Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Iconifying the universe

Dear gods above, please strike me down if I ever again come up with the idea to make a game based on narrative. Amen, etc.

So the good news is that the game's storyline is done. Finito. Färdig. Very hesitant to touch it again now, except for minor edits.

The bad news is that it's quite long.
However, I've broken all those words down into a timeline:
Not a public transport map.
First of all, the story actually has an ending now. Or, should I say, the first book of the story has an ending. After Ivar fails to create a portal home he teaches the player how to alter their size and become teeny tiny. Yrsa and the player go to see Ísafold for help. She sends Yrsa away and captures the player, who has to use their newfound shrink ability to escape. They then meet up with Yrsa who has found out about the ghost children trapped in Grárs amulet.

"It must be children from the picture you found. They came here just as you did. Maybe they can help us... It's our only hope. We have to do something, because you can't stay here and I just found out that my mother is an evil witch."

End of book one!

I've also figured out the missions for finding the items Ivar needs to make a portal home. The player has to summon a ghost to investigate a terrible murder, open up a strange puzzlebox (to be defined...) and choose to either dance with the elves or capture a wisp. The entire story also has a lot of cool little changes and additions that came from the feedback talks, such as early hints to the missing children, more sneaking, side missions and the whole bit where Ísafold captures you.

As a story, I believe it works. Now to make it a game.

I've identified the mission types/core interactions based on the mechanics they use.
Top row: numbers 1-4, bottom row: numbers 5-7

1. Quick-time events: swipe/tilt/tap at the right time to progress through the event.
2. Sneak: use the Sneak ability to avoid danger (trolls, predators, ghostly shadows, etc).
3. Object search: search the scene to find items.
4. Riddles: some enigmatic characters in the game will only help you if you can answer their riddles.
5. Dialogue: choose your answers carefully to find out information and progress the story.
6. Item puzzles: combine and use the right items, in the right order etc. Also involves giving items to other characters, investigating items (similar to LA Noir) and custom item interactions (similar to the winding/pulling/zooming controls in The Room).
7. Shrink: use the Shrink ability to fit into small spaces.

Nearly all chapters and objectives will require the use of more than one interaction.

I've also created some character and creature icons.
I should probably have added a glow effect to that wisp.
Using these icons I should be able to quickly communicate what goes on in each chapter without having to type out and/or storyboard each specific interaction.
Yes, I will reconsider the amount of stars in the sky...
Together with separate explanations and images of the core mechanics, even simple pages like the one above should give a good enough idea of the gameplay. I can also add variables, difficulty levels, relevant items and other designery goodies to these one-page descriptions.

More complex and wordy missions can be broken down into timelines of their own:
The player can choose to dance with the elves and give up their name, or to capture a wisp.
In this mission, the player has to summon the dead mother of a raging ghost in order to reveal the truth behind their deaths.
Naturally, these timelines and pages can also be supported with images, text, quotes, and detailed level/scene designs. If I end up doing the level design document for instance, these high-level objectives will give the detailed missions purpose and grounding. yeah. The timeline is done, I just need to iconify it and stick it in the final doc. I suppose could post the text here as it is, but I doubt it would do me any good...

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