Concept: The Four Corners (RPG)

Premise

Our world has a soul. Another realm that acts as its pillars, lands known in legend as the four corners of the world. The realm known as the Four Corners of the World has been a secret to all, until now. Young Brandon Billingsley has been grieving the loss of his best friend, and is sent to stay with his Aunt Gracie to help him heal. Gracie, whose husband was an archaeologist, keeps his findings stored in the attic of their manor, among them the key to breaching the barrier between worlds. When Brandon finds the jeweled pendant and inadvertently opens the dimensional gateway, he and his two new friends must fight back with elemental powers against the evil that seeks to overrun the lands of the Four Corners and restore them to their former order lest both worlds be destroyed.

The Four Corners is a 3D action rpg with an overhead view, where the player takes on the role of three young friends who find themselves pulled into a conflict in a world they never dreamed. Each character has their own unique powers that complement the other two, and they must combine these abilities in strategic combinations in order to emerge victorious from the battle.

World

The world of The Four Corners is divided into four provinces: Ellidas, the province of Light; Sommerhjem, the province of the seasons; Vannitas, the province of the elements; and Morktenstorm, the province of shadow. Each province has its own kingdoms and politics, unique dungeons, quests, and enemies.

Gameplay

The player takes on the role of three characters who each have distinctive powers and are available for play after a three-part tutorial mission. Each character will become necessary at different times in order for the team to progress. Enemies will emerge with various weaknesses based on provincial affiliation and combat role, though many of the basic hostiles can be defeated through melee combat. A heavily armored Ice Juggernaut will be susceptible to a combination of fire and physical damage. Burning Ram, an Earth/Fire/Gravity attack, will stop them in their tracks and allow melee damage to hurt it.

Players can get quests from citizens of the different provinces, which will send them on various objectives. These objectives involve rescues, defeating powerful creatures, gathering, and exploration/recovery quests. Each will involve combat and puzzle solving. Certain gates will keep the player from progressing. With the right combination of spells, the gate will unlock. These combinations are signaled by visual cues present on the gate, represented by color. It will require the players to gain the necessary spells through leveling up.

Leveling happens when the player completes objectives and brings about positive change in the land. When the requisite number of objectives is reached, the player gains new strength and skills.
The political system of The Four Corners changes dynamically. Player reputation is gained, various factions change their opinions of you and others will welcome you to be there champion. Each kingdom has been infiltrated by agents serving the dark masters of Morktenstorm, and it is the final mission of the player to root them out and cleanse the land of its taint. They do this through story quests that send them on investigative adventures laden with exciting combat, traps, intriguing puzzles, and harrowing traps. The central story provides forty hours of gameplay, not including side quests and exploration.

Movement

The player will move the character using either the keyboard and mouse or a joypad, which grants the player 360 movement.

Gameplay

Progress and Feedback

Players can take on quests from world NPC’s for access to new areas, rewards, or gold. By completing objectives in the story path, the player unlocks new areas to explore. By doing side quests, the player restores a small portion of the lands purity with each quest done, weakening the enemy by taking away his allies in the land so they will not interfere in the final battle. When a player loses all of their health, they are trapped in darkness forever and the game will pick up from the last save. When a quest is completed, the quest giver will no longer glow with an aura.

Enemies flash a translucent white when struck by melee weapons. If they are struck with magic or magic enhanced attacks, they flash a translucent color of the particular spell. They collapse and disappear when they lose all of their health.

World and Environments

The world of The Four Corners will contain Cities and Wilds (Overworld), Dungeons (Underworld), and Structures (Midworld).

 Cities – There are a total of twelve major cities in the game, only the dark realm of Morktenstorm lacks any real social structures.

 Wilds – The wilds are the natural environments of the world. Hidden dungeons, secret treasures, beat lairs, and the like all await the player in the wide open expanses.

 Dungeons – These comprise all the hideouts, fortresses, caves, and any hostile underworld location.

Tactical environments allow players to put things in the paths of their enemies to trip them up or slow them down. Things that can be used:

 Wood Piles stacked outside of homes
 Rocks and Rubble
 Pitchers or Barrels of Liquid
 Fruit Stands

Interaction

Conversations will take place throughout the realm, as there are many NPC’s to speak to. They will be voiced if possible, and will certainly have text accompanying them.

Conversing with people is easy. Just walk up to someone and push the interaction button.

People who have quests to give will have an aura about them. Different colored auras will represent different kinds of quests.

 Red auras are combat related, and require searching for and vanquishing a powerful beast or foe.

 Blue auras represent rescue or recovery quests. Someone or something had been taken or lost and it is up to the player to find and recover them. This may also involve battling a foe, but it isn’t the main objective.

 Gold auras represent story quests, which directly affect your progress through the game.

 Green auras are repeatable quests.

When you’ve completed a quest, the character’s social standing changes.

Magic Treasure System

Scattered around the world are special chests that can only be unlocked by completing special quests. These chests were filled with powerful items to aid a hero in their battle against Morktenstorm, the realm of evil, should they ever rise again. There is no way to know which chest is what, so you’ll have to complete the quests to reveal them. When a quest is completed, the map will sparkle at the location of a newly unlocked chest. If a combat quest is complete, then a combat-related reward will be given. Story quests have the best rewards, adding new abilities to the character. Gold (Story), Red (Combat), Blue (Rescue) auras are the only ones that will unlock a magical chest.

Other Treasure

Normal treasure chests placed in various abundant locations around in dungeons, caves, castles, etc., are opened with keys that drop from foes. They contain normal items such as currency, potions, enhancements (temporary stat boosts), and others.

Lock Melting/Smashing/Manipulating

Whenever players encounters a chest, they will have the opportunity to open a chest without a key using their special elemental powers. Using Earth, Magnetism, or Fire, one can attempt to smash or melt the lock. When the player walks up to a chest, they activate the Context Sensitive button to make the attempt. They are then brought to a new screen where a power meter tells the player how much power they can put into the attempt.

Earth – The player will drill the lock with a granite bit.
Fire – The player will use a finger torch to melt or cut the lock.
Gravity – Use magnetic force to move the lock parts.

Each method will use the same power meter. For example, each lock will have a different amount of intensity required to open it. Brackets will set the min/max power, and the player has to maintain that for a short period of time to be successful. Players maintain the intensity level by using the control stick to keep the indicator in between the min/max brackets. If the power goes outside the brackets, being too high or too low, the lock with be jammed permanently.

Progress and Feedback

Players can take on quests from world NPC’s for access to new areas, rewards, or gold. By completing objectives in the story path, the player unlocks new areas to explore. By doing side quests, the player restores a small portion of the lands purity with each quest done, weakening the enemy by taking away his allies in the land so they will not interfere in the final battle. When a player loses all of their health, they are trapped in darkness forever and the game will pick up from the last save. When a quest is completed, the quest giver will no longer glow with an aura.

    Narrative Sample

The player begins the game in control of ten-year-old Brandon Billingsley. In the upper left corner of the screen are two horizontal bars, red for life and blue for spirit. They are inlaid within an ornate gold trim with a seraph wing fitting perfectly in the top corner. In the lower right corner of the screen is another similar box but contains the circular portraits of the three playable characters, Chip and Darcy. Switching characters is done by pressing the directional pad Right for Brandon, Left for Darcy, and Down for Chip. Press Up for last character played.

Brandon and his two companions stand before the city gates of Ellidas, having just come from a harrowing escape from the evil land of Morktenstorm. Brandon has been poisoned by its noxious taint. It is only a matter of time before he is lost to darkness. In your escape you had found a seemingly useless crystal that is emitting a golden aura. Move Brandon forward by using the Left Control Stick. The guard halts you if you try to enter the city.

GUARD: Halt! Strangers of unknown faction are not welcome here. You must gain prior approval from the High Pontiff! Now be gone!

You must get into the gates to seek the King. There is space to explore to the left and right of the gates. To the right is a haggard man begging for change. Speak to him by pressing B, the default interaction button as many times as needed to advance the conversation when in progress.

HAGGARD MAN: I dun’ know you strangers, and ye dun’ know me. But my family be hurting and I’m aiming to fix it. Ye have any lonely shiners in your pockets?

CHIP: Man, we don’t have anything. We’re lost and we need to get into the city. FAST!

HAGGARD MAN: So we both be hurting with nothing to…say, what’s that there in ‘is pocket? A shiner if I ever saw one! Give me that shiner and I’ll let you in on the secret ye be looking for.

Two choices will pop up in dialog. If you give him the crystal, which glows with a holy radiance, he will instantly recognize what it is and happily show you some loose bricks in the city wall.

DARCY: Here, take it. Not like I can wear it or anything.

HAGGARD MAN: Land sakes! Oh my! Do you…are you sure!?

CHIP: Take it man. Now can you help us?

HAGGARD MAN: Indeed. I’ll do more than that if I can. Follow me!

He walks quickly to the left of the castle gates. Follow him, and he will point out the loose bricks.

HAGGARD MAN: There, those loose stones in the wall ye can barely make out. Be quiet about it, and put them back in when your done! I have to go, my family be happy t’day!

The man speeds off. If you do not give him the crystal, you will have to find a way into the city on your own, and can severely cut down on the time Brandon has left before he becomes completely corrupt and evil.

To undo the bricks, press B. Move forward through the small tunnel. The scene fades to black and into the new location. The player emerges in an alley just off the main street. They try to stick to the alleyway to avoid the brutish guards, but are stopped by five ruffians looking for trouble. They give you an ultimatum: give them some money, or get thrashed. If you kept the crystal, you could give it to them, and they might let you pass with only a minor thumping. If you don’t have the crystal, you must fight your way through.

RUFFIAN LEADER: Where do you mice think yer goin’?

CHIP: Get out of our way. We need to see the King.

RUFFIAN 2: Ha ha ha! Ya think we care aboot thah? We only answer to shiners!

DARCY: Is this how everyone greets a stranger here? How much money do you think we have!?

RUFFIAN 3: Do’n even try ta snipper at us with yer fancy speechin’. Cough up or else!

To engage them in combat, which happens in real time, approach an enemy and strike them by pressing the X button repeatedly until they are defeated. These enemies are melee heavy, so a combination of magic attacks and enhanced melee will subdue them quite easily. With Brandon incapacitated, it is up to Chip and Darcy to save the day. Darcy has a spell called Sluggish that slows the movement of the enemy. Select her by pressing Down. Chip will go into auto attack. Since this is her only spell right now, it is automatically equipped. To cast it, press the Y button. A targeting circle will appear, which you can guide with the Right Control Stick, which will automatically snap to each enemy (for single-target attacks) or group of enemies (for area-of-effect) with each push. Once the group of Ruffians are selected, hit the Y button again. They slow down. Now select Chip by pressing Left for his default position on the interface. Chip fights with his bare hands. His initial magic spell is Earthfist, which turns his fists into stone. By pressing Y to attack them the player makes short work of the enemy. Chip and Darcy now have partially drained Spirit bars. Each magical attack uses up some spirit, which can be replenished with either a potion or resting. Since the player has neither at this point, they have a dilemma. Either push further into the alley and face more Ruffians, or you can take the cloaks from the out-cold Ruffians to attempt disguising yourselves and venture into the city. To loot the incapacitated Ruffians, press B, which brings up a list of what they carry and three options: LOOT ALL, TAKE (for selecting individual items), and EXIT. A few coppers, and a their cloaks is all they carry. You take the cloaks. Equip them by pressing Right Trigger to bring up your inventory, and selecting Equip. On the Equip sub-menu, select the Ruffian Cloak and press B. Hit Right Trigger again to exit the menu. You now wear a long, gray cloak.

There is an adjoining alley that leads to the city proper. You direct the characters to the main street. They now stand in a bustling renaissance style city, its glory a bit faded. Storefronts and open-air vendors line the main street. Moving forward takes you deeper into the city. You stop at one of the vendors to ask them how to get to the King.

DARCY: Excuse me, could you tell us how to get to the King? We need to see him immediately!

VENDOR: Bah! A Ruffian? To see the King? Ha ha ha! Well you may certainly expedite your trip to the locker! Follow the main street up. Give the gaoler my best! Ha ha ha!

You begin your journey up the street. Guards patrol frequently, fully armored from head to foot. If you get too close to them, they will spot you through your disguise as unwelcome foreigners. If they spot you, they try to capture you and throw you in prison. Citizens bustle by. One of them runs into you.

CITIZEN: Out of my way, Ruffian!!!

A glowing yellow exclamation point appears over your head, indicating that attention has just been drawn to you, increasing the range at which guards can detect your identity. As you get closer to the King’s palace, the street becomes more crowded. Suddenly three citizens run headlong into you. You are detected by the guards! They rush at you from all sides. A few gaps in their approach give you a chance to escape. To run, hold down the A button while moving in a direction. You slow down when you hit a citizen. Be more careful! Brandon’s life depends on it! The guards catch up to you even with your best maneuvering, and the High Pontiff and his chancellors stop you in your tracks. Hedged in on both sides, it looks like you’ve lost.

HIGH PONTIFF: Invaders! From another land! Guards, slap them in the stocks and flog them!
GUARD: But…they’re children!

HIGH PONTIFF: Very well, you can join them! GUARDS!! SIEZE THE INTERLOPERS!

They move in on you, but suddenly a forceful beam of light shoots down from off screen between the characters and the guards.

VOICE: Stay your hand, Pontiff! Or it is your back the stripes will be made!

HIGH PONTIFF: You…

Leaping down from off screen is a shining knight with flowing red hair. He is SIR GRAYSON GILDERFOX.

GILDERFOX: Unhand them at once. The King has requested an audience with them!

HIGH PONTIFF: The..the King has requested an audience with…THEM!? These urchins that taint his kingdom by their very presence!?

Gilderfox draws his sword and brings the flat of the blade under his chin, pushing his mouth shut.

GILDERFOX: Not another word. As for your children, come with me, your friend is in danger and there is little time!

You are taken to a chamber that glows with a holy radiance. The Haggard Man you saw at the gate is there. He turns and faces you.

HAGGARD MAN: Hello again me friends. It be time we get to revealing things to ye.

He transforms from a normal man into a dazzling spectacle of a King.

CHIP: That was you? At the gate!?

KING: Yes, young one. Now let us see to your friend. Only then can you know the truth about your role in events to come…

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