Sunday, 22 February 2009

Game Concept: The Evacuee

Here's a concept for a game I've been mulling over for a while. It's yet another World War II game, but this time with a twist!

The player assumes the role of a 10-year-old boy who I'll name Michael for the sake of this article. Michael lives in a fairly built up town in the south of England, 1940, which happens to be the site of several important military factories. Because of this fact, his town is set to be the target of a German aerial bombing.

We begin the game during Michael's relatively undisturbed life with his mother (Dorothy) and father (James), who is unable to fight in the war due to physical injuries. One night the air raid siren begins to howl and the family rush to the local shelter. Michael and Dorothy make it safely inside, but James doesn't make it because of his injury. Hours pass (not real-time) before the bombing run actually occurs and the people emerge later to find their town severely damaged. Michael, assuming his father to be dead, begins to wander aimlessly through the ruins.

Eventually he comes across a group of German soldiers hiding in a protected building, who are talking to none other than Michael's father! Michael suddenly discovers the shocking truth that his father has been a spy for the Germans all along, and must come to terms with this betrayal whilst on the run from the enemy soldiers.

In contrast to every other WW2 game on the market, this game would involve a minimal amount of weapon usage and combat. Instead the player would have to rely on Michael's skills in hiding and finding small gaps to squeeze through, using the environment to sneak past, distract or knock out soldiers, and eventually find his way to the countryside. Certain sections could be played in cooperation with Dorothy who could provide logical solutions to problems that only mothers can fix!

I envisage the game to be fairly short and probably only set in the one town and its surrounding areas. It would probably be a good length for a mod, but unfortunately I don't have time to work on it at the moment so I'll leave it for a rainy day.

On a completely unrelated note, Gamasutra recently announced their personal Top 20 Game Writers. It's a good read for anyone interested in the field.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting concept. I'll admit, when I read "father (James), who is unable to fight in the war due to physical injuries" I had a weird sense of deja vu since I used the exact same sentence in my early draft screenplay this semester - but I completely changed the story in the redraft so never mind!

I like the idea of minimising the actual combat - I'm guessing this ties into your ideas for our coursework, the adventure game level? I'm pondering similar gameplay issues at the moment too since mine will hopefully be set in Japan, with samurai, so i'm aiming to minimise the amount of twitch-gameplay combat to make it more accessible (and hopefully easier to code!)

The mother-son duo dynamic would surely be a first? It would have to be handled carefully though, to prevent it falling into stereotypes where the mother is relegated to a weaker role.

Perhaps you meant Dorothy as more of an NPC, who chips in with advice as needed, rather than a playable character in her own right? In any case, it would be interesting to see how their mother-son relationship affects their development and whether players would be able to align themselves with a single hero rather than two.

Ah, kudos for mentioning the Gamasutra article, I'll take a look. Oh and, what's this? my third or so post on your blog in the last week? I'll calm down soon, promise..