Back to the Rapture - Part 3

Well hello there!

Have you been enjoying this week's glimpse into the development of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture? (Catch up on part one and part two!)

Shall we talk about the characters' background stories and descriptions?

You'll notice there are references to interactions with objects, which refer to a time when the player didn't interact with a static light orb to activate the key scenes, but with certain objects instead - we've included some screenshots of those objects for reference!

Very early screenshot (with one of CryEngine's default weapons!) - the player had to interact with the radio to activate an event.

Something else that emerges when reading those character bios is that Stephen used to be a much more unpleasant human being than he is in the final game. Read also some of his deleted dialogue with Graeme for further proof of that.

WARNING: the following contains some spoilers for the game.

 

Frank

Early 60s, gruff, salt-of-the-earth farmer. Wendy’s baby brother, Stephen’s uncle. Suspicious, slightly paranoid, old tory, hates government and big business. He’s got his reasons for feeling that the system let him down, although he knows deep in his heart that this is covering up, the
greatest conspiracy of all, no matter how aggressively he searches for conspiracy elsewhere. Where others walk, Frank stomps. Where they converse, he demands. Like a cow is always bigger and heavier than you think. Frank isn’t the biggest man ever, but he’s got mass. Pull down the moon, chew it up, stuff it into his pocket for later. Heavy boots, voice of the country. Heart broken clean in two.

Frank! Frank, she’s dead man, don’t you try and corner me to tell me all about the government. He doesn’t want to hear it though, because he wasn’t there when she died, he won’t admit to anyone that she’s gone. He still talks to her all the time, alone in the big empty farmhouse, out on the tractor, in amongst the cows. His love burning stronger in the half-light aurora of her death. The caravan still on the bottom field where he used to go and drink until he couldn’t hear her calling from the house, where he escaped her last months at the bottom of a bottle. So he was drunk when Jeremy came to help her, and drunk throughout the post-mortem and drunk still. But he won’t talk about that, just how the government are getting worse, they are all in it together, and they got all these new bombs, you try and tell him they aren’t just aching for the opportunity to try them out. And them fools up at the Observatory, poking their noses into God’s business. Some things aren’t for meddling, Frank says, although secretly he is so proud of his Stephen, the son he and Mary never had, and knows Stephen will keep the rest of them in line.

Returning to the farm, talking to Mary, what’s to be done? In the caravan, he tunes his radio sets in, listens to them talking. He takes to the field, he uses the telescope normally pointed at his crazy old sister to check the observatory and thinks he sees Kate in there, moving around. Stephen is cutting the phone lines. Back in the caravan, the police are sealing off the valley. It’s happening. All those nights in the pub being laughed at. They are really doing it. Talk of a mystery illness, he remembers the doctors talking about unpredictability when Mary first got ill. He smashes every bottle he can find, determined to not go there again. He burns the caravan. He burns the traces of his former life. Someone has to stand up to them. For all his bluff, Frank’s a humanist, a great believer in the good of people. In the face of the end he sobers up and makes his stand.

A look at an early mote, long before VFX artist James worked his magic!

 

Jeremy

The local vicar, unrelated to the other characters. Mid-40s, passionate, troubled, intellectual. Paralysed by over-thought. Not a crisis of faith, more a crisis of faith in his faith, in his overwhelming sense of failure. He sees it in their eyes, the contempt. They all know what he is, what he did.

The church is always empty. If they still believe in God, they have taken their favour away and pray elsewhere. He is a stranger here, an outcast, and he knows it. Every Sunday, Frank and Wendy come alone, sit alone, glaring at each other across the pews whilst he sermonises into the silence. For the rest of the week, he tends the gravestones. He speaks with the dead, and finds his comfort in their simplicity. He feels the profound loneliness of the damned and God’s back, turned against him. No-one speaks of Mary. They all know what he did. God knows what he did, and what he helped Mary become. He feels the profound loneliness of her damnation.

He rails in the night. No-one would help her. If this is your plan, what you sent her to learn, he balls up his fists and whimpers at his Lord, then help me understand it. She asked me for her help and I gave it. She was in pain and I helped her stop the pain. She was dying and she came to me, and we held hands and we eased her across the threshold in peace. Isn’t this enough?

He has never told anyone that Lizzie confides in him. He is not her priest. He is her friend. He is the only one who knows about the baby. He has seen Robert in town with the woman from the suppliers and he doesn’t judge Lizzie for the affair, but he doesn’t trust Stephen.

The radio in his cottage speaks of the unspeakable. In the morning, the trains have stopped and he encounters a roadblock. He has no intention of leaving the valley. A purpose seems to have emerged for him, an atonement. The statues in the graveyard weep and his heart sings because God has not forgotten him. He distributes Protect&Survive pamphlets, tinned food, fresh water and Bibles. He fights with Stephen on the doorstep of an abandoned house, when he finds him painting symbols on the doors. He scrubs the symbol out wherever he finds it, it being God’s privilege alone to mark his End upon the Earth.

Bird's eye view of the old village (Jeremy's chapter) layout.

 

Kate

Late 30s/early 40s. The alien in the midst. Urban, American, nonconformist. Obsessive, rational, patient, cold. People become simply less interesting when you have the universe laid out in front of you. When you spend your days literally looking into the deep past, into the early days
of mathematics, into the punctures and frays of reality itself, the pettiness of daily existence in this remote and insular valley… who can care, really?

Yes, Kate is aloof and superior. But this comes from a passion entirely directed at the wonder she sees all about her. It’s driven by an impatience at others’ inability to see, to grasp, to comprehend the sheer magnificence. She would argue, passionately, it is not just an opportunity to bask in the beauty, it is fundamentally a human responsibility. Life, in its mundane daily form, pales for Kate. This infuriates those she knows, it drives Stephen nuts, but she doesn’t have time for that. She knows she can be dismissive and possessive at the same time, that she is deeply hurt and angry that he is sneaking off to see Lizzie, and more than a little insulted that he thinks she hasn’t noticed, but she can’t tear herself away from her work. The mathematical impossibility they have located within the Thompson Singularity demands study.

Alpha night. He wants her attention, she knows he wants to confess about Lizzie, because he wants to pretend this makes him her equal. She’s not interested, shuts him down, until he storms out and leaves her in peace. She can hear him in the next lab, slamming equipment around. She trains the scope on the singularity, adjusts the focal parameters, and sets the hard drive to capture the string of integers emitting from the schism. It is just after 2am. Within seventeen seconds, Kate has been massively infected with pattern manifestation sickness and caused the end of the world.

Straightaway, she knows something has gone terribly wrong. Her first instinct is that they have to quarantine themselves. Stephen refuses, they fly into a terrible argument: irreparable, awful things are said. The pattern feeds and grows, the waves roll out from the Observatory. He leaves, and she locks the door behind him. About her, she can already see the pattern fusing into the fabric of local reality. She begins to make notes, record the process. Realising that the pattern was transmitted via the radio telescope, she cannot turn on any device capable of receiving or transmitting a signal. The observatory goes dark.

It is a sleepless night. The pattern takes the form of an almost but never quite closing loop. Its resemblance to some of the ideas emerging from the currently fashionable chaos theory are striking. The pattern forms a double-loop shape, not dissimilar to a Lorenz attractor. Even in this first night, Kate begins to see this shape and the chain of integers begin to integrate themselves into the local physics. Space-time feels soupy, disjointed, off-kilter. In the morning when Stephen returns – she knows where he has been – she locks him out and begs him to sever all communications with the rest of the valley. Kate figures she is dead now, and the best she can do is try and find a solution. If she can just close the infinite loop, she can produce an algorithm that will effectively close the pattern at any point along its process. Quite how this will now help, she doesn’t know, but it’s all she can do. She locks herself into the lab, the telescope tower, and begins to work. She doesn’t leave the tower, and without radio or phone she misses it all. She doesn’t know when Berlin falls, she doesn’t know about the EMP waves, the burning shuttle, the bombs over Moscow and Washington, the mass hysteria and flooding and freak weather. She is asleep when the air strikes come.

When Kate awakes, it is the moment of the Omega event. She ventures from the Observatory for the first time into an empty world, where Space-time has been distorted beyond recognition. She sees the motes and understands what they are. She uses the objects they haunt as wormholes to data-mine the apocalypse. She understands the key to the pattern is in the amplification, the interface with the mind, the essence of what it means to be human. She becomes an eschatologist, a collector of souls. And in doing so, she begins to understand what the Pattern really, truly is.

 

Lizzie

Stephen’s childhood sweetheart, married to the absent Robert, with whom she runs the Holiday Camp. Mid-30s, optimistic, sunny, pragmatic, capable. Torn between the dependable, boring Robert and the exciting, troubled – married – Stephen. At one point, everyone thought she and Stephen would be together, until he left, her heart trodden out like a cigarette stub. What was she supposed to do? Sit around and wait for him? Of course, that’s what his mother would have wanted, but everyone else was so kind. His uncle Frank and his lovely wife. That was a tragedy really. And he never came home, even after they were talking about having to do an autopsy because their were questions about how Mary overdosed, and with him being a doctor and everything, although Robert said it wasn’t that kind of doctor.

Oh Robert, her big flawed earthy man. He was there when Stephen left, ready in the wings where he had always lived, ready to patch her up and be there for her, like he always would be. And if she made a choice then yes, she made her choice and even when they found he couldn’t give her the children she had always wanted, and even when she knew in her heart he was seeing the woman from the food suppliers, she made her choice because that’s you do, you make those choices and you have to stick by them. Besides, the camp always needs her, and the children there fill the gap of the children she couldn’t have and she is happy, and she is proud of that.

What kind of person is Lizzie? Near the end, when Stephen tells her it's all over and the jets are coming and gives her the way to escape, she turns her back on him, seeing him as a coward. She returns to the camp, and organises a show, a bright theatre show, the one the kids have
been rehearsing all week. She knows they will all die there, but reasons it is better for them to die happy, not knowing, than the go into the dark in panic and fear. As the curtain rises and the applause starts, she takes a chair and heads to the station, to wait on the tracks for Robert's train, knowing it will never arrive. In many ways, Lizzie is the strongest character in the game.

Another 'object' to interact with in order to trigger an event in this screenshot of the Rapture prototype phase (in 2012)

 

Stephen

Mid 30’s. Astrophysicist. Well, Research Assistant, but let’s not split hairs. Married to Kate, but also in a relationship with Lizzie. Wendy’s son, Frank’s nephew. Heavy smoker. The golden boy of the valley, gone away, made good, returning as a prodigal son. Confident, self-assured, masking an insecurity complex a mile wide. It’s not going so well for Stephen in actuality. His marriage is collapsing, Kate is so buried in her work she barely notices him. And she was always above his station, he’s really just a relatively minor researcher riding her coat tails. Publications are thin on the ground, his own research funding proposals have been kicked back. This is why he pushes for the Observatory – like Kate says, she can look at the sky pretty much anywhere in the northern hemisphere, but here he gets to come home and play the hero, be the success story. This is pretty good for Stephen’s ego, and meeting Lizzie again just tops everything off.

Stephen isn’t a bad man, but he’s an unhappy and egotistical one. He’s not above winning an argument with Lizzie with his fists, although he’d never have the guts to try that with Kate. Maybe that’s why he’s having the affair in the first place, because it’s somewhere he can be in charge and control things. He feels the weight of Wendy’s disapproval keenly, and wants to be the hero he knows he isn’t. And he genuinely loves Kate, for certain, but wants to be more than her husband and assistant. The night of the Alpha Event, this is the root of their fight.

Stephen storms out of the lab, leaving Kate to download the pattern herself. After the event, Kate wants to quarantine them both into the building, but Stephen argues that they should get out, make contract with central offices. His phone call spreads the pattern out of the valley. This causes another huge fight and Stephen leaves the observatory, spending the night with Lizzie and infecting her. The pattern begins to root into human consciousness, mutate, and spread. Kate locks Stephen out of the observatory, but they argue through a window. Reality has already begun to break down in the lab and is spreading. Kate tells Stephen it is spreading along radio waves and telecommunications across the complex and begs him to isolate the observatory. Consumed by guilt and love, and knowing it will trap Kate forever inside, Stephen cuts the power and phone lines.

Back home, the radio begins reporting the effects of the pattern in the world at large. Stephen realises it is escaping through phone calls and contact with the outside world. After leaving a message for Lizzie, telling her to get out, he makes a last call to report the valley as the epicentre, then begins a desperate attempt to put things right but severing the means of transmission and identifying sources of the pattern itself. He paints the symbol on the doors where the sickness has manifested; he cuts phone lines, he destroys signs with place-names and directions. When he meets the others he shuns them, seeing the signs of pattern manifestation sickness on them. On his portable radio, he hears the outside world deteriorating. He steals food and supplies and sets up a safe room in the civic bunkers under the building by the station. The small network of rooms and tunnels, created for radar observation during the Cold War is easily big enough for more people but he decides that to bring others into the shelter would increase the risk of pattern manifestation sickness. He convinces the last remaining people at the estate to leave so he can stockpile in secrecy. When X finds the bunker entrance they fight and he accidentally kills him. He keeps meaning to drive over to the camp to fetch Lizzie and bring her to the shelter, but keeps forgetting.

The storm comes with an apocalyptic fury, followed by the ice. Stephen realises there is little he can do, but has a moment of understanding that the pattern is being amplified by the human mind. In desperation, he decides the only way to stop this amplification is to remove the amplifiers. He fires up the shortwave radio in the bunker to summon the air strike. As the planes come overhead, he realises he doesn’t know if Lizzie is safe, but is too scared of the chemical weapons to leave the bunker. After the strike, he returns to the house and finds a letter from her explaining she is pregnant and that she is going to the station to wait for Robert.

The valley has begun to change around Stephen, as the physic shockwaves of the attack amplify the pattern drastically. As the world begins to melt and shift around him, he returns to the bunker and seals himself in. He paints the symbol on the walls and floor around him, broadcasting his role in spreading the pattern to a world that doesn’t care. Believing himself to be the last person left alive in the valley, he retraces the situation, finally behaving like a scientist and realises that the pattern’s amplification was depreciating from initial contact. This means that he and Kate are amplifying the pattern at a much higher rate than anyone else and are more responsible for the spread and intensification than any other subsequent infections. Believing Kate to be killed in the air strike, Stephen reasons that he is the only surviving primary pattern carrier, and that he must be isolated permanently. He climbs into the bunker’s waste incinerator and finally becomes a hero, unseen by the audience he so desperately craves.

 

Wendy

Wendy is Frank’s older sister and Stephen’s mother. A pensioner in her early 80s, Wendy is tough, independent and active. She is also unforgiving and judgemental, and hostile to change and the outside world. This is the thing: first the Germans took away her Eddie. It wasn’t that
he was killed in the war, but it changed him. He used to wake up with nightmares about an Italian boy he bayoneted just outside Naples and it changed him. When he died of a stroke in the mid-60s, when Stephen was just a boy, well, it changed Stephen too, and Wendy will never forgive the Germans for that. Or the French, for being so weak and inviting them in. Or the rest of Europe for giving up so easily. Only the English were strong enough. To tell the truth, Wendy actually thought Hitler got a lot right, not that she’d ever admit that.

Wendy is fiercely devout, but she holds Jeremy in contempt. She goes every Sunday though, if for no other reason than to show her younger brother Frank that she’s still capable of being there. Frank and Wendy don’t talk. They haven’t since Mary got ill and Frank started drinking. He shirked his responsibility and she can’t forgive him for that.

Her son is the light of her life. Stephen can do no wrong. Well, almost. He did leave after all, and that was a mistake, but he knows that now. When he was growing up, when he and Lizzie were together, that was when things were perfect. Eddie would have been so proud. Childhood
sweethearts, just like Eddie and Wendy. But Frank bent his ear, Frank convinced him to leave for college, to get out. To better himself. And then he went and didn’t come home again until he suddenly arrives at the Observatory with a yank wife in tow. Oh, Wendy is proud of him alright, he is a Doctor after all, some important work for the Government. But still, if he’d stayed, he and Lizzie would be together now, and not this Kate woman. She’s the problem. If only she would just vanish, Stephen and Lizzie would be together. It’s not that Wendy is a racialist, of course, she’s known coloureds in the service during the war, it’s just that Stephen could do so much better. Could be with someone, well, more like himself.

The challenge with Wendy is to make this difficult character someone the player sympathises with. She starts as a horrible old bigot but by the end we should have softened towards her, seen the reasons she is the way she is, and seen glimmers of a kinder, gentler person under the
layers of spiky hate.

 

Concept Art

Here is some more concept art from artist Ben Andrews. Feast your eyes!

The pond that ended up toward the end of Wendy's chapter, from a time when the game would go through seasons

Mock-ups for the visuals for the Pattern (created by VFX artist James).

Tune back in tomorrow for a look at early development videos!