Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The History Of Reconstructing S31's Game Design

Recently I have been thinking hard about what to do with the gameplay of Reconstructing S31. This whole entire time my thoughts regarding such have been gradually evolving. Originally, I was planning on the game to be a cross between an on-rails shooter and an adventure-y puzzle game. This gameplay concept would take a lot of its inspiration from the earlier Zelda games, having a non-linear world for the player to explore but a set progression through abilities towards an ending. However, when I started to think about the actually context of the game's world, it take several boring contrivances to explain why the player had to fight enemies. From here, I was left with just the adventure-y puzzle game part.

This meant the focus would have to completely turn to puzzles. Now the term "puzzle" is applied to a great many game designs that can vary significantly from each other. For instance, consider just how different the designs of Tetris and Sokoban are. Or an even large gap would be between something like Bejeweled and an inventory puzzle found within the typical point and click adventure. I wanted to create something as unique as Sokoban, with one specific mechanic that could be applied to multiple elements in different ways. It would be in the combinations of these different interactions where the interesting could occur.

So came the concept of "tiles," the different elements that could be manipulated by the single mechanic of clicking (innovation!). First I introduced sliding tiles, not my own puzzle design but with an imaginative assortment of tile variations I hoped there would be something worthwhile to find. I also worked on the idea of two other tile types, place tiles and rail tiles. Now two new problems revealed themselves to me. While I had shifted the design over to a more linear, puzzle oriented approach, the world was still designed for a more adventure like experience, forcing me to consider the way the game was structured overall. Having a large focus on the player movement amongst rails also challenged what I was trying to accomplish with the puzzle elements. I also found that I had made a common mistake with my three tile types. Yes, they were manipulated by the same mechanic, but mixing them together did not reveal anything really interesting or new in the context of getting the player from point to point. I think there still is potential in them, but I am considering moving them into another project.

I am still considering where to move on to now with Reconstructing S31 and I have an idea I would like to prototype; it is very unique and definitely closer to what I have been looking for.

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