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Mephs

Goblin Tinkerer

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As an offshoot of my platformer idea threads, I've thought up another idea about a game involving a goblin tinkerer as the main character. The unique element I've decided on for this idea is that in several of the game levels, there will be multiple routes through the level, with some of them being unavailable upon the first play due to blocking elements. This could be that not all creatures can be defeated in a level, thus meaning that players need to move between levels to solve older levels, finding out what they need to beat a previous level, making the game more RPG-like in nature. The environment will also be a factor with certain environmental elements being impassible without the aid of a device, powerup or spell. This fits in well with the goblin tinkerer idea as I can just picture a goblin running around levels trying to find parts for his crazy inventions! It should also increase the replay value of any given level. As an example, perhaps trolls may only be defeated by exposing them to UV light, so the tinkerer must collect parts from various other levels to create a UV torch weapon... of course the player will be guided through this and not left entirely to their own devices and there will be multiple options to pass each blocking element. Other ideas I have had include: - wings to bypass elements that cannot be reached on foot. - set of scuba gear for bypassing water based areas. - tinfoil hat to protect against a psychic invasion ability possessed by certain monsters. - shrink-ray device to get into small areas. - time travel device to reach a hidden map area in a different time period. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this gameplay mechanic, perhaps some more ideas for wacky inventions, or something to expand upon the idea? Cheers, Steve

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Sounds like a good idea - reminds me of a few other games
- pokemon (an RPG), where you picked up items later in the game that opened up blocked areas near the start
- legacy of kain : soul reaver (an FPS) where you gained abilities that opened up new areas.
- and the one that sounds a lot like your game - alice in wonderland (a platformer for the c64) in which you had to pick up items to unlock previous sections - like a boat to cross a pond that blocked you early in the game.

Overall it sounds like you could have whole new levels - that just happen to start part way through a previous level, and need a key. [edit] Actually, you could take it further - and have the whole game as one map - so instead of your traditional old-stlye rpg where you run around on a top-view map, you're running around a side-view map (of a kind) - then its not going back to previous levels, just previous areas. You could have an over-all map that connects areas for faster travel. [/edit]

The two worries i have are :
- you need to make it obvious that they need to double back once they have an item; if the story-line has to go through that point. If its just for bonuses etc, its up to them to remember.
- it needs to be obvious that they CANT get past something without the 'key' - so a giant troll mightn't be good in that some players will keep trying and then give up rather than thinking 'ill try again later' - especially since its not a normal mechanic for platformers.

As for more ideas - you could have some levels time based (ie, if your game has a night/day cycle, some paths are blocked at night - the shops closed for instance)

Wyzfen

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Doesn't that sort of remind you of the Metroid series?

Anyway, I loved this series. What I would like to see with the Goblin Tinkerer idea is a Gpoblin that re-uses old parts of his inventions to come up with something even bigger, but different.

Have you seen that TV series Alias? It featured a race for Rambaldi's artifacts. Each artifact was, in and of itself a clue to get to the next artifact, but also a part of one or more mechanical device, created to have an extraordinary effect.

The same could be done with the Goblin, right? He is a genious inventor. He will first use a piece of straw or something like that to scuba, then will find a saponiferous stone that he can use in conjunction with some water to create soap bubbles. After he has found a dead toad he can use as an oxygen reserve to dive deeper, or as bellows to blow bigger bubbles. After catching slugs, he can rub them on the soap stone, and create harder bubbles he can bounce on, and may use a large leaf as a glider. Use two slugs to slide on something or, four to climb a vertical surface while slowly sliding down, or even prevent being burned yourself when walking on a burning surface.It can go on and on.

But the most interesting thing is what happens when you get to mechanical devices. If you can create a mechanical whip , you can use it to power a small boat, a lift, or transform it into monocycle if you manage to catch a wheel. Or maybe to power something bigger after you have adapted more mechanical devices together.

Get a tube of bark and two jewels, and you've got, at first, a looking glass, and then, after you've managed to create a concentrating mirror, a laser able to cut through things and opponents alike, provided they are below you (because the sun is above...). The looking glass can set fire to the large leaf and ignite bark, large leaves can be glued together using slugs slime, so as to create a balloon, straw can be used to create armature for a basket to transport fire, large leaves or bark can be tied to the mechanical whip and attached to the basket under the balloon to provide mobility in the air.

Possibilities are endless. And so far, I have only used, what, six or seven different items? The combinations are what makes it interesting. Maybe you can manage to use your bubble blower to repel flying animals, or throw slugs at them to glue their wings.

I think the most interesting part of such a game would be limited storage space management. You would have to combine elements to gain storage space, and to use things you have combined, you would have to de-combine them, and therefore, to free storage space by dropping items you could then loose if another goblin came around.

I think it would be better if it all happened in one set level. A big one, but unique nonetheless...

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After reading your first post, I immediately thought of the Metroid and Castlevania games, though Fournicolas' ideas extend this somewhat. Whilst those games were great, the ways to do things were very rigid and pre-set. If your game mechanics allowed multiple ways to do things, in a freeform manner, it'd be so much more fun.

As an example, to get over some high obstacle, perhaps you could make a glider and jump from a high place, perhaps make a hot air balloon, perhaps put springs on your feet, and so on. Each of these would be very different to obtain parts for and to use, and could potentially create some interesting gameplay. Perhaps the game would hint at making a hot air balloon, but the player would notice shoes and springs nearby, make springy shoes, then discover that they are highly uncontrollable with hilarious consequences? The game world should praise innovation rather than forcing a player down a particular route.

I think this would be a highly entertaining game, though creating the content for it may turn out to be a nightmare... good luck with it, anyway :)

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I like this idea a lot. Definitely have all areas clearly revisitable and interconnected, something like Spyro perhaps. That emphasizes the idea of it all being set in one world and makes it easier for players to work out that they need to return to certain areas. It also makes it a lot less linear, which is always good. :)

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When I read the initial post I imediately though of "The Incredible Machine" series. You could make a 3D version, where instead of being a disenbodied hand, you are the Goblin Tinkerer.

This would requier you to move around in the 3D world to position the pieces where you need them. This may also entail making a machiene to get you there (ladder, wings, catapult - the player chooses).

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There are some fantastic ideas being posted here, thanks for the responses!! I may not have time to reply in detail to all posts though as I'm due for a driving lesson again soon, but I shall certainly add more when I'm back!!

As for the discussion on small levels vs 1 massive level, I think it's an interesting idea, but I worry that it would be too linear... to get from the haunted house to the forest, we can only move backwards and forwards between the two, there is no alternate route unless you take the vertical dimension as an alternative, but having levels in the sky or below ground as the only alternative method of reaching a location still feels linear to me. Perhaps something like set areas or teleporters or something might help make it none-linear. I kind of like the idea of an overhead map though, it gives the player a chance to take a breather, a location to save games, sort through their inventory and generally take it easy, perhaps looking for secret routes or something at the same time. Still, the idea of a single massive level is innovative and I'd be interested if anyone has an idea to make it feel less linear?

I love some of the inventions suggested too... springs on feet, a laser and all the rest... fantastic, I'll try and post more of my ideas again later and perhaps try and maintain a list of them (maybe edit them in at the beginning of the post or something).

I'm thinking the game could be made funny by explaining the world from a goblins point of view as opposed to the traditional hero viewpoint, perhaps exploring some of the intracacies of goblin society... it could also have a nice twist where the goblin try as he might to be mischievous always seems to end up as a hero! A lot of games seem to appeal when the character builds up a repetoire of friends as it helps draw the player into the game emotionally, so I think it would be good to feature other kinds of goblin the player can meet along the way, each having their own quirks.

I think perhaps one of the objectives could be to collect plans for the devices, or perhaps pieces of plans that combine to form a plan... this would tell you what parts are needed to make a device. Single device parts such as springs could be used instantly, but could also be used in a bigger device that does something more powerful!

I agree that the player needs to have some way of knowing when they should and should not double back... I like the idea that essential story points should be made obvious, but bonuses perhaps less so. I worry though that if we tell them exactly what they need to progress a certain area just because it is a storyline point, we are spoonfeeding them information that my remove suspension of disbelief... part of the game should be for the player to work out what invention fits any given situation, I suppose something inbetween where the player is not directly told what to do at any given time, but can find items that explain how to beat a certain area... perhaps something like goblin journals can be found that explain specific problems in specific levels, so a player always knows that if they cannot beat an area, they need to explore others to find the journals.... this should perhaps be combined with an indicator that shows how many plotpoints are left in the area, so players will never double back to a level that is 100% beaten, but can still be stumped by trying to reach that elusive bonus.

Anyhoo, not long till my driving lesson now, so I'd best dash, but look forward to contributing more later.

Cheers,

Steve

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I like the idea. I've always loved gobling tinkerers ;). You should check out some old DnD arcade games. They're not the same thing at all, but they're rpgs in a platformer. Apart from that, you've got the Metal Slug series.

The Zelda series is a good example of games where you have to come back to the same places over and over again. I just played "Oracle of seasons" on my friends GBA. There you had to change the seasons to access different areas, and you had to find different wands to change the seasons. I would expect it to be quite alot of work to test these levels for "logical errors". I guess you should write up some document on which areas should be available under which conditions etc. so that a player wouldn't accidently jump straight to the end of the game.

Inventions:

  • Arm-longer - A set of mechanical gloves on an X-spring (don’t know that it’s called, so check out this photo. Makes it possible to reach items that are too far away to get to. The longer it's stretched out the harder it is to control.

  • Warmachines - Every goblin and evere platformer needs war machines. If you haven’t played Metal Slug then do it now! There’s nothing like entering a tanks and blowing up your enemies! Could be used for some really cool boss fights and maby you also can decide what to attach to the warmachine (make it modular).

  • Jetpack - Warm up the engine and away you go – but be careful because the jetpack will quickly overheat and *KABOOOOMM*

  • Shrooms - No goblin can go about his day without some shrooms. They can be part of inventions or power ups – but goblins need shrooms ;)

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Well, just for the heck of it, I've roughed out an early concept sketch of the tinkerer =) Still needs cleaning up and finishing off, but I quite like it.

Anyhoo, I'll try and post again later to respond to anything I've missed, back soon!!



Steve

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If I may, I'll suggest some reading: Terry pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy. It's about... Gnomes. Creatures 6 inches tall and incredibly inventive. And the story is really funny, because it's Pratchett.

By the way, having the goblins meddle with Irish Gnomes and find some food round Human houses, like breadcrumbs, and milk saucers. Have twigs be used as stilts. Have rubberbands be used to catapult yourself between two trees.

Downsize it!!

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Is anybody else here thinking of the Incredible Machine? Think of how cool it would be if you combined it with this! The goblin could use his inventions to get from place to place and build the machine, getting him another part to finish it to get to the next one...

...Okay, I'm rambling here. Need more sleep.

On a sidenote, I've found that it's a bit funnier when you make orcs the super-genius inventors, at least at first. Nobody seems to expect that. It worked in a few DnD games I've run.

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I've thought of an interesting twist for this idea... we could treat inventions like spells created from components. Each component being used could have a wear and tear value (perhaps repairable) which means that machines eventually perish. Then we can place loads of items all over the place, so it is easy to make an item if you have the apropriate plans, but the gameplay will revolve around creating the best item from the set of components you have for the given situation, thus we can make it easy for a player to get past almost any situation, but the difficulty is instead in the degree of success the player has in choosing the right device for the situation.

Also, I like the Incredible Machine comparisons, I think an element of this gameplay would work well, but I'd like to retain a definite platformer overtone as I would like the game to have a story rather than be an endless succession of device building.

I'm also half wondering about the option of playing through the same game as a different character.... Inspired in part by Psychonauts, I wonder if a mage or psychic character could approach the same levels in a different manner... or maybe that's just overdoing it :P

Cheers,

Steve

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"Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura" has a similar system - there are lots of pieces of machines around (gears, springs, wire etc), and you can find and buy schematics. Then you mix whatever parts you have to make an item. The more complicated recipes use things that you made with simpler recipes...
- automaton : mechanised arachnid + elite platemail
- mechanised arachnid : small steam engine + large gears
- elite plate mail : dwarven steel + feather weight chainmail
- feather weight chainmail : spool of heavy wire + leather armour
I believe the items can break over time too - been a while since i played it.

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I think I'm going to organize the game roughly as follows:


Player controls goblin tinkerer

Player must collect different categories of component
+ Optical components - Blue
+ Energon manipulation components - Orange
+ Mechanical components - Silver
+ Natural components - Green
+ Vortex components (chaotic element) - Black

Player fights robot incarnations of fantasy creatures

Robot creatures drop certain component types upon destruction

Player must collect plans for devices in order to have them available

Plans each require a set number of each component type to build the device (use components like mana)

Player has a separate screen activated by keyboard that displays potential devices given their current quota of components. Screen does not show devices that the player hasn't collected plans for yet.

Player can only use one invention at a time, devices may be disassembled to return components and allow use of another device.

Devices degrade in repair status over time, eventually failing catastrophically!

Player can also collect nuts n bolts from destroyed robots which can be used to repair and maintain devices.

The number of components you can collect is capped to stop players building up a huge reserve of equipment.

Player can return to maps after completion to discover bonus elements with their newly earned technology

Overhead RPG-style map, but possibly with some bonus levels hidden within other levels?

Favourite devices so far (plus some new ones!)
+ tinfoil hat
+ scuba device
+ shrink-ray
+ time travel device
+ a laser
+ springy shoes
+ mini mech Suit
+ jetpack
+ plasma launcher
+ spaceship
+ magnet shield
+ grappling hook
+ invisibility
+ small boat
+ extendable arms
+ teleporter

---------------------------------------------------------------

Do these game mechanics sound interesting or flawed in any way? I'm thinking of using robot opponents mainly to provide a nice constant supply of nuts, bolts and other components, but I'm not sure if they could be worked into the storyline convincingly, or if it sounds a bit tacky? It might help give the game a distinct theme though?

I'm straying away from the idea of players being able to build their own devices though, mainly because upon reflection, I think it would be very hard work to code such a system as an Indy developer. I'm hoping this idea keeps some of the character while retaining a simplistic design, and hopefully still being fun... but I worry that in simplifying the idea, I may have sucked it dry of the actual fun element... any opinions or improvements on this?

Cheers,

Steve

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you like warcraft don´t you ^^ ? if not, get yourself inspired by this one :)

http://www.battle.net/war3/neutral/goblintinker.shtml

you may not see much in this animation but ... but the goblin is actually very small and is sitting inside his "robot" ...

and this http://www.battle.net/war3/neutral/goblinalchemist.shtml
is the goblin alchemist who is sitting on his ogre ...

they´re both pretty cool ... maybe it helps when making your own one ;)
and whatch their skills

[Edited by - ronnybrendel on September 11, 2006 2:44:44 PM]

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"The Incredible Machine" meets "Super Metroid"?

Could be fun to forget 'devices' constructed via cRPG-style crafting and instead go for actual machines that fling, convey, blow up, etc. =-)

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Nintendo did this with Super Mario World for the SNES. If you can recall, one could complete the game one method, but with additional items and powerups (cape, colored blocks), one could complete some levels following slightly different routes. It made it challenging not to complete the levels, but to find all the secrets.

Excellent idea, I like it a lot.

[Edited by - MatrixCubed on September 11, 2006 3:12:17 PM]

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It sounds like a good idea. You might want to take a look at super metroid(SM)for some inspiration. Basically in SM you are on an alien planet that is one gaint level, divided into rooms. as you explore it you find new equipment and inaccessible areas. Those inaccessible areas only become accessible after you gain the necessary piece of equipment. You also defeat a number of bosses as you progress as part of the story line. You only know where to go next by exploring previously inaccessible areas. Such as there is an area filled with lava that you need to find an armor upgrade to make you heat resistant before you can explore it.

I think your game would work well as in a similar way. Where you have one large area to explore and you use the devices you build to overcome obstacles prevent access to the different areas. You can make the game less linear buy having multiple connection points to different areas. For instance lets say the game took place in a town with a castle in the middle. If you wanted to get into the castle you could:
- Build faux guard suit, to gain access through the main gate
- Build a blimp to fly in through a window in one of towers
- Build scuba gear to swim in through the suit.
- Build a wooden horse and mail yourself to the castle.

Each entry point would present different challenges, and be useable depending on what devices you have available.

As for goal / device idea why not make it so that you have to collect special unique parts that scattered through out the game world. Each of these parts also allows you to build a bunch on new devices. Such as a set of golden gears that allows you to be build clockwork devices, and other gear related devises.

Rather then having items degrade why not just make most of them consumable? So you build a spring board, from a plank and a spring but it can only be used once. You need to build more if you want to use another. Likewise weapons would require ammo that needs to be built from parts.

Don’t forget bosses. I think it would be a laugh if all the bosses you effectively breaking their greatest inventions of the worlds greatest inventors. Heck maybe that is the plot of the game. There is an invention competition where the worlds greatest inventors are all competing you decided to compete but you are missing some parts needed for your masterpiece so you decided to go “borrow” them from the competition. The ending could consist of you standing in first places surrounded by inventors crying over their broken machines. Before you push a button and your invention turns into a giant mechanical goblin that starts leveling the city will you stand there a laughing.

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