I’ve been working on a big game for the last year that is essentially going to be 10 IFComp-sized games stapled together.
The current one I’m working on is a spell-scroll dimension in a dark cave with horrifying creatures in it, and which requires you to die/reset in-game a couple of times.
I work best when I give myself artificial constraints. For an IFComp-size game (which I want this dimension to be), I like to pick the arbitrary goals of lasting around 2 hours for an average player and having a minimal walkthrough of around 200 commands.
I’ve been able to achieve these numbers with my other dimensions (Haunted House with traditional gameplay, murder mystery on a train, wax museum escape room).
But I’ve found that spell scroll gameplay doesn’t lend itself to high command counts. It feels like most of the challenge is in trying to figure out what to do. I looked up walkthroughs and Enchanter, the first spell scroll game I’m familiar with, can be solved in around 200 moves, and that’s a 10+ hour long game!
I don’t want to pad out the puzzles artificially (by adding, like, a long corridor you have to spend five turns walking through). So I wonder, are there ways to make spell scroll puzzles more involved than just ‘select the correct spell and cast it?’
I can think of a few from @kamineko’s recent Spellbreaker Let’s Play, like:
- Timing two different spells carefully
- Having to revisit an area later on
- Recreating a sequence of earlier events.
But I also question whether my desire for symmetry and arbitrary goals is just a bad idea, and if it’s okay to have some areas that are harder but require less actions. On the other hand, the challenge of fitting the arbitrary constraints is fun, a game in itself and one I’m asking for help on.
What are your thoughts?