Beyond the Neon: Slivers of Silver is a series of 8 posts exploring various game concepts. It is based on a recent road trip through Nevada, titled Beyond the Neon, taking place in December 2015. You can read all of those currently published on QM here. This series is dedicated to the author’s road trip companions, poets Jason, Libby, and Justine. This is the last part of the series.
Memory is as much about looking to the past as looking to the future. This game features hardware implants connected directly to your brain. As you come across various imagery of the desert of northern Nevada, you are asked to present in verbal descriptions what these images most represent from previous moments in your life. These memories will construct a virtual tour path of this landscape, a narration, for gamers playing in this game’s “viewing mode.” How will you channel the energy of the desert to best represent your life?
Parameters within this simulator allow you to determine the cause of a Nevada town’s failure. Whether through rampant meth addiction or less brutal, slower emigration rates, or a variety of other reasons, this particular town is now on the brink of collapse. It is your duty to bring the town back to the vibrant, optimistic state it was once in. Will you give incentives to outsiders to come in through cheap property purchases? Will you legalize prostitution, marijuana, or firearms to highlight a town’s new future? Will you instill religion or fantastic formal education? Perhaps there is a tourist angle? The choice is yours and yours alone.
Sheer madness. This game, which takes place in the shadow of the mountain, features abstract hallucinations attempting to take your (the protagonist’s) life. Unfortunately you have no means to defend yourself. Surviving this game world is merely a question of how well you can endure the suffering.
A photo contest is held once per year based on the Central Western United States. It is your duty to win this contest, but it requires you to take numerous photos in advance (within the open world simulator) and then study the contest judges in advance to learn their interests. Perhaps you will be able to take excellent photos, but will you be able to research the judges and accurately match your photos to their likes and dislikes?
You and one hundred pioneers of the 22nd century must cross back over the United States now that the country has been decimated by cyber terror and brutal, trans-Pacific war. Escaping the West Coast, your hope is to reach Back East while keeping as many of your team intact and alive as possible. Based on the classic Oregon Trail game, this game features the harshest natural elements, as well as bandits and other good/evil parties that will force you to face your own moral code in the most brutal ways possible.
In this Historical Fiction, alternative universe, the world never progressed much beyond the industrial revolution, and American Pioneers were never able to stabilize and establish control over North America. They did not abandon all hope to the “native counterparts” of the continent, but they were widely unsuccessful in obliterating their enemy. And so they lived in a much more nomadic fashion, becoming tribal in their own way, becoming one of many, and not dominating. In this game, you can play as a member of a tribe, one of fifteen available, which includes the colonizers for Europe. Your goal is to survive–either using pacifist or violent means. Gameplay has the potential to be brutal. The game world is designed to be a living system, featuring dynamic eco-systems, all of which contributes to creating time and space comparable to the actual continent. This game was designed with the assistance of actual Native American tribal members, to ensure accuracy of cultures.
You are a poet. You are also the installer of electric powerlines and telephone lines across the West. It is your goal to ensure that these lines are created and/or repaired, but it is also your responsibility, to yourself, to write poetry. What you write is up to you. How you write it and what conclusions you come to is for you as well. The game will only progress in its narrative, with the protagonist’s jobs being completed, with the creation of poetry. This open-ended game world is designed to delight and inform, to elevate the player into thinking of their self and the world around them in new ways.
You are given a set of sixty four still images of the Nevada desert. Each images represents the landscape in similar but unique ways. It is your goal to create digital game concepts for each of these images. As you go through them, it is entirely up to you what your process for the concepts’ creation is. You will receive no aid from anyone else, though you may discuss the creation process and different ideas with others at your leisure. Only after you have written the final concept will you be awarded with a gold star for completion, which is a good enough prize for you. The game concepts will be published in batches of eight so that others may see your progress as you go through the game.
Greg Bem is a contributing writer and the current Gaming Editor of QM. He is a librarian, technologist, gamer, and adventurer.