Monday, November 21, 2016

Game design: Game Dojo stream pre-report

Hello!  There's a Game Dojo stream tonight where I'll talk with Sen about Outlast.

Here's a brief follow-up of what has happened from the earlier Game Dojo conversation.  The items to consider in the short term were:

  • consider permanent resources (that are location features: shelter, arable land, water, e.g.) as well as temporary resources: I haven't really done this.  
  • consider the minimal best 9 locations to have. What if these were all there are? (letting a location get overrun should be a gut-wrenching decision) This I have done, and played the game with only 9 locations (when a location is overrun, it disappears and nothing replaces it.)  This game is more challenging, of course, but definitely achieves the goal of treating locations as precious.  
  • 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: I tried out a few straightforward scenarios: the farm (which makes it easier to produce food) next to the sustainable storage (which has a win condition if you have enough food), and the laboratory (win condition: medicine and gas) near the hospital and gas station.  I realized that a well-coordinated team can definitely win in either case, quickly.  (more on this)
  • write a bio, then publicize it and this blog so people (you guys!) can follow the story of the game design.  Have not been good about writing a bio. :(

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. Not looked at yet.
  • This game sounds like it wants to be a co-op area control game: This is sort of true, in the sense that a powerful tactic is to move as a pack, with one outrunner on a different location.  This looks a bit like area control: having 3 people in one place is better than 2 here and 1 somewhere else. (If there's a chance for food, for example, 3 searchers on the same location are liable to hit it and can all use it.)
  • 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 too soon has to have a cost): Running through the "scenarios", I am a bit concerned that there isn't a pivot - or at least, focusing solely on the goal from the start was a successful strategy.  This is one of the "counterintuitive" parts of the game -- players naturally start out trying to subsist, but choosing to starve from the start in pursuit of a win condition is a quicker path to victory.
  • building a defensible position; using fortification or something to protect/claim some region: Hypothesized a bit about what "securing locations" might look like as a new action players could take.  I think there's definitely a plausible opportunity here.
  • zombies chasing people around, rather than just showing up? Generally de-emphasizing the zombie attacks in favor of overruns? Not looked at yet.

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