While working on the concept and prototype for my strategy game, (which we’ll call Project Falcon for now) I realized that the initial theme and setting I had weren’t working. Building the base systems before really deciding on a theme is possible, but once I hit that point where the systems become dependent on the theme, I was stuck. So back to the drawing board.

There are three possible themes/settings I’m working with now: pirates, western frontier, and noir mystery. I want this game to feature a character-driven narrative where the player’s relationships with the NPCs have a tangible effect on gameplay.

Option 1: The Pirate with a Heart of Gold(?)
The “pirate with a reputation” I have attempted before in a student game. I had to scrap it when the game parameters changed, but the general system has been a goal of mine for years. It would have had elements that I cut the first time around–factions, text-based salvage missions, islands, dorky pirate fights–but this time around I want to focus more on story. This theme is tempting me to overscope; different missions for different islands and factions and possible sea monsters make for a very cool but bloated game with my current limitations.

Option 2: The Wandering through the West
So I moved on to the Western. Red Dead II is out and I’m a sucker for classic westerns. At this point the gamespace got smaller and the faction system was basically cast out. The player was a wanderer that created a wagon train endeavor, so it would have played like Oregon Trail with additional trading and minus the dysentery. However, this idea had a huge focus on resource management rather than character interactions. Then one night my boyfriend is working on some western character studies and he starts working with dramatic lighting. You know what else has dramatic lighting? Film Noir.

Option 3: The Socially-Awkward Detective
In terms of narrative and characters, there’s nothing quite like a stylish crime drama. The faction system is gone unfortunately, but this allows me to focus more on individual characters and their influence. The setting is likely to be one city/town, so I don’t have to include a major travel mechanic. Traditional Film Noir has a dark palette and Neo-Noir is often more pessimistic than its progenitor. However, I plan on adding my own sense of color to the setting and narrative. For now, I’m re-designing the mechanics to better fit the Film Noir concept.