The Big Changes in “The Girl Who Sold The World”7 min read
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
— Socrates —
No more (pseudo) puzzles. But what comes instead?
Already during the programming of the first episode, we noticed that we are not completely satisfied with the current puzzles. Actually, we don’t even see them as real puzzles, but more as mini-games, which purpose was to offer a nice change to the actual gameplay. And as we know from our players, it was a lot of fun to solve them, even if they are pretty simple.
But they have a decisive disadvantage.
They are not at all interwoven with the story. This means that at the same moment you are torn out of the story’s atmosphere and moved into a new mini-game world. After you have successfully solved it, you will be teleported back into Frances’ world. During this time your immersion with the fictional world will be interrupted. We want to avoid this at all costs, because immersion has priority. For time and financial reasons we were forced to settle for this temporary solution, but now it is time to synchronize this part of The Girl Who Sold The World with our vision.
Our idea of a great adventure puzzle presupposes that it is interwoven with the story and firmly anchored in the fictional world. Furthermore, Frances’ actions and her interaction with you must be integrated, too. After all, this whole experience is also about friendship and teamwork, which is what makes solving a puzzle possible.
So, right after the release of “The Loss” we started to work on a completely new gameplay system. Several hundred coffees (I drink two coffees a day by the way), many theories and sleepless nights later it was clear: TGWSTW will be equipped – in addition to the core element (making choices) – with three gameplay elements, which not only increase the intensity of your experience but also the importance of your role in the whole adventure.
Last month I switched from story writing to coding and managed to create playable prototypes of all three elements which I will provide to you for testing soon. At the moment the Ear-Mode (playing only with audio, without looking at the screen) is missing, which I will tackle at the next coding session.
Now I would like to introduce you to the three gameplay elements P.A.D., N.E.R.S. and X-ONAR. Story-wise they are an integral part of the whole Skylr (-> no spelling mistake, the “e” is gone) system. That’s why they are integrated as modules in the messenger and each has its own version number.
P.A.D. – Oldschool puzzling as it should be for a real adventure
P.A.D. stands for Plan And Do and, as the name suggests, consists of two parts.
In the first – the planning part – you select an action, represented by twelve verbs, which are: go, examine, take/put, use, open, push, pull, dismantle, shake, turn, talk and give.
After you have selected an action, the next one – the execution part – lists the corresponding items from Frances backpack or the surrounding area. There are only such items to find with which the selected action is theoretically feasible so that you don’t have to rummage through endlessly long inventory lists. Because in spite of a fictitious world it makes little sense to talk to a knife, doesn’t it?
That doesn’t mean, of course, that practically everything can be done. That would be too obvious again. You will have to brood a bit and possibly experiment at times.
Actions in which it seems logical, useful, or simply appropriate, as in the case of “use”, of course allow a multiple selection of items. After you’ve carefully planned, click on “Execute” to let Frances put the plan into action which hopefully leads to the solution.
This system will give you puzzles in all possible complexities and allow you to discover the alien world through interacting with it as freely as possible.
More importantly, you’ll never lose touch with Frances and her world, and you’ll always understand why this puzzle is challenging you and Frances at this very moment.
For all those who don’t like puzzles so much – the puzzle skip button has unfortunately been omitted for immersion reasons. Instead, you have to convince Frances that you can’t or don’t want to crack the puzzle. She will then have to deal with it on her own, for better or for worse, which will certainly take more time. Because hey, two brains are more powerful than one, that must be clear. The bottom line, in this case, is that the signal is disconnected and you have to wait until Frances has done it on his own. I think it’s fair to get over that in the face of the fact that you don’t want to puzzle yourself.
N.E.R.S. – You get power but also responsibility
N.E.R.S. stands for NEuronal Reconditioning Stimulation.
We are particularly proud of this module. It is so specific to TGWSTW because it was born from the idea of having a tool in your hand with which you can actively tackle Frances’ memory loss. However, it may also be used for additional purposes later in the story.
The sphere with its neuronal nodes represents Frances’ thought world through which you can move. You will hear all the thoughts buzzing around and overlapping. Swipe your way to find their position at which they are clearly audible. Afterward, you can stimulate and strengthen this single thought by touching that particular node. This is an incredibly powerful tool that will greatly influence the course and the outcome over time.
It will play a big role when and what thoughts you stimulate, if you tell Frances what you did in her head or not, and if the strengthened thought will help her or rather harm her. It is up to you to choose wisely, because nothing good is likely to come if you stimulate just about any thought.
X-ONAR – a little action must also not be missing
This module is based on the already implemented idea of defining a code word with Frances so that she can cut the connection as soon as she receives signals from strangers. We figured out, that we could do way more out of it and instead of cutting the connection immediately you could try to solve it otherwise first.
The result: X-ONAR, which stands for a new generation sonar that can receive signals from other messengers regardless of the obstacles between transmitter and receiver. Of particular interest, of course, are the signals from strangers who want to harm Frances.
But there are two hooks.
First: as long as Frances’ Messenger is on, she can also be located by others. And secondly: her messenger has a defect and cannot process the received signals. But it can forward them to your Skylr. Therefore it will be your task to maneuver Frances out of the danger zone. If you don’t make it and strangers come too close, you can still cut the connection to protect her. Then all that remains is to wait and pray that nothing will happen to her.
Later there will also be situations where the function is used to sneak up on strangers that Frances cannot see due to specific circumstances (walls, darkness). The actual action and tension factor are increased by the fact that you never know when and where you and Frances are going to meet enemies in their immediate environment.
So always be on your guard!
To sum it up:
This is certainly much more than just a small modification. We believe that we have created an interesting and, in our opinion, better gameplay that will let you experience this adventure more intensively. We hope that we have met your puzzle taste and that you will see added value in these new features. If you feel like it, let us know your opinion in the comments. As always, we gratefully accept every feedback and criticism.
In the end, the first tests will show where we still have to tweak.
Since I have dedicated myself exclusively to programming lately, I now have to switch again for 3-4 weeks to writing so that we can make progress here as well.
But as soon as I start the next programming session again, I will put the Ear-Mode into practice as promised, so that the whole community can test everything together. I’m looking forward to it.
There’s still a lot to do, but we’re moving forward. And that makes me incredibly happy 🙂
. . .
MORE INTERESTING POSTS