I'm Working on a Gritty Heist Novel! "Five Finger Discount" (WIP)

young-adult-fiction
gender-choice

#41

TL;DR: I’m biting off more than I can chew with writing this. I want this to be as big and ambitious as I can make it. (without dying of stress in the process) Scroll down a bit if you want to read literally an essay on my plans, and see some art I made.

_

Yeah dude there are definitely things I want to incorporate from Breach, like the bulletproof John Wick suits and large branching paths, but there are also things I want to stray away from, and not just for the sake of staying unique.

One of these things is what Breach has, linear heists. Yes, you can choose your crew and how to enter, BUT you always are the leader of these heists, and, for the most part, the outcomes are always the same, bar amount of money taken and whether or not you actually survive.

I want heavy emphasis to be placed on choice. If you choose to be a getaway driver, you may never enter the building. That may make the heist feel shorter, not being able to go inside and soak up the details, but then you’ll be able to drive, choosing your getaway vehicle, driving style, and other details. For the other roles, those sections would be set in stone for the most part.

Believe it or not, the heists aren’t what I want to focus the most on. They are the set pieces of each chapter, with each one providing a big heist for everyone to do, but they are not my biggest focus. Because I plan for the heists to be very modular, they may end up very short, or pretty long. This is why I want, for those who wish to delve into it, extensive crew interaction.

For each chapter, I want to have a unique mini-story the player can embark on with each crew member. (Yeah… that’s, what, potentially 40-50 of these? God help me.) Whether it be go on con jobs with Juno, go snowboarding with a character yet to be revealed, or tune up and talk about vehicles with the crew’s getaway driver, these optional yet detailed adventures are what I hope to be the core of the story and character development. There will be plot pieces set in stone, no matter your choices, as is ritual with most of, if not all choice games. They will simply be there to structure the overarching story. I want crew missions to be optional and standalone, similar to side missions in a video game. Self contained is a good way of putting it. These help with building character, building romance, and hopefully, bringing attachment to what is otherwise just a group of people.

My plans are, at the end of the day, for this to not be the story of your character joining a high-stakes criminal band of misfits. Never do I want the player to feel like they have to make a black and white choice. “Save her, or save him! Pick one!” Instead, I want to hide my choices in the writing, in the little things. At the end of the story, I want the player to be shocked by the choices that they themselves have made. This is, of course, how life is sometimes.

Just… don’t expect anything until you see it. Coming up with ideas is one thing, but executing them is another entirely. And… I’m being very ambitious about this. It could take years, or it could be downgraded to your traditional CoG. This is my first story, but goddamn it, I want it to be a good one.

And… for anyone who’s curious here’s the Chapter 1 art. It may be changed or polished, I simply made this in about 2 hours in Photoshop. I plan on each chapter banner to have a gradient background and a silhouette of whichever city or locale the crew are up to. Obviously, since there is no real crew in Chapter 1, this one just shows the skyline of Nashville.


#42

Hey everyone, Happy Valentine’s day! For this week’s character bios, I’m going to include 3 of the future romance options for the main character! I’d like to point out that all characters that are romanceable can be romanced by any gender, except for one character who is specifically un-romancable for story reasons. This should mean that there are 3 M>F, 4 F>M, 4 M>M, and 3 F>F.

As for who some of these people may be, check the main post for all the details. Three new bios have been posted courtesy of Col. Weathers.


#43

This story seems like a fun idea! I really like to hear that the character development/interaction will be your main focus; it’s a facet so often neglected in CoGs, I think, and the characters are almost always my favorite part of any story. Given these plans, I’ve got a name suggestion for your game: ‘Life and Crimes.’

I look forward to checking it out when it’s done! Keep it up!


#44

@cool

I’ll definitely add it to the list! Five Finger Discount is a working title, I’m hoping to find something more appealing and hooking when I get further into writing.

One of my favorite things about Reservoir Dogs was how little action there really was. All of the suspense, mystery, and thrill comes from how the different dogs handle the situation they’re in. The dialogue and acting, it shows that they’re in a very stressful situation. There’s very little actual “backstory” for the characters, with most of it coming through context and in-the-moment actions. I mean, hell, the movie starts AFTER the job, with no basis as to who these guys are!

I absolutely hate, hate, HATE when Choice Games makes character development binary. Want to learn a character’s past? Just ask them! Literally each one. They’re fine with it! It feels extremely unnatural, and breaks my immersion most of the time. I want to try and stay as far away from these open-ended question asking moments, as it tends to “slow the flow”. Sure, this is a choice game, but it is also a story.

There will be certain moments where you’ll be able to pry or ask questions that are relevant to the scene which reveal pieces of a character, but for the most part, development will be through a character’s actions and dialogue.


#45

Not sure if anyone’s mentioned this yet, but the beginning is buggy. The getting out part, to be specific. Pressing “Get Out” which is the first choice in the list after completing “break window” and “shoot seatbelt” will act as if I pressed “Check Glovebox”.


#46

If you’re referring to shooting the seatbelt, this is intentional. Perhaps I need to make it more obvious, but actions are meant to be reversed during this section. Top = bottom and bottom = top.


#47

Oh for-
alright thanks


#48

Alright everyone, news inbound! STATS OVERHAUL!

I’m currently working on revamping the skill system with a (1/5) proficiency rating. I also have a new screenshot of what the job skills will look like!

Why'd I do this?

It’s a simple answer, one of my favorite video games of all time, and one of my favorite choice games. @JimD’s Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven has a stat system similar to this, though I think his is on a 1-7 scale. I found this was the best way to do it, since having stats fluidly change based on choices and having 0-100 ratings would not only be time consuming, but a bit convoluted on the player’s behalf. After every chapter, I’ll have the player level up, where they can choose to assign points to 8 different job stats (only 2 in Chapter 1), and 3 different general stats. These stats will give way to unique pathways and optional dialogue options, showcasing your character’s proficiency. This takes a large amount of inspiration from the Fallout and Wasteland games.

All heists will be able to be completed with poor stats, but they will be more difficult. The wrong choices can be more… fatal.

The Stats

For each of the four roles, there are two skills. In Chapter 1, you’re locked to your job skills, but in Chapter 2 you’ll be able to assign to any of the eight. Along with these, there are 3 general skills which can be raised up to 10.

Driver:

  • Driving
  • Mechanics

Pointman:

  • Persuasion
  • Planning

Muscle:

  • Shooting
  • Intimidation

Tech:

  • Hacking
  • Machinery

General Stats:

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Smarts

If you’d like me to elaborate more on these, just send me a reply.

Screenshot (WIP!)

It took me merely a few hours to flesh out the Driver’s stat select screen. Once I do it for the other three (plus general stats) and finish writing the Chapter 1 heist (which is largely the reason why I overhauled this), it’s onwards and upwards to Chapter 2 and the new demo!


#49

Just wanted to check out if I was doing something wrong with the Demo. I get to where it says to find out more about all of the positions and then it says play again. Am I on an older demo or is this the one that’s still being updated? No matter what, this is an amazing concept and i’m really looking forward to playing this.


#50

I always love a good loner option.


#51

This is an old version of the demo from November. I plan on updating it whenever I finish Chapter 1, which should be some time soon. It’ll include things like the character creation, the new stats, and the first heist.


#52

Oh trust me, they’ll be there. I don’t plan on making the MC a mute (at least not entirely :wink:), but there will definitely be some reserved options. When it comes to approaching crew members for their side missions, I’ll give the option for not being outgoing. For example, being approached by them instead, or observing what they’re doing and then causing a conversation.


#53

This story looks cool so far, and I really like the mini “quicktime event” thing in the car


#54

Thanks! I was taking inspiration from David Cage games like Heavy Rain, and thought “how can I add this sense of urgency in readable text format?” Furthermore, it adds extra consequence.

I plan on making all future ones only appear in the heists, or, well, pressuring scenes. I’ve still yet to determine the severity of the failures, (I don’t want to kill of main characters in Chapter 2 because of a botched heist) but there definitely will be some form of consequence.


#55

Thank you i always love them options cause it sounds more like me.


#56

I absolutely love the concept of this! Please continue in developing this and while you do, I’ll support it and check it from time to time! Wishing you well.


#57

Hey everyone! Been a few weeks.

First off, check the character bios for some new additions. :slight_smile:

I’ve been working on writing a few new characters. All I’ll get into is that one of them is romancable, but isn’t part of the crew. Well, he doesn’t rob banks. I feel you guys’ll really love him when he comes in.

Second, I’ve finished the stats overhaul. I’m now implementing said stats into what story there already is, as well as what story I am currently writing.

My plans going forward

I honestly don’t have an ETA as to when Chapter 1 will be completed. With that being said, I will not allow this project to die out. Along with finishing Chapter 1, my biggest goal at the moment is fully drafting out the story. Despite its non-linearity, I’m going in writing this rather blind, if I’m being honest. I have Chapter 1 mapped out, and the set and heists for Chapters 2 & 3, but other than that, I’m kinda just writing as I go. This is NOT something I want to do, as it will lead to plot holes and an overall weak narrative structure.

That’s honestly been my hardest head thumper. It’s drained my time, thinking “okay, but what’s going to happen next? How does this event lead to another?”

No, I need to have that mapped out, so all I’ll be doing with this story is transcribing it, revising aspects, adding roleplaying elements with variations, and going into greater depth. It’ll save a large amount of time in the long run, and will give me a clear and concise goal, likely increasing work flow.

Long story short, I’m a poor planner. I should’ve had this from before I started, but it was really just a “let’s see where this idea goes”. That’s not necessarily bad, but in the case of sight-writing a full fledged interactive novel, it is.

Now, I can’t leave you guys empty-handed, right? Here’s something I wrote up yesterday featuring a female MC’s not so futile attempts at being friends with a curious creature.

Rabbit Short Story

“You got any extra chips?” I say.

I sit rested in the beanbag chair of Rabbit’s small, and cozy room. We’ve been hanging out for about 30 minutes now. We’ve started to become decent friends since D.C., though she’s still yet to open up about… anything, really. Unlike everyone else, she insisted on sleeping in one of the crew rooms, a small, compact room with nothing but a bunk bed, dresser, and a tiny bathroom. It’s very… odd… but Ahab obliged. The ship only had 11 crew members anyway, so one of the rooms was empty.

After getting the room, she took out the bottom bunk and slid in a computer desk along with all of her equipment. On the opposite side of the wall, only about 4 feet out, she mounted a TV. This meant that when she wasn’t on her computer, she could be laying in bed, watching TV. Add some strips of purple LED lights, a bean bag chair in the corner, a rug, a mini fridge, and a dresser, and she’s got quite a cozy little place. Still, what is it with her and small rooms?

Here I was, sitting in the beanbag chair in the corner watching a movie while Rabbit was, I don’t know, modeling something on her computer? Hacking and 3d modeling? What’s next, music production?

Before I know it, Rabbit opens up a cabinet at the bottom of her desk, and pulls out another bag of chips. I catch a glance of… damn, like 3 bags? She has snack cake boxes strewn about down there as well. The bag she pulls out is a large bag of Crinx’ Sour Cream and Onion chips. Not bad, even if the bags are 60% air.

“You got Barbecue?” I ask.

Rabbit looks at me confused, looking back at the cabinet. She begins putting the bag back in before I stop her.

Chuckling, I add, “N-no. No. It’s alright, I’m just screwing around. Here.” I raise my hands in preparation to catch the bag.

Rabbit looks back at me with the bag at hand, and a smile forms around her face for a moment, following one of those “nose-air” laughs, clearly amused by my “joke”. She contemplates throwing the bag, but then just awkwardly stands up and walks it over to me. I say walks, but she barely even takes a step. You know, the small room and all.

She then grabs another bag for herself, a bag of popcorn cheese puffs. As she rests back into her chair and returns to her work, I begin to dig in. The salt and flavored powder dissolves onto my tongue as I take a bite, leaving a satisfy crunch in its wake. It is as it is, sour cream and onion. Less sour cream though, and more a salty-milky taste leaving a warmth in my mouth, with the onion tang complimenting it. The flavors are overwhelming, however artificial they may be. Then I eat the next one, anticipating the same taste. No, not quite as strong? I eat another chip. Good, but it could be better. Maybe this one just didn’t have as much ‘flavoring powder’. Let’s try another chip.

Before long, I’ve downed 80% of the the bag, and I’ve barely even reached the movie’s climax. The constant taste of chips now lingers in my mouth, and I feel like my breath can melt the ice caps. W… It’s only been 10 minutes!?

My stomach begins feeling queasy after realizing just how much fat and sodium I’ve eaten. I look up at Rabbit, who’s still at her computer, eating cheese puffs and sipping on a bottle of water. Well, at least that’s healthy.

She does not look like the type of person to eat this obnoxiously detrimental diet, with her slim frame and all.

“How can you eat so much and not gain weight?” Damn, me, that was rude.

Rabbit glances over at her bag of cheese puffs, and then looks over at me quizzically. She shrugs her shoulders and murmurs an “I don’t know” before continuing. Maybe high metabolism? She’s so hard to talk to.

After about half an hour, she finishes her project. Looks like she’s designing something for a 3D printer, stored God-knows-where on the ship. Now… to print, I assume. She swings her chair around, kicks her legs up on her dresser, and begins watching the movie. Funny enough, she has quite a lot to say about this one. For one, she’s nearly a mute, and two, she’s an actual hacker.

Her groans and stifled laughs during the movie’s hacking scene are just so endearing. I can only imagine her screaming at the television with no one present.

“Why is the computer beeping?”

“The fuck is a cybernuke?”

“Why are there so many colored boxes?”

“Quit telling him to hack faster!”

I doze off as the second movie begins to play, her attention now being diverted to some action-rpg from 2003 that she boots up on her laptop. Well, she’s not the worst host I’ve had. What else am I supposed to do out here, anyway? Hang out with Juno? Eh, well, actually…

“Shit!”

I hear someone yell in a high pitched feminine voice, followed by a loud bang. It sounds like it’s right next to me. I open my eyes and find Rabbit booting up her computer, her leg shaking intensely. She turns on the monitor, all three of them, and begins tapping her finger against the desk. Did she punch her desk?

“What happened?” I ask. Only moments later do I notice the TV booting back up, indicating a power outage.

“Th-the… fcking power.” She says, pointing at the microwave on her mini-fridge, the clock being reset to 00:00. She’s so angry, she doesn’t even fully pronounce the vowels in her expletives. Only in her lapses of anger do I notice she’s now more outgoing, actually bothering to reply to me.

After her computer’s OS has now booted, she rolls out her chair and storms out the room, exiting to her left. The chair bumps into the wall, all 5 feet it had to clear to do so. Then I notice where she’s going. The engine room? As I stand to follow, Nord peers into the room, his room being only two doors over. He looks at me, then towards the engine room. I meet him at the door before he backs his way up, preparing to head back to his bedroom.

He chuckles, and says, “That’s not something you see everyday.” before heading back to his room.


#58

I’m super happy you won’t let this die out :smiley: as many cool looking games do. I was wondering how many chapters you were thinking of doing, in a rough estimate. Also loved the snippet. Good Luck!


#59

@Chopper Roughly? I have 6 chapters currently in mind, with heists for chapters 2-5 already conceptualizing.

Each chapter will have a hang-out mission with most crew members, which are their own mini storylines. These take place non-linearly leading up to the heist.

Example

The hangouts (or side missions) can be played in any order, but take place on set dates. For example, let’s say you help snatch a getaway car with Nord. This takes place on a set date.

Let’s say the heist takes place on July 12th, and the side mission is set on July 6th. Other side missions may be set on different dates, like June 23rd, or July 11th. Also I’ll likely add variables so your character or other characters will bring up things you have done on previous days. You’ll be able to play these chronologically, sporadically, or not at all.

I’m still debating adding currency and a custom loadout system. I may just keep it linear, but I want to have some sort of currency system to reward players for pulling off greater heists. It’ll also give players a reason to take more risks and stick around longer. I’ll have to see.

It’d give a good alternative though to a quick in n’ out. Taking your time to grab all the cash, managing hostages, hour long heists, and dealing with fatigue and the anxiety of not knowing when the police will stop negotiating and just come through. For the bank heist in chapter 2, this is something I’d like to explore.