Difficult design direction decisions (Part 1)

Recently I have been thinking a lot about where to take this game.  There are many things that need attention, primarily the construction mechanic, but also the player controls, networking etc.  However, the main problem I’ve been wrestling with for a while now is how to take this sandbox “toy” and turn it into an actual game with purpose and progression that compels you to keep playing.  Right now you can construct whatever you want but there is no direction, or reason to keep building stuff.  One of the key motivations I had from the very start was to make an experience that was as open as possible, allowing players to be totally creative, and not constraining them to only be able to build certain things.  The problem with this openness is that it’s difficult to directly measure the players progress, or to even define what it means to progress through the game.

In order to get some traction on all of this, I have attempted to break the game up into the several broad areas, and list out what would be required for each of them.

The first few areas are crucial to the core sandbox experience, it doesn’t matter what else gets layered on top, these fundamentals have to be right regardless:-

  • Construction mechanic.
  • Player controls and behaviour.
  • Networked multi-player.
  • Construction parts (i.e. the bits you actually build with).

Then I can look at layering on stuff that would turn the sandbox experience into a fully fledged game:-

  • Game modes.
  • Crafting mechanic.
  • World / environment.

In the next post(s) I’ll expand on each of these areas in turn, coming very soon!