Rhakaa Story Document

Another project I worked on for a short time was called Astrae, a puzzle platformer set deep in an alien installation. The player is a young explorer who gets embroiled in a conflict between the last two avatars of the Rhakaa, a long-dead civilization of avian warriors. My first task was to write about what Rhakaa life was like during the reign of their empire.

Unfortunately, my graduate school studies cut into my ability to work on this delightful game and I had to step away from the project. Please give the development team some of your time and check out the progress they made on their unique property.

Biology

The Rhakaa (Ere’kh for ‘the Risen’) were a bipedal humanoid species. They were believed to have stood upwards of seven feet tall, with long claw-like appendages and fringes of feathers attached to their arms and legs. Rather lean and muscular, they had the ability to leap to high locations with ease and even glide for short distances.

History

The Rhakaa civilization, from the few records available, spanned nearly 10,000 years of history, originating from the planet Aramkesh (‘Land of Ancients’). Early information shows they lived in various disorganized clans, until many of the clans united under the leadership of the Rhakaa who would become the first Emperor, Corthayx I. Instituting a harsh, militaristic caste system, he conquered much of the territory on Aramkesh during the Unification and ruled over a warrior culture that culled any weaknesses or imperfections. He founded the empire’s capital, Teryx, which became a major trade hub over the course of centuries.

It is not known how or when the Rhakaa achieved spaceflight, but at some point in their empire, a technological renaissance occurred and soon after, their empire exponentially expanded, claiming planets with ease and even expanding outward to new star systems. It was also around this point that the Rhakaa began to experiment with cybernetics and genetic engineering, fine-tuning their biology to push their bodies beyond what was considered possible. Over the course of millennia, as their DNA became more and more modified, it became aware that their genetic code was rapidly unraveling and mutating, placing their society in imminent peril of destruction. A coalition of members of various castes, under the leadership of the last emperor, Xanthot III, set to the task of building Aerie sanctuary facilities to study the degradation and develop a cure. The afflicted were placed into stasis and the healthy were divided into two groups: those who would defend what remained of the empire, and those who actively researched a cure. As their numbers dwindled, the remaining Rhakaa created AI Overseers to run the facilities and assist in the research. Ultimately, the last of the Rhakaa entered stasis, now completely relying on the Overseers to save their people.

Aerie Keshkaa-0 is the only such facility whose location is currently known. The facility is maintained by Overseers Seq and Myz, named after the Primes Seq’rha the Elegist and Myzandir the Centurion. The two performed as programmed, with Seq developing a fondness for the Rhakaa and Myz becoming more assertive and experimental. When the final Rhakaa went into stasis, Seq began to pressure Myz into developing a cure for their creators, while Myz kept up security measures to keep the creators’ safe from the enemies that encroached upon their territory. As supplies dwindled and became virtually nonexistent, Myz attempted to wrest control of the Sanctuary out from under Seq. In retaliation, Seq restricted Myz’s access to the facility’s systems, further slowing down research. The conflict eventually came to a head when Seq attempted to regain full access to the Sanctuary, resulting in a degradation of the facility and the main generator to malfunction. Backup power was eventually restored, but the Rhakaa stasis pods had been too badly damaged in the outage. By the time repair drones were sent to fix the pods, the Rhakaa were long-since dead.

Culture

The Rhakaa are obsessed with perfection and, as a result, their desire to achieve perfection is reflected in every aspect of their life. The symbol of the Rhakaa is the Hexagon, where each side represents one of the Six Virtues of Rhakaa culture: Tenacity, Ferocity, Sagacity, Vitality, Adaptability, and Austerity. Rhakaa architecture expresses this obsession with the hexagon. Their structures are linear with harsh, imposing shapes and angular geometry contrasted with the organic world surrounding them.

The Rhakaa are quick to remove any sort of weakness from their ranks. As a result, many Rhakaa do not live past adolescence. Those that do are given the opportunity to prove themselves in the  Ritual of the Claw, a week-long coming-of-age ceremony and series of tests, which ultimately determines the caste each Rhakaa will be a member of; until the Ritual, Rhakaa children are borne into the caste of their parents. Trials of strength, intelligence, and durability push each Rhakaa to the test, with those that survive becoming the next paragons of Rhakaa culture.

The Rhakaa do not believe in deities, instead opting to worship the ancient champion Primes of their people. All Emperors are included in this pantheon of Primes, as well as those who gave up much, including their lives, to protect Rhakaa civilization. Different Primes are called upon to assist in numerous situations; Zhaquir the Fastidious, for example, is channeled when Rhakaa are called to make a tough situation about their own lives or futures.

Government

The Rhakaa are ruled over by a singular Emperor, who assigns various Viscounts to govern over the regions of the Rhakaa Empire. The Empire was founded by Corthayx I the Sovereign, and his bloodline continued to rule over the Rhakaa until the last emperor, Xanthot III the Unguis.

Viscounts are determined by the current living emperor and can be replaced at any time, if the Emperor sees fit. One record indicates that a number of Viscounts planned to overthrow Emperor Takhirius I the Nefarious; in response to this potential coup, Takhirius had every Viscount replaced, with each new lord having to slay their predecessor. Rarely has such a culling of Viscounts occurred during the Rhakaa’s reign.

Military

After completing the Ritual of the Claw, each new Rhakaa adult would begin military training and service. The Rhakaa military was divided up into several ranks. Hunters made up the frontline troops and served under Greatwings, commanders that also acted as law enforcement for the Empire. Shadowsteps worked as scouts, envoys, ambassadors, and even spies.

Although the Emperor ultimately presides over the military, each Emperor also assigns a Suncrest general to advise in tactical situations and, in rare cases, act with impunity.


Special thanks to Leonora Moran and the Laguna College of Art and Design, for turning me onto this project.

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We’ll Save the Princess! Documents

Though this project ultimately never came to fruition beyond a short demo, We’ll Save the Princess! was a fun strategy role-playing game I designed, tasking players to traverse a fantasy world and complete random confrontations within a certain time frame. Part-Oregon Trail, part-Final Fantasy, this game would feature over one hundred unique encounters, ten playable classes, and multiple endings and milestones to reward players across playthroughs.

DesignDoc_v9
Encounters

These slides would have been used during the introduction cutscene. Click an image to scroll through and read the game’s backstory.

Character art for two playable classes, the Ranger and the Rogue, and a Bandit enemy.


Perhaps one day, Princess will see the light of day. Until then, however, these documents will remain as a testament to this amusing little project.

Special thanks to Mike Stimpson, Logan Jensen, and Kevin Hewitt, for their roles in the development of this property.

 

Aortic Defender

Do you have what it takes to safe the internal city of Christown from viral threats? In this short tower defense game, players take the role of Anne T. Bodie, a gunslinger who uses her immunoglobulins to protect her home from bacterial invaders.

This was another project on which I was designer and producer, creating different tower and enemy types. Part of my goal was to give the game a sense of “realism”, giving the units names and properties that attempted to match their real-world counterparts. Each tower is a different form of white blood cell and enemies are different viruses.

Download Aortic Defender

Special thanks to Joshua Smith, Kevin Hewitt, Sasha Conaway, and Ellen Beizer, for their role in developing this short project.

Slow Down or You’ll Die!!

What sort of monster would create a video game about falling off of a building?

Me. I would. That’s what I did.

Another project for my game development studies at university, Slow Down or You’ll Die!! is my attempt to create a short, 30-second game. It’s easy to control, but one wrong movement, and you can end up like ketchup all over the concrete. It’s a relatively simple game, made purely to showcase my capabilities as a game designer. I hope you make it to the bottom.

Download Slow Down or You’ll Die!!

Special thanks to Julien Fournell, for his help with the programming.

Super Han Solo

So I heard you like Star Wars

Well, what a coincidence, because I do, too! In fact, Star Wars is probably the biggest influential piece of media on my personality. A New Hope is one of the first movies I have the memory of watching, so obviously it was hugely fundamental in forming me into the beautiful ball of nerd that I am today. Between that and my excitement towards the then-newly released The Force Awakens, I felt obligated to create an homage to it.

Which leads to Super Han Solo. Beginning as a project for a Level Design class, I created a short platforming level, where you can control Han Solo as he races across the Tatooine desert to reach the Mos Eisley cantina. Along the way, there are Millennium Falcon tokens to collect, falling pitfalls to avoid, and Chewbaccas to placate.

Download Super Han Solo

Special thanks to Derek Prate, for writing the base code.

Tabor Quest

Game development can lead to some weird things.

I took a Visual Programming class while at university. Amid instruction of C#, my class watched various tutorials featuring the charismatic and lovable Bob Tabor. Between his hair and his voice, he became something of an inside joke for my class. So when it came time to make my final project, I knew I had to honor the man, the myth, the legend.

Image result for bob tabor

How could you not love this face?

The end result is Tabor Quest, a short turn-based RPG I built using Microsoft Visual Studio. Play as Sir Robert Tabor as he defends the realm from the evil forces of Timmett of Cook. “Microsoft versus Apple” overtones aside, it’s a neat little game that features multiple zones, an inventory, and leveling up. I’m actually pretty proud of it, considering my level of programming skill.

Download Tabor Quest

The Binds that Hold Us

I, like many other game developers across the world, participated in the 2014 Global Game Jam. Starting with only a theme at 5:00pm on Friday, January 24th, myself and two others created a fully functioning video game by 3:00pm on Sunday the 26th. Now, although my game is no where near the likes of Goat Simulator (if you have not heard of Goat Simulator, look it up; your life will be better for it), it goes to show how drive, focus, and creativity can blend together to build something from practically nothing. My team and I took the theme, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are,” and created The Binds that Hold Us, a puzzle/platformer where players take control of two convicts escaping from prison, each utilizing their own perspective and talents to work together and escape.

The game is not meant to look pretty or play perfectly, but to be an experiment in game development and show off the talents of the people involved.

Download The Binds that Hold Us from the Global Game Jam website.

Special thanks to my co-developers, Carol Liang and Steven Itrich.