- Nobody Dies
- Only One Weapon!
- The Help Jails
- The Star City
- The War City
- The Heads Up Display (HUD)
- Health and Energy
- Miscellaneous Details
- The Twins
Even though I love first person shooters I don’t like the slow but sure increase in the amount of violence seen in games. I want to create something with no blood and gore, a game where nobody dies, a game where a player has to think about his environment as a weapon.
I play FPS games because I enjoy the combination of story, tactics and reaction-based shooting. The question is “Do we have to kill to enjoy an FPS game?”
I fully understand the pleasure of a gory frag, where body parts go flying across the screen. But there must be alternatives.
Blaze Bolden is my attempt to demonstrate those alternatives. It is with these things in mind that I started this design document which will explain some of the ideas and possibilities available.
Blaze Bolden is a Science Fiction Single Player First Person Shooter Total Conversion using the Source engine.
The inspiration for Blaze Bolden is the science fiction of the 1930’s and 40’s, specifically Flash Gordon. (I am aware that Flash Gordon has recently been remade into a new TV series. I haven’t seen it and don’t really want to. Too often modern adaptation lose the heart of a show).
This means a particular visual style is required, things like dials instead of computer displays, brass and steel instead of carbon and alloys.
The basic story consists of a hero who has to save the world, this is of course a cliche and has been used in many stories but it perfectly fits the theme.
The story takes place at a huge research facility called the “Star City” and involves some time traveling and an arch nemesis.
Initially Blaze Bolden was to have a light-heated, almost comic feel, but as the project has developed I believe the final product could be darker and more menacing.
At the time of conception, Blaze Bolden had a number of unusual gameplay elements which are discussed later in this document.
It should be noted that this is NOT a serious mod production and I have produced this website more to collate my ideas and thoughts rather than to promote the mod and find team members.
Making a mod, let alone a total conversion, is a huge undertaking and at this point in time it’s just a dream.
Initially I considered making the game an episodic release, with a short cinematic recap of the previous episodes at the beginning of each one. I planned 12 episodes of 30 minutes game-time each. Each released on the first of every month (Of course production would need to be well in advance of release).
I also considered making it in black and white but now I feel a colour overlay may be better.
Blaze Bolden is a famous athlete and scientist, who has designed an atomic rocket ship that will take him to the moon. His adventure begins just after the countdown has started….
10, Stasis Field Active, 8, 7, Atomic Generators at 95% and rising, 5, All systems GO, 3,……2……1……
The rocket begins to shake in anticipation of liftoff, a strange humming can just be heard above the din of the rocket exhausts. Without warning everything seems to stop. It takes a second before Blaze realizes that in fact time has slowed down. He feels waves of images pass through his mind. Eventually the pressure is too much and just before he blacks out time speeds back up to normal.
Blaze wakes up still strapped to his launch couch and hears cries from outside the capsule. He has a strange feeling that something is not quite right and unholsters his newly developed ray gun.
Suddenly the door to the capsule bursts open and Blaze is confronted with strangely dressed guards. Without waiting to hear what they have to say Blaze quickly stuns them and runs past them.
And so begins his journey to find out what happened and who the guards represent.
The following information is slowly explained to the player through various methods but is written here for the sake of clarity.
The Atomic Power Generator for the Star City is a huge three armed, revolving unit. At the moment of maximum power output during the rocket launch the atomic stasis field overloaded and caused the revolving generator arms to release some kind of time altering field. However, the power varied widely during this error and the field had varying intensity.
Think of a shape similar to a spiral, with three arms. Each arm has random areas of intensity of the time altering field.
The Star City, was home to over 2,000 scientists and workers. It was designed as a circular city with the Atomic Power Generator at the exact centre, underneath the main public area, which has a magnificent glass roof.
The effect of the Atomic Power Generator malfunction is that various parts of the city have been frozen in time for 100 years.
The future is not as bright as was hoped!
With the failure and apparent disappearance of Blaze Bolden during his attempted Moon mission, the world suddenly focused on domestic mistrust. Various nations blamed each other until all hope of cooperation between them is lost.
When Blaze finds himself between both realities he sees for himself what a difference one man can make.
After the accident the rest of the world believe that Blaze and the other scientists were trying to create a weapon and relations between countries deteriorate quickly. Whilst there is never a full all-out war, the countries are constantly attacking each other and the global economy great suffers.
Millions die and over the next 100 years countries turn into armies fighting against each other with no memory of the reason for the fighting and aggression.
Now there are just 3 factions left and they roughly equate to the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The Star City has become The War City and is the last vestige of a glorious age of hope and science.
The War City has been redesigned as a fortress
The future is darker, both metaphorically and visually. Why allow your opponent to see you when you can reduced the level of light and make it difficult for him?
The leader of the War City is Emporer Xenak, A calculating man whose only wish is the destruction of the other factions and an end to the wars.
When the malfunction happens he quickly realizes that the stories of a great scientist disappearing 100 years are true. He considers trying to explain this to the other faction leaders but doubts they will listen.
With no hesitation he orders Blaze captured, hoping to extract scientific secrets that will end the conflict.
It’s worth noting that the Star City and War City co-exist at the same time and the player will encounter “walls” where the two cities overlap. These walls are similar to the skin of water and require a little effort to pass through.
The exact layout and overlap of the two cities is complicated, but the idea of a spiral with various degrees of opacity is a good description. There is not a simple line, with left or right. For example, within one corridor they could be four or five alternations between each future.
The player’s objective is to get to the Atomic Power Generator and reverse the operation in the hope of reversing the consequences.
Ultimately Blaze will meet Xenak within the Atomic Power Generator area and this will be the final Boss battle, utilizing the environment as much as possible.
I hope for a few twists in the story including Blaze’s wife, Star City’s ace reporter, who gets captured by the evil ruler and posses a dilemma for Blaze; save his girl first or stop the ruler? Another twist is that the ruler is in fact a descendant of Blaze. But points like this will be refined if the game ever starts production.
It is hoped that while the basic story is not revolutionary it fits perfectly with the theme and still allows for some poetic license regarding modern ideas.
The story and setting also provide a basis for what is hoped would be very different style of gameplay and game mechanics.
The underlying gameplay style will be one of run and gun, but at certain points a more tactical considered approach will be required. I am hoping to provide opportunities for the player to either simply shoot the enemies or offer a more thoughtful option; perhaps by shooting a stairway and blocking a door.
Any puzzles won’t be too hard either, it’s not an intelligence test but a fun game!
The tactical element may become more important as the game progresses, as the enemey become smarter for example.
There are no planned squads sections; the player is a hero and as such he will play alone!
I’m aiming for simplicity rather than over complicating things.
The game was only ever envisaged as single player, never multiplayer.
The player never dies. I know at first this sound strange, almost stupid but when you consider what happens in games then you should realize it’s a moot point. When a player “dies” in a game what happens? They just reload from their last save point. Nobody plays a single player game and never dies, it’s just inconceivable, but in reality a player never dies!
So, if we accept that the player is immortal then we need ways to allow the player the same feeling they get by currently dying and reloading.
Bioshock used the healing tubes but I never understood how the player got there! (I have to be honest and say I only played the demo, so perhaps it is explained!)
Blaze Bolden won’t die but will be captured instead. At the moment of normal death the screen will fade to black and the player will hear indistinct voices and sounds.
The fact that the player never dies in Blaze Bolden is an important point becasue it introduces the player to another unusual gameplay aspect called The Help Jails. This idea will be discussed later in this page.
If the player can’t die then what about the enemies? Well, the same is true for them but that could make the game almost impossible to play. A way has to be found to incapacitate them without killing them.
It seems to me that there are a number of options, with one that solves the problem easily.
The first and obvious one is that the player stuns them and they remain unconscious for the remainder of the game. This solves the problem and offers a simple, believable solution. Instead of dying, they just fall asleep.
However, this misses a very important aspect of gameplay mechanics and that is how an enemy dies. Nowadays, players expect ragdoll physics, body parts flung into the air and screams etc.
What is really required is a way to recreate some of these things without the killing. I believe I have found some possible solutions but they may take too much work to bring to fruition.
The ideas stem from the player having only one weapon but with many different firing modes. Basically the player’s weapon can stun, hypnotize the enemy, make him run away screaming, make them fall to the floor crying, in fact a variety of emotions and actions.
It is hoped that with careful use these actions can illicit the same response from a player as the current ragdoll/gore ones. It is the motivation of a player to shoot an enemy, not to just remove them from the game to allow the player to continue but to see the effects involved.
Imagine a game where the moment you hit an enemy they simply disappeared. It would be quite boring, don’t you think? It’s the enemy’s action at death that players often enjoy. (That’s actually a very sad state of affairs if that’s true!)
I have a number of other ideas but to list them here is premature, I just wanted to give the reader some thing to think about.
This idea has shocked a number of readers and I can see why but the reality is a little more interesting. Whilst it is true that the player will only have one weapon, he will also have plenty of alternate firing mods, which we will look at in a moment.
Firstly, the weapon itself. There is no doubt that it will be a ray gun. The theme demands it and I think it can be made to look pretty cool. Initially I choose to only have one weapon because I was trying to reduce the amount of work needed to produce the game.
So that got me thinking…“Why not just have one weapon but allow the player to find and collect various alternate firing modes?”
This is the basis of the idea. The player has the one ray gun but can insert F.A.D.s – Firing Alteration Disks. These range from accurate points of energy to low power pushing rays.
The disks themselves are located all around the city’s areas and finding these disks forms part of the player’s indirect objectives.
As with the enemies reactions to weapons, I have documented plenty of ideas but won’t publish those for now. Suffice to say that the types of disks available will be very closely linked to the level design, the environment, and objectives.
For example, the player needs to scale a large wall, previously he would have located an FAD that fires energy bolts into any surface. These bolts last for a limited time (20 seconds) before they fade to nothing. The player will need to fire these bolts into the wall and use then as stepping stones.
Another example is what I call the “Hypnotizer”. This FAD releases a ball of energy with spectacular morphing shapes inside. The player releases the ball and then pushes it past the enemy. When they see it they are hypnotized and follow the ball. As with the bolts, the Hypnotizer only lasts a limited time and then fades away. At that point the enemy will return to alert status.
Hopefully you can see that the weapon and gameplay elements are closely linked and would provide something completely new compared with what is currently available.
So, we started with the idea that the player never dies but becomes unconscious. At this point they are captured and placed in temporary jails. These jails are really just rooms used to hold the player while other security is arranged.
The play can easily break out of this jail and through careful level design will be able to recover his weapon and also have access to new areas.
These new areas will link the jail with the last area the player was in before he was captured.
I mentioned careful level design, by this I mean that each level will be subdivided into sections. For each section a small jail will be allocated, so the system knows where to send the player if they become captured.
This means that if a player is captured within the same section they would wake up within the same jail, although I did consider using a random placement system of jails already passed, it seemed unfair to take the player too far back. There are plenty of possibilities open for this idea.
The jail and the linking area may also contain extra FADs. However, these will NOT be required to progress in the game otherwise that would make it necessary for the player to get captured, although I still might considered it in one or two places.
This is a peaceful research facility set in a desert. Its purpose is the research of technologies related to Space Exploration. The city is designed similar to a spider’s web with the generator at the center. 90 percent of the city is underground. However, it is clean and well-lit.
Below are some of the design features:
- General architectural themes include clean metallic surfaces, plenty of light and space, soothing background music, curved walkways and a whole host of other utopian features.
- Colours include silver, chrome and metallic blues. Think clean, fresh, open and friendly environments.
- Plenty of curving corridors, without a sharp corner in sight.
- There are no stairs or elevators within the city just inclined walkways.
- Very few security check-points, except for access to secure areas.
- Members of the security force stay in special stations until they are needed.
- There is a large clean transportation system that ferries people from one part of the city to the other.
- All announcements made over the speaker system use a pleasant female voice.
- Most areas are open-plan with plants and drink stations.
All personnel live within the city at all times. There are large living and communal areas. Above the Atomic Power Generator is the main public dome. This is just below ground level but the dome is above ground allowing sunlight into the city. This area is used for concerts, meetings and other types of festivals.
In some cases the sunlight is directed towards certain research laboratories. Although the sun provides plenty of energy, it is only back up to the main Atomic Power Generator.
As with most research facilities there are different levels of access, and certain areas are off-limits. Around the center of the web and at various depths underground are the research facilities. Around the outside are all the services and utilities, water, sewages, air conditioning etc. There is a service corridor that runs around the complete outside of the City but of course is divided into different zones for safety reasons.
In almost complete contrast to the Space City, the War City has as its research objective to improve the technology used for warfare. Every area is secured from other areas; in fact the interior of the base has been re-designed from a defensive viewpoint.
Below are some of the design features:
- General architectural themes include rusty iron, angles, poorly maintained lighting, frequent power cuts, dampness, mislabeled doorways (confuses intruders) and a whole host of other related industrial/military features.
- Colours include black, gold and red.
- There are lots of angles and sharp bends, these being easier to defend that wide open curves!
- There are lots of stairwells within the city, again because these can easily be blocked and defended. Each stairwell has emergency horizontal shutters that snap across each level to prevent movement.
- Almost every corner contains a security checkpoint.
- Members of the security force roam the corridors and have special holding cells positioned regularly around the base.
- Whilst there is a large transportation system that ferries people from one part of the city to the other, it is split into different sections. Again, this is because it is easier to defend the base. There will be plenty of flags and other insignia placed around the base.
- All announcements made using the speaker system are in code.
The War City guards do not have weapons that can kill on sight but rather weapons that stun and capture intruders.
As with the Space City all personnel live within the city at all times. They have small living quarters and few communal areas. Above the Atomic Power Generator is the main public Arena.
The best way to describe this is to compare it to a Roman Gladiator arena. The prisoners that are captured are made to fight within this arena for the pleasure of the Emperor etc. (Doesn’t take a genius to work out that in a future adventure Blaze will be fighting for his life here!).
Now you can see why they don’t have weapons that kill instantly. Why waste an opportunity to have some fun with the prisoners after they have been interrogated?
Research within the base has been slow because everybody is under pressure and the working atmosphere is one of fear. Space exploration hasn’t even been considered. It’s all about weapons and vehicles.
Although the base is dark and industrial it is not inherently scary. Don’t think Doom 3 but maybe a cross between the Skaarj bases from Unreal and Black Mesa from Half-Life. Weapon stations are located around the base but are well hidden and heavily protected.
I plan to almost completely remove the HUD in Blaze Bolden. Whilst this has been done before I feel that providing the player with information is very important.
Firstly, the screen will contain a basic aiming guide, but in the same way that Half-Life 2 allows information to be displayed on this crosshair I plan to do the same. The Blaze Bolden crosshair with have 3 points signifying, player health, player shield and weapon energy.
Instead of being artificial projection on the screen I hope to connect it to the weapon itself and story itself. The weapon directly projects the HUD onto the players eyes. Therefore when the player doesn’t have a weapon there will be no HUD. Also when the player is hit or there is gross physical movement the HUD will also shake.
I have plenty of drawings for the HUD but as with other ideas, displaying is premature.
As with other FPS games the player will have both standard health and also a shield.
Health will be boosted by medical points around both the Star and War cities.
The shield is really Blaze’s Spacesuit he was wearing at the rocket launch.
The shield’s power will come from energy conduits and recharging points running around the base.
The War City’s energy points will take longer to recharge than the Star City’s and some stations might not work properly. This is to simulate the decay and neglect that have taken place.
The weapon energy will come from the same points as the shield. I have considered a system where the player is allowed to adjust the balance between shield and weapon, but this would need extensive beta testing.
I have a lot of other documented ideas including details of the >Space City Security Force (S.C.S.F.) and the War City Security Force (W.C.S.F.) their difference and characteristics, the main character bios, some fun internal vehicles and research area labs and other city areas, including a market with crowds of people used as a weapon.
Of course every new mod or game has plenty of ideas but it is making them work in the right way for that game that is important. It’s not the idea that counts but the implementation!
It’s a small point but you should know I keep changing the tagline. I’m never happy with it.
One idea I want to finish with is The Twins. The twins are the main Space-City Scientists and work closely with Blaze. Regarded as a genetic mutation they conduct and direct research from their special laboratory. Although they are twins, they are not identical; in fact they are mirror image twins. One twin has a left blue eye and a green right eye while the other has a left green eye and a blue right eye. There are many other physical reflections like this.
Individually they are of above average intelligence BUT together they are geniuses. Their mannerisms and actions are as connected as their intelligence. For instance, one will start a sentence and the other finishes it. Occasionally they speak alternative words with the same sentence.
Notes:In these types of stories there are always grey-haired old scientists that create new weapons or gadgets for the hero. In one of the few ways I wanted to get rid of the cliches I decided that the scientists in Blaze Bolden would be very, very young twins. I don’t know even if mirror twins exist but it sounded good when I was thinking about it!
I planned to make their speech as distinctive as the G-Man in Half-Life. Here the twins will speak alternative words with no pause between them, exactly as if a normal person was speaking. Of course their voices will be slightly different. I’m hoping it would become one of the most recognizable features of the game. A few scenes will feature the one of the twins walking from left to right, while the other walks from right to left, all the while explaining something to Blaze.
Thank you for reading this document. I have striven to have balance between telling you enough to get you interested without giving away too many of my ideas.
This is my game idea and I enjoy thinking about it but in all honesty the chances of this game ever being made are very small. That doesn’t stop me refining the ideas though.