Daily Design: Day 339
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;
Annual, Famine and Task.
As such, the game I’ve designed today is…
In Harvest, players take the role of the mayor of a small country village. They’re dependent on crops to survive and have very limited contact with any other community. Fortunately, they have a mysterious harvest god on their side that guarantees healthy crops each year. Less fortunately, it requires increasingly severe sacrifices to maintain favour with the village.
It’s a management game, in which players have to handle food, population growth, housing, tools and so on – similar in tone and gameplay to Banished. The game uses a yearly cycle, and at the end of each Winter, players have to make a sacrifice to the harvest god. If it’s satisfied, it will grant its favour to the village and ensure healthy crop growth. If it’s not, then the village is almost certainly doomed – or at the very least, players will have a very hard time for the following year.
The end goal is to find a way to rid the village of the harvest god entirely. As well as keeping the village alive and growing, players have to dedicate resources to researching the origins of the creature and figuring out how to destroy it. Ideally, they’d do this while continuing to appease it, as angering it too often will lead to it actively working against the village. Eventually, it may even create an Avatar to wreak havoc.
It’s a basic (and honestly heavy-handed) way to handle tough decision making, which is at the core of most games but especially in strategy titles. Forcing players into a tough decision on a predictable cycle gives them a chance to prepare for it, but also makes it easy to predict their actions and then throw a curve ball their way.
For example, if the first year has a sacrifice requiring a goat, players will expect something similar the following year. Kicking it up a notch is easy – five goats, for example. Eventually, it’ll be a villager, then move on to multiples. Escalation is simple enough, but having the god demand a sacrifice earlier is a good (if unfair) way to keep players off guard. It adds a lot of tension and unpredictability to what is essentially a non-military 4X game.
That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.