Saturday, June 20, 2015

What sort of game I intend to make

First of all, as odd as it may sound, I have nothing too concrete in mind as of now, and I find myself feeling uncomfortable saying this. As if I need to have worked it all out beforehand, before I start writing about it. But I know it doesn't work like that. You never know what your imagination is capable of until you see some product of your imagination first, however half-assed and vague it may be. Then you refine.

And half-assed and vague my intentions are, indeed. 

The setting will Monte Cook's Numenera. The reasons are a few:

  • Torment: Tides of Numenera will be the talk of the day some months from now, and I hope my... thing, at least partly coincides with it.
  • Science Fantasy is a genre that really gets my imagination going. A dose of post-apocalypse, a dose of decadence, an aesthetic intermingling that at once avoids banal epic fantasy and engine-shod science fiction.
  • There is a wealth of raw material I can draw on, not to mention the ocean of "straight" F and SF that I can borrow from. Science Fantasy can easily accommodate ideas from both.

The system will probably be a mish-mash borrowing of different PnP RPGs with helpful and innovative resolution mechanics.

The story will be somewhat emergent. 

My main intention with this game is to bring something at least partially new to the table, making use of text's flexibility, since graphics will be mostly CSS placeholders. The flexibility of text means the following:

  1. Different levels of abstraction, where for example dialogue may be presented as straight-up speech or a summary, or something in between. 
  2. Text-replacement, appending phrases and clauses to the same syntactic "skeleton"; players hopefully getting pleasure from text that both follows a recognizable pattern, but plugs different content in it.
  3. The player could also perform actions at different levels of abstraction, either wandering through a town in "real-time" or generally "exploring" it with a click of a single button.
As to the emergent capabilities of NPCs and the environment, I mean to make this possible through an Entity Component System, which would be another massive undertaking: creating a flexible and robust engine in Twine.

For those who are aware of Twine's social reputation, this might seem odd. Twine is an intensely personal, lightly branching, CYOA structure, no? I think it's much more than that.

Twine is, above all, a wrapper for JS code, and a wrapper I'm becoming increasingly comfortable with (for an amateur); fantastic variants like Sugarcube allow me to do much more than simply branch out text in boxes, setting a couple of simple variables along the way.

Furthermore, I've read up on a number of ways to get things done re if/else statements, setting up an entity system, traversing arrays with as little hassle as possible, etc. Now, just like my game design knowledge and my writing knowledge, all of this is theoretical. 

This, actually, is going to be my greatest hurdle. Three hurdles, to be precise.
  1. Learn to write, within the game's requirements.
  2. Design the world and the system.
  3. Code it all.

I hope I can keep all three manageable and well-defined, and make progress.

Next up, writing. 

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