Let’s talk about the game itself. At last.
It has always been my idea to create a game I would like to play, not because I can’t find games that I like (quite the contrary), but because I’m the type of geek that want to enjoy his creations. I still don’t have a clear a precise idea on how the resulting game will be. And I’m perfectly fine with this. I know this is not going to sound as the best way to proceed to many, but I want to have fun in developing the game. For that reason, at least in the first half of the project it will be very fluid. At the same time, I don’t feel I’m going to fill a gap in the gaming world. I’m not aiming in developing a ground-breaking masterpiece (quite a difficult task, nowadays), but at the very least somewhat original.
It will be an exploration RPG, probably inspired to Zelda and Final Fantasy or older games such as Ultima, Windwalker and Times of Lore. To some degree I find the latter to fit the project expectations best (personally preferring their minimalistic style), but of course with a more modern fluid and sophisticated take. Tiled world representation is going to be used, possibly hexagonal or octagonal cells. The avatar will probably not move freely, but with a targeted movement with the pointer used to highlight the destination cell (and the game possibly find the movement path with or without pathfinding, that is yet to be decided).
It’s worth notice that Zelda influenced Times of Lore which, in turn, influenced the latest Ultima episodes. Back in the ’80s arcades, consoles, and home-computer were very separate a distinct “worlds” and, for that reason, original games were more common than direct portings. Most of the times console games were not ported to home-computers (mainly due to license reasons). Also arcade games were using much more powerful hardwares and conversion were more like adaptations that most of the time were lacking crucial parts (this was due to the way they ere done, with few o no details on the game mechanics and developers needed to discover them by playing and examining the game to nausea… I strongly suggest to read It’s Behind You for a glimpse on the subject).
The combat-system will try not to be similar to the one popularized by the Final Fantasy franchise (neither the original nor the Active Time Battle system), as I always found it boring. It will be turn-based with a restricted arena where the battle will be conducted. Player and foes will have the chance to exploit the environment by moving/hiding.
I am also thinking in creating sub-games for the combat-system, designed around being small clones of famous games (Joust, Pac-Man, Paradroid, Lazy Jones, etc..). However, I fear it would break the game continuity too much.
The background story will be uncovered by the player as the game evolves. Most likely it won’t be conveyed by means of convoluted dialogues and long documents. Clues will be scattered around the world, in form of secondary elements (drawings, ruins, artifacts…), and they will trigger story related details as the player interacts with them. Also the background itself will visually tell the story. In fact, at the beginning the player will start in media res without any knowledge of the plot (maybe the avatar will reflect the user not knowing anything by means of a form of amnesia).
As for the main theme, it is going to be sci-fi related (I’ve been love science fiction since I was a child). Perhaps I will sprinkle it with minor reference to fantasy/new-wave regarding the so-called Gaia Hypotesis (in the league of Miyazaki’s classics such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Future Boy Conan). Space exploration will present and the player will exploit very advanced (albeit non-existent) technology but it won’t be a trading game like Elite.
Speaking about design, the colors and sound will be crucial in describing the game evolution as much as possible. At the very beginning the world will be in black-and-white, with colors being added during the game progression. Colors will also be used to convey the location/moment mood.