Game Concept: The Last Muse

 

Introduction

The Last Muse is a 2D isometric “music adventure” game for PC, in which players play the last Muse, who’s been kidnaped by some alien music creatures to a strange music realm. They want to imprison Muse so as to eliminate all music on Earth. To break up the scheme, players have to escape the alien music realm, and defeat enemies and traps along the way by “performing music” to unleash various abilities according to the rhythm and melody of the music that’s playing.

Key Features

The Last Muse features a music thematic adventure. In The Last Muse, almost every part of the gameplay is connected with music, from the pace of the game, to attack/defence and music abilities. In brief, the game replaces the conventional gameplay elements in adventure games with music-related ones.

Each level features a different piece of music and each platform/passage features a different section of the piece. As the game progresses, the music becomes increasingly complex in melody and rhythm.

The player’s goal is to escape the alien music realm and try to keep Muse as well as possible. So the score starts with 10000 and every time Muse (the player) takes damage, the artistry decrease.

Music thematic adventure

The adventure of the game will be set across environments (platforms and passages) of music themes, so does the light comic story. The game offers option for an unparalleled game experience of high integration of music and action adventure game.

Pace following the music

The pace of the player and enemies’ movement and actions are in accordance with the tempo of the music. So when in a platform with music of slow tempo, both the player and the enemy move and act at a relative slow pace along the music. The music’s pace also affects the pace of the story and the overall flow of the game.

Act along the music

Apart from receiving the passive effect on pace, the player and the enemy also have to act along the music’s melody and rhythm. For the player, the music actions include restoring inspiration and texture, basic and combo attack/defence and music abilities. For the enemy, they attack, defend and use abilities according to the music as well. Meanwhile, there are music puzzles, such as lock picking, trap disarming, etc. involving similar music actions. The detailed actions will be explained in Gameplay section.

Terminology and Content

General

Term Description
Pace The overall pace of the game, similar to the playing speed setting of a multimedia player
Platform The basic game world structure and gameplay loop
Passage
Artistry The overall score of the player, starts with 10000 and decreases when taking damage (texture decreases)

Can be negative

Normal state The state when the player is not engaged in combat with enemies or in other gameplay activities (e.g. lock picking)
Combat state The state when the player is engaged in combat with enemies
Inspiration The energy/mana of the player

Can be restored by completing melody combos in normal state

Texture The health/HP of the player

Can be restored by completing rhythm combos in normal state

Melody combo 2 or more consecutive input commands that fit the melody of the music that’s playing (sometimes the melody also contains the same rhythm to the bass rhythm, but the input of melody cannot replace the input of rhythm: difference between monophonic and homophonic music)

The number of the input commands determine the effectiveness of the combo

Monophonic music A single melody and the rhythm is contained in the melody
Homophonic music A melody with bass rhythm as accompaniment and the melody and rhythm are separated
Rhythm combo 2 or more consecutive input commands that fit the rhythm of the music that’s playing

The number of the input commands determine the effectiveness of the combo

Basic attack In combat state input a basic attack command that fits the rhythm of the music that’s playing

Need to target enemy

Cost inspiration

Combo attack In combat state complete a melody combo

Can be attached with an offensive ability

Range attack

Cost inspiration

Combo defence In combat state complete a rhythm combo

Can be attached with a defensive ability

Cost inspiration

Offensive ability Passive music ability, needs to be used with combo attack/combo defence
Defensive ability
Special ability Active music ability, cost inspiration to use
Collectables Items that can be collected in the game levels, has an instant effect or can be used with special abilities
Losing condition The texture reaches 0

The player will respawn at the nearest checking point

Winning condition The player reaches the end of the last level
Podium The leader board

Music Abilities (later in development)

Category Ability Description
Offensive ability Forte Enhance the player’s attack damage
Fermata Cause lingering damage
Staccato Add special attack effect, extra effective to certain enemies
Legato Add special attack effect, extra effective to certain enemies
Harmony Add special attack effect, extra effective to certain enemies
Defensive ability Piano Weaken enemy’s attack damage
Counterpoint Reflect enemy’s attack
Special ability Cadenza Change the current music to the pre-selected one form the collected masterpieces
Rest Pause the music for a while during which both the player and the enemy cannot take combat actions

Collectables (later in development)

Category Item Description
Instant consumable Score Restore some texture

Add some artistry

Idea Restore some inspiration

Add some artistry

Storable Masterpiece Music pieces that can be collected to use with the cadenza ability

Add some artistry

Enemies (to be designed)

Puzzles (to be designed)

Gameplay

Small Loop: The platform/passage

The platform/passage is the basic game world structure and gameplay loop. It is the location where the main actions take place. In each platform/passage, a section of a piece of music is playing and looping, which directs the pace and all combat actions.

When in normal state, the player can choose to restore inspiration/texture and explore the platform/passage and solve music-related puzzles.

When in combat state, the player can choose to defeat the enemy. In some cases, the player is not required to defeat the enemy in order to proceed to the next location. The enemy has a certain target range.

Note there are two situations of music when considering implementing the music and its input commands i.e. the monophonic and homophonic music. However, the separated input for melody combo and rhythm combo is always needed.

Examples of music actions & input commands:

At the moment, the music that’s playing is a homophonic piece:

Music

x: input for basic attack

o: input for rhythm combo

1 2 3 4 5 6 7: input for melody combo

Action Input commands
Basic attack Any x that fits the bass rhythm
Rhythm combo Any two or more o that fit the bass rhythm

e.g. oo, ooo, oooo etc.

Melody combo Any two or more melody combo inputs that fit the melody(and its rhythm)

e.g. 35, 352, 3523 etc.

Each combo has a certain maximum number of inputs.

At certain locations, plots will be triggered.

Medium Loop: The Level

A level consists of 10-30+ platforms/passages. Each level has a piece of music as the theme of the settings (both for the music-related gameplay and the visuals).

At the beginning & end of each level, cut-scenes are played to narrate the story as transitions. And the current artistry will be displayed.

Large Loop: The game

The whole game consists of 5-15 levels (depending on the practical development).

The losing condition is that the player’s texture is decreased to 0, but the player with respawn at the nearest checking point. So there is no real losing condition.

The winning condition is that the player reaches the end of the last level. The final artistry will be displayed and the player may enter the podium if a high artistry is created.

Aesthetics

Settings

The game world is set in a strange alien music realm in ether which consists of many platforms and passages connected to each other. In some cases there are boundaries between them, so before certain objectives are achieved in the current location (e.g. defeating the enemy, unlocking the boundary). A platform/passage may contain certain number/combination of enemies, traps, locked boundaries, interactive objects (portals, etc.) and collectables. Two platforms are connected by a portal or by one or more passages.

An example for the layout of a level:

Level layout example

Reference for the settings:

Game world setting_Chinese Paladin V

(The well of daemons from Chinese Paladin V)

Game world setting_Audiosurf

(Music track from Audiosurf)

Visual

Perspective

The game is presented is a 2D isometric perspective

Reference

Perspective_Bastion

(Bastion)

Perspective_Might and Migic Clash of Heroes

(Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes)

Visual style

The visual style is set to be a compound of cartoon and surrealism.

The main character Muse and the enemies are cartoon figures, while the game environments should be depicted in surrealist style.

The main character Muse is a white robed figure and as he/she grows in power, the apparel becomes increasingly rich in details. Muse wilds a floating golden treble clef as the weapon.

Interface (to be designed)

mocklevel sketch

(mock-up GUI  by Nathan)

Music ability menu

(the music ability menu I can think of now)

Music ability menu: 3-level radial menu

Visual clues:

For players who are not comfortable with playing the music based on hearing, visual clues are displayed by default to hint the inputs of melody and rhythm. The visual clues will be displayed on the top centre of screen as a constantly scrolling timeline, where melody hints are displayed on the timeline and the rhythm hints are displayed beneath the timeline.

Audio

Music

The music should progress from easy to hard. Most of the music will be composed by us. The masterpieces should feature real masterpieces of different genres so players can choose their most familiar and favourite ones.

Sounds

All sounds should be as instrumental as possible to be consistent with the music theme of the game.

Story

Muse is captured by some alien music creatures to a strange music realm. They want to imprison Muse so as to eliminate all music on Earth…

Let’s develop this into a light comedy…

Controls

Two sets of control schemes are available.

On PC:

Control scheme 1 (complex) Control scheme 2 (easy)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 keys for melody combo

Left mouse button for basic attack

Right mouse button for rhythm combo

1, 2, 3, 4 for melody combo

Left mouse button for basic attack

Right mouse button for rhythm combo

Target Audience

12+ casual game players who like music games and action adventure games

music lovers who do not play many games but would like to have a different music experience through a game.

Target Platform

PC (or any more?)port to iPad if game has good response.

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Game Pitch: Ludic Sketch-Seconds Count

Seconds Count (Inspired by JFK Reloaded and 10 ^ 16 to 1)

Seconds Count Design Sketch 1Seconds Count Design Sketch 2Seconds Count Design Sketch 3

Seconds Count Design Sketch 4

High Concept

Transformation

From JFK Reload, a historical simulation “game”,

Through Sci-Fi transformation inspired by 10 ^ 16 to 1,

To Seconds Count, an alternative/future history and co-op/competitive action game.

Genre and Platform

The game is a multiplayer first person “shooter” (Less intense FPS + motion sensing mini games).

It is about assassin and counter-assassin (Competition between roles of assassin and counter-assassin while cooperation among roles of counter-assassin).

The gameplay requires unique individual interface that is only available on Wii U.

Target Market

The target market includes mixed hard-core and casual gamers and so-called “mid-core gamers“.

Key Features

Sci-Fi Settings

The Sci-Fi settings come from the question: What are the motives of the assassinations? Imagine that when time travel becomes applicable, secret organisations invest in assassinations. Are they time crimes or true justice?

Introduce two rival factions: The Assassins & the Time Defenders.

The game consists of Operation Scenes of both real historical events and fictional history/future events, each lasting about 2-5 minutes.

Asymmetric Gameplay

The gaming experience varies according to the player’s role:

The Assassins The Time Defenders
Goal To assassinate the target To neutralise the assassination AND subdue the Assassin
Control Wii U GamePad Wii Remote / Nunchuk /

Wii U Pro Controller

 

 

Diverse Roles

The Assassins (1 player) The Time Defenders (1-4 player(s))
        Assassin (H)         Sensor (C)
        Protector (C)
        Interceptor (C)
        Enforcer (H)

(H) More Hardcore Role

(C) More Casual Role

The absent roles will be filled by AI

Seconds Count

The game runs on the concept of “seconds count”. To prevent an assassination, the Time Defenders developed a technology that can detect critical events by 5 seconds at most in advance. Thus they have an Operation Window of 5 seconds to take requisite measures before the Assassination Point occurs.

Presentation

Graphics & Audio

The graphics are in cartoonish style in order to ease the violence.

The audio includes scene themed music (e.g. 1960’s American music in JFK’s scene) and Sci-Fi sound effects (e.g. sound effects of future weapons).

GUI

The GUI differentiates on Wii U GamePad and split screens on TV.

Gameplay—An Instance

Phase 1

After operation briefs from their own HQs, two teams start time travel to the operation scene. In this stage, two teams are invisible to each other and the world of the scene.

The Assassin has 2-5 minutes (in this scene, just 2 minutes) to choose the assassination spot, prepare the weapon, evasion/self-protection equipment and plan the evasion action.

Meanwhile, the Time Defenders should determine the ideal defense positions, just before the Assassin pulls the trigger.

Phase 2

The Assassin acts. When the trigger is pulled, the Assassination Point (AP) is created. Although the Assassin takes action now, the Sensor can automatically detect this action by 5 seconds in advance in the same timeline. Thus this forms a turn-based-like mechanism. By now, the Assassin’s all actions are unknown to the Time Defenders.

Phase 3

The Sensor acts. The player should identify the Assassin and the details of the attack (e.g. weapon types, direction, etc.) quickly according to the visuals, sounds and his unique sensor screen and then use the Wii Remote to point out and mark the Assassin on the sensor screen to make him visible to all team members. Finally, the player sends signals to other team members about all the information he has got (through party/voice chat etc.). Suppose it costs the Sensor 1 second to complete all the actions above.

The Assassin, in the meantime, should act out evasion procedures to travel back to the HQ. Suppose it costs the Assassin 1 second to complete this action.

Phase 4

Other Time Defenders act simultaneously. Now the AP will occur in 4 seconds (the Sensor spent 1 second in his action) they have at most 5 seconds (4 seconds of Operation Window + 1 second of the Assassin’s time for evasion) to do everything to accomplish the goal.

The Protector plays mini games (e.g. picture matching), to choose the right protection measures accodring to the Assassin’s weapon type (e.g. force shield for kinetic weapons) and deploy them.

The Interceptor intercepts the incoming “bullet” (can be energy beams or any other weapons) at the AP by acting out the right moves (e.g. slash the bullet from the opposite direction) in the bullet time with the Wii Remote/ Nunchuk.

The Enforcer tries to apprehend or take down the Assassin either before or after the AP and before the Assassin successfully evades. (Note that subduing the Assassin before the AP will prevent the AP but the Protector and the Interceptor will not get more Scores and Credits form their actions.)

Time UP!

The Assassin wins if the target is successfully assassinated.

The Time Defenders win if the assassination is neutralised AND the Assassin is subdued.

Players can view the statistics of their actions in the game and replay the game scene.

Scores and Credits are rewarded according to the specific role and actions.

Irrelevant actions (e.g. killing commoners) will lower Score and Credits.

Credits can be spent on various equipment and items.

PDF: Seconds Count Design Sketch

PPTX: Seconds Count Pitch

Character Sketch-Kongphan, the man who has no face

Character Sketch – The Man Who Has No Face

Name Kongphan (known as the man who has no face)  Kongphan
Age Around 20
Gender Male
Character type Hero/Protagonist/Dynamic
Biography Kongphan, whose name then was unknown, used to be the young almighty God of Black dwelling in the heaven sphere. His elder brother, the God of White, somehow went through a drastic change of mind and cast him out of heaven for a secret reason in the constant war against the inferno sphere. When he fell to the earth sphere, his being of ego was split into several lesser beings together with his personalities and virtues, scatter across the earth and other worlds. Being only one of the shards, he lost almost all of his divine powers and became a mortal. With both the perplexity and vow of vengeance burning in his heart, Kongphan embarked on a journey for convalescence (rehabilitation) beyond and the answer to the fate of him and his brother.
Appearance Before fall: Pure being of black and maybe seen in humanoid shape

After fall: A young man about 1.73m high wearing a black thick robe with his face always concealed in the shade of the hood.

Personality Being mortal, Kongphan appears to be cold and indifferent, but he has a warm heart hidden deeply. He never says too much and always chooses to act on his own. He prefers solitude but also yearns for friendship and others’ affections. In a mortal way, he is truly a perfectionist and a romanticist.
Relationship Like pillars in a temple, he is the central one. Befriending with his other lesser beings, he then gets closer to his wholeness.
Combat style Depending on the player’s choice, Kongphan will vary in his profession, but always remain in a dark-oriented combat style.
Abilities Kongphan is initially deprived of his divine powers. As he convalesces and gets complements from his companions, he will rediscover his lost powers of black and darkness, varying according to his determined profession(s).

 

Game Pitch: Ludic Sketch-The Dualistic Life of Day & Night


This is a conceptual design of a game which combines some aspects of the other two: The Sims and King’s Bounty: The Legend. Note that this is a design on selected aspects.

Game genres are blurring

The Tales of Brunel is settled in a dualistic world

The two states/modes are intertwined and interactive. The player will experience relative consequences caused by his behaviours in both day and night time

Day: Life Simulation (Reality)

Night: Role-playing with Turn-based Strategy Combat (Dream) The characters’ spirits comes out of their bodies and then venture forth into the fantasy dream realm hidden from reality

Aesthetics: Derived from King’s Bounty: The Legends

The story is a contemporary fantasy about a group of young people at Brunel standing against the plot of 2012

Half-real and half-imaginary graphics

Well-orchestrated music in adventure and combat

Interface: Control panel – every control and player status

Radial action menu in combat (applied on enemy and characters themselves)

Avatar: From a free overlooking view

In the whole game even in battles all units are heroes

The content in the UI changes between day and night, but the avatars the still in player’s control

Game Economics:

Day: Use credits

Night: Amount determined by Credits as one’s consumption level and view is influenced by the disposable income subconsciously

Cupcake: Character developing, artifacts, feats, rewards…but no XP or Leveling-up!

The cupcake pleases the player and also the avatars he controls

Death: In real life, normally death is caused by old age but this is not taken in to account because of the game’s time period

Two major factors in The Sims: Hunger and out of Energy

Reality affects Dream: e.g. if the character has low energy in the day time he/she won’t have good combat performance

Dream reflects Reality: e.g. in dream you die, you die in reality e.g. the cupcake

Chance: Use of random factors: random number based mechanics

Majorly Chance is applied to the game at night

But also has subtle effect on encounters in day time

Looking forward: The Grand Game/Game of every game– everything

PPTX: The Dualistic Life of Day & Night

Conceptual Design of a Topic Keywords-oriented Game Dialogue System

设计思路

自然语言中,对话在思维中的生成是以话题关键词的组合作为导向的(心理语言中的表征符号)。句子的不同成分都可以作为主要或次要的对话关键词。例如在句子“我真不知道学习编译原理有什么必要!”中,句子可以按照“我”,“认为”,“编译原理”和“不必”这些话题关键词来组织生成。结合句子语气类型(句类),即陈述句,疑问句等,就可以生成几乎所有的句子,进而组成对话。

为了简化对话的话题,方便游戏者的实际操作,同时也使得使这种接近自然语言的对话生成模式有可能实现,将话题关键词的层次规定为最多3级,即对话树的深度最大为2(空数的深度规定为-1)。除最后一级外,话题关键词以确定的形式按照句类进行分类。在选择最后一级话题时,给出在不同对话场景中预先设定的若干选项(多数为动宾短语),完成一轮对话的生成。

按照部分句类,将规定的话题关键词分为以下类别和层次(次级话题关键词按照对话不同可选):

(1)Statement(陈述)

主要关键词:I, We, He (She, It), You, They,其它具体主语、称谓

次级关键词:Do, Don’t(表示肯定和否定)

(2Question(疑问)

主要关键词:What, When, Where, Why, Who, Whose, How, Which, If

次级关键词:I, We, He (She, It), You, They

(3Expression(表达)

主要关键词:Yes, No, Approve, Object

这些话题关键词表达上意义明确,但在实际的对话场景中可由游戏者的角色使用不同的表述形式来表达。例如You+Don’t在有的对话场景下可能被表述为Nobody。

以下面的一个句子为例:

I just can’t imagine seeing they lock you up.

可以依次选择I, Don’t, They confine you.这3级话题关键词选项来生成。在不同的对话场景中,所有的关键词并不都是可选的。例如在一个询问场景中,可能只会出现Where和When的疑问关键词,并且下一级关键词选项不会出现次要关键词而直接出现具体对话选项。

可以看出,在应用了话题关键词导向对话系统后,叙事和代入感的主动性更加偏向于游戏者。游戏者从单纯的选择游戏已经确定的对话选项转变为由自己的思维主导对话选项的选择,使角色扮演中“扮演自己”的成分更加突出。

系统特性

除了陈述、疑问和表达3种话题关键词分类,由话题关键词导向组织对话,系统还考虑了其他一些重要特性,使对话更加自然真实,减少对话完全由游戏者操纵的情况。

(1)Listen(Wait)选项

在现实中,参与对话的一方可以选择聆听对方而暂时不发表言论,在游戏对话系统中则可以加入聆听或等待的选项来避免每一轮对话游戏者都必须发言的情况。

(2)随时有效的打断选项

日常对话并不总是一对一的轮流进行,任何一方都可以随时打断对方发言。在《质量效应2》中,善意和恶意的打断设计很好地还原了对话的这一特质,但却被限定在特定的对话情境中。在本对话系统中加入随时有效的打断选项,打断发生后对意外的对话场景进行处理,可以产生更加真实的对话和额外的戏剧性效果。

(3)根据思维性格习惯调整话题选项

在《龙腾世纪2》中,对话系统继承了《质量效应》系列的对话轮模式,同时在不同选项上用图标表示不同的对话语气和风格。这样产生了一个与现实极不相符的情形:游戏者可以不时选择同情、嘲讽或是强硬的语气来对话,失去了角色固定的性格特征。在本对话系统中,在对游戏者的对话选择进行实时记录分析后,系统会自动过滤部分对话选项,形成符合角色思维性格的最后一级对话选项。

(4)NPC主导对话

对于大多数参与剧情的NPC,对话的主动权掌握在游戏者手中,一些情况下NPC只能接受游戏者的质询,也不能拒绝进一步对话。日常生活中不存在这种有问必答,永不厌倦的人。本系统加入可以选择开启的NPC人格化设计,增加对话的不确定性和真实性。可以设想NPC和游戏者使用的是同一个对话系统,而不是简单的对话脚本。

概念设计

在现有的设计思路和技术条件下,对上述基于轮状中心辐射对话系统的改进系统,话题关键词导向对话系统进行概念设计。

在对话中心可以选择Statement,Question,Expression和Listen,选择前三者分别进入次要关键词层次(可选),最后进入最后一级的具体对话选项(数目因具体对话而不同)。选择轮盘中心的标识字母放回上一级关键词层次。在对话进程中,游戏者按需选择按键进行对话打断(对话轮中未显示)。

Topic Keweords-oriented Game Dialogue System