Here's a tiny peek at what I'm working on at the moment: a little mock-up screenshot to give an idea of what the game will actually look like.
The game will be in 3D but with fixed cameras, to allow for flexible camera movement when necessary but keeping the pace and mood fairly...calm, I suppose. I want this to feel like a book - engrossing and gripping without any insane action-based gameplay. There might be a tiny parallax effect or some slight camera manipulation involved but I don't want any free-roaming, first person-style movement. This game should be about scene exploration, reading and thinking rather than reflexes and adrenaline, and I think that a major mechanic like character movement would distract from that. Movement would instead be handled by simply tapping on the area you want to go to, which would shift the view.
I want an inventory system as well as a way for text boxes to appear in the environment. Rather than keeping all text separate from the scene it will be incorporated into the environment, possibly with the addition of some standalone descriptions to set the mood for the scene. Somewhere in the HUD or menus there should also be a map to give the player a sense of where in the world they are.
I've been thinking about how I used to play Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale and how those games made me read like a machine. Games and their systems for incentive and rewards are incredibly powerful tools, and I want to use this. I want to use text and words as rewards; little snippets of information, a plot twist, a line of dialogue that reveals something new. Rather than trying to force reading onto kids who aren't into it I'm approaching this from the angle that children will want to read as long as what they read is good and fun and interesting enough. Challenge accepted...