Why Not Games




City: Second Story

Written: 2016-11-04

There are still some small things to be done on The Quiet Sleep, but I want to explore the space that these systems are capable of, but that would be hard with the tighter space of the The Quiet Sleep. I want to build something from the ground up that is meant to achieve a different set of goals.

Goals

The goals of the game as a whole are:

  • Familiarity in novelty / self-discovery
  • Challenge
  • Narrative
  • Expression

Now, The Quiet Sleep does okay in generating familiarity in novelty and is not terrible at pushing narrative and player expression. It is however poor at providing challenge. This is to some degree okay as it is meant to be introductory. However, it is just not set up to provide challenge. It's not just a case of tweaking some numbers, it would require some core parts of the game to be thought out again.

For the new scenario, I have added the following, narrower goals:

  • It should be more mechanical - I want to either pick up the structure of a Binding of Issac-like roguelike or a Varicella-like IF puzzle. I want this to communicate a full system and a looser one than The Quiet Sleep. With this, I want player death to be a constant possibility.
  • It needs to showcase cool overlaps between the mechanics and the narrative - I feel that one of the key rewards of this game is in moments where you see something familiar expressed in a novel manner. When it takes an expenditure of will to keep yourself from saying something stupid to your crush in The Quiet Sleep, that's a familiar story, but shown to the player mechanically and so novel.
  • It needs to be human - The game is set in a person's mind and so is very good at expressing some stories and very bad at expressing others. A lot of things that would be exciting in other games are routine and vice versa. Stories about people and their foibles are where this game is best.

With this, I also have the following constraints:

  • The story must play out in a bunch of different ways. If the player is going to go through it a number of times, it is important that those playthroughs feel different.
  • The current game works best at around 5 traits. That's not a large number of traits. Either the story has to be very dense or I need to loosen this constraint.
  • Each session should be around 30-60 minutes as it is to be repeated.
  • Needs to be something that can be communicated through the available tools. So, it needs to focus on something mental and needs to have a lot of emotion and a variety of them.

Discarded Ideas

  • Haunted House - It seems like a fun idea, where you have to deal with a lot of fear and keeping other people calm. I'm not sure how to make it mechanical though and I don't really want to write horror. I'm not familiar enough with the tropes.
  • Court Politics - Here, you play different factions off each other as you try to become king. This could be fun, but I don't think these systems are a good fit. It's hard to make this mental
  • Being a vampire - This is about getting into other people's lives so that they'll invite you in. I might come back to this one. It seems focused more on other people than on yourself, but that's probably fixable.
  • Noir detective - This would be fun, but I see two main problems. The first is that it feels like it would need a lot of pieces and the second is that I fear it would feel random. The more of a classic noir tale and less of a whodunit it is, the less random it would feel, but I would rather make a whodunit. Again, I feel like this would be better as a more focused game.

Songs For Women

Right now I'm thinking of something flavored by Frank Ocean's Songs For Women. Something about making music for people and watching relationships fall apart. Something about fragility. We'll see.

I'm concerned that this will not translate well. Giving people the whole possibility space here is a very different feeling than following along with a story. It seems like it will make a reasonable starting point though. Let's see where it goes.

- @murthynikhil

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Written for Why Not Games.