Unexplored Lands

    Computer games often take their setting and story from elsewhere. There?s nothing wrong with this. I know I have often looked forward to games setting in a well-loved world that has already been created elsewhere. Whether those games live up to expectations is another point entirely. In this article I?m going to look at a few settings that I think could make great computer games, if someone cared to try. I?m not going to consider movies here, since there are enough movie tie-ins already. I?ll look elsewhere for some fertile ground- mainly the world of books. You remember books, they existed back in the time before computers.

    If you don?t know what Westeros is, put this down immediately, and go and read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Back already? Good!

    The lands of Westeros, are filled with knights and their lords, struggling for power, unaware of the greater threat emerging from the mysterious North, suggest a few different games to me. A Medieval: Total War style game, where the objective is for one of the great noble families to dominate the land and claim the Iron Throne would be a great start with armies like the Wildlings, the Others, and the army of Danaerys Stormborn providing wild cards.

    Another option is to have a thief style game, being called to break into notable locations, such as the Eyrie or Casterley Rock. Now that would be fun, while players who enjoy exploring might like to play as a Ranger, exploring the lands North of the Wall.

    The lands would provide a good setting for an MMORPG too, but to be honest I think other genres should be explored first.

    Death?s Gate
    When it comes to the Death?s Gate saga by Weis and Hickman, it is the setting that is more enjoyable than the story. With so many completely different areas to explore, it does scream out for either a game on the scale of Morrowind, or an MMORPG.

    I?m for the Morrowind-style game myself, but that?s just because I don?t have broadband. A game was released based on the books, but it was a tepid point-and-click adventure that is best forgotten.

    The diverse Death?s Gate worlds would make a great MMORPG setting. The air world of Arianus, with it?s floating islands, would probably make the most interesting setting, though the immense jungle world of Pryan would be a place where players could literally lose themselves, as long as they could keep clear of the murderous tytans. The dead stone world of Abarrach would be an interesting place to visit. Only those with powerful magic could survive in the cold, poisonous, underground realm. It might be worth the trip, as there is a wealth of gems and precious metals to be found there. Finally, the water world of Chelestra, where the water is breathable, but also has the side effect of completely negating the most powerful magics available.

    For single and multiplayer play, you could do a lot worse than present players with the task of escaping from The Labyrinth, a vast sentient prison that tries its best to kill those imprisoned within it. The Labyrinth is about the size of a large continent, and none live who have traveled from the first gate to the exit.

    This is the only RPG that I think computers just cannot reproduce. Anyone who took this task on would be setting themselves up for a monumental task. How do you establish a game where ?grief play? is actually the intent, as long as you can prove to the all-powerful, all-knowing Computer that your actions were justified? Honestly, I don?t know how to approach this one for computer systems, but if someone could pull it off, that would be fantastic. As it stands now, if you haven?t read the Paranoia rulebook, do so now, it?ll have you in stitches. Really! The rulebook is very funny! Be warned though, you will be executed for mentioning the rules during a game; as a player, you don?t have the security clearance to read them!

    If the humour of Paranoia is not for you, try 1984. This setting represents the dark side of the ?they?re all out to get you? style of game. Again, I think either a Morrowind or MMORPG would be the best way to present George Orwell?s dystopian future.

    Just how would players react to this totalitarian world? Would you toe the line, or find some way of expressing your basic humanity? Would you spend time hunting down anyone who might present a possible threat to the omnipotence of Big Brother?

    This setting would make for a computer game (of whatever type) very different from the current crop of titles, where players would be living on their nerves, watching every word they say, lest they be reported to the authorities. No one wants to come to the attentions of the Ministry of Love.

    The Rest
    Well, those are some of my suggestions for some game settings. As is rapidly becoming customary at the end of a Ninth Circle column, now that I?ve given you my ideas, I?m interesting in hearing your own. What settings do you think would make a great base to create computer games around? While I am all in favour of developers coming up with their own ideas and settings, this does not change the fact that there are many great settings just waiting to have the right games made about them.

    Disclaimer: The Ninth Circle was written by Lorelorn (David Kay) and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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