Orchestra: New Game +

This post is well ahead of time, and details what I’m planning to do with Orchestra once the game is “beatable”, which as an open-world game with no more than 1% of all the main story content integrated into the game (and it’s about a sixth of the content, about 5% if you count player perceived content), doesn’t mean very much yet.

Let’s start out with what New Game + will offer:

  • Retention of premium content, including rewards for feedback.
  • Reset of most stats, ability to reselect faction, both for the main storyline and sideplots.
  • Reset of expansion (Independent Agencies and Somalia Incident) content, though access will be retained.
  • Addition of end-game reward token to get random reward (these rewards are also saved between playthroughs).
  • A “Loyalty Token” in addition to the end game bonus token, that can be used in lieu of Nex to access premium content. This may or may not apply to everything, but my ideal is to let everything be gained through Loyalty Tokens for dedicated players.

The first goal for New Game + is to allow alternate faction missions. There will be a universal main-plotline, like Fallout: New Vegas, where the same thing will happen in the dramatic finale, but there will be differences between each of the endings (some will be subtle, others will require full alternate scenarios). As such, players may want to play through again to see another branch of the static story or play through the individual faction content.

One of my major inspirations for the story system is a game called Escape Velocity (or its not-quite-finished open-source companion NAEV); one of my favorite things from EV: Nova was the ability to sort of dynamically realize the plot as I played through without really feeling it, and my hope is to grant the same sensation through New Game + as EV: Nova granted on my many, many playthroughs, a universe full of identifiable characters who respond differently and are seen in different roles depending on the exact role of the player in the world, so someone who has played through Orchestra before will learn a character’s response to certain actions, their true loyalties, and potentially even what happens to them if they disappear during the story.

In addition, New Game + may play a role in going into new and unexpected storylines. Since Orchestra is a massive (it deserves a bold) setting in terms of possible affiliations and I want to keep the game growing, it will almost certainly be bolstered by the addition of new and significant storylines after its “core” release of Metamorphysis, the World League, Anarchist, and a couple other undisclosed storylines is finished, since I want to add in a storyline like that of the Raphaelites. In addition, right now Transsolar, a rather major corporation, is off the drawing boards since they’re intrinsically linked to the parts of the main storyline that are universal between all the storylines.

Of course, all this is conjecture and hypothesis. While I want to have a core, unified storyline, the story may wind up working with entirely unique content for each faction that ends in the same result. My goal is to make all factions meaningful, and do so in a manner that while players will have favorite factions, there won’t be too much of a difference in terms of the likeability of characters and such. I’m hoping, once the core mechanics and the Metamorphysis storyline is finished, to roll out a new storyline every six months.

Unrelatedly, Orchestra is getting its first companion, a lengthy short story/novella written by yours truly. Part of the goal of this is to fund the game’s progress while the StoryNexus implementation is still too incomplete to in good conscience include much monetization, and part of this is to give another story to gamers while things wait. In addition, this will help clarify some of the stuff from the universe, and help me identify core gameplay concepts (I tend to do this better in an abstract method, comparing to an example of something written, then moving it into a mechanical perspective, as my analysis while working on 1-800 Regime Change may show). More on this will be coming in the months ahead.

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