Monday, January 28, 2013

Patient 9 Entry 4

Huza! The story and rough GDD (Game Design Document = the bible of the game) are "done". I say "done" cause every time I start working on any game, I keep getting more ideas which leads to segments doubling or tripling their original length.

I'm really excited about the "choose your own past" character growth mechanic. In my opinion the key to ANY decision based system is you have to add weight to each one, or else you're just presenting the illusion of choice (which honestly is acceptable at times, but that should be the spice/variety of your design, not the main course). Hopefully I'm able to keep true to that belief the further I get in development.

Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Sociopath are the 3 mental illness' that I'm going to use as archetypes that the player can choose for Patient 9. Each one, I hope, will have a unique play style and feel.

PTSD = fear
Schizophrenia = weird, trippy
Sociopath = power, villainous

One fact I sadly have to come to terms with is I can't cover all the possibilities and have to shelve a lot of neat ideas that I want to introduce. Some of them just lack depth, others are too similar with other branches, etc. I guess I can be happy knowing that I'm developing a bucket list of ideas that I can use in future games (of which there will be plenty).

The biggest problems for me has been

1) too many potential paths
Every possibility branch you add increases the total amount of combinations you have, which makes balancing/play testing a lot harder. More isn't more. Especially for a short indie game like Patient 9, it's better too have a few tight storylines that deliver a quality experience instead of 320984 potential storylines that all feel like the same 50 non sexy shades of grey.

2 fleshing out each archetype fully
As cool as it is to have a character idea, for the format I've chosen, I need 2 potential branches, and 2 more potential branches on top of those, resulting in a minimum of 4 variants of the original idea. This is kinda hard since some neat ideas have a bit of a lack of variety in that regard.  Also each one of those ideally should have a unique game ending option.

I designed/brainstormed the branching character growth options in spreadsheet along with the list of levels in the game.

spoilers "hidden"

In the very near future I'm going too put a design freeze on the story development, this game has got to get done as early as possible, no more durdling (doing very little). During the story crafting process I came to an opinion that I'm really liking . . .

Balance is bullshit
Seriously, if you want too create a cool experience, you cant have one be "fair" compared too the other. Take the sociopath vs the PTSD characters. One of them is a power monger potential knife wielding maniac, the other is a traumatized victim. There is no way in hell they should have the same game play feel, which leads to them being imbalanced, which I think is perfectly fine. If mechanically on a combat level they where equal, it would compromise the feel of each character.

You wouldn't feel afraid playing the PSTD character, you'd engage encounters the exact same as the sociopath. You wouldn't feel powerful or "monstrous" playing the Sociopath either, at best you'd feel like an aggressive variant.

One of my favourite space games back in the day was Colony Wars for the Playstation 1. When designing the 2 opposing factions the developers got 2 different designers and had each one make the other faction separate the other. The end result was really cool, one faction was cold steel based with saucer based designs like Star Trek, and the other faction was more based on Navy Battle Cruiser style designs with a green army tank color scheme. This approach gave each faction a very unique feel. I think for the next game I make, odds are I'll touch on branching storylines again, I might contact a creative friend after I've designed the rough story format and have em flesh out a character or two. I'm sure it'll provide some sweet contrast that'll add re playability.

Now I'm finally ready to start redesigning the behaviours and laying the rough groundwork for everything in the game. So soon and so close!

Lastly here's some doodles/sketches for potential enemies

some knife wielding lobotomy case

screamer or something

gotta love those muzzles
sketch i had too do to gain entry

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