Magrat and Sir Henry: Steampunk Heroes
GameCareerGuide‘s latest Game Design Challenge is to create the next video game hero. I was taken by this challenge. In my entry, below, I decided on not one hero, but two:
Magrat and Sir Henry – Steampunk adventurers
Rather than go for a single Hero, we’re going to have a classic odd-couple buddy story. She’s Magrat, Victorian guttersnipe, self-taught engineer, and renegade “clocker“. He’s Sir Henry Blasingthorpe, wealthy aristocrat, army officer and socialite. Together they travel the British Empire, seeking adventure and intrigue in the Kingdom and Colonies of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
Magrat is a young (18 year old) cockey, a child of the streets. Her tender years belies the wealth of her experience. She has lived on the streets since an early age and is sharp with cunning. She speaks with a broad cockney accent (subtitles can be provided for the US audience) and wears an eclectic mix of discarded clothing. Normally at home in trousers and a loose man’s shirt, with an engineer’s cap to hide her brown hair, in one scene Sir Henry has her cleaned up and dressed in an elegant ball gown in order to accompany him to a dance at the Embassy. She is noticeably uncomfortable in fine clothes, but under the grease and grime we find she is quite beautiful.
Magrat is quick witted and sly, always ready to crack a joke at Sir Henry’s expense. Nevertheless she is devoted to him, ever since he saved her from the gallows. She is a pickpocket and a thief with a magpie’s eye for anything shiny, which has often got her into trouble. She prefers not to fight, but when cornered she is vicious as an alley cat, lashing out with hands, feet, and anything else that comes to hand.
Her mechanical aptitude is remarkable and she is always fiddling with machines, taking them apart, and putting them together again. However her lack of formal education frustrates and embarrasses her: she can neither read nor write.
Sir Henry Blasingthorpe is the second son of the Earl of Warwick and a gentleman adventurer. As a young man he served as an officer in the Crimean War and then later in the Raj. Now in his 30s he has been called home to Mother England on family matters, but is restless to travel once more.
Classically educated, Henry can fence and box but his passion is for these new modern firearms, which he collects. His favorite is still the stolen Russian flintlock rifle that saved his life in the war. In reality the weapon is slow and unwieldly, and Magrat has offered to ‘overclock’ it on several occasions, but he is reluctant to part with it.
Henry’s upperclass manners are sometimes stern or stuffy, but his fondness for Magrat is real. Her clever intervention saved him from a family embarrassment that would have seen him disowned and penniless. He chides her for her unladylike ways at times, but secretly he is thrilled by her unconventional ways. Any thoughts of romance must be put out of mind, of course, due to their differences in station, but the insipid society ladies are no match for Magrat in his eyes.
As a team, Magrat and Sir Henry have got into many a scrape. Whether it is inflitrating the court of Napoléon or following the trail of Jack the Ripper, they always come through together.
In choosing two heros I have decided to be experimental and branch out from the established modes of gameplay. Literary and cinematic history are full of odd-couple pairs like Magrat and Henry and their relationship helps us build a fondness for them more easily than for the lonesome hero.
In terms of gameplay, I am picturing something that has more elements of stealth and intrigue than your usual first-person shooter. It could be either a 1 or 2 player game. Having a single player switch between two avatars will be an interesting design challenge. I imagine many of the scenes will focus on one particular character in their element (Magrat scaling the wall of the museum, while Henry distracts the curator). Perhaps cut-screen visuals as in the “24” series could be used.
There are many unsolved problems here, but Gimme More Games have always been about pushing the boundaries. I believe that Magrat and Sir Henry will be the heroes that lead us into new realms of success.