IDEA: Making adventure games less linear

First, a caveat: I don't possess a lot of knowledge about video games with non-linear play, so there may be plenty of video games using this idea. However, I wanted to post it, in case it had not been conceived or used yet.

The issue in some adventure games is that the plot that revolves around the game action is often linear, i.e. the plot events never or rarely change when you play the game more than once. One prime example is the Metal Gear Solid series of video games. While minor events may be changed depending on circumstances, the major plot events never change, thus making the game pretty repetitive on replay. Not to spoil anything, but such plot points include: the revelation of a new type of weapon; the revelation of a secret identity; and so on.

The idea I came up with is somewhat similar to real-life situations: the major players have "cards" of information that they choose to play at the most damaging, profitable, or dramatic times. Said times can be analogous to a list of prerequisites that must be met before said card is played.

I suppose one could argue that games like the Metal Gear Solid games already follow this formula, but that's a fallacy. The player has no choice but to complete tasks given by the game in order to progress, and in fulfilling those tasks, you could say that prerequisites for playing these "cards" are fulfilled.

What would be interesting is if a game is constructed so that a player can explore just about everything in the game without triggering major plot events, or triggering the events in a different order, or any other combination.

A further extension of this idea would be to have different endings based on how many "cards" were played, in what order were they played, and what is the combined effect.

At this point, I wonder how complex the idea is getting in terms of implementation, but I'll set that aside for future discussion.


BUSINESS: The balance between brainstorming and feasibility

One thing I've encountered recently with my ideas regarding technology is a simple question.

"Is there a need for this?"

Satisfying my own needs is one thing. Satisfying the needs of more people than me is something else. It's easy enough to develop things to satisfy my own needs and desires, but I'm a person that tends to feel "rewarded" when I create something that other people can use as well.

I imagine this is an important business precept as well; a concept that may have brought down more than one company. Smart businesspeople know that if there is no need, or "demand", then the product, or "supply" will never be sold at the desired rate.

Hence, market research is born.

I also think that it's important to have "focused freedom" in coming up with product ideas. A good brainstorming session is one that is as free of bounds and preconceptions as possible. However, simply going off on tangents will get you nowhere. Some focus on the subject at hand is needed to keep things working on the right track. It may even save some time, where a completely free session would wander down roads that simply waste time.