What is your dream game mechanic?

Automatic structure and utility construction in city builder games kinda bugs me. It would be really cool if building any structure in SimCity actually took time, so that for example, setting up a bridge over a major road actually would impact traffic until it’s finished. Or rezoning industrial areas to high-density commercial means you have to wait in-game years as the old factories get torn down and the big shiny skyscrapers get built, which in turn delays any effects on the city metrics like job demand or population. I’m not sure how well this would go over with other players, but I think it would totally enhance my immersion.

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I would love to see a game where instead of starting out weak and gaining power over the course of the game, you start out powerful and lose power over the course of the game by picking powers or abilities to sacrifice. The more you’d get into the game, the more carefully you would need to consider what powers are most important to you.

I think there are a lot of interesting ways such a game could be approached.

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It doesn’t necessarily need to be constructed like an escort mission! If the focus is on safely battling the supervillain (which, yes, please, god it makes me cringe to think of all the collateral damage in superhero/action movies), you can conceptualize “ensure civilians are not harmed” as a kind of hazard or obstacle. Plenty of combat-oriented games place you on a field where you must also avoid or manage environmental hazards while duking it out with an opponent, after all. Here, harm of civilians constitutes an ethical hazard in the arena, if not a physical one.

And if the focus is more directly on the protection of the civilians, that’s fine too – it still doesn’t have to be an escort. For instance, if a supervillain is marching down streets of Randotown with an army of robotic minions or whatnot, you’re not going to be escorting the civilians away individually – that would be both 1) impossible [herding people: worse than herding cats?] and 2) impractical. You’d maybe have a “contagious” AOE yell that would encourage civilians to start getting out of the way, with repeated applications increasing the efficacy and direct auditory contact being more effective than the word-of-mouth; a small handful of civilians might be too slow to make it on foot and need to be carried to a nearby shelter location; stubborn or oblivious stayers at the very end might need the push out of the way (but having had the near miss, will then come to their senses and run away on their own).

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Skill based systems (as opposed to class based leveling) are my jam. I loved Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call, and other classic RPGs and MMORPGs that let you build the character you wanted.

You want to be a lumberjack, fletcher, archer, animal tamer who can speak with the dead, cast a few spells, and make potions? Sure!

I’d like there to be a game where the player has no sense of direction where sounds come from (when you play it in surround)

And there should be sound puzzles in it.

Then I could use that game to show why it is hard to be an hearing impaired gamer sometimes.

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I’d love to see the “type your response” mechanic seen in Facade and Event0 expanded and improved until it could support a full text adventure or RPG or immersive sim

That’s a great point about making collateral damage into a sort of hazard to be avoided. I would love to see a mechanic like this implemented in the upcoming Spider-Man game. I mean, half the fun of watching a Spidey fight scene is having him walk the tightrope of defeating the villain while keeping bystanders safe. Why not include that aspect in the game?

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Lightsaber damage being true to the films. It shouldn’t take 3-4 hits to kill an enemy. If you get hit with a lightsaber, you get cut in half or at the very least lose a limb.

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I want a game where I can do stuff with/to rivers and dams and floodplains and all that, with at least moderately accurate erosion simulation. I don’t even know what the game itself would be, I mostly just want to play around with meandering rivers.

Sincerely,
The one guy who still wants a new From Dust game

My other dream game would be essentially “SimAnt x Dwarf Fortress”

Long-term genetic manipulation of a population as a core mechanic. I want to mix and match bloodlines until I can make a Kwisatz Haderach. Basically, I want more Massive Chalice.

I’ve moved away from RTS games since I had this thought, but an RTS game (or maybe some other city-building game) where you have direct slider-based control on the stat balance of your units. (i.e. Slide the damage of the unit way up, but the health way down, or slide both up, but slide the build time way down and the cost up).

Make that two of us!

They’re getting pretty dated now, but I think Jedi Outcast/Jedi Academy had a console command for that, which basically turned lightsabers into insta-kill weapons.

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I really like exploring and storytelling in open world RPGs but I’m sick to death of action-RPG combat. Either make a game like that without combat, or one where combat is very rare and dangerous. Or replace it with something else! A Dragon’s Dogma style game that switched to XCOM style turn based whenever combat started would be really really cool.

Ever since Mirror’s Edge I’ve always wanted a Spider-Man game in 1st person. Swinging with a little cross-hair in the middle or something.

Do you have a VR headset? Because Windlands on easy mode is pretty much that.

I don’t have a VR headset, but I’m definitely going to look into Windlands. Thanks for the recommendation!

I do believe that a contingent of players would speak out against it no matter how well it was implemented—RE4’s segments with Ashley were among the best of “protect this character” gameplay ever, but you’ll still see people complain about it. I agree with you about keeping it from being an escort mission in that it can’t be perceived that way. The typical “guide this target to safety before their health bar runs out” approach couldn’t be taken.

The contagious effect of a verbal warning sounds like a really good idea though, and would help make developing a “civilian group management” mechanic more feasible. In this theoretical superhero game, you could get an upgrade (maybe as a result of your character’s increasing fame) that makes civilians trust your warning more, or your character’s heroism inspires them to get others to safety.

I still want those moments of saving an individual without it being a fully scripted affair. Even if that’s relegated to specific scenarios rather than being fully systemic, i’d greatly appreciate them.

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Have you seen Megaton Rainfall? Avoiding and preventing collateral damage is a core part of the gameplay

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Have you considered divinity original sin 2? It’s not exactly the same but it has a large fantasy world before switching over to turnbased combat similar to xcom.

In regards to dream mechanics, something that simulates the hacking of objects to access environments and objectives via parkourish movement. Like a more robust watch dogs but with a fidelity not unlike the dues ex games with a more engaging traversal system for verticality

I have not heard about it, but it looks pretty interesting. Thanks for letting me know!

This one isn’t a single mechanic, per se, but:

I’ve always wanted to play an action game where you heal people but don’t hurt them… but like a hard game. Heart Souls, as it were. You as the MC have amazing healing, augmentative, and shielding abilities, but the healing and augmentation is only for others. You yourself have only mobility and shielding. You have to wade into a series of massacres and turn the tide by surviving long enough to help the victims repel the aggressors. The more trust you earn from those you are helping, the more you can influence them to take actions that facilitate this, meaning most situations start with you mitigating trauma, but hopefully end with you directing the resistance somewhat due to rallying the victims.

Ok that’s more a game idea than a mechanic.

As for a more singular mechanic, I would like to see a RTS or SRPG game that doesn’t use a turn counter or action cooldown in the traditional sense, but instead lets any unit attempt to act whenever they want to, but bases part of the success chance (and other variables) upon how soon they try to act. Imagine a normal-looking universal cooldown timer, but as it fills, each increment adds a certain percentage of success potential, while failure would have different effects based on severity. 100% filled would mean full potential and 0% negative results for a failure (beyond, well, not succeeding.) 1% filled would mean the least potential for success and the most harmful effects for failing.

As all your units have their action meters (or whatever) building, you are constantly weighing the advantages of acting sooner vs acting dependably. Gambling initiative vs competency, as it were. Stats could just affect this % chance based upon what actions are taken that they govern. For example, having great ranged accuracy but bad mobility means taking a bow shot with a half-filled timer would have a much better chance of succeeding than trying to dash with a like-filled timer.

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I want more games that attempt to realistically simulate human anatomy, a la Dwarf Fortress. I’d especially love that see a survival game.