No, It's Not A Typo, It's A Game
Ronn For Your Life is the title for an upcoming game I'm currently working on. It started out as a very personal side project, but lately it's been getting clear to me that this will become something more, and I have been spending more and more time on it. Even the times I should be allocating to some of the many other projects I'm currently joggling seems to be naturally gravitating towards this project. There are several reasons for this, but first and foremost is - like I mentioned - this is a very personal project. It's quite literally my story. Or at least one of them.
Like the project itself, this blog post will be very personal. This won't exactly be a typical devblog type of post. Although it will touch on concrete game-related discussions, it will be more personal than any other devblog related stuff I've ever done anywhere else.
So, let's dig in.
First, A Little Backstory...
About 5 years ago, I was going through a very dark time in my life - there were several reasons, but the most overwhelming being something as typical as tragic love.
I was helplessly, madly, unhealthily in love with a girl - or rather, the girl. I could see nothing and no one else other than her. I could write several long blogs on the topic of that frustration alone - and for a few years (yes, this lasted a long, long time) I did just that. I wrote blog after blog, trying to express my frustration, because it was the only way I could cope just a little.
Eventually this outlet was just not enough for me. I could write page after page, but it didn't seem to express my frustration effectively enough. And then I realized what I was doing wrong; I was not using the correct medium. I am not a writer... I am a game developer. So, what if, instead of writing, I made a videogame? With the primary purpose being to vent my overwhelming emotions? And so I started doing just that.
Initially, the design proces was faster and more intuitive than anything I had ever designed before - because I didn't even have to think about it - everything was so clear to me because I had been living in this nightmare of thoughts and emotions for years already. I was able to very quickly write a complete script for the entire game's overall story (and its several different endings), and I quickly got the main set of features done - and then the first few levels. It was going incredibly fast, and it was working as an outlet. But then something unexpected happened; I met a girl who, against all odds, actually managed to captivate my heart. And slowly but securely, I started giving into my feelings, and started thinking less and less about my "one true love". As a natural side effect to this, the game I was working on as an emotional outlet was put on indefinite hold - it didn't make sense to work on something so incredibly personal and emotional when I was supposed to be emotionally involved with someone else. So it stopped. For the entirety of that relationship; 5 years.
Now that I'm back to being myself again, more and more I have started to think about that game again. And finally, about a month ago, I decided to finish what I started. For a couple of reaons;
- It's still a very important project to me, because it represents a very dark and very important time in my life
- I still feel a need to tell my story - albeit, in a fantasy roleplaying platformer action game and highly dramatized
- As a consumer of videogames, I genuinely believe there are too few stories in games focusing on love - something I would like to change
So the development is back on - and as you can imagine, this is a very personal project to me. I have gained some distance to the emotional mess that was my situation back then, but I can still clearly recall everything as if it was yesterday.
Putting this project back on has brought up some difficult emotions for me, but it's still something I want to do, and something I intend to finish. I have no doubt that, beneath the metaphors and the more action oriented parts of the game, many people will be able to relate on a very intimate level - because all of us has, at some point, experienced tragic love. If I can share my experience with someone, and make them relate - hopefully while entertaining them in the form of a videogame - then this will have been worth it.
Pre alpha screenshot, complete with horrible programmer art
But what's the game like?
The game itself can be categorized in a few different ways; it's a platformer, it's an action adventure, and it's a roleplaying game. It's heavily narrative driven - and while there's combat, action, puzzles, platforming and upgrades - the real meat of the game is in its story, its dialogue, and its roleplaying elements. Almost every single dialogue will have the player make choices on how to react and how to treat others - which will have different outcomes. Ultimately the game can end in 4 different ways.
I will not try to "sell" you on the game - instead, I will try to explain what it is, and what it is not - because it will definitely not be for everyone.
What the game is:
- Very narratively driven
- Highly focused on dialogue, story and morale choices
- Designed to align said morale choices with gameplay elements*
- Telling an emotional story of tragic love
- Paced with action, platforming and puzzle sequences
- Mixing up the experience with new weapons and alignment based magic
*This relates to the mentioned "alignment based magic" - in short, spells in Ronn For Your Life are an extension of your soul, and as such, the spells that are unlocked as you progress will depend on your behaviour
What the game is not:
- Openworld; levels have open areas and optional side quests, but overall level progression is linear
- Massive; it's designed to tell one focused story which likely won't be much more than 4-5 hours
- A game with "RPG elements" like skills, attributes and classes; rather, the focus is on roleplay choices
- Multiplayer in any way, shape or form - this is strictly a focused single player story with emotion and replay in mind
- Fast paced action; there is combat and hack'n'slash elements, but if you don't like to read, this is most likely not for you
- Very old school RPG style (ie Baldur's Gate, Pillars of Eternity etc.) - although I greatly admire them, the closest thing to these would be the dialogue interactions
Phew - up until now, I have shared the general "pitch" for this game with very, very few people - and never spoken or written about it publicly. But I am invested in seeing this project through to the end - and now that I have properly introduced the general vision for it publicly, it will no doubt take a dominant presence in my dev blogging for the foreseeable future. As an introduction to such a special and personal game, this has been a very deep and different kind of blogpost (and a rather lenghty one at that), but rest assured the next many posts will take the form of more "regular" devblog type of stuff - coding issues, design decisions and more along those lines.
For now, thank you for sticking with this long and emotional post. I have never been good at keeping an active developer blog, but that is something I intend to change. So if this project sounds like something you might want to follow, check back soon - it will get rather in-depth.