So, this has been percolating for some time. Two games and some private conversations fueled this most recent fever dream. Earlier this year I ran into MyHouse.WAD:
Which is a mod of Doom, an early first person shooter. It isn’t your typical experience, and I was struck by how well the author used environmental story telling and player expectations to tell a compelling narrative. The game is a trip and is waaaayyyy deeper than you would expect.
I also played a game called Enclosure 3-D not too long before that:
It’s basically a Sierra-style graphical parser game with an admirable 3D face-lift. The effect really breathes some life into the medium, IMO.
Well, the two started jelling in my brain and I initially approached @inventor200 to feel out the plausibility of what I had in mind. They checked for very basic plausibility and then gave me some specific leads to follow up on. From there, I started discretely sniffing around the community at the ZDOOM forums. I managed to start some DM threads and was able to verify that I had no real technical barriers to what I wanted to do. Not only did I not have any insurmountable technical barriers, but they made some solid suggestions for improvements and also rendered significant assistance on the technical end, which was super generous.
So, now things are starting to come along and we have a very very rudimentary mock-up that still needs plenty of TLC. He then asked a deceptively good question. Now what?
Write a game, right? Well, that’s not quite it. You see, this is a new sort of fish. It isn’t really a FPS, nor is it a text adventure, per se. It’s capable of telling a story and game dynamic appropriate to either genre, but that feels inappropriate. We feel the game should be built around things only it could do, rather than simply adopting one style or the other. Which is why I find myself here. I need some brainstorming help.
I’m hoping y’all might be kind enough to humor me on this.
The game engine works like typical Doom, retaining the 3D graphical world model and many of the built in ways to interact with it.
Arrow Keys: Move (although contemplating a remapping to WASD for a few reasons.)
Shift (held) while moving: Run
Alt (held) while moving: Strafe (move sideways)
Spacebar: Activate Switches, Open Doors etc…
Tab: View the Map
Escape: View menu
At the same time, there’s a direct parser mode that can be called up by selecting the tilde (~) button, which then allows you to type in commands and press enter to submit them. Hitting tilde again switches out of parser mode. Now, the interesting thing, IMO, is the fast mapping. Using the verb “Map” followed by an “A” “S” or “D” before any command string assigns that whatever is typed after “Map X” to that key without actually performing that command. That means, outside of parser mode, you could press that key to effect that assigned command line.
That means, for example, you could do the following:
Map A Steal Key
Run into a room with a ton of enemies, sprint past the big bad nearly indestructible meanie, slap “A” when brushing past them to snag the key off them, and then get out of dodge before you die.
This means you don’t need to try to typing out parser commands during live action sequences nor do you need to allow a pause function to submit commands similar to a console commands menu for many PC games, which breaks the tension and pacing like a deflated balloon. Don’t need “steal key” anymore? No problem. All commands mapped to all three keys could be remapped whenever to whatever just by submitting a new “Map X” command in parser mode.
Also, this is one reason I’m considering remapping the movement arrows to WASD. As things are, you would need to move a hand to ASD while navigating with the arrow keys. That is awkward as well as makes dual mouse use virtually untenable if desired. However, we discussed switching the fast mapping keys from ASD to ERF, as the three keys are immediately next to WASD which would be convenient if that controlled movement from the same hand. Not to mention all three keys have a history of prior use with many other WASD setup FPS.
With all that said, I’m sure you all might be feeling the possibility of some of the emergent gameplay that Fast Mapping custom parser commands would allow in a 3D first-person world. The problem is we’re drawing a blank on how to demonstrate the new possibilities of this setup. This is why we’re trying to avoid making a Doom game with occasional parser commands. We also want to avoid making Zork that you happen to navigate with the Doom engine.
I know it’s a big ask, but would anyone be willing to spitball some ideas/suggestions? Good, bad, whatever is fine. We’re just drawing blanks at the moment.
Thanks again for humoring this.