(We're well past 25% funded in just 48 hours! We're so appreciative of your support. Below is the first of a few in-depth articles I've written to hopefully shed more light on the design of Hero Generations)
When I started designing Hero Generations, my goal was to build a game that, through gameplay, would allow players to feel a complex set of emotions I had experienced myself. The lessons I pulled from that experience felt like universal human truths that others might benefit from experiencing too. During the early design process, I wrote the below summary of how I planned to achieve the aesthetic experience I wanted in the game. I figured I would share it with you now since details on the topic in the Kickstarter description are pretty light.
Hero Generations Design Philosophy
Hero Generations aims to be both a personal expression and experiment in distilling deep strategy gameplay into a shorter form experience. The intent is to build a game system around familiar personal life experiences everyone can relate to, and over time reveal insights about the following core themes:
- What is worth our limited life time?
- What do we sacrifice to pursue the things we love?
- The value of thinking long term vs short term; planning for a better future vs immediate personal achievement.
- The value of putting down roots vs staying free to explore passions.
- The impact of nature vs nurture.
Mechanically, I will reveal these themes via the following systems:
- A hero with a limited lifespan, and permanent death. Each turn choice should matter because the stakes are high.
- An expanding, variety of valid goals to pursue (it should be an interesting puzzle for you to chart your life path amid static, dynamic, and hidden objectives).
- Quick-play sessions leading to rapid generational iteration. I want to expose the long-term effects of player actions as soon as possible, so enabling players to play many generations is key.
- World permanence and persistence leads to a connection between generations, and allows players to leave a lasting (positive or negative) impact on the game world.
- Generational variety through mating, to expose different choices with each new child hero. It’s not one story; it’s an exploration of a concept.
- Making classic strategy game mechanics accessible in quick play sessions. Give people a replayable short form version of 4X Strategy that they can chain into longer epic legacies on their schedule.
- Keep everything beloved about Rogue-likes, but fix the pain of permadeath by allowing players to continue on as an heir with similar characteristics.
- Play with procedural generation to make each game varied and personalized.
The influence list for the game is quite varied. A number of games were useful references for solving hard design problems:
- Oasis (single screen exploration structure, elegant, quick-play strategy)
- Civilization Revolution (4x made casual, on console)
- Passage (limited lifespan, rapid character growth/aging)
- The Legend of Zelda (adventure unlocking structure, non-linear exploration, item system)
- Super Mario World (aesthetic, surprise, “little world”)
- Spelunky (random generation, accessible rogue-like)
- Risk (combat simplicity, design)
- Minesweeper (uncertain/dangerous grid-based exploration with “tells”)
- Super Mario 3 (mini-game integration)
- Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne (Varied Quests types – victory pts/fame design unify varied goals)
- LOVE (Procedural generation, graphical evolution)
- Braid (careful match of visual tone and mechanical communication)
Thanks for reading,