Game Development Journal Part VI: The Troll’s Nest

A lot of my recent posts have been about the game of trolling and how it functions as a rhetorical disciplinary mechanism for various online communities.  So, of course, as I gamify my dissertation, I had to include the trolls!

To recap: my game is about harmful memes in the gaming community re-imagined as a zombie virus.  The first area I created was the site of the outbreak: a gaming convention.  As the player searches for the source of all the chaos, they will discover a sewer drain that leads down into a Troll’s Nest.

The Troll’s Nest is a maze filled with enemies that will chase the player down if they get too close (whereas the slow, stupid zombies in the first area will only attack if the player initiates contact with them).  Exploring the far corners of the maze will sometimes yield troves of treasure.  But sometimes, it will simply lead to a dead end or a difficult battle.

trollcaveA zoomed out view of just a part of the Troll’s Nest layout

There are also several locked doors in the maze that will stop the player’s progress until they find the switch that opens them.  In true troll fashion, these switches are located far away from the doors they control, forcing the player to double back and search for them before they can move forward.

At the end of the maze, the leader of the trolls (I’m still thinking about a good title or name for it – if you have a suggestion, leave one in the comments!) will explain to the player that trolls are not the source of the meme.  Rather, they simply exploit the existence of the meme in order to sow chaos and discord “for the lulz.”  It will then try to insult and provoke the player into one final boss fight battle.  The player will then have two choices: they can either take the (difficult) fight and, if they win, receive a powerful offensive item OR they can ignore all of its provocations until it goes away in disgust, which will win them a powerful defensive item.

Either way, once the Boss Troll is out of the way, it will be on to the next potential source of the plague: the corporate offices of a video game developer.

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4 thoughts on “Game Development Journal Part VI: The Troll’s Nest

  1. (1) “The player will then have two choices: they can either take the (difficult) fight and, if they win, receive a powerful offensive item OR they can ignore all of its provocations until it goes away in disgust, which will win them a powerful defensive item.”

    I would like to see a failure condition as an option to further the analogy-in-the-making. It seems to me that the player cannot help but win this fight, somehow, and that the only way of truly losing is to engage ‘Boss Troll’ in battle and lose said battle. It would be interesting to see an offensive and defensive failure condition: (a) a way for the player to win the battle with Boss Troll but still lose, receiving nothing, and a way for the player to win by ignoring Boss Troll but still lose, receiving nothing, and (b) have the narrative still continue.

    This would allow for more than a black-or-white response to the issue as, of course, there grey area is pretty damn robust. HOWEVER, there are a two important caveats to all of this. First and foremost, I am not completely up on your project, development skills or the tools you are using, so it’s very possible that my suggestion simply cannot take place in your game for any of those reasons. Second, since I am not completely up on your project and haven’t seen a design document I have no idea if the ideas I’ve presented are things you are going to have the player experience down the line, thereby making my suggestions redundant.

    I’m curious about your design document and would like to see/read more if you’re not too busy. That aside, I’ll go through this particular series of entries to find out more.

    (2) “(I’m still thinking about a good title or name for it – if you have a suggestion, leave one in the comments!)”

    I’d opt for L.o.L.:
    -it’s an obvious stab at League of Legends and what Riot has refused to do, how it takes no meaningful responsibility for player-as-content;
    -the obvious stab speaks volumes about the concentration of the issue in a particular and well-known area;
    -it’s an stylisation on ‘lol’, which is sensible;
    -it’s an stylised as an acronym, which allows for some real creative room and the ability to go old-school with something cheeky and stupid like Lord of Luzzorz (remember CHEB from Loaded, Charming Handsome Erudite Bastard?).

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