Welcome, bloggies and blogglemen, blogdren of all ages, to the first of what we assume and hope will be twelve majestic posts wrapping up the month’s Later Levels Question of the Month activity and highlighting the awesomeness that is the blogging community!
For 2019, Later Levels’ Kim and I decided to shake up the formula a little bit. You can read about our plan here, but let’s quickly say that the crux of the idea is to bring a world of super-talented and creative people together to design The Ultimatest Video Game of All Time Forever Definitively! Each month, the question posed will be for the community to suggest their ideas for a particular element of a game, culminating in a final press release in December in which bloggers describe the game in its totality and sell it to the world!
Now… an admission. There was actually a little bit of confusion between Kim and myself as to what this would mean – I thought that we were asking people over those twelve months to design their own Ultimate Video Game, using the elements from their previous answers to create one continuous thing. Kim’s idea was in fact that we were building a collaborative Ultimate Video Game, so answers each month should build on the elements that had won in previous months until we had a huge Megazord game which was cohesive but made up of elements designed by different people.
We’ve come to a compromise with the help of Ian, our other judging-panel member and the person in appreciation of whom Kim and I set this thing up in the first place: you can do whatever the heck you want. Not a bad compromise, right?
To clarify: going forwards, each month we’ll put out an element of the Ultimate Video Game for you to devise. You’re free to either:
- come up with something for your own idea, using the elements you’ve made in previous months (or jumping in fresh if you’ve not taken part) – or;
- you can come up with an idea for that element based on the Ultimate Video Game as it’s being collaboratively made. For example, let’s say that January’s winning setting was a tiny planet made of marshmallow. If February’s element were ‘gameplay’, then you’d be looking to devise a gameplay element for this marshmallow-planet setting. In this way the Ultimate Video Game would be cohesive but each part designed by crowdsourcing, effectively!
Now, we will give some honourable mentions to those who take the first route and do their own thing, and perhaps even award them with some sort of honour if they do so for all twelve months and come up with a whole awesome game! However, the judging month-to-month will be based on picking the elements that come together into this community-created Ultimate Video Game.
For that reason, when we came to look at the submissions for our first month’s category, settings and themes, we realised that we needed to pick something that met several critera: it had to be unique, something that piqued interest immediately; it had to have the potential for future submissions and elements to add detail and flesh out in a variety of possible ways; it had to have the capacity for a variety of stories to be told there, but ultimately we wanted it to be the sort of original setting that couldn’t help but influence the shape of the story that would unfold in its world.
Entries This Month
We had some awesome submissions, and I’d genuinely love to highlight them all for the excellence that they are but I’d only miss somebody by accident and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel their idea was any less good than anyone else’s! That said, we’re going to go with a ‘two honourable mentions and a winner’ model; no second and third place, just two that we think are worth giving some props to as potentially deserving winners and then the one that we ultimately decided on.
In no particular order, our two honourable mentions:
Musings of a Nitpicking Girl came up with a really unique suggestion that we all loved: an abandoned IT room! It’s a strong, definite aesthetic right out of the gate, and we thought that Musings‘ Kate could turn it into an amazing game or story; setting it within these well-defined four walls could lead to a whole host of tight, thematically cohesive mysteries to be solved. This was a definite favourite for all three of us, and we hope to see Kate either work on this setting or add her talent to future collaborative elements of the Ultimate Video Game! We thought, if anything, it was such a strong specificity that others might have trouble adding new elements to it to build a community-formed game going forwards, but I hope we might get to see more of it anyway!
That Green Dude devised a city divided into well-thought-out geographical and sociological districts. There’s a lot of detail here already, and Brandon gives us a lot of imagery that really makes the setting come to life in our heads. He suggested that this setting could be a backdrop for exploring themes like abuse of power, corruption, and justice – big, hefty themes befitting the Ultimate and Most Bestly Artisticist Video Game! There’s an awful lot of scope in this setting to create all kinds of stories; in fact, I can almost imagine the community adopting this setting as a sort of shared mythos and creating all sorts of separate or intertwined stories following a huge cast of interesting characters through the many areas of Requiem. (If anyone wants to do that – and, Brandon, if you’re cool with it – I would totally be down with doing, like, a shared-universe short fiction project set in this world!)
With all that said, it’s time for our winner. The winner will of course receive… er, bragging rights, I guess?
Well, there’s a bit more than that: the winning entry will become the basis of the Ultimate Video Game, so this is the setting you’ll want to base your future entries in if you want to collaborate to the community-built Unambiguously and Unarguably Best Game of All Time. The winner will also be invited to join Kim, Ian, and myself in our happy little Discord chat where we
talk about memes – er, discuss the submissions and pick each month’s winner.
Winners are still allowed to enter future months for fun, but at the moment we think that we probably won’t allow previous winners to be eligible to win a second time unless the only entrants are previous winners! (Kim and myself are not eligible to win at all, although I’m still coming up with stuff just for laughs. And, in fact, the setting I came up with this month is something I liked so unexpectedly much that I’m working on turning it into an audio drama!)
Without further ado, this month’s winner is…
Hundstrasse, with the Ocean in Space! (My term, not his!) In short, an ancient spaceship floats in the deadness of empty cosmos, but within its walls an aquatic biosystem develops and bizarre creatures flourish, all in this ocean out in nothingness. We think this setting’s got it all: it’s unique, immediately gets us with strong imagery, and inherently sets up a lot of ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ questions that we think will be ripe for future months’ submissions to address. We found it immensely intriguing, and thought that it’s the kind of setting that demands a unique story: it’s not a setting that any story could be transplanted to and work generically, but one that needs to inform and be informed by the plot and narrative events going on, and we thought that that sort of uniqueness and demand for inventiveness was something that the Ultimate Video Game ought to have in order to be… well, Ultimate!
That’s all, folks!
So there you have it: our first winner in QOTM ’19: The Gamening! Tune in on Later Levels very shortly to find out the next element that we’re putting out to You The People to design!