Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The backstory

This is a little bit wordy, again. Apologies! But it describes the events that affect the story in the game, so it's kind of important. Since the game is so heavily driven by the narrative I wanted to get this nailed down before I start any missions, dialogue samples or level designs. This gives me a purpose, an end goal and a narrative framework to build the game around, which makes it a million times easier to break the game down into little bits.

So, here's the back story:

Many years ago, two children disappeared in an area not far away. Before they vanished they had been playing in the woods outside their parent's secluded log cabin, and despite a huge search action they were never found. It was assumed they had gone through the ice in one of the many lakes and drowned. Some people muttered about wolves, bears or predators of the human sort. Others didn't say anything at all, but they spat after black cats and made sure to bring a piece of steel when they went walking in the woods. Regardless of the exact circumstances, the disappearance was a terrible tragedy. 

What no one knew - but what some old and superstitious people suspected - was that something otherworldly had taken the siblings. They had followed a path they'd never seen before and unknowingly passed through the veil. On the other side they encountered a strange woman. She seemed nice at first, offering the siblings strange sweets and directions. But as the children relaxed, the woman... Changed. The last thing the children saw was her eyes, and how they glowed brighter as all the warmth and energy was sucked out of the two little bodies. A tragedy indeed.

Had it not been for the masses of human searchers that followed this event, Ísafold might have gotten away with it. But the veil was thin in this area, and some of the searchers saw things they shouldn't have seen. They saw figures in the shadows. Strange lights. They heard voices. And then they talked, and people came to look for more than just the missing children. 

There was also the matter of the ghosts. When a human dies on the "wrong" side of the veil their soul remains in the shape of a spirit. Ghosts aren't that different to people; they can move, talk and think in their own strange and distant way. And when they know your deepest secrets, a dead human is as dangerous as a living one. Ísafold should have thought of this before she did what she did. She must have cursed her foolishness again and again. Perhaps the bright little lives that gleamed so strongly in front of her made her reckless and impulsive. After all, it had been a century since Ísafold last consumed a human, and to then have two children appear like that... She simply acted on instinct. 

She then swallowed her pride and went to Grár for counsel. They both agreed that nothing good could happen if the increasingly obtrusive and curious humans figured out a way to purposely pass through the veil. They also knew that the two young ghosts had to be silenced, or Ísafold would be blamed for drawing humans to the otherworld. So in return for a future favour, Grár forged an amulet that could trap the two spirits for an eternity. Ísafold cast a spell on the land that made it impossible for anyone - human or otherwise - to cross the boundary between the two worlds. And then they both went their separate ways, and they never spoke of the spell, the ghosts or the medallion to anyone.

After establishing all that I could write a SUPER sketchy outline of the game. It comes in three chapters, and this game overview document will cover the first.

Chapter 1:
Arrive in the otherworld.
Meet Yrsa.
Find Ivar.
Get Ivar's trust and learn about the world through a series of missions.
Get the required portal-making items.
Ivar tries to open a "portal" to send you home, but fails.
Something points towards magical interference...

Chapter 2:
Go to Ísafold - she denies knowing anything about the veil's spell but secretly alerts Grár that a human child has entered the otherworld.
She promises Grár the child as repayment of his earlier favour, but she doesn't want Yrsa to know about this.
She invites you to stay....for as long as you want...
Grár sends out trolls to collect you from Ísafold.
Forest creatures then tell you about Grar's medallion and the souls that are trapped in it.
Leave Ísafold's domain.
Avoid the trolls that look for you.
Defeat Grár (steel? expose to sunlight?)
Destroy his medallion.
This releases the ghost children, who explain everything.

Chapter 3:
Gather magical components across the land and from different creatures.
Reverse Ísafold's spell to make it possible to cross the boundary again.
Yrsa confronts her mother and somehow manages to banish her, which makes Yrsa the keeper of the forest instead.
Cross the boundary with Ivar's help.
Bring the parents of the ghost children some kind of token.
The end!

I hope that makes some kind of sense. There's a chance I read it all tomorrow and go "...what?"...

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