Project Eagle Rock – Research and Story: Noir, Mobsters, Native Americans, and trying to avoid using the word “gritty”.
The game story and setting is basically a mob story. It’s going to be a dark and moody Noir style story of crime, with the added twist of supernatural elements like demons and superpowers. Closest example I can think of would be Sin City.
The game is set in a contemporary urban environment. Fancy way of saying it’s in a current but fictional American city called Silver Rock.
This city is riddled with crime and basically controlled by the local crime family, The Connors, who drove all the other families out of town and now controls drugs, prostitution, gambling and most organized theft. They also run the local radio stations and tv news channels. Safe to say the mayors office and the police department aren’t free from corruption either, and the few remaining good guys are fighting a rather hopeless battle to keep the streets safe.
This situation is even further complicated by the existence of “the touched”, people with supernatural abilites, pyrokinetics, telekinetics, super strength and so on. These freaks are often found employed by the mob, as their abilites make them hard to handle for the police.
Ryan Eagles, the main character is a Native American, he grew up on the nearby reservation Eagle Rock, but had a difficult childhood after his father, the village shaman and protector, disappeared. The people on the reservation operate an indian casino, the Eagle Rock Casino, and through the problems that come with the gambling business, are involved with organized crime.
I found it surprisingly difficult to research Indian reservations. If you decide to research native americans, it’s easy to do it in a wild west context, with cowboys and indians. But to do it in a contemporary way, showing the duality of how they live their everyday life and how they rely on tourism and gambling for their livelyhoods. Trying to show the Native American reservations and the Indian Casinos and such, and not the theme park-ish nature of what is presented to the public, there is less to draw from.
The story is in essence about the young protagonist Ryan Eagles, who is struggling to make a life for himself as a prize fighter, engaging in burglary and debt collection to make ends meet. But the environment he travels in, both in the city and in the reservation, is heavily influenced by the Connor family, the main man Joseph O’Connor himself, and his Seven Sons, a collection of super powered deviant freaks who run the different branches of crime in the city.
There’s not a whole lot of games to research when it comes to mobsters. I studied GTA4 and Mafia II, Mafia II in particular was interesting, but most my research will be movies, The Godfather, Goodfellas and Road to Perdition in particular, as it employs similar visuals as what I want for the environment art.