Adventure Gamers - Forums
What would entice you to help make a community game?
I’m programmer that loves puzzle/adventure games and am interested in getting a group of people together to make a not for profit game. I’m not looking to break into the game dev scene as a job (I have a full time one already doing other things) - it’s more that I really love coding and making games, and hanging out with like minded people online.
What I really want is to get as many people as I can involved - even if they can’t code, or make art, if they can come up with puzzle ideas, see flaws, test the weekly builds, I’m sure we can find something for people to do, and can potentially share skills as required.
My question is - what sort of things would get YOU interested in participating? These are some of the areas i’ve considered, and would love any feedback or comments. Even if it doesn’t interest you at all - why?
Financial - I’m leaning towards any profit being donated to charity, that way it truly is more of a group project.
Game Type - I don’t want to be too prescriptive in terms of the type of game, but obviously would like it to appeal to those working on the project. My personal preference would be a first person 3D game (ie, Quern, Obduction, The Witness), however I’m quite flexible.
Time commitment - Minimal - people will drift in an out, contributing when they have the time without feeling they are overcommitting.
Decision Making - I favour the benign dictator approach, so that decisions can get made, however I think anyone can pitch ideas/suggestions changes to be discussed widely.
Scope - Small. Maybe 1 hour of game play. Aim to get a first draft out in 6 months.
Initial Progress - I’ll probably start putting a small demo together so at least you can see some commitment on my part - however without a firm idea of the game there is only so far I can go at this stage.
Let me know!
Let’s consider some community games I consider successful.
Cragne Manor is a text adventure made by over eighty authors, who collaborated to submit rooms in a massive supergame: https://rcveeder.net/cragne/
It’s sometimes frustrating, but generally quite fun. Here’s what makes it work, in my opinion.
* The unit of each contribution is clearly defined. Each author makes a room, and each room has a different ‘feel.’ Some are serious horror, and some are comedy. More are comedy than horror.
* The overall plan of the game makes broad sense - it’s clear that locations were planned out in a way that makes them feel connected to each other, creating a world that has some coherence.
* The game was inspired by Anchorhead, an existing text adventure, so everyone knew what they were going for, broadly speaking.
* Elements from one room are allowed to affect puzzles in another, but in ways that are not too fussy. Contributors listed items that they would need for a puzzle in their room, and items that could be provided, and a gigantic dependency graph was worked through to make sure the game remained winnable!
* Collection puzzles and other elements are used to pull together the locations. For example, the player needs to collect tons of library books and return them to the library room, and these books are scattered throughout the game.
* CRITICAL: A _LOT_ of work was done to harmonize and connect the submissions to each other, including the addition of a contextual hint system that tells the player whether they have the necessary items to solve a puzzle in a room.
Town of ZZT Remix, an ASCII game remake of Tim Sweeney’s classic The Town of ZZT that introduced entirely new puzzles and scenes. I contributed to this one in a minor way: https://museumofzzt.com/file/t/TOWNRMIX.zip
What made it work:
* Again, contributions were coordinated carefully, using a Google Doc to allow contributors to claim rooms (game boards).
* People were familiar with the original game they were rewriting, and used it as a skeleton to build upon.
* The original game had a modular structure: player collects 5 purple keys, which can be gotten in any order. So the contributions did not have to rely too much on each other.
* Lots of work was put into organizing and collecting the rooms and making sure they all worked together.
Commonalities between the examples that worked:
* The game should be highly modular. Rather than making a linear story, the puzzles should be fairly independent and can be solved in any order. If one section is badly designed, people can try a different section without being held back.
* The sections should have a shared theme, location, or inspiration, but allow a lot of freedom within that theme.
* Shared elements and goals that interact between sections should be agreed upon in advance.
I suggest doing a Colossal Cave remix. Here’s why:
* The original version of Colossal Cave appears to be in the public domain:
* At least one open-sourced versions of it have the blessing of an original author, Don Woods.
* It is literally one of the first adventure games, if not the very first, and so it has major community relevance.
* Gameplay is nonlinear, and the goal is to maximize points. Bringing back treasure from the cave gets points. Thus, if one section turns out to be unfairly designed, no big deal - the player can do other sections and earn score from there.
* No real plot to coordinate, but plenty of atmosphere.
* Remaking Colossal Cave is something of a tradition in interactive fiction, and is effectively how Zork came about.
* Some versions of it get really goofy - you can put anything you want in those rooms! Zork put a whole underground empire there.
* If we accept that this can be a “goofy” version (like Zork) rather than a more geographically realistic cave (like the original), then the connections between scenes can be pretty loose. A tunnel can take you from the ‘room with the big underground carousel’ to the ‘room with the secret Dwarven vault.’ Caves naturally make it so that rooms are not visible from other rooms. No need to have a sprawling landscape that somehow looks coherent after all of the pieces are put together!