2/6/09

Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning Over a New Leaf: (We’re trying something new with the topic this month, so please read carefully.) February’s BoRT invites you take a game design suggested by another blogger in last month’s Round Table and build upon it. You should ignore the literary source of the original design, but attempt to communicate the same themes and/or convey the same mood as the proposed game. This means you can alter the game genre, change the setting, and add new layers to the game mechanics. This is not an opportunity to critique a previous design, but to honor it by striving to reach the same goals, while adding your own personal touch.

It's that time of month! No, not cry-into-ice-cream-with-The-Cure-on time, but Blog of the Round Table Time!

So, hey, nice topic. No really. It'll really get more of that yelling at other people feel that I love, as opposed to now, where it's mostly me yelling at...well, you I guess.

So hey, let's see what the submissions were for last round...what do I like...

...

http://mwclarkson.blogspot.com/2009/01/downward-spiral.html

FUCK YES. OH SWEET MERCIFUL ALLAH, YESSS!!! If that's the god-damn future, sign me the fuck up. I mean look at that design. Holy shit, that's clean. That some fucking antiseptic shit right there. No waste. No fluff. No goddamn mini-games, or power-ups, or anything. Just a nice clean...everything!

...I really have no way to improve upon it...I mean, as an idea, it all simply comes down to execution. If someone hasn't made this by the end of the Imagine Cup competition, which is what I'm doing right now, I WILL make this. Or at least, I'll try. Seriously, this needs to get made, like, NOW PEOPLE.

Okay, moving on. Another post I like, another post I like...hmmm...

http://livingepic.blogspot.com/2009/01/oedipus-rpg-blogs-of-round-table.html

O. M. G.

Who wrote this? A professor? Holy shit. This egghead knows more about fucking game design than most damn game designers! I mean, holy shit, it's like Dead Rising meets, Interesting Story. Now, I took a gander at his gamercard, and it doesn't even look like this guy has played Dead Rising. Shit on a motherfucking biscuit. I gotta put this guy in my Outlook RSS feeds man. Seriously.

But alas, we got ourselves some problems. The biggest one is the NPC's. Now I know that the whole point of last months round table was to imagine a game without current technological limits, but to me, that's a cop out. Games need to be played, and if they can't be made, then they sure as hell can't be played. Endless dialogue options? And we would need some kind of 'reputation' system, so the NPC would eventually realize the the player is being an annoying shit by asking all these questions...sounds like a whole can of worms. You're making work for yourself. Games are hard enough to make as is. DON'T MAKE MORE WORK FOR YOURSELF.

Another is your character. Does s/he have a family? Friends? I'm assuming the player has been a citizen of Thebes all his/her life. What about them? Another damn can of worms. It's the kind of design that starts to really fall apart when you really start asking questions. But nonetheless, I like where this is going. A lot. Let's see what we can do.

First thing, the character. I don't like having him/her be a citizen of Thebes. The plague thing I also don't like. Both seem like elements one MIGHT get right, if the stars were aligned, but it seems like you're making work for yourself. Both would take endless tweaking, and some real disbelief suspension from the player. Instead, lets have the player be some kind of messenger from the gods, or something.

No, wait. Not a messenger. Let's go with an entity sent by the gods to...do....what? I don't like the original designs 'hide the task' mentality, because once again, it's an element that you have to get EXACTLY right to pull it off. Once again, you're making work for yourself. Maybe some kind of vague instructions? Like 'find the truth?'...hmm....

Yeah, let's roll with that. Okay, so you're sent down from the heavens. What's our game gonna be. How's the player gonna move? What interactions, if any, will be available to the player? I always wanted to make a game where the only thing the player could do is LOOK...so lets make that the whole mechanic! You're this disembodied camera, floating around*, finding evidence of the truth. You start out in Thebes square, with the whole oracle scene, and then go from there. If you stick to the square, you'll more or less be treated to the whole play, start to finish. BUT, if you start moving around, you'll be able to follow the characters throught their day, see their interactions. See some 'off-stage' stuff that would obviously have to be handled carefully. you know, well-acted, well-written, well-animated, etc. I get the feeling that THIS will be the hardest part. So anyway, as you follow people, or not, you'll acculmulate EVIDENCE. Now obviously, you won't physically pick up this evidence, but you will sorta file it away. I'm thinking something along the lines of Assassin's Creed's whole sub-mission before the kill thing, where you ran around collecting information from people, only this time actually relevant and good and interesting, as opposed to fucking incompetent ass 'Collect the Flags!' shit the AS put you through**.

Now note that depending on who you follow, you could wind up with completely different, and even contradictory notes! This would be the whole point, as when the moment of truth arrives, the Gods will come down and ask you what really happened. You can either tell them what you think, or instead, tell them you need to see the whole thing again. They will oblige you, and send you back into time to the beginning, but this time with all your old notes. Now, you can follow through on leads that you didn't have time for last time around.

So yeah. Not really an RPG anymore, but shit, it never really was one to begin with. More of an adventure game really, only interesting. No stupid, FIND THE BLUE KEY shit. Once again, it's all in the execution. The events that give you notes, the dialog, etc. To be frank, this is probably not a game I would ever make, for that reason alone. It would require a shit-ton of non-design work. A lot of acting, a lot of writing...actually, it doesn't sound that bad when I think about it. Short story of my life man.



*Much like the death cam in Counter-Strike
**Collect the motherfucking flags? Really? You shit-for-brains couldn't think up anything more fucking relevant than COLLECT THE MOTHERFUCKING FLAGS. JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST, YOU SHITHEADS WITH YOUR GODDAMN COLLECTIBLES ARE SO FUCKING INCOMPETENT I WISH I COULD JUST HEADBUTT YOU ALL IN THE FUCKING GUT***. SERIOUSLY. FLAGS.
***I don't actually want to headbutt each of the designers of AS in the gut. But really. Flags?

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