A Tale of Two Games
Do you feel like dying today? Would it be best if you could die over and over again in a dungeon setting? I feel pretty confident that the answer is a resounding, “Yes, please!” and so I give you Ernesto RPG. Or at least the first iteration of Ernest RPG.
Daniel Benmergui is an Argentinian developer that appreciates the value of a well-leveled character. You play as Ernesto in pursuit of defeating the dungeon god on level 4. “Level 4” doesn’t sound that far off until you fall about a half-dozen times to lethal bats. Stinking bats.
Cautious play in pursuit of better weapons and experience is rewarded as you battle spiders and aforementioned stinking bats, avoid traps and survive tunnels. Collect crystal balls to reveal traps, loot corpses, and pretty please acquire a whip so you can tackle snakes without being poisoned every. Darn. Time. Above all: plan. As you progress you leave an uncompromising red trail that cannot be crossed. Backtracking, however, is allowed for the living - at the cost of all loot and XP gathered on that path.
This free version of the game is the result of a week-long project that provided a much-needed break for Benmergui from the long-running work on the anticipated Storyteller. “...Ernesto tapped into an original idea: what happens if a crawler moves just in a grid instead of the usual labyrinth?”, Benmergui wondered, and seeing the value of that idea he is expanding Ernesto into a larger scale game. Identifying and building on these unexplored nooks and crannies of gaming is more than just a proclivity for Benmergui, it’s the core of his game design.
What if there was a living comic book that told the story of adventure, love and loss - and you were in control? Then you’d have Benmergui’s Storyteller in a nutshell. Storyteller is a game with goals, but without right or wrong moves, a game where you can successfully save or sever, help or hinder, spinning out the fictional world just by moving characters in, out and around a panel.
”Storyteller is my attempt at making stories themselves a toy and a challenge.”-Benmergui Read the full interview here: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
Each panel presents a setting, a story objective, and a modest choice of characters and dialogue options. Each of those characters is predisposed towards certain attributes - hamartia, even - and hovering over their avatar displays both their trait (of loving faithfully, for example) and their option in the scene as is (“commits suicide”). Moving the characters in, out and around panels alone or with one another yields different narrative results. Add an object like a treasure chest to the scene and the adjacent character will not only be affected (wealth!), placing an additional character nearby can result in emotions like jealousy - and actions like murder. Characters are dynamic, too - extremely dynamic. Dynamic like Tim can turn into a vampire.
Deepening the game of plot progression are Stars, which are handed out for different achievements within a level. For example, can you successfully rearrange a series of events but still get the desired result? Will Adam be alone and heartbroken because his beloved has died, or because she chose another man? Both will net you a Star, and Benmergui allows the player to toy with fates in-panel without sacrificing the previously achieved solution.
If comic books are your preferred reading, you have an edge going into Storyteller. Conventions that you take for granted in the space where art and dialog meet are key pieces to successfully completing panels with the natural economy found in comics. It’s an art in itself. It’s, well, storytelling - and if it sounds overly simple then I’m not telling it right. With an open-ended approach to solving each panel’s narrative puzzle, the same story can be told in numerous ways delivering a game based on the art of storytelling that accepts each player’s unique yarn spinning style.
And that's Benmergui's style through and through - a deceptively simple mechanic, an almost supernaturally engaging game.
Storyteller demo: http://www.kongregate.com/g...
Ernesto RPG demo: http://www.kongregate.com/g...
Day 23 | Daniel Benmergui