Sunday, June 16, 2013

Game Universes

Introduction

Hello. I am T. Lauterbach, also known as rotten_tater, one of those so-called "independent game developers." You may remember me from such titles as: suteF, Sutef, and another called "sute F." But before I was a surrealistic Fetus enthusiast, I made tons of games. Besides having a beefy library of work and some sort of code of ethics to my development, there has also been a massive world of lore and background to all of my games.

DISCLAIMER — I will NOT reveal the core messages/meanings to my games. I've talked about this idea of mine in the past, where the true meaning of any game should be decided by the players — for what we as players perceive through our gameplay experience is more powerful and meaningful than any artist, writer, or critic could ever inform you through a written explanation. My hope is that by explaining some of the background to the universes I've created that you may find a new appreciation for very subtle references between my works.

Universe Introductions

So, I have a brief confession to make: I love having all of my works mesh into a single, tightly interwoven universe (much like what Kevin Smith does with his movies — recurring characters/actors, locations, companies, and themes). A majority of my completed games derive from a base set of three overlapping universes: Reality, The Abyss, The Afterlife.

As you can see, there are more than just the main three, but that the primary universes can often cross into eachother.

"Reality"— (Thunder Gun, Super Space Rogues, Mind Shock) is where much of the serious, often Science Fiction and technology oriented stories occur. Essentially, there are three "ages" to the Reality Timeline: the near-future, energy-science fueled Cold Fusion Revolution, deep space colonization and exploration as a result of the Galatrite Space Initiative, and the fall of human existence emerging from disasters on Earth and The Orion Settlement.

The "Abyss Series"— (suteF, Fetus, Descent) games all take place in the bizarre, hell-like land it is named for: The Abyss. The stories center around Aramas, a short, blue character who awakes in The Abyss with no knowledge of how he's arrived there as well as Fetus, the dark, omnipotent, and omnipresent overlord of this land lost in time in space.

Finally, the newest addition to my conspiracy wall is "The Afterlife." This universe (again) sounds much like it is a — place where people have gone when they have died. Not heaven, not purgatory, not hell — it is simply a place where souls gather with concrete memories of a life they had prior, but without being able to identify people in their new forms. Currently, The Bulletromancer is the only game that exists in this universe, and I hope to release it to the world soon so everyone can enjoy an even bigger set of legends to experience.

There are also two less fleshed out sets of games that could be considered to have their own canon:

The "Visit Universe"— (Visit, Visit II) revolves around the adventurous and extremely cute Peepan archaeologists and their escapades on the planet Mee-mah. Both Visit I and II are puzzle-oriented platformmer games that I learned a lot about usablility, playability, and world design and then took the block pushing mechanics to the next level in suteF. One could very justly describe suteF as the culmination of all of the work I had put into the Visit games in the years before its release.

So what is The Prototype Arcade?— (Jack Action, Morbid Grid, Vatn Squid) I've always envisioned my prototype and concept games to be part of some goofy arcade machine that knew it was an arcade machine. It's a bit of a stretch, I know, to try to say your prototypes are all part of the same idea — but they are. Make something quickly that shows off the core of an idea.

Timelines and "Future Works"

As you can see, by far the most complex universe (albiet, no real spoilers as it would be if I actually showed suteF's ;P) is Reality, complete with an entire timeline of events that show humanity slowly reaching its pinnacle and eventual demise. However, the interesting part is what's in between.

Several of these projects are in their infancy, incomplete, or on hiatus (essentially, anything marked with a "*" ), but all of them do factor into how the universe works. It would be my greatest pleasure to at some point finish all of these projects, but for now at least, The Bulletromancer is my primary project. Part of me telling everyone about the lore is to generate interest in what future projects I try next... (let me know, blog pals!)

Reality: Age of the Cold Fusion Revolution

Galatrite's Discovery — (2051 A.D.)
Polar Expedition*
Genres: Exploration, Roguelike

Deep in the Antarctic ice, the miracle energy source of the millennium awaited a team of climate scientists simply harvesting ice cores and monitoring ozone-levels. Even though they didn't know it at the time, the blue, dirt-like deposits they started finding and calling "Galatrite" would provide one-thousand times more energy per ounce per second than a nuclear explosion.
However, contact was simultaneously lost with all of the research outposts in Antarctica, and a rescue team was formed to locate anyone who was still alive and determine the cause. Not known at the time, and for several centuries later, what remained in the ice would cause the destruction and subsequent abandonment of Earth...

Cold Fusion Revolution — (2080–2428 A.D.)
Wave Shock, Mind Shock, Mind Jolt (a fan game by Matt Scorah), yimaga Shock*
Genres: Arena Shooter

After the internet's invention, the world's knowledge base grew exponentially. Marcus Howitz and a team of scientists were working on a solution to Cold Fusion when their lead scientist, who had recently found the answer, was injured in an accident and placed into a coma. A new comatose mind scanning device known as the "Shock Device" was being developed by another research group and began showing promise. These two research were developed and would eventually spawn two brand new technologies. (play Mind Shock or Mind Jolt for the outcome...)

Reality: Age of the Galatrite Space Initiative

Galatrite Space Initiative — (2428–2458 A.D.)
Terminal Meltdown*, Super Space Rogues,Super Space Rogues 2
Genres: RPG, Exploration, Roguelike

As Galatrite's potential energy was discovered and exposed, a new age of space travel was made possibly by its capabilities. The "Galatrite Space Initiative" was created to foster a vast commercialization of space flight and colonization. Several corporations like the Tyrus Space Labratory headed by Admiral Straton Dolsair Sr. (Terminal Meltdown*) and independent entrepreneurs like Clyde and Duke (Super Space Rogues) who journeyed outward to the farthest reaches of space, only to find the newest wild west — mob bosses, pirates, and creatures of unknown origins — and a whole new age of exploration and freedom.

Time Travel Discovered — (2436 A.D.)
Terminal Meltdown*
Genres: RPG

The age old question of "can we change our past or see the future" has always been the subject of great controversy and scientific imposibility. Yet, aboard the Tyrus Space Labratory, a lone scientist by the name of Dr. Callus has been working on a way to bend space to change time. With the funds provided by Admiral Dolsair, the answer was within reach.
In a cruel twist of fate, a major catastrophe occurs aboard the civilization scaled space station, and the residents and visitors of this marvel of human existence like Tark and Colonel Oran are forced to salvage their friends and families while trying to avoid the horrors of the monsters that have made their appearance.

Reality: Age of Planet Orion

Abandon Earth — (2595 A.D.)
Thunder Gun, Thunder Gun 2*
Genres: Platform Arena Shooter

While explorers were flooding the galaxy, the non-suspecting residents of Earth were on the eve of humanity's final fight to survive. Long preserved and grown in the last remaining marshes of Northern Siberia, a force of genetically and technologically superior mutants have emerged with thousands of bodies and a nearly infinite drone based military robot forces. Earth was abandoned and betrayed by all of the colonies, and the human home world was quickly swept of resistance.
However, the last pocket of Earth-men took refuge in the quiet seclusion of Sosnovy Bor. Here, the proud Russians took the remaining tools they had left, and built the Mutants' strongest adversary — The Thunder Gun.

The Frozen Wars (Galatrite Famine) — (2660 A.D.)
Enigma?*, New Game?*
Genres: Metroidvainia, Trench Warfare

As human correspondence was finally lost with the homeworld, Planet Orion began a "human procreation" program that put a stranglehold on all of the natural and market resources. With the intention to perpetuate mankind's influence, Planet Orion ironically caused the longest civil war and greatest loss of men, women, and children in our history — fighting would continue more than forty years across the planet and in the ice caps in a conquest for the last remaining Galatrite.
Even some of the hardiest and most loyal warriors, such as the Planetary Federation's Sir Isaac Dawless, began to lose faith in the human race and the future of his own family while fighting for dirt in the frozen trenches. All feared that no one would be left alive to use the Galatrite that lied beneath their fallen comrades' bodies...

Discovery of "The Island" — (2701 A.D.)
Enigma*
Genres: Metroidvainia

With Planet Orion approaching its own elimination from history, a last ditch military offensive was launched by the Planetary Federation to overtake an island that was known only as a Red Legion stronghold, but was said to contain answers to phenomenon that remained unexplained since their discovery in conjunction with Galatrite on Earth more than 600 years prior.
A lone, elite unit of Planetary Federation marines begin to overtake the unsuspecting hostile forces and investigate the rumors surrounding the bizarre "Enigma" that lie in the volcanic caves of the island's interior.

Reality: After Civilization

I.C.E. Project — (18,400 A.D.)
I.C.E.
Genres: Bullet Hell Shmup

If it were any apocalyptic cult that decided to take the future of humanity into their own hands, it was the International Cryogenic Engineers (aka, the I.C.E. project). As society prepared to crumble, the I.C.E. built a beacon of hope set to open in the deep future to repopulate a likely desolate planet.
When the DNA began to form stronger humans, the ones that were rigid enough to survive and rebuild the technology in an attempt to escape the earth. But what they didn't count on was there being someone else around waiting for them to wake up...

Parting Notes

HOLY HELL, that is a lot of text to read! I hope it's riveting enough for some of you to try some of the games you may not have seen yet. But my hope is that one of these "informative segments" will inspire you to create a cohesive world to all of your projects — and an even greater one would be that you tweet me some of the ideas you liked, disliked, don't buy, fell in love with, or just plain TL:DR'd (it's okay – that's a shit load of text. No one blames you :P)

At the very least, I will have put a lot of the backstories and ideas of games and projects I've had in the past into one place for myself and the entire world to see!

Do you guys maintain a deep universe or world of events? I've always enjoyed games, movies, or stories that have tried to build something massive out of the multitude of small encounters, situations, themes, and locations.

I'm happy to start having a discussion on our game universes! Tweet @rotten_tater or #GameUniverses to continue the fun!