Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Game Design: The Inky Darkness, A Horror Real Time Strategy Game (subject to change)

Originally from Faction Calculus, my blog about Real Time Strategy games.

As my bio states, I am a game developer of sorts. I often do game jams occasionally, where one will try to make a game in under a prescribed time limit. Not a lot nowadays, but I used to.

So, with Asylum Jam coming up from Game Jolt with the theme of psychological horror or mental issues outside of a context of an asylum (which makes the name ironic), I had a lot of ideas: A game based on writer's block; a game based on the Five Stages of Grief; a 2-D version of Luigi's Mansion; etc.

I recently was playing around with an unfinished RTS engine of mine on Game Maker, and so I thought, maybe I should create a small horror RTS. RTSes are hard to make, but I have done them at least twice for different game jams. Also, I've been fascinated by Lovecraft recently.

Introducing, the Inky Darkness RTS concept!

You are a commander of a small military base outside a settlement. Whether suddenly or with warning, a dark fog has covered the lands and is increasingly darker and darker. In the fog are terrible, slithering things, and areas covered with the fog are impenetrable. The few that come back from the fog have been reduced to one babbling with insanity... or worse. Escape, get rescued, turn back the fog, or succumb.

Deciding whether Victorian steampunk, World War I, Cold War, or the modern era.

Cold War has the advantages of the Soviet Red Menace atmosphere, and earlier wars such as the Vietnam War as a backdrop for flashbacks.

World War I has gritty trench warfare and gray drab atmosphere. Since chemical warfare was commonplace, the Fog is not out of place.

Modern era can be molded to anything, but has no context to history. Technology such as drones would be available.

Victorian steampunk is just cool, and fits the Lovecraftian sensibilities.

The Fog of War is your enemy. Literally. Once it is thick enough, you can shoot at the fog which might grow shadowy tentacles and hold it back until you run out of ammunition.

Strong lights can also hold back the fog. The fog is more of a "liquid" fog than an airy fog that covers everything. Think of Zerg creep or the Creeper World creep combined with a Fog of War.

The thicker the fog gets, the more aggressive the enemies it spawns will be and your range will get smaller.

You will have limited ammo, limited fuel, limited supplies, and limited men. You may venture out in your own peril to find supplies and survivors.

There will be a day/night system, though a thick fog will make daylight very scarce. Your men, and yourself, will need sleep. And sleep causes nightmares, not only on your men, but on you.

Units can hide or take cover behind something to ambush or not.

You and your men are affected by insanity as determined by the thickness of the fog; eldritch horrors each men has encountered; loss of morale, supply and troops; and nightmares at night.

Sort-of fourth wall breaks as evidenced by the insanity and the monsters in-game.

Some sort of random generation for characters and other things. Small bios for the characters to relate to.

Enemies include lumbering Lovecraftian zombies/mutants, lots of tentacles, and other cosmic horror. Enemies can corrupt your infantry units and even vehicles.

Insanity might also be an infestation/corruption meter, or separate.

Sort-of open world sandbox RTS as there is a city nearby for looting and other landmarks.

Flashbacks of previous wars. Maybe the commander has PTSD. Increases the hallucinations. Flashbacks are interactive and playable. Provides practice for player commander for warfare.

Instead of a bird's eye view like a satellite uplink, there will be only surveillance cameras. Or even, the increasing activity destroys the satellite uplink and that player now has to rely on surveillance cameras.

Insanity affecting the landscape. Things will become more out of place as time passes by. Might flash into an alternate dimension.

Commander being attacked in the command station. Structures are not small, but huge enough to warrant firefights inside. Indoor gameplay.

Base-building is standard RTS building, however, structures have interiors aforementioned, sort of like Prison Architect with preset building layouts.

Planned rhythm. To shake off predictability, squads may be sent missions to check on completely harmless things. And the harmless things may clue in to a darkness coming, or actually something completely random comes out that is not harmless.

Undertale-type 4th wall breaks and game hacking.

Risks and Challenges:
The trick is how to make a strategy game scary. The survival part should theoretically lend to that idea.

Call of Cthulu: Wasted Land
Fear Equation, Deadnauts, Zafehouse: Diaries
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Darkest Dungeon
Creepy World series
Don't Starve
Escape from Aliens from Outer Space!
Blood Roofs
Other games which I do not remember the name of.

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