I mean, there are a billion things you could do. But my advice is, unless the story idea comes with about 6-12 gameplay ideas, you might be better off writing it instead of making a game of it. Try to check out Project Volt. They're not doing exactly what you're doing, but they've got a similar dystopian city feel to the project.
Well maybe I shouldn't even chime in... I'm definitely one of those who comes down against building a game concept around a story first and foremost. I don't think games are a great storytelling medium, and I think the more you're trying to tell a story, the less you're making a good game.
It's not really that I am creating a story without creating game play first, it is that in the process of refining the story I've become torn on exactly what kind of game play I want to go with. I was hoping for suggestions here that might help me solidify the game play or add features to what I have thought up thus far.
What I initially wanted first was a very vertical oriented platformer RPG (a la Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) but with a dash of Mirror's Edge thrown in (i.e. acrobatic movement emphasized over direct combat). For Leise (the crippled character), he would serve as almost a narrative to the game setting. After segments of playing as Wolke, you'd briefly play as Leise and learn a bit more about the city and the world below (and the Leise segments would also serve as "breathers" from the platforming segments). The gang Wolke is from would also play a role in the story and help contrast Wolke from Leise (Wolke is generally not alone and Leise is always alone).
I do definitely want to focus on the setting and characters as the art and storytelling of the game are a huge motivating factor for me actually doing it, but at the same time I want to make sure the game play suits it (and I will be constantly refining and editing the story to suit the game play in turn). I guess what I am asking here (and which I probably didn't word well since I was pretty tired when I first posted) is what kind of game do you feel best suits the setting and two characters. In the end I will go with what I feel is best, of course, but the point of posting here is that it doesn't hurt to get suggestions, ideas, and inspiration from outside sources.
Oh, and do I appreciate the responses and suggestions thus far, they have given me some things to think about.
I would ask yourself this: what is different about life on this floating city as opposed to a traditional city on the ground? Aside from it being in anarchy (which could true in any city), what is distinctive about living in this floating city? You might have some unique gameplay opportunities arise from this.
I have thought about it. The vision in my head (with the initial game play I was thinking of) is that you'd have a lot of setups like the train falling off the cliff scene in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (where the environment is suddenly breaking away and you're scrambling to make your way up it before it crumbles and falls taking you with it).
I also envision a lot of Mirror's Edge type obstacles where you are trying to make quick progression through them via the use of acrobatics (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time also comes to mind for the climbing and obstacle puzzles). In the Leise segments it'd feel a bit more like an adventure game where you are examining the environment and unraveling clues (though these segments would be limited to one puzzle or idea each, I want them to be fairly brief).
The story as you present it, is a bit weak too.
One character have backstory and seems a be-er, but have no motivation, basically event PUSH it where he is.
The other is a Do-er with no backstory but a motivation (he is PULL towards "escape the city") his decision drive events. He also physically defined (do-er function).
I think a large part of the problem is I don't want to give away too much information here, at least not more than what is needed to explain the setting because I do actually want to make this a game so I'd rather not have all the major plot points exposed before anyone even gets the chance to play it. I probably should have made that clear initially (like I said, I was tired).
Leise has a motivation (though I've changed "him" to a "her" now) it is just one that will unravel with the plot and is kind of crucial to it. Wolke has a backstory but it is less critical to understanding his position in the game (his backstory is revealed a little more progressively through his actions and interactions with other characters). You can kind of think of it as Leise is carrying the weight of the past and Wolke is his definition in the present. Both are eventually motivated towards two different goals that lead to the same ending, which is hard to explain without laying all the cards on the table.
The ending would be something along the line of the passive character hearing (in the radio tower) impact of the active character when he arrive in the world below. It may also leave an open ending with the passive character finally getting a motivation which may be is main problem in the story (lack of faith, not having perspective, lack of motivation, etc...)
I actually have a pretty solid ending planned (hence the lack of details given here), the beginning and middle do need some refining but the ending I am happy with.
But if you don't think of any terribly interesting/original gameplay ideas, I would definitely consider using an RPG-maker engine. Why spend your time on the technology when the depiction of an interesting setting and story is what you really want?
I thought about it because I do love a classic RPG, and initially thought I could just demonstrate Wolke's acrobatics through cut scenes but I don't think it'd have the same kind of contrast that a more action-oriented engine would present (i.e. Leise survives through hiding and confinement and Wolke survives through freedom and movement).
Or you could go isometric with a zelda style but plus a jump! If you've ever played the game Chrystalis, you know what I'm talking about.
That is not such a bad idea. I was almost thing River City Ransom would be a decent template though I don't know that it'd give off the same feeling of vertical progression as a platformer would (well, at least not as smoothly). Still, it is definitely something to consider.
If it were me, I would try to think of a way to make a low-tech version of something like "Far Cry 2" - which did a great job of immersing you in the evocative setting of Africa and letting you explore it, with a "trail" of quests directing your movement through it in a general way.
Though in Far Cry 2, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3, etc. it is real easy to lose track of the main story while running side quests. I kind of want to keep the focus squarely on the main story (and also, I don't want to get too crazy with the Cheese Wiz and turn this into a project that is overwhelmingly large).
Finally I should point out that this setting bears quite a few similarities to that of "Columbia" in Bioshock: Infinite. Look into it if you haven't. "Takes place in a WW2 steampunk era floating city in anarchy" is not going to look like a unique selling point for a game...
Yeah, I've seen the trailers for it but there is a big difference in the settings (at least as far as the "feel" goes). Jade City is built more like a massive oil rig (along these lines
) crossed with an airship (along these lines
) and has cables, girders, and beams going every which way. It is also very dark (it's outer framework is covered in black smoke after all) and primary lit by neons. It will have a much more industrial feel than what is seen in Bioshock: Infinite and its inhabitants aren't a bunch of supernatural lunatics they're just people trying to survive. It's not actually set in the WW2 era (I was meaning that is about what the level of technology is) it is set in a fantasy setting and is meant to feel more post-apocalyptic than steampunk (i.e. very dirty and ruined).
Anyways, I appreciate all the suggestions so far (like I said, they've given me things to think about). I apologize for the lack of clarification and information in my first post, I was intending to just throw the setting out there and then check the suggestions in the morning because I was pretty tired and it was a lot of text. Hopefully I can narrow down the vision and put some work into drafting the design document soon. Until then, all suggestions are welcome. Thanks. EDIT:
I should also note that I am a "setting and characters first" kind of gamer. I will play through some pretty crappy fighting games if I really like the characters, backgrounds, etc. for example. I am all about the game worlds and their inhabitants. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy good game play (and definitely prefer it) but the game play is only half of what makes the experience for me. So perhaps the notion of me focusing on story and characters first may seem somewhat "wrong" the fact is good game play is good game play, regardless if it came before or after the story. If you can create a good story to suit game play you can create good game play to suit a story.