I’ve been playing some of the old games that I like and thinking about what are the positive and negative features of each game and which I want to incorporate or avoid in Demons Eye. I’ve just been playing Ultima V and this has given me a few ideas. One of things that put me off playing Ultima V more when I was younger was that some of the exploring seemed quite tedious. For example exploring a castle meant a lot of searching for secret doors (all of which seem to be locked) and also moving potted plants around to get to said secret doors. These are fine if there are interesting things behind them but if not then they just annoy me and take a lot of fun out of the game. This specific issue seems to be worse in Ultima V.
Ultima V manages to make fairly varied maps out of a limited set of tiles (256 terrain tiles + 256 monsters/items). I spent a lot of time over the last few days messing around with lots of tiles adding them to the tilesheet and probably not using them. I also need to think about how I want to handle lighting and line of sight in Demons Eye. Personally I often find that limiting the view this way detracts from the game. Maybe it would work best in Dungeons where there is more tension about unknown creatures coming out of the darkness.
On the combat front I think I’ve decided on a single player rather than a party. Party combat is too tedious I think unless it has an automatic option where most of the party fight under computer control. It also means that you can focus on really developing your single character rather than having to share out experience and items between a party. I know a number of Ultima players like to play with a small party (or single character) as it makes play a lot simpler. There will still be the option to summon various helpers through magic or possibly get help from passing good characters.
- Good design using a small number of tiles rather than hundreds of different tiles.
- Sparing use of secret and locked doors.
- A decent number of searchable objects (e.g. chests, baskets) should contain some objects!
- Night and day cycles and Line of Sight shouldn’t limit the view too much.
- Single player rather than party.