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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Making Maps

    [10.15.13]
    - Danny Cowan

  • Bernard John (B.J.) Badger, Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy alumnus, Beyond Here There Be Dragons

    Hearken to my instruction, noble player! In this game, thou art the most knavish of scoundrels, bent upon the lining of thy pockets with the coin of fools. Legend speaks of glittering treasure hoards hidden within the darkest corners of this untamed realm. The man who could lay hold of these troves would be wealthier than ten kings! But why risk thy conniving keister seeking out safe passage through the wilderness, pray tell, when there be countless simpletons eager to brave the perils of the no-man's land in search of those riches? Especially when spurred by one of thy ONE-OF-A-KIND, GENUINE, GARUANTEED-SAFE TREASURE MAPS!

    In Beyond Here There Be Dragons, the ultimate goal is to find safe routes across a variety of hostile landscapes, shown from a top-down perspective, to reach fabled treasure hoards. Each landscape is riddled with hazards, many of them hidden. To discover a safe way to navigate the terrain, the player must draw experimental routes, which will then be traversed by gullible adventurers who believe they've been sold a treasure map. The player then observes the cartoonishly gruesome demises of these adventurers as they encounter savage goblins, giant spiders, killer rabbits, and every other monster known to mythology, including yes, dragons. Carefully noting the locations and types of these dangers will allow the player to form a knowledge of the landscape, and eventually draw a route for their own avatar to follow in order to actually reach and claim the treasure.

    There are a few restrictions to make the game challenging. Each village near a treasure hoard has only so many idiots who can be convinced to go seeking the treasure, so there is a limit to how many tests can be run. The townsfolk will also grow suspicious of the trickster over time, so there is a time limit before he is run out of town. Everyone knows where the local legend treasure is located, so every experimental path must end on the goalpoint, and of course if a lucky adventurer does actually reach the treasure, the player loses out.

    Different monsters have different behaviors in reaction to wandering adventurers. A giant spider will react only when an adventurer wanders directly into their web. A griffon will detect adventurers from a distance and chase them, potentially running them into another hazard before they're caught. A minotaur will remain where it is after chasing an adventurer, but a goblin tribe will always return to its home. A dragon will patrol a set path and torch anything which comes anywhere near it. It is possible to send out multiple adventurers at the same time, which can change the dynamics of how the map responds. In more challenging maps, it is even necessary to have dupes keeping certain monsters busy while the player's avatar sneaks past.

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