Paradox: a Game about Time Travel


#1

Warning! This thread and post contain spoilers. Do not continue reading if you plan on playing this game.

This is a long-term project currently in the planning stages.


Synopsis:

Paradox is about a man sent back in time to prevent a disaster from occurring in the future.

The disaster kills most of the human population and leaves the surface of the Earth inhabitable, forcing survivors underground. Pre-disaster, a crude form of time travel existed, though no human trials took place. With no hope in the future, the remaining survivors send the player back to prevent the disaster from occurring.

From his point of view, the player simply pops into existence without any memories. His only companion is an artificial intelligence that seems to be embedded in his mind. Only the player can hear the voice. The AI has been programmed with all future past knowledge, can calculate the odds of an event occurring and is tasked to make sure the player completes his mission.


Plan:

So… why am I posting this so early? Motivation. Better have the game open to anyone than sitting isolated on my hard drive. Putting this on-line at this point may be foolish but I want to give it a try.

I also want to have the entire sequence of choices finalized before any serious writing begins. It’ll be overwhelming but I don’t want to limit the game.

At this point in time, I’m very open to the idea of others contributing to the game.

The goal is to make a game that morphs to the actions taken by the player. I want something highly variable. Things established about or done by the player character will change how the game progresses and how the story ultimately ends.


Ideas:

The Disaster is variable:
it could be a new strain of virus
it could be a weaponized virus released accidentally
it could be a weaponized virus released on purpose
it could be radioactive fallout caused by a crashed satellite

The Player’s Past is variable:
his past self could be directly responsible for the disaster
his past self could be partly responsible for the disaster

The Player’s Future is variable:
he could be a qualified volunteer
he could be a prisoner

The Game’s End is variable:
is the disaster averted - yes or no?
the player can be killed
the player can kill himself out of futility
the player could ignore the task and live in the past
the player could be imprisoned and become stuck in the past

Why has the player lost his memory? Maybe it’s a result of travelling back in time. Could be that his memory is wiped as a precaution.

A love interest could complicate things. It may make the player choose to live out the remaining days of the past instead of trying to prevent the future from happening.

I like the idea of the player remembering watching a man getting killed as a child. The reality is that the man is actually the player. So the player ends the game dying in front of his past self. Makes for an interesting game over.

(More to come.)


#2

Can’t seem to edit your own posts after a while. That’s a pity. The forum doesn’t seem to support tags either, so a straight up hyper-link will have to do.

Here’s a rough flow chart for what I have so far:
http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/5624/flowmcchart.jpg


#3

Hm, the A.I calculating the probability of things that could happen might kill suspense. although the interactions with it could be interesting. The overall plot seems like it could work well if done right, although the writing is what will make it or break it.


#4

Thanks for the input!

At present I’m treating the AI as an antagonist. She, a female voice, is not exactly all knowing. In fact, her probability calculations are highly unreliable given all the variables. If anything, the AI is there to pester the player, move the plot along and serves to explain how the flow of time works in the game (and potentially how it’ll be affected.)

Inspired heavily by GLaDOS (if you’ve played Portal.) And probably a few others, like HAL. Malevolent computers are fun. Heh.


#5

Yea, there’s a half hour limit to edit posts. (If you want me to edit it for you later PM me what you want the post to say and I can edit it for you.)

Just a quick question, is the AI going to be tech heavy or personality heavy? I personally prefer an AI that is tech heavy (as in, it acts like a computer which has gained intelligence) as opposed to personality heavy (as in, it acts like someone that just has the brain of a computer). Love to see the differences between a cold calculating machine with it’s own agenda, and a human explored.


#6

Well I wrote a long reply to this a couple of hours ago but for some reason couldn’t post it. Oh well. Key points were:

Don’t copy 12 Monkeys (you can keep the ‘going back in time to prevent a virus’ bit but at least drop the ‘seeing a man die who turns out to be the player himself’ part. That’s going too far).

Aside from that, a time travel idea would be perfect for a cog game. There are infinite possibilities and it would be good to see how your decisions affect the future. Perhaps have multiple endings based on the same date that the game begins at, with each ending showcasing the differences you made throughout the game.


#7

@Reaperoa - I agree. Computer logic and human rationale are usually on far different wavelengths. I’ll try to keep the AI as cold as possible. Thanks for the comment!

@andymwhy - Haha. Thanks for the reply. I’m glad someone called me out on the 12 Monkeys rip. The idea for Paradox was very different originally, it had been intended to be a small HTML5 game. But when my javascript coding knowledge started to lag behind what I wanted to implement, it turned into a text adventure. What I wanted to do was make a game where the player tries to solve a problem (which they can’t,) using time travel. Turned out to be way too open ended and impossible for one person to write for.

So here I am now. I’ll be honest: I still want to include the 12 Monkeys ending as one possible ending to Paradox. I like it, 'cause it feels chintzy, like one of those weird CYOA endings that left you all wide-eyed and saying WTF.

At the moment too I’m planning for a certain element of randomness. I don’t want any one play through to be exactly the same as another, regardless if the player chooses the exact same choices. Chalk one up to chaos theory. Not sure exactly how I want to implement it yet.

One idea I’m kicking around is a “stat” which would give the player what the AI currently predicts their chances of successfully altering the future. Maybe something like: “At present, the chance of ‘E’ occurring is ‘N’%.” Could be fun, especially if you can screw with the player by making its accuracy variable. A false sense of security is fun to destroy.


#8

Galafray?


#9

This sounds like a great game. Although i dont see a possible way to stop a virus other than isolation from other host’s until the last host dies out. As for each playthroigh being different…maybe have, say, a different item/action(as in choice) appear on each playthrough allowing for different solutions to a puzzle/problem?


#10

Wait we are from the future? what exactly is stopping us from literally taking over everything with all our know what happened and directing the population us we want?


#11

I think you guys have just warped back in time, as the game hasn’t been mentioned since March! Shame, really–intriguing concept.


#12

@pipebrain
Hmm sounds like a very interesting concept and I look forward to mindf**ks aplenty in the future :slight_smile:

One thing your going to have to be very careful of is that if your using a lot of random scene selection or RNG-or any other way to implement the different playthrough everytime thing-is that you don’t end up having the protagonist or other characters openly contradicting themselves or other characters, which looks like it maybe hard to pull off if the game is going to be as large and sprawling as it sounds from the description.


#13

@Vendetta Did not notice that until you mentioned it. I saw that it was recently commented on but failed to see the march 10 on that last comment.


#14

I quite liked the idea but the ai only the player can hear reminds me of Quantum Leap (actually I’d love to make a game based off that show)


#15

@Nocturnal_Stillness
Please do, it fits perfectly with the episodic gameplay format you currently have for Unnatural [-O<