The forest through the trees
Working off the open gameplay development from the last update, I wanted to explore a few new options to further enhance the world. Starting out in the forested section, it made sense to add functionality to the trees first. With giving the players the ability to cross the border to the next area however they choose, an immediate need was how to handle players moving under trees. The most organic solution was to make it so when a player moves under a tree, that tree becomes partially transparent.
Design wise, that opens the next question — where is the trunk of the tree?
From there, the trunk was added, along with a tree top for added depth.
The tree interactions opened two wonderful options for me. First, monsters, treasures, new people to meet and even entrances to new areas could be hidden under the trees — giving the players motivation to further explore the area. Second, as the two weapons of the game are a sword and an axe, I wanted the players to have the option to chop down the trees.
After a bit of work, I created the prototype of the tree chopping system. It worked well enough but then a concern struck me — this gave rise to the players potentially being able to cut down all the trees and being stuck with a wasteland of a world. If they later regretted the choice, the only option would be to restart the game. Seeing that as an undesirable impact on the experience, I decided the best approach would be for the trees to slowly grow back.
The timeline runs for a full week, beginning when the tree is first cut down.
For the first hour after being cut, there is just a stump.
Then, a small sprout appears.
Twenty four hours after the tree is cut, the sprout becomes a sapling.
Two and a half days later, it grows to a shrub.
And seven days after being chopped down, the tree fully regrows.
This innovative feature, coupled with the level change system, allows for a fundamental shift in the direction I am able to pursue. With the last of the linear gameplay restrictions removed, my next task is to map the remainder of the world.