A relic hunt by Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is the game missing?

I mentioned in the last post that one of the ideas I felt was missing from the game was a player's need to go to one location rather than another. Mechanically speaking, this is grist for the strategy mill, but in thematic terms, you see Indy traveling to Venice to find his father, not to Calcutta; he travels to Nepal to find the headpiece, not to Marrakech. There is intentionality to his travels, and location-specificity. I would like to see this come through in the game a little more than it does currently.

Here's a somewhat comprehensive list of ideas that I would love to see better evoked by the game, if there's a non-complexity-adding way to achieve them:
  • Expertise: If there's a tablet written in heiroglyphics, you need an Egyptologist to help you decipher it.
  • Convergence: The Nazis are always hot on Indy's trail, when they're not already ahead of him. The fight in The Raven happens because both Indy and the Nazis realize at about the same time where to go to get the headpiece. It would be nice if (a) information is location-specific, and (b) players (and the Enemy) realize at roughly the same time that they need to get to point X to get a particular artifact or piece of information, and there's a race to get there first. This could add gameplay tension and some minor peaks of excitement en route to the major excitement peak, the temple chase at the game's end.
  • Lead-following: You get some partial information about the whereabouts of a person or item that's important, and can chase down that lead to get the information.
  • Hunch-following: Having seen partial information about the "solution", you can use intuition or hunches to guide you either towards a source for more comprehensive information, or to the solution itself based on extrapolation from the partial information you received. E.g. you find a tablet written in heiroglyphics, and intuit that the temple may be in Egypt.
  • Location specificity: When Indy is in Marrakech, it "feels" like he's in Marrakech, not just at a circular space on a game board.
  • Detailed/historical clues: The clues the player reads sound more like "legend has it that the Ark was carried south of Jerusalem during the 5th century BC", and less like "the item you seek is in the Near East"
  • Local rumors: Part of hunch-following could entail traveling to a site that may contain the item you're seeking, and "asking around" to see if local rumors and legends may point to the item being in that location.
  • Visual "digging"/"investigating": It would be neat if there were some way to mechanically or visually dig for the temple; e.g., imagine you arrive at the temple entrance, and it looms before you -- you must say the correct secret word, or push on the right boulder, and then the door magically "opens" before you!
I think some of these would be hard to implement in a tabletop game in general, and some are best left to the players' imagination to fill in. But there may be compact ways to incorporate some of them.

Note: I may edit this post from time to time as new ideas come to me.

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