The Fixed-plot / Replay Dichotomy
Somehow I managed to maintain the adrenaline post-IGF-deadline, I’m sure I’ll crash horribly at some point and have to take a week off, but I’ve been expecting that… Just figured I’d ride the wave of inspiration while it’s there! I have at least been taking some quality time with the family, and with DARK SOULS.
So while I was putting together that build, a load of new ideas started to form, particularly thinking along the lines of what the metagame was, and what I could do to tease out the replayability element. I don’t think all games need this, and for the most part with story-led games, I think it’s actually fairly pointless (except for the awesome Silent Hill ‘UFO’ / ‘Dog’ endings. I probably have something like that planned.)
Anyway, not so with Lone Survivor, or so I hope. Although my work tends to be fairly tightly scripted, for once I see a game where the story is loose enough to work in a number of different ways. The story focusses on the minutiae, the details of the daily routine, and this can vary enormously without affecting the plot.
There’s been a lot of interest from Minecraft players since the trailer was retweeted by Notch, and that’s made me look at another element of it – the survival itself. I hadn’t even considered that really the game partly fits into this new category of indie games with survival elements, and it made me wonder if I could take this aspect even further. To that end I’ll be introducing a few pseudo-random elements into the world over the next few weeks, as well as focussing on the earlier survival ideas I never got round to implementing, and a few new ones…
I’ve already got the stove in the apartment working, and that’s really gonna help cheer up You’s world, along with a number of other cool items which almost work in a side-quest manner. Well, the less I reveal the better I think, but this should give you an idea of where I’m heading with it.
Where the game differs massively from Minecraft and other survival games such as Terraria or Project Zomboid is that it is mostly linear adventure, with a fixed plot. The ending is determined by how you play, but there are fixed scenes and puzzles. It’s the details that change, as there’s a lot of (seemingly) pointless stuff to do in the world. Although you’ll have to believe me when I say that everything you can do has some purpose!
I’m keen that people don’t try to ‘figure out / exploit’ the system, at least on their first playthrough. That they just explore, play naturally, and see what happens. Those that read my blog and twitter feeds will probably have much more of an idea of what the underlying systems are, but I think for the most part people will approach it like a normal survival horror game, which I’m kinda banking on for it to have its full effect.