Brink and Writing

Safety cop says wear your kevlar, or I'll pistol whip you for your own good!

Safety cop says wear your kevlar, or I'll pistol whip you for your own good!

So a lightning sale put Brink and all the DLC for it onto my Steam cloud.

I’ve coveted Brink since its release, but held back because I purchased Fallout: New Vegas about the time it became available. Mindful of my budget, I decided to wait. Now it’s mine for less than $7.

Of course, I don’t even know if people still play it. The servers could very well be dead.

For those of you who don’t know, Brink is a game set on the Ark, a futuristic city in the ocean that was made to be totally self sustaining. However, the theory of climate change rings true and the sea levels rises, damaging much of the rest of the world. The Ark soon swells with refugees, overburdening the system. Frustrated and angry with their living conditions, a resistance faction brews within the Ark’s slums. The security forces cannot allow cannot allow this resistance to inflict harm on the public. The rest of the game is about that conflict, told on both sides.

I only played a few moments on a single player challenge before I had to head out. The controls weren’t as intuitive as I thought they’d be. I switched crouching/sliding from the C key to left-shift and am still deciding how I’d like to change a few other buttons. I also want to switch the iron-sights to another key and put melee on the mouse-2.

However, I really like the S.M.A.R.T. system, a feature that makes the environment highly interactive. I spent some time running towards boxes and letting my character parkour his way up. A lot of games just don’t make the environment as useful as this, and when they do it’s only for the sake of cover. Although the game isn’t as amazing as this, here’s a video of some of the action so you can at least see the developer’s vision.

But playing the game is only half the reason I wanted Brink.

In truth, ever since I watched the back story to Brink, I saw huge potential for writing. Despite the relatively small scale of Brink‘s world, what struck me was its very fertile background. The setting is in the future, but there are still a lot of modern urban-cultural roots there, even if they’ve blended somewhat. I look at this and say, “I can make a great story with this.”

As I parsed through the customization options for my character, I noticed something. A guy in a creepy, sack cloth mask like the Scarecrow from Batman Begins probably isn’t fighting for justice and freedom. When a character wears tattoos and face paint of skulls, they’re probably looking for a fight. The so called good guys and bad guys aren’t necessarily all on just one side.

On the outside, the Resistance and Security forces probably look like idealistically driven factions with some semblance of honor to their objectives. But on the inside, there has to be tons of infighting and self-absorbed characters, ranging from gangs and posses who are looking out for their own, conflict-strained family relations perhaps caught on both sides, and psychopaths (on both sides) who really just enjoy hurting people.

History might paint civil wars as romantic struggles between opposing philosophies. Reality reminds us that revolutions are the fruits of unhappy people unimpressed with their government, and with a lot of bad blood to spill. But of course, the victors write history.

Brink is, on many levels, ahead of its time. It maybe speculative sci-fi, but it draws its roots from urban culture and struggle, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s S.M.A.R.T. system can revolutionize the FPS genre with more work. And there are fertile grounds for more story to develop. I think it would be great to write a comic series or novel about Brink someday.

Someday soon.

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