As with most of my mod stories I will start with the story told in fiction form and then explain the reasoning behind it and also give more details about the gameplay and twists/spoilers.
All is dark and warm and quite and peaceful. Then suddenly: Noise, heat, light and movement……PAIN……nightmares!
Adam wakes up after some sort of catastrophe. One moment he was sleeping, the next he is lying under rubble and in great pain. He is partly covered by fallen beams and other debris; there are a couple of small fires, one worryingly close to his left arm and shoulder. There are strange crab-like creatures screaming and trying to jump on him but they can’t reach him because of the beams. Complete abject fear keeps him from moving. He hears voices – help has arrived. Seconds before he is about to shout for help he stops. Something inside him says “NO, Stay hidden!”. Somebody else shouts for help but they are quickly silenced by what sounds like gun fire.
At first he thought he had been in some sort of gas explosion but not anymore. If he listens carefully over the sound of the crackling fire and the screams of those crab things he can hear more gun fire, large vehicles moving and a voice on some sort of broadcast system. “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?” he thinks to himself.
Footsteps on the stairs and more voices interrupt his thoughts. “Definitely keep you mouth shut this time” he says to himself.
Broadcast System – Female voice: “All soldiers are reminded to capture any resistance operatives….” The voice trails off.
Soldier One: “Check these rooms with the heat sensor”
Soldier Two: “Yes Sir”
Soldier One: “If you find any signs of life KILL IT!”
Soldier Two: “Yes Sir”
Before Adam could even think of trying to escape, a soldier bursts into his once smart apartment. He pauses, scans the room with some sort of device. Adam stays perfectly still. the soldier takes a step closer to Adam. “Nothing alive in here, only debris and those fucking Headcrabs going crazy!” He shoots them. “Moving on.”
The story told above would be a cut scene seen from the player perspective. The player can only move his head when the soldier bursts into the room. The screen fades to black and back to the character standing in the room. The player should at this point say to themselves “What am I supposed to do now?” Exactly as you would do in a real situation. Hopefully the player has been paying attention and heard the words Resistance Operatives. Knowing this they should feel that their objective is to find these Resistance Operatives.
The player must simply exit the building without being seen by the Combine and find help. Once he finds a member of he resistance he is told to follow them. They lead him to the Resistance Base, which is situated in a collapsed mine just outside of town. It is here that the real game begins.
Once the player reaches the base he is welcomed by the other members of the resistance and selected for various tasks. Essentially it would be a mini-mission based mod. Perhaps different weapons and items for each mission.
Each mission would consist of slightly different types of gameplay. The level to reach the base would be stealth, especially considering you have no weapons or idea what is going on, etc!
The last mission would be a two-man mission where the other man decides to sacrifice himself for the resistance. ; I want the player to think “Why did he do that?”. Hopefully to highlight that the player may not be the master of his actions.
I’m now going to let the cat out of the bag. Don’t read this section if you don’t want to know the twist in the story!! Your character is an android. He has been placed into what were considered strategic places by an, as yet, unknown agency (probably connected to the G-Man). As you already know your name is ADAM:
The androids are activated in times of need, although they believe they have been living normal lives up to that point.
As the name suggests their purpose is the collection of information and possibly other types of action. Each A.D.A.M. is directed from a hidden area within the resistance base. The player is shown this area later in the game. All motivation comes from the Controllers.
I’ve already mentioned the twist but what about the player? Well, at the conclusion of the last mission, the player returns to find the base under Combine control. A little careful manoeuvring gets the player into a position to hear a Combine soldier explaining to an officer about the androids and their role.
The game climaxes with the soldier explaining that during the assault the control stations were completely destroyed and the androids still free were now on their own. Without knowing the exact codes and frequency it is impossible to contact them and therefore direct them.
The soldier goes on to say that they had captured one and it was convinced it was human. Physical sensations of pain and pleasure were generated to complete the illusion. They even believe the androids have some primitive emotions like fear and curiosity. In the background an android can be seen with its synthetic skin half removed.
As mentioned above the player returns from his last mission (With no ammo left) to find the Officer and Soldier speaking. Because the player has no ammo he cannot simply run in and kill them. He has to carefully move to a location to collect more ammo; it is during this action that he overhears the following conversation:
Officer: “So, all these Resistance were in fact androids?!”
Soldier: “Yes Sir. All except the Controllers who worked behind the scenes.
O: “How did the set-up work?”
S: “Each android totally believes that it is human Their memories are implanted so that when they are activated they feel that they have been living a normal life. Instructions from the controllers were sent to the individual androids who were left to complete the tasks themselves. It seems they were more efficient if they had survival instincts. The controllers simply supplied the objectives, the androids had to work out the best way to achieve those objectives.”
O: “How the hell did we find it?”
S: “Complete luck Sir! One of the Headcrab canisters went off course, again!, and as you know our patrol was sent to reclaim it and stumbled upon this.”
O: “How many of our team are left?”
S: “Just you and me Sir.”
O: “Why did we do so much damage?”
S: “We didn’t Sir, they did. They were in the process of destroying everything. It seems they didn’t want anything to be found or used. They were about to start the self-destruct sequence but we stopped them just in time!” THIS BECOMES IMPORTANT LATER
O: “Why don’t our radios work in here?”
S: “Something to do with the shielding used to hide the base from our sensors.”
O: “Does that mean that Command doesn’t know about this place or the androids yet?”
S: “No Sir. I haven’t had time to send a message.”
O: “Well go outside and send a damn message!”
S: “Yes Sir!”
I have three possible endings for you to consider, each has good and bad points.
The moment the officer tells the soldier to go outside and send a message the player’s screen is overlaid in red and a message is displayed (And possible spoken). Something like:
SELF-DESTRUCT IN 30 SECONDS
LOCATE THE MOST APPROPRIATE LOCATION TO DESTRUCT
DO NOT ALLOW THE SOLDIER TO LEAVE THE BASE ALIVE
Just before the explosion:
YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE RESISTANCE WILL BE REWARED
A COPY OF YOU PERSONALITY IS BEING READIED FOR INSERTION INTO A NEW A.D.A.M.
YOU HAVE DIED A TOTAL OF 8 TIMES.
LONG LIVE EARTH!
Your objective is to either find weapons and try and kill the officer and soldier before you self-destruct and/or make sure you are as close to them as possible when you self-destruct.
Option 1 Notes
This option would explain the suicide of one of the resistance team in a earlier mission. It would also give the player one final objective to accomplish. However suicide bombers are a sensitive subject at the moment and many may feel this is inappropriate. It also means the mod ends with the death of the character and serious consideration needs to be given to the psychological effect on the player! It may spoil the whole mod for them.
After the officer and soldier finish talking there appears the beginnings of a portal that quickly expands killing both of them. Out steps the G-man and looks in your direction. “Arh, there you are. You need to quickly make a choice. Follow me and live and continue what you are clearly good at or stay here and atomise when the core , ten metres below us, overloads and explodes, obliterating everything with half a kilometre.” Not much choice there then!
Option 2 Notes
In some ways I view this ending as quite anti-climatic. This option obviously pays homage to Half-Life 1 and also, though indirectly, connects the G-man to the Resistance. It also, I believe, gives the impression of the G-man having many operatives beside Gordon Freeman. I think it would be good if after entering the portal you are taken to a base where there are approximately 12 tubes each with a person inside. Of course yours is the last tube in the row and no prizes for guessing who is in the tube next to you – Gordon Freeman!
The moment the soldier finishes his “Yes Sir” there is a noise directly behind you (perhaps a piece of wood falling) that draws their attention towards you. “You get out and send a message while I take care of him!” shouts the officer and the final battle begins. Firstly you must block the soldier’s exit, this would be done be by causing a collapse of the exit tunnel, trapping both you and the enemy inside the mine. There are plenty of weapons lying around for you to use and obviously some physics set-up to use (Exploding barrels etc!). After you have killed the officer and soldier your objective is to start the self-destruct sequence and find a way out of the base!
Very much the unsung hero whose world has been shattered, not just by the invasion but also by the revelation of his true identity. The mod would end with the player finding and using the escape route. This leaves the player in a deserted part of town completely without purpose or motivation. The screen fades to black.
This could be the perfect ending for a sequel where the player sets out to discover who its creators were. If this ending is chosen then clues should have been given during the mod – a scrap of paper on a desk, a symbol or an overheard conversation in the base.
The overall concept was driven by the feeling that no matter how much we think we control our lives there are unseen forces that guide us in certain directions. Choices that seem obvious are really just circumstances and we often take the easiest option. I’m not necessarily talking about conspiracy theories, just the idea that it’s very hard to wake up one day and act outside our usual pattern. There’s nothing stopping us from doing something we have always dreamed of, except we convince ourselves that it’s not responsible or sensible, when in fact it’s more likely fear and routine that stops us.
The question I’m asking is “Are you sure that the choices you make are what you really want or are they somehow forced upon us?”
Another point I wanted to explore was that after some sort of catastrophe people often ask themselves “Why me? Why did I survive when the person next to me died? Does God have a plan for me? Is there a reason I survived?” This can often give rise to a completely new outlook on life. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Although I personally hate mods/maps that don’t make your objectives clear I wanted the player to say “What the funk am I supposed to do?” Simply because if we found ourselves in that situation it’s probably what we would be thinking! There would be enough subtle clues and hints to help the player but it is that initial feeling I’m interested in.
The start of the mod is very important because there has to be the episode where the Combine soldier doesn’t find any life in the room. Adam (The player) needs to feel there is a plausible explanation for this, when in fact the real reason is he is NOT alive! (Biologically anyway!)
After thinking about the original opening story I felt that it seemed a little contrived, which it was of course, and I wanted to try something else. Version two fits the story title better and also seems more realistic. The down side is that I feel I have lost some of the tension about evading the Combine Search Team. Below is the first version of the story I wrote. I’ve included it here in case you think it’s better (I don’t).
Adam woke up almost exactly ten seconds before his alarm went off. He lay perfectly flat under the sheets as if he had been in a coma, it was as if somebody had made the bed AFTER he was in it! He fell asleep like this and woke up like this and had done so for as long as he could remember.
He switched the alarm off and got out of bed, stretched and went to the bathroom. After completing his ablutions he got dressed ready for work and took his customary look out of the window before leaving his apartment.
It was at this point his world collapsed. The sight that greeted him was surreal. Buildings demolished, fires burning, smoke rising from rubble, some sort of tank rolling down the street, but perhaps most startling were the lines of humans marching towards a huge aircraft. The beings controlling the marching looked humanoid but it was impossible to be sure because their heads were covered with helmets.
There was only one conclusion to be drawn from the evidence and that was that the city, or at least this part of it, had been invaded! But why hadn’t he woken up sooner? Surely the noise would have been loud enough to wake him? It was true that he had never woken up during the night, but this was different.
These thoughts were broken by noises in the stairwell. Doors being smashed and footsteps, followed by screams and then some kind of whistling sound. He later found out that the whistling sound was some kind of hypnotic weapon that forced humans to into a temporary trance where they would simply follow ANY instruction given to them – even suicide!
The footsteps were ascending the stairs, coming to his apartment to collect him. “FUCK! WHAT SHOULD I DO? Was it worth hiding?”,/i> There was nowhere for him to go. No ledge to climb onto, he would have been spotted from the street anyway. “FUCK FUCK FUCK! COME ON THINK!”
He rushed into the bathroom and closed the door as gently as possible. “NOW WHAT?” he thought. The bathroom was still very steamy, just the way he liked it. He always closed the window and door and had the shower as hot as it would go. He never spent less than 20 minutes standing in the shower every morning. He carefully closed the shutters and removed the light bulb. “Quick, into the shower” he heard himself think. He crouched down and then placed his towel over himself.
Seconds later the door was kicked in and rested against the shower. The combination of no bulb, shutters closed and steam made visibility limited. The Combine soldier used his heat sensor to scan the room. Adam expected the worst, either to be shot or to be grabbed and dragged down into the street. Each second seemed to last a lifetime until suddenly the soldier withdrew and shouted “Heat sensor is playing up. Damn! No life forms found in this apartment!”
Adam’s body didn’t move but his mind raced. “How the hell did they miss me? Must have been the steam that made the room an even temperature, somehow fooled the scanners That was worth remembering!”
Of course the big flaw is why is there steam in the shower if he is only woken up in times of need by his Controller? I suppose that if this story were used then the androids would lead normal lives rather than be activated when necessary.
As always I’m interested to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so please feel free to comment.