Journey to the Amazon: A Pitch
Feb 11th, 2010Bradford Hale
ConceptJttA puts players in the role of Doctor Henry Ford. Dr. Ford is taking a vacation to the Amazon rainforest, when he comes across an old Native American village pleading for help. They are a people who worship animals, and apparently, an evil hunter has started snatching up animals everywhere.
The player's goal is to traverse the harsh jungles of the Amazon, and find the animals that the hunters have captured. Every so often, the player will return to the Native American village, and be given the opportunity to learn about its people, the animals of the rainforest, and what more the good Doctor can do to help.
This game is obviously meant to provide knowledge of the Amazon, what's going on there now, and how they can help. I have always been an avid supporter of animal rights and preserving the rainforest (especially after seeing Avatar for the ump-teenth time) and this game should appeal to those who are interested in knowing about the animals of the Amazon, as well as the real-life situations that the animals and people there face.
The game is played in 3D in a diagonal view, and the player moves using the directional keys. The player's health bar is displayed in the upper-right, while the tool bar is displayed in the lower-right. The player, playing a doctor, has no real weapons to use - at least, not in a combat situation. He instead has to resort to hiding from the evil hunters if they should come into view. Most of the player's time is spent seeking out the animals that are caged/trapped on the levels. The way the player interacts with anything - including hiding spots - is with the spacebar.
The only other thing of importance is the player's toolbar. This is a small box that displays the currently selected tool that the player can choose to use. Such things as knifes, salves, and herbs are all contained here. The player uses the toolbar with the left control key. If the player presses it once, the toolbar will display all of the tools that he has access to. He then chooses which to use with the directional buttons. If the player holds the control down, the character will use the selected tool.
In the mock-up UI found below, we can clearly see the focus of the picture: The caged animal. Beside it is a guard, ready to hurt the doctor, given the chance. In the lower-left, we see a rock that is a good source of cover. In the upper-right, we see Doctor Ford's health, and in the lower-right, we can see his toolbar with a hammer currently equipped.
I would probably code the game with something relatively low-key, such as OGRE. This wouldn't be an overly-complex nor a very long game, so I think this would be a good idea. Because of the graphics and content, I would most likely place the game on the PC. Consoles today are becoming highly graphic-intensive and complex, and I don't think marketing the game on a next-gen would be worth the money and amount of time.
First 10 Minutes - NarrativeWhen the game starts up, the first thing we will notice is the intro cinematic, which shows Doctor Ford driving through the Amazon Basin. He stops his car when he finds a Native-American tribesman knelt over a wounded tiger. His claw is caught in a trap. Ford gets out of the car and helps the tiger. The Native-American thanks Ford, and begs him to speak to his chief. He agrees, and is taken to the chief of the Aguaruna tribe of Native-Amazonians. This is where he is briefed about the hunters who are gathering animals for their pelts and other horrible things. He is tasked with freeing them, and he accepts. As a bonus, the Aguaruna chieftain offers rare valuables from the Aguaruna people. He is given a side-quest to find a rare herb to help a few sick clansmen.
The way the game is played is a cross between an espionage game and a puzzle game. Obviously, the doctor cannot stand toe-to-toe with enemy hunters, but he does have an arsenal of things that he can use to help him.
The first mission puts him outside the gates of the Aguaruna village. He is briefed on movement keys, and then he must go up a steep hill where the first caged animal is being held. When the Doctor is close enough to an object that he can interact with, it will highlight in flashing yellow. There is a guard standing watch, however, and the game tells the player how to use cover to hide behind a boulder nearby. Beside the doctor is a small rock. A box pops up on the screen, telling the player that the doctor can use things like these to get the attention of guards. It teaches how to find the rock in the arsenal tab, and then the player is told to throw the rock a ways away to distract the guard. With the rock chosen in the arsenal tab, the player moves in the direction he wants to throw the rock, and the guard changes color from green, to yellow, and to red with how close the rock will be to him. Obviously if he is highlighted in green, the guard won't notice much. This is useful for situations when there is more than one guard. Red would mean hitting the guard, useful for getting a guard to come to you in situations like if he is in a corner. Yellow would mean it would fly past him at close enough range that he would be alerted. The player presses the spacebar to use the rock as the guard turns yellow. The guard shows surprised little yellow marks around his head, an audible "Huh?" is heard, and then he walks off. The doctor sneaks up to the cage and finds a small hammer nearby, and then uses it in the same way as the rock, to break open the cage. This hammer is used throughout the rest of the game. As the cage opens, a small Kinkajou scampers out, squeaking happily. In situations when sound is key, the doctor can attempt to pick the locks on doors, provided he has a lockpick. Various mini-games will occur during the lockpick process, and they all depend on what kind of lock is on a cage/door.SourcesThis one is a great source of information about how to preserve the Amazon Rainforest, and how preserving it slows Global Warming. Obviously, this would be a great source for background material.
And this one is just a bit of general information about the Amazon, itself. Good info if you're just interested in the rainforest and/or the river.
And this one is a good source for various animals that are found in the Amazon. One of the more important sources to be used in conceptualizing a game such as this.
Finally, here's a link to a page describing the various plants of the Amazon. Again, not the main focus of the game, but I plan to incorporate plants like these into it, for learning purposes.
http://www.junglephotos.com/amazon/amplants/plantecology/plantecology.shtmlGAM380Journey to the Amazon: A Pitch