Want to play the game?
I’m still about a week behind in posting about these games. As always, if you’re unfamiliar with what’s going on around here, I advise you to check out this post I did.
The idea for Kroguer originally came to me when I wanted to make an entry for the 7DRL challenge. Unfortunately, due to various life circumstances (and let’s be honest, a lot of laziness on my part), I never got far beyond the idea phase for that challenge. However, I always wanted to revisit the idea to see how it panned out.
I hate grocery shopping with a passion. I always feel like I’m just wandering from aisle to aisle as I try to tick off every item on my list. Drawing the comparison of a grocery store being something similar to a roguelike dungeon wasn’t that far of a stretch in my head. (It should be noted for non-US readers that Kroger is a large chain of grocery stores here in the US. Hence the name Kroguer. I only call attention to this because I was pretty proud of that).
- Prototyped earlier – Trying to learn from last week’s mistake, I tried to prototype as much as possible before moving onto other elements of the game. I still need to get faster at working out the core mechanics in a timely manner, but this seems to be closer to an actual game than last week.
- Actual game loop – Because of my prototyping faster, I actually was able to incorporate (mostly) the internal vision I had for this project. You enter the grocery store, you get your groceries, you check out, and you leave. Rinse, repeat. Some elements are still missing – I intended the store to change more dynamically with each visit, there would be some kind of sense of reward for successfully navigating the store, etc – but the basic structure of the game is there.
- Grocery shopping actually felt better than expected – Much to my surprise, I felt a particular degree of satisfaction in going up to an item in a store and picking it up. There was a sort of visceral in physically seeing a digital item and interacting with it that I did not expect.
- Looks like crap – When I felt like the prototyping was going well, I started to day dream about how I was going to make the game look when it came to the appearance phase. I never got there.
- Lack of variety – In the game, there are only about ten different groceries that are randomly selected at the beginning of a level. This is why the store remains so small; I had hoped for something like sixty or so. As the game progressed, the store would grow in size, forcing you to explore more and more. But because of the lack of items, you never get more than two aisles (though the code for the store extending to any number of aisles works exactly as I intended). This makes the game much less interesting than it could have been.
- Unclear instructions – The first (and so far, only) comment I got on the game was complaining about the lack of instructions. And that’s perfectly valid; the extent in which I guide the player is relegated to a small bit of text in the top left corner of the game world. It’s incredibly unhelpful, and that’s because I added it pretty close to the finish line. Teaching a player how to interact with the world you’ve put them in can be difficult at times, and it’s important you make it very clear to them. I did not do that.
I was very surprised by this game. Considering that I hate grocery shopping, I certainly worried that the core conceit of wandering around a grocery store would be wholly unappealing. Do not get me wrong: I do not think the game I made, even if polished up, makes for a great game. But I think it could make for an okay one. And that’s what surprises me. I think it would fair even better as a sub-mechanic in a larger game. Imagine you have an RPG for example. Instead of walking into a shop and being confronted with a menu, I now wonder if it would be more satisfying if you could wander around the shop and pick up items from the shelves, to then buy as you checked out. (Typing that out reminds me of Recettear, a great game in which you run an RPG item shop like what I just described).
So while I don’t think a game about grocery shopping is particularly viable, I do think there is merit in forcing your players to interact with the world they inhabit in ways that are other than just menus. It’s certainly food for thought.