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Post #1: Game-Play Philosophy

A few days ago, I was reading COSMOS by Carl Sagan. One quote struck me as something relevant for the project I’m currently working on: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

Creating a video game is a lot like inventing a universe. To start, you need a foundation to build upon. To me, that is one of the most interesting aspects of game design. The foundation must be solidified in order for interesting content to be constructed upon it.

Prototypes are important to the designing process because they ensure that a project can be viable. I started BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS by constructing a tiny gray dungeon that essentially tested the rudimentary controls and switches that would consist of much of the game-play. This gray dungeon actually serves as the first dungeon in the finished game.

It’s difficult to determine how players will play your game, so it’s important to give them a safe way to explore without frustration. When you enter this dungeon, you’re not left with many options to explore. The door at the top has a locked symbol on it. Most players will assume (correctly) that a key will be needed to open the door.

The door on the left looks like it could use some force to open. The players’ eyes will invariably be drawn to the few colorful objects in the room. The fire is unobtainable, the rope leads back to the entrance, the sign introduces the dungeon. It must be the red switch!

When you open the door to enter the next room, you’re greeted by your first enemy, the simple bat. There’s a large crevice that you’d be wise to avoid. However, you can’t help but notice 3 pathways that are currently inaccessible to you. You’ll plant that seed in your mind as you further traverse the dungeon. I wonder if that treasure chest will lead to the key that you need for the locked door?

BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS takes this logic and vigorously peppers it in every way. There will be enemies that you can’t conventionally destroy. There will be puzzles that will make you scratch your head. You’ll love every moment of it.

Eric 8/4/22

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