Residual Blood

Updated February 3, 2020 Defrosted and Refreshed December 1, 2020

This post was part of what can be called an initial concept–while not the first, it is an early variant of the vision behind the final product. It is not wholly reflective of the final product: some elements in regards to gameplay, setting, and story have been altered, replaced, or dropped. While the project has been on hiatus since March-April 2020, work has been done on a long-form written piece which will be divided into four self-published novels with setting-related side episodes. In the process of writing this setting-focused prequel, much of the worldbuilding has been developed/altered, and so many setting-narrative elements have been expanded and developed further. The core story as originally structured back in November 2019 will remain the same with only some fluff being changed.

As for a completely updated version of this concept proposal, there won’t be one. In its place will be updates on the game’s development as well as small narrative treatments (short stories/novellas).

Residual Blood is a story-focused, stylistic isometric shooter with light RPG elements and an open-level world design. Aesthetic inspirations and design elements are inspired by post-Soviet cult classics STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl and Metro: 2033. However, the game will not be a direct inspiration from the two, but will incorporate elements and take plenty of inspiration. Current plans and narrative writing are going for a branching narrative where the player’s main concern will be their reputation with important characters and factions. Said reputation will be reflected in narrative threads as well as influencing the situations (scripted and spontaneous) the player comes across as they explore the open level game world.

Setting and Story

Residual Blood tells the story of Joe Scav, a man who has put his past behind him with the use of a “holy grail”, a paranormal amnestic with a catch. He is aggressively haunted by the consequences of trying to restart with a blank slate and comes to Obstratsky, the source of the “holy grails”, in search of answers.

Despite its inspiration, Residual Blood does not seek to be a middle-title or a direct love-child of STALKER or Metro. Residual Blood’s setting will share more motifs with that of it’s inspirations’ inspiration and influence, the novel Roadside Picnic, more closely than the more confined and limited-in-fabula settings of STALKER and Metro. It will embrace more of the extensive other-worldly with a touch of what some might consider slightly Lovecraftian. There will be narrative and setting elements not inspired but similar to motifs in the following titles: Pathologic, Dark Seed, Singularity, Dark Souls, Nier: Automata, and the expansion to the popular MMO, Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers.

Gameplay Direction

The core challenge will come from the fragility of the player character and the relative strength, numbers, and wit of the NPCs he encounters. Non-player characters and creatures will interact with the player reactively, the challenge they pose changing according to the environment: current plans are for such interactions to be based on prior experiences with the player and other NPC’s they encounter, following in the footsteps of the A-Life system in STALKER. While the game is being designed not as a simulation, AI are planned to go about their own schedules and contest locations of interest important to other AI and the player character.

The game will take the “RPG-lite” or “with RPG elements” approach that STALKER and METRO employ–the player’s skill and the effectiveness of their agency is modified by their equipment and experience from playing rather than an abstract representation of their character training mind and body, or learning more esoteric techniques exclusive to the main character/cast.

The fragility of the player will come from light survival elements inspired by that of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and STALKER: Call of Pripyat. Combat itself with resemble the difficulty of ARMA 3, Squad, and Red Orchestra 2–a few bullets can put the player character down, so combat isn’t so much a matter of courage-versus-fear (though it can be if the player has the equipment and the plan) but of wit-versus-luck.

Unlike the games previously listed, however, success is not measured by how well the player fares taking down a required or necessary number of AI opponents. The current design plan is for success being dependent on the player’s agency succeeding or enduring an encounter with the agency of NPCs. If the player needs to take an old farm, rather than needing to gun down enemies that rush to him in order to die, drop loot, and in their sacrifice reward the player for his or her bravery, the player will have several options that encourage planning ahead. They could shock the morale of a group of AI’s by harassing them over a period of time, sabotage a vital resource connected to the AI’s presence at that location such as poisoning a well and then waiting an in-game day or two for the results to take root, talk to a character with influence over the faction to persuade their forces to leave, or even (depending on relevant reputation and who is involved) walk up to whoever’s in charge of the forces present and making a deal that has them going elsewhere (bribery, intimidation, or information). The difficulty and consequences of being shot will make these alternative paths more rewarding when successfully pulled off. For the clever and astute player, fleeing battle will not be as much of a failure as merely part of a strategy for success.