If I Made A Game... Poletry Edition

If I Made A Game... Poletry Edition

You may be wondering what sort of feature this is. Well today is the first part in our multi-editor feature where one of our editors discuss their vision for a game if they were to make a game. First up is Allen who even provided his own artwork. Without further ado here is Poletry.

The core concept of my game is rooted in the familiar RPG trope of the hero/heroine fighting defenseless woodland critters at the start of an adventure. Be it Zelda, Fable or Skyrim, the hero is put through their initial paces by battling animals and mutant insects like giant rats and spiders as a means to teach the player about game mechanics and give the hero/heroine manageable foes before going after bigger game. My game twists that formula by casting the player in the role of a chicken who has seen one too many of his brethren mercilessly killed by up and coming heroes. Poletry (named after the title character) will take players on a grand quest to free small animals from the murderous whims of humankind.

Poletry is a young chicken who comes of age at the same time a human, the Level 1 Hero, is preparing to fulfill his destiny of becoming the prophesied bringer of peace, love and righteousness. When Poletry discovers that Level 1 Hero’s training regiment consists of honing his combat skills by the blood of the defenseless animals in the Great Forest, he creates his own destiny by seeking out the Four Guardians of the Forest in order to develop the skills and abilities necessary to battle the Level 1 Hero before he can kill the woodland creatures. Unbeknownst to Poletry, the animals of the Great Forest have been under the dark influence against an evil foe.

Mechanically, Poletry will be a turn based RPG set within a vast tract of land situated just outside the Level 1 Hero’s home village. Given the large size of the forest, Poletry will venture through different environments that include a swamp, a field of charred, dead trees (caused by an errant fire spell cast by a previous hero), a massive underground cave system and a long river that leads into the outlying mountain regions. Each of these areas are designed after the elemental Guardians that Poletry will seek assistance from.

Apart from the Level 1 Hero, Poletry’s antagonist is Syr, a king cobra who commands his own army of critters that have been brainwashed by his poison. Syr’s intent is to kill the Guardians and claim the Forest for himself. Before fighting Syr directly, Poletry must battle against his generals who tend to show up at the most inconvenient times (and function as the game’s major boss battles). As dangerous as the Forest is, Poletry will not be alone. As he makes his way through each territory, he will befriend three warriors who aid him in his quest to fight the Syr and the Hero:

  • Gean (voiced by Scarlett Johansson): A black widow spider, she acts as the party’s rogue character. She has the ability to use poison and stealth to perform damage over time attacks and counterattacks against enemy targets. She lives in the swamp and fights to protect it from Syr’s influence.
  • Harold (voiced by Nolan North): A field mouse that has studied under the Guardian of the Mountains. A pensive creature who wants nothing more to spend his days studying and reading, his skills in magic and healing is second only to the Mountain Guardian herself. Harold’s family succumbed to an attack by Syr years before and has since developed a fear of him.
  • Albert (voiced by Patrick Warburton): A squirrel who makes his home in the charred forest green, he is hardened by battle against Syr’s forces. Brash and arrogant, he delights in conflict and often allows his anger get the better of him. When Albert first meets Poletry, the two engage in a duel that ends with Albert joining him out of respect.
  • Additional VO notes: Patton Oswald should voice Poletry and Syr will be portrayed by Tim Curry (obviously).

Combat will play out like most turn based RPGs. The party will fight random battles against Syr’s forces as they navigate the forest. Each party member can pull from a collection of abilities and spells that are unlocked by levelling up through experience and spending skill points in skill trees. Harold, for example, can study one of three elemental magic tiers made up of increasingly powerful spells. After Albert joins the Poletry’s party, the duo will gain the ability to perform a tandem attack against enemies (a la Chrono Trigger) that can only be used once per battle, so careful consideration must be taken. Ultimately, Poletry and his friends will confront Syr to end his villainy in a multistage battle. After Syr has been defeated, Poletry will fulfill his destiny by confronting the Level 1 Hero at the entrance of the village. In a comedic twist, the final battle will be to scale, so the player will only see the Hero from the knees down.

Poletry is a game that plays with a longstanding roleplaying game tradition. Its easy for us, as the player, to mercilessly kill weak animals for easy experience points, money and loot farming. What video game has offered to tell the story of the Hero’s Journey from the bystander’s perspective? This is the angle with which my game earns its charm - it’s never been done before. Combined with turn based mechanics that have stood the test of time, Poletry is a game that players of any skill level would be able to grasp. I don’t think the game is big enough to be released at retail but rather it would fit comfortably within XBLA, Steam or PSN as a fun downloadable title. Given the tools available out there for game design, this is project that I’d like to see realized. I may not have experience (or knowledge) of coding, but the ease of use with software like RPG Maker could help realize the potential of Poletry.

Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.