Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Steal This Game Design: Survive This!

A short one, this week, as I'm still not clear on the details for this idea. Not to mention that I'm only partially familiar with the genre I'm targeting... Let me know what you think...

Survive This!

This would be a survival horror game, but with a major twist: the player will get no effective weapons, whatsoever. The horror will be enhanced by never being able to fight back.

So, what can you do, then? Your only choice is to run away, but there are still many choices involved: you have to decide where you want to run to, pick passages, etc. Anything you pick up which may seem like a weapon might not hurt the creatures and apparitions you see, but you can still use a baseball bat to break a window, or an axe to cut through a locked door, or even a sledgehammer to... well, break stuff.

So while there may be no way to directly fight back, you can still use the environment.

For example, maybe ghosts can move through wood, but not through stone or metal, so you can try to find ways to smash stones to block a ghost's passage.

Each creature type can have its own characteristics, which the player must learn to effectively avoid them.

There should generally be more than one possible way to avoid a creature, unless the only way to avoid the creature is very obvious.

There would be no "boss fights", but there would be major setpieces that the player would need to get through, sometimes involving unique creatures.

Basically, the pacing would be:

- open with a quick action scene, almost like Dragon's Lair
- some slower-paced exploration, with easy-to-avoid enemies, giving the player a chance to plan his way out
- a mid-level action scene, perhaps some sort of chase, if possible not on any rails.
- the chase unlocks objects and places that weren't accessible before, so, more exploration
- trying to get out of the "place" causes the "place" itself to fight back, which culminates in a setpiece scene (as described above, this replaces an actual boss "fight".)

Repeat with some variation along the way.

Oh, and the player is never told that the weapons in the game are ineffective. The game may hint at it subtly, but generally, the moment when the player realizes this should be a major revelation, something that makes the player go: "Oh, so THAT'S how this game is supposed to be played!"

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