One of the challenges of making Charlotte’s Dream, was coming up with a quick and responsive control scheme, that was flexible yet intuitive. In classic adventure games, the controls were often a bit slow and cumbersome to work with, with dozens of buttons to choose from. In newer adventure games this problem was solved by simplifying the amount of buttons to about two or three. Yet by abstracting the controls this much, I feel that a lot of control was taken away from the player. And it sometimes made puzzles difficult, not because of inherent difficulty, but because of the abstraction of the actions.
Charlotte’s Dream makes use of “default actions”. If you left click any object without selecting a button, Charlotte will perform the most logical action on that object. For example, left clicking a door will prompt Charlotte to open or close it. Left clicking an item will make her pick it up, and left clicking a lever will make her operate it. You have the option to manually override the default action, by clicking any of the buttons on the control panel. So if you want to examine a statue, or talk to a statue, you can still do this. This makes the controls of Charlotte’s Dream very swift and intuitive to use.
Using items from your inventory is equally simple. If you click an item in your inventory, such as a key, the game will automatically assume that you will want to use it on something. You can then click on the suitcase, to open it with the key. If you would rather examine an item in your inventory, you can choose to do this manually.
Items can also be used on other items with the same amount of ease. For example, you can first click on a shard of glass, and then click on a piece of fruit, to cut the fruit in half.
But the game’s item system is far more flexible than that of most adventure games. For example, I have a corked bottle, a shard of glass and a piece of fruit (picture 1). I can try to cut this piece of fruit again with the shard of glass, but now we are going to do more with it.
The fruit is now cut in two again, and the juice smells rather toxic. Now I would like to put the juice from the fruit into the bottle. I’ll first have to take out the cork though. (picture 2).
Now that I have taken out the cork, I’m left with a cork and an empty bottle. The cork might come in handy somewhere else. I can now combine the bottle with the cut fruit. (picture 3).
This flexibility also extends to the dialogues. Our new web app called jumble solver will release soon. Players can ask npc’s about any topic that they have come across on their journey. If they have met a new character, or visited a new location, they can ask other characters about these things. Dialogue trees change constantly depending on the information that the player gathers.
This ensures that conversations with other characters are dynamic and with purpose, rather than a matter of exhausting every option in the dialogue tree. What you say to characters matters. And in the case of some characters, saying the wrong thing can actually get you killed.