More than just adventure?
Im busy making a new construct set (http://www.stasisgame.com/constructing-a-scene-part-2/) for the general room configurations onboard The Groomlake, and have really been looking at other games for inspiration. I think that DOOM 3 really was a groundbreaking game when it came to level design. If not in the layout of the levels, then definately in the art direction.
Something that really sticks out in those levels was the amount of ‘nothing’ details. Every screen had a readout, there were computers running that opened up storage lockers, log books open with interdepartmental memo’s about ‘having a drink with Dave’…all of those things really gelled to create a fantastically immersive environment. The type of living, breathing environment that I imagine for STASIS.
HOWEVER, with STASIS being an adventure game, where everything can mean something…will putting these touches in the game just complicate the matters? I mean, if I have a clipboard that you can pick up and read, and it says something about regular maintenance on the water system to happen every hour-how do I differentiate that from a proper clue for solving a puzzle? If you search a body, and find out that the guys name was Edward-how do I make sure that you know to look for a Edward in the database at a later stage? How do I make the player know that THAT Edward is important, but the Susan that he searched earlier was just for ‘atmosphere’?
Something I am looking at is that certain areas could be bypassed, if you collect certain items that are in locked containers/cupbaords/etc. Those locked items will be opened by finding key card sequences by looking through log books or other computer systems. You dont NEED those items, but they will help you more in certain areas. For instance, one (cliched) puzzle could involve you making a magnet by using copper wire and a nail…whereas in one of the locked containers, there could be a magnet.
Will this detract from the gaming experience? I’m not sure. Perhaps its just a nice way to have multiple solves for a puzzle? Perhaps you had no idea you needed a magnet, until you opened the container, and then went “AHA! A MAGNET!”. But the big question then comes in, is your inventory just going to end up being filled with shit that you picked up, but no longer need? The inventory has an unlimited storage capacity, but for that players sanitys sake I really want to keep the amount of items in the inventory to a manageable amount throughout the game.
I would love to hear what you guys think about these issues. Perhaps you see a solution that I don’t? (making clues blue, and red herrings red was one idea…but that really does seem like I’m treating the players like idiots).