While talking to a friend after he had just played a prototype level of a game I had created, we started throwing around ideas of game’s, we would like to be able to create. My friend expressed his vision of creating a Sci-Fi game based around relations of crew members on a ship, where the player was to explore an environment limited to only the ship and how the story would play out, depends on how the player interacts with each crew member, resulting in multiple ending that would be vastly different.
We had both been inspired while playing a game called The Final Station, a game where you play a lowly train driver in control of the last working train, travelling from station to station, through a world being destroyed by a mysterious force (Probably the best way to describe it without spoilers, I highly recommend you play it). The way this game tell it’s story is brilliant. Most information comes from the environment, by searching through buildings and picking up small bits of communications between your self and NPC’s, and NPC’s talking to each other. Nothing is shoved in your face, and its left to the player to find as much or as little story information as they need. While i haven’t time to finished this game, Prey also does a really good job of telling story through the environment. We both agreed that any thing we would make, will try to tell a story using the environment as much as possible and let the players exploration lead the way.
As well as story being a major part of our game, we needed a gameplay loop or challenge that would add an extra dimension. For this we came up with a resource management type puzzle mechanic. Where the player would have to manage certain resources throughout the ship that would allow them to navigate through the environment. For example the ship would need power to run all the different sections. But due to damage, the reactor could only create enough power to run a certain amount other resources. Let say the reactor was capable of producing 10 units of power, but to get the oxygen pump up and running it would take 4 unit of power, the medical bay would take another 4 units of power and then the next section of the ship would also take another 4 units of power which you don’t have to spare. The player would have to balance these resources depending on how they wanted the ship to run.
Now that we had our (very) basic idea, we needed to set our limitations. To set yourself up for success it’s very important to design your limitations around your current skill-sets. Because all of my current game development experience was with 2D side-scrolling, that is how we are going to design this game. We are definitely not skilled artists of any kind, but any prototyping would be done with my limited knowledge of pixel art. What we can do well is audio, both being audio engineers, one with a background in composition, this will be where we can excel with out having to reach out for further help.
Here is a quick list of what we wanted to limit the game to…
- Environment – This would be set all in a single spaceship. The spaceship would be big enough that it would need about 20 to 30 crew members to run.
- Characters – We will have between 7 and 10 key characters that the player could interact with.
- Game Time – The story would be playable in about 2 to 3 hours of gameplay, depending on how much exploring the player did.
- Gameplay Loop – A resource management system that would restrict how the player can navigate the environment.
- Endings – We want to have three main story lines. Good, evil and neutral, with between 2 and 3 different endings for each one.
With our limitations set we now have somewhere to start. Next step is prototyping, this stage is going to be very important and the topic of my next blog post. Until then, thanks a lot for reading.