Framework for an Everywhere at the End of Time RPG Game.

AeroPergold

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If you are reading this, you are desperate. By the time you are reading this, everything has been done in Indie games. Eric Barone did Harvest Moon but louder. Toby Fox made conscientious objection a gameplay mechanic and Scott Cawthorn reinvented the Sega CD game. There is no longer any original ideas left. Except for one...Dementia as a game mechanic/plot device. You have entered the realm of The Caretaker!

What is The Caretaker?
The Caretaker is a label made by musician Leyland Jack Kirby. The Caretaker takes ballroom and jazz music from the early 20th century and warps them into a sense of fleeting nostalgia, a flow of days past using music from a bygone era. The Caretaker uses these songs and focuses on a theme of memory. Such as no longer remembering new things (Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia), how remembering music is the last thing Alzheimer's patients remember (An Empty Bliss Beyond this World) and The Caretaker's 6 and a half hour long masterpiece on the Downward Spiral of Dementia and how it affects memory, Everywhere at the End of Time.

WARNING!
Using this tutorial will require the Game Developer/Designer to be familiar with EATEOT, if listened to unprepared may induce anxiety, an episode of depression or a sense of being down in the dumps for a prolonged period. Be prepared for 6 hours, 30 minutes unlike any other...


Step 1: Pre-Production
Before RPG Maker MZ is opened, it is best to figure out what you're doing first. If you are translating EATEOT into an interactive experience, first the decision to represent Dementia either through the protagonist (IE The Hero has dementia but has to go on some quest) or via a Meta method (The Game itself has Dementia and the Hero is sentient whilst the game itself breaks down). Things like characters, setting, and a basic sense of level order must be figured how. Whilst one can wing it, perhaps the preferred route would be a calculated effort, after all Dementia is a horrifying disease and to half-ass it would be a dis-service.

Once you have the basic framework for your game made (by what I hope is meticulous). You are ready to dive into active game development so open up RPG Maker MZ (and possibly your wallet for plugins) and we can head into the next step.

Step 2: Production
EATEOT is split up into 6 stages (Dementia has 7 stages of progression) so its best that we break up this section going stage by stage. The difference between EATEOT and your game is that the stage progression would be seamless and be stretched out over a longer period of time in realtime. It may be hours before the player realizes that something is wrong. Now let's get into it.

STAGE 1
The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time_-_Stage_1_cover.jpg
"Here we experience the first signs of memory loss.
This stage is most like a beautiful daydream.
The glory of old age and recollection.
The last of the great days."
- Leyland Jack Kirby

Stage 1 is baseline game experience, game mechanics are well defined, the plot is coherent and traditional RPG tropes may ensue. But Stage 1 is also where the beginning is already at the end remember there are seven stages of Dementia and EATEOT covers the last 6. Stage 0 would be complete normalcy. But Stage 1 is when things begin to get hazy. Perhaps stage 1 could be represented through level design with the sparing of minor details. The Game Dev must establish an atmosphere of unease. Through little things, a casual player wouldn't notice but an RPG connoisseur could probably sense that something is wrong. So think of things, small things that if removed would anyone notice? Would a casual player ignore these as warning signs? For professional players, something has to feel wrong. While Stage 1 of the game would establish the world and motives for the hero. Maybe these are the last of the glory days?


The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time_-_Stage_2_cover.jpg
"The second stage is the self realization and awareness that something is wrong with a refusal to accept that. More effort is made to remember so memories can be more long form with a little more deterioration in quality. The overall personal mood is generally lower than the first stage and at a point before confusion starts setting in." -Leyland Jack Kirby

Stage 2 is when the game makes the jump to be more off-putting. The Game Dev can begin to start removing certain details to enhance an aura of unease. Perhaps you could remove face graphics in text boxes when talking to NPCs? Maybe descriptions of items lose any sense of flavor (if you had jazzed up the item descriptions). The designs of enemy graphics should start to show less detail and look slightly unfinished or have the AI start to become more simple. The glory days are gone and more details are lost. The Dementia has progressed to a point where if the player has an on-off play session, things at all skill and knowledge levels (as far as RPGs are concerned) would notice these changes. Game mechanics should lose definition, let confusion sink into the player. Now we head into the next stage...


The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time_-_Stage_3_cover.jpg
"Here we are presented with some of the last coherent memories before confusion fully rolls in and the grey mists form and fade away. Finest moments have been remembered, the musical flow in places is more confused and tangled. As we progress some singular memories become more disturbed, isolated, broken and distant. These are the last embers of awareness before we enter the post awareness stages." -Leyland Jack Kirby
The beginning of Stage 3 should be the last coherent section of the game. The plot should be at this point be broken into its most basic details. The last levels that resemble actual levels would be seen here. The player at this point absolutely knows that the game has changed and has changed for the worst. If you have other party members, their face graphics should look faded with facial features be hidden, party biography text should change as if the hero is forgetting who is with him/her/(INSERT PRONOUN HERE) on this journey if there even is still a journey at this point. If you have taken the Meta route, the hero should recognize that the world is changing, the game is forgetting what itself is. If you have control over sound design use EATEOT as a template for what your music should sound like. If enemy encounters are faced at this stage, the graphics should have a unfinished look with progressively basic movesets and AI. If you have the cash, VisuStella's Horror Effects plugin could be put to use here as being representive of the game breaking down and losing itself to a fog of confusion. Remember you have to have a firm grasp of EATEOT, its sound and using it to properly plan when the game should lose focus and when to forget characters, plot, level design and detail, and game mechanics. Stage 3 ends, and we head into the Post-Awareness Confusions...


The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time_-_Stage_4_cover.jpg
"Post-Awareness Stage 4 is where serenity and the ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror. It's the beginning of an eventual process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture." -Leyland Jack Kirby​
The game at this point should barely resemble what a traditional RPG should look like, but should still be somewhat recognizable but only to a small degree. The game world is lost, coherent levels are gone. Linearity gives way to mazes of blank level design. Party Members and plot important characters are forgotten, if they are still remembered, it should only be the most basic things. The hero is all alone in a world that makes so sense, on the outside he sees no issue but inside is horror, everything the hero knows is all but forgotten, all is left but the road ahead. The game towards the end should be a horrific tangle of barely coherent ideas and the progression of the game should flow from place to place with no obvious Point A to Point B. If you have a quest journal system, remove info on completed quests and have current quests have vaguely worded and barely defined objectives. Remember the game now ebbs and flows with no end goal, an infinite river. Enemy Encounters should be minimal and enemies have 90% incomplete designs and barely have a moveset. Sound design should sound like noise with instruments being undefined in sound use EATEOT as reference for how the sound design should progress.

The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time_-_Stage_5_cover.jpg
"Post-Awareness Stage 5 confusions and horror.
More extreme entanglements, repetition and rupture can give way to
calmer moments. The unfamiliar may sound and feel familiar.
Time is often spent only in the moment leading to isolation."
-Leyland Jack Kirby
Stage 5 in EATEOT have the most medical sounding names (Advanced Plaque Entanglements and Synapse Retrogenesis). The game should have devolved into an RPG Maker walking simulator. Battles and enemy encounters are gone, levels should be confusing in both layout and graphical design (IE mismatched wall and floor tiles). The music should horrific to listen to. The party members are non-existent except for the hero who is lost in the entanglements. Synapse Retrogenesis is when neurons develop in reverse of when they developed when you grew up. Retrogenesis could be represented by undeveloping the game such as the quality of level design. Whatever game mechanics you had should be gone by now so as the plot. The game should be close to a state of non-existence but yet the player marches on into the unknown. By the end of this stage, the game should be loosely defined as such.

The_Caretaker_-_Everywhere_at_the_End_of_Time (1).jpg
"Post-Awareness Stage 6 is without description." -Leyland Jack Kirby​
Stage 6 is just fog. Noise. At this point there is no game, there is no plot, the only character is the hero and even then the hero no longer knows himself, he is just an empty vessel, a blank canvas, floating in isolation. The game is lost, if you had a defined bad guy to fight at the end, well just throw it in the trash for there will be no final boss. Bosses are a thing of a forgotten past, a feature of a bygone era. However there must be an ending of some sort. The last track of EATEOT is the most profound, it represents the end of the Caretaker as a character as he experiences Terminal Lucidity and dies. At the last moment the hero remembers everything and meets his party members for the last time, but it is bittersweet as Terminal Lucidity is just that, terminal. The hero dies, his brain simply goes kaput after progressing through the stages of Dementia. The game should just end, no credits, no epilogue, no postgame content. Do you get credits and a postgame when you die? If you have gone for the meta approach, the game should die on a fake but real sounding Javascript error, something fatal sounding, have the fake error prevent the player from getting back to the main menu and just simply have the player click on the close button on the window...And that's that.


STEP 3: Release
If you have a Gamejolt account? Itch.io? RPGMaker.net? Whatever site you have for distribution you use it. There are other tutorials on this forum you can find on how to package your game for release. But this is the part where you sit back and relax for you have achieved the one thing no other indie developer has done. Made an accurate adaptation of Everywhere At The End of Time. You have redefined the horror genre in an innovative and thought provoking manner. But at what cost? The emotional trauma of your first complete listen to the whole EATEOT album, the sleepless nights thinking about how the brain dies, Al Bowdly's Heartaches dancing in your head as it melts like the face of a Nazi in that Indiana Jones movie. You are an innovator. But you are changed, you aren't the same person as before. Its all just a burning memory....
 

Marquise*

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Hey... That could be useful ^^
 

AeroPergold

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Bumping this thread as I hope to start more conversations with this framework in mind. I feel like EATEOT, if adapted into a video game, could provide for a unique gaming experience. Also keep in mind this framework was designed with making a traditional JRPG in mind.

However if you wish to do something different with EATEOT in mind, go ahead.
 

uhhhh

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His name is actually James Leyland Kirby
 

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