A relic hunt by Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

History, Part 1

Design of Lost Adventures began in about 2005 when some ideas I had been kicking around for an Indiana Jones-themed globe-trotting relic hunt began to crystallize enough that I thought there was a playable game in there somewhere. Foundational to the core idea, and a guiding principle throughout the game's development, was the notion that the game had to "know" where the lost relic was hidden, and the gameplay would be all about trying to parse the game's information system to find where the lost relic was hidden, and to be the first one there.

In my original conception, there would be several relics up for grabs, and you'd have to travel around the world to get clues to each of them, acquiring cards that would give access to different "travel routes" connecting the cities (eg to cross the desert, you'd need to acquire a "camel" card; to cross the mountains, you might need a "hot air balloon" card, etc). I came up with what I still think is kind of a nifty solution system, whereby the location of the relic is hidden on a "map" card, and the game consists of acquiring irregularly shaped "artifact" tokens, which you lay on the map in an order prescribed by the "clue cards", and these collectively point to the location of the lost artifact on the map. Then, to test your guess, you shine a small flashlight against the map card at the location at which you're "digging", and if you've followed the clues correctly, a light will shine through the map card -- it has a hidden middle layer that contains holes at the correct locations.

Late in the year, I asked Steve to collaborate with me on the design. Steve is a professional graphic designer, and in playing his designs at our Spielbany sessions, I was impressed with his talent for creating fun games with an easy-to-play visual environment that really immerse the player in the game's thematic world. Steve graciously agreed to join the project, and we went through a flurry of brainstorming email exchanges to define our goals for the game and lay groundwork for a set of simple gameplay mechanics that could evoke the rich theme of the IJ films.

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