Game Concept for PC

Tempest Aeterna is a third person action RPG, based loosely on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Like its namesake, it begins shortly after a ship founders off the coast of a mysterious isle, with the few survivors of the wreck washed ashore. There, they quickly learn of the existence of magic after stumbling across a teenage girl sealing away rogue spirits with spell and spear. She is Mirian, estranged daughter of the isle’s Archmagus Prospero, and this is her first encounter with other humans in over a decade. Gameplay involves combat against spirits and magical golems, mastery of alchemy, solving puzzles, and choosing Mirian’s path, as she attempts to solve the mysteries of the island, her actions affecting not only plot progression but ultimately the game’s ending.

Recently, the inspirations behind most games have been the product of either original in-house studio work or a particularly interesting piece from the film/television sector, with two prime examples from the action genre being “Halo: Combat Evolved” and “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” (works that tackled interesting problems in philosophy as well as being quite entertaining). However, this overlooks a large spectrum of works which many films and TV programs have referenced in the past—works familiar to the average person, and yet are in the public domain: works of literature from before the turn of the 20th Century. One of the most interesting of these titles is Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, a play well-suited for adaptation into an action / adventure RPG—with language and plot somewhat revised for a modern audience, of course. Not only would this have the benefit of name recognition, but it is also a chance to tap into the edutainment market and open up an entire array of works for future use.

Why? Video games target the same audiences that Theatre (the first form of multimedia) did many years ago during the Renaissance, and currently deal with the same criticisms theatre once faced (e.g. promoting violence, leading to moral degeneracy, etc), as well as being a powerful medium that can be extremely thought provoking.

Chosen Medium: Video Game, RPG, possibly exploiting the Unreal Engine

Working Title: “Rivenscryr” (reading the divide/understanding separation)

Overall Feel: Much darker than Shakespeare’s original work, this game significantly modifies elements of the play to make it more workable for purposes of game play. For instance, the ending may not be a happy one for Prospero (who in this adaptation is slightly more fixed on the notion of revenge), and focuses more on the story of Miranda (whose character has been somewhat altered to give her more playability, and to make the story more interesting). Prospero is an unbalanced character to start with, as all-powerful characters are not good in RPGs.

Language: Updated to a more crisp and fresh feel, though certain verse passages have been kept for the feel and wonder they evoke, such as Caliban’s description of the island. 

A Note about weapons/armor/magic: As the characters are on an island, most weapons will either be created of what can be found there or are. Thus Miranda and Prospero will be spear/staff users, while any people new to the island (shipwrecked), will probably be using swords. In many cases, an “armor upgrade” will merely be an additional magical shell or enchantment on existing equipment. 

A Note about Final Attacks: There is a overdrive meter that increases when one takes damage, and when it is fully activated, one can perform a unique ability. There are four levels of overdrives, each of which is obtained a different way (begin with one, clearing forest of illusion grants another, unlocking a certain amount of memories a third, and defeating Caliban the fourth) 

Major Characters

Miranda (Mirian): The heorine of the game, Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, brought to the island at an early age. Thus, she is quite innocent about the outside world, and has never seen any men other than her father and Caliban, but she is not exactly sheltered either. She begins as naïve and non-judgmental, though this changes through the course of the game, when Prospero gets out of hand. Normally compassionate, and gentle, she can be surprisingly firm at times, especially when it is necessary for the greater good. She wields a long spear engraved with runes and is a spellcaster of element water, having grown up on the island. 

Prospero: Twelve years before the events of the game, Prospero was the duke of Milan. Overthrown by his brother, Antonio, in concert with Alonso, king of Naples, he as forced to flee in a boat with his daughter. He arrived on the island and co-existed for a time with the witch Sycorax before a falling out in which he destroyed her utterly. Since then, he has spent his time on the island refining the magic that gives him the power he needs to punish his enemies. Away from humanity for years, he has come to long for a chance to prove himself - to take vengeance for what was lost. As an Archmagus, he controls all elements equally and wields a twisted staff. 

Caliban: A twisted beast, Caliban is the son of Sycorax (and of Prospero in this adaptation), who was born human, but had his memory erased and form twisted by Prospero in a fit of pique after Sycorax betrayed him. At present, he is treated as Prospero’s slave and seen as a monster by many other characters. Defiant and often unyielding, he desires freedom and the power that Prospero has over the island, as well as Miranda. In combat, he is extremely powerful physically, but has a weakness to magic, especially wind magic (and to a lesser degree water), as he is of the Earth Element.

Ariel: The “airy spirit” who serves Prospero, Ariel was “rescued” from a long imprisonment at the hands of the witch Sycorax by the magus. In return for this, he promised to be Prospero’s servant until Prospero decides to release him, but as Prospero has grown increasingly autocratic and defensive over the past 12 years, Ariel has become increasingly resentful and filled with a barely suppressed rage. While he cannot confront Prospero directly, he seeks a way that he might be able to overthrow his authority and obtain his freedom. Quite powerful, he is one of the main helpers you will have in the game, able to warp you to different places on the map at certain times, and to heal you or raise a stat, if you have the experience or mana to spare. Other than that, he is mischievous and ubiquitous, able to traverse the length of the island in an instant and to change shapes at will. His Element is Wind. 

Sycorax: A witch and mother of Caliban, she is long dead by the time the game begins, though like the others, she holds a grudge against Prospero. Of course, she doesn’t much care for Ariel either, having been the one to imprison him in a pine tree for disobedience. She ruled the island alone before Prospero, and for a time, alongside him when he arrived, but after having a child by him, they had a falling out, resulting in her death. She is still quite powerful, even in death, though she has been sealed into the area that her old hut used to be in. A former sorceress who held sway over Fire and Earth. 

Boatswain: Once vigorously good-natured, he died in the shipwreck scene, going down with the ship and drowning. As a ghost he now haunts the shipwreck along with his fellow vengeful shades, trying to find out why all of this happened. In combat, uses a sword, and casts status effects. 

Ship’s Captain: Unnamed and bitter over the loss of his ship, he is now a powerful spirit who swears his allegiance only to the sea. Like the boatswain, he wishes to find out why his ship was sunk, and he is now bitter and angry, waiting for someone from the island to step aboard so he can question them. Proficient with the sword, as well as water magic (gained after death) 

Ferdinand: The Son and heir of the King of Naples, this is the comic relief character, a prime example of a fool in love, who alternates between being hypermasculine and emasculated, trying to impress her and failing. Miranda, not having seen any other men but her father and Caliban, completely misunderstands his intent and manages to show him up, thinking he needs her help.

Other Characters: These include the King of Naples, his brother, Prospero’s Brother, and the butler and fool, all of which are slain in Prospero’s lust for revenge. 

Setting: All the action takes place on or around the island physically, though some will occur on the spirit/dream plane. Some of the locales are as follows.

* Miranda’s Hut: A place where the main character can rest to restore HP and Mana, as well as obtain flowers that can be used to restore both, or items that may be able to temporarily raise a stat. A map of the island is located here, as well as a place where save data can be recorded, and an in game journal 

Shipwreck (water elemental area): Accessible by Ariel’s “warping” function or Miranda’s magic-based “waterwalking." Here can be found the half-sunken remains of a vessel run aground on a reef, with ghosts and vengeful sea sprites (powerful magical attackers, physically resistant) lurking throughout. The "boss" of this area is the Captain's Ghost, whose restless spirit is tied to his ship. After defeating him, one can find items/knowledge from mainland in the armory and captain’s quarters, as well as the shades of those who knew Prospero as he once was. The BGM here will be a mournful cello piece, with the sound of waves in the background.

 * Forest of Illusion (created by Ariel to hide himself away when he finally grows too tired of Prospero’s constant orders. Miranda must pass through here to the pine tree at its center to find out why he is being so discourteous and non-responsive): This is a realm of mists and shadows, of fog and pale moonlight, where nothing is quite as it seems, and figments of dreams (creatures drawn from legend) slink about half formed and then dissolve again. In this place, Magic abilities are cut to half-effectiveness, with spirit energy regenerating more slowly - though one can accelerate this by slaying the odd beasts here. Wandering, items may be found there that exist nowhere else on the island. In terms of sound and background, one will hear distorted sound clips from a stage performance of “The Tempest”, especially when one encounters either the Guardians of the Wood. These Guardians, like Ariel himself, cannot easily be harmed, with damage nullifying mechanics and position-based vulnerabilities - stealth and taking advantage of terrain is advised. Following this, one encounters Ariel himself, where the objective is simply to survive - he is exceptionally powerful, and takes normal damage only from fire elemental magic - all else is resisted. Not a true boss in that he does not need to be truly defeated, only to hold out, as after some time, he will relent and tell you his story.

 * Sycorax’s hut (to where the spirit of the witch is now bound): A place of shadows, echoes, odd dissonances where impressions of the past remain, ghostly afterimages flickering into and out of phase with the rest of reality. Contains several powerful fire-magic items, hidden through puzzles and riddles, and interacting with objects may reveal traces of past memories. Disturbing enough items, however, awakens a Keeper of Memory” who must be driven back, at which point the ghost of the witch will appear in a burst of shadow and flame. Sycorax cannot be harmed in this form (as after all, she is already dead) and will eventually disarm you, before presenting you a series of puzzles. Depending on how many you solve, you may gain a different reward.

* Caliban’s Cave (Earth Elemental area, where Caliban has gone to ground after one of Prospero’s fits of anger): In this place, soaked in the power of a curse, Golems may rise from the ground in response to his emotions (these are physically resistant and physically powerful in melee attacks, but weak to magic). In this area, clips of “The Tempest” can be heard, specifically those relating to Caliban and his relationship with Prospero. This is a place of very bad memories for Miranda, as it was there he tried to rape her long ago. It is a fairly barren area, golems aside, and eventually, one will encounter the boss, Caliban. He is very much like a golem in mechanic, though with higher speed and attack power, so healing or crowd control may be useful. Once defeated, he will no longer be an adversary, and will return towards the end of the game after handing over an orb of earth. 

* Beach and Woods: The general areas where one can go to train/level up, gaining experience by fighting rogue sprites, as well as where one encounters the shipwrecked people for the first time after leaving the Forest of Illusion. Ferdinand essentially falls head over heels for Miranda upon seeing her, and the other men proves themselves lechers who are instantly beaten away by her. NOTE: At the end of Act II, this will serve as the scene of Prospero’s final act of retribution of slaying all the shipwrecked people except Ferdinand.

* A Possible "World of Dreams": In this mode, one can revisit the other areas in a 'spirit form' for a different experience. Ariel is solid here, and often plays in this realm, among half-forgotten s
ymbols of the past, recollections of the memorable moments from the game. This is the area from which one will wake, and to which one will return.

* Prospero’s Cell (Place of the Final Battle): A magically grounded bunker where Ariel cannot enter, meant to protect Prospero and amplify his power over nature. It is austere, adorned only by the books of sorcery that he studies and by a curious magical symbol traversing the room 

Significant Points in Plot: 
Opening: A cut scene with Miranda and Prospero looking out at the recent shipwreck
  • Present: Miranda comments on the tragedy of the shipwreck and wonders about the storm 
  • Flashback I: Static and grainy view of men at sea in the mist of the storm (cinematic) 
  • Return to Present: Prospero talks of his true past and his thirst for revenge 
  • Flashback II: Simple, clear, vivid, with multiple stills flashing on the screen instead of cinematic, showing how Prospero, former Duke of Milan, was usurped by brother and forced to flee to island 
  • Return to Present: Prospero reveals that the shipwreck was his doing and casts a sleeping charm on Miranda, so all goes black.
Beginning of Gameplay: Wake in Miranda’s Hut, begin your process of exploring (from here, it diverges with Shakespearian canon). 

Final Battle Ending: Rescue by a surprising savior 
  • Miranda and Prospero are fighting one another with all their skill and power, and when Miranda lowers Prospero to a fraction of his HP, the Archmagus himself enters a desperation mode
  • Possessed by his magic and caring only about his own survival, he launches a powerful series of omni-elemental attacks towards Miranda, intending to end the threat to his person, once and for all 
  • Caliban rushes into the room and takes the hit instead, remorseful for what he has done in the past 
  • Prospero is drained and shocked, letting Miranda disarm him
  • He surrenders, and as his mind clears, he recognizes full well the truth of his deeds: that he nearly killed his daughter in his rage, and that the way Caliban acted was not entirely inhuman.
  • Miranda’s last and most powerful limit break activates, causing a ray of light to shine down from the heavens upon her, and a flare of light to erupt and fill the screen. All goes white. 
Game Ending: Specter of the Past, Revelations, and Broken Man
  •   Day again, on the beach, Miranda and Prospero gathered together with Caliban, Ariel, and Ferdinand
  • Prospero, old and defeated now, reveals the truth about Caliban, that he is really the son of Sycorax and himself, and that after his falling out with his former lover, he erased Caliban’s memory and warped his form so that he would not have any reminders of her nearby. Using the what magic he has left, he reverses the curse on Caliban, revealing him to be a handsome young man who can now remember everything. . .and who will become the Duke of Milan
  • Ferdinand proposes marriage to Miranda, who turns him down again. 
  • Prospero makes one last request of Ariel, to make the seas calm for the journey back to the mainland, and then releases him from service.
  • Miranda then takes Prospero’s staff, and shatters it into a thousand little pieces, and watches as the others go their separate ways. 
  • The story of the Tempest has now ended, but for this new Sorceress - her tale. . .her adventures are only beginning. . . 

 Unlockables Extras: 
 * Caliban’s Side Story: What his life was like before Prospero’s fit of pique, and what his daily routine was like, as well as his take on the battle, and why he decided to take the blast meant for Miranda. Closes with him in Milan, assuming his place as the new duke.
 * Sycorax’s Tale: Her life in Algiers and the events that led to her subsequent exile, with a mini-game involving the first taming of Ariel. Ends with a cutscene of Prospero coming to the island with a young Miranda. 
 * Ariel’s commentaries: Only one being saw the whole affair unfold from beginning to end, from Sycorax’s first coming to the island to all eventually leaving him in freedom once again, and that is Ariel, the spirit. With this, you have the option of hearing Ariel’s commentary on everything that happened, including the side stories. 
* I, the Bard: After beating the game once, if one enters the special code, Prospero’s lines will be peppered with quotes from other plays - villains, mostly. Perhaps he shall at times demand a pound of flesh? 
 * The Bard-Tree: Within the Forest of Illusion, there is only one weeping willow, that if struck, will mournfully recite Jacques’ Speech, one of Hamlet’s Soliloquies, or one of Oberon’s speeches. If attacked with magic, will drop the “Shaking Spear”, which can do extra damage against ghosts and Prospero