My best friend and I are writing an interactive novel together and I am curious what you think of it. So far we have written it in German, so my main question ist: Would you want to read it if we were translating it (we would be translating it with a friend who is a native English speaker)?
Here’s the gist:
The world/ setting
It is the near future. The government has financed a project that uses artificial intelligence and the digital footprint of the deceased to emulate their speaking patterns and ideolects in order to give grieving individuals hope and stabilise the emotions of grieving people in order to decrease their potential instability and danger for society/ have stable workers. The project and the artificial intelligence is called (so far it is a German name, but I will translate it) “Letzter Wille” (Last Will, as it is a pun on intentionalism, wanting and testaments/wills). The artificial intelligence should not be overused or substitute the dead entirely, at least that is why the government keeps the access to the programme under their control and only lets people who registered for the the programme come to Last Will’s headquaters IF they won a ticket for it in some kind of lottery.
The player character’s brother Sebastian, a programmer, word jumble and crime movie enthusiast, went missing years ago and (at least in Germany we have that rule, that if somebody is being missed for a certain amount of time, they are declared as dead) is declared to be dead. You are unsure how you feel about it: Do you believe that he is dead or do you believe that he is still somewhere out there?
The story starts with you returning from having been granted a talk with the artifical intelligence. But your experience left you shook: Yes, the “programme” sounded absolutely like Sebastian, but when you proposed to it a desperate wish: To see him again, it replied that you could, if only you killed his former best friend Mira.
After this, you are very confused and can choose to make different guesses as what is the truth behind all this and you are set to investigate. We came up with a bunch of layers and twists for the story. I have a hunch that it would be better to steer clear of them (but if you are keen to hear more details I can add them in spoilered blurr text afterwards).
- You search for Mira, your lost/dead brother’s former best friend in four different places either with the intention to question her/talk to her or with the intention kill her. If you choose the latter as a motive for the search you get a scene in which you can brew a poison (that can turn out to be a medicine, light poison, deadly poison or drug cocktail or have no effect at all btw)
*If you find her you can talk to her/kill her depending if you found her early enough (if not: she is already dead, having been recently murdered and depending on your action you can meet the murderer or not)
*Find out more about Mira’s and Sebastian’s connection to Last Will!
*Search the headquaters, Sebastian’s old belongings, Mira’s flat and a secret place for more clues on the case
*Discover a secret organization (Voluntas (latin for free will) who rebels against the problems concerning Last Will
*Find out about the nature of Mira’s and Sebastian’s connection to the secret organization
*Discover the current schemes and plottings of the organization and position yourself: You can fight against both, work for both, pick a side or remain neutral
*Find out about the artificial intelligence’s flaws and/or dark secrets.
*discover Sebastian’s plan.
Romance/best friend/fiercest enemy-Options.
We have implemented five central figures for different kind of bonds. One female one, one male one, two characters who’s gender are the player’s choice (including non-binary) and another one who we have currently planned out as a non-binary character but we might set their gender to player’s choice aswell, but we have not decided on that finally (they are introduced late game in contrast to the others that is why it is more or less open at that point)
Details on the romance/best friend/fiercest enemy-options
- the secret organization’s hitman
- works in a baking shop at day time, that is
- friendly, a bit dim-witted, loves animals and has a really cheerful and gentle personality (on surface)
-sticks to leading figures, has a hard time challenging authority
-muscular and dressed formally, the latter contrasting to their profession
- if you gain their trust they will fight for you, love you with all their heart and might and will not let anyone hurt you. Also, they provide the best, freshly baken strudel.
they are the leader of the secret organization’s right hand and will remain on their side almost all the time. They are not very observant. If you want to charm them/ sabotage them while being on a different/the same team, you can fairly easily in contrast to other characters.
A programmer who has worked with your brother at a company years ago who can and will help you with sneaking into the facilities of Last Will or the secret organization. They are sarcastic and try to be witty and funny, overplaying emotions with it to a great deal. They are knowledge-savvy and will not take sides, but always remain neutral or … well chaotic neutral (sabotaging both, Last Will AND Voluntas is fine with them, too). They are in a wheelchair but not since birth. You might find out why, if you get to know them.
Regardless of the gender their appearance is lanky with curly and long reddish-blonde hair and green eyes.
A quality manager at Last Will. She dives deep into her work, eager to improve the program and to distract herself from her isolated life in the big city. She oftentimes works overtime and is quite easy to anger. Trixie, formally addressed as Beatrix Hermann, wears a dark green blazer and light green blouse, sporting the company’s corporate colours, wears a messy brown-haired bun and glasses. She will fight for either side, being convinced fairly easily to remove herself from Last Will or tackling it from the inside as she already heeds some level of suspicion from the beginning. However, she wil never remain neutral. She is efficience oriented but empathetic and cannot keep her sad little office palm tree alive (maybe you can).
A secret agent/ mole for Last Will. Works at the secret organization Voluntas and gives the leader intelligent advice. He’s sleek, absolutely ruthless and pretends to be a proper muslim who prays five times a day in order to have an unquestioned excuse to be alone and report to Last Will frequently. He keeps to himself and hates to be in the spotlight, but he secretly has a knack for dancing. He will never truly work for Voluntas but you can charm him while working for Last Will or having an even superior cunning skill than him. But then again, that relationship would be quite toxic, right? He’s wearing a needle-pin suit and slicked back, black hair.
Like you, Kim has lost someone dear to them. Like you they have had the chance to talk to Last Will’s version of their passed one. Like you, they encountered certain problem with Last Will. They are a student at the local university, studying politics and being a member of the secret organization, yet not a very powerful one. They are not that convinced of Voluntas’ moral ambiguity but lack an alternative. They are in charge of their PR department.
Appearance-wise they have curly black hair, brown eyes and wear tartan shirts and jeans. They are caught in their past, but want to snap out of it. They feel like they can never find someone like their lost best friend again, but maybe you can be that someone?
We are roughly 450.000 words deep, albeit in German. The game is structured in five main Chapters: Search for Mira | Last Will Headquaters | Voluntas | The Plan | The Resolution
Play as female, male or non-binary | romance/befriend or learn to hate characters female, male or non-binary characters|.
Play as asexual, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or do not dive into the romance department at all. We also have a plan for a poly-amorous relationship constellation with Kim and Trixie as it matches their storylines the closest to befriend (and potentially love) one another but we focus on the main story first and leave our options regarding romance paths a bit more open. As cultural inclusion we focused on Germany’s multicultural background which varies comparing it to America, but here we go: RO wise we have Eliah/Elias/Elisa having Polish and German parents, they believe there is some god out there but nothing in particular, Macīt being Turkish (he is presented as being muslim through parts of the game but he is in fact an atheist and a secret agent who uses religion as a ruse :c
), Kim’s black and their parents are from France, Kim is not religious, but their religiousness or lack thereof is not part of the game, anyway. Trixie is white and from a German town on the border to the Netherlands and she grew up in a strictly Catholic household, disliking it and turning away from it, yet questioning whether to believe or not in some higher force. Francis is a vehement atheist and is a white German.
Tone of the game
So far we have kept the game’s tone attuned to the player’s choice and we want to keep this approach, meaning: if you pick serious options you will hear the story in a serious tone, if you pick comedic options to solve problems you’ll reap what you sow. Lets just say: It ranges from heart-wrenching or action-driven to thisissodumbbutinawayfunny.
I am (and my best friend is, too) eager to hear your feedback!