Friday, February 6, 2015
It Should Have Been A Game
Back in the early days of comic books the amount of real estate one could use to tell a story in was about two dozen pages. This was because collecting hadn't really caught on yet so readers tended to throw out older monthly issues of whatever series they were subscribed to. The result was every story arch had to begin and conclude expeditiously. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem is what if you want to create a work of fiction that doesn't fit within that framework? Well, some things get cut or padded and the overall tale suffers as a result. This especially applies to books and film. I can think of a lot of door stopper novels that would have been much more enjoyable had they been short stories. Conversely, movies can feel rushed when they try to cover to much ground. Video games, on the other hand, can be as long or short as needed.
Enter Ender's Game, a sci-fi version of Harry Potter wherein Hogwarts is replaced with Battle School and Quidditch with the Battle Room. Unlike Harry Potter's four houses though there are twenty-two "armies" that compete against one another. In the film we only ever see eight displayed on leader boards and watch a few fights. In a video game though this kind of thing could easily be the backbone of gameplay. Players could spend hours learning the tactics of various army commanders and competing for top spot. After all a huge theme of Ender's Game is the notion of being empathetic enough to understand your enemy yet sociopathic enough to exploit that understanding. Granted it's bit much to expect the player to be a tactical genius, but once the mechaincs have been introduced in this hypothetical version of Video Ender's Game (get it?) things could be simplified to this commander likes to X while that commander always does Y. Between battles time can be spent on fleshing out characters and exploring the setting in more detail. Again, the events in the Ender's Game novel take place over a five year period (age 6 to 11) while in the film it's only a small fraction of that time (with Ender starting off much older to boot).
Eros for simulator training. Again, begin with individual drones, then squadrons with support ships, and eventually all the way up to whole fleets. Both novel and movie skip over a lot of Ender's battles, but in a game players could command each and every engagement. There could even be the option for co-op multiplayer here in the form of detaching battle groups to sub-commanders, much like Ender did with his former schoolmates. Alternatively, managing your team of personality driven A.I. assistants could also be interesting. Sort of like fighting against different army commanders in Battle School except in reverse. Players would have to maximize the strengths of their subordinates in order to succeed.