Although we've had a thread going for a while now in the Doom 3 World Job Market (help wanted! http://www.doom3world.org/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=9565), I'd like to officially announce the development of Ground Zero. Within the next month we should have a website with more detailed documentation.
This project started conceptually several years ago as a prequel to our interpretation of the original Fallout RPG from Interplay (which is still reflected in some of our design documents). Though still largely an homage to what is personally one of my all-time favorite titles, Ground Zero is becoming our own blend of post-catastrophe fiction that represents what we found to be the most compelling elements of Fallout.
Our gameworld takes place in an alternate future that diverged from our current timeline somehwere in the early 1950s. By the year 2070, we found most of the world's fossil fuel resources consumed, global freshwater supplies shrinking rapidly, and political tensions between the two superpowers (U.S. and China) coming to a head. Some ground-breaking alternative energy sources were just being developed when the wars began. Though information on what exactly transpired at this point is sketchy, we know that China invaded Alaska, and the U.S. eventually pushed them back in a ground war all the way to Beijing... shortly before the nuclear exchange.
Most of the major governments were virtually annhilated, along with any technological infrastructure that was still functioning. Many citizens survived the actual bombing, but the lack of sanitation, medical care, electricity, transportation, food and water, or any government support resulted in sweeping disease and violent panic that inflicted far greater casulties than the war itself. A handful of holdout military and law-enforcement contingents might have tried to re-establish order, but most of these efforts collapsed under seas of refugees, attacks by the many rogue outlaw groups, or became corrupt and violent city states themselves.
Our game starts 30 years after the war. Nuclear winter has passed, and the most dangeeous, widespread radioactivity has done its worst, though major cities and military targets are still uninhabitable. A few skeletal forms of civilization have begun to surface in the form of isolated, autonomous communities. Venturing into the wastes is a dangerous affair, as mere survival through any means is still the way of life for most people. With no central government, communication between settlements is limited to word of mouth through nomadic traders and travellers. Tall tales have even surfaced of bizarre creatures spotted in prewar ghostowns and the endless desert that seperates them. Meanwhile, several major factions with conflicting ideologies are vying for control over the remainder of civilization.
You will take on the role of one survivor in southern mid-west U.S. There is no single pre-determined starting condition or history for your character. Rather than being forced into the shoes of a specific individual, you will have the option of entering the narrative structure from a variety of points, and can involve yourself in shaping the gameworld events as much or little as desired... but in either case, the world is not waiting for you but will evolve whether or not you choose to act. High-level events will be calculated transparently as time passes based on a simple economy, which in turn affect the state of low-level locations. You are also not alone in the wastes, as other wanderers have the ability to change conditions as well.
Though these gameplay elements are obviously important, we are above al focusing on creating an emotionally provocative experience through an aesthetically rich enviornment (aurally, visually, and interactively) and by confronting the player with serious ethical complications. We will avoid creating storyTELLING, and instead simply set the clock so to speak.
Obviously this is a ridiciulously ambitious project, which we are trying to keep realistic about. To see how much of it is actually feasible, we are breaking off a bite-sized chunk to work on as a proof-of-concept. This will consist of a small, walled community with a handful of NPCs, that demonstrates the most basic functionality necessary for a rudimentary role-playing game.
We are building this prototype up through a series of iterations. The project timeline currently takes us through the last couple version midway through the fall of 2005. Based on our progress at that point, and feedback from the community, we will make a more definite decleration of how far to go. If successful, the next stage will be to implement 4-5 locations of similar scale that the player can travel between via 2D map, and test the ability to have a functional global economy.
For a list of of prototype technical features: http://students.mcad.edu/~jlamb/groundzero/prototechspec.htm (http://students.mcad.edu/%7Ejlamb/groundzero/prototechspec.htm)
Our team is currently 6 members strong, most of us college students who are studying to enter our respective roles professionally. We are in need of a few more people interested in collaberating on this project, specifically 3D artists (for architecture/buildings, map decorations, inventory items, weapons, etc) and texture mappers. More specifics are available in the Job Market thread linked at the top of this post.
Ground Zero (working title) Project Manager