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Adding content in a story-driven game

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#1 epicpunnum   Members   -  Reputation: 459


Posted 21 April 2013 - 10:46 PM

I am constructing a barebones engine for my game, and because of its structure, it it very easy to create and implement new features, even after the game has been finalized and published. The specifics of doing this isn't too hard, but what I'm struggling with is the best way to present it.

My game is a 2D puzzle/horror game that has a large focus on story. As such, there is a natural progression of mechanics and difficulty; it may start with a simple button and door, and more to remote control puzzles, and finally work with challenging momentum physics puzzles that require more reaction time. Therefore, there may be mechanics that are slowly introduced and fit into the story.

However, what do I do after the game is done? Currently, I plan on improving replay value of my game by offering later updates in the form of a sub-game I'm currently calling "The Tower." In it, the player is subjected to a supply of new maps at random and with each update, more maps will be added, turning it into a game of "how many can you solve/survive?"

But let's say that I end up introducing a mechanic that's entirely foreign to the main story game. After playing the story, the player may be familiar with traps, buttons, doors, toggle switches, spikes, spawners, teleporters, and enemies. But what if when I make an update to expand on what can be done ingame, I create a new game mechanic? For the sake of explanation, let's say it's a window, which can only be smashed with an object moving fast enough. The player would have no knowledge of this; it may even seem like scenery for some, and they may never make the connection that it's an important mechanic.


In the story it could have time to be introduced, but if this mechanic is introduced after the story has been finalized, then it would make no sense to go back and change the story. And because changing the story is out of the question, that would leave just simply slapping it into "The Tower" sub-game, where it would be randomly show up without explanation or exposition.

So what I'm asking is: In a game where the story has been finalized, but the potential to add more content exists, what are ways to properly introduce new mechanics without simply telling them every time? What are ways to add new mechanics and puzzles into a story-driven puzzle game?

Thanks for taking your time to read this :)


#2 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5871


Posted 22 April 2013 - 02:34 AM

In general, story-driven games aren't replayable.  Instead of fighting an uphill battle against that, maybe start a new game?

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.

#3 overactor   Members   -  Reputation: 198


Posted 22 April 2013 - 07:01 AM

mostly have to agree with sunandshadow here, story driven games will always have limited replay value but I guess an unlimited gamemode is a possibility.

What you could do is make an introduction level for each new puzzle mechanic and when your game randomly selects a level, it could check if your player has encountered all of the mechanics in there yet, if he hasn't, you can first have him play the introduction levels to those mechanics.

"You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood."

"What mood is that?"

"Last-minute panic."

#4 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2905


Posted 22 April 2013 - 08:17 AM

I can see two possibilities one you make the game episodic.  So that you can add new episodes after release that allow you to introduce new mechanics.

Or two you can do add new plot lines to the main game when you introduce new mechanics.   So for instance if the main arc has you trapped on the second floor of a mansion and then having moving down stairs via the dumb waiter.  When you add the glass break mechanic you also add an alternative path that has you break a window to climb down into the garden.  The two paths join up again later on in the story but it takes you at least for a while along another story arc.

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