I’ve said quite a bit about making my new game (Codenamed No Excuses), but I have yet to articulate any details about what it actually is.
Today, then, is the day I reveal all. Brace yourselves.
I don’t have a title yet; or rather, I do have a title that I am trying out before committing to. So we’ll keep calling it by its codename, No Excuses, for now. (Let’s not call it its true codename, NO EXCUSES, because shouty is bad. If you’re interested, my last big project was codenamed LAST CHANCE, and the one before that… didn’t have a shouty codename.)
Gosh, where to begin? I have so many ideas swirling around in my head it’s hard to articulate them in a convincing order, so forgive me if this comes out a bit garbled.
I want to create…
A top-down hack ‘n’ slash RPG game
You’re looking down from above, camera locked to your hero. You pilot him with the cursor and the right click while attacking with the left button. You use QWERT (or other mapped keys of your choice) to unleash special abilities that are both unique to the hero and hot-swappable by changing his equipment. You guide your hero through challenging scenarios, gathering in-game money and equipment to upgrade yourself while completing more and more advanced objectives.
So far so previously-hinted-at, right?
A competitive cooperative action game
What do I mean by “competitive cooperative”? Well, people seem to love the end-game scoreboard of This Wreckage, but people also hate playing overly-long games alone. So while No Excuses is going to be a cooperative game that must be played as a group of 2-4 people, each individual will be graded on their performance individually and ranked against their peers.
Even though each player is a part of the same squad, working towards the final end goal of any given scenario (without at least one completing a scenario, everyone fails and forfeits their rewards), there will be plenty of opportunities to keep one step ahead of the others and grab the glory for yourself. Hidden areas with procedurally chosen loot, special bosses that drop unique items… It will be a case of first come, first served.
A connected experience
It’s all very well playing with a small circle of friends, but it’s also important to make sure the full breadth of your social circle gets to participate and interact with you as your progress. No Excuses will be always-online, because that is the best way to experience the game — in constant flux with your friends and relatives and people you don’t even know yet, with all the latest news and updates a single click away.
How does a game achieve that? For a start, it will be a free-to-play system with tight social media integration. Download the client and log in with Facebook or Twitter, and away you go. There will be no barrier to entry, for anyone — you know my graphics are about the same as a 90s shooter, so there won’t even be much of a technological barrier. Got a ten-year-old computer and a 56k modem? Come on in!
Aside from the moment-to-moment interaction, social media integration also provides a way to make a player’s history open to the wider world. A great way to make new friends, to meet new people, is to connect through a common interest — like a game. With new achievements and ways for even uninterested real-world bores to affect your play (Likes and Shares and Retweets and so-on will bolster your in-game clout through powerful bonuses and traditional currency), people don’t even have to be interested in playing to have a positive impact on your game.
A continuously fresh experience
Obviously a competitive arena needs a constant turn-over of new experiences, so the foundation of No Excuses will be a tightly scheduled churn of new content — from full scenarios to game-altering equipment to cosmetic trinkets. Prices will vary to suit every pocket, though there will be considerable attention paid to balance to ensure that people aren’t simply paying to out-compete their friends: No Excuses is still going to be a game of skill, and no amount of money will stop you from sucking.
A microtransactional ecosystem that also allows for trading of certain items means that, as new items are phased in and old ones phased out, items will change in value to suit the current state of the game world. Like a real world economy, it will shift and evolve, encouraging constant engagement to make the best investments and snap up the best deals.
So there you go. The plans may sound big, but there are so many precedents set by other games, and so many statistics backing up these ideas, that this is surely the future of gaming. No hokey stories, no hours of pointless dialogue and no cheesy lore that nobody cares about and no moulding alone in your mother’s basement — just pure action measured against the only thing that counts: real people.
What do you think?