Some of my fondest memories with video games are as a kid meandering through the world of Chrono Trigger and getting to know its characters in a way that almost made them real. In some ways it was like a good book that I couldn’t put down, but in a more visual, audible, and interactive way (though books will always have a treasured place in my life too). That lens is focusing our efforts today and challenging us to think about how indie games can be an immersive experience or a casual hobby.

Our goal, though it seems difficult to surmount right now, is to build something that enables some players to pick up the game and quickly enjoy a few rounds in 5-10 minute increments, while also catering to those who want to more deeply engage in gameplay for longer periods at a time. That’s led us toward an indie game mechanic which (we hope) is easy to understand in about 30 seconds, and expands modularly from there with additional complexity (and rewards), should the player pursue it.

Equally as important in our eyes is storyline and plot. We want something that allows players to relate in a visceral way, with character interaction that keeps them intrigued and guessing at the next twist, and provides a way to grow and change with the game world that helps players feel a part of that reality, even if just for a few moments.

So that’s the idea, and so far we’ve encountered some challenges. At times we’ve been tempted to write a series of short stories, only to pause and instead write more general outlines with a few character quotes so that we can look at a more real view of the game’s skeleton.

Right now we’ve settled on an approach that pulls out specific bullet points describing character actions, with their associated gameplay mechanics, and we’re using the Tiled Map Editor to build rough map layouts with freely available sprites. Though they aren’t representative of the final look and feel , we’ll likely share some of those maps soon with some callouts on what the actual gameplay will be.

photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via photopin cc