Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Library

I've still been too wrapped up with real life stuff to be able to do any heavy development (my girlfriend just left for Australia!), but I've still been kicking around some design ideas in my head. These ideas are mostly feature related at this point as I'm still trying to flesh out what the initial game will encompass.

The subject of this blog post will focus upon a mechanic I like to call the Library. As in the real world the Library will be a source of knowledge. It will contain information on enemies, items, spells, locations, and other yet to be determined topics. These will be categorized into different books within the Library, and will only be available if they contain some information. There will also be a book recounting the history and legends of your ancestors (previously played in game characters). There will be hidden books throughout the world that you can return to the Library to gain some benefit towards character.

So far the Library sounds pretty straightforward, so you might be wondering if there is anything unique about it. There is! The Library will be persistent across all of your characters. Information uncovered on one character will be available to all future characters, and discovered books will remain discovered. To gain the bonuses from a previous character you'll have to locate their burial place (where they died) and pray for them. You will then become imbued with their knowledge.

This will serve a few functions. It will add a sense of history to the game, and provide the feeling that your characters actions persist through generations. It provides an intermediate goal to the game, because if you find your previously created character you will instantly become more powerful. It also provides goals to any character, since finding a book inside or at the end of dungeons can be a powerful motivator. Also, it provides a different mechanism for improving your character and a collecting mechanism that may attract some gamers. The collection mechanic will tie into my achievements system, which will be the subject of a future post.

There you have it. I haven't gone into any specifics one what the books will contain, mostly because that hasn't been decided yet. Some surprise is always good I guess. I'd be interested in knowing other's thoughts on this game mechanic, and any additions people might find interesting.


Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by the idea of persistency between characters. Dwarf Fortress certainly does it with the world generation, but I'll admit (with some shame) that playing The Caverns of Hammerfest (an online arcade game) has been the larger inspiration. By collecting items in TCoH, you complete quests, persistent from game to game. These quests unlock further quests, and sometimes abilities, or extra starting lives, helping you go further into the game.

The pay-offs, as I was envisioning them, is having gameplay start out with simpler rules, building over time, but not overwhelming the new player with a ton of options (Incursion!) As classes, abilities, towns, monsters, were unlocked, the game could stay fresh with new content and strategies, as well as a story arc that extended beyond the short life of the typical adventurer.

That said, I hate the games that force you to be exceptional in order to unlock everything. I feel that merely adequate playing should be enough to access all of the content. :)

I like the idea of books; they could contain spells, world history, even the histories of notable heroes (previous characters). They could relate weaknesses of villians or backdoors to dungeons, shortcuts (past the now-easy levels), or new starting points.

PS. Incursion is great; I refer only to its high learning curve.

Enne Walker said...

Your idea about a library sounds like an in-character combination of a few things I've seen before. (This is not a bad thing, just an observation.) The idea of monster information across characters reminds me of Angband's monster memory. Praying on the location of deceased characters for bonuses is a lot like (Nethack-style, not Crawl-style) bones files.

However, I haven't really seen any game where one character's actions affect future characters in a significant way. Would these books be randomly generated or would they be more for achievements, i.e. some fiendishly hard optional quest has a book as a reward.

Please write about your achievement system when you get a chance. I've been amazed at how DoomRL's rank system (similar to achievements) makes continual replays more interesting and more extrinsically goal-driven than just winning again. So, I'm interested to see where you're planning to go with yours.

Mario said...

I really like this library thing... Had an idea about something similar but haven't thought it through yet.

Let's see what you come up with :-)