It’s been a while since the last signs of prof. Libinsen online and his assistant is sure that something has happened to him. It is not like him to go offline, even while investigating a case.
Or something like that... That’s the basic plot of the text based horror/mystery game which we aim to complete at some point! Or so was the initial goal, to create a fully web based but realistic game. An interactive story that would drive the players from Twitter statuses, to Quora answers, to Medium articles and other web services(won’t spoil everything) that most people use nowadays and allow the players to discover what really happened.
The need for structure
So how do you provide structure in a random trail of clues and story pieces? You could of course, code a complex system that would sync and notify the user that is going to the right direction. That she reached level 5 out of 10 for example. But that would take time and most importantly is not realistic… Why would a professor create websites to leave clues to his assistant in case something happened?
It should be something that the professor would use every day. Something that would allow the users to unlock levels and have a navigation system to go back to, even if they stray too far and wander online in stories and other dark places of the web.
And the answer(at least for Evil Spirits Do Exist) is to use Dropbox. It certainly is plausible and adds to the realism of the game. A professor would use it to safely sync his files and notes. It is one of the most beloved services of the web today, it is super easy and fun to work with and the password protected folders(Pro feature but definitely worth the $10/month) provided the perfect puzzle system for our game!
How it will work
The professor would have to be a little paranoid and password protect the files with unique passwords that the player has to find by searching in his notes, files and other web services the professor uses (or used?). So a series of folders would appear when a player signs up to join the search and the game begins!
Although unsure about the time necessary to develop different levels of difficulty, by using Dropbox we can easily modify folders to include much less clues, completely different passwords and create our own Madhouse mode!
Unique experience for each user
A feature that would be cool but due to time constraints cannot add for now is completely different passwords per user. We could create a pool of answers/clues and generate the folders dynamically, each time a user signs up, by using the Dropbox API. It certainly would defeat the walkthrough spoilers, but as mentioned before, who has time for that? Just don’t search online for the solutions…
The unfulfilled dream
Although perfect and (must repeat) extremely user friendly, Dropbox does not provide webhooks or any kind of analytics for when a password protected folder has been accessed. In case that happened we could generate a set of unique folders per users and if they had been accessed we could update(cloud sync) their progress and trophies back in our game’s starting website, without any additional user action required. Think of it, a user finds a password in a protected folder and when she returns to our game’s website the progress is instantly updated. That would be the most awesome thing we could achieve but now we can’t.
Another limitation would be the API rate limits but since we are not generating folders programmatically, we don’t have to worry about that or the obvious space limitations.
The only thing that worries us are the bandwidth limits, since videos and files will constantly be opened and downloaded but hopefully we can survive that and it won’t be a problem.
When creating a completely web based game and realism is the goal use Dropbox with password protected folders… Nah, the point was to express how much we liked using Dropbox as the progress system for our game, to provide a few details and trick you into playing the game!