Monday, August 22, 2011

My Dream Game

As gamers, we're all faced with the very real possibility at one point or another that no game will ever be tailor-made for you, that no game will ever have everything you want it to have, mostly because with everything we've played, the variety would simply be too much to code and program.  Or it would face some other sort of limitation, surely, even when we play a game we enjoy, we get certain feelings, "If I could change anything I would..." and then we list off one or a few different things we'd add, take away, or alter to more perfectly fit this image we have in our heads.  It'll never happen, of course, but yet we still dream of this dream game that we could create.

Take a little bit of this game/series, a little bit of that game/series, mash it all together and come up with something fresh that, hopefully won't end up causing people to dredge up the Homage vs. Rip-Off argument ala Darksiders.  Because, of course, if you do it right, your game will only be called (Game)-Like, (All isometric dungeon crawlers are apparently Diablo-like, despite not needing you to click five thousand times to get from Point A to Point B to open a chest), all run-and-gun military shooters are Call of Duty-Like, etc. etc.  Regardless, the genre isn't what's important to the dream game, but rather what you want it to do and want it to have.

Obviously, I've been thinking a lot lately about what my 'dream' game would be, and clearly I don't have the finer details parsed out (for reasons that will become almost immediately clear), I do know, at least, mostly what I want from it, and I want to put that out there, if just to sort of cement it in my mind or maybe even reason it out a little more.

If you know me (which, if you're reading this, you likely do by now), you know that I enjoy the prospects of building and....for a lack of a better word, 'decorating', and often bring it up as something to get excited about.  Indeed, as you'll notice above (and, well, further above), are two very real, existing methods of 'building' in games:  The nearest being the GeoRama system from White Knight Chronicles (cribbed straight from the Dark Cloud games, of course) and the one at the top being Monteriggioni from Assassin's Creed 2, the village that housed the Villa de Auditore, from which you could 'restore' the village building-by-building.  While the GeoRama system is closer to what I enjoy (rather, I'd prefer something more to the Sims where I can actually just design and build, I can make the concession for a wide variety of buildings pre-made or building parts), I do like the 'Hub' part of Assassin's Creed 2's village, and in fact would go so far as to say that that whole experience was my favorite part about the game.

My dream game would give you this location where you (your character, rather, fully customizable of course) lives, surrounded by blank, flat land, ripe for construction.  This is not the only place you go to, but it's the most important, as it's a literal blank slate.  Why it's that way is really of no concern, but it's not some sort of apocalypse, and the land hadn't been populated before and wiped out; there's other towns and cities that you'll be able to visit.  But this one rather large section of the world, large enough to make a city, is just blank, to be shaped however you want.

Not alone, of course, and I'm not even willing to say shaping the land is your main goal, as, honestly despite the inherent "not sure if want" factor Open-World games take on, I would want it to be Open-World.  In a perfect world, perfect dream, it would be about as open as any of The Elder Scrolls games, but well, again we may have to be at least semi-realistic here.  I'd like it if you could take or draw your building elements (buildings, trees, etc.) from the rest of the world, since it would honestly give you a good reason to explore the land.  Not to mention you'll need people to not only build this town/village/citiy/what have you (and upgrade your house), but to live in it as well.  (I would like to imagine you could decide whether you want to hire people to build, or use slave labor 'recruit' monsters to work, ala Rune Factory.

Combat would be relatively simple enough; I don't know if it's because it's what I'm playing now, or if I just prefer it, but Phantasy Star Portable's style (picking up weapons from all sorts of varieties and assigning them to your person, able to switch to any one at any given moment) seems like a perfect fit for what I'd want, since versatility, obviously, is key to the experience.  A nice, wide variety of weapons would be nice, with varying levels of 'unique' design, as one of the many house upgrades would ideally be an armory/trophy room (again, ala Assassin's Creed 2 Villa) so you could show them off to....well, I guess yourself.  Would be rather hard to put something this large-scale on Multi-player, but it would be nice if there was some sort of synch option to 'share' your City.

It's hard to really articulate what I want here, because 1) It's not exactly possible in the form I'm thinking of, since it's honestly, still too grand a scale than what we can handle yet (thus making some of it sound too dreamy and silly) and 2) Because, well, putting out what would be your 'perfect' anything is hard, since wants/desires shift, so what you want today, what's perfect today, might not be tomorrow.  But for my 'dream' game here, Large-Scale is almost an understatement since the goal would be that you could not only design/build/manage your own citiy (populate it however you want, decide the prominent flora/fauna, decorate the houses, etc.) but be able to visit the pre-existing cities in the game and be able to explore them to any degree.

Then, on top of that, everything needs to feel 'alive'.  You'll need sidequests and a story for those who don't really care to build to such a degree that it's the 'fun' part of the game, so that's where your bit of Elder Scrolls games kicks in which means more locales to explore, loot to be found, etc.  It is, in fact, just too much game.  And I don't feel I've even adequately explained what's in my head, but hopefully, I've impressed enough of it, because I'm entering the portion where it's almost seeming redundant now.

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