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And the Winners Are...
March 2nd, 2011

03/02- 12:00PM EST

  Hey All! Sadly, I'm a bit under the weather this week, so today I've just got the winning contest pitches for you. I'll save my own pitches for a future Q&A. Anyway, here are the winning pitches! Complete, and uninterupted by my yammering.

The Letters
1st Place- Chrono Trigger in Space with Bonus Mummy Trigger Pitch

Wheels, I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what I’d like to see in a Chrono Trigger sequel, and the more I think about it the more I believe that Chrono Cross had the right idea. In Chrono Trigger you explored the planet several times over and saw its entire history from earliest days to Armageddon. There’s not a lot of new ground to cover. Any attempt to set a sequel in the same setting would feel contrived. In Even Crosses’ El Nino Archipelago isn’t exempt from this feeling. Where was it during Trigger? All of a sudden there’s this new part of the world (I know I know, it’s sorta explained that the islands are (spoilers) artificial, but still, it doesn’t sit easy). But despite requiring a bit of suspension of disbelief, it’s the right idea. Trigger’s setting just isn’t realized enough to support a sequel. It’s great in the game it was designed for, but past that it’s just too flimsy. Cross did it right, it moved the action to a new location (kinda) and only had a few ties to the previous title. Trigger is an amazing game, but the last thing I want from a sequel is a rehash.

Trigger explored time; Cross, alternate dimensions. What’s left? Why, the vastness of space! My Chrono Trigger sequel would take things intergalactic. The premise is that in the peaceful years in which Lavos didn’t blow up all of everything an advanced space program has formed (started by Lucca of course,). The game be with the first manned faster-than-light expedition. Our hero is the pilot of this experimental ship. Of course things go wrong and he finds himself stranded far from his home. Eventually it’s revealed that the whole space program was devised by Lucca to end the threat of Lavos once and for all. I’ve always felt that it’s implied that the Lavos spawn on Death Mountain will eventually grow to leave earth and feed off the energy of new planets, and that Chrono Trigger’s Lavos similarly came from somewhere else. This game’s true purpose is to discover the source of this parasitic alien race and end its destruction of a thousand worlds. The hero would move from system to system, finding alies and solving galatic intruige, but always moving twoards the source of the Lavos race.

Time travel has to come into play somehow. Space travel offers plenty of time-bending shenanigans, what with relativity and all. Return trips between long distances means the hero arrives years or decades after he left where he gets to see how his actions have shaped the future. This is taken to its extreme when the hero finally returns to his home planet and finds that centuries have passed and, yep, the world is a lifeless wasteland. The secret of true time travel is discovered again and the hero must right what went wrong, etc, etc. You know the deal.

That’s what I’d like to see in a Chrono Trigger sequel, but who are we kidding? The fans would never go for something like that. And you gotta keep the fans happy. What do they like... Let’s see, that Kingdom Hearts version of Cloud all wrapped up in bandages is quite popular in the fandom. It’s clear what they love: mummies!

Chrono Trigger 2: Mummy vs. Mummy: The Mummy Wars: Vol. 1: Mummies of Future Past!


Crono and his friends are enjoying the peaceful life (before they all get killed by that stuff in Chrono Cross) when the kingdom is invaded by The Mummy Emperor (actually Magus in disguise; the whole invasion is a clever plot to find Schala). Chrono & Co. rush to defeat the Emperor but he turns them into Mummies and time travels them back to Ancient Egypt! Except for Lucca. She gets bitten by a Twilight and turns into Draclucca. In Egypt they get caught up in the mummy rebellion against the Real Mummy Emperor (actually Robo in disguise). So they have to find a way home, turn back to normal, end the Real Mummy Emperor’s evil rule (actually a clever plot to find Magus), while manipulating the past so the Mummy Virus doesn’t infect all future life on the planet. At the end it turns out Lavos was behind the whole thing, thus setting up the sequel “Chrono Trigger 3: Mummy vs. Mummy: The Mummy Wars: Vol 2: Mummies Only Die Twice!” The battle system would be exactly like Chrono  Trigger’s but way cooler. Like, there would be a combo tech where Crono spins Marle around and all her mummy bandages fly off and she’s totally naked. Except that would only be in the Japanese version. In the USA Nintendo would censor the nakedness so that it was tea instead.

So yeah, it would have all the best stuff from Chrono Trigger except its way dark and mature. Like Crono totally kills this dude and you’re all like “wooooah!” Also, Serge shows up, trips over a bug, and lands on a knife.
Love, Loki

2nd Place-Chrono Effect

Concerning all these ideas about a Chrono Trigger 2 and what the game could be about, well, who says it has to be a sequel? Just because it has a "2" in the title, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to continue the story (case in point: Street Fighter IV is actually a prequel to Street Fighter III), so why not a prequel, or even a retelling of the same story? I know that the latter idea may seem dumb, but think about it. This game is all about time travel, which, as was mentioned in the last column, can get pretty complicated. So maybe they can remake the game with a Mass Effect level of freedom and consequence. Just think: what if you had to freedom to decide on what to do and how to go about doing it, and not only seeing the immediate consequences of your actions like in Mass Effect, but even the far-reaching consequences when you travel to the future? And still keep on playing the game and seeing it progress along the path of your past decisions?

(Possible spoiler alert) For example, let's say you choose NOT to save the queen, Marle's ancestor, when she is kidnapped towards the beginning of the game, and then travel to the future. The kingdom could then be under the rule of a different dynasty, since Marle's came to an end, and maybe your character will have an entirely different love interest in her place for the rest of the game as a result. Or going a little more extreme, let's say you choose NOT to side with the humans in the stone age when they fight with the lizard people, and as a result, the future will be ruled by the lizard people, creating an entirely different game experience! (I realize that this could cause continuity problems with why your character can continue to even exist, but I'm just throwing out ideas, not laying the groundwork for a serious game)

Furthermore, maybe instead of retelling the same game with a greater level of freedom, maybe the game could start as a prequel of sorts, taking place before the game. Going with nonauno's idea from the last column about a possible threat that Lavos defeated and took the place of, maybe the game could take a page from Eternal Darkness's book. In the beginning of that game, your character had the choice between three different deities, and his decision would determine which of those deities would become the "evil" god, and which would become the "good" god for the rest of the game (well, "good" in the sense that it opposes the evil one). Melding that with the Mass Effect idea, and you can even determine who will be the main bad guy in the game, and what the conflict in the world would be about, thus creating multiple, seemingly completely different RPG plot lines. Maybe what determines the game's universe and conflict being about either angels and Derris-Kharlan like in Tales of Symphonia, or about fonons and fomicry like in Tales of the Abyss could be what junction the universe took at the beginning of time in those games. Who's to say maybe those two games weren't once the same universe but took different time lines determined by different forces of the universe? A game that let's you determine the forces of the universe like this idea could be like a million different RPGs rolled into one!

But wait! My crazy mind isn't done brain-storming yet! Since you have an actual time machine, maybe you can actually travel back in time to an earlier point in your game, and actually REDO quests differently, so that you can see all the possible outcomes from all the possible decisions without needing to play a different game file all over again! This would actually eliminate the need to save multiple files in case you regret some decisions early on, because, I mean, you have a freakin' time machine! You should be able to redo past decisions and mistakes! Unlike Mass Effect where you would have to replay the game to try all the different story progressions (the earlier the branching path, the more of the game you would have to replay), this game with its time machine should allow you to potentially see every possible story path and outcome to a decision all in just one single file! If you want to go nuts with this idea, maybe you can play all the way until you are about to reach the end of the game, but then hop in your trusty little time machine, and warp back all the way to the beginning of the game, and be able to redo the quests from the game's exposition and play the entire game all over again! I mean, the NPC's whom you interact with on the beginning quests would have no way of knowing that all that time has passed for you and your character (unless they can visibly see that you aged a few years since they last saw you a couple of hours ago), and would let you partake in those quests once again, and maybe try different story paths this time around. And since you would probably be leveled up still, that should reduce the tedium of repeating the easy parts of the game and let you power through them to see the different story paths. I understand that such an idea could take years or even decades of development time to actually realize, since you'd have to create thousands upon thousands of possible scenarios that goes even beyond Mass Effect's level of ambition, but I can still dream, can't I?

Whew, typing that sure was a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed thinking it up!


3rd Place-Ogre Battle Online

Hi there, Wheels. I want to enter the contest for a chance to win some cool RPGs. Here is my idea for an Ogre Battle game. I actually wrote this in 2006 for Ten Ton Hammer. I will include a link to the feature page, but the relevant text is below:

Ogre Battle Online: Play This Game
The Ogre Battle series has been confined to consoles, and its fan base may be a bit small...The great thing Ogre Battle Online (OBO) would bring is some innovation to the genre of MMOGs. Hailing from turn-based strategy roots, OBO would introduce a new type of MMOG to the market. And if you're wondering about my subtitle for OBO, previous Ogre Battle games have incorporated Queen songs as subtitle. I thought no Queen song fit better than "Play This Game!"

Ogre Battle games have a tested core system for those who are familiar with it. It would take some nifty marketing to get the rest of the gaming world interested in the concept. Griefing would be less of a problem than normal becuase of the juxtapostion of the Imperial and rebel forces; players are suppoed to fight each other frequently. The bigger issue would be preventing exploits in the battle mechanic that would make gaining experience too easy. In Ogre Battle games, certain classes mow down other specific classes with ease (Knight vs. Mage or Exorcist vs. undead).

OBO, like its predecessors, would feature an imperialistic government oppressing the working-class. Players would be able to choose to become part of the rebellion or enforce the law for the Empire. Though that story breaks no new ground, OBO would present a MMOG with world with complex political strife. Decisions would be less black and white.

Ogre Battle games have never really featured an overworld. Instead, players navigate from plotpoint to plotpoint on a map. Along the way, players encounter random enemies or major attacks. For OBO to work as an MMOG, players need some sort of environment, though. Thus, I see OBO having a full overworld teeming with enemy forces. Near the starting cities, players would encounter very few enemies. NPCs tend to sympathize with others in their region. As players move farther from their starting points, they'd encounter cities that are torn between loyalty to the Empire and a desire to see political change. OBO players could influence the political landscape of the realm through their actions.

Thus, in addition to overworld locations such as the Tenne Plains and Pogrom Forest, OBO would largely feature cities as battle landscapes. But the world wouldn't be all war all the time. See my ideas for diversions below.

MMOGs [have] not [mixed] well with turn-based combat [in the past]. Wait--do they? Aren't the 6 seconds between quads from a skeleton in EverQuest II establishing turns? OBO would incorporate turns based on initiative. All players with the current highest initiative could act in one round. Then the next. Then the next. Combat would feature the full grid-based movement system, and players could choose from basic actions on their turns: attack, defend, cast, items. Players would receive damage bonuses for flanking, and resistances and elemental alignment would play a huge role in any battle.

Grouping in OBO would form "Units," which could consist of up to 10 players. Whenever a Unit is short some members, players could hire Imperial soldiers or rebel vigilantes to fill out the Unit. Battles would be decided by defeating all enemies on the field. Defeated players would be sent back to the last headquarters visited, with a loss of all XP above the current level.

OBO quests would tend toward things such as "Liberate the trade city of Velnan from the Empire" and "Crush the rebel resistance at Lake Jansenia." Even so, OBO would have room for training exercises that could lead to XP. It is also possible to envision rescue missions of the type of "Save the Seer's Daughter from the Gryphons." This would be a great way to incorporate the wild animals of the Ogre Battle universe. These wild animals also show up in diversions below.

Character Customization
OBO players would start with a basic character--male or female, Empire or rebel. At level 5, they would be able to choose a class based on training completed at each level up. For instance, training at the Imperial soldier training grounds would yield a Knight or Archer. Training exclusively in the Arcane College would produce a Wizard or Mage. As players increase in levels, they would be able to cross-train. Mix Knight training with Exorcist training to produce of Paladin. Mix Knight training with Thief training to produce a Ninja...OBO would allow for utility of pure classes and hybrids alike.

OBO would lend itself to a couple of no-brainer diversions: Diplomacy and Breeding. Because of the politically-charged climate of the OBO, rebels could talk their way into a major Imperial outpost on the premise of being Imperial spies. Diplomacy would also help those destitute farmers on the outskirts of the Empire to remain loyal to the king. In short, the Diplomacy system would allow players to affect the tide of the civil war. Though the Empire may have a firm grip on the region known as Zenobia this month, rebel players working hard through battles and Diplomacy could shift the balance next month--making Zenobia a dangerous place for Imperial-aligned players to visit.

The Breeding program would allow players who choose the Beast Tamer and Dragon Tamer classes to hone their skills in controlling monsters. They can persuade wild beasts to join them, take the home, and eventually breed them. The resulting beats could be rented for combat and further bred to create more powerful creatures. The breeding classes could also choose to take their beasts into combat with them, though they would be controlled by the game's A.I.

Of course, OBO players would be able to craft weapons and armor, convert beast hides into gear, brew potions, and build boats and fortifications as well. When the whole land is at war, everyone must chip in!"

I still stand by most of what I wrote back then. It would be fun to have some PvP action in the Ogre Battle world.

Good luck with the contest.

Danny Gourley

4th Place-Chrono Destroyer

Hey Wheels,
Tell me what you think of this pitch.
Chrono Destroyer
It's an unknown period of time after the events of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. In fact, such an extended period has passed that both humans and mystics have vanished from the planet. In their place, a new sentient race has occupied the planet- the descendants of Lavos. That's right, the Lavos Spawn, the ones who were prophesied to destroy the planet... are living peacefully on it.
Until, on a random jaunt, a small group stumbles upon a thousands-year-old pod, a strange device of unknown technology. The somewhat brash leader of the group presses a prominent red button on the side, and with a whoosh the pod opens, and out falls out a young, spiky-haired... human. He slowly opens his eyes, and vanishes. The Lavos Spawn rush home, only to find that the creature has obliterated their peaceful hometown, and now they must undertake a journey to uncover the truth- to their existence, to the actions of the newly-revived Chrono, and find a way to fix things.


That's all for this week! Thanks for the many great pitches. I really wish that I could just give all of you prizes, as the response to this contest was fantastic. I've still got some good ones that haven't been posted yet, so looks like I'll still be talking about crazy sequel ideas for awhile yet!

If I'm feeling better this weekend, I'll try and get up a short regular Q&A up for you all.

'Til next time!


Current Backlog: As large as my gaming backlog

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