Good morning, TIGSource!
Can I call you TIGSource? It feels like we're old friends, even though we haven't talked in, like, a couple of years. I was going through some stuff, you know? I felt like it would be good to spend some time apart.
Well, sort of apart. I've still been dropping by to peer in the windows while you're not looking. I just like your threads, man!
For the last month or so I've been putting some engine code I wrote to good use and making a tactics game. Or an SRPG, whichever name you prefer. It currently looks a bit like this:
You can try out the first act here, and I'd really appreciate any feedback:
(Updated 20130425 v0.26)Windows (35.5MB)Win/Mac/Linux Combined (47.3MB)
What I want to get done with this game is to have a branching storyline which is influenced by decisions the player takes... but avoid the two things that I often find myself disliking with games that do that:
- Choices with really obvious and telegraphed consequences, like the stereotypical "do you want to save the orphan or drown the kittens" morality choices.
- Decision points periodically presented to the player, with more-or-less linear gameplay that's unrelated to those decisions between them.
This last point... well, there's two parts to it, I guess. Firstly, I think decision points like that often show player agency up as the farce it really is in narrative-driven games. As a player you're given these choices to make to involve you and make you feel like you're directing the route of the story yourself, but then you have to sit through lots of other potential decision points where you could have chosen to do X or Y but don't get given the option. Obviously I understand that games can't all have an infinite budget, a billion well-synchronised writers and scripters and so on to make a massive tree of potential dialogue and choices manifest... but the way it's done a lot of the time just highlights the sham, to my mind. I'd almost rather not have choices, sometimes!
Secondly, I remember staying in Paul's apartment when I was twenty, playing Deus Ex
for the second time. Mind: blown. I don't expect to blow anyone's mind, but I want to emulate that kind of thing and make a game where your decisions are selected by your actions rather than by some stupid menu on a screen.
So my plan is that throughout the battle sequences, where the player is fulfilling some mission objective or other, there's a set of things being kept track of which they don't see or get told about, and those things influence the way the player character behaves in later cutscenes and the way the story turns out. Some of these will be obvious: save that one beleaguered character and they're alive to take part in the story later; let them die and they can't do anything else 'cause they're dead. Some of them will be less obvious: for example, you may get ordered to do some particular thing which is presented as a mission objective, but of course, that doesn't mean that's necessarily the only way to finish the battle, and disobeying orders may make the game remember that you have a conscience, or that you're vindictive, or that you don't want to let X happen, and your character should then behave accordingly in cutscenes later in the game.
Of course, that's all rather ambitious, the first step is to make the remaining ~80% of the content and see whether my lofty ideals can hold up that long... ;-)