Monday, February 9, 2015

The Crossing: The Inspiration and The General Idea.

I was considering doing a note before the story fiction fragment,  but then it was just becoming too big.  Especially since it wasn't a, "You have to read this to understand," sort of note, but instead in a, "Where the fuck did this come from?" sort of note.  If you don't care about that, or even if you do, here's a link to the fragment of The Crossing I wrote.

Either way, since I decided to split this off, it has evolved into a long winded article.


So I've been looking at Resident Evil a bit because it inspires, well, this sort of thing.  In the course of that I ended up reading a bit about a game that started to be developed for the series but never came about due to technical limitations and the project lead being more ambitious than he was skilled.  That included reference to Silent Hill, which led to me getting around to reading up on the Silent Hill series, something I've not really done previously because horror is not what draws me to Resident Evil (convoluted plot that sort of makes sense simply because the people with power in that universe are weird enough you can hand-wave most anything is what draws me to Resident Evil.)

The first Silent Hill game (which fans of the game and fans of the movie are both quick to point out wasn't like the movie) was driven by an evil cult that wanted to complete a human sacrifice ritual that was interrupted by plot and soul splitting.  The second Silent Hill game was a deeply psychological game about a place where inner demons became outer demons.  From what I've read the series seemed to alternate between those two things:
  1. A place where bad shit is going down and that bad shit is totally external to yourself
  2. A place where your psychological issues are given life to the extent you might have to shoot said issues to stay alive.
That, in itself, is kind of an intriguing split.

Also interesting to me is that one the big visible parts of what makes Silent Hill what it is is that it tends to involve multiple versions of the same town.  Go to their wiki and you'll see separate entries for the real world, the fog world, and the "other" world.

Why is this of interest to me?  Because I have ideas that also involve switching worlds.  That's no big deal, a lot of ideas involve that sort of thing, but some of them sort of cry out for a setting that justifies, "Here are three to twelve different versions of the same town just because."

So in the things that involve (1) Silent Hill is the site of seriously bad shit that is objectively real (even if it might not be able to be scientifically proven because Silent Hill probably has a "No scientific instruments allowed in the auxiliary dimensions" policy) and has little to nothing to do with the observer.

There is bad shit in the world and the character has to deal with it.  Installments of the series that follow that line include but are not limited to the first, third, and fourth games.  Plus the prequel game.

In the things that involve (2) Silent Hill seems to call out to people who have inner bad shit and then pits them against said bad shit such that one of the following occurs:
a) They deal with their inner turmoil and are able to leave as psychologically balanced people
b) They learn nothing and loop right back around.
c) They embrace the darkness and are damned.

What happens is not objective, it depends on the observer.  What you face in Silent Hill depends on what you bring with you.  Someone who lacks serious emotional baggage will be completely immune from the monsters that might kill the person standing next to them because, to them, the monsters don't exist.  The monsters are just a manifestation of what's inside said person standing next to them.  Baggage lacking person will not see or hear the the monsters, certainly can't be harmed by them.

Installments that follow this route include but are not limited to game two, Homecoming, and Downpour.  (Only games 2, 3, and 4 had numbers.)

It's been argued that part of the success of the games is that they don't try to explain shit and so there's always mystery and mystery opens the door to fear.  I have no idea if that's true or not.  It is extremely likely that I never will know if that's true.  I'm not a fan of horror.  Neither am I a fan of the psychological horror or body horror sub-genres.  Which is to say: I'm not going to be playing the Silent Hill games.  (Or watching the movie.)


So, back to what does interest me: reconciling the two parts of Silent Hill.

At this point I should probably go ahead and point out that darkness as a shorthand for bad is an idea to be found in Silent Hill.  The most gruesome of the alternative dimensions in Silent Hill (the "other" world) is very dark, with the darkness limiting visibility even more than the oppressive fog does in the fog world.

Anyway, using that shorthand the two different things that drive Silent Hill games can be seen as external darkness (the evil cult and its god) and internal darkness (mostly guilt for having done very bad things.)  The town gives a foothold to external darkness, and it gives external life to people's internal darkness.  It also seems to call people with internal darkness to it.

Also: multiple worlds.

Just making that observation (the one before "multiple worlds") goes a long way toward reconciling the two divergent things.  Silent Hill is a place where darkness can be given physical form which means different but related things depending on whether the darkness is carried in your soul or called here by a cult.

The things that involve the cult are about transcending the boundaries between worlds (specifically, they're trying really hard to get their god into this world) with the monsters presumably coming from another world and the other dimensions presumably representing in between states.

The things that involve inner darkness almost resemble a two way purgatory.  (Traditional Purgatory only has one direction: heavenward.  You can't fail Purgatory and go to Hell.)  Either you are purified (as you would be in traditional purgatory), you have to retake the purgatory, or you go straight to Hell.

That last one implies that Silent Hill somehow lies between Hell and Earth.  (Note that those who are purified do not go straight to heaven, they're released back out into the world.)


This brings us to the idea for The Crossing.

Silent Hill (again, not the movie) is set in Maine for some reason that I have no desire to look up at this time.  That's nice, I know Maine, so I see no reason for any idea that I base on it not to be set in Maine too.

The idea behind the name would be that the place is the crossing between worlds.  For whatever reason, the border between worlds is thinner there and it's possible to cross from one to another.  Most of the time, however, this is limited to things that aren't fully developed worlds in their own right but instead things that have formed between worlds.

Hell (or some such) may be on the other side, but you can't actually get through to it, or bring something through from it, without an involved ritual fulfilling process.  To do otherwise would be like trying to fly a plane by punching buttons and flipping switches without knowing what you're doing.

People who want to let what's on the other side through have come and done horrible things, which has left the crossing tainted by darkness.

The darkness, in turn, calls out to the darkness in the souls of others.

Sometimes that brings more people who want to unleash what is on the other side, but sometimes it just brings people whose souls have somehow become tainted.  In the second case the metaphysical nature of the crossing lets them face their internal demons (as, you know, external demons) and, if they do it well, to shed their personal darkness and leave the better for it.

(Though the person who as taken up residence there, we'll get to that in a bit, feels this is no substitute for therapy.)

Of course, with people coming, shedding their darkness, and leaving, it can be (will be, by previously mentioned character) argued that the crossing itself is weighed down by the baggage these people leave behind, thus increasing the net darkness of the place and the way that it calls out to dark people.

A counter argument can be made that there's a positive force at work since there are people leaving better than they came (those who face their inner darkness and are able to leave it behind.)

In general people do not live at the crossing.  Those who find it (and not everyone does, satellite photos indicate that there is no town there) tend to be there either to preform a ritual (Cthulhu hasn't eaten us yet, guess they all failed) or to face their inner demons.

That doesn't lead to terribly long stays (the major exception, a decades long ritual, is described in the backstory) as those who end up damned by the process cross beyond the world(s) of the crossing and those who end up redeemed go back out into the normal world.

Some people, however, come by other means.  Some of them, in turn, choose to stay.  The character who narrates the backstory linked to above, and the person he's telling it to, both have made their homes in the crossing even though neither ritual nor introspection requires that they do.

One of the people who faced inner demons at the crossing considered the human resident to be an angel (after the events transpired and time to reflect was had.)

Regardless, the voluntary (non-evil cult member) residents of the crossing are not tied to it, and so can come and go as they please.  The longer they stay, the better the understand it, and the better they are able to utilize it's oddities.

Since the town at the crossing hasn't been inhabited by an actual town full of people since long running evil ritual of evil finally failed, the residents (at the time of fiction fragment: all two of them) tend to have no lasting human contact and can be hermitish and also impolite.  (Narrator of the backstory tends to speak to everyone except for the one the backstory is being narrated to as if they're absurdly slow for not knowing things they really have had no way to pick up on.  "You don't get it!" is a mainstay of said character's vocabulary.)

On a good day at the crossing the only thing there is what outsiders have brought with them, mind you since outsiders tend to be drawn in based on having darkness that troubles their souls, that's not necessarily a good thing.

On a bad day at the crossing someone has realized that this is the best possible place for them to set up their, "I want to summon the evil god of evil," operation, and thus monsters from unpleasant planes of existence may very well run amok.

Mind you, depending on the monsters it might be the case that the long time resident has won them over with donations beef jerky and games of fetch, so it's kind of hit or miss when you're trying to initiate doomsday.

(On a random note, I haven't been following news about "Jurassic World" very closely, nor am I about to start, but one of the trailers they've been sticking everywhere looked like it had the main character riding with raptors as an ally.  The rest of the film may well suck, but that concept alone is awesome.)

Anyway, that's the general overview.

Now, I just have to learn how to make a game engine from the ground up so that I can screw with things on a level so fundamental most people would never consider going there, make a proof of concept, figure out how you'd go about saving someone who has been shot when your primary resource is Hell itself (hell-fire to cauterize the wound, river/lake/pool/whatever of blood harvested to replace lost blood via transfusion, moldy bread to penicillin is not a good idea--even though mold, as a sign of decay, would totally fit into a hell-world--as it takes too long and is too unreliable, and then what?), write a script, get funding, assemble a voice cast and programmers to do the work of expanding initial engine deign proof of concept into an actual game, market, and then watch the money come in.

Or not.  I'm guessing not.

1 comment:

  1. Seems intriguing. Sounds as though the main technical requirement is an adaptable physics engine, so that you can go about blowing holes in terrain, making piles of things on other things, and so on.