There are times when, if you’re working on a gigantic universe with tons of backstory for characters, events and macguffins, you run across some things that won’t work as well in a straight to novel medium. That’s one of the reasons that the novelettes are such a nice, pleasant distraction – they give me the opportunity to tell a story in a much smaller chunk than a fully sized book. If I tried to put Adelia’s first adventures into a novel, I’d have so much meaningless minutiae, it would just feel forced. That’s not to say, however, that some of those stories couldn’t be fleshed out more. You never know, Bolt’s story might get a fuller, livelier version later down the road.
There are so many other reasons to try to pull away from the novel format as well. Timing is very important, and if I jumped into every character’s past, I’d never be able to get to the details of their unraveling future. One of the ways to try to circumvent that problem is to find a different way to pace it correctly. I’ve long dreamed about giving a few stories a videogame treatment. It’s a cool way to connect some of the dots, and it really does lean on the Tellest mantra, The World is in Your Hands. When someone is playing a game, the choices are ultimately theirs to make – I want to give people the opportunity to develop tried and true characters in meaningful ways. Without any further ramblings from the madman, here are the ten storylines that I would want to tell through videogames:
10. Naryx, the Devourer
Every now and then, you want to take a step away from what’s been established. While rockbiters have been mentioned and seen in As Darkness Falls and The Enemy Within, we don’t get to learn much about them, other than the fact that they have a voracious appetite, and a fear of “keyzaks”.
Devour was going to be my first game. I was working in tandem with a programmer, and was in talks with artists and musicians. We were going to tell a story about aspirations. It would have presented the truth that sometimes, wanting something bad enough can help you become the best there is.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of any solid financial foothold, my programmer flaked and left the project. Rather than pick up from the same place with someone new, I’m going to wait until I’ve got a thicker wallet, and begin Devour anew.
You may remember Gomp as the blind dwarf from the Child of the Stars trilogy. He’s mostly there to show the importance of family, although he does have his own moment a few times during The Enemy Within. But there’s also some references to him being a hero among his people, and we never really get to observe that.
Gomp’s story is going to be intriguing to show through a game because his tale would be told by him. If you’re familiar with the term u”nreliable narrator”, Gomp would certainly fit the bill. But that would be through no fault of his own. To put a twist on the game, you’d have him telling his story to a swarm of children. The children would interrupt the story, as they are prone to do, with their own interpretations and suggestions, altering the landscape and realism of the tale. It would be a way for me to bring a kind of playful ridiculousness to the Tellest universe.
Sometimes, you want to go in the exact opposite direction with a story. You want to open up the game with no details. In Escape, you would wake up inside a dreary old castle. Your character, who knows nothing about themselves, must work to find their way from the place. It would start with a very linear feeling, but as the game progresses, you’d realize that it was like an expansive dungeon from Legend of Zelda. You’d have to use your intuition in conjunction with a pile of items to make your way out. But of course, nothing is ever that easy…
Christopher Linus is the kind of character that has had most of his backstory laid out for the readers. We know that Juramentado utterly destroyed his entire village to come up with fodder for his undead army, but we never truly experienced that. We’ve seen the end result – Christopher is left with many scars, and it has led him down the path he currently walks (serious, he’s badass when it comes to dealing with the undead). But I’d venture to say that the journey is always more important than the destination.
We’d be able to see the events unfolding. Juramentado’s first attack, Christopher’s escape, another survivor perhaps…
And then you could really throw the whole thing on its head by showing you an alternate point of view… where Juramentado is the character that you play as.
6. Knights of Virtue
They’re one of the more interesting groups I have, but the Knights of Virtue have been very mum on their past endeavors. The most important thing they’re known for is their thwarting of Roark, the former leader of Blacklehn.
Just as important as the rise and fall of a tyrannical dictator, however, is the introduction of these characters to each other. I want to give the Knights of Virtue game a very typical old-school RPG feeling, where you get to witness the first moments of a lot of these people coming together. It could be beautiful, and it could be tragic – we’ve seen seven of the Knights of Virtue, and we know that one of the originals is no longer living by The Bindings of Fate. Just because the game would follow the Knights of Virtue, however, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t others of importance that may have fallen…
5. Shards of Tellest
I am an absolute nerd. There’s no way around that truth. You know it by now, and I’ve known it all my life. So rather than trying to avoid it, I would love to just wholeheartedly embrace it.
I’m a huge fan of time travel. More than that, I’m a huge fan of alternate realities – alternate futures, pasts, presents – it’s all gravy. Shards of Tellest would basically be an excuse to turn Tellest on its head without breaking the canon version and throwing everything into disarray.
Shards would have such ambitious goals, that it may be one of my “golden dreams” as far as games go. The game would be massively mobile – that is to say that everyone would be able to play it on their smartphones. Rather than focus entirely on the smaller, more intimate details, you’d give players the opportunity to create fantastic armies out of the Tellest cast (as well as the goodly races and creatures in the universe). People would be able to chat and trade items and units. Occasionally, you’d have limited events that allow the players to interact more fully with each other – PVP events, team events, etc..
The best part about it is that the concept lends itself so wonderfully to a persistent, growing fantasy. You never really have to end the game (although I’d suppose a primary campaign would help to put a tack in it). It could be a hauntingly beautiful companion piece to the main stories.
4. Defense of Sentinel Pass
Zachariah Caista was a bit of a fan favorite in The Bindings of Fate, and we know through his conversations with Kaos that his brother, Stephen, played a big part in the expanded universe. Unfortunately, Stephen can no longer lend his character to the expanding future of Tellest.
Instead, he let’s us look into the past.
We know, from reading The Enemy Within, that the Sentinel Pass has been heavily contested for years. Raleigh and Blacklehn have been at odds within the mountain pass for longer than some of the characters have been alive, and Stephen had a big part to play in that.
I’ve always loved tower defense games. It’s only been recently, however, that any significant story has been established in any of them. Defense of Sentinel Pass would be a perfect way to aid in some critical character development. Pendrich and Kain would be awesome characters to expand on, but ultimately, the game would give us a decent insight to Stephen, and how he went from expert swordsman, who trained Michael Kreegan, to a General in Raleigh’s army against the country to the north.
3. Steel Tip
Ahh, Steel Tip. Fan favorite among many. The ranger has a kind of attitude that people flock to. He has this bountiful charisma that just oozes with confidence, and that comes from a combination of being a little wet behind the ears, and a hearty identity crisis.
Steel Tip’s game would focus on the time period after he first arrives on mainland Draconis. We know that he ended up fighting in the war against Ippius and Blacklehn, alongside his friend Kaos. But there was a time before that when he was trying to test his mettle against other forces of evil.
His story would help to expand on his past, but it would also help to stitch some smaller storylines together. We would see how he acquired that quiver of endless arrows. The player would have firsthand knowledge of bits and pieces of the ranger’s prior motives. And his is the kind of story that could mix in a lot of other things that I’ve dialed back on, such as the other races on Tellest, some special kinds of magic, and so on.
Child of the Stars trilogy Kaos is kind of an anomaly for me. He’s clearly a strawman of me – there’s no denying that. Because of that, I tried to embody in him the sort of traits that I value in a person. He’s morally obligated to situations, he’s clever, he’s brave – he’s a damned boy scout. And that is utterly disgusting. It’s hard for a lot of people to find him interesting as a character because he is so perfect. That’s why, by the end of the trilogy, I had to break him down. I had to take Kaos from someone who I aspired to be, to someone who questions his own morality, someone who toes the line between what is right, and what is necessary. Too many times Kaos has a choice that is convenient and morally white.
The beauty of his past is that Kaos has been broken before. When his family was murdered, he was at rock bottom. He felt alone, weak and scared, and it was a slow, hesitant climb before he became the person we saw in The Bindings of Fate and As Darkness Falls. When everything falls to shit for him, you can bet your ass he’s going to withdraw back into his old habits.
But as of now, we haven’t seen the implications of Kaos as a broken man, or even a man in the middle of recovering. It’d be nice to see him somewhere in the middle, where he’s unsure of himself, and not nearly as confident in his abilities or his propensity to survive any situation.
We also know that he has some pretty cool artifacts, but we don’t know how he happened upon them. It would be cool to delve a little deeper into that. A game would be the perfect opportunity to do some fun things with the Sky Talon and the Iron Kiss. I would try my damnedest to make Kaos’ story into a fun metroidvania, and the story would not disappoint.
The Big Daddy. This is the ultimate goal for cohesion between gaming and Tellest, at least for now. The world that I began created thirteen years ago is big enough to do so many things with, and while it may take thirteen or twenty or fifty more years to get it ripe for such things, an MMORPG is a logical step for the universe.
Imagine being able to make a new story with players in mind. Consider the fact that there are so many established people and places that the possibilities are endless. It would be so fun developing quests that led people into forgotten areas. There are so many ways that you can develop logical fan service, and it gives people the opportunity to grow alongside the heroes of Tellest.
I also don’t thing there’s any better means to really get into the whole Tellest mantra. The World is in Your Hands. Consider what it would really mean for a videogame world when that idea holds true.
There’s a good chance that many of these will never end up seeing the light of day. Though Tellest is growing more and more as the years go by, the reality is that these things take money. I’ve thought on dozens of occasions that I had an idea that was effortlessly brilliant, only to see a slow burn instead.
On the flip side, even if these ten games were all released and did wonderfully, that’s not to say that I don’t have others in mind. These are just the ten that are rolling around on the top of my brain. And these ideas are mine alone – can you imagine the kinds of things that could happen if you combined my imagination with a brilliant artist or a programming genius?