What is caRPG-13?

caRPG-13 is the early prototype of a game in which human beings have all become hover cars and consume gas to survive. When a car runs out of gas, it dies just like a human would if it ran out of oxygen or food. Just like humans, these cars can also fall in love. I wanted to make a game where you felt romantic feelings toward a car while struggling to survive in an apocalyptic, resource starved, labyrinthian city. The goal of the game is to reach the top of the city and get into an escape pod before it is too late – time is always ticking and gas is always being spent.

Encountering a Mechanic AI who can help repair broken cars

So far, all art assets in caRPG-13 are modified versions from a failed racing game I worked on a year ago – shout out to the artists who made these – you know who you are. The practical thing about using hover cars as humans is that you do not have to worry about animations of any sort, so you can focus on programming other features – in my case I am most interested in NPC AI and character interaction and how they can fit into a game’s design and emotional experience.

I am modeling caRPG-13 off of the famous game Pathologic by using resources vs time to propel the game objectives forward. However, unlike Pathologic which focuses on the simulation of a complex, evolving society, caRPG-13 will focus on character evolution over time and aim to derive narrative meaning out of non-static character interaction.

A typical Pathologic character interaction

While Pathologic was a masterpiece, it left a little to be desired in terms of character interaction. With a whole cast of interesting characters all you could do with them was go into one of their houses and talk. These main characters did not move and could not react to you in physical space. In games, it seems that the most common way to interact with characters in a non-violent way is through quests and text trees. While these are a nice staple for storytelling, there are certainly many other ways to build relationships between characters – namely through physical action. What I want to do in caRPG-13 is experiment with a few new types of non-violent interaction between a player and NPC that may enrich the emotional consequences of player agency in the game. In my next blog post, I will talk about the romance that evolves between two lucky cars in caRPG-13. Please subscribe.

Book Recommendation: “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, a novella for those who prefer to work hard and make tons of money rather than address their deeper personal issues.

-Pablo Leon-Luna


4 thoughts on “What is caRPG-13?

  1. Hi there, new reader here! This sounds like a really fascinating and promising game. And it also sounds like a great way to make use of art that might’ve otherwise gone to waste. Good call!! I love the idea of cars having human qualities and falling in love and such, and I’m curious what led you to that premise. Thanks and I look forward to hearing more about this!!


    1. funny that you ask Ambrose, as it turns out, I was inspired by the erotic novel “Crash” by JG Ballard. Just kidding, actually I just want to make romance video games so I figured I would try it out in a simpler setting than with full on human models which are expensive and difficult to work with.


      1. Ha Ha funny, though I am not familiar with that erotic novel. I am really looking forward to your next post, and I’m particularly interested to see how your humanization of cars develops.

        I’ve followed your work ever since PoTF, which I thought was a triumphant experiment. Have you played/watched “Her Story” by chance http://www.herstorygame.com/ ? I heard the creators were inspired by PoTF.


      2. Hey Hunter – actually I never played Her Story but I am a fan of the director – his previous game Silent Hill Shattered Memories played a huge role in the inspiration of PoTF. Of course, PoTF was created long before I got seriously into video game development so it is more of a mixed media experiment than a game – nonetheless I am glad that you enjoyed it. IndieCade on the other hand was not so pleased with it haha.


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