19 September, 2010

Little City: map scale and progression IFF notes

As promised, the police IFF explained:

The original concept for this small game included a block of an abandoned metropolis, so brainstorming included ways to make walking from Point A to Point B more interesting. I looked at ways that other games have gated the player in the otherwise wide-open space of an urban block without traffic flow. Most of the gating I saw involved some combination of collapsed buildings, car crashes, and police roadblocks. These work quite well (I’m using all three!) but I wanted something more.

Another original concept idea was the automation of this abandoned city. I thought of the automated police force, still faithfully enforcing the law, including jaywalking! Even though the player can see the other side of the street, they still have to use crosswalks or risk consequences. I’ve explored this idea as a means of creating tension (setting up a goal for the player) while guiding the player along the critical path.

Thinking as a player, though, waiting for walk signals is going to get boring. Being forced to use the sidewalk is a novelty; We take crossing the street for granted, but this limitation doesn’t support gameplay or the story. This got me thinking: What can the player do within this story world to empower themselves and solve this problem? They could always disable the police bots on the street, but I want to avoid the “go here, press a button, you win” or “go here, shoot stuff, you win” mechanic in this situation.

So what do we have to work with? An automated city, that is abandoned, that has been abandoned for a long time. In the absence of caretakers, even the most robust machines break down. I got the idea of a broken police bot with exposed IFF circuitry that the player can find/be guided to and extract. IFF – Identifcation Friend or Foe originally refers to radio transponder systems used to positively identify friendly military units from a distance. Possessing the IFF, the police bots now view the player as one of their own. The player can jaywalk in peace, as well as access new or restricted areas.

Coming up next: part 2 of my Kane and Lynch 2 breakdown, followed by the step-by-step level flow and beat chart (a.k.a. “action curve”) of Little City.

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