Saturday, July 20, 2013

MVOL Needs Guides!

First, if you haven't seen it yet, v0.13 is out, now featuring lady parts available for the avatar!

With that said, MVOL could use your help! I mentioned previously that we need proofers, and that's still true, but today I'd like to talk about guides. At least half the feedback I get on the game tends to be along the lines of "how do I do this or that," and while I do like to help people, it also leaves me very... conflicted on some levels.

The tricky thing about MVOL is that, to me, it has a little trouble fully qualifying as a game. It's interactive, yes, but the actual "gameplay" amounts to two things: exploration and repetition. That is, you work your way through, trying out new scenes, which unlock other scenes, and still others after that. Eventually, things stop unlocking right away, and you have to start doing certain scenes two or three times to push up this or that value high enough to unlock the next scene. And as you get into the really difficult stuff, you're forced to find the right scene or combination of scenes and access them several times, revving that cat up to be in just the right mindset for what you're trying to pull off. That basically describes the game's mechanics, from beginning to end.

What this means is that I could very simply say "In order to get to A, you just need to do B about X times, then go to C, and A should unlock." But then the player would do B about X times, go to C, and get their A scene and go home happy-- kind of like turning to page 28 in a book and reading what's there. The thing that sets MVOL apart from a naughty pick-your-own-adventure book (besides getting to change up the genders and naughty bits) is the hunt. The entire challenge is in finding ways to unlock those tricky scenes, and the concept behind it is supposed to be that if you think, "how would I get this cat to A if I was really there with him?" and if you understand how Lith works as a person, you'll immediately think to do B several times, then go to C. Not because someone told you, but because you thought it out in-game. That's immersion. That's the difference between coming up with a solution and just turning to page 28.

In short: I could tell you how to play the game, but then you wouldn't be playing it-- you'd be reading a book.

A lot of games rely on random number generation to create gameplay. I designed MVOL to try and make sense, and I specifically wrote the game to never used random elements for anything important. The only scenes that use random elements just cycle through potential outcomes in a random or semi-random fashion, to encourage you to try it several times and see what comes out. Figuring out how to access scenes is the entire game that I have designed, and I just don't have it in me to take that away from you.

So that's where you come in. I can't bear to spell out the game and leave it naked and meaningless, but I heartily encourage people to discuss the game from the outside-- to talk about their experiences with it and share tips and tricks. The logical extension of this is user-generated guides. If you think you have a good idea how the game works, I beseech you:

Write a Guide!

New people play MVOL every day, and a lot of them get confused at one point or another! This subforum is dedicated solely to being an official repository for guides to MVOL that we can link to from the game itself, to help players everywhere. But for that repository to help, we need more guides!

Whatever aspect of the game you'd say your experienced with, consider pitching in your own insight on how to overcome the harder parts of the game, or even just how to get started if someone hits a hitch early. There's a quick set of rules at the top to give you a basic idea of how to get started, including a link to email me if you've written a guide but you're not sure it's up to snuff. The closest I can get to telling people how to play is Petre's surly guide, and that's just not enough for a lot of folks out there!

The newbies are waiting for your help. Think of all the Lith's going uncollared without your guidance! Write a guide today!

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