Alexx Kay (alexx_kay) wrote,
Alexx Kay

Covert Design Diary 1

So, this game that I’m working on. Like all game projects, it's evolving rapidly, but the basic shape seems to have stabilized enough to be worth sharing. And if what we ship turns out completely different, then this will make an interesting historical document :-)

Current working title is COVERT. It is inspired by an old Sid Meier game called Covert Action ( Covert Action was a James Bond fantasy with a structure similar to another classic Sid Meier title, Pirates!; lots of minigames which all tie together into a world map and a core fantasy You travel the world, hunting down international criminals and thwarting their evil plots. I *loved* Covert Action, but it tanked in the market. Sid Meier (a clever guy) believes that the reason it tanked was because the different modes of play fought against each other (more details may be found in that Wikipedia article). That seemed plausible to me, but it also seemed like something that would be relatively simple to fix, by simply paring down one of the game's halves. Add a modern (non-RSI-inducing) interface, and you've got the core of a great design.

Of course, once I *start* making improvements, I can't stop, and we've already moved significantly away from that original idea. Instead of "paring down" the "action" aspect, we're removing it entirely. There will still be modular bits of interaction, but they'll all be (essentially) turn-based.

Perhaps more significantly, we're moving strongly away from the "James Bond" aspect. While we are still, at base, a story about exaggeratedly romantic international crime fighting, we're taking on some of the more problematic aspects of the "thriller" fantasy and making them part of the gameplay. You don't have to outgun the baddies, you have to gather enough legally admissible evidence to prosecute them. Well, you *can* have (turn-based) shootouts, or even use torture -- but there will be consequences both short and long-term. The more violent you are, the more violent the world you inhabit becomes. Enemies are more likely to use deadly force against you. And in between missions, your family life will eventually be stained by the darkness in your soul.

Paying off that last sentence is going to be *extremely* challenging, but I have some ideas I think will work. But before we can test them out, we have to finish building the core gameplay, which will take a while yet...
Tags: covert, game design

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