I played Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego yesterday. I remembered how intriguing this game was when I was a kid, and I still find it so even with the awful graphics. I took a few notes on the things that I like about it:
- Database-driven game, so you'll probably never play the same game twice.
- Offers players a choice on what they want to do, look for clues, enter data to try to get a warrant, or depart for a new city.
- Each choice has consequences as far as the time goes. While the player can take as long as he/she wants to make a decision, each decision costs a certain amount of time. Interviews cost time, but if you don't do enough of them, you'll find the thief without getting a warrant. You also may depart to the next city, only to realize you didn't go to the right place. All of these choices costs time.
- Animations that indicate you being on the right track. Of course the graphics are awful and the animations take a long time to load, but they add a fun element to the game.
The database-driven part is too hard for me to do, but I'm going to think about how I can add some of these other things to my own games to make them more fun.