyatt begins. A red-headed, beautiful woman who starts out as a curator for the Metropolis Museum, her life gets turned upside down when she receives a mysterious gift in the form of an AI named David. David is a pre-programmed killing machine that can fashion any computer device with a wireless capability into a lethal blade. Horrified by this gift being forced on her against her will, she initial tries to conceal it and forget its very existence.

However, unbeknownst to her, a conspiracy is brewing to overturn the current state of things now and forever. A mysterious alliance known as the Majestic 12 have risen up to begin the Emanation Project, a plot to rewrite all of reality by hijacking the Universal Code, which is preserved and maintained in the very museum Victoria works in. Left with no choice but to leverage David for her ends, Victoria is forced to step into the very thick of the Emanation War, in order to protect the reality she so dearly loves.

I want the choices to focus on both the romance and the tactical angle. Based on Victoria’s moral alignment, she will ally with and romance a different key character, which will have a deciding influence on how she brings about the end of the War. My current ideas are.

Drake Parker: A childhood friend who’s rather fiercely protective of Victoria. She sometimes finds his demeanor off-putting, but she knows he always means well, so she tries her best not to alienate him. He gets dragged into the conflict as a result of his desire to help and protect Victoria being manipulated. His alignment is Neutral Good.

Kyle Stanfeld: A recent recruit into the Majestic 12, he utilizes their influence to gain more power and influence while attempting to fulfill his ultimate goal: save what remains of his family. Kyle strongly suspects his family was destroyed and enslaved as a result of the Majestic 12’s machinations, and once he has saved them, he won’t hesitate to strike back at the ones who took everything from him. Because of this, he alternately aids and opposes Victoria in her own quest. His alignment is Chaotic Neutral.

Christopher Lohengrin: An unassuming high-school student, he’s under the care of the local Metropolis Church, one of the last religious institutions in the city. He’s also a prodigy, demonstrating an unmatched ability to utilize the Universal Code from an early age. However, this is by design, since Christopher has been deliberately engineered by the Majestic 12, or possibly before even their formation, to become the Herald of Emanation. When the time to rewrite the world emerges, the Herald will interface with the Universal Code and carry out the will of his protectors, at the cost of his own life. Despising his caretakers, but not particularly concerned for the world at large, all Christopher desires is a world where he can live in peace without being manipulated by those around him. His alignment is True Neutral.

Other supporting characters will include the main villains: the head of the Majestic 12, an enigmatic woman only known by the nickname Mephistopheles, and her Chancellor Morgana, widely believed to be the reincarnation of a legendary medieval sorcerer.

Lastly, like Fate/stay night and Dies irae, my IF would probably work best if the routes were played in a certain order, so I’d love to learn about how choices can be locked behind multiple playthroughs based on the endings you get.

If you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you, and I eagerly await your feedback.


#2

This sounds really interesting, almost like a cross between the matrix and watchdogs on steroids. I love how detailed your storyboarding and character building is, and your wall of text has definitely gotten me excited to see your demo.

A few questions:

  1. Is there a reason why you are gender locking the main character?
  2. You mentioned about focusing on the tactical angle. How will this manifest itself into the fight scenes/story?

#3

Wauw :astonished:
That’s a solid foundation of your world. I believe you’ve put a lot of efforts and thoughts to this.

But I’m afraid, I’m currently doesn’t have much comments or critiques (especially as I’m not quite familiar with Fate series nor Dies Irae). The outline is pretty solid and too good to be commented at :frowning_face:


IDK. Maybe let’s start with some silly, basic questions, shall we? :wink:

  1. Can you tell us the motive of Majestic 12? Is it to “rule the world,” or does Mepsihtoplsee (blah) have personal revenge and she target the whole world as her victim?
  2. And then… why 12? Can you enlighten us why it’s Majestic 12, not Majestic 8492? (if it isn’t spoiler, ofc) :sweat_smile:
  3. Will the government of the nation take action and fight this Majestic 12? I mean, ofc they will, right?
  4. Lastly, does the AIs on this world sentient, or simply mindless robot doing what they do?

#4
  1. The primary reason I gender-locked it into a female character was because I think it’ll make the story stand out a bit more and make it easier for me to flesh out the character and her relationships. This was not an easy decision to make since I wanted to give the player free reign, but if I don’t gender-lock the character I’ll have to put in a lot of work to modify my vision and do both genders justice.

  2. The tactical angle is a bit of a risk I’m taking since I’m not very experienced writing fight scenes and I’m worried it may come off as derivative. This is definitely an area I will be seeking feedback on, but I’d like to keep things simple with pre-scripted scenes instead of introducing a complex combat system i might not be able to manage. Player choices will almost entirely be focused on character relationships and moral decisions.


#5
  1. The motive for Mephistopheles is to rule the world. She’s going to be an alluring dominatrix-type of person who basically enjoys people fighting each other for her love, so her vision of a rewritten world would be a social darwinist hell where the strong will always destroy the weak. I’m open to getting further feedback and fleshing this out, since this is highly derivative of the original “Mephistopheles” of Dies irae.
  2. The reason behind the Majestic 12 idea is simple. It’s based on an actual conspiracy theory that rumored an alien cover-up in the United States. They’re also the main villains of the Deus Ex video game, so I thought it was a good angle to go on.
  3. The plot point is that government won’t stand a chance against master hackers who’ve learned how to make the most of the Universal Code. If they can hijack the very foundation upon which the Government runs, they will find themselves pretty blinsided. That’s what makes the Majestic 12 such a threat.
  4. The AIs are sentient, can gain fully human forms, and may even be reincarnations of past historical or legendary figures.

#6

I’m a huge fan of this idea and as someone whose played the majority of choice of games I can confidently say that the most immersive games are usually gender locked.


#7

Okay, I guess I am the one who over-expecting everything and asking stuff of what I thought were spoilers :expressionless:

Heck, I don’t even know Deus Ex that much :laughing:


So, frankly speaking, your story’s design-decision… decided that government won’t have much hand on this story, am I right?

I mean, Victoria can’t fight the Majestic 12 by her own, right?

Woo… This sounds cool. :fog: :open_mouth: :fog:
Is there any chance we get a living legends in the form of AI?


Oh, let me lead you to a thread that discuss the topic of combat.


#8

I get your point about Victoria not fighting Majestic 12 on her own. Firstly, her AI, David, is a bit of a wild card who empowers her to a massive degree. Secondly, she will have a team of mavericks on her side, who’s roles I haven’t detailed yet.


#9

LOL, I just played that game a few hours ago :rofl:


#10

Very cool concept.

I’m gonna be late for work so a couple of quick thoughts that sprang through my head, mainly from a gameplay/choice point of view:

Is this locked? What if I want blonde hair? What if I want to be average looking rather than a (sorry) cliched beautiful redhead curator. A lot of people here like the choice in customising the MC so they can relate to it more.

I also wasn’t too keen on alignment choosing my RO. Just because I want to play a certain alignment doesn’t mean it should dictate my romantic options. It makes me feel railroaded that I’ve made one choice and suddenly everything else is being told to me, rather than seeing who I find attractive. Maybe you could romance others but there would be more of a clash between personalities? Or it would even be harder to romance them but , potentially, possible.

I gotta go but don’t take the above as a negative, I love the concept! I just think it needs more choice for the MC.


#11

I think the protagonist’s appearance and broad personality will more or less be locked since I want to have a clearer image of her as I write the story out, and to be honest, I like beautiful redheads, so writing the MC as one is an attractive proposition. The only alternatives I see to that are either including a ton of character customization or making her as featureless as possible, neither of which I like.

As for tying in character alignments to the RO, that was more or less a way of simplifying the gameplay. I intend most of the choices to be directly indicative of who you’re going for, but when it comes to more indirect decisions, your moral alignment will effect who you fall for because they have a similar personality type. Hope that clears things up.


#12

Thanks for the reply. Arrived at work and waiting for the coffee to brew.

You can do the customisation with asking one question about hair colour and then referencing that variable whenever you write it. So once you’ve asked her hair colour and stored it in HairColour you would then write:
“Her long flowing ${HairColour} hair playfully danced in the morning breeze as she went about her curating duties”. It’s as simple as that. Give people a few more questions and you have a pretty well customised character with no real extra work for you.

I completely understand but whilst you like redheads, other people have different preferences. I guess it comes down to whether you’re writing this for you or for everyone else. I started off the same as you but as I’ve gotten feedback I’ve realised that people have different expectations and ideas that, whilst outside of my original design, actually add depth and make the game appealing to a wider audience.

This doesn’t mean you can’t see her as the redhead as you write it :wink:

Anyway, kettle has boiled so I’ll get off my soapbox and let you get on with writing your epic story :slight_smile:


#13

OK, so far my only gripe is this:

So, I can’t be my lesbian dark haired self? (Please say she at least has long hair). I mean, don’t get me wrong, you have certainly put a lot of thought and research into this; the plot sounds great and so do the characters’ personalities. I can definitely see where you’re coming from with the different routes style of gameplay (I have played Fate/stay night and a few other visual novels) and I wanted to ask: why also make the ROs all male? In a visual novel it’s very hard to account for that seeing as you have to get new art for the characters, etc, etc. But in an engine like ChoiceScript it can be done by simply creating a few variables for each pronoun and one for their name. E.g.

*create drake "Drake"
*create drake_he "he"
*create drake_him "him"
*create drake_his "his"

And then give the player/reader an option that will set those variables to that of a female or male, and referring to them as their variable names during text. E.g.

$!{drake} picked ${drake_his} pencil off the floor.

This is just me being curious btw, I am not bashing your story or your decisions.


#14

I actually did consider going that way myself. My biggest reservation with that is that I’m worried that if I just switch around the pronouns using the variables, I may not be doing the gender differences justice. Having the male RO and the female RO be pretty much the same aside from gender seemed a little lazy to me.

Another option I did consider was making her bisexual and including both female and male ROs. Deciding on these three ROs was almost a last-minute decision right as I was writing down the pitch. I guess I wanted to keep it simple and mirror the F/SN structure, in a way,


#15

I see :thinking:. Thanks for the quick reply :slightly_smiling_face:.


#16

I really like the idea of the world you’ve created and it sounds like you’ve really got a solid foundation to work with.

My challenge to you would be this: think more about choices. Your world is very detailed, but as others have pointed out, you’re entering from a very specific perspective and viewing your world through your lens. But what about the reader? Stepping into this world with their own perspectives, they may reach different conclusions than your own.

Not only may they view their character differently and wish that to be recognized (could they be male? gay or lesbian or bisexual? asexual or aromantic? blonde or brunette or bald? or not beautiful?), but they may also feel differently about the world. What if the reader is happy with David and doesn’t want to hide him? What if the reader doesn’t want their romance option to be decided by their alignment? Or doesn’t even want to have an “alignment”?

And the big kicker: what if the reader sympathizes with Majestic 12’s goal and wants to align with them? What if the reader wants to remake the world?

The hard part about writing choice novels is realizing that all of your readers are going to enter your world with their ideas and expectations. Anytime in your story that you see yourself inserting the feelings of the main character, realize that your reader may have different feelings and feel a bit cheated to just be told how they feel.

It seems like you’ve got a fantastic foundation for a world and story brewing, so now I’d encourage you to take some time to open your mind to new directions the story could go, and how you might incorporate more choices for the reader.


#17

Woow, this looks so good! Your overall premise looks quite well planned out and you have a strong grasp of your character ideation! While others have really harped on the whole details of the world bit, can I just say that it’s a really refreshing to see a strong/independent female lead. I’m thrilled with a female genderlock [gingerlocks], because honestly, we don’t get a lot of representation in media. That is the realm of typically straight white males…nothing against that, it can even make good stories. It just is everywhere. I also love that you’re writing a strong, non romantic relationship [or at least, it doesn’t have to be/friends and buddies first] between two characters of opposite genders and that she doesn’t really need his coddling ect. It’s more of tolerating it for his feelings. Also, just going to scream in excitement with the F/SN inspiration. I’m so ready for the bloodbath to begin XD

-edit-

Just got the chance to fully read over everything and I like the basic premise. I did have a few questions about if you can to, say change the world with the Majestic 12, or even use them to set your own plans into place? Also sensing a bit of Wynonna Earp, Psycho-pass, and Dragon Age Inquisition in there. Another question is why have the powers the be allowed that much freedom into the hands of average people when they could potentially topple the whole of society like that…unless it was for that very purpose? Or, they have something much greater to keep control and letting people create their own personal fantasies plays into another scheme? Alternately, wouldn’t that mean that there could be a great deal of propaganda and carefully cultivated content to make certain views ect more idea? Dunno if any of that makes sense, but the intrigue here has my interest piqued. One more question on this overly long post :sweat_smile:
How is creating a blade going to take down an entire organization?


#18

Wow, you have really spent time thinking about this. This sounds like a really good idea, and I’m eager to see it come to fruition!

I’m also greatly intimidated at your far superior-to-me abilities to generate a world, but I’ll stop shaking in my boots just long enough to offer a fearful thumbs-up. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to flee and work on the world I intend on developing at some point, so I can compete… Hastily scribbles notes


#19

I have been toying with the idea of a villain or morally-grey path, but I don’t think that would necessarily mean allying with the Majestic 12 (Kyle is already using them to accomplish his own plans, as you know). They’re the principle bad guys, but others, such as the Illuminati, are more along the lines of what I’d consider since they’re less central to the battle.

As for the whole “personal freedoms” thing, that’s based on me trying to realize an idealistic libertarian future where the role of the Government is very small and everything is decentralized. The Government still handles security and stuff for people who can’t afford it, but for the most part, private property and self-sufficiency are dominant. The central conflict is that the Universal Code that has made this self-sufficiency possible is in danger of being corrupted and hijacked by far more authoritarian forces desperate to impose their ideals on others (this has ties to some more metaphysical plot points that will likely be a spoiler).
Creating a blade is basically a way for me to bring fantastical swordfights and duels into the realm of cyberpunk. Obviously technology by itself can’t overthrow and organization, it’s how you use it.


#20

Hm, interesting. Wouldn’t that be easy enough to choose a route tied to Kyle’s then or something along those lines then? Just a suggestion of course XD

About the whole Universal Code thing, what I was getting at is that either such a thing would likely be funded by something or someone, such as the government or corporations, syndicates, ect. Who is funding the servers and cyber security then, if the government or private sectors do not? Wouldn’t that translate into anarchy at the most basic level? At the core, either the government is strong enough to support and protect it’s people, or not. Given that you suggested that it could do so if needed, that would imply some role in the greater scheme. Alternately, the lack of centralized government indicates something of a capitalist or oligarchical/tyrannical system run by the most rich and powerful. Again, I wonder why people with that kind of power in a world with a power vacuum left by a central government would allow something like the Universal Code, or access to the internet at all for ordinary citizens.

Tyranny always targets the educated, the artists, minorities, thinkers, etc. Those are the ones that know better and destabilize regimes and can bring about civil unrest. So, on that note, why is that possibility allowed unless for some more sinister purpose?