Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Game design is happening!

So, I've been designing a game. The working title is Outlast, and it's a zombie game with a subtext of environmental sustainability. More to follow, including the pitch for the game, but if you're here to hear my tale of game design, welcome! The label "games" will show relevant material for you; you're welcome to look at everything, but if you _just_ want stuff about the game, click on that label. Without further ado, here's the hook:

When the zombies overrun society, every resource is precious. In Outlast, you and your friends must grab some resources (like food and guns) and maintain others (like a safe hideout.) As resources dwindle, you must strike out to discover new locations, while continuing to occupy the best sites you’ve already discovered. Locations you don’t use become inaccessible, so players have to develop an evolving “base of operations” consisting of several locations that work well together. If you succeed, you may be able to eliminate the zombies and create a safe haven for humanity. Good luck - we’re counting on you!
I've got a wonderful opportunity to work on this design in the Game Dojo, a mentorship group that Sen-Foong Lim of Meeple Syrup is leading. I had a great conversation with him, with a summary of how the game plays, available here.

 Here are some of my "to-dos" from that conversation:

  • consider permanent resources (that are location features: shelter, arable land, water, e.g.) as well as temporary resources
  • consider the minimal best 9 locations to have. What if these were all there are?
  • What's a playable "scenario" that can be "solved" (won) (A deterministic end goal, that is definitely achievable).  There should be a strategy that works regardless of unfortunate die rolls.
  • (letting a location get overrun should be a gut-wrenching decision)
  • write a bio, then publicize it and this blog so people (you guys!) can follow the story of the game design.

Here are some thoughts to hold off on for the moment, but should be considered down the road:
  • Consider expanding the map to 25 "little" locations rather than 9 "big" ones.
  • This game sounds like it wants to be a co-op area control game
  • Pivot: what makes the players realize they need to switch strategies (from exploit to sustain, explore to hunker down, e.g.), and what makes the timing of the pivot crucial (waiting too long or going to soon has to have a cost)
  • building a defensible position; using fortification or something to protect/claim some region
  • zombies chasing people around, rather than just showing up? Generally de-emphasizing the zombie attacks in favor of overruns?

Click here to return to Gnomicon home page