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And now to something completely different, or why Diablo 3 sucks 2nd try

Posted by Bluefirehawk, in Info, Rambling 08 March 2013 · 1,126 views

Yes, I am starting a new project! But before I get to the meat of it, the game idea, I want to point out what I actually would like to accomplish with this project.

I want a platform where I can learn more about game programming and in general designing a medium sized code project. It should be a game with a very limited scope, a small game that I can dissect and inspect completely, that I can experiment with and test my expectations.
Wow, I almost sounded like Ghandi... anyways it is a study project with one main goal, learning. I want to learn more about game design, programming, and software architecture. The latter one is great, since I have this very subject in my current semester, yay!
Ok, so what is it? What is the game about that will flatten my path to world domination? Alright, here it comes:
ALIENS! Wait no, not this one, MAFIA!

This game idea is based on the social game Mafia aka Werewolf aka Assassins aka Witch Hunt. I thought it may be a very interesting concept for a multiplayer game. I also think it is a good excercise how you translate a "normal" game to a computer one.
Alright, roll up your sleeves, LET'S DO THIS!!... But how?
How do you base a game on a different game? Writing it down, it seems like a no-brainer: Let's research the original game! Wikipedia had a surprisingly good page on it:

...is a party game created in the USSR by Dimitry Davidoff in 1986, modelling a battle between an informed minority (the mafia) and an uninformed majority (the townspeople)...


Why do I bring this up? This little sentence sums up the whole game, it is the core mechanic! Alright, why should that help?

The core mechanic in my opinion defines what the gamer does but not necessarily why the gamer likes it. Sometimes the core mechanic is easy to find and sometimes it is as hard to find as your car keys you had 2 minutes ago.
What is the single mechanic in Portal? The Portal Gun of course! Nobody would make a Portal sequel without the Portal Gun. Think about it, in Portal, you have many different objects to play with. You have boxes, "hard light bridges", fluids etc. to play with. All of that are only new toys for you to screw around with the Portal Gun.
Yet in Diablo 2 I can't find a single core mechanic apart from it being "Action" RPG, which was the single revolutionary aspect in the
original Diablo, every notable RPG before it was round based. Thinking about the Diablo series like that suddenly makes more sense why D3 fell flat in everything gameplay related. The skill system is crippled with the extensive cooldown, resource system and limited skill selection. At the core of Diablo was the idea to just "use" your skills. On the other hand they fitted the D3's Monk with such ridiculously shallow resource "spirit", that I could only use the cool skills I wanted any 20 seconds or so and even if i had the resources, anything cool had a stupid cooldown timer too. No other skill reflects that better than the D3 Barbarian Rage skillset which all have a cooldown timer of 120 SECONDS. Blizzard, are you telling me that I need to wait TWO BLOODY minutes until my barbarian does something awesome again?! What the HELL is that, coffee brake mandated by *the hero's union*?
On the contrary, in Diablo 2 I could use almost every cool skill I wanted at any moment as often as I wanted, if the situation allowed it (e.g. enough mana and no manaburners). I could even use skills for somethng they weren't intended for, using the Paladins Charge skill to get away. That's why on surface Diablo 3 looks similar like Diablo 2, they correctly analysed what people liked at the old Diablo games but they completely forgot what you were supposed to do. That's why it isn't a true sequel to the Diablo series, like you made a Portal 3 without the Portal Gun...

buuut back to topic... at least how I understood this, you can make completely different games with the same core mechanic, you simply vary with what you give the player, with the core aestetics. You could make a shooter out of this, but that would be putting a different mechanic at the core and just use that as an "extra".
So basically I try bringing this social game in the digital realm. That doesn't mean that it is simple, now with networking, animations and fancy stuff I can add a lot more to the core mechanic...

AAAAAAAHHH SCREW YOU, BRAIN!

You may not have noticed this, but often things become more clear when I've written them down, and now suddenly my brain kicked in and told me that I could be trying to deviate more from the social game and explore more... and I had a few nice ideas how you could encorporate the game... so I am going to experiment more with this, but that should be the topic for an other post.

Damn, this entry is even less coherent than usual, maybe this really deserves the rambling tag. In defense, I am getting a cold, so that may be a reason why...




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