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interactive encyclopedia and not alienating player

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 2:41 pm
by nature1996

I'm crating a game where the main idea is to combine two entree in an encyclopedia/MC memory in order to reach a conclusion aka make a new entree appear. In ordrer not to make it obvious, I intend to add a few entree that aren't the right ones but are related for each pertinent entry. These entree will go from world building to how to treat a burn depending on the degree. Thing is, I'm afraid I will end up alienating reader early on. To give an concrete example:

Early on, a secondary character ends up with a glass shard in her upper thigh. This is the tutorial, so it is fairly simple for the first part:

in preoccupation/SC injury/ the second sentence that describe the injury
combined with
in biology/arterial system/the part that say the femoral artery is peculiarly vulnerable since it's pretty shallow.

That part is in the middle of an entree describing the whole arterial system.
The target is the last visible part of the entree, but there is another one after about the tibial artery. That should be relatively easy. It reveal a new part in SC injury about the risk the the glass piece cut through a major artery. Then come the second part:

in preoccupation/SC injury/ the new third part about artery
combined with
in medicine/Treatment of wound/Puncture wound and stab injury/fourth part about wound not bleeding with a cutting edge still inside

This time, there is not only other part in the same entree, but other entree in the same category, like "burn" or "bruises and internal hemorrhage". After that, it's free for all...

I will try to only add a few entry at a time, with logical entry point (no sense in MC remembering someone he saw last week but have no reason to believe he will see again), and to remove them from time to time, but I don't want to create the situation where a new question and a new entree mean they are related. Also of note, Sometime it will have to be pure deduction, aka combining two entree that doesn't contain a question.

I would like your though on that. I have a few idea on how to change all that, but I would like a second opinion:

- Maybe combining entree rather than combining part of it (might be too easy)
- Remove red earring entree (too easy, plus will loose a lot of world building)
- Let the player add entree by themselves by clicking key word in the dialogue (too big of a risk to miss something important)
- Forget everything and go hide under a rock (That would be a shame if it's the only option)

TL;DR: You kind of need to read, as I describe a game mechanic on which I would like feedback. And sorry for the long post

Re: interactive encyclopedia and not alienating player

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 7:17 pm
by Mutive
I'm a bit confused as to what you are trying to do. Is this a case where you want readers to unlock entries that exist purely for world building but aren't needed for the story? (e.g. something like the codices in Mass Effect, which are fun, but you could skip them?) If so, that's something that's clearly worked in a lot of games!

Or is this a case where the player needs to check the codices to find an answer to a problem? (e.g. when the player sees a code on a door, it enters the codex, then later the player is asked to enter a code and can reference the codex for the code?) This is something that's also worked in a number of games.

Or is this something else?

I'd be hesitant to put a lot of necessary information in a fairly dry format (a codex is probably going to be pretty dry, even with the best writing, as it's essentially an imaginary encyclopedia), because as a reader, I'd be less than enthused about having to read 10K words of encyclopedia entries to solve problems. (Especially if most of the words don't have much to do with the problem at hand.) I'd be even more irritated if there was fake information in there (which would make using it close to worthless) or if I had to predict which chunks of information I needed to remember/save. (e.g. in the case of the code above, I'd rather the codex auto-update than having to realize that it was *this* particular code that I needed to click on - might as well just ask me to write it down outside of the game in that case!)

But I'm not precisely sure what your exact mechanism is...

Re: interactive encyclopedia and not alienating player

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 8:47 pm
by nature1996
I call it an encyclopedy, but it is more the memory of the MC (main character) who has an encyclopedic memory. The entries are from his view point, hence why some information will be false, but there never be wrong answer associated with false information. The entries are updated by inference, aka combining two info to get a third. If you take back the previous exemple, glass in upper thigh + position of the tibial artery = tibial artery cut. Another from later on in my game is: since a murder happened between midnight and 4 + there was a commotion during that time periode = everyone participating to that event are suspect in the murder, as they where awake. As I originally intended to use the encyclopedia/memory as the only way to control the progression, but I'm thinking as I write this that I might use it to unlock path istead, like if you have determined that removing the glass shard could lead to death, you can prevent it. Or not if you like...

There will probably have a few pure world building induction, but nothing major or needed (like figuring out what was x previous job and things like that).

On the same line of though, since it's a closed community murder mystery thriller (They are kind of trapped in a school for a week, and bodies start to pile up), most choice will lead to either a game over or back to the main plot.

Re: interactive encyclopedia and not alienating player

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:57 pm
by Mutive
I'd probably go for the term "journal" then. :) It's closer to what you're after!

My worry about using the journal in the way you're mentioning is that I could see how it could get cumbersome quickly! Either:

a) The player *needs* to read all of the journal in order to solve the mystery or
b) The player doesn't need the journal, but using it makes the mystery super easy (e.g. the answers are there as long as you bother to look them up)

In the first case, I'd strongly consider whether you can find a way to keep the journal entries entertaining enough that a player would *want* to read large quantities of them. (Again, journals/encyclopedias don't *tend* to make for the most interesting reading. This isn't an absolute, but I'd definitely consider whether you might be turning off a large portion of your potential player base by asking them to read a large quantity of potentially very dry information.)

Re: interactive encyclopedia and not alienating player

Posted: Wed May 22, 2019 1:38 pm
by Awiola
It's not really what you're thinking about but Analogue: A Hate Story and Hate Plus are pretty good in this regard. You mostly read entries of diaries, letters and so on to unravel the mystery of what happend in the now-abandoned spaceship. The games are interesting and don't use a complicated system, they're very straightforward even. You should look it up to see how it works exactly.
But anyway, if the way the entries are written is a bit more entertaing [so less encyclopedic] it would be perfectly fine to place a whole lot of red herrings because players would still be interested in the story and wouldn't mind them at all. But then the best way to do it would probably be combining the whole entries, not just parts of them or, if you insist, making the important parts a bit more obvious - eg. underlining the parts that could be combined, shortening the entries or just having up to 2-3 parts that are able to combine with each other in them. Besides, how difficult you want the game to be? If it's hard, let people know beforhead so they can challenge themselves and wouldn't be too frustrated if they suck at it. [And since you don't want to make dead ends using red herrings, leave less important parts in them. Or something like that...]