At 11/12 GameCareerGuide launched another of their weekly game design challenges, which, in their words is:
“Design an experimental game concept that plays with the notion of time, and explain why it is worthwhile to conduct this experiment”
I feel it’s a great way to put my skills and studies to test, so I went off and cooked 2 ideas for the challenge which I’ll transcript here, the way I submitted them. Note that I followed their submission form.
Without further ados, here is the second attempt:
1.What is the name of your game, and please describe it (100 words max.)?
The experiment is Real Time Strategy game, the twist is that it’s played in three instances for the same battlefield at the same time, each representing a different age of history. Whatever a player does in the prior ages affects the future ones (like erecting/razing buildings). The elements for RTS are present, but split among the ages: gathering in the past, combat in the present and technological advances in the future (affects past ages after discovering time travel). Each age has an independent win condition and the player is only required to meet one of them to win.
2.How is the core gameplay experimental? Give detail on the gameplay experiment you are performing. Why is this experiment important? What does it bring to games that is not already ubiquitous? (300 words max.)
RTS games that plays in more than one layer is not exactly a new thing, the concept of differentiation between ground and air combat is an example of this. Dragonshard already implemented a two layered battlefield, one for the RTS but the other was an action RPG. The proposition for this experiment is to create a new mechanic that will influence the relationships of cause-effect in a RTS. If you want something built in the future age you have to manage the gathering age layer, erect the building (and pre-requisites) at some of the appropriate ages, defend it in the present age to ripe it’s fruits in the future layer. But in my opinion the most important twist in this experiment is that each age/layer has it’s unique victory conditions. With this a player can pursue different strategies that will require different ways of looking at each age. I hope to achieve with this the sense of focusing in a strategy while having to keep an eye for in which age(s) are your opponent investing more playtime. The experiment should throw in more cause-effect relationships not currently found in RTS games, increasing the complexity of the player decision-making process.
I think the game would benefit form features like a “time travel”, a way that units and technology built in the future age can interact with the prior ages, augmenting the loop of cause-effect. I also would like to throw in the design feature that allow short-term advantages for a player at the cost of negative effects in future ages, like industry in the present age that improve the income generation from the resources gathered, but that would cause environmental disaster at the future age (even leading to a automatic losing condition).
3.How will you know whether the experiment is a success? What problems and limitations might arise? What do these limitations mean for future incarnations of this kind of gameplay? (300 words max.)
I fear that a design like this may become too overwhelming for the players, not due the relationship between the elements through the ages, but due the fact of managing 3 different layers at the same time. This game is actually target to be a multiplayer, so both opponents would face the same limitations.I believe that in a commercial implementation a great effort should be put in how to create the interface with the player, specilally the one that help him navigate trough the ages and see what’s happening in each one.
This experiment will be a success if the players do not feel overwhelmed to manage 3 layers of a RTS game simultaneously, and specially if the new relationships between units, buildings, technologies and resources spread among the ages allow for new strategies not currently beign used in the RTS games found in the market.