Schoolbread Castle is a visual novel that hinges on inventory management. Which characters you help, and which you sacrifice for more power, will reveal answers to the mystery: what happened 50 years ago and why it relates to you.
Although the PC originally enters the castle for shelter, but it is unpredictable how safe the castle is. Now that he is trapped inside he must rely on a mysterious ability to navigate the castle: magic cards The PC starts the game with about 5 cards. Each night before he rests he can choose which spells to activate for the next day, using the rest of the cards as ‘spell points’.
The PC soon encounters a lost party of heroes, each party member has a different motive for entering the castle. For a while he explores with them, learning a bit about each member and different parts of the castle (this establishes a taste of the different options/routes the player can take). Every day a necessary piece of story unfolds, but afterwards the PC can choose which story option to explore further (which party member to talk to or explore with). Both story sections challenge the spells the player has activated for the day.
The party learns that traces of the Overlord’s magic are still present, but the PC has the ability to convert them into cards which he can use for magical spells (yay more powers!)
They soon come across a party member that they lost before they met the PC. It is revealed that this member is a card that enchanted everyone (mr poopy pants) and is dangerous. This leads to dissent among the party, as they doubt whether anyone in the party could be a fake as well (boo sad stuff!)
Every magical thing has presented itself as something recognizable and symbolic, and so every party member is believably a fake or human- they all have stories and personalities the player would find recognizable.
Ultimately I want characters to be relatable but for the PC (and ingame characters) to doubt if they are real or not. When you decide to turn someone into a magical card this validates that you were in fact correct in your suspicions. Later in the story you learn that, in actuality, you have the ability to turn anyone into a magical spell card just like the villain had long ago. Maybe this is too messy, but I want something modular enough to feel messy. I want the card people to feel as real as real people, to have memories just like them. I want both card people and real people to be consumed by their quests/desires/losses.
In the end I want the player character to learn that the cards were once real people too, changed by the overlord into magic spells long ago. Being turned into a card has made them more… unbalanced, vicious, and hungry in some way. This is why it’s so sad, that the same ‘real’ people who are drawn to the castle (by its story, magic, treasures, whatever) are just as driven, just like the cards who are now haunts, former images of the people they once were. In the end the living and the dead aren’t much different.
This is why it’s so hard to tell them apart, that’s the point. The PC will inevitably make mistakes and have turned real people into spells to get ahead. Maybe he learns in the end that he was once a person too, who made a deal with the overlord.
Ideally over the course of the game you see that a card’s spell type is tied to the story or personality of the person it once was. Your character, before the start of the game, really had no story to him. He was without ambition and without a story or a past. I’m not sure why this leads to him deciding he should be a card, maybe he was looking for magic to reveal something in his heart so he could DO something. I guess this is me being a meta fucking hipster though, cause in the end what he does is become you, the player character.
OR…. I remember an old PC character origin idea…
So the magic system here (though the player does not initially know) is that magic spells are made from the story each character has to tell. That’s why each magic spell suits them in some way.
The Overlord needed these spells for various reasons, but didn’t like that he had to turn people into magic spell cards to do so. So… he tried to make his own cards. I want this to be the last emotional reveal in the game- you find a room full of cards and think jackpot! But then none of them work… because they were handmade and painted by him.
He tried to make his own stories and archetypes and they almost sound right… but he’s just not good at it.
The player character was once a card painted by the Overlord, he’s the one card that worked… because the Overlord put all his faith into that card, he knew it was the last card he would be able to make before the hero came and killed him.
So the overlord finished the card and threw it into the ocean so that the hero would not destroy it. It took a while, but the magic of the card worked… just decades later.
Random questions/ideas 25/07
What if the castle was alive? Maybe the hero/villain is the castle. Maybe the source is that same magic that turns people into cards.
What if the Hero was running from something? What? Does the characters he meet in the castle force him to confront that thing afterall?
Do we really want everything to be a metaphor for something? Or might we make it more of a story where stuff just happens, something less constructed. Think Chekov. Are the other characters merely Tools for our story, or do they break their mold? Would it be effective to set up a clean symbolic storyline, only for then to break it?
Potential goals for the protagonist:
Find out something about the hero/villain
Connect with his past
Solve a philosophical riddle (maybe the main character has an unorthodox profession, he looks for riddles or something?)
Find an item (a card)?
Did someone he knew get turned into a card? Is that his dark secret, he turned his daughter/wife into a card?
I like the “finding memories” theme. Does he eventuellay leave them behind, like Oldboy?
How do we deal with a protagonist that has more information than the player, is that doable?
What is the main characters connction with the castle? A relative lived there?
I like the idea that the main character feels responsible for something. Maybe he doesn’t remember what i was? Are amnesia-stories too cliche? How else does we solve the player/character knowledge discrepancy?
What if the whole island is the playspace, not just the Castle? Is it some sort of Bermuda triangle place, where you can only enter on some condition?
What if the character is a clone/copy/piece of the villain or hero? And you don’t know which? Think “castoff” from “Tides of Numenera”.
Is the game intrinistically hopefull of pessimistic, or do we let the player choose? I really like endings that are open to interpretation, they stick with you longer.
The castle should not be classical european medieval style…
This game is about challenging and changing traditional roles and identities. Characters that enter or live in the castle must rebuild their identities when the framework from which they hang them from has collapsed.
The middle aged hero who is eager to save a princess and settle down meets lesbian princesses
The descendant of the hero befriends the evil loyal guard instead of fighting him
As you explore the castle you have the option to accompany various characters. They rely on you choosing different play styles to help them. This reinforces the theme of those around you defining your identity as much as you do.
Your character enters the castle at first for shelter, but realizes later in the story that he has no memories. It is hinted that he can find them somewhere in the castle.
Though he may take different paths to help different characters, the game has a main path that he can complete within a time limit.
Inevitably he learns that his past is tied to whatever happened between the hero and the overlord 50 years ago.
Before the player character
Each character has a points, and you can choose who to help to advance the story in certain diractions.
Evil Overlord tries to make his own magical cards so that he doesn’t have to sacrifice anyone anymore. As the hero is about to kill him, he throws his last card(you) into the ocean.
Is it stories that make the magic of a card? Perhaps the overlord is ‘making characters’ for cards but none of them seem to stick. It’s because he’s not letting them be as they are. Characters already believe they are real, that’s what makes their stories magical. If he believed in any of his cards they would have magic.
A descendant of the hero has entered the castle to fight the giant savage bird that lives in the courtyard. You learn about her living in the shadow of someone, the pressure of living up to something, etc. She has fun fighting the castle guard, though they never finish each other off because they’d rather have each other to keep fighting. As you explore the castle with her, you find evidence that leads to you both questioning whether her grandfather was all good or the overlord was all evil.
She decides that you should become the new hero, that a ‘nobody’ has more right to the role than she does with her lineage, that is how her grandfather became a hero after all. She secretly doesn’t want this role anyway so she likes pushing this on you.
The thief is as such because she was bitten by a dragon, and so she has a few draconic tendencies… namely hoarding and pride. sounds like a real tsundere. She explores the meaning of ‘treasure’ and what it means to take something special away from everyone in the castle. She sleeps inside a mimic in the dungeon.
She plans to steal the bard’s lute because she knows that’s what is truly a treasure to him.
Maybe she’s not actually bit by a dragon, and just using it as an excuse. She’s tricking herself out of taking responsibility.
Candle Golem Guardian
The candle golem yearns for books, she’s never been allowed near one because she would burn them. Once you bring the books to her she opens them, expecting whole worlds or magical spells to come spilling out. It is revealed that she can’t read, but you can read her a story on the night she dies.
A gargoyle that chose to leave his post out of boredom and curiosity, following you inside. What he finds exciting and adventurous is usually still pretty subpar.
He is the judge of the cooking contest, and becomes a giant woobie if you bake him a cake. He doesn’t have taste buds after all, it’s the gesture that counts.
He´s obviously stuck in place, but maybe he pretends he could get up anytime?
The two princesses send letters to each other, folding them into paper airplanes and sending them over the hedge mazed courtyard. The first one you meet is locked to a ball and chain, she’s interested in finding a way out of the castle but only if she can bring her friend, who is presumably chained up too. Once they meet is revealed that the second princess was always free to go but she stayed behind to be with her friend.
The castle guard patrols the castle, sweeping goblins off thrones and cleaning up after them. Fastidious and committed to his job, he spends about as much time sprucing up the place as he does ‘defending’ it. He is more skilled than the heroine but refuses to kill her as it gives his job purpose again. You learn that he was just the butler of the overlord and that’s why he wasn’t killed by the heroes 60 years ago.
Characters that used to be cards! (any character listed here could be a card, though I like the idea of making ones that specifically reflect the overlord’s personality) - A character from the song the bard sings, for example
Stuff to define for characters: personality, background, current dilemma, what they will do without the player’s involvemen
Evidence of what happened between these two is apparent through out the castle. At first it seems apparent, good versus evil. But the more you explore the castle the more you learn that things were more vague. The hero was cruel to his team mates. The Overlord’s magic powers are the same as yours, and he was trying to find a way around sacrificing people to fuel his spells.
The character who owned the castle had some sort of conflict with a Hero, and was banished. The current inhabitants are the ‘leftovers’.
Experiment (what happens if I take this story path?)
Different characters have different motivations?
This room itself is a golden pentagon with a raised platform in the middle. On it sits a brass throne, and on that again sits a goat that looks quite content with itself. Or is it? It doesn’t really have an expression. It’s looking somewhere to the side, giving no indication of being aware of your presence. It’s chewing on some grass that somehow found its way here.
(1) leave room
(2) pet goat
MC: Main character
[Black screen. Fade in beach ambience.]
MC: Sand? A beach?
[Gull sounds. Beach scene fades in. MC has washed up ashore. In the far distance, a silhouetted structure with a light]
MC: I started this journey in search for a second chance… It’s seems I’ve been granted it, if not in the way I intended.
[Zoom to light in distance]
MC: My best chance is that tower over there. If I can get to it I can maybe recieve help.
[Gets up, starts walking]
There is a strange magic to this place…
DESCRIBE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF THEM IF YOU CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE.
The moonlight is heavy. The sky is dark. You roll yourself over onto your back and realize it is not the moon washing over you, it’s the ocean. Salt and suds blanket you then recede, leaving you to shiver.
Across the cliffs something blinks, a light in the mist. It’s the window of a jagged and black castle jutting out of the rocky earth. In the dark you can barely see it stands in a halo of grass, small and fervent and bright- too bright for this darkness… it is almost luminous.
The light in the window dies the closer you are to the entrance- large double doors of cherrywood, peppered with rivets and encircled in gargoyles. Their eyeless sockets and open mouths deceive you. Though they are motionless stone it looks as though they are watching you from every angle.
The wind presses against your wet clothes and sends a good chill down your spine. The cold promises a short night for you. Someone will have to relight that fire.
The iron handles are not cold to the touch since you have already lost feeling in your hands and feet. The rusty hinges announce your arrival though no one is there to greet you. With a lumbering creak you shut the wind out behind you.
Great, now it’s cold, dark, and dead silent. Give yourself an hour or two and you’ll match the decor.
As your eyes adjust you can make out some stairs in the blackness and find your way to the fireplace. (This is where you warm yourself by the fire and are greeted by a gargoyle. You find a few cards on your person and dry it by the fire. The gargoyle talks to you about the magic card system. You prepare your cards for the next day)
You’re awakened by a slamming sound in the distance. It’s morning now and you get a good sense of your surroundings. Wasn’t the staircase behind you last night and not near the fireplace though?
You peek beyond the doorway and down the stairs to see three people in the entrance hall- two women and a hooded figure- standing before an ominously large shield pegged into the ground.
“Oh, whatever shall we do now that this way is blocked?” The larger woman quipped before stepping to the side of the shield and walking past it.
“Hey!” A head popped up from behind the shield and glared.
“That’s not what I was… “ he growled, “ It’s just that we’ve been going this way for days!”
“So what was that just now then, a tantrum?”
As the shield bearer turned as red as his hair the hooded figure looked towards them, “Bah.”
“We’re going in circles!” he exclaimed.
“If it’s a circle then why does it look different?” hands on her hips. wow it’s crazy right now
“Bah” from the hood again.
“Victor’s right! A circle’s a circle and that’s the direction we’ve been taking. It’s a trick to keep us going the same way, ergo we go back!”
“It’s a bluff.”
“What if it’s a double bluff?”
“I think you’re right, Victor. It could be a triple bluff.”
“Hey don’t twist his words around!”
The smaller woman in the back muttered to herself, “you’re seriously fighting over which side the goat is on instead of me?”
“Oh sorry Maddie, didn’t see you there.”
“You never do!”
“Isn’t that the point of being a thief?”
She fumed and stomped to the right. “Obviously we find a way IN.” She pointed to the inner wall, and a single door.
“That’s a dead end! It’ll be the same since the last time we tried going that way!”
“Exactly” The large woman adjusted the sheath on her belt and headed in the same direction. “We’re going this way.”
After some better written bickering, the party splits up. The swordbearer goes right, the shildbearer goes left and the thief goes inward. Victor remains and takes off his hood, revealing his goatly glory. The player has a few options.
(1) go left
(2) go right
(3) go inward
(4) talk to victor
(5) something else that involves not choosing any of them
Your footsteps echo fainlty as you enter a vast hall. The marbled floor supports an array of pillars on each side, that dissaper up into nothing. You can only begin to guess how high the ceiling is, but something else draws your attention. An intricate tryptich of stained glass windows stand before you. It illustrates a scene with, bla bla some significant character moment.
You don’t quite understand the story, so you break away and aprehensively move further into the room.
Cold and wet from washing ashore, you are drawn to the light in an otherwise uninviting castle’s window. You enter the castle and take stock of your surroundings, only to discover that the door behind you has just disappeared. Also you make friends with McMurray the gargoyle. He just wants friends dammit
Think of a story and start in the middle
Show, don’t tell (can never be repeated enough)
Strunk and White, Elements of Style: http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/style.html
Snowflake Method: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/
Write About Dragons: https://www.youtube.com/user/WriteAboutDragons/videos
Bladerunner Not knowing who is human and who is fake, questioning what it means to be human.
The Haunting(1963) The main character is inexplicably drawn to a house, and has a relationship with it.
Madoka Magicka Every main character is a clear cut storytelling device that advances the plot. No one is immune from the plot and each character acts as their own fable surrounding the theme.
A Little Lily Princess: Great writing, good, predictable rhythm that is effectively broken once the story changes. Decent integration of main story and side story.
Phoenix Wright: A visual novel that pulls in an audience outside its niche, mainly carried by charming character art and humor.
Long Live The Queen: Great rhythm and skill system. it’s FUN to lose.
Undertale: Deconstruction of typical choices made in adventure games.
80 Days: The writing is awesome. Great worldbuilding and interesting choices. Draws you into the story.
Arkham Games: Neat scenario cards with different outcomes. Fails at actually making interesting choices though. We need to have bigger dilemmas than this, and you need to actually be able to choose.
Monkey Island: Atmosphere, setting (Blood Island). Writing, and character conflicts. Combat presented in dialogue choice options and it’s still entertaining and a bit tactical.
Planescape: Torment: Lots of heavy existential shit.
Portal: How you feel like you’re breaking the game.
A thing about Bladerunner that I like
“Deckard’s unicorn dream sequence, inserted into the Director’s Cut, coinciding with Gaff’s parting gift of an origami unicorn is seen by many as showing that Deckard is a replicant – as Gaff could have accessed Deckard’s implanted memories. The interpretation that Deckard is a replicant is challenged by others who believe the unicorn imagery shows that the characters, whether human or replicant, share the same dreams and recognize their affinity, or that the absence of a decisive answer is crucial to the film’s main theme. The inherent ambiguity and uncertainty of the film, as well as its textual richness, have permitted viewers to see it from their own perspectives.””
How to do springy animation: https://www.renpy.org/wiki/renpy/doc/cookbook/Springy_movement
Overworld Engine: https://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=29964