Setting: Antarctica. The fictitious Lima Two-One-Four International Research Complex, located in West Antarctica, is taken over and cut off from the world by the Bentham Initiative. The protagonist, a scientist working in the complex for a year before the beginning of the game, must fight them through the many forms of white death the inhospitable region offers. The region would offer plenty of room for play: vast white deserts, canyons and cliffs, caverns, both underwater or not, dunes of snow, blizzards, long days (or long nights).
Major Factions: extended social isolation, poor or absent communication with the outside world, coupled with outstanding scientific dedication, has left the Lima Complex up and running, collecting data for over a decade, despite the dire living of its habitants. However, having been "trapped" among themselves, the scientists, plus the odd civilian and military asset, have formed groups, some still attached to reality and society, but others not so much*…
– The Bentham Initiave: guided by the resourceful Nick Bernard Exitus, the group has come to the conclusion that the global warming question has become a hindrance to world cooperation and social welfare, and plan to detonate several nuclear warheads all over Antarctica. By their calculations, the initial human loss caused by the melting of the ice cap will be an unfortunate but valuable first step of focused effort by the Powers That Be towards a better world;
– The Walden Hamlet: conducted by the somber Andrea Karenina, a group of researchers has walked away from the "luxury" of the lodgings and lives in the white wilderness, living a naturalistic regimen in disdain for formal authority;
– Group Nausea: years of unhinged existentialist and post-modern discussions have made a group of intellectuals entirely cynical of everything. Banded by the wildcard Charlotte LaPeste, Group Nausea is the True Neutral faction in Lima;
– The VerzögernStaffel: backed by 19th century pseudoscience, this minor group aims to cleanse Lima from "inferior" rational minds. Their leader is methodical Anthony Phren;
– The Cold: the tyranny of Artarctica will be on top of the player at all times. Colder regions could spell doom for a distracted player, freezing fuel, weapons, supplies. As well as the ocasional deadly blizzard, that'll cut off and maybe kill friend or foe;
– (minor) Politics: factions' relations with the player and with one another are liable to change, depending on events, be them multi-choice cutscenes or emergent in-game moments;
– Ice integrity: certain locations could be completely leveled for good with the thoughtful application of explosives. This could be used either by the player and the enemy. Such destruction would be amazing to see, but its result would have no turning back**…
– Isolation: having already lived for a year in Lima, the player's character is susceptible to effects of social isolation. Both explosive and stealthy play styles will have their downsides, like more expensive equipment, inability to focus through ironsights, visual and auditory hallucinations, random shouting and/or sobbing. This will be mitigated by having positive relations and mingling with at least one faction every once in a while***;
Returning Characters: M. Chiffon, for sure.
Overarching themes: global warming; global cooperation and solidarity; bad science and its harms; echo chambers;
Plans for DLC:
It Came from Space: The Thing-inspired plot. Everyone at Lima is scared: there's a rumour sweeping across the ice of a monster nested inside of people. When will IT strike next? Follow the clues to unfold this mystery, but beware who you side with…
Cookin' Trouble****: Guide James Cook through a fictitious landing in Antarctica in 1773. Manage your crew through the cold, mutiny and desolation of a land forsaken by God.
Plans for Spinoff title:
Water World: (set in New Dawn universe) After the nuclear apocalypse, survivors from across the south hemisphere have rushed to the South Pole, looking for an oasis, untouched by war. It's up to the player and the stalwart Noah's Ark faction, to bring peace to the crazy powder keg that will be Antarctica.
My thoughts: I insist on the intellectual ground of the factions because of the setting. Unlike anywhere else on Earth, Antarctica is inhabited by researchers. No place for pirates or royal armies or Second Amendment militias, which make it difficult to come up with a motivation for the characters, especially the villains. As for Antarctica, it would be an amazing place to play in; Ubisoft would surely stand out by making a game in it.
Thank you for getting this far.
* the following factions are clearly based in schools of thought; I think it's also clear that I know next to nothing of them. The developer should hire someone qualified in Philosophy to review them and patch incongruencies;
** in my opinion a good global warming metaphor, through game mechanics in action;
*** brainstorming here. This may be hard to apply ingame, or maybe too annoying to have;
**** awful title, open to change;
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