Before Dangan Ronpa, there was almost every popular dystopian YA novel that would eventually get a movie adaptation. Before the YA novels, there was Survivor. Before that, I don’t really know what was hot during the time, and I made up everything said beforehand.
The point is, I’m sure my neighbors and my cousins twice removed have at some point wanted to write a death game, and I’m no exception. Did I mention that my current favorite “death game” game to watch a playthrough of is Your Turn To Die?
Anyway, Death Cadenza is a game I’d love to write. I’m intending for it to be short, mostly to make up for the fact that there’s a lot of different ways to approach certain plot points. All of the characters portrayed in this game will be 18 and above, and they’ll be happy to prove it with their identification.
Death Cadenza is a death game with the twist that the sadistic death games are based on “love” and “trust”. They’re run not by a mascot character, but an actual human cosplaying as a magical girl. When I think about her design, it’s meant to invoke irritation with her very anime-like expressions (akin to ^_^;) in juxtaposition with the players’ more “realistic” ones. I think about her general appearance being a cross from the protagonist of Kairiki Bear’s Alkali Underachiever and a cat girl to fully make it into someone people would love to hate.
The mastermind of the Death Cadenza games want nothing more than to provide entertainment not only to the massive audiences watching the show, but also for themselves. The premise of the Death Cadenza is simple: “Breed couples inspired by their primal instinct to survive.”
There’s always a couple established at the end of a story; many plots have to establish a big kiss scene to end themselves with a bang. The Death Cadenza games were meant to exploit that corporate desire tenfold with events designed specifically for their players to work together and trust each other “100%”, with prompts at the end wanting them to reflect on what they thought about the other person.
Unlike Dangan Ronpa where the games needed the students to kill each other, the Death Cadenza games don’t even need a murder to continue to the next “phase”. The obstacles the players deal with are dangerous on their own, and it’s more of a “death trap”-filled labyrinth that people need to navigate through. People are required to die, yes, but it’s less about doing something suspicious and more about appealing to show ratings and having audiences vote off which individuals have the “least” appeal to others. Basically, the individuals that have the least “shipping fodder” are the most likely to get voted off and killed.
Visuals-wise, Death Cadenza is meant to look deceptively simple. The backgrounds are nothing home to write about, as they’re meant less to impress an audience with aesthetics and more of providing a practical means to see the world around them and figure out what they can interact with. As one could guess from the art I made at the start of this writing, the characters in Death Cadenza can look a bit more complex but they won’t have any actual coloring to them aside from that shade of pink. This is to prompt players to essentially “fill in the gaps” with their imagination, seeing what sorts of hair, eye, skin, and clothing colors would look on them. This in turn creates more of a “personalized” experience despite the plot(s) staying relatively the same.
Also from that screenshot, one can notice that there’s more buttons than just the “auto” and “skip”. There’s whole columns where the protagonist and their current partner can be seen, and it’s through those windows where they will be able to react with current events and findings. Characters outside of the protagonist box and the partner box will instead be displayed in the middle, below the text box but above the box where the background is.
I’ve been inspired by adventure games, namely the looks and feel of PC-98 games, that allow one to do more than talk hence why there’s features like “Inspect”, “Move”, “Partner”, “Inquire”, and “Ability”. Your Turn To Die is also a large factor as to why I’d like to include more features, even if they in reality can be nothing more than excuses for more short bursts of flavor text.
There’s also one of the first adventure games, The Portopia Serial Murder Case, with gameplay that allows the player to feel more like a detective.
I’m not entirely too sure how I’d program the game (which is a great start to posts talking about games that people are making, isn’t it?) aside from making “interactive mockups” using iFAction. Again, I don’t recommend it, as I was tricked by surface-level screenshots of how convenient it looked to use. In reality, it’s a game engine that barely has any support for its English release, and someone can easily cause their game to not only be unplayable, but straight-up uneditable with the program crashing if they do so much as remove one of the pre-made parts in the UI section. I’m not kidding.
How the game UI works is quite clunky, too. I’ve almost spent an entire day figuring out why my custom buttons don’t show up in the game until I realized that buttons only appear when they’re inside “msgBack”. That means I had to resize “msgBack” to include all of the elements I want to appear, turn msgBack’s image into a transparent one so that it doesn’t show up, and move all of the buttons in. The text box and msgText are thankfully on their separate layers, so there’s no need to do gymnastics like save a text box image on a resized transparent layer.
Anyway, that’s pretty much it for me talking about Death Cadenza for now. It’s easy for me to turn more of this post into a “Why ‘No Programming’ Game Engines Are Deceiving You Into Using Buggy Software”, but now’s not the time.