Sunday, July 12, 2009

Design: Uniqueness

Every good designer should always make sure they have an answer to one question about their game: "What makes your game unique?" Not having a good answer to this question is often a sign of a boring clone of another game. Ideally, there should be several reasons why a game should be set apart from its peers. In my last post, I spoke about the small details that I feel make a big difference in overall quality, but that is just one of many ways I am trying to make the module special.

One thing that's unique about this current project is the amount and diversity of custom items available for players to use - or have used against them! There are 44 custom weapons currently available for players to pick up, and the diversity means no matter what weapons you would like to use, you'll be able to find some that pack a signficant punch. Of course, given that these are no ordinary weapon, each has it's own detailed backstory and description, not to mention that some feature unique abilities. Some may be able to unleash fearsome effects upon enemies, though powerful magic always has its drawbacks, and some weapons might prove to be equally dangerous to their owners!

But such powerful items would be too much were they not match by equally powerful enemies. Yet the variety of enemies that players will face should provide them with some interesting challenges and strategic decisions. Many creatures will require special tactics to beat, forcing players to pick their attacks and their targets carefully. I am really wanting to provide some unique challenges in the combat arena, and believe that I'm giving enemies some special behaviours and weaknesses that will keep players on their toes.

Another unique thing about the module is its setting, for while it relies heavily on the D&D universe and many characters that players may be familiar with, it will be quite unlike anywhere else in the planes. I'll try to discuss the setting more in the future, though this poses some interesting challenges without providing plot spoilers...


Jason said...

Sounds neat. Can you say how it is that the players will learn about whatever tactics they may need to take down these enemies? Will it be trial and error, or will there be some way to learn about them?


Azenn said...

Damn it, I don't have a good answer to that question.

AmstradHero said...

Jason: There will be hints on how to defeat special enemies where required. There will also be the potential to be able to gain extra information on certain enemies depending on the player's choices.

Also, in some cases, the strengths/weaknesses of the enemies may be immediately apparent, but the player may need to work out how to exploit those to their advantage.

So I guess a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.

Azenn: I think most games/modules do have something unique about them. It all depends on your focus. Some people want to present an epic and dramatic story to a player (e.g. Planescape: Torment), break new ground in cinematic presentation in gaming (Mass Effect), or maybe push players on an adrenaline fueled frenzy of action (Call of Duty 4).

While I can't comment on your forthcoming work, I felt Asphyxia very much focussed on its story-telling component and did it well. It's all about delivering a punch to the player right where you want it - just make sure you know where you want that punch to be.

Eguintir Eligard said...

I think the best way to show the uniqueness without spoiling is unnamed screen shots (or obscurely named, with a generic description).

The visuals will draw interest if its a cool area, but they don't need to know where, when or how you get to that place before they play.