Could the theme “10 seconds” be interpreted as 10 individual seconds? Could a game be made where something interesting could happen inside of 1 second? From those questions came Snap Encounters, an RPG with no RPG elements due to lack of time.
Was the experiment a success? Feedback so far is pretty unanimous: 1 second is too short to make a real decision and there’s too much text.
Too Much Text
Since this is a story-based game, that’s like saying an FPS has too much shooting. Since reading is a free action and isn’t timed, I’m not sure this is a valid criticism or just an issue of wrong target audience. I can certainly tweak it a bit since my writing does tend toward verbosity.
1 second is too short
As implemented, a player must examine the 32×48 pixel encounter creature, examine their two 48×48 pixel choices, interpret all that, and pick a choice appropriate for the encounter. All within one second. Since there’s no HP, making the wrong choice means you die and have to slog through the same encounters all over again (or give up and go play a more fun game).
How To Fix
I think 1 second can still work, but there needs to be a lot less for the player to process for each encounter. My tentative idea is to remove the randomized choices entirely. For each encounter you get the same three choices: fight, flee, or fraternize. The tutorial part of the game will teach these to you, so that by the time you need to make a snap decision, all you have to think about is “oh, that’s an ogre and I’m level 1, RUN!” instead of “That’s an ogre, my choices are, uh, let’s see. Oops, too late, I’m dead.”
Also, the sting of making a wrong choice will be reduced when the RPG elements are introduced. Instead of “oops, I gotta go through all that again?” it’ll be “ouch, I hope I find a health potion soon.”
If you want to see how hard making a decision in 1 second really is, go play Snap Encounters, it’s HTML5, so should run just about anywhere that has web and a keyboard.