Game Design 2018-11-07

By Max Woerner Chase

In this post:

Ever since SpaceChem came out, I've wanted to have some kind of Zachtronics-style game that's more realistic in terms of its fake chemistry, but I haven't had a good idea of how to pull that off while having the result be a "game" instead of a "basically useless clone of Maple [I think]".

The big departure I guess such a thing would bring about is, the waldos can't be grasping arbitrary atoms, and can't have control over orientation. Related issues include bringing in stuff like entropy and enthalpy, or establishing heat and pressure gradients. Recycle streams. Zooming in, there's also the question of process control. Give players components like PIDs, and stick them on a little Shenzhen I/O-esque board. I wonder if it would work to have concerns like temperature, but use really big bins to describe them. How else can I apply discrete mathematics without having the player's machines micromanage each molecule? I'd also like to develop some fictional chemistry so I don't have to worry about people like me pondering weird bond angles and suchlike. Maybe try to base it off what I can glean of the Planiverse, and claim that chemistry is two-dimensional now because someone discovered a compactified spatial anti-dimension, and it turns out the resulting physics is nicer for engineering because reasons.

Anyway, I also want to sketch stuff out for the wagon game idea.

For an initial scenario, suppose the players have taken an order to deliver a shipment of furs to a town five days travel away. The player studies the map, makes a budget, accepts the job, gives the quartermaster the shopping list, then picks up the furs and leaves. For each of the five days on the road, it's possible they'll get some event related to the road. For each of the four nights they're in the wilderness, it's possible they'll get a rest-related event. Events are in mini-cyoa form, and can lead to stuff like changes in supply levels, loss of quest items, stat changes, or curses.

One thing I want is that the character progression is relatively flat, but they are able to get better equipment. This makes intuitive sense to me.

Next time, I'll hopefully have calmed down enough from the election to sketch stuff out on paper.