Hide & Seek is a text-based adventure game programmed in Inform 7. It follows the adventure of a young boy playing Hide and Seek with his brother and serves to show their neighborhood through the eyes of a highly imaginative young fellow engaging in his very first game. My main goal with the project was to craft a strange and captivating world that is mostly about the exploration and discovery of how this little boy has imagined his surroundings.
As once of the first projects assigned for my major, it was an interesting introduction to game design. This was a nice exercise in basic navigational gameplay and world-building within a setting of our own choosing. Games of this genre focus around an adventure of sorts, many times thrusting players into a relatively unknown world that forces them to search around and piece together how to progress using the provided items and objects that allow interaction of some kind.
My initial goal was to ignore this preconceived notion of being required to essentially transport objects from place to place, figuring out what item affects what part of the environment. Heavily inspired by the zany world crafted in Earthbound, I loved the idea that the environment could be highly detailed and allow the player to interact with everything they see. If you move towards a fence, you notice how obviously disapproving the tree is of your existence. If you inspect the sun, you realize what a stupid mistake it is and look away quickly. Interactions occur with every step you take, constantly describing this "normal" cul-de-sac in the most engaging ways possible. I took this opportunity to exercise my writing chops and craft a unique sense of definition that applied to the entire world. This involved very verbose language in which I attempted to give everything in the area a sense of boyish wonder and beguilement. From the Opening of the game:
'Five... four... three... two... one... READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!' As you slide your miniscule hands away from your face and snap your eyes open, you have only one thing bouncing around within your fledgling mind. Where could he possibly be??? The hugeness of the game suddenly sends your imagination soaring. Body and mind alike begin to attune themselves to the silky sunlight streaming through the swaying limbs of the friendly trees that reside in your backyard as a shot of effervescent adrenaline slithers its way through your veins. You can't help but to unsheathe your largest smile upon the world as you set out to find your brother, Niklaus, in your very first game of HIDE and SEEK!!!
This paragraph displays as soon as the game starts. It introduces the player to the objective of the game and also sets the tone for the dialogue. This was very important to me, for I remember playing games such as Adventure and Zork. These classic tales told an engaging story, but always did it in a fairly plain writing style. While this worked perfectly for the times, I wanted to bring a different feel to the world that I had never experienced before.
On top of the general air of fanciful delight, building this kind of world allowed me to play with the idea of situational events for much of the story-telling. The world is set in the outdoors of this cul-de-sac neighborhood, but there are hidden spaces and many interactions require you too have a certain item in your posession to activate. After I started building the game, I wanted to stick with a focus on description and exploration, but soon realized that actual interaction with the world would make for a better experience. For instance, you can find the Legendary Baseball Cap (based off the red hat worn by Ness in EB), which when worn allows you to open the gates in the dark yard. Mechanisms such as this add a bit to the gameplay, and are hinted at through the descriptions of the interactive elements.
On top of the item-based situational events, I also tried to play with the idea that much of the world is composed of the same elements, but they look different based on what yard you are in. The sky will look bright and happy in your backyard, but once you enter the spooky frontyard, things become gloomy and dour. This happens for anything in the world that you can see from multiple places (i.e. the sun, the sky, the clouds, etc.). I liked the idea that every place could could be made up of similar things, but feel new in each one.
Overall, this was my first real foray into creating a unique world that is both intriguing and fun to play as a game. The forced use of text to convey this world allowed a greater focus on really setting up each space and populating them with a lot of interesting content. It was a great introduction to game design, and helped build a solid base knowledge for my future endeavors into game work.