The most recent game news mentioned that the Chronicles of Crime Community Editor is now available. My gf and I are currently 2 scenarios into the 5 that came in the base game, but we’re looking forward to writing a scenario sometime in the future.
This also reminds me that T.I.M.E. Stories released a Scenario Designer’s Kit (zip file). While they differ in game mechanics, both of these games are similar in the way they structure stories. Because Chronicles of Crime is a mystery game, its adventures are about finding and using information: finding evidence, learning about new locations to investigate and characters to question, assembling them to solve the case. Your first runs of a T.I.M.E. Stories adventure are also about information, learning how to access initially locked away parts of the adventure so you can finally make a run that beats the scenario.
In Chronicles of Crime, each location, character, and item can be in various states: a location might be closed until the players learn the exact address to investigate; a character might be uncooperative until persuaded (say by showing them particular evidence). Player actions and events can trigger changes in state. Similarly, T.I.M.E. Stories has state tokens that keep track of events that have taken place: you convinced the thief to show you another route into the palace; you freed the prisoner, and now the guards are on alert. T.I.M.E. Stories encodes state in other ways, for example certain paths are unlocked or easier if players possess a particular item or character.
In this way, these games are a lot like adventure games where players have to find items or trigger events that unlock the way forward. So there needs to be some information / location / characters / items initially hidden until unlocked by player actions.
Reading up on such games and mystery RPGs, one universal guideline I’ve read is that to give players multiple ways forward. Players will miss things, whether by oversight, because they failed a skill check, they didn’t find it in time, etc. And it can end the game if that one thing prevents them from making further progress. If there is a linchpin to the adventure (a key NPC, the secret location where the final showdown will take place), there need to be multiple arrows pointing to it. (Adventure games seem to be exceptions to this rule, and players seem to accept that it’s okay if the only way forward is to decode the designers’ convoluted logic.)
Anyone else have advice for writing such adventures?