Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Islands in the Sky: The Evolution, Part I

I know our readers would much rather hear about what Islands in the Sky related content that Genevieve and I will create for this year's big show in San Diego, but we're not quite ready to reveal that yet. Also, we're still working on it and delays sometimes happen and we don't want to make promises only to later dash people's hopes. Rest assured, we're doing our best to make a good showing...for both our current readers and potential new ones. In the meanwhile, I'll use this post to talk about some of the early influences of Islands in the Sky and hope that by the time I'm done, no one will be asleep.

Years before I met and became friends with Genevieve, I conceived of a video game idea (with the help of my friend, Chris Frenton) which was basically Waterworld minus the water...I'll explain this more later. In this world, water was the one thing there wasn't enough of. The world the characters were a part of was almost completely BONE dry. The oceans were gone, in their place was vast expanses of silt. For all intents and purposes of the game...the silt acted like more or less water. You could drown in it, you could sail on it, but...you couldn't drink it. People built all sorts of vehicles to skim over this silt to get from solid ground to solid ground...island to island if you will.

Most sources of water or oasis', were controlled by despotic rulers we referred to simply as Water Barons. People under the rule of these Barons suffered greatly for meager rations of food and water in return for hard labor. Living outside the rule of these Barons were the Silt Raiders. Basically, pirates. Silt Raiders, uh...raided the Water Baron holdings for supplies and water and fought to free those subjugated under their rule. That was the story behind the game...the game itself was basically a post apocalyptic open world action game with vehicles and lots of acrobatics.

The player controlled a member of Silt Raiders who rises up in power and eventually leads them. As the game progressed, the player would learn how to play and be introduced to new mechanics and modes till eventually the player could actually make a lot of neat decisions on how to run his band of pirates. Anyway, the main plot of the story centers around the rumors of a legendary Oasis...basically, a place where there is water enough for everyone. At some point, it becomes more than just a legend and some evidence of the oasis being real is discovered. Realizing that they cannot possibly win against the Barons, the Silt Raiders build a great big ship...an ark if you will, rescue as many slaves as possible and then embark on a journey to find the legendary oasis. If it sounds sort of biblical, we thought so too and named the game Exodus.

Early in the story, you would conduct raids from the Silt Raider base, which acted as a hub for the game. You would patrol the silt for ships laden with water and/or slaves. Later, when you build the ark, your hub became mobile and the area which you were familiar with is left behind for new areas to explore. During the course of the game, you would recruit new major NPC's to fulfill roles on the ship, upgrade the ship in various ways and, eventually...have to fight off the Water Baron's men (which were sent after you).

Okay, so how is it like Waterworld? Well, it's actually the reverse of it...instead of water everywhere and looking for dry land, there is dry land everywhere and you're looking for water. However, more importantly...the action sequences in the movie were a driving point for the mechanics for the actual game. The mechanics actually came first...the story cropped up around that.

What about the silt? Though a few friends thought that the influence was the Dark Sun campaign setting, I was more influenced by Waterworld, as I mentioned, and Arthur C. Clarke's novel, A Fall of Moondust...which is great, fun, sci-fi thriller. The story revolves around a group of tourists who get trapped under moon dust when their skimmer malfunctions. However, I am familiar with the Dark Sun setting. In fact, we could just say Exodus is like Dark Sun with a focus on the Seas of Silt...but then everyone knows what Waterworld is and very few people know of Dark Sun...so it's just easier to compare it to Waterworld.

What does this all have to do with Islands in the Sky? Well, it makes more sense when you realize that Islands in the Sky was also originally conceived of as a game and, as with all games, you should come up with the mechanics and gameplay first...


- Joseph

1 comment:

  1. That is a pretty awesome game idea! It kinda reminds me of Skys of Arcadia... not for the skies so much but more for the ships and pirates. [I love pirates... almost as much as ninjas.] I've not yet seen Waterworld so I can't compare it to the movie. My friend said it was a good movie for what it was but it got a lot of bad reviews.
    I like the idea of an arch and a potential Oasis. This game would be fun to play!