The Ghost Ship
The first idea I had, the Ghost Ship, struck me while brushing my teeth, oddly. At first it was just a passing though, but quickly it gathered momentum and stuck with me. I began reading up on the myth's and tales told by sea-faring folk about various ghost ships -- ancient and contemporary -- and just fell in love with these strange and majestic vessels. Here are a few of the stories I read..
The Mary Celeste was a merchant ship discovered in 1872 unmanned and abandoned. All of it's cargo and quarters were intact, with personal effects still on board and tables still set. To this day, no-one knows what happened to the crew. Sightings of the abandoned SS Bachimo continued for 38 years after it's first sighting. In 1959, an abandoned WW-II era submarine drifted into the Bay of Biscay in Spain.
And of course, there's The Flying Dutchman. This story is legendary, and varies from the believable to the downright ridiculous. The first recorded sighting of the Dutchman was in 1835, and it was said to be "approaching in the shroud of a terrible storm." Crewmen call the Dutchman a sign of "impending doom", and the sighting of it is said to be a sign that you'll never see dry land again. It can never dock, and is said to glow with a ghostly light.
There's more, but I'm talking about the FMP here, not the Dutchman.
So, if I pursued the Ghost Ship idea, what would I be making?
Of course, I'd be making the ship itself. I haven't settled on what kind of ship it is currently, I'm undecided as to whether it'd be a British Tea Clipper like the Cutty Sark, or more of a Galleon or Frigate. Regardless, it'll look majestic and grand. I'd be creating the deck of this ship, in addition to the underworks and the captain's quarters. The whole ship would feel old and tired, creaking and moaning as it drags itself though the sea. Well, you get the idea.
Also, I would be creating the surrounding landscape. I loved the idea of a misty, eery, rocky seascape, full of sharp rocks and eery cliffs, surrounding the Ghost Ship, almost like you're sailing into the jaws of oblivion. Obvious Davy Jones' Lockers references aside.
The Trading Post
Bizarrly, this was the second idea I had, but the oldest. In the summer I created an old Log Cabin, in the theme of an 18th century hunter's lodge, that I never really finished. I really enjoyed the colonial architecture of that period, which felt both natural and man-made at the same time. As a result, I decided to revisit the idea, in a much larger scope, for the Final Major project.
I looked at many different colonial-era forts, such as Fort Christmas, Fort Southwest Point, Fort Delaware and Fort Gaines. Theses forts were located in different parts of America, but all shared a similar visual aesthetic. In addition, I caught a glimpse of the Frontierland park at Disneyland Paris, and immediately loved it's design. It was very similar to the real-world forts I'd looked at, but obviously tailored more for visual splendor than practicality.
So, if I pursued the Trading Post idea?
I'd be making a trading post in the theme of Fort Southwest Point, which served as both a trading post and a meeting point between the Colonists and the Cherokee. I would be making the Fort Palisade, Towers and Gate, in addition to the courtyard and buildings. To surround the scene, I would be making a mountainous, highland environment, full of rolling mist and pine trees. The air would be filled with the spirit of adventure and discovery!
The Sunken Ship
This idea started as an alternate version of the Ghost Ship, but quickly grew into it's own. It was heavily inspired by a level in Tomb Raider II, a game I played as a kid. I was in awe of the level Wreck of the Maria Doria, which revolved around a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. Or in a cave. I never did discover what this level was supposed to be, especially since it was not flooded but supposed to be on he sea bed.
I loved how this grand, majestic ship -- once full of life -- now sat forgotten in the depths, never to be seen again. Whereas other shipwrecks are covered in coral and moss, and totally eroded, the Maria Doria was eerily intact, like a snapshot of a it's former glory. Something about that environment made it immediately memorable as both a game space and a thematic concept.
So, what would the Sunken Ship entail?
In contrast to my previous two ideas, the Sunken Ship would be an interior level, with no playable exterior section. It would be a fairly linear trek from the Bridge of the ship, through the hallways, into the Grand Dining Hall. The level would rely heavily on lighting and epic scale to wow the player and capture the magic of the original Maria Doria level. I'm tempted to also include an element of exploration and platforming into the level, again, as tribute to the Tomb Raider II level which spawned this idea.
The grand design of the ship would still remain, albeit muted by the spooky atmosphere. Rust and decay will be at a moderate level. This is an artistic choice in direct conflict with the accurate depiction of the a shipwreck, but I feel the grandeur of the ship will be overpowered if it's coated in a coral reef.