The Warren

So my new HTML5 project has been marching along. Progress was a bit slower over the holidays, but the game has taken on a lot more form and I feel pretty comfortable talking about what it’s going to look like at the end. I even decided on a title, after a bit too much deliberation: Ghost Planet.

Because there are all kinds of ghosts, you see

There are a bunch of different areas throughout the game, each with its own theme and type of challenge to overcome. Some of them are more closely related, and build off of another’s mechanics – some of them stand by themselves. All of them are connected to multiple different areas, so there’s no one path to follow – for the most part, you can choose in which order you find them.

But at the beginning of the game, there are only three areas that can be directly accessed, each one in a different direction, with a different mechanic, and a bit larger than the others. You could say these are the main branches from which the others stem.

Today, we’ll talk briefly about the Warren.


a densely populated or labyrinthine building or district.”a warren of narrow gas-lit streets”

I’m not shy about my influences – in this case, the Warren is inspired by the “Lost Woods” archetype from the original Legend of Zelda. Since then, there have been many variations on the idea, within Zelda and other games. Simply put, it’s a maze composed of lots of similar rooms with four entrances. Though the solution to the mazes vary, the thing that I find interesting is how quickly one gets disoriented because of the lack of reliable landmarks.

While many “Lost Woods”-type mazes require very specific paths, or will actually loop you back around so that you can never reach the edges of the area, the Warren is more “what you see is what you get”. Each maze is composed of a finite number of rooms, and there’s no trickery warping you around. There are many paths that will lead you to the exit…but finding it will still be difficult due to their layout. And while other mazes might happily spit you out at the beginning if you make a wrong turn, the Warren will let you move as far off track, or go in as many circles, as you please – so staying oriented is important.

But you’re not alone. Throughout the Warren are ghosts that will help guide you through specific portions. In this case, a ghost helps the player through an introductory section by giving them pretty straight-forward directions. But as you go deeper in, the mazes become larger, more hazardous, and the hints you get become a lot more contextual and vague, requiring you to do more leg-work to figure your way out. And not all of your guides will be so trustworthy…

Anyway, that’s the gist of things. I don’t think I’ll be able to cover each area in the game – especially when some have themes/mechanics that are probably better experienced first-hand. But hopefully this gives a bit of an idea what the game is trying to achieve. When I can, I’ll probably do a short overview of the other major areas, or something about the narrative in the game, such as it is.