My class is beginning to learn how to create interactive fiction games by using the program Inform 7. So I took a look at three games to see if I could gain some inspiration.
In order to better prepare myself for creating an interactive fiction game, I chose to play a few interactive fictions games made by experienced coders. The first game that I played was Ka by Dan Efran. In this game you are a newly awoken Egyptian mummy beginning your journey in the underworld. The spells in this game really intrigued me, because I would like to code something similar in my game so that it really seems like my PC is casting spells. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my mummy out of the coffin. Sad and lame yes, but it's a puzzle that I haven't found the key to yet.
The next game that I tried was Moon-Shaped by Jason Ermer. Moon-Shaped is the re-telling of "Little Red Riding Hood" with a twist of horror and mystery thrown in. I really enjoyed playing this game, and I would like to incorporate how this game's PC was able to experience flashbacks or "visions" into my own game.
The third game that I played was Dreamhold by Andrew Plotkin. Dreamhold gave me several ideas that would be a good thing to incorporate into my game. Dreamhold's PC can increase their "score" for finding various masks throughout the game. But perhaps the most helpful feature within this game was the "Help" feature that can give players hints when they are stuck in the game. Also, Plotkin included a "Tutorial Voice" that is extremely helpful to gamers new to interactive fiction games.
My game will be set in the small village of Arlo, Maine in the 1600s. As of now, I think that my story will reside in the mixed genre of Horror and Adventure. I haven't come up with a name for my character, but I do have a few details. The Player Character (PC) is a young girl. When you examine the PC, you will receive a short description of the girl as being clothed in a dirty, tattered dress and severely disoriented. Throughout the course of the game the PC will discover who she is, what happened to her family, and what she can do to bring peace to her deceased family members (but she doesn't find out that they are dead until later on in the game play.
I have also already planned some actions or puzzles that my PC will have to accomplish in order to advance the game's storyline. Near the beginning of the game, the PC will have to search for a key in order to unlock the gate as well as a separate key to unlock an old trunk in a cottage that holds more clues as to what happened to her family.
Some other tasks that I plan to have the PC do include finding a wooden flute and at least two different series of notes. These notes may then be played to unlock a mausoleum. The PC might have to collect the notes from several different locations, but I'm not sure yet. In addition to these, the PC will need to find incantations throughout the world in order to trigger hidden events.
Here are a few opening lines of code that I have written thus far:
When play begins, say "This is a game that is more than a game, a dream that is more than a dream, a you that is more than you."
The Field is a room. "You awake in a field of wildflowers. A small breeze drifts through the field, transforming the field into a riot of natural colors. To the south you can see the ground begins to slope toward the top of a dark brown building."
The Stable is a room. The Stable is southwest from the Field.
As I am coding the game, I plan to leave hints within the text concerning what the PC should be doing next so as to progress through the game. I would also like to figure out how to leave hints within the game's responses to the PC's actions. For example, after trying to enter the mausoleum without all of the notes at least three times, the game will prompt the PC with a more obvious hint as to where to get the notes.
I'm still debating about what I can do to make the game more challenging as the PC travels through the game. I may try something along the lines of making the objects more hidden the farther through the game the PC goes, rather than obviously telling the PC where an item is in a room. However, I hope that my gradual escalation of things to find will be enough of a reward to continue a player's participation, because I plan for both an intricate story and several items to be found and/or puzzles to be solved.
When it comes to the end of my game, I hope to have two different endings, though this will depend entirely upon my time and coding ability. My original plan for the game's ending includes the PC having a choice to make. She can either summon the Fey (Faerie folk) and leave with them forever, or she can cast a spell that leaves the entire town suspended in time until the townspeople turn on each other.
However, if I run short on time coding the game, I will only go with one ending. Although, I can't accurately write which one I prefer because I like them both. And both a much more haunting in my mind than they seem on this blog. Another area that I can cut in order to meet my deadline is to condense the map.Then again, if I find myself with extra time, then I would like to expand the map, spells, and general puzzles that the PC can find and use.
If you'd like to see what coding recipes some of my classmates are cooking up, then check them out.