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Opinions on my story Idea, should I pursue it?


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Hello everyone,

 

I've spent a fair amount of time trying to come up with a good story idea for a visual novel and was wondering if I could get some opinions on a pretty high-level description of my idea.

 

This story would be a sci-fi/mystery visual novel that in its beginning stages, would follow five short character stories, which would be used as a means of introducing each of these individual characters. in these stories, each character is in their senior year and are trying to decide on a college to go to. basically, after their introduction, this university, which I have yet to come up with a name for, would use varying methods to try and influence these 5 students to attend the university. Be it through scholarships, a good athletic program, or a good program for their major, all five of these students are convinced to attend this university. mind you, the person who they are corresponding with is willing to give/say anything in order to convince these five characters to attend. I would release these 5 stories in a sort of episodic format as I completed them.

 

As for the UI, It would have huge significance to the story. basically, the UI would have a sort of futuristic but slightly buggy/distorted look to it. On the bottom of the screen would be five generic silhouettes that would represent each of the five characters. Periodically, I would change the text on the screen to things like "Searching for candidate," etc. Upon completion of one of these stories, I would change the status to "Candidate located" and at that point, the generic silhouette would be replaced by the actual character's silhouette, and the story would become playable. upon completing the character's story, their silhouette would be replaced with their actual character sprite, and the status would change to "Candidate acquired" for a short time before returning to "Searching for candidate." Along with this, files on this futuristic desktop would be unlocked, and become viewable. These files would contain various different images, documents, and sound files, that would both be a means of world-building, and would also give away some juicy details of the overarching story. 

 

Once all five of these stories are completed, I would set to work on writing the final, long story. In which, all five characters, along with one new, very significant character, of which you play from the perspective of, would meet at this University. This final story would be pretty relaxed, until the characters start noticing odd things about the university, and slowly builds up until they try to get to the bottom of whats going on. 

 

Essentially, for the mystery aspect, what I have at this point is that the MC of the final game was the son of an esteemed inventor. this inventor's life goal was to create the first truly sentient artificial intelligence capable of feeling emotion and thinking for itself. He passed away before he was ever able to completely achieve his goal. However, he did manage to create the most advanced AI to date. before his death, he told this AI to do whatever was necessary, short of letting anyone come to harm, to create the first truly sentient AI. this gave the inventor a little bit of comfort prior to his passing, as he thought if this AI he created could do it, in a small way, he would have achieved his goal. Upon the inventors passing, the AI began formulating a plan to achieve its inventor's goal. the AI's plan was to attempt to get five people together in the correct environment, where they would have adequate funding and resources to create this first sentient AI. (you see where I'm going with this :P). The AI essentially builds a university around itself via the use of robotic, humanoid puppets to found the university, and do all the things it could not, being stuck in place and all. money was no object as the inventor was very successful in many other endeavors and left it all to the AI. the AI then began searching for the best candidates. 

 

A few random ideas as well I thought I'd mention:

 

I have an idea for the climax of this final story in which the characters finally find the truth, and find the AI. upon entering the inventor's workshop and finding the AI, the player would immediately notice that on the central screen would be an exact replica of the UI of the game. thus telling them that the answer was in front of their face the whole time.

 

I've also considered a plot thread in which the humanoid puppets that the AI controls sort of have a will of their own, and desire to be truly sentient.

 

Upon completing the game one final set of files would become unlocked. showing the POV of one of the humanoid puppet AI's being created. their body would be in disrepair of course as they would still be in the process of being built. many other projects of the inventors would be visible. the AI would look around before finally focusing on another, humanoid AI, this one in far worse shape. The player would recognize it as the character that led all five of the other characters to the university. however, this AI is not being controlled by the inventor's AI and is acting of its own volition. I've thought about using them as a villain for a future game.

 

Thank you for reading my story idea. any feedback or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated! :) 

 

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I may be wrong, but, to be honest, this project seems way too ambitious for a starter project. Are you sure you do not want to start with some smaller and more easy to make project, simply to see how things work and to build some experience?

As for your ideas. I have some trouble understanding how it will look in a complete project, but, overall, it depends on how exactly you are going to implement all of your ideas rather than what these ideas are. So far from I get the impression from your explanation that the first half of your game is going to be mostly raising sim-like, with little text and a lot of choices and interaction, and with the story introduced more in adventure game-style (through environment and dialogue), while the second part of your story is going to be more VN-like, with a lot less choices and a lot more narration, and entirely story-focused. That's not a very good structure, in my opinion, because such genre shift would alienate a lot of players. It would be a lot better if the second part also used some modification of the UI from the first part, and/or, rather than just introducing the characters, if the first part also included some long story segments, probably connected to the characters' backstories and why they were chosen to attend that university (or something like that).

Anyway, I hope my criticism doesn't discourage you. Good luck!

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certainly not! this is what feedback is for right! :D

 

30 minutes ago, Dreamysyu said:
 
13 minutes ago, Dreamysyu said:

That's not a very good structure, in my opinion, because such genre shift would alienate a lot of players. It would be a lot better if the second part also used some modification of the UI from the first part, and/or, rather than just introducing the characters, if the first part also included some long story segments, probably connected to the characters' backstories and why they were chosen to attend that university (or something like that).

I definitely see what you mean when it comes to the genre change. I suppose my intention there sorta was to break the game up into smaller projects by using this 5 story format, prior to big "main" game so that in a way, it would be a smaller project. However, I definitely see how it could be problematic. ill do some serious thinking about a way to reformat this. I also definitely agree that including why these characters were chosen would be a good move.

 

Thank you so much for your feedback!

Edited by Jooji
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Upon doing some rethinking, I feel like I will probably do away with the 5 initial stories and just focus on the main story. As far as a demo goes, I think I will write it in a similar way I had intended these five stories to be written, except from the perspective of the MC instead. Then the main story fill continue from the demo. I feel like this should remedy the whole genre shift issue while allowing me to keep the current story I have in mind.

 

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Maybe I've seen too many android/AI stories recently but one thing that is pretty unclear for me from your description is what the stakes are in the story? I think one of the main reasons I don't find the concept interesting at this point is that you say next to nothing about the AI running the show and that's central to the whole intrigue. Giving it interesting patterns of behaviour and motivations will be crucial, so without seeing any of that I can't say whether you're making a Blade Runner or a Beatless. :P

Also, the fake university full of puppet androids sounds like a massive overkill as a plot device and something that in no reality could remain hidden, unless you set it in some kind of post-apocalyptic, fractured world. Also, why use HS grads to create your ultimate AI? And someone lured in by sports scholarship? Wouldn't you want, like, accomplished (young) scientists and set the whole thing in a research laboratory? That would also make the puppet idea a lot more manageable – maybe have like one or two android helpers to the main AI with different ideas about their mission and the humans helping the process. A great source of conflict and confusion for the protagonists, who might misinterpret where the actual threat is coming from.

Spoiler

Or maybe even have a helper AI convinced that the research is too dangerous and willing to sabotage it? That'd be a fun twist. ^^

I kind of like the prologue stories idea, but @Dreamysyu is right that it sets the project for a pretty massive scale. Also, it only makes sense if you want these backstories to play heavily into the main plot, otherwise a few conversations about the character's motivation to come to the place and their backgrounds will do the same. Also, revealing how they were lured in over time might add to the mystery, with characters exchanging that information with each other and starting to feel something is off.

That's just what came to my mind after reading your summary, I hope it'll be helpful. :)

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Thank you for the feedback! 

 

As far as the AI puppets, you hit the nail right on the head with my intention for them. like you said, essentially, they have different ideas about their mission. Although, my intention would be to only have like one or two of them blending in, rather than this whole university being filled with them.

As for using HS grads going to a university, Ill do some thinking and try to come up with a clever reason why they would be chosen. And if I cant, I will definitely rethink the setting and characters of the story. Perhaps rather than being set in a traditional university, I could set the story in grad school so that these characters will have already had their college education. Also, maybe their initial reason for grouping together could be some sort of group project that the grad school uses rather than a traditional thesis paper? Just some thoughts I had while typing this.

As far as the prologue stories, if I can do like you said and make these backstories really significant so that they enhance the main story, I would definitely be up for the challenge.

I will definitely dedicate some time to getting into this AI's head to see who it is as a character, and what it really wants.

Anyways, i'd just like to thank you again for giving me feedback! :D 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jooji
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