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Life of a Copycat - feedback required (Forums : Ideas & Concepts : Life of a Copycat - feedback required) Locked
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Oct 23 2012, 6:26pm Anchor

Greetings everyone!

This is a vague concept for a small game I'm planning to make. I want to start working on the game soon, but just in case there is a big oversight I did early on, it's better discovered sooner than later. So, have a look at the idea and tell me what you think about it. Any comment is appreciated.

I've got the real DGG mostly finished, but I don't want to overkill this so I'll only provide a short version of the overall game idea. Any details omitted here are not outright missing, but were just not mentioned so you don't need to read a wall of text. If you want to know details, feel free to ask.

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How This Came To Be

Back when Kickstarter was becoming insanely popular thanks to Double Fine's project, the first cheap cash-ins and copycats started appearing as well. I made a rather funny comment about it on Kotaku. I can't find the original post any longer (got a new account there mid-year) but it was something along the lines of this:

“how about I make a game called "Life of a Copycat" which is about a boy who steals the talents from other people, but the player realizes at the end of the game that he can only win by relying on his own strength and without cheating. I only demand 12,345$ for this!”

The idea of stealing talents stuck in my head, and over the course of the year I developed it into a proper video game concept.

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Story / Prologue

The game tells the story of a boy who lives in a town. He is a bit lazy, a bit greedy and a liar too. Nothing too bad as of yet, but he's not a saint either.
One day, he finds a green gemstone lying on the ground. It doesn't seem to do anything special at first, but over the course of the following days, however, he accidentally copies the talents of other people - may it be combat experience, knowledge, talent in cooking, singing ect - he can obtain it all. After some hesitation, he uses the gemstone freely and without hesitation, making his everyday life much easier.
However, nothing comes without a prize.

On the 10th day, the boy is called by an unknown voice to come to the clock tower - the highest building in the town. Since the boy has become (over)confident thanks to the gemstone, his curiosity overweights all other fears. When arriving at the top, he's greeted by an old man.

The man explains that the talent-copying ability of the gemstone requires a sacrifice - a human sacrifice. Each time a person's talent was copied, that human is now scarified by the stone.
Suddenly, the boy hears screams behind him. When he turns around, he sees parts of the town in flames.
Shortly thereafter, the boy is forced into a fight against old man. However, the gemstone is stealing all of his "borrowed" talents away from him. He doesn't stand a chance against the magical powers of the man and is killed instantly.

The boy wakes up in his bed, it is sunrise. He is holding the green gemstone in his left hand and a piece of paper in his right hand. The paper has the following message written on it:

"Let's play a little game, you and me.
I will let you re-life the same ten days over and over again until you've killed me. If you lose, I'll kill you and bring you back once again. Should you die by any other person's hand, you die permanently.
You can use the stone to find a way to defeat me, but be warned: Tell anyone else about our little game and I'll kill him. Oh, and I guess you already noticed that you can't rely on other people's strengths when facing me.
How you solve this game is up to you."

And so the real game begins.
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Gameplay

The game is a time-loop game in which the player is playing through the same ten days over and over again until he wins the game and defeats the old man. If you've played Shadow of Memories or Ephemeral Fantasia and/or seen Groundhog Day before, it's kinda like that.

Unlike other games with real-time clocks, time advances depending on the distance traveled instead. This means that the time of day only changes if the player goes through a certain number of areas. This eliminates the time pressure as well as the “went afk and forgot to pause the game AND forgot to save too!” issue.
The player can advance time manually via the menu wherever it is plausible story-wise. If the player is in a place that is dangerous (cave, bandit camp), time can't be advanced obviously, because advancing time means sitting down or sleeping for the character, and doing so in such a place means death by hostile individuals, whether it may be bandits or animals.

Since only the goal is known but not the path, the player must find his way towards the goal himself. As a result, exploration and detective story play a big part in this game. The game is open-world in this regard minus the scale of other games that call themselves “open-world”. The game world is reasonably large, meaning that it's just about right to keep track of everything, but still offers enough content to enjoy the game – that's the plan anyway.

Combat-wise, the game has a combat system but it's not necessary to fight at all. Just like in Deus Ex, it's possible to finish the game by avoiding fights altogether and deal with puzzles and sneaking instead.

The magical gemstone offers a nice twist as well: Any talent gained via copying is unusable in the final battle, but can be used everywhere else. This way, things can be speed up a bit and the player can check out things first before he does things the hard way.

Not all, but most talents can be obtained the old-fashioned way: training. Same goes for stat increasing. It is the big message of the game: Going the cheap way and stealing/exploiting other people will never pay off. Only through your own strength can you prove yourself in various difficult situations.

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And that's about it. Like I said before, I'm only just about to start working on the game, so I don't have any technical specs about it (other than that it will be in 2D). I already choose an engine and did a quick proof-of-concept gameplay test with it, and it worked. It all depends on figuring out the details now.

Oct 26 2012, 5:10pm Anchor

I like the idea but the concept doesnt really convince me. So basically, as I understand, its an RPG where you can steal skills. Are these permanent or temporary? I'd guess the latter, but when the character from whom you stole it dies afterwards, you will obviously not be able to steal that ability again. So if you were to steal a unique ability you could only use it once. In that case it would be nice to be able to store some abilities in your stone, so you can reuse them later. But honestly, I find killing the person you are stealing from a bit drastic and not really desirable. Mainly because I find killing innocents not to be a too good feature. (most) Players would always be thinking about if its really worth it(considering if this person is needed for another quest; not forgetting the moral issue) pushing the player in the direction you want him to be. Which removes a great deal of the search for the right path. That being said, I find the letter to be unbelievable. Why would the old man want to be killed? Why does he want to play the game(there are easier ways to die)? Then you basically tell the player how to win the game.
What I would change/rethink: Dont kill people with the skill-stealing. Imo it would be cooler when the gemstone additionally to taking skills would build up some "dark energy", eventually corrupting the player(which gets the point you are trying to make across better, imo). Which could also cause the fire in town you were talking about. The twist could be that the old man is actually the good guy, trying to purify the gemstone or something. Id make it so that you dont tell the player that the gemsone is actually bad and not using it is the key, but let him use it all he wants, eventually twisting himself and the world around him, which climaxes in the end of the 10 days when the town is on fire. The more you use the stone, the worse the results will be. And eventually the player realizes that he must use his own powers to complete quests and whatnot. The stone is then robbed of its powers and at the end you just hand it over to the old man (preferably without saying anything, to emphasize that through the game you understood what the old man was trying to tell you so that words are no longer necessary). I imagine that scene a bit like the end of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, when Link handed the ocarina over to Zelda. I could really well imagine this game in 3D, you could create a pretty nice atmosphere.

Oh well, whatsoever, I have been a bit caught up in my own ideas there. I really just wanted to throw some ideas at you, feel free to use any of it.

Oct 27 2012, 8:41am Anchor
shiroto wrote:So basically, as I understand, its an RPG where you can steal skills. Are these permanent or temporary? I'd guess the latter, but when the character from whom you stole it dies afterwards, you will obviously not be able to steal that ability again...

It's not an RPG where you steal combat skills which are usable in combat-only. There are skills for all categories, combat being just one of them. Also, the person doesn't die when you steal its skills imemdiately, neither is it permanently. They all die when you confront the old man, but since you travel back in time once every ten days, you can trial & error until you found a way to achieve your goals without stealing stuff.
That's the whole point of the game: You accept that you doom the townsfolk without them knowing it (but you know, which is the moral dilemma here) until you can set things right without dooming them.

shiroto wrote: That being said, I find the letter to be unbelievable. Why would the old man want to be killed? Why does he want to play the game(there are easier ways to die)? Then you basically tell the player how to win the game.

Start to read behind the lines my friend: Does the old man truly believes that a randomly-chosen person can defeat him? No, he is just toying with a human life and enjoys how the hero struggles until he is desperate enough to commit suicide or dies through another way. The player's job is to prove the old man wrong obviously.

Oct 27 2012, 2:15pm Anchor

Still, when the player reads this line

Someone wrote:Oh, and I guess you already noticed that you can't rely on other people's strengths when facing me.

why would he even steal the peoples powers? I'd be like "Oh, ok, throw that stone away and try to win without it.". I don't see how thats a moral dilemma.
And is it really a satisfying solution, that the old man just wanted to toy with peoples lifes? I wouldnt really be convinced by that, but maybe thats just me.

Nov 4 2012, 1:10am Anchor

I really like the idea, but I kinda agree on that "ability stealing kills people" is kinda crazy. I guess it´s still a good way to make obvious that you have to rely on your own strenght ... idk just dont feel comfortable bout the killing part.
The rest of the concept sounds pretty amazing to me, I still would suggest you get a writer on board (dont know if its necessary for you) but I figured out writer add a lot of value that can easily be overseen because you are so into your game idea that you dont want to give one creative part of it away ^^
looking forward to see something playable =DDD

Nov 7 2012, 9:45am Anchor
Pyroinflames wrote:I really like the idea, but I kinda agree on that "ability stealing kills people" is kinda crazy. I guess it´s still a good way to make obvious that you have to rely on your own strenght ... idk just dont feel comfortable bout the killing part.

Yes it is uncomfortable but that is the point, it's all part of the protagonist's development.

Pyroinflames wrote:The rest of the concept sounds pretty amazing to me, I still would suggest you get a writer on board (dont know if its necessary for you) but I figured out writer add a lot of value that can easily be overseen because you are so into your game idea that you dont want to give one creative part of it away ^^

I'm the writer as well as the programmer of the game. I've been writing stories for years now and I already have a plan for this game, so don't worry there is no "spontaneously filling in the blanks" syndrome here.

Nov 12 2012, 10:14am Anchor

good to hear that you got some writing experience, sorry didnt thought about that because I bumped into way too many people who said: "MY game MY story and thats it!" and their stories ussualy suck. I really like the idea so far the only concern which I have is that these 10days become repetetive, how do you want to deal with that? I know you said there are many choices one can make, but if the choices only differ a bit from the last 10days and you still havent been able to beat the boss ... could make the player feel bored.

Nov 14 2012, 10:29am Anchor
Pyroinflames wrote:good to hear that you got some writing experience, sorry didnt thought about that because I bumped into way too many people who said: "MY game MY story and thats it!" and their stories usually suck.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I once started as a humble idea-guy as well, but at least I chose games where modding them was within my capabilities. I've had my fair share of failed teams and ignored projects, it I always did the story and gameplay for them – since 2008. Trial & Error is a great teacher, and I'm totally prepared for this project.

Pyroinflames wrote:I really like the idea so far the only concern which I have is that these 10days become repetitive, how do you want to deal with that? I know you said there are many choices one can make, but if the choices only differ a bit from the last 10days and you still havent been able to beat the boss ... could make the player feel bored.

The game is an open-world, meaning that there are many areas to explore and side quests to do.
You might think that people become too focused on defeating the old man, but in practice they just start enjoying the game and explore it on their own motivation and curiosity. Gaining strength for the final battle is just a side effect. They'll just take what the game offers them, and the fun comes automatically - it's the basics of open-world games.

Nov 14 2012, 11:52am Anchor

cool =) cant add anything anymore to that, seems like you got an idea which could turn out really nice, looking forward to see some progress on that

Dec 1 2012, 12:26pm Anchor

Greetings everyone!

In case you're wondering what happened with this project, rest assured that it is still being worked on. I was doing some work here and there on the side, but starting this mont I'l fully devote myself to this game. So see this post as the real, official start of development.

I thank you all for your feedback, it'll be put into good use.

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