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One game idea I’m hot about is this little city-building/top-down shooting/role-playing God game named Ascension. CBTDSRPGG for short. It takes root in a little Universe I’ve created for my novels, with Gods that have ascended from mortality. Hey, look at me, I sound like a real novelist! Anyway, this would be a game where you play as one of those ordinary people who’s becoming a God. There’s nothing special about the people that ascend, most of the time.

I miss God games. They used to be the big ‘thing’ in PC gaming, up until shooters came along and took a creamy dump on the whole industry. Okay, my definition of ‘God game’ might be a bit loose. What I mean is, RTS and tycoons were everywhere, back in the good old days of PC gaming. It got a little dry sometimes, because maybe of them were basically the same game. It’s the same problem with the onslaught of shooters. Here, at least, each one could put you in a different role and indulge a different fantasy. You had Tropico, SimCity, Zoo Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Civilization… Same genre, with wildly different feels. But now those games have fallen out of favor, since they don’t work terribly well on consoles, and PC gaming is throwing up in its own mouth.

Oh, right, I’m trying not to piss people off. Sorry about that. PC gaming forever!

Any, Ascension is what I envision as a return to the good old days of gaming mixed with the new, current advancements. It would be a shooter, as well – I’d prefer first-person, but as I considered making it I decided it would have to be 2D in order for me to actually be able to do it, and designed it as such. The reason for this is just to keep the player involved, as it is story-based, and the player would directly control a single character. The ‘camera’ views everything from the top down, like an old-school RPG. The character is controlled with the WASD keys and a cursor is controlled separately with the mouse.

The first aspect of the game is the ‘shooting’. Since the city-building is separate, the player needs to something to do since they’ll be controlling their own character for long stretches. It’s also one way to give them the opportunity to let loose with their Godly powers. The problem is that, most of the time, games only give you a certain number of ‘spells’. Even other God games, like Black and White, tend to reduce your power to a simple number of pre-programmed spells. I want the player to feel like their powers are limited only by their own imagination. All the powers are controlled entirely by using the mouse. You can play without touching the mouse, since it’s only ever used for powers. At the beginning, when this isn’t an option, the mouse is indeed completely unused. It gives the mouse a special sort of meaning to the game.

Powers are comprised of an Element, and a Method. Two wheels sit at the top of the HUD, one selected at any time. One has the Elements, and one has the Methods. The Elements are basically just things like ‘fire’, ‘water’, ‘earth’… the usual. The Methods are ways in which the Element is used. These are ‘ball’, ‘loose’, ‘point’, ‘orb’, ‘draw’, ‘barrier’ and a little bonus one. The Ball Method casts it as a solid ball of energy. Combined with the Fire Element, this makes your happy, traditional fireball. But by moving the mouse wheel a notch, you can select a different element. Say you select Air – now you’re tossing around balls of focused wind that create a shockwave on impact, knocking people away. Press the mouse wheel down, and you’ve selected the second wheel, which allows you to change Methods. The Point Method affect a single, chosen target on the cursor as long as the mouse button is held down. Combined with the Air Element, this allows you to pick up your target and move them around, and, y’know… throw them into things. The different elements work together. Toss around the Water Element enough and make the battlefield wet, then unleash a bolt of lightning or two to fry everything in the room. The Draw Method allows you to create walls by drawing them with the cursor, so create walls of fire and throw people into them. Sky’s the limit.

Now, as a God, the player can’t technically die. In the mythology I’m using, however, Gods are somewhat unstable – especially when young. As the character has just ascended, he/she/it/whatever runs the risk of their soul (not really a soul, but… just roll with it) becoming unfocused. Since the mind and the soul are one, in the mythology, this basically means they’ve gone insane. If a God’s gone insane, they lose focus and can’t take physical form. In the game, this means the character ‘dies’ and is out of commission for a while, at which point they finally become focused. So, there are two meters: health, and sanity. Since the character holds a physical form to interact with the world, they can die. Once they die, they create a new body, and everything’s swell. This, however, causes a loss of sanity and focus. Using powers does as well. Sanity/Focus does regenerate, but not during battle. So, while the player has essentially unlimited use of powers outside of battle, in battle they have to be a little more careful. There’s no ‘magic meter’ or ‘ammo’ besides.

This is all meant to the give the player the feeling of being something more powerful than a human, while still having balance. The game is best played against hordes of enemies, which allows the player to get creative with their powers, as well as reminding them that they’re supposed to be a higher being. They can’t die, per se, but as the game is story-based, their ‘death’ by loss of focus will result in the permanent loss of a mission. Being out of commission for a week or two while your soul-thingy regenerates is not a good thing when you’re on a quest to save the world. More on that in a bit!

This is the first in a series so I can talk about each of the interesting features of the game. The point of these isn’t a ‘here’s something I’m going to do’, so much as it is just putting them out there. If anyone wants to take them and run with them, please, be my guest! If you actually think they’re interesting, awesome! I just want to be told so I can feel good about myself. Do what you like with them!

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