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Bluefirehawk's: "Path to World Domination"



Power of Music, Part 2

Posted by , in Uncategorized, Lore/Story 07 December 2012 - - - - - - · 879 views

sooo, this week I try to write the entry drunk... yeah, I am really drunk, so don't think to harshly about any spelling errors.

This is the second part of the "Power of Music" series, but I have to disappoint you, this won't be a huge entry writing about the missing music pieces of my current project. So why did I have the need to write this?

Basically, I was listening to pandora.com and literally tripped over a piece of music that couldn't represent my game more perfectly than any piece of music that I know of. Here it is:

I can envision it as only a sort of "travel" soundtrack for my game, and yet it strangely underlines my overall vision of the game. It draws a sort of torn apart picture. I can imagine the artwork I'd like to be associated with the game, I can imagine quite a lot.
To be blatantly honest, that's why I had the need to post yet another entry about the music, without having diferen soundtracks for diffenent situations that I coudln't cover before. Until today, it was I kind of searching for music that made ME feel the right things for the specific game moments. This isn't too bad, but now I feel like I've found the music style I would tell to a professional composer (if i had the money).
It seems to me that this day marks a very important decision. At the first glance, it seems more trivial than anything else, but defining the STYLE of the ingame music can be very difinitive to what kind of person likes the game or not.

I first didn't grasp the groundlaying outcome of this decision, but I think defining a music style for a game is more than just "a music style", it defines your overall feel of the game.
Thinking about Portal 2, if it had an other type of ingame music, it wouldn't be the same at all, it is not only the style of music you settle on, it is the style of emotion you try to set for your game.
I am very sure that this decision is often not taken too serious, not thinking about how much the music influences the overall "feel" of the game (in the end, that's what the people will remember of your game).
So, while just posting one music file for my game project, which won't be available in the actual game (due to copyright issues if I am not mistaken), this single soundtrack may be more important than any posts I've wrote over the last couple of months. If I have some art piece posted to me,. I can actually decide if it fits to my world or not, I started to define the remebrable part of the game, the art and feel of it.

Having an arstyle, story, sound and music that fits your world is one part, but making it distinctive enough that people will remember it is an other aspect. I always compare Borderlands to Darksiders. Both games have a good looking artstyle, butTa I am very sure that Borderlands will be remembered as one best games of all times, while Darksiders will eventually be lost in the flood of games.
Darksiders doesn't have an ugly art style, but it is just so generic, it fits to every halfways epic music, it is so mainstream fantasy style.
Borderlands on the other hand has a very distinctive world, very distinctive artstyle. This is not only a good thing, Imagine the difference of the Borderlands 1 and Borderlands 2 theme songs. From a "money" perspective, making a sequel to the predecessor isn't easy, especially when it stood out with it's exceptional artstyle and overall feel, as a game designer, you may be limited in your enovations.

Still, defining a style is to me like having a face for a game in the flood of games we have today. People may not necessarily like your game because of your artstlye, but they at least will remember it, for the good of bad of it.


Maybe you missed my latest entries in this journal. I wrote this in my last "almost missed entry", some weeks ago I wrote the journal entries days to weeks before they were published, I sometimes scheduled the topic of the entries a month before the entry was supposed to get posted. The last few weeks have bitten me in my ass, by not completing me pre-scheduled entries, they were published in a very unfinished state. I was already very annoyed by that. But when I took the already published entries down, made them fit and finish and reposted them, they weren't listened in the gamedev.net latest journal entries.
So if you haven't already, take a look of my past entries, maybe you have missed one if you are interested.

That was it, I hope it was at least entertaining for you to read my text written by drunk me. Have a nice week end.


The Power of Music

Posted by , in Lore/Story, Game Design 23 November 2012 - - - - - - · 736 views

Sooo.. this weeks entry is about what the title says.

Why? Because of everything.

I recently came to the conclusion that designing a game doesn't only mean designing mechanics, designing the gameplay. Good games design the feelings the player has while playing the game. And those are the games we remember, we know and love.
On the other hand, the very bad games have much in common with bad horror movies. Instead of feeling scared, you laugh your pants off in the worst case. Not because it has such good humour, but you see the director trying, and terribly failing at giving you an emotion.
Making a good game, starts by you knowing what atmosphere your game should have.

I try doing this by going out there and finding music that reflects the atmosphere I want to have in the game. I know this is starting to look a bit esotherical, but trust me, I am an engineer.
No seriously, think about the greatest moments you had in video games, movies, etc. When you find the soundtrack of exactly that moment, you feel the same way you did during that scene. I think music is a very good way to make atmosphere tangible and if I was working in a design team, this may be even more important. Without it, there is a bigger chance that the designers have different images of the game in their head, therefore the game can become inconsistent.
In my opinion, inconsitencies in the game are the most accidentally hilarous thinks that can happen.



World
Finding music for the World itself was the most important task. It should help defining the settings and the overall mood. Also, how the people react to earth's transformation from a habitable to a very hostile planet. It also gives a bit of a "I am fighting for earth" mood.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=702_VYOQpAE&feature=related

Gameplay

Planning should be important in this game, so it deserves a soundtrack.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUSIi7OouGI&feature=g-hist
I am not completely happy with the soundtrack, it is a tap too much A-Team like, it has a different style that doesn't completely fit with what I have in mind, but it gets in the right direction. It gives a kind of urgency that I very like.


In Project-Phoenix, you have three basic tactics, therefore they have to have a completely different appeal, they deserve a different soundtrack. That's the reason, why playing splinter cell as a Rambo just feels wrong.

Attack
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqL5eu8DOgI
I stumbled upon this by watching people play Halo 4. I enjoy this soundtrack very much and it happened to fit in my vision of gameplay for an attack. It isn't too fancy, you don't feel like being part of one big army, it starts and ends bitter, almost sad. I want the player to feel that he is fighting, because the only other choice he has is death for him or his comrades. So they fight not for glory, not for freedom. not to be remembered, because there is nothing left to do. Because it is there last hope for a better world.

Assassination
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cXLYxx1yBA
/Argument
To me, this soundtrack fits perfectly to what I envisioned, if I could, I would put it in the game. I love the way the soundtrack builds up urgency.
I want the gamer to sneak around, finding his way to his target and either take out an demon before he sees him or sneak around him. Or if the player was spotted, kill the alerted before it is too late and he has to flee.
The sudden rises in the soundtrack fits that perfectly. If I want to make the gameplay awesome, I should incorporate that uprising in the game.I dynamically change fade in and fade out a soundtrack if he was spotted or is attacking.

Ambush
I currently don't have a soundtrack for that. I first wondered why, if i don't know enough different songs. Well, here comes the practical application for finding soundtracks to your game design. My vision of ambushing an enemy is just boring. Find a place to attack, find a spot for each player, BOOM, flee, rinse and repeat. It is too short compared to an assassination or attack, and frankly, too repetitive. I also wanted to have the ambush fail, let the demons take an other route and miss the ambush spot. Then I frankly just wasted the players time.
I didn't find anything because there wouldn't be a soundtrack not good enough, my vision isn't good enough.


I still don't have soundtracks for the other way around,when you have to Hide, Run, Retreat, or when you die. It's possible that I don't include a "Victory" theme, as you have in Call of Duty every time you've won a round. I'd like to give the player a feeling of accomplishment, but having victory trumpets is just wrong an a dark, bitter world like this. Ideally, the player would have the feeling that he accomplished SOMETHING, but he is not sure if it is for long, or if he got closer to his end goal, liberating earth.

In the last two weeks, I accidentally published a couple of entries that weren't supposed to go up. I normally use the function to schedule a specific entry for publishing. I then normally wrote the entry one to three weeks before it was actually visible. Now with all the exams, I stumbled out of schedule and you saw this and the next entry already in a very unfinished state. I apologise for that.


The Enemies you fight and Hellooo Plotdevice

Posted by , in Lore/Story, Game Design 16 November 2012 - - - - - - · 745 views

Sooo... this is a bit of a mix post in terms of categories, since thinking about the antagonists sort of touches upon most Categories in a computer game.

Talking about enemies is one of the most obvious crossover between game mechanics, story and art. All of them are equally important to form a good antagonist, that is fun. To me, it also means the disciples are influencing each other as well.

Minerals of Plot
I've read the guide to bad plots(http://www.ansible.c...le/plotdev.html), I tried to not use plotdevices, but I almost have to have at least one in a game like this, I just can't get anywhere without one. BEHOLD: The Minerals of PLOT!
I cleverly call it Diabolite. The name is not the greatest of all, I know. I am likely to change it when I find a better one. For now, it will serve it's purpose.
And since I am already writing about names that are subject to change, I let the humans call the enemies "the Horrors". The name doesn't satisfy me either, it is a better way to refer to the antagonists than "the enemies" or "monsters" I presume.

But back to the Diabolite:
the minerals come from far down under the earth: Natural Diabolite grows in a crystal shape. Even in it's unrefinded state, it is a valuable resource for both the Horrors and the Rising Sun. The Diabolite crystal is remarkably sturdy against most steel alloys. It tends to enclose precious metals like Titanium, Gold, Cobalt, Palladium and sometimes even Platinum that can be retrieved by refining the mineral.
But it's main application is to serve as a source of power for the humans as well as the horrors. Since the invasion, the humans have almost no other powersource left.
For the Horrors, it is more accurately described as a nutrition, the more primitive Horrors seem to feed on the raw Diabolite, while refined Mineral is eaten by the more intelligent creatures. Either way it is the only thing left after defeating one of the Horrors.

More on the mechanics side:
Diabolite is the main mineral of the game, the player needs it at LEAST to buy ammunition. Maybe I will do more with it once I give more thought into the Items/Skill system.
The weapons of the later game mainly use high performance ammunition. While effective, using them is also expensive, using it against a weak target is essentially wasting resource.



The Horrors
From a design standpoint, I always knew I wanted two groups of enemies. One group attacking with melee and one attacking on long range. A team of players has to use a completely different strategy for each group. While dealing with long range attacks, each player should dash from cover to cover and trying to provide cover fire. But fighting against fast, melee enemies it is generally saver to stay in a open field and take them out when they run towards the players.
I also played a bit with Ghouls, Zombies essentially, in my head. They never seemed to really fit. By fleshing out the resource idea, they suddenly make sense: Ghouls are the resource eaters, plus they potentially alert the more dangerous enemies. They themselfes are not a real threat, but a group of ghouls at the right time at the right place can change the situation.
The long range enemies are represented by the "demons", generally humanoid creatures that are also fairly intelligent and are able to form teams, flank and ambush the player.
Close range and let's call them 'special purpose' enemies are called 'Nightmares'. From an evolutionary standpoint, they don't make sense at all. Most of them are fast and vicious opponents, although most of them are not very intelligent. But there are some Nightmares, the humans call them Overlords. Alone, they are no threat whatsoever, but they seem to be able to control the simple minded Nightmares and let them attack in packs, wait for the player around the corner, flank them from behind etc.

The Horrors are now in a very raw state. I will carve them out in a later entry. I need a crude idea of what the Horrors are and what they can do, so I can think more about the overworld strategy.


Why it is called Game Design...

Posted by , in Lore/Story, Info, Game Design 12 October 2012 - - - - - - · 953 views

Soooo... this weeks post originally was more on the gameplay, but first to something completely different:

As I started to think more about the engine design, I couldn't get my head around how I should switch correctly between the "overworld view" and "fight view". As it turned out, the actual problem was lying somewhere else, I don't really know what I want to achieve with the "overworld view". Before I write an addendum to the "Why is my game fun" series, I should think about what you do with what you do. And to know this, I need to be more clear about the story and the first 10 minutes of the mission...

I start to see, game design combines everything: Programming, gameplay design, story, level design, sound/music, you even care about what the gamer should feel at a specific point in the game.
The term "Game Design" makes sense, it is hard to fathom the extend of your design work you have to do. I Also learned that you shouldn't lose the overview of the whole game, and that you cannot finish programming when you don't really know what kind of gameplay you want to have... everything depends on each other.

There are two fields I didn't think much about, that also influence the overworld view: Story/Lore, which should help define the overall mood and style the game has, the music, because nothing is more teeth grinding than music that does not fit the game, and the enemies you fight. In the end, the overworld revolves around the monster activities.

What I ought to do is make a bit of a mix of what I didn't do so far, concentrate on everything else than coding and design. I think i schould look for a "game soundtrack". Nothing official and I probably won't put it in the game because of copyright. But nothing helps setting the mood like the music.


The Fall of the old World

Posted by , in Lore/Story 10 August 2012 - - - - - - · 778 views

This is a small Update on the Lore of the Game. If you find some parts cheesy, please let me know. I first want to emphasise what happened to the World and the humans to have a solid basis to work from (and dream up more stuff later).

(If you don't care about it, come back later. The next post will talk about the gamedesing choises and analysis. Later on about monsters, and maybe soon some first drafts of my own little engine ;))


The Fall of the old World
The history of these events are shady, most documents and footage got lost after the powergrid collapsed, so this is put together by word of mouth of the survivors.
It all started to fall appart when the Yellowstone vulcano erupted, shooting up so much volcanic ashes in the skies that it blot out the sun.
They weren't afraid, the people have been preparing years for this event. But then, "They" came. The demons, monsters, beasts, they were called, only leaving death and ashes. "They" came up from everywhere and nowhere. Apparently, nobody ever saw them coming. The Generals were mostly occupied with trying to figure out what country they belong to, instead of mobilizing the armory they had at their disposal. Once their communication broke down, there was nothing to stop these beasts.
The humans fleed in all directions, some were lucky enough to flee to the mountains and search refuge there. For some reason, they didn't follow them there. Others fleed to the seas, never to be seen again. No one knows if they starved, or found a save island.
No government has survived the fall either, once great countries have been reduced to a name for that particular piece of land.


The new World
Now 23 years after the erruption, the humans have set up Strongholds in the mountains all over the world, by far the largest is in the Himalaya where the majority of the humans live now.
The former Swiss Military has built huge underground bunkers, big enough to host armies. Now they host majority of survivors of Europe. They also have the largest supply of military equipment.
In North America managed to rescue many helicopters and have the most mobile force.
Each stronghold is indipendent and has it's own governing system, but their military forces are united under acommon name and leadership: "the Rising Sun". They all fight together to bring the sun back, send the monster back to the hell they came from.


The Spectres
The name "Spectre" originated from a legend in the eary days of the fall. A team of elite soldiers defeated the first wave of attack on a Swiss Nuclear Powerplant. The engineers never saw the soldiers, nor did the people of the nearby town, but through their action, they were able to shutdown the reactor and flee to the mountains. Thanks to word of mouth they became legends, they called them "guardians", but as the story got translated into english it became "Spectre".
In honor of these unknown Soldiers, the RS gave called their elite soldiers specres.
They are few but experienced, well trained and well equipped.

A spectre is not allowed to retire until 'the humans have won the war', not that any spectre has lived up to the retirement age.


RS Army and the LSR
Even though the Rising Sun still has some traditional forces, they are rarely send to combat today. Only when the Spectre did an extensive recon operation on the target and only if they can get in and out of the battlezone quickly.
RSR stands for "Rising Sun's Raiders", they started out as a advanced training group for future Spectre soldiers and have now become the military's main forces. The new recruits almost always start in the RSR Regiments, working their way up and maybe, if the soldier is dedicated enough (and survives) he or she gets promoted to a spectre.
The regiments have a solid training program, but are notoriously under-equipped. To reduce further loss of weapons and supplies, only the experienced soldiers receive good equipment, meaning that an RSR Soldier doesn't get what he needs, but what he deserves.





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