Developments #03 – Death? Preposterous!

In last week’s developments post, I discussed the importance of doing things differently, and gave an example of how I am structuring some of the NPC dialog in my upcoming game Death? Preposterous!

Today I’ll be continuing that sort of theme by taking a look at another place you can innovate: the encounter system in the game. Now, you’ll notice I didn’t say “the battle system” and instead chose to use the word “encounter” to describe it. This was intentional and in and of itself is an important distinction.

You see, in my game I have chosen for there to not be “battles” strictly speaking. You aren’t going to walk around, gain money from defeating monsters, buy equipment from the weapon or armor shops, find treasure chests randomly in the forest or dungeons, beat the boss monsters, or in general going around slaying everything you come in contact with.

I thought long and hard about how I could bring the general RPG experience to the player but without falling victim to all the tropes and stereotypes often seen in the genre. There will be encounters in the game, as you can see in the following teaser images for example, however they will not play out in the way you might expect.

Screenshot from 2017-11-28 13-24-53

Familiar looking, yet different. Similar to what you have seen before, yet done in a somewhat unorthodox way. The encounter system is another area where many games will innovate, and Death? Preposterous! is no exception. The direction I have taken things is quite unorthodox, and while I can’t quite call it completely unique or never-before-seen, I do hope it will capture your interest with its unusual presentation nonetheless.

Screenshot from 2017-11-28 13-25-40

Put simply, the encounters in Death? Preposterous! are going to be more puzzle oriented. Simply mashing the “Attack” option and buying 99 potions from the item shop will not be getting you through the encounters in this game. In fact, potions or item shops aren’t even going to feature in the game. For that matter, neither will an “Attack” command.

These aren’t battles, they are encounters. Meetings with strange creatures. Rather than instantly resorting to mindless hostility that is never questioned in the average RPG, here you will be using some more basic principles to make your way through each encounter in the game.

Screenshot from 2017-11-28 13-26-08

As you may have already deduced from these screenshots, one such action you will be utilizing frequently in the game is observation. What are these things you find yourself facing? What do they look like? What are they doing? How do they seem to behave towards you? How do they react to your actions? These are some of the kinds of things you can observe in the game.

This idea came to me from taking a quote from Toby Fox, developer of the now famous and wonderfully successful indie game Undertale, to heart. The game is one of my favorites, and there is a lot of inspiration I took away from it as well as many other sources from my long history of having video games for a life passion.

The specific quote I am talking about is this one from an interview he did with Escapist Magazine:

I feel that it’s important to make every monster feel like an individual. If you think about it basically all monsters in RPGs like Final Fantasy are the same, save for the graphics. They attack you, you heal, you attack them, they die. There’s no meaning to that. – Toby Fox

This really struck a chord with me. I’ve played countless RPGs over my 3 decades of life, ever since I was a small child I’ve enjoyed them immensely, and so having been exposed to so many over the years, I can recognize the truth and wisdom of this statement.

As I was still coming up with exactly what I wanted my game to do differently, and how to go about doing it, this idea of making the encounters appear to have more meaning was a driving factor behind what I ended up deciding on.

In Death? Preposterous! as you identify certain aspects of whatever you come in contact with, future encounters with similar creatures will reflect what you have already discovered about them.

Screenshot from 2017-11-28 13-27-23

The idea I had for it in my head is similar to what you might do when studying animal behavior. Part of the game will be about studying the behavior of the… whatever they are… that you end up meeting, and learning a little about them as you do. My hope is that this will take something mundane and otherwise forgettable that you would easily overlook in a typical RPG, and give it enough meaning that a player might enjoy discovering more about the things they face in the game.

I will further divulge some details on these unique puzzle style encounters that you will be able to experience in the game in a future development post. For now though, you should begin to get a small idea of what is in store for the game.

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