Snakes in a game.

It’s time to talk about instance, and we’ll use the recently completed snake nest instance as an example.

This is the base level of the snake cave. The entrance to the cave is on the bottom right. This is the second instance of the game, and the first one that is designed to be actually challenging. There are snakes patrolling the caves and should they spot the player, they will chase the player down. As soon as the player comes in contact with a snake, a battle will ensue. I’ve talked about this before but in an instance, there will be no random encounter through walking. Every encounter is made clear with either enemies on the map or an event.

Once a player starts an instance, they will not be allowed to leave the instance. Should they decide that they want to leave the instance, the instance will result in an automatic fail and you will not be able to enter the same instance again. This system is implemented to provide challenging contents to the players. Traditional 2D RPGs have always allowed players to return to an inn when they are low on health or when things start looking sketchy. In Project Helix, I would like to punish players who are not prepared for the challenge. Players are, of course free to save the game prior to entering an instance. However, should they fail the instance, they will have to start all over again from the save file or continue on without a chance to repeat the quest.

Another feature of instances are rest shrines. This is the mechanics used in Dungeons and Dragons Online and is surprisingly fitting in this environment. The idea is that, through a prolonged instance, player characters will start taking damage and run out of MP. Shrines are able to fully replenish health and mana of your entire party. However, shrines are good for only one use each, so the timing of using the shrine is key. Players will be inclined to save shrines for later use and get as much value as they possibly can from them. This way, it provides a steady way for designers to create the instance and balance it so that it is not too difficult or easy for the player.

Each instance has its own quest log to provide clarity to the player if they get lost or confused inside the instance. The quest log will list primary objectives and optional objectives. Optional objectives are not required for the completion of the quest, but often rewards players for their efforts with experience and/or items, or sometimes even change the plots of later events.

Each instance will have a set of objectives you must complete in order to successfully complete the quest. However, many instances will also offer players choices on how they wish to complete a quest. Fighting a final boss is not always necessary. Sometimes it is possible to talk your way out. Sometimes you are required to have completed some other objectives somewhere else before you have the option to avoid fight. Ultimately, it all comes down to providing players the ability to choose their own destiny. To shape the story that they want to see.

Depending on the choices you make in an instance and the optional objectives you do or do not do, the scenes following the instance will always be different. Take the above picture for example. In this case, Mira had decide to destroy the eggs yet at the same time did not actually commit to doing so. Different choices will lead to different scenes. This is something that Project Helix will constantly strive to achieve.

And that concludes our basic introduction to instances. We will cover more mechanic related topics in the next few days.

Until then, thank you for reading!

~anDai

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