Sunday, September 2, 2018

When Inspiration Strikes

Remember the scene in the movie Blade Runner 2049, when  K (chased by Deckard) wanders into a theater or casino and encounters the Elvis Presley hologram? (Check it out below!)

What a scene! It's as if both K and Deckard are reaching another side; another dimension at the same moment in time.

But, just as K takes in the Elvis hologram, Deckard fires a shot that misses K's head by inches. The best part is that the Elvis hologram keeps on playing and skipping in the background while K and Deckard fight for their lives among holograms of go-go dancers and showgirls.

What's magical about this scene is that the Elvis hologram starts as background information that takes you into that setting and subconsciously hooks you to it, but towards the end of the scene, the Elvis hologram becomes part of the dialogue.

The juxtaposition of these images and events is what makes it work. It is a brutal fight scene played against an unusual performance backdrop. It's almost as if Elvis was another character in this scene.

The best part and most brilliant moment in this unforgettable scene is when Deckard admits to liking the Elvis song, Can't Help Falling in Love, and the guys decide to have a drink together. Lots of good subtext here.
"Wow, what a love-fest moment."

Wow, what a love-fest moment. How cool was that scene?

How can one not be inspired by this movie? Must be the cinephile in me but either way, this is what makes movies like this so memorable.

Hologram Bonus Card
Hologram scenes like this and others throughout the movie, are what inspired me to add a bit of comic relief to the Millennium board game. Hey, even the apocalypse has to have a bit of fun thrown in every now and then for levity and contrast.

Without elements like this in a movie, a book, or a board game, you run the risk of presenting a flat and linear plot with little appeal to the masses. I mean, who doesn't like a little Elvis or Frank Sinatra?

Who doesn't like a little Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra?

I would love to use a Sinatra clip or image in the Millennium game but because of copyright issues and costs, that's always prohibitive. But that doesn't mean I can't use images or audio that evokes the Sinatra sound. There are plenty of resources in the public domain for that.

Millennium continues to be a work in progress that seems to have no end in sight. Sometimes, the more I dig into it, the more I find to add or improve.

Keep in mind, that if you're developing a game, many of its features are not clear to you at the outset. As you research your themes and POV's, new ideas emerge. At that point you can decide either to include an idea or disregard it.

Recently, I thought of including a zombie card deck to the game. And by that I mean for the purposes of this prototype, about 9 cards and up to 18 cards in the deck because 18 is the minimum for a Bridge Deck of cards on The GameCrafter. The reason I had not considered zombies in the first place was because Millennium is based on the Apocalypse, which is of course an unfulfilled biblical prophesy.

"Millennium is based on the Apocalypse, 
which is, of course, an unfulfilled biblical prophecy."

Naturally, there are two camps of thought on this. One is literal and the other is based on fantasy fiction. And that depends on your religious point of view and beliefs. With a traditional background as a Roman Catholic, I'm inclined to believe the biblical account in the book of Revelation. However, I can understand why others favor a fictive POV based on the descriptions of this event in the bible.

Fair enough. I'm not here to debate or defend the book of Revelation and its authenticity.

My main goal is to develop a board game loosely based on the events mentioned in the book of Revelation. This is a game, after all and not a diatribe or a means to convert skeptics or to promote any religious agenda. That approach, in fact, would kill any chances of this game seeing the light of day.

Fair enough.
I'm not here to debate or defend 
the book of Revelation and its authenticity.

In the end, forgive the pun, I've kept in mind a bit of advice that I've gleaned from one of my favorite writer's and stuck by it. Ernest Hemingway always admonished to start with one true sentence and that everything will stem and flow from there.

I believe that entirely. And with that approach, I've set out to design and develop the best post-apocalyptic game with my personal spin and a game that I feel others will enjoy as well. A tall order for sure, but I also know that nothing worth while comes easy.

Event Chit
So far I'm in my second year of development with Millennium and nothing is set in stone as far as I'm concerned. The only sure thing is the main theme because everything grows and evolves from that. The nuances of the game and what makes it interesting and fun to play is all debatable. I've yet to figure all of that out but I think I'm getting close.

I'm not looking to set this game in a Dystopian future because that's too far from the events of the Apocalypse. Millennium is based on a post-apocalyptic setting, which in turn was triggered by the events of 2001 after 9/11. These are all minute but important differences.

Ironically, in this story,
the nuclear attacks are suspected to be home-grown.

The September 11 events in the new Millennium were the catalyst that unleashed a nuclear attack in 2157. Ironically, in this story, the nuclear attacks are suspected to be home-grown. A conspiracy unlike any other in American history. Now, there's an angle.

While I enjoy Dystopian stories, most of them deal with futuristic settings that are far removed from the initial conflict and the after-effects of nuclear war, which is when people will be the most vulnerable, shaken and confused. It is when total chaos reigns supreme and governments are in total disarray, and society is in scramble mode.

And a time when every man and woman and every child will have to fend for themselves. There's enough conflict right there to fill the entire game. Anything else I decide to add beyond that is icing on the cake.

I have a realistic deadline to finish this game.

That being said, I have given myself a realistic deadline to finish and publish this game. Shooting for mid to late 2019. Remember that nobody gives a flyin' you know what about the blood, sweat, and tears you've poured into your work. The end consumer only wants to know if your game, based on its main theme, is going to be fun and exciting to play (at least several times).

Any designer who thinks their precious game will be played over and over to rave reviews is kidding themselves because there are just too many game choices out there and too little time to play them all. These days, most gamers will play their favorite game several times at first until another offering catches their attention and they shelf your game indefinitely.

Meaning that the shelf life (in homes, not stores) can be a long one for many games. Brisk sales or the lack thereof in stores will certainly dictate the shelf life of any game or product. It's just that simple.

Impulse Buyers and Collectors

In reality, I'm designing this game for impulse buyers and collectors. Those are key consumers  because they can be your best and most loyal influencers. Attracting gamers of any other kind, be it hard-core gamers, casual gamers, new gamers, is all about trickle-down marketing, which grows exponentially from players who buy your game based on the thematic concept and maybe even the game components alone.

These types of consumers are sold on your packaging, the main theme, the game components, card decks, game mechanics, and above all, your unique take and POV about the world you've created.

In a nutshell, it's either love at first sight, or an emphatic pass.

What's it going to be for you?

That's hard to say but if you design a game that you'd love to play but you can't find, and you capture the look and feel of the era and the world you want to experience on a deep and meaningful level, and you are honest and devoted to the game's mechanics and its overall intention, and the art and characters appeal to the masses, I think you stand a good chance at succeeding in this business.

Other than that and you're just spinning the wheels and gears of a dream without any conviction or direction whatsoever.

In other words, it can be a total waste of everyone's valuable time, especially yours.

If you want to avoid that scenario,  all you have to do is put your mind, your heart and soul into everything you do and dedicate as much time as you can towards it and good things will happen.

That is hopefully the likely outcome.

So don't overthink it. Don't worry about how you will achieve it. Just dive into it and learn along the way until you see a way through and a way out to the other side.

I think Jim Morrison of The Doors, said it best:

"Break on through to the other side."

You gotta love that.

Here's the new Millennium teaser with that BladeRunner vibe. I was looking to evoke a feeling and immerse viewers into the world of the new Millennium, a bit Dystopian here, but nevertheless it works.