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First Blog Post! Huzzah!
So this is going to be the first in what appears to be a pretty stock occurence on these blogs, a post about games that I WOULD play, if somebody actually bothered to make them. First, I'm going to address one of my most cherished ideas, I hope you find it as interesting a concept as I do
Anybody who as seen Robert Rodriguez's "Mexico Trilogy" will recognize the picture above as Antonio Banderas portraying the series' protagonist, "El Mariachi". I would like to see the basic premise of the series turned into a sandbox action-shooter title.
Original Concept: In the movies, the main character is a traveling guitarist known only as "El Mariachi", wandering the poor towns of Mexico and trying to become a great mariachi like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. However, through a case of mistaken identity, an angry crime boss confuses him with an escaped assassin whose signature is a guitar case full of guns. When all is said and done, the assassin is killed, as well as the woman El Mariachi loved. El Mariachi is also shot through the hand, so that he may never play the guitar again. After slaying the crime boss, he wanders off with the guitar case of guns, and the other two movies in the trilogy detail his war against crime in the poor outlands of Mexico.
My Concept: The beginning sections of the story (essentially that which is detailed above) could easily be condensed into a few minutes of gameplay, or perhaps even skipped entirely and told through flashbacks as the story progresses. My thought is to turn the game into a sandbox action shooter, almost like a mix between GTA and Max Payne.
You would play as the tall, dark, and enigmatic Mariachi (voiced, of course, by Antonio Banderas himself), and be dropped into one of the poorer and more deserted sections of Mexico, where large stretches of empty desert span from town to town. The only gear you would keep track of would be your guitar case, at first only filled with a small shotgun or some other weaker weapon and some extra magazines for your trusty twin pistols, which are constantly on spring loads up your sleeves.
Once you enter a town, there will be locals to interact with, bars to visit, and payphone where you can reach different contacts. From here, the player's choice would really come in. You could either:
Be crafty: At several points in both "Desperado" and "Once Upon A Time in Mexico", El Mariachi gathers intel on his enemy in order to better prepare himself. If the player chooses to go this route, he has many options at his disposal. Upon entering a town, most people will clam up when asked about who is really in power. The opening scene of Desperado displays what would be one of your most useful tools: informants. At the opening of Desperado, one of El Mariachi's friends played by Steve Buscemi goes into a bar and gathers information about the local drug lord who has the entire town in his pocket. In my game, El Mariachi could identify points of interest and call up some friends (including a cameo from the woodchipper fodder himself) to go in and gather some info. By not showing up himself, he could keep his notoriety down while still getting the info he needs.
This info could talk about locations for drug trades, ammo stockpiles, bookies, or even safehouses or the boss's villa. In some cases the boss will be some small enterprising dealer who has a stronghold within the town, or simply an agent of a much larger figure who has control over many towns. Once that intel is gathered, the player could systematically stop or monitor drug trades, capture and interrogate the boss's goons, and otherwise gather information he needs for his path of destruction. Or, you could go with your other option:
Be awesome: Other than being sly and clever, El Mariachi is known for being a gun-toting death machine, and looking good while doing it. While the player could choose to pose as the poor Mariachi looking for work, he could also just as easily walk into a bar, grab the bartender for the collar, put a gun to his head, and ask him who is in charge and where he can find him. This approach will often end in a horrifying bloodbath, but if the player does things correctly and leaves the right people alive (and out of ammo), he can get the information he wants. Even if El Mariachi is the last one standing, he's certainly made the point to whoever is in charge that somebody new is in town and he's looking for justice. This would boost El Mariachi's notoriety to a ludicrous degree, turning him into the urban legend that he is in the movies, perhaps even becoming more of a symbol that other vigilantes try to imitate.
Either way, eventually the player will be forced to confront the boss who controls the town. His stronghold will be heavily guarded to different degrees depending on the difficulty of the town in general, with armed guards and even getaway vehicles. Depending on the intel gathered, the player may be able to slip past the first few lines of guards, making it a swift and accurate assassination (similar to games like Hitman or Assassin's Creed) without needless bloodshed.
On the other hand, the player may have commandeered a weapons stockpile or otherwise gained the firepower to charge straight through the guards. In this case, the situation would devolve into gunplay action, ending once again in more bloodshed.
After the boss in charge of that town has been defeated and any intel you can gather from him has been noted, it's time to move on to the next town. The player can steal cars he has commandeered from safe houses (but he will not be allowed to simply steal a car from an innocent bystander as GTA), or hitchhike from town to town. Stealing a car would only take the player so far as the gas tank allows (and out in the mexican desert that can't be much more than one or two towns over), stressing that an enterprise of fast cars isn't the point of the game.
Combat would be in a third person shooter format not unlike Max Payne, including a "bullet time" ability that slow down time temporarily and allows the player to quickly leap or dash from cover to cover. Normally El Mariachi carries his guitar case with him, and so when a battle begins the player must choose whether to drop the guitar where it is or throw it to a more opportune location (such as behind cover). If the player holds on to the case, he may only use one pistol, greatly reducing his firing rate and mobility.
Since El Mariachi always has two pistols on a spring load in his sleeves, the player would automatically have that equipped if he is forced into battle at a moment's notice. The pistols never run out of ammo, but if the player runs out of spare magazines (which increases over time) he must grab them out of the guitar case. The player must also access the case in order to grab a different weapon for use. (Although the player has the option of setting all this up before the battle begins, if the gunfight is a voluntary one, but carrying weapons around 24/7 will attract far too much attention.)
The player will acquire new weapons by finding weapon stockpiles, laundering offices, or simply taking the weapons off of an enemy's corpse. Although weapons other than the pistols will have limited ammo, the player will be able to replenish them by returning to whatever his "hub" is in the current town. The guitar case can also only fit so many weapons in it, and the player will be able to rearrange them as he sees fit in order to optimize space used. The player will also have an arms dealer contact who can modify his weapons if he so chooses.
Every criminal killed, civilian saved, intel gathered, or point of interest neutralized will give the character XP they can use for expanded "Bullet Time", more spare pistol magazines, increased health and damage resistance, faster health regen, increased movement speed, and other such physical stats.
Oh yeah, and have Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek in it.
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With input from Robert Rodriguez to make sure things stay true to the spirit of the movies and competent development team behind the wheel (I would think probably Rockstar or Ubisoft, since they seem to understand what makes a good sandboxer), El Mariachi could make an addictive and complex game. It would need a large world, simple mechanics, and variety in the nature of the different towns and set pieces, but I think the property of El Mariachi is just too awesome NOT be made into a video game.
What do you guys think? Does my crazy outline for a game hold water? Would you suggest anything differently? Would you like to see Robert Rodriguez's trilogy should be made into a game?