Sometimes Always Monsters and the Escapists Series: Effects on Our Plans

As mentioned in our earlier update Group Desolation has decided to focus our game on survival and the consequences of the character’s choices. To fit with this some of us have looked into similar games for inspiration, two of which are Sometimes Always Monsters and the Escapists. Both of these games were made in a similar style, with pixelated graphics and relatively simple mechanics. From Sometimes Always Monsters we are mainly looking at how the game maintained its intense mood, and we are mainly looking at the Escapists for game play ideas.

For those of you have not played, or heard of, Sometimes Always Monsters it is a rpg in which the player character is a struggling author who has become estranged from the love of their life. Despite its cartoonish graphics and lack of voice acting it remains tense throughout because of the choices it forces the player to make. One of the starting scenarios tasks the jobless player to scrape together enough money to pay rent which they could do by working odd jobs, but potentially missing an important call due to the hours they are assigned, or by robbing their elderly neighbor. Both tasks are easy to accomplish, but having such divergent options encourages the player to immerse themselves in the game’s world and makes them more fearful of what the potential consequences are. This is an effective way to naturally increase immersion and if an early game choice was to be set up to punish the player no matter which task they chose, then the player would pay more attention and think through future decisions in much more depth to avoid failing again.

In the case of the Escapists we are primarily looking to adapt a similar game play. The main goal of the Escapists is to escape whatever prison you are placed in, which has clear parallels to our game, and in the process of escaping you must follow a strict daily schedule. The daily routine is a good way force players towards a certain play style, with various punishments discouraging certain actions and rewarding the actions the developers want the player to commit to. This retains the illusion that the player is in full control of their situation while guiding them towards the important choices of the game. However, implementing it in RPG Maker could prove rather difficult as the mechanics are a bit complicated with AI daily routines and a responsive reputation system.

Throughout this week we will hopefully find more games, or other media, to draw inspiration from and more fully explore how we could effectively implement the mechanics we come up with.

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