The Many Voices of our Automated Future
The Last Taxi is filled hundreds of stories. Not only will Players have to deal with complicated, multi-day family-driven quests, but each and every passenger you pick up will have a hand-crafted branching conversation that are treated as their own short stories.
As a taxi driver you won’t only feel the weight of the future from the view of your own dying profession and indebted bank account, but from the stories of each passenger who enters your cab. The central concept of meeting a diverse group of people through your job as a taxi driver is key to the goal of dealing with the interesting and complex landscape of the near future from a wide variety of angles.
If you’re looking for a clear “the future will suck” or “the future will be great” moral to the story, you won’t get it, but you will get to explore an automated future from many as many points of view as we can get in.
By launch we’re hoping to bring you over 150 unique passengers. These characters are not only unique in how they act or who they are (Business Tycoons, Lawyers, Futurists, Revolutionaries, Prostitutes, and Cult Followers, among many others), but in how their conversations unfold.
This update will dive into a three examples.
This is the in-progress tree for a member of a cult called The Shards of Icarus, named Zea Ray. For a passenger she has among the more complex trees we’ve written to date, but there is a reason for that. Like any good cult follower there is a chance based on how you answer that she may start the process of recruiting you into the cult. The node point circled in red represents the point at which you’re conversation will irreversible change, and she begins to test your readiness for the cult.
Notice that there are many paths through this conversation, all leading to 1 of 4 possible endings (Green Circles), different paths will result in different tips based on your answer, and at times can lead to totally different elements of a character’s story being told. Multiple replays will be required to truly know all there is to know about Zea.
As I said before not all discussions are as complex as Zea, but even simpler passengers have multiple paths, multiple endings and various tip options based on the selected path.
Gāng is a good example of this. He is described as “A stern, well-dressed government type, likely a foreign diplomat. He looks to be very lost and very late. He’s carrying a government issued universal translator.”
Even though his tree is simpler, that doesn’t mean his story is less interesting. Without giving too much away, Gāng is from an unspecified Asian nation, and headed to a trade negotiation, frustrated that automation has displaced his country’s major export industry, based around cheap labour. Indeed for him the age of automation has meant the collapse of his home nation’s economy, as machines become cheaper than manpower.
As he’s a politician he’s more disciplined in how he speaks, and what he’ll say; this discipline is reflected in the form and complexity of the discussion tree. Notice that despite the simpler structure there are still 6 endings to this conversation.
Not every character is a discussion on some issue of the future, many characters are, like people today, just living out their lives.
This is the case for Nathan Connors, who is introduced as “smartly dressed, with well-preened features, Nathan is a charismatic man in his 40’s. Legendary among Luddie’s drivers for his parade of female companions, and great tips.”
In this ride he’s “with a blonde bombshell, I’m guessing about half his age.”
This ride can go horrible wrong, or can garner amazing tips depending on how well you handle Nathan’s more adult interactions in the backseat.
With seven different endings this ride has a variety of flavors, some of which are quite wild, but we’ll leave that for you to discover.
Nathan is planned to recur multiple times, with different companions in The Last Taxi.
They’re All Here For A Reason
Beyond trying to come up with a wide range of interesting and unique passangers, we also try to make sure it makes sense for them to be in the cab. In a world with cheap, super efficient flying autonomous cabs, why would anyone choose Luddies?
While we don’t always expressly state it, we’ve thought it out each time. In Nathan’s case he prefers that he can buy the discretion of a human driver, and that his encounters won’t be monitored and data-mined, whereas Zea hopes the Player’s struggle to survive will make them easier to recruit.
Dedicated to Story
We have two writers on staff dedicated to making a game rich with world-building, interesting ideas, perverse situations and unique characters. We hope some passengers will make you laugh, while others will make you cry or think.
Of course having all these separate characters is a nice way to explore a broad range of characters, but what about the story of the Taxi driver them self? In a future update we’ll return to discussing storytelling as we dive into the game’s heart & soul, and the family struggle that unpins life as the last taxi driver.
And of course if you haven’t already, vote for us on Steam Greenlight.