I like meta. It's awesome. Like the Von-Neumann machine in Storm (It's a sci-fi comic that generally takes itself seriously (not the characters, but itself)). And then there's the story arch that turns out to be the shooting of a movie called "The Von-Neumann Machine", directed by the artist, screenplay by the author. It's... unsettling. But awesome.
So here's my tuppence: a game. I know I talk about games a lot, but this one would be... different.
The basic story is that the character of a game (typical setting: dad has to go save his son, becomes an action hero on the way. 90% of all Mel Gibson movies) realizes that he's in a game. Cue the hard questions: "Is the game-world actually real and do the gamers not realize it, or is it really just game and is the main character fooled into thinking it's real?
I'd have the main character's model be randomized (within certain parameters, of course), and allow for every single user to create psych profiles for characters (or even record some new dialogue), and send it. This would be approved (or not) by the developers, or a specific team, allowing for a lot of completely unique main characters.
If you don't want spoilers, stop now, just in case this ever becomes a real video game.
The game opens with a tutorial: The main bad guy has kidnapped the hero. His (main character's (let's call him Bob)) son is in the next room, something like that. Baddie forces the player, not Bob, to make Bob crouch. Bob, of course, doesn't get who baddie (let's call him Betty) is talking to, so he starts to crouch. Betty yells: "not you!" *pistol whip* Baddie puts the gun against main character's head, and counts down, forcing the player to make him crouch. If you don't press anything, Bob dies and you have to do the sequence over again. If that happens, Betty will say "See? See? I told you!" but repeat the countdown again. After making you do several things that belong in a tutorial, Betty will tell you to pause the game and reload from last checkpoint. Bob doesn't get it. Again, you can choose to do it or not do it. If you don't Betty says: "I guess we'll have to do it the hard way" and shoots Bob. You get a game over screen on which you can either exit or retry from last checkpoint. Then, the game begins.
The end of the game is Bob realizing he can't escape from the game because he's programmed. He can, however be deleted. It's the only way to win. The character model would be unique, as would part of his dialogue and even his background be. So when you delete his savegame, that character is forever gone. The only way for him to finally be at peace. Suicide isn't an option since you can just reload a previous save file. That's why he has to be unique. You need to be able to win the game.
I suggest give the player a cutscene, or even better, a recorded transcript, in which the main character thanks the player.
I want to make the pause screen, among others, part of the gameplay. Everything that's usually seen as gameplay features need to be part of the story.
So, watcha think?