{Post-Apoc}

Game Concept

Rimworld ~ space colony-building strategy game
The Deluge, Joseph Mallord William Turner
Black & White ~ god strategy game

The Great Day of His Wrath (1853), John Martin
Fallout series ~ post-apocalyptic first-person shooter
Apocalypse (1903), Albert Goodwin

Thesis: Welcome to the last judgment of this world, Ragnarök, the end times, the apocalypse! The Earth is dying, but not quite dead, and neither are her children. You are here to take over in a post-apocalyptic strategy simulator. Design the source of your ender – thermonuclear fires or zombies or something else – and prepare the remnants of the broken world for your final community of people to take their steps to and from fallout bunkers and into the burning, alien world of dangers. Take on the role of Shaper – an extra-dimensional being capable of shaping worlds to their liking – end your world, and then start it anew, feeding conditions, building up peoples, places and monsters, directing the ultimate strategy of the survivors.

Setting: Earth at the edge of its doom… | Broken cities and rural wastelands, makeshift technologies and alternative living, battles with roaming beasts born of nuclear mutation, duels with invading xenomorphic apex predators from the Far Realms| Compounds and fortresses, above or below the broken earth, housing the final human populations of this world in their fight to survive…

Character & Story: You play as a Shaper, the faceless, formless God-like entity that has been chosen for this world’s ending. These other-dimensional beings are groomed from the universe’s best candidates, then cast out into the voids of space, where they are tasked with ‘shaping’ rogue exoplanets and their populations starting at some seminal point within their evolutions.

For the Earth, this moment comes now – as the planet’s culminating prejudices, cruelties, corruptions, atrocities and … thermonuclear brinksmanship comes to a head in the form of an apocalypse of some kind. Or, conquering aliens finally come, or the ancient vampires rise from their crypts and spread their seed throughout the world, or something else…

In the aftermath of this great transformation, the Shaper assumes their role as overseer of the planet’s remaining populations. As they form factions or range out into the world, the Shaper changes the conditions of their environment, providing resources or taking them away, helping them identify and defeat monsters, or placing more down along their path… The Shaper controls and commands, advises the attitude of the Survivors and projects a path.

The ultimate purpose of the Shaper’s presence is to challenge, advance, and evolve its worldly constituents, community-by-community, no matter to the level of blood-letting, carnage and destruction that must be wrought to accomplish this grand task. In the end, they are only looking for a single human individual to ascend

Gameplay:

Shaping the Shaper’s world ~ Before a game’s campaign begins, before you assume this role of ‘Shaper,’ the player sets up the conditions for how the apocalypse will befall Earth. This choice carries consequences for the whole campaign session, such as the environment and its dangers, the locale of the survivor’s compound, the enemies they will face, and the circumstantial threats of their survival.

‘Cause I’m praying for rain
I’m praying for tidal waves
I want to see the ground give way
I want to watch it all go down

Examples of apocalypse types and some of their basic effects:

  • Nuclear war | blasted and crumbling cities and landscapes; high mutation rates due to radioactive fallout; vault compound
  • Zombie outbreak | hordes of enemies everywhere; threat of infection from within the community; mall/store/variable compound ~ must move over time.
  • Cybernetic revolt / singularity | due to Artificial Intelligence’s newfound dominance of the world, technology becomes a node of threats and general unreliability; knowledge of tech, to counter the AI’s becomes paramount, while at the same time use of alternative, low-tech resources rises in significance; mountain/forest/river compound ~ closer locale is to technology, the more dangerous the position will be.
  • Alien invasion | unknown threats from an offworld conqueror, requires learning of their xenomorphic ways via ranging and risk; capture, interrogation, dissection of aliens and their advanced technology necessary for the survivors to persist; land base / airship / sea carrier compound
  • Vampires! | Powerful individually, vampires pose the greatest threat at night – when the separate clans engage within Blood Wars; Other gothic monstrosities crop up as well (werewolves, ghosts, warlocks and witches, liches… who play to their own neutral or vile ends within the setting of the primary vampiric clan conflicts); Day and night cycles of highly variable gameplay, accumulation of anti-vamp resources is paramount – crucifixes, stakes, garlic, holy water, silver weapons and armor; castle compound
  • Ragnarök | the gods OdinThorTýrFreyrHeimdallr, and Loki and Hela now live upon the Earth, fighting one another for territory and power – the survivors must try to find their place among them, fighting against their Asgardian / Underworld forces, or pledging fealty to them and fighting within their force…
depiction of Ragnarok ~ art source

Isometric real-time strategy ~ Once the campaign is underway, the Shaper’s takes their responsibility over a single community of human survivors amidst the chosen apocalypse’s conditions. Your Survivors’ identities and capabilities are randomly generated at the start of every new campaign. From inside of the compound, you as the Shaper can read up on the skills and abilities of the 20-100 (customizable # as part of pre-game apoc conditions) of named Survivors and set about their strategy accordingly. Depending upon the state of the world beyond the doors of the compound, the Shaper will want to direct some survivors to stay within and prepare defensive measures (make weapons – guns, swords, stakes) – while others will be sent into the landscapes to explore and deploy offensive measures (search local ruins for resources, fight off nearby barbarian factions threatening your border, learn more about the world to better prepare in the future (ex: signs of radioactive storm on the horizon, hordes of monsters are congregating east, rival compound is planning a raid, etc.).

The view of the game is top down – Survivors will go about neutral/general duties and responsibilities within the compound, or if in the field will be in a state of ‘survival’ equalizing offense and defense, until they are directed with a more specific strategy or task from the Shaper. Not unlike a real-time strategy game, the gameplay is continuously passing forward in time, with all Survivors acting out their days over a 24-hour in-game clock that passes as an hour for the player-Shaper. The gameplay can be customized to allow for pausing as the Shaper sets up his directives for each Survivor – or it can be played entirely in real-time.

Generating the landscape and Survivor progression ~ As well as the compound of survivors and their collective machinations, the Shaper is also put in control of the world itself and what it will entail. Variable depending on the apocalypse type, the landscape is full of a spectrum of stimuli for you and your community to come across – threats and opportunities, true and false information, resources and traps, potential allies and enemies, new compounds and environmental landmarks. The landscape is procedurally generated at the start of the campaign, full of random iterations of each of these paragon ‘stimuli’. From there, the Shaper may attain control of how dangerous or easy this landscape will be for their survivors – on a scale of 0% (entirely random and procedural-generation controls all stimuli) to 100% (Shaper has control of all spawn rates, threat/opportunity fluxes, ally/enemy refresh rates, etc.)

Rimworld colonist statistics

Threat examples: compound attacks or exploring party ambushes from mutants and monsters, zombies, vampires, sand worms, madmen, raiders from other compounds, traps, weather phenomenon, aliens, etc.

Opportunity examples: weapons & armor, vehicles, information about the landscape and the other compounds of survivors in it, helpful technology and blueprints, magic items, etc.

The benefit of giving your Survivors more threats and opposition for them to fight and overcome is that they will progress in power, knowledge and overall evolution as a result. The risk is that more of them will potentially die, edging the Shaper closer to the end of their community, at which point they will be forced to move to a new compound and start anew (i.e. the player starts a new campaign). Each Survivor’s experience gain is netted against their psychological and physical level of exhaustion, or ‘anomie’, that they struggle against within the bleak apocalyptic conditions they live within. As a result of this calculation over time, their progress will be marked in steadily increasing physical and mental attributes which will help them continue to survive and excel within the apocalypse.

Explore, scavenge, hunt ~ The primary loop of gameplay within {Post-Apoc} is the cycles of exploration, discovery, and combative attack/defense of your survivor community amongst the apocalyptic wasteland. As Shaper, you choose how, where and why you take your Survivor ranges into the landscape, choosing to explore for more information about the world’s conditions and how you may capitalize upon them, scavenging for resources, hunting humanity’s enemies within the ruins of the old world…

The Shaper’s exploring parties can find all sorts of equipment, weapons, treasures, alternate shelters in the wasteland. But groups or individuals risking their lives to explore the wasteland can also become trapped or die. You can send out other groups of Survivors to find them and free them, but you always have limited resources at your disposal, and the second party will almost never be as well-equipped for external travel as the first. This makes preparing and planning your excursions with away party incredibly important. The community stands to fall if they do not come back. At any time you can raise the alarm to signal the out parties to return to the compound – for example, in case it is under attack from enemies. Most of the time within the compound, however, the Survivors are relatively safe.

During combat or exploration, the Shaper does not directly control the individual Survivors, like units in Starcraft or Age of Empires, but instead directs their general direction through the landmarks of the landscape and sets their attitude (ex: exploring, perceiving, attack, defense).

examples of similar gameplay in Fallout 2

Primary condition for victory: the birth of a new Shaper ~ The primary victory condition in {Post-Apoc} is to evolve your community of Survivors as much as possible, for as long as they can continue to survive within the harsh post-apocalyptic world. Survivors will die, be captured or trapped, or will run away in madness at the events and stimuli they experience out within the wastes… Survivors can reproduce, and given continuous scavenging of resources and beating back of external threats, they can persist within the world. Victory for you as the Shaper comes when one or more Survivor’s level of evolution reaches its relative fulcrum. After enough time and harrowing experience when the evolution meter has been maximized by the measures the Shapers use to judge such competence, this means that this Survivor is ready to ascend to the level of being a Shaper themselves. They are welcomed into the folds of the mysterious Shaper collective and will be available to Shape coming worlds and their great apocalyptic transformations…

The player can continue to tend their compound and its remaining Survivors once this ascension has occurred – however, these superstar Survivors will no longer be present and available to contribute, and as a result, the community will react accordingly. They will be without their leader and therefore more under the gun of threats within the world. ‘Victory’ has been achieved, from the standpoint of the Shaper, and therefore this campaign can be abandoned without fault. The choice is up to you.

Note: When the Shaper starts a new campaign, they will be acting as one of the Survivors which ascended in the previous campaign.

Multiplayer potentiality ~ Though {Post-Apoc} is designed as a single player experience – there is a potential for a multiplayer mode, either in real-time or turn-based. In multiplayer, there would be multiple Shapers (1-8?) each taking control of a community upon Earth, post-apocalypse, starting with relative equivalence in resources and with agreed upon world settings concerning the procedural generation of the landscape and its threats/oppos. Every compound would be in a relatively low proximity to all of the others. From there, the game would play out in the same general loops of Survivor actions within and without the compound, exploring and fighting one another and the neutral threats within their landscape, turn by turn, with each Shaper trying to reign supreme over the other compounds and their survivors. Victory is achieved in the same terms, with evolution maximization for one or more Survivors achieving it. Though a multiplayer game can also end with one Shaper destroying all of the other enemy Survivors and their compounds. Alliances are also possible, along with allied victories. In general, multiplayer experiences would be shorter and more fast-paced affairs, depending upon the agreed world settings at the start of the campaign.

Inspired by ~

Rimworld

Fallout

Fallout 1
Fallout 2
Fallout 3
Fallout 4

Black & White

‘Shaper’ series

New Campaign” ~ a group of Shapers at a bar recount their ‘campaigns’

Awakening” ~ a Shaper candidate builds a world and destroys it, unknowingly…

3,001st” ~ a woman climbs through a series of interconnected vaults, carefully designed long ago and mostly empty…

Endgame: In {Post-Apoc}, after the extinctive fires subside and the Earth returns to action in its new, more dangerous and more exciting, format, take on the role of Shaper to excel humanity’s evolution within it. Starting from the ground up, direct your community unto extreme threats and profound opportunities upon the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Battling through the deathly adversity of these dark new worlds is how humanity ascends, eventually becoming shaping gods of their own…