The Impetus for Soracca
Every game starts with inspiration. Sometimes it's a mechanic, other times it's a story or a message we want to tell. For The Manse on Soracca, it was the desire to make players feel a particular.. feeling, for lack of a better term. Everyone gets a thrill from discovery in some form; the inspiration for TMoS was to make the player truly feel like they had stumbled upon something that no one else had seen before. I wanted players to feel like they were unraveling a mystery thread by thread in an organic way that would be unique to each player.
In the beginning, TMoS was going to involve lots of puzzles that required the player to go into the game's directory and manipulate the files within to affect the game world. While this didn't end up remaining as a major part of the game, the DNA of that idea is still there (and if you've played TMoS, you probably know which part most closely reflects this idea). TMoS has what I call "extra-game elements". These are challenges contained within the game that require you to go outside of the game space to find information or tools necessary to complete that challenge. These challenges took up the bulk of my pre-planning time, and, ultimately, they also took up a considerable amount of time and resources during development.
I'm very proud of these elements. They were driving force behind the game's design. I set up these extra-game zones to help players achieve that feeling of discovery. When players came upon these zones, it's my hope that they'll feel a great deal of excitement over having discovered something that seems as though it shouldn't have been found. As though you're the first one to find secret tapes thought to have been destroyed. As though you're the one who bore witness to a thrilling crime. Or as though you're the poor fool to open up Pandora's box. I want players to not just feel immersed, but to feel as though they are genuinely a part of the experience. In The Manse on Soracca, you aren't someone controlling the protagonist. You are the protagonist, even after you've shut off the game.