MAGS Day 1 – From vague to viable in one constraint

Every month the AdventureGameStudio forum runs a competition where you build a game in one month following a specific theme. This month the theme is Time. I’ve never participated in MAGS since I usually don’t have time, but this theme sparked an idea in my head. An idea I’ve been throwing around for a while now, based on the tv show 24.

24, as you may or may not know, is a show that purports to portray a full day in the life of special agent Jack Bauer in REALTIME. Every episode is an hour long, with appropriate lulls written into the plot to accomodate commercial breaks. But the funny thing is that during the show Jack never seems to take the time to chow down a sandwich, or even to take a piss. I thought that was interesting, and formed some ideas on how to handle that and convert the format into an adventure game. But nothing conclusive ever came out of that, mostly because there were so many directions you could take it in. So I tucked the concept away in my ideas folder. Until yesterday.

As a freshman in game designer college, me and my classmates all wanted as little restrictions as possible during our assignments. Every constraint the teachers put on us was met with a groan. But over the years we learned that constraints actually benefit your design because they allow you to focus on a specific direction and discard anything that doesn’t match that direction. So too the constraints of MAGS (mainly the time limit, appropriately) suddenly made all those vague ideas click together, and I decided to give it a go.

A month is a decent amount of time to make a small game, but I have plenty of other, more urgent things to do aswell, so I decided on a few more constraints from the onset:

– First and foremost I will keep this game as simple as possible. I can always expand later if I have time left.
– Secondly I want to try out the idea of making everything realtime. That means keeping track of the time the player spends in the game and where he is at when the time limit expires. So that means multiple endings. Woof, okay.
– Thirdly, I wanna use this as a test case for the custom dialog engine I am writing. It’s still very much in beta, but this will be a good opportunity to use it in a real project and see what improvements can be made.

Let’s see how it goes!

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