I wanted to make sure I gave you guys some stuff to work with, so here’s some more general ideas about how the game can go and some ideas for concept art. Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas to add.
Visual style - High contrast black and white. Muted other colors most of the time. Bright red blood when it happens. Dark purple, green, and blue where applicable. Pixel art, cell-shading, or other flat, cartoonish style.
Style inspirations -
Animation/cell shading: Don’t Starve (Mute Colors), Borderlands 2 (3d cell shading, cartoony style), Neverending Nightmares (high contrast black and white with splashes of accent color), Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines (Mentioned during discussion), Antichamber (Stark Colors, but probably too bright), Darkest Dungeon (dark color palette), Sunless Sea (dark color palette), Astroneer (Low polygon count)
Pixel: Stardew Valley (customizable character, low detail, simplistic), Paper’s Please (mute color palette, harsh pixels), Baobab’s Mausoleum (3D pixel art, great details), Owlboy (really just great looking pixel art), Binding of Isaac, Hotline Miami (top down pixel art, but too bright), Mandagon, Nuclear Throne
- Division of Genetic Manipulation and Body Modification - unlock upgrades, genetic monster
- Division of Nanotechnology - unlock upgrades, nanite swarm?
- Division of Supercomputing - Get some technology, but a rogue AI tries to delete you
- Division of Insurmountable Fear - A monster that controls fear like the Scarecrow (but it’s actually a sentient hippopotamus)
- The Culinary Division - A seafood gumbo that has come to life.
- The Division of Fire - unsurprisingly, everything is on fire. Unlock a sciencer protocol.
- The Division of Monsters - Actually, everything is okay. You get to talk to a completely reasonable monster.
- The Division of Human Sexuality - A robot covered in sex toys gets loose.
- The Division of Advanced Physics - You have to battle a small black hole with a bad attitude. Maybe an upgrade that allows you to modify the physics around you.
- The Division of Radiation - Everyone is gone. Just shadows of ash and radiation to clean up.
- The Division of Labyrinthian Lab Layouts - a maze of some sort.
- The Division of Pain - No one is in pain. Why? A sentient drug perhaps?
- The Division of Submechanophobia - You have to dive into a shipwreck that is somehow inside the building. No one from the Division has been heard from in a while.
- The Division of Textiles has created a human skin analog, and they accidentally created a homunculus out of it.
Looking at this list gives me another idea for a mechanic - after each level, you get a choice of upgrade: A gene mod (like a bioshock plasmid), a Mechanical upgrade to your person (robot parts), or an upgrade to your sciencer. They have similar effects, but different costs. Sciencer needs batteries or recharge, genetic mods work less and less well as you get tired, mechanical parts are more consistent but not as good (and you begin to become more and more machine). It should make sense to blend them throughout the game, and maybe even swap them out at a station. Could have tiers and variations.
Possible Central Conflict Resolution
- Surprise! You’ve been a brain in a digital reality the whole time. It’s a video game, get it?
- Nanotechnology has escaped and started bringing things to life
- A virus has the capability of giving inanimate objects DNA and have been bringing things to life
- A mad scientist has been shooting a “life ray” at things and making them live and fight.
- A primordial gas that creates sentience.
- Sciencer and upgrades
- Mods for Sciencer
- Mechanical body parts
- Gene mod samples
- Weapons. High tech (but still melee) objects.
- The Infinitely Pointy End (spear)
- The Extra Extra Stun Baton
- (Could do something like Borderlands and combine color, design, adjectives, etc. to make a lot of weapons with random stats, or just stick to a few scripted ones)
- Thrown objects
- Stealth gear - face changer, different clothes, etc.
- Thrown items
- Sciencer “spells”
- Genetic/mechanical augmentation
- Pacifism? (A joke about Undertale - No, you’re really going to have to kill it. It can’t be reasoned with)
- How bloody you are. Makes stealth harder.
- How monstrous you’ve become
- How much machine you are
- How inhuman you’ve become
- Some element of romance, and probably the ability to date at least one monster.
- Janitorial Headquarters upgrades.
- Physics and the ability to modify it?
- Long hair (a handful of styles)
- Short hair (a handful of styles)
- Square/Medium/Pointy jaw (depending on the resolution of the character)
- Ability? Maybe the option to have a wheelchair, and later power legs?
- Missing limbs
- Make your character any color. Maybe eye color as well.
- Typical male/female chest and shoulders (crass humor - no breasts, normal breasts, and holy shit. Changes dialogue from certain characters?)
- Typical male/female pelvis/hips (Similar to the above - an option for a substantial bulge in the pants. Changes dialogue options? Totally fine not including either of these, by the way)
“Secret” characters - When you select a different personality test than your own, you can end up a bear in human clothes just trying to blend in. Maybe a few others (unlocked after a successful playthrough or something). Gladys asks if it’s really you, then (Gladys POV) she squints at your designed character until you become the bear. Maybe a tentacle monster and slender man also.
- Brainy (bonus to a skill)
- Strong (bonus to a skill)
- Charismatic (extra dialogue options)
- Energetic (bonus to a skill)
- Well-Connected (extra plot line with relative in the company?)
- Hard worker (bonus to a skill)
- Humble (extra dialogue options)
- Educated (extra dialogue options)
- Lusty (you automatically pick certain dialogue options)
- Anger problems (You lose your cool and gain strength, but lose combat options)
- Totally Insane (Could be like Wild Wasteland in New Vegas, or introduce a character or two who may or may not be there)
- Lover of drugs (No option when drugs are around. They are going in you)
- Confrontational (limited dialogue)
- Liar (restricts dialogue options)
- Fearful (Makes certain kinds of combat harder)
- Egoist (changes dialogue options)
- Hard to look at (dramatically reduces things said to the player)
There can be a few recommended builds for Normal, Interesting, Fast, etc., so players can decide what kind of play through they want. Maybe some posters in the HR department you can examine. Maybe mid way you can change it also.
- Manny - Director of Janitorial
- Clarissa - Director of Janitorial
- ??? - Director of Janitorial
- Gladys - HR
- Corin - CEO
- The tentacle monster Manny loves
- Maybe an Internal Investigator (I.I. or Aye aye)
- Other Divisions that are trying to figure out why there’s so many strange accidents. Sort of like towns in other video games.
- Factions? People who are for the existing management and their response to the problem, and people who want them replaced, and people who think it might be a sign of the spiritual end times. This might be too complicated.
- Other janitors
- People you rescue
- A spy from Melantha’s company (her company is having trouble also)
- A DarkMegaUSSR spy
Questions for the team:
- How do you feel about pacifism/stealth options?
- How do you feel about the several play style variants? The player mods, the weapon types, the character traits, etc.
- What are the pros and cons of 2D and 3D in terms of development?
For concept art:
So, let’s say the first level is The Division of Genetic Manipulation and Body Modification. It’s a laboratory with countertops lining all of the walls. The walls and counters are black. The floor and ceilings are white. The ceiling emits a dim glow of light. Microscopes and high tech equipment are broken and in disarray all over the floor and countertops. There is a smear of blood that leads the player deeper into the laboratory. The player readies THE SCIENCER, a device shaped like a radar gun, but with a satellite dish at the business end, and a big rotary knob on top. There is also a coding terminal in the top of the sciencer with a touch screen keyboard. The player gets to room number two of The Division of Genetic Manipulation and Body Modification to discover a SCIENTIST. His body is badly deformed and he lies on the ground face down. His lab coat and clothes are in tatters. His head is swollen and lumpy. His arms and legs have too many knees and elbows. He hears the player enter, looks up and begins crawling toward the player. The scientist begs for help, dragging his body along with twisted and contorted limbs. After a short interrogation, the player learns that some genetic experiment was a failure, and the virus that was carrying the genetic material started behaving strangely before infecting the entire staff. The scientist did not mutate well. He became hideous and weak, but others grew beautiful and strong. The player should get him out of there quickly as the others are coming. Just then, a door bursts open and three extraordinarily beautiful human beings enter the room. They are dressed in lab coats, and apparently nothing else. The first, a blond woman, approaches the player. There is nothing to worry about, she assures. Whatever caused the alarm to go off was obviously a mistake. There is no problem here. Only a virus that makes people beautiful. The Scientist on the ground shouts at the player to run and not to let her get too close. Another of the beautiful people, a dark-haired man kneels down beside the scientist. Large fangs grow from his gums, his mouth stretches open incredibly wide, and he swallows the scientist’s head entirely, leaving only a blood-spurting neck stump. The blond woman curses after her accomplice ruins the surprise. Then her fangs begin to stretch out of her mouth. Time for combat. The three beautiful people are fast, but the sciencer does a good job of repelling them with huge bursts of air. The player also has a stun baton to knock out the monsters. Also, the microscopes, incubators, and computers around the room can be thrown at the monsters. After defeating them, they can either be captured or killed. Each choice gives a different reward. The beautiful man throws up the head from the scientist to reveal that he is somehow still alive, but very much looking forward to being reattached. This is only the first room, however, and there are several more like it, culminating in the final room where a beautiful, but enormous woman struggles to fit in the room. She is in the fetal position and unable to move, but her teeth are sharp and her tongue can shoot out of her mouth like a frog’s. Boss fight. The player has to dodge the tongue, the teeth, and her free hand while attacking her to get her health down low enough for victory. After the fight, the player finds a gene sample that can provide a bonus to charisma, but they will need to learn how to use it first. They can also go back through the few functioning computers in the lab to learn about what happened just before the problems started.
I hope that’s a useful description as far as concept art goes. Let me know if there’s anything else I can describe, or if you guys have any different ideas.