Category Archives: game design

Player Freedom vs. Railroading, Revisited

Although I’m still implementing material for Act 2 in Vespers, I’ve been working with NR on creating some of the new material for Act 3. In Act 3, there is considerably more action, and the story branches out in a couple of potential directions. There are a set of interactions and events that occur inside the monastery, and others that occur outside the monastery, where the player had not been able to venture before in Acts 1 and 2.

In reviewing the interactions and events for Act 3, I referred back to the design document I made, which I discussed a while back in another post. In so doing, I began to think about storyline issues I hadn’t considered before.

Be warned, spoilers [More...] Read the rest

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25 Years Later, Why Adventure Games Suck

A quarter of a century has come and gone since Ron Gilbert first wrote the article “Why Adventure Games Suck” in 1989.

I discovered this while flipping through some old posts on my blog, and I found one from six years ago that discussed this very article. Since my memory, generally speaking, sucks, I had to go back and read Ron’s article again, not to mention my own, as I could barely recall either. Note: I am not proud of this fact.

It was then that I realized that it’s the 25-year anniversary of that article. 25 years. That’s insane.

Ron reprinted it back in 2004, when a mere 15 years had passed, and at that time he declared that “adventure games are officially dead,” [More...] Read the rest

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Comments on Changelog 2014-01-20

The main theme in the last couple of changelogs has been “entering” and “exiting”.

In Vespers, there are several objects that act as traditional interactive fiction-style “supporters” and “containers” — that is, objects that allow you to mount them (supporters) or enter them (containers). These would be objects like chairs, benches, and beds. The latter is particularly important for Vespers, but either way if we’re going to include objects like these in the 3D world, there should be a process in place for sitting and lying down, even if it’s not crucial for the completion of the game. Without that, the world would just seem too non-interactive and uninviting.

In text, the process of mounting or entering objects is fairly straightforward, and is [More...] Read the rest

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A Verb Analysis, Redux

A long, long time ago—it looks like over five years ago, actually, which makes me wince—I posted a blog article here about an analysis of verb use in some well-known IF games. These were based not on actual player transcripts, but rather on the published walkthroughs of these games. The walkthroughs weren’t necessarily the quickest solutions to the games—they included commands that were technically unnecessary for solving the game, but which provided a more complete experience of the game for players who followed them. Still, they were by no means game transcripts, so they didn’t truly reflect the typical use of verbs that one might expect from players. The idea was to get a sense of the breadth and depth of verb usage in these [More...] Read the rest

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Game Design Docs II

In the last post, I talked a bit about my game design documents for Vespers, although technically they’re really more like level design documents. Vespers doesn’t have levels, of course, but it does have Acts that are organized chronologically, so design docs for each Act help to organize the content and action into discrete compartments. I thought this would be an interesting look at how the game is structured, where the action takes place, and how the docs have helped in the design and development of the game.

Previously, I showed the design docs for Acts I and II, which represent the first day of the game. Most of the action involves talking with the various NPCs to understand the backstory and current [More...] Read the rest

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