Monday, 30 April 2018

Zincite Storm - An Open-World Racing RPG Idea [Gaming]


I’m a fan of open world racing games, and I’m a fan of RPG’s. No, I’m not suggesting a fight to see which is better. I’m proposing a mix of the two. I’m saying that mixing two genres that haven't really been done before might prove interesting if done right. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting I know the perfect method of doing this that will achieve a full-blown ten across the board, but I like putting ideas out there, and this month has been pretty focused on racing games already. Why not add one more to the mix before Star Wars month [where there’s gonna be another racing game idea appearing, depending on what ideas I settle on]? Either way, a specific idea for an RPG open world racing game is ready to roll, so read on and see if you agree with me on something like this.
First off, it’s an RPG. It’s going to need someone to take a role. Racing games have pretty much already done this by having the player be a driver, with some going further to place them within a story as an actual character within it [see Need For Speed: Payback as a recent example]. An RPG’s going to need a world and things to do within it. This ain’t no simulation racer, the world don’t have to be real. Or even logical if you want to go that far. Let’s not, though. An RPG needs puzzles to solve and combat to… I think I have something similar to implement. And growth of abilities and powers which technically racing games already have. As for a story, it can be simple but with an end goal in sight. As it’s a racing game, the obvious thing to do is a tournament. And a tournament we shall have.

Going into detail with this, anyone who was following me back in 2012 might remember a story of mine [you won’t be able to find it now, however] called Zincite Storm Cup. In the story, the main character was Cobri Da’mine – a racer who had his sight set on winning the titular Zincite Storm cup. His main rival whenever he entered the tournament was Adam Dane – a cocky racer who always won with full points. To enter the tournament, a hefty sum of money is needed, and to earn money racers are required to enter the smaller tournaments dotted around the world. To fit that into an RPG context, you start out with smaller races, work up to tournaments, and finally the Zincite.
Across the story, you’d be travelling across the various cities and entering a range of races, tournaments, and special challenges, meeting up with new people and experiencing this world of racing. Within the world, there would be a range of cities – large and small – with tracks within them. Some races would be outside of a city, with the entirety of the Zincite Storm cup essentially being its own contained area. How you go about earning the right to enter the Zincite is up to the player, but the end goal encourages movement through the different ranks of racing to earn the larger prize amounts and move quicker in getting to that goal.
If you’re thinking this is a standard racer in always having a set number of racers at each track or always giving the same amount of prize money per position, you’d be wrong. A time system means that different tracks will have different people after certain time frames have passed, with the number of racers entered building up during the pre-race timer. Different tracks will have a set level guide during the pre-race time, with those levels always changing after the race time has ended. All tournaments need an entry fee, which is then collected and handed to the top three racers in a 55-30-15 percent split. Single races don’t require an entry fee, but only give out small rewards. Special challenges offer various reward amounts, while racers out in the open can also challenge you to one-on-one’s [or you to them] for some quick money. For the Zincite, it’s a bit different, in that it’s four races in a tournament, with you needing to reach a set amount of points to reach the grand finale and a chance to earn that cup. Since the Zincite is the finale, this is the only tournament that has a set number of racers. While four groups race through the tournament, the only one you need to worry about is the one you are in. And don’t worry – once you enter the tournament and fail to get through to that final race or lose that final race, you won’t have to go through the trouble of earning the money needed to enter again. Unless you wanted to, in which case there’s a setting for that.

The races are pretty much like battles in any other RPG, and as such are where you’d gain experience points. The car you drive starts from level one, and has attributes in speed, acceleration, armour, handling, and stability. As you gain experience and level up, your car becomes a better vehicle. A speed increase raises top speed. Acceleration increase raises how fast you can reach that top speed. Handling increase raises the ability of your car not losing grip at speed. Armour increase raises the resistance to crashes and bashes that will occur. Stability increase reduces the loss of the maximum speed your car will achieve when it loses health. Well, an RPG isn’t complete if there isn’t a way to have a health counter reduced to zero and have to start from the last checkpoint, after all. Since this is a racing game as well as an RPG, there is a cost to restoring health to full, and the less health the car has the higher that price is. Don’t worry, it isn’t an expensive fee, and can be done at any garage – including the pit lanes at race tracks. And speaking of pit lanes, that’s how you enter races. During the pre-race time of any track, you can pull into the open space of the pit lane to start that race. If it’s to start a tournament, the other tracks will remain in pre-race time until you go to them, but during a tournament you won’t be able to enter any other races outside of it.
The races themselves are track-based for the most part, but those special challenges take place within the world itself. These tracks are more about the other skills of a vehicle rather than just racing, as well as navigation. As such, they are more freeform in approach. Taking place within the cities for the most part, the more obvious routes are blocked off, giving them a more maze-like structure. The forests around the world also make for good mazes. Off-road races would also fall under these special challenges, that take you from one city to another without using a road. Since there is a health of your vehicle, it is a viable tactic within the game to try and take opponents out. You get an experience bonus for doing so, but might just miss out on gaining first if you do. Since health is a mechanic of the game, a special type of race also exists. It will give a big payout, but only one person can get it.

I’ve touched on the story, but just want to fill in a bit more about the world. Upon first starting, you get put on that final race of the Zincite. It serves as a tutorial, and as a base for what level you should be when you finally enter. You are not to win this race though, as your rival overtakes on the last lap and gains a massive lead. Once the race is over, you answer an interview where you decide you need a new set-up for your car, and announce you’ll scrap it to buy a new one. Once at the shop, you sell the old one and buy a new one. It’s your choice of which you want. There are three types, with each determining which stats increase above the others. The aero car builds fast in speed, but at the cost of stability. The heavyweight car builds fast in armour but at the cost of acceleration. The smooth car builds fast in handling but at the cost of speed. This choice is a permanent one, and in case you’re thinking of just choosing the type from the tutorial, it’s an older model that cannot be bought. In case you want to change the way in which your car increases it stats, that’s where the modifiers come in. As you level up, new modifiers come into stock in the shop. Attaching these modifiers can either give a boost in stats for as long as you have them attached or change the hidden percentages in which they increase upon levelling up.

That’s all I can give for this at present, but it does give an idea of the sort of thing I’m talking about. There is crossover between the two genres already, it just needs that bit extra to bring the differences together. I’m not entirely sure fans on either genre would appreciate both being combined, but it allows a unique spin on both of them. In the end, as ever, this is just me spouting ideas that I hope are fun and interesting for people to read. So I hope you enjoyed it, and can even add some ideas on top of it.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Elemental Heroes - Second Episode Preview [Network]

First off, I just want to say that I am sorry about the month delay this has seen. It's even longer than a month if you consider the original estimated release was meant to be December '17. There's a few personal issues I'm suffering, and as such I'm in a weird motivational limbo. Everything except final checks is now complete, so a firm date of 7-May is set.
As for this preview, if you looked at the preview of the first episode, you'll know that three people for a Secondary Elemental Unit was in the process of being selected for the Elemental Division of the Ballart Police Force. That selection has happened and the unit has seen some action. In the second episode, there's a bit more exploration into the elements, as well as the current mission of the elementals.

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“You’re picking up experience with that weapon fast, but you shouldn’t have come at all.”
Kieron didn’t want to be hearing any more about not being wanted, and so said, “You need the help. And if we’re to be working together, now is as good a time as any to know how to work with each other – instead of against each other, like what you seem to be doing.”
Terrance didn’t reply to that, but used the power of the rock element to turn the ammunition in his guns to stones. Firing upon the dredders with them proved effective, and he cut a path through to the entrance that some of the regular units had alerted them was where two drastic knights had entered earlier. Kieron was about to follow, but the ranks of dredders closed again.
I need to get through, Kieron thought. But I don’t know how to activate the element’s powers.
While fending off an attack from one of the dredders, he scrolled through on his wrist panel for anything that might help. His ability list showed him a few new ones, and he hoped that it was the same as using normal abilities.
Flicking the energy whip upward, he caught another of the dredders as it made an attack. It was then that he noticed the whip’s energy colour had changed to a purple-black. Launching himself forward, spinning the whip around himself, he passed through all the dredders as though they weren’t there at all.
He flipped forward to land on his feet and turned around. Those dredders he had passed through had turned the same purple-black as his whip, and were frozen. After a second, they disappeared – the one point of energy they had drained from them.
He allowed himself a second of self-congratulation before heading inside to find Terrance and the drastic knights who had previously entered.

Within the training room, Gary and the other four watched as Kieron performed the ghost drill attack. The two of primary didn’t look impressed, but the two of secondary looked amazed.
“The powers are great,” Brandon commented.
“Don’t be easily impressed,” Robin scolded. “Dredders get took down by anything.”
Gary gave him a slightly stern look, but said, “While true, it can still be used to great effect for larger enemies – especially when powered-up some more.”
“And we’ll be training to gain experience in powering them up?” Emma asked.
“That is the idea. Head to a panel and go inside the simulation zone.”
The two did so, and were stood on a smaller plaza area much the same as the one they were currently watching. Emma drew the elemental baton, and Brandon had his arm cannon attached.
A few dredders appeared in front of them, and both stood waiting.
“Elemental powers are like your usual abilities. Activating them is just the same. Be aware of your charge power, as that will show how strong an attack you can use. Begin.”
Emma held out the baton in front of her, and an icicle shot out of the front end. Smaller ones broke out all around it. Upon seeing that she now had a longer weapon, she jumped straight into the dredders and attacked.
Brandon took a bit longer to figure things out. The first thing he managed was using his arm cannon to fire gusts of wind, knocking over those dredders closest, and unbalancing a few others. He had used up most of his charge power, so backed off.
Emma had swapped from using the baton as a sword to scattering small icicles from it as she span on the spot. A number of dredders despawned, leaving just a few that Brandon cleared up with another blast of wind.
“So how did we do?” Emma asked.
“For a first-time use of the elements, that was good,” Gary replied. “Though you both wasted the elemental power on smaller attacks. You need to save that energy for the more powerful stuff.” Not telling them that had been a test. New to their powers, he had wanted them to test the elements in a way that suited them. With the first play test over with, the proper training with them could now begin.
“It’s going to take some getting used to, but I’m sure we can. Just one thing, though. How am I meant to not use elemental power with this thing?”
Emma held up the baton, and seemed to be ready to change to the longstaff she so wanted.
“It’s powerful on its own,” Gary instructed. “Yes, you need to get up close to attack, but one-handed strikes with it can be effective against multiple enemies. Remember, as Robin said, dredders get taken out by anything. Even smaller attacks can wipe them out.”
“And the cannon is able to fire regular attacks?” Brandon asked.
“Of course. Now, when the dredders appear again, conserve elemental power to use against the second wave.”
Both affirmed, and Gary set the simulation zone to spawn two waves. The first appeared, and the two launched their attack.

“Thanks for waiting,” Kieron stated with sarcasm, having spotted Terrance up the corridor.
It had taken three levels of searching to find him, and down here was less lighting. It was emergency red only. It caused eerie shadows nearly everywhere.
“You aren’t needed,” Terrance said as Kieron walked up to him.
“I think you do need me. You just don’t want to admit it. Just like you don’t want to admit that the only reason you are here is payback.”
Even in the small amount of light, Kieron could see that Terrance’s eyes had sharpened. He didn’t step back from it, wanting to show that no matter what he wasn’t leaving.
“You think I won’t admit to that?” Terrance said, starting to walk away. “Of course I admit to it. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
“Then it’s something else,” Kieron persisted, following. “Do you think it your fault? If so, you shouldn’t.”
“It isn’t that. Something similar has happened to me before.”
“Losing a fight happens to everyone.”
“Not that. The not coming back part.”
“Are you sure they-”
“Of course they aren’t! They are gone, and there is no point trying to think anything else. But by being back in the action, I can make sure I’m not thinking about them and continue the fight they left behind.”
“Everyone is trying to stop… whatever’s happening.” It was that which made Kieron realise the only thing he knew was to stop this. Nothing else. No history, no names, no anything. Of course there was something greater – some main objective to this – but he had no idea. The only thing he knew, was that this place was important in that.

“You have no idea what you’re fighting for, do you? Haven’t you ever heard about the ongoing battles?”
Kieron thought on it for a bit, then replied, “Trainees don’t really hear a lot. I’d never heard of the elemental division before Gary came along.”
Terrance stopped before another set of stairs, and looked at Kieron. “How far had you got?”
“We were ready to graduate, in case you were thinking we were new to the force.”
“Well, now you have graduated, you’ll be hearing stuff soon enough.” He then started down the stairs. "Or at least you would if you were in the main division."
“And what’s that meant to mean?”
“You haven’t heard of the whispers that go around the regular force. I have. Friends within the regular units were happy upon my promotion, but were quick to distance themselves from me soon after.”
Kieron was curious. He wanted to hear more.
“You don’t need to know more. Just know that some within the force feel our division isn’t needed.”
That was confusing to Kieron, but he didn’t press on. They needed to listen out for any voices that were around. However…
“That doesn’t explain how you’ve been through this before.”
They had descended two more levels, and were slowly making their way down a corridor when Terrance spoke again.
“Two of those friends I had mentioned were also elevated to the elemental division. It didn’t take long before a patrol got a bit out of hand, and the two were caught out. Despawned, but never returned to their pods in the elemental division. Next I know, they’re back in with the regular units. When I asked them about it, they said they’d given themselves demotion. Didn’t want to be a part of some special unit.”

“So… Why didn’t they just fail the test?”
“It was different back then. It was the first time a full unit for the elemental division had been formed. We were taken based on success rates. Three units had been split to form that elemental unit.” Terrance let his head fall, Kieron waited to hear what was coming. “In a way, I feel the bonds of the unit weren’t tight enough then. In a way, it feels like my fault. I was leader, and failed to bring them together.”

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That's all the previews that will be appearing on this blog. Look out for the post upon release, which will be the only non-Star Wars post aside from the monthly update. Seven episodes/chapters that tell the story of the police force and their battle against an evil force within the city of Ballart. Hope you enjoyed the preview, and the full book when it releases.