Daily Design: Day 218

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are;

Fear, Profit and Tale.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Horror Story

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Horror Story is a game about a struggling horror author, who’s just beginning their next big series in the hopes of making it big.

This is a horror / roguelike game, which is essentially made up of several smaller horror games. The player begins by starting a new story and creating a character (or randomising one). Then, they can select a difficulty and an environmental template (like a biome) to explore. From here, their goal is to explore and survive until they can find an exit. If they die, that character is deleted for good.

Each attempt at the game makes up one horror novel, written by the protagonist. Success in the game is directly tied to the success of the novel, and more successful novels will unlock new characters, environments, enemies and more.

The main menu of the game plays like a first-person game as the author explores their office, and this is office is upgraded to reflect success in-game. While it starts out run-down and, honestly, a bit shitty, several successful novels will begin to show a transformation.

The more danger players put themselves in, the higher their score will be. “Score” in this game refers to the success of the final novel, which translates to in-game money that can be used to unlock more content.

Because this is all a bit confusing, I’ll quickly go over how a typical run would work;

Firstly, the player creates a protagonist for their novel. They customise their clothes (which can be seen in first person) and their skillset. Skillsets range from climbing ability to more survival skills or even weapons handling. There’s no limit to how skilled a character can be, but if too many skills are added they become a “Mary Sue” and the success of the novel will drop dramatically. Less skills makes for a higher score, essentially.

Next, they select an environmental template. This is basically just for aesthetics, and can be randomised. These are things like “Abandoned Hospital”, “Swamp”, “Forest” etc. That the game itself will take place in.

Then, it’s a first-person survival game, though there’s no food, water or sleep meter to look out for. Instead, the player has to find the exit and make it out without being killed. While the environment is procedurally generated (and thus, so is the exit), clues can be found scattered about.

The idea is essentially to play it stealthy until you can find a weapon for some unreliably self-defense. Look for clues until you can find the exit and hope you don’t have to fight anything off along the way.

The idea of it being roguelike is to dial the tension up to 11, since dying means your entire run is over. Horror games often rely on savepoints for this reason, but only being able to save in certain areas is a real nightmare for many players, so I think this is an interesting compromise. To be clear, players can’t save their game and reload at any point, but they can always choose to save and quit in case they need to do something in the “real world”.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.

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