9/3 - The Story of The Elementalist

Hi again! This week I spent largely focusing on story content and structuring the game idea. I'd say that the game is about 20% done right now, but that's a very rough estimate. Game development tends to be all over the place! (Expect some GIFs from the past week scattered throughout today's post!

So, about that story content: this week I wrote and refined the script for the game. It's not very long (24 pages) and works around a lot of limitations I knew there would be going in, but I'm quite pleased with the end product, and when you get to experience it later this Spring, I hope you will be too!

I don't want to reveal too much here, firstly so as not to spoil the game, and secondly because it may very well change by the time the game releases, so I'll give a quick rundown of the premise and leave it at that.

After a year of exile from the White City, home of the mages, the Elementalist Vos seeks redemption and the end of his sentence from the Lord Mage Motus, and is thus tasked with the extermination of the Armies of Darkness which have swept over the once peaceful kingdom of Reprobi. Accompanied by the lucky spirit Comes, Vos will learn the story of how the kingdom came to fall from what remains of its inhabitants as he attempts to defeat its invaders.

It seems like a pretty simple foundation, but it serves as a solid one for all the character arcs and revelations to be built upon. I want to dig into one character a bit more as they were the most difficult one to work out, and, don't worry, I won't be spoiling anything.

Vos was obviously the first character that existed in this fictional universe, he had to be, after all, he was the protagonist. Comes was the second, but he went through a significant number of changes. The most prominent idea before the current one was what I'll refer to as Person Comes. Person Comes was going to accompany Vos on their journey as a mage who had lost their powers seeking some kind of cure for their lack of magic. This, I realised, wouldn't work. Person Comes would be too vulnerable and it didn't make sense for them to accompany Vos on their journey but suddenly become non corporeal in battles. Comes would have to be completely invulnerable for this to work.

Surprisingly, one of the biggest inspirations for The Elementalist is actually Halo: Combat Evolved. I might dig more into this later but the most direct inspiration for Comes is Cortana. It's a pretty clever idea to give the story a persistent deuteragonist to play off the protagonist and ensure it's not a constantly lonely experience, but the added layer of difficulty with this in games is how that character will interact in the gameplay. The Cortana/Comes solution is: they don't. Friendly AI is hard, so don't do it. Obviously Halo does feature friendly characters in gameplay but The Elementalist does not, so making Comes into a lucky spirit was the best solution I could think of. It gives all the advantages of a friendly face and foil to the protagonist with none of the programming challenge! 

I do lose something by not having characters able to contribute any aid to the player in gameplay; oftentimes having a character actually be a useful gameplay addition is one of the best things to help endear the player to them, but right now I am lacking the time to achieve that. Given an extra few weeks or maybe even months I could create friendly AI, but even that would be considerably cobbled together. It's much more efficient to keep things working like this, and I am very pleased with the resulting product regardless. I hope you enjoy these characters and this story as much as I do when the game comes out!

Thanks for reading again this week! If you want updates on when these blog posts come out or when the game releases consider following me here on itch.io or over on Twitter. Otherwise, check back in late April/early May! The game should be out by then!

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