Sure, I may be cheating by not counting this as a Nonstiq topic. But I do think it's time we talked about how a Green Lantern game could work if done by a competent studio with a full development cycle. Why am I doing this? Well mainly because I just recently got into the Green Lantern Mythos and have been rather disappointed with myself for putting it off for nearly 20 years. Because as a huge Star Wars fan, the Green Lantern lore has been right up my alley, but more on that later. In about 3 years we’re going to be seeing Warner Brothers take another shot at the Lanterns on the big screen with the Green Lantern Corps film. And of course, I hope the rumors about CW maybe taking a crack at a Lantern's Light are true. I would honestly trade all that for a proper Green Lantern Game, not just a movie-tie in serving as a quick cash grab.
So what are a Green Lantern’s powers? Why have games featuring these characters been so few and far between? How could we tackle a Green Lantern's abilities? And would it be as mediocre as Rise of the Manhunters?
Well thankfully it’ll be easy to answer two of those questions in one go. One of the main reasons a Green lantern is limited in the few games one has appeared in is because of a Lantern’s main super power. A green lantern ring allows the bearer to create constructs of anything the individual can imagine. Obviously this in itself creates a large problem for any developer. Since you’re certainly not going to be able to model, animate, and implement every single possibility that could come into a player's head, most of the time a green lantern's abilities in games such as injustice can only show a limited number of constructs. Or Rise of the Manhunters where you unlock new Constructs to be able to use but are still limited to what the developers had previously built. Whereas in a comic book the writer and artist are free to draw whatever they come up with.
Let’s take a step back a bit though and explore what exactly a Green Lantern is.
To say the Green Lantern mythos is one of the most daunting canons in comics would be a gross understatement. The mythos is so vast and detailed it may as well be separate from the rest of the DC universe at large in terms of lore.
This of course stands as a double edged sword because like Star Wars it's awesome to have so much lore and history to be able to learn and speculate about. But it can be hard to find out where one should even start if they are interested in learning more about it. However, to understand how a good Green Lantern game would work we will need a brief run down to explain what makes this mythos so hard to tackle in a narrative for any entertainment medium.
I promise this is the short version:
Billions of years ago a group of aliens formed the Guardians of the Universe, who decided to come together to create a Galactic Police force that could protect the universe at large. They eventually found a way to do so by creating the Green Lantern Corps. Basically a group of space cops all assigned to govern a sector of Space. But you can’t guard the universe without immense power. So the Guardians created Lantern Rings running on an advanced form of A.I. Each ring that is created heads to a different sector of Space to recruit members for the Green Lantern Corps. These Corps members are chosen by the rings for the individual's ability to Overcome great fear or because they show an immense amount of willpower. The ring grants them the ability to use the bearer’s willpower to fight off forces of evil in the universe. And this is how the Green Lanterns have always guarded our universe.
Eventually, one Corps member, Abin Sur (the Green Lantern of sector 2814) crashed upon Earth, and died. When a Lantern member dies their ring will go and seek out the nearest qualified being to join the ranks. Abin’s ring found a man named Hal Jordan. This character took readers off on a long and worthwhile adventure spanning multiple generations and and amassed countless stories. Later there would become many more Green Lanterns of Earth all with equally amazing stories both with the rest of the Corps, and on their own.
It wouldn’t be until a writer named Geoff Johns would introduce the Emotional Spectrum to the Green lantern mythos. Expanding it, and by extension the entire DC universe in a huge new direction. The Emotional Spectrum is a concept of the Green Lantern mythos that really makes it unique in my eyes. While the idea of space cops is something I would clearly love since it's so closely related to Jedi, Jedi usually only deal with the concept of Light fighting the Dark. But the Lanterns Emotional Spectrum plays off of the familiar color spectrum of R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.
With Green of course being the Green Lanterns who have traditionally used the power of Will to create constructs and serves as the source of their power. But each other Color of the spectrum also harnesses a power for their respective Corps to use. Red Lanterns unleash the Power of Rage, Orange are driven by greed, Yellow are built upon fear, Blue Lanterns run on hope, The very different Indigo Tribe utilize Compassion, and Violet Light is harnessed by a group called the Star Sapphires who fight for Love. The concept of these different emotions both being at ends with each other and needing each other opens up the mythos to more than just Lanterns flinging Constructs at each other, and into something far more philosophical and driven by characters and their motivations.
You can see why this would be a daunting thing for any writer to tackle.
In addition to the daunting writer task, coding would be no easy street either. Ignoring for now that every Corps’ power ring grants the bearer the ability to fly anywhere (including off planet), the main ability of being able to create constructs of anything at will (no pun intended) is something that seems nearly impossible.
Constructs. Whether we make this game a spectacle fighter, RPG, Strategy, or combination of the three, there’s no avoiding finding a way to make constructs in a Green Lantern game. It would be pointless to make one otherwise. Would you make a Spider-Man game without webs or web swinging? Or a Batman game without Bats or Alfred? So here’s my proposal to figure these suckers out once and for all. First we need to find a way to limit how constructs can be used, since we only have so many button on a keyboard or controller. We’re going to limit the types of constructs that can be created to the following categories:
Shields or deflection based Constructs: Basically anything that could block stuff. Brick Walls, Giant Doors, you name it.
Projectiles or Constructs that act at a distance: Whether you’re throwing spears or Television Sets at an enemy this is a must.
Constructs that grab objects or NPCs: Pretty standard fare for Lanterns to grab on entrap their enemies.
Melee Weapons or Constructs physically wielded by the Lantern: Swinging around a baseball, Guitar, Telephone Pole, or even Mjolnir if you wanna be a dick and cross cannons.
Breaking them into these categories at least helps out the programming team when it comes to implementing all the different constructs we could see thought up for each category. If the construct is a Shield Type then you could use the same code for a brick wall that you could anything else. Melee and projectile weapons would only need to be adjusted to the size of the hitbox of the construct.
Now here’s where the big issue comes back in, developers can only realistically create a limited number of these types of constructs and it would be silly to expect them to create more and more to make them all seem unique. That’s where players come in. Instead of the devs making constructs, the devs make a character creator type tool for players to build their own constructs for their Lanterns. If a player wants to attack people with a giant green tea cup. They can do so. Using base shapes and items the devs provide along with some pretty basic mesh shaping tools, a gamer's ability to create their own constructs suddenly becomes closer to the real thing.
Once these custom constructs are created the player assigns them to the attack type they choose and while in game their custom construct will appear when they attack or block. It wouldn’t even be hard to allow players to assign multiple creations to these attacks and determine at random which ones appear at any given moment. I know this isn’t as natural as when a green lantern thinks about what to create and then creates it right on the spot, but I think this is the best way to do that sensibly without slowing the game down to a slug.
As for the Narrative? That would have to be another article for another day. I do think it would be best to serve the games tutorial of the mechanics to be tied with the basics on how Lantern rings function though. That way the player can learn as their character learns their way through the Corps' boot camp. From there you could go anywhere. It may serve best to just have six other segments of the story where the player must go out in search of the other Lantern Corps, learning about what they do along the way and recruiting them to help a larger issue at hand. So basically every Bioware game :D
Anyway that’s really all I got. I really think a character creator could be utilized as a great tool for making constructs unique to each player. You could even let people share their constructs with other players through a modding scene. And obviously if people didn't want to spend time making their own custom constructs then they could just use some of the limited pre-made ones. With the DC verse becoming a bigger force in the public eye and Green Lantern about to get another shot at the big screen, it would be the perfect time to start getting the green space cops back into gaming as well.