Some thoughts on the design of sandbox games.

I’ve been neglecting the blog while working on game development, and I’m not really okay with that.  So I’m posting on an other-than-usual topic, one that’s on my mind, rather than not post at all.

For the past two years, I’ve been working on-and-off on a game called Hecatomb.  It’s a different kind of “zombie survival” game, inspired by Dwarf Fortress.  You play a necromancer raising zombie servants and building a base in the wilderness.  It’s a “sandbox” game – like meaning there is no singular goal, other than surviving and doing cool things.

Right now my game works, but isn’t very fun because there simply isn’t that much stuff to do.  That, I think, is the secret to games that generate stories rather than having preset stories – they need to generate interest by having a wider-than-usual number of “subsystems” (loosely defined) that interact in potentially interesting ways.  Take, for example, Don’t Starve.  The way I’m thinking about it, these could all be considered subsystems: Continue reading