I’m determined to make an HTML5 adventure game so here goes with some more thoughts on the potential design of such a game.
The games that work best for me are the ones that are instantly accesible. Load assets (acceptable delay) > splash screen (acceptable and expected delay as long as it’s short) > title screen / menu > straight in to the action.
I employ this with all my games and simply offer a link on more recent titles to study a “how to play” screen.
For my adventure game I want to offer something similar that allows the player to simply pick up from where they left off with just a tap of the menu.
The game itself I would want to centre around the pursuit of experience (XP) and therefore higher levels.
Combat would be a huge feature in the game as would the collection of loot. All fairly standard for an adventure game so far.
Where I want the game to stand out is in its “randomness”.
I enjoy crafting structure to arcade games such that the player’s expectations for what he will see in each level are always met. Consistency is key in games where the player is chasing a high score.
But with my adventure game I want the experience to persist across multiple game sessions with the player finding himself in a new location / situation every time he comes to play.
In some circumstances that situation may be a confrontation and the player’s options will be FIGHT or ATTEMPT TO FLEE.
In other circumstances the situation may be designed to progress the story, say an in-game character attempts to talk or barter with you. The player’s options in such a scenario are varied.
In any scenario I would aim to present two buttons on the screen at any one time – the player’s actions being limited to simple A, B decisions.
Example 1 – interaction
The Inn-Keeper wants to talk with you.
[ TALK ] [ IGNORE ]
The Inn-Keeper tells you a story about the fabled treasures buried within the dark castle’s dungeons and guarded by the spirits of the King’s fallen soldiers. -more-
[ CONTINUE ] [ STOP ]
Example 2 – confrontation
A GRUE stands before you and demands that you surrender your weapons and gold.
[ FIGHT ] [ FLEE ]
The combat screen appears and the player must fight the GRUE to the death.
All adversaries drop loot.
I call each of these scenarios STAGES.
Stitching each stage together in a way that captures the player’s imagination and moves the story along is vital to the game’s success.
After each stage I would save out to localStorage all of the game’s data. Asking the player to save progress seems terribly out-dated to me.
Clearly this sort of a game experience works best when the player has limited time available to play.
Pick up the phone, launch the game, complete a stage, close the phone. Next time the player comes to play he finds himself that bit further on.
Indeed changing the location is very important to allow the player to feel that he is progressing through an adventure story.
What I haven’t completely thought out is how to present these stages when the player has perhaps half an hour to kill.
Although half an hour is an extraordinary amount of time to play a mobile web game it must be considered.
My initial thoughts are to use a map and have the player attempt to move between locations to unravel the story.
Another variation on that theme would see the player progressing through a randomly generated map with towns, villages, citadels and places of interest all popping up at loosly defined intervals to give the impression of a realistic world.
In a town or village the options system would change. The player would be in a safe zone so there would be no need for combat decisions.
In a “place of interest” the player would have a different challenge. Perhaps a stealth mission where the player controls his character around a maze whilst trying to avoid monsters.
If successful the player is rewarded with treasure.
In places of interest there would always be the threat of combat regardless of the underlying challenge to the player.
Another slightly more radical idea I have had is to make the game completely open-ended. No fixed goals. Simply let the player explore the world and discover new things whilst advancing his XP and level.
Still very much at the “brain-storming” stage but I’m getting closer to actually laying some code down and fleshing out the game.
I have that many concepts on the shelf just now it’s ridiculous. Hopefully one of these will see the light of day soon!