Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let Me Tell You a Story

Hi everyone!

I’m BurritoSim the 3rd story writer at Burrito Studio.  Today I’ll try to give you an insight about how random events will work in Highlands. They’ve not been advertised much to this date, but they’ll help a lot to give you a feel of where we want to go with Highlands’ narrative.

Random Events

Since I started working on those random events, the concept behind them has evolved a lot. At first, the term designated mini-events that happen at the start of each turn. They were pretty sketchy, with no backstory and were only a way to bring a little randomness in the game. In parallel, we had the idea of integrating short encounters in which the player had to take a decision between two equally appealing options. Since they seemed much more interesting and could be a good support to drive the story onward, we decided to put the first idea in a closet to concentrate our efforts on the second.

This change of orientation was also fueled by a change in our map designing. We changed our initial idea of corridors fighting for independent outdoor sectors with unique features. In this kind of map, it was very easy to write interesting short encounters that could happen almost anywhere. To trigger these events, we thought that the player would have to put a character in a slot near a building that we called a hot spot. At first, we didn’t think much about the number, frequency or relative importance of the random events in the gameplay. We just began writing some of them and planned to do a lot more. But recently, we did a big brainstorm to decide what we wanted to do with these events and here is the result of our reflections.

The Two Categories

First of all, we decided to bring back our short random events, but with a different twist. We now call them bad news and they happen once in a while at the start of your turn. As their name implies, they are short random events that will present a setback to your war efforts, disrupt your current strategy and force you to reassess your short-term objectives. They are designed to give you the feeling that even with the best strategies, you can’t plan everything beforehand. But don’t worry, most of these events won’t be world-shattering… at least not much. J

But we also kept our short encounter events and called them hot spots events. They will happen when you send a character to investigate a special location in a sector you own. Most of the time, your character will experience a small event that can be qualified as positive, negative, or neutral, depending on its outcome. You won’t have to take any decision in these ones. But at times, your character will get a story event that will affect his capabilities and/or the progression of your war effort. Those events are much more elaborate in their design and will have a profound impact on your gameplay.

The Story Events

Basically, the story events will all have the same pattern: after a short description of the initial situation, you will have to choose between two or three options. Some of these choices will highlight ethical motivations, while the others will be much more straightforward in their approach. Depending on the option you choose, your character will have to deal with the consequences, positive or negative, of your decision. Those events will help strongly to make your characters unique. In them, your character will experience their own mini-story that will give them a little time under the spotlight. Even more, the decisions you make might change their progression path and give them an edge that will make them invaluable in your eyes.

The impact of the story events won’t be only for the character that will trigger them or for the gameplay, they will also give you a glimpse into Highlands back story. They can bring the spotlight on any of your characters, but you can also learn much about your favorite main characters in them. Also, their value doesn’t reside only in their randomness, they’re designed to support the main story and help to express the general emotions of the game.

In short, even if you only have a modicum of control over how they will play, the random events will help to shape your Highlands experience and might even incite you to play the game again!

If you have any suggestions or ideas about any of this, please tell us about it!

BurritoSim the 3rd

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