A new direction!

I woke up this morning with a revelation; the thing that’s keeping Wordsmith from working as a longer-form game is the need to backtrack and keep farming letters from the places you’ve already visited.

And the thing that’s keeping Wordsmith from working as a shorter-form game where you start from scratch in each level, is that it’s too hard to create areas where you can farm a decent set of letters.

In other words: the letter farming is what’s keeping the game from working. And let’s be honest – people are not playing the game for the joy of farming letters.

So, here’s a new approach – what if your letters never get used up? You’ve still got a limited supply, but they’re limited per word. If you kill a rat and collect the letters R, A, T, you’ll be able to make your own RAT, and some ART, and some TAR,… but not a TART, because you don’t have two T’s yet.

This is a fascinating twist on the game. It means the game can actually work as a sequence of levels, instead of having to be one big world. In each level, the player can start in an area with no letters, and just a few (non-respawning) enemies, and use them to make weapons, solve puzzles, and fight their way through to an end point. It becomes almost a Katamari Damacy style puzzle game – you start out weak, beat up the few creatures you can beat, use them to get stronger, and work your way up.

Oh, hey, and maybe the game objective in each level is to collect the whole alphabet? That seems like a simple, natural goal. (Or maybe each level has a specific object you need to create? Collect the letters to spell M-C-G-U-F-F-I-N…)

Of course, the mechanics will need changing a little – if letters don’t get exhausted, we might have a problem that the player can create endless supplies of food to heal with, or an infinite number of monsters to attack the enemies. Even the toughest monster may die if you just create 1000 rats to attack him.

Simplest solution to that: you can only create each object once!

This is awesome. I’m feeling more optimistic about this game than I have in weeks…

2 Comments

  1. Fenton says:

    To be honest, I enjoy the farming aspect. But that could just be me. It could work either way in my opinion. (Sorry, probably made it even harder now)

  2. Andris says:

    An extra twist that may make it overcomplicated though: words with extra weight on some or all letters. E.g. if a tank is overkill after a rat and a skeleton in a given scenario, after typing it the program may tell us it needs twice as much mana here. (A bit disappointing, but may worth it sometimes.)

    In this case player-generated objects should not add to the letter pool because then it may be too easy to get those extra letters.

    Also it could solve the issue of things can be generated only once: first food costs 1x, second food 2x,… So with 3 fish and 3 wood on screen one may be able to replenish his health up to three times.

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