The main purpose of interaction in “8” is to give the player opportunity to be playful. Both by interacting with the environment and by musing over the scenes that (s)he encounters.
Main game goals
The primary goal of the game is for the Player and the Little Girl to escape from the palace. This can only be achieved when the girl has acquired the 8 Magical Powers (spells). To acquire these Powers, she needs to return 8 Lost Objects (Spell Objects). To gain access to new areas and to the 8 objects, the player solves puzzles. All of these puzzles can be solved by using one or several of a fixed set of 8 tools that are available to the Player from the very start of the game. These tools are very common items, things that a man would happen to have in his pockets (A lighter, a pocket knife, keys, a handkerchief etc.)
The secondary goal of the game is restoring the Spell of Sleep so that The Princess can finally wake up.
However, 8 is designed to be as little goal-oriented as possible in favour of a joyful immersion in and playful interaction with the gameworld. The ideal experience would be that the player achieves the goals of the game (seemingly) by chance.
“8” takes place in a large Palace of which 90 rooms and 2 large outside areas, The Garden and Courtyard, are available for exploration. These are divided up into 3 groups, each forming a loop. The game starts with just one loop, the largest one (40 rooms). There are several ways of gaining access to the other two, providing for non-linear gameplay.
To progress in the game, the player needs to return one of the 8 Lost Objects to the central room of the game, or hub. This hub is the Mausoleum where the Princess is sleeping. For every such object, a secret passage opens from the Mausoleum, allowing access to a new area in the palace. This new area can by connected to the previous area by unlatching certain doors.
In the end, all rooms are accessible to the player. Throughout the palace one finds evidence of what has occured in the 500 years of sleep. And also items and curiosities left by each of the 8 unworthy Princes that have lived and unfortunately died in the palace over the years.
The Little Girl in the Pretty White Dress is a playful and charming character that the Player feels protective of and wants to experience the game with. She is deaf and mute, so the Player cannot talk to her and she cannot hear the sounds in the environment... but there are, of course, other means of interaction.
The Girl can be instructed to move, pick up objects and use them. But she will also do these things independently. When she does and what she does, depends on her mood. This mood is a set of variables that is influenced by the behaviour of the player and the situation.
When the Player leaves her alone a lot of the time, she may get lonely and sad. When the Player protects her a lot, she will gain confidence. This mood will influence her autonomous behaviour, both in non-essential ways (playing, crying, etc.) as in ways of being helpful to solving the game.
Her mood will also be influenced by her surroundings and what happens in them. She may be more timid in a dark room she has never been in, and more inclined to skip and run when outside in the sunshine, for example.
There are several games within the game of “8”. The Player can influence the behaviour of the main character. Have her perform spells to change the appearance of the world. Play dress-up games with some of the sleepers. Play music that one can find throughout the game. Collect and arrange objects that have no relevance to the main goal of the game. And so on and so forth.
There are approximately 40 objects that the Girl can pick up. Some of these can be used on a target object to trigger certain events (a movie, a visual effect, etc). There 10 such Toy Puzzles. Solving them is unrelated to making progress in the game.
Each time one of the special objects is returned to the hub, the Girl acquires a magical power from one of the Fairies. This is indicated by a change in her appearance: Ad a diadem in her hair, toy wings on her back, a new pair of shoes, etc. With the spell powers, the Girl can restore things that have gone wrong in the palace (heal the wounded, water plants, etc.). But in essence the Girl is being used by the fairies to set the Spell of Sleep to rights. The spells are cast without the Girl's volition: when she nears an object or situation where it is possible for her to cast a spell, her Accessories grow, begin to move with a life of their own. She goes into a trance, flies into the air, and casts the spells in spectacular fashion. This does not hurt the Girl or frighten her, though after the spell is cast she may be uncharacteristicly calm and withdrawn.
The very first power that she acquires, allows us to see the dreams of certain characters in the palace. There are 36 such cut scenes in the game.
While casting these spells is not required to progress in the game, it can certainly help in some cases (by repairing a broken wall or pruning away branches that obstruct passage e.g.).
- The Spell of Dreams allows the Girl to see the dreams of Restless Sleepers. This system will be used to inform the Player on vital information concerning the game and/or the narrative.
- With the Spell of Pruning, the Girl can cut away the Wicked Branches of the Thorny Forest that have grown into the Palace and threaten to destroy it.
- The Spell of Water can be used to water plants that have withered and to turn on fountains and other water features.
- With the Spell of Stone, the Girl can restore the parts of the building that have been destroyed by the Wicked Branches.
- Casting a Spell of Cleansing the Girl is able to clean away centuries of dust to discover the beautiful ornaments that made the palace so lustrous to begin with.
- To turn on hearths and lamps, the Girl can use the Spell of Fire.
- The Spell of Healing can be used to heal and console the Sad and the Wounded sleepers.
- With the Spell of Mending, the Girl will be able to repair and operate curious machines that are in the Palace.
The game's controls have been designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible.
The controls have been optimized for allowing single-handed mouse interaction with the whole game through a standard mouse. More adventurous users can use the keyboard for additional control options.
Navigation through the gameworld happens from room to room. Within a room, the Player is free to go where he or she pleases. To move to another room, he or she needs to give the main character a command to go and use the door.
Special Secret Passage doors lead to and from the Mausoleum. This acts as a type of teleportation zap between areas of the Palace.
The oberall sound of the game is ambient... Overwhelming silence, the sound of hundreds of people sleeping, the sound of the sea, of nature, of the Wicked Branches growing. There are sounds intended to get your attention, that you can hear as the Player that the Girl cannot. Special sound effects accompany spell casting and other actions. In addition we have commissioned a composer to create an original soundtrack for “8” which will blend the influences of east and west in much the same way as the graphical look does.
Inventory: The Girl can pick up many items in the world but can only hold one object at any one time. The Player can click on the girl at any time and she will show the item she has in her hands to you.
The Player has a clear onscreen interface holding the 8 items necessary for completing Tool Puzzles.
Trophies: As a symbolic measure of progress in the game for Spell Casting tasks and as a trophy when all tasks are complete a special spectacle is created inside each of the 8 Towers. This is intended to give players extra motivation to find all of the Dreams, clean all of the floors, water all of the plants etc.
Storybook and Map: While the game itself has no words, the game will come with a storybook containing the expanded backstory and mythology of the gameworld in literary form. Along with this will come a printed map of the Palace. This encourages a blurring of fantasy and reality for the Player and enhances the gameplay experience. These items will need to be localised for language but the game itself, having no language at all, will not.
Options: Interfaces for brightness, sound volume, camera rotation direction, etc will be provided.
Hints: If the player seems stuck the Girl will offer some help by automatically finding certain vital objects or pointing out certain scenes. Other hints can be seen as animations in the dreams of some sleepers (when casting the Spell of Dreams).
Saving: The player can start up and shut down the game whenever (s)he wants. The game state is saved automatically every time the game moves into another room, ensuring continuous gameplay between sessions. When the player starts up the game, it will begin automatically where he/she left off previously. “8” is structured in such a way that saving the game before doing a certain action is not required. There is never any action with fatal results. And the game is so non-linear that it is simply not possible to get stuck.
In order to finish the game, the Player needs to solve the one puzzle that requires the use of all the magical spells. When this puzzle is solved, the Girl will fall asleep, leaving the player alone. The Player needs to return to the hub to end the game and view the big ending. There are many ways to play the game but there is only one ending.