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A Nobody with a good idea - Why cant we have a crack at game design too?


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#41 Elhrrah   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 09:43 AM

I think that there is a common thread to be found throughout all of this; every single person who posted here has their own brilliant idea. You have an idea, stimarco has an idea, kekko has an idea, drakostar, Tom Sloper, Daaark, and so on. But what does this mean? If everyone has their own idea, what can you do?

What you can do, is present your idea in such a way that it seems more logical, more detailed, more finished, than their own. But the idea has to be more than just a single element, more than just one factor among many, it has to be a complete and logical product that you can set before them. If you can say "oh, and by the way, check out that Design Document/Website/Art Gallery/Demo/Prototype/Synopsis that I gave you, should answer all your questions." when talking to someone you are trying to recruit, you already have the first few pavers down for your personal yellow brick road. Because the more things that you do, means you have a better chance for others to help with the rest.

But that also goes two ways. The more you do, the less they can try do to. Which means that people will start to feel left out, if you do not open your project up to flexibility. For a small example, I tend to use wonky, yet still technically correct, grammar and perspective when writing documents. If I don't watch myself, I can turn an otherwise logical document into something that is completely unapproachable by the rest of my team. If I wanted to, I could tell them to buck up and deal with it, or I could make the small concession, and use a readable, approachable, writing style. Simple things like that can make or break a team, so imagine what it means to take a hard line with the entire design. To give you an idea of our outlook on input, our unofficial motto is "Makin' games an' stealin' brains."

But in order to have brains to steal (and question ceaselessly) you must first have bait. The project that my team and I are working on happens to have a development forum, a dedicated website, and a blog, (if you want links, just send me a pm) while you have a few paragraphs. You can see why your idea does not have much of a hook; nobody knows what your idea is. As others have said, it is 50% development and 50% advertising, and until people can see that your idea is in fact a solid one, you will be pretty much stonewalled.

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#42 stimarco   Members   -  Reputation: 1071

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Original post by Elhrrah
stimarco has an idea


Lies! Right now, I have a filthy cold, so what passes for my brain is in test card mode. I won't start having ideas again until I'm off the 'Sudafed Day & Night'.


Aside from that, I agree.
Sean Timarco Baggaley (Est. 1971.)Warning: May contain bollocks.

#43 Majorlag   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:41 AM

I'm going to go ahead and say it, because the others seem too polite. I apologize in advance for being so blunt about it, but: Quit acting like an arrogant prick. You seem to think that you know everything there is to know about game design and as such believe that it is your right to have your vision made.

You don't even know how much you don't know. You have no experience, no way of knowing the pitfalls of the real development process, no way to know how to deal with unforeseen problems, no way to know how to deal with outright failure. Thats why you have to work your way up, its a learning process as well as a way to prove yourself.

Incidentally, this:
Quote:
Here's some homework: buy a deck of playing cards and make a new game with them every week. Write a blog about it.

is the greatest idea ever. Be sure to do a full postmortem analysis of each game to maximize the learning. Seriously, I love this idea.

I don't necessarily agree with the "stop playing so many games" thing though. You can learn a whole lot from other designer's successes, and even more from their mistakes. I'd say play lots of games, and don't be picky about which ones you try, but don't spend very long on any given one. Its about exposing yourself to a variety of ideas and thinking about why the work or, more often, don't work.

#44 cyansoft   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 11:34 AM

Please review the following quoted phrases...

Quote:
Original post by Nozyspy
I have a reasonably good idea (I think...)


Quote:

I really don't want to sound arrogant or anything, because believe me that is not my intention at all...


Quote:

Please don't think that what I am about to say I say out of arrogance or ignorance, I am not that type of person.


Quote:

Phew... I do apologise of that seemed a bit of a rant...


Quote:

I really do have NO experience in, so I'm not sure that would go too well!


Quote:

...or if you simply want me to get lost..


Quote:

I look forward with somewhat fearful anticipation...


See a pattern? Please stop loading your sentences with these conditional statements which come off as insecure and self-deprecating. It will get you no where in life.

Trust me, this is coming from someone who used to do the same thing.

Quote:

I honestly think I could do most of the brain work for that single-handedly.


If you believe that, then do so. Put it on paper, then let it sit. Comeback to it in a week, or even a month. Don't be surprised to find your idea wasn't as good as you originally thought. But that's okay. You can work to improve it, or you can let your mind move onto the next idea. Don't fall into the trap of being fixated on an idea until you flesh it out on paper thoroughly.

Let me clarify what I mean by "on paper thoroughly." Imagine writing a game design document that fully explains, in great detail, all aspects of your game that it could be made without your further involvement. This will take hundreds of pages, if not thousands, depending on the complexity and scope of your vision. And even with a good design document, the finished product would most likely not match the vision you imagined.

Quote:

...designed to cover an arc of three games / books / movies whatever...
.
.
.
Overall story arc, covering multiple 'episodes' if necessary whilst still having each game as a story in its own right...


You're thinking too big! Forget about arcs, forget about franchises. Games, books, movies? Those are three different fields, buddy. It seems that you're not sure what you want to do. Do you want to write a book? Or are you designing a game? Are you making a film, a cartoon, a comic strip? You need to pick one media, one art form, and give that a shot. It's premature to be focusing on different media when you don't have your ideas incorporated in at least one completed media format.

Quote:

How do you get five minutes with the boss of a games studio?


Short answer: you don't.

As others suggested, forget about a studio picking up your idea. Rather, focus on getting your idea out of your mind and into a presentable format that others can read. Even if no one but yourself reads it, you will find it invaluable to see your idea on paper. It will help you catch a bad idea before you invest too much time in it. It will help you take good ideas and make them better.

Once you're confident that you have a great idea, fully fleshed out in such great detail that the average 8th grader can read and understand it, you have only one true option: build it yourself.

Yes, you read that correctly. As others have stated, even if you have a great idea, even if you have hundreds of pages of coherent, precise, and detailed documentation, people will be hesitant of joining a project without a working prototype.

Remember, you will not be building the entire game yourself. You will build a prototype, something that demonstrates your game's core gameplay. Others have listed various engines, frameworks, and game creation tools to get you started.

The key to prototyping is to forget about fancy artwork, large budget cut scenes, voice overs, and other polish. Concentrate on the gameplay mechanics and how your story integrates with it. Keep things simple, and release it to the community as soon as possible, even if it ends up only being 10 minutes of gameplay.

Once you get something out there, something people can play with, you can start to recruit volunteer talent to help you continue.

Just remember, even if you followed this advice to the letter and got to the goal of a working prototype, it doesn't necessarily mean people will want to work on your project. You either continue to build your prototype and try again, or give it a rest. It's a risk you need to willingly take.


#45 zer0wolf   Members   -  Reputation: 1018

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 06:54 PM

Quote:
Original post by drakostar
It's not that great ideas are a dime a dozen. But they're (quite literally) worthless without some kind of execution.

I do believe that ideas are a "dime a dozen" because literally everyone on your team is going to have a good idea or two. Heck, a random person off the street is going to have some good ideas. I think anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding himself. What separates a good designer and a not so good designer is that the good designer is going to be aware of these ideas. A single great idea doesn't make a game. A whole bunch of great ideas put together into a working system by a team makes a great game. Awesome execution of an idea does NOT come from just an idea, it comes from multiple people on a team working together, with their own ideas of how to get this concept to kick ass, and executing.

Quote:
Nozyspy
How do you get five minutes with the boss of a games studio?

I think a lot of other people have spelled out pretty clear answers to most of your questions, though it does seem that it all breezed right past you. In answer to this particular question the answer is simple: just get a job working at a game company, because then you can just have chats with the CEO at the company all the time.

Quote:
As for working in a team… yes I understand that game development is a team effort, but the thing is that the actual story and design of the game is dictated more by the designer (and unfortunately also by the executives) rather than the rest of the ‘minions’. At least as I understand it anyway. Afterall, if everyone was suggesting things to put in it, nothing would get done would it, there has to be someone up top who keeps on the course that was originally set. It’s like a director, the director doesn’t actually do any of the acting (normally) nor does he set up all the lights and such.

Uhmm .... no. At least in my experience anyways, and from chatting with other developers, the only studios that operate that way tend to go down hill pretty quickly. A coworker of mine's last company he worked at that operated that way went bankrupt, actually, because the CEO/Creative Director thought that his ideas were perfect and made his team stay true to his "grand design". Well, that design sucked and the customers in the end thought it sucked as well, so didn't buy the game.

[Edited by - zer0wolf on September 21, 2008 1:54:40 AM]
laziness is the foundation of efficiency | www.AdrianWalker.info | Adventures in Game Production | @zer0wolf - Twitter

#46 gxaxhx   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 05:31 AM

I've read through the thread and I didn't see this mentioned very much.

Even with the above thoughts that you have to be able to prove that you can design the game, execute that design on a budget and lead/inspire a team, you also have to be able to prove that the game will sell; and not just a few copies.

The game has to make back all development costs, support costs, advertising costs, etc. plus a percentage of return that is greater than if the company had just invested the money.

Effectively, in addition to everything else, you'd need to put together a business plan cover who are the target demographic(s), how often do they buy games, how often do they pirate games, how much expendable cash do they have, what's the usual cost of a game for this demographic, what other games are being marketed and sold to this demographic, are they direct competators, if so what will differentiate your game, etc. etc. etc. and the list goes on.

One important question you should always be prepared to answer is what genre is your game and what are the sales of similar games on the market.

Game companies are extremely risk averse, which is why you see so many rehashes and sequels. They would much rather spend their money on a game with a known return than gamble on a new idea which could have a large return but also lose a ton of money.

So, if you're game idea is so totally out there that you can't relate it to existing games, it's very unlikely (if with experience and a fully developed idea) that you'll be able to get any significant amount of funding.

#47 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1770

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 05:59 AM

I like geolycosa's suggestion of designing small board and card games. This will allow you to put your money where your mouth is. If you haven't already, take a look at Formal Abstract Design Tools and a system called Mechanics, Design, Aesthetics. (Here's an article I wrote about it a few years ago)

I'd also like to challenge you to use this forum as a testbed. Take a look at posts here to see how others have solicited feedback on specific implementations of certain ideas. Do the same for the Game Writing forum.

I think this will help you build skills by exposing you to real criticism. It's easy to be a legend in our own minds, especially where art is concerned. If you have concerns about giving your ideas away, challenge yourself to come up with something that you can care about but that you can also walk away from.

Above all, please don't let yourself end up like the small legion of people I met when I worked in the game industry-- people who were so narcissistic that they could not see beyond their own perspective. The most common theme with them was to blame rather than face reality and get something (ANYTHING!) done.

EDIT: One other thing I meant to add. The strength of your vision and your communication ability may attract people to your work, which is why it's all the more important to put it out there. Even if the project goes nowhere (as most do) you will still learn about all of the things you don't know-- even that which you don't know you don't know.
--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#48 drakostar   Members   -  Reputation: 224

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 06:14 AM

Quote:
Original post by zer0wolf
Quote:
Original post by drakostar
It's not that great ideas are a dime a dozen. But they're (quite literally) worthless without some kind of execution.

I do believe that ideas are a "dime a dozen" because literally everyone on your team is going to have a good idea or two. Heck, a random person off the street is going to have some good ideas.

Good != great. In my mind, a great idea for a game would be something novel that also provides a solid foundation to build upon. Not just something that sounds good but fizzles when you try to flesh it out, or a smaller idea for a gameplay mechanic or a puzzle or a level.

It's on the same level as coming up with an idea for a new product that could be successfully developed, manufactured, and sold. It's not extraordinary, but it's not exactly easy or common either.

#49 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1770

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 09:01 AM

Quote:
Original post by zer0wolf
I do believe that ideas are a "dime a dozen" because literally everyone on your team is going to have a good idea or two. Heck, a random person off the street is going to have some good ideas. I think anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding himself.


This reminded me of Half-Life's Cabal design process.

Quote:

Throughout the first 11 months of the project we searched for an official "game designer," — someone who could show up and make it all come together. We looked at hundreds of resumes and interviewed a lot of promising applicants, but no one we looked at had enough of the qualities we wanted for us to seriously consider them the overall godlike "game designer" that we were told we needed. In the end, we came to the conclusion that this ideal person didn’t actually exist. Instead, we would create our own ideal by combining the strengths of a cross section of the company, putting them together in a group we called the "Cabal."


Obviously not all companies do it that way, and I'm not even sure Half-Life 2 was done using the Cabal, but what's fascinating is just how many people throughout the company had good ideas.

I found the same thing when I put together game design sessions at one place I worked. It kind of knocks you off your pedestal.
--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#50 zer0wolf   Members   -  Reputation: 1018

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 09:26 AM

Yeah, the Cabal process used by Valve is exactly what I'm talking about here. I've read up on Valve's current processes and they're still doing exactly the same thing and have in fact pushed this concept for figuring out all of the processes of development, not just design. Look at the quality of their games and I would say it is pretty obvious this works quite well.

The company I work for wasn't really using this process when I started there a year ago, so I butted heads a bit with a few of the people who were used to running the show their way. However, due to my aggressive push on this mentality I gained a lot of respect from the rest of the team and now I am working as the Lead Designer on a 4 platform launch of a triple A title, the company's first.

drakostar, I don't really think in the world of game design there is that big of a difference between a good idea and a great idea. The big difference between the two has to do with timing and resources. Take Super Mario galaxy for instance. This game sold a gazillion copies, but actually didn't really have what I would call unique or innovative ideas. Everything they did in that game has been seen before in other games. What it did have was a bunch of good ideas put together by a hard working team that had a lot of faith in each other. One person has an idea for the concept of small worlds with their own gravities that Mario can jump around, another guy has an idea how to engineer it, and another guy has an idea on how to layout the levels and make this fun. This synergy of ideas and implementation is what made the game, and the idea, into a fun game.
laziness is the foundation of efficiency | www.AdrianWalker.info | Adventures in Game Production | @zer0wolf - Twitter

#51 Nozyspy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 07:17 PM

Quote:
Original post by Majorlag
I'm going to go ahead and say it, because the others seem too polite. I apologize in advance for being so blunt about it, but: Quit acting like an arrogant p***k. You seem to think that you know everything there is to know about game design and as such believe that it is your right to have your vision made.

You don't even know how much you don't know. You have no experience, no way of knowing the pitfalls of the real development process, no way to know how to deal with unforeseen problems, no way to know how to deal with outright failure. Thats why you have to work your way up, its a learning process as well as a way to prove yourself.


Riggghhttt thanks for that…Seriously, thanks. It is now completely obvious that despite what I tried to explain about the way I felt, I have come across as an arrogant, bumbling fool. I clearly have given you all completely the wrong impression and have accomplished quite the opposite of what I had hoped.

I am not a complete dunce you know, I have worked in a team before and observed the development process of a large mod. I’ve been on the receiving end of someone that had a ‘grand vision’ and wanted others to do the work because he couldn’t himself, and indeed I tried to help him accomplish that. In my own little realm of modding I make or modify all my own textures, shaders and sort of makeshift ‘models’ if you could call them that… I plan out all the level flow, weapon placements and level design etc, and arrange all the beta testing. My experience may only be limited to the game that I mod for, but its not like I don’t know anything at all.

Obviously however those experiences cannot be extrapolated into the larger world of game design, and it is now clear that it is probably 95% impossible that I or anyone else would ever get their own ‘grand idea’ realised in real life.

Quote:
Original post by Kekko
Nozyspy:
I consider myself a good programmer. Not great, really good or brilliant, but good. I'm probably among the better ones you can get for free. Because you know what? I would totally join you and help you envision your dream *if* I had the time over which I haven't since another guy with a vision snapped me up already.

But assuming I had that time, here is what I look for in hobby projects, speaking only from my very own personal experience:

- Awesomeness! Sell me a design/idea! This is usually done through a great design document or something similar that contains as much information as possible about the game. I'm a little confused why you come here complaining about why no one will make a game out of your great idea when you don't even tell us your idea. And no, a paragraph or two doesn't count. We want sketches of game screens, gameplay features, character bios and monster details (or whatever your game contains), etc. If you can sell your idea to developers, then you can probably sell it to players (with sell here meaning convincing them to download and try it). Most people here know that coming up with a couple of paragraphs is ridicolously easy while filling in all the details is fricking hard. From what you have said here, I cannot envision a game, there is just not enough information. And if I cannot envision a game, I will not be inspired. And if I'm not inspired, I'll not work for free.

- I want to do what I think is funny. If I sign up to program the game, I don't want to do manual writing or playtesting or marketing or art or sound engineering or something else. And the artist will probably only want to make art. You have basically three ways to make people work on your dream. You can sell your dream so well that it becomes their dream too (see above), you can pay them or you can make sure they have fun while working on it. This probably means that YOU will have to do a lot of stuff that nobody else likes to do, like playtesting, documenting,

What I'm trying to say is that if you can show us a great idea for a game (Not just telling us you have it, I also have several.) and promise us that you will take care of everything and just let us get on with programming/art making/music composing or whatever we want to do, then I think you will find willing recruits. Which means you'll be both designer, manager and producer. And all these three roles are just as hard and probably harder to be good at than being a good programmer or artist.



Thank you! Finally someone who is at least positive! Your comments are appreciated mate. You also touched on the main thing that I left out – completely on purpose – details of the idea. As I do some modding, I am used to keeping details quiet until they have more fully ripened, so that no one else might take the idea and claim it for themselves (which has nearly happened before…).

Sorry about that, but that’s just what I have learned to do.

The bare bones of my ‘fantasmagorical idea’ are thus:

- Period adventure, including references to and appearances of (real life) people and places.

- Archaeology, ancient mysteries. And no, not an Indy or Tomb Raider Rip off…

- A Mixture of FPS and exploration / puzzle gameplay. Though with more of a focus on the FPS side.

- Locations that most people have never heard of, but which do really exist and are ‘real life’ adventurer sort of places, mixed in with some fictitious locations. Including the ruins of Babylon, the Great Sphinx and the lost tomb of Alexander the Great.

- Bad guys: Sinister Germans / Russians – people who generally make good bad guys… And a burned to a crisp ‘uber mummy’.

Those are just a flimsy few of my ideas, the details are locked away in my brain. Since most of you said that ideas alone are worthless, I thought I should write a few down. Perhaps they are worth 0.001p now?

Clearly though I should just stick to writing a book…or maybe making some kind of mod, since it is clear now that getting your idea noticed is not as simple as I desperately hoped it would be.

I should probably just get lost soon I think.


#52 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 02:30 AM

Quote:

Perhaps they are worth 0.001p now?


Not in the least.

'A Mixture of FPS and exploration / puzzle gameplay.' Says nothing of gameplay.

And really, it sounds like a Indy/Tomb Raider/Mummy rip off... (and I fear perhaps a dollop of Myst *shudder*)

#53 gxaxhx   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 02:42 AM

Quote:
Clearly though I should just stick to writing a book…or maybe making some kind of mod, since it is clear now that getting your idea noticed is not as simple as I desperately hoped it would be.


Being that you often mention books, movies in reference to your game, it seems to me that you have an idea for a story but arn't entirely sure what medium to use.

One thing to think about is what are you trying to achieve in turning it into a game vs writing a short story or novel? Is it just for the coolness factor of having made your own game? is it to make money? or is it truely the best way for someone to experience your idea?

Also, you mention a lot of your modding experience. Mods are a great way to see your ideas (especially stories) come to life. Is there a reason you don't want to turn the idea into a mod? There's many game engines out there these days and I'm sure you could find one that's somewhat close to the mark and take it from there.

#54 drakostar   Members   -  Reputation: 224

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 02:43 AM

Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
And really, it sounds like a Indy/Tomb Raider/Mummy rip off... (and I fear perhaps a dollop of Myst *shudder*)

Nonsense! It could be a Lovecraft ripoff. Oh wait, sinister Germans? Honestly, it sounds like Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

#55 Captain P   Members   -  Reputation: 1088

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 03:50 AM

You've mentioned your modding experience a few times. I'm curious - how much experience do you have with releasing mods/levels?


One of the things I learned from modding and level-design was that, unless you happen to have the same taste as your target audience, going by what you like can be rather dangerous. It's always important to let other people test your levels, to see how they work out with the public. I've been able to build some fine levels because I had playtesters. The main reason why some of my levels are flawed is the lack of playtesting. Sometimes, playtesters pointed out things they found fun, where I didn't expect them. At other times, they asked me to change or remove things that I thought would work well.

The main problem with ideas, the way I see it, is that they can't easily be tested - so it's hard to tell if they will work or not. A prototype that shows potential is much more attractive. Another problem is that some ideas can't easily be implemented. Perhaps the end-result would've been fun, but that's rather unimportant if you'll never get an end-result.


So, create something that can convince people. Something working, something playable. Ideas alone just won't cut it. That's why I occasionally create prototypes - to see if my ideas really have potential or not.
Create-ivity - a game development blog Mouseover for more information.

#56 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1770

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 05:41 AM

If you're serious about this, turn your ideas into specific mechanics that you can test and that others can critique. As an example, let me take your idea and show you what I mean:

Quote:
Original post by Nozyspy
- Period adventure, including references to and appearances of (real life) people and places.


It's an FPS/adventure set in 1939 where the players travel around the globe seeking pieces to a 5,000 year old puzzle.

Quote:

- Archaeology, ancient mysteries. And no, not an Indy or Tomb Raider Rip off…
- A Mixture of FPS and exploration / puzzle gameplay. Though with more of a focus on the FPS side.


Gameplay relies on both combat and puzzle solving, with a unique selling point being that puzzle pieces have strategic value, forcing players to weigh whether or not to use them in combat or to progress in larger puzzles. For example:


  • Puzzle pieces can be used to lure enemies into traps but may be lost
  • Puzzle pieces can change the physics of the level but may be destroyed
  • Puzzle pieces can alter the geometry of the level but must be left behind for the change to stay effective



Quote:

- Locations that most people have never heard of, but which do really exist and are ‘real life’ adventurer sort of places, mixed in with some fictitious locations. Including the ruins of Babylon, the Great Sphinx and the lost tomb of Alexander the Great.


Rather than the typical locations found in games of this genre, the game will attempt to differientiate itself by focusing on more exotic locations such as imperial ruins in China, East European themed underground castles and mountain fortresses in Ethiopia. These set piece locations will be complimented by dozens of smaller levels representing key locations around the globe.

A key aspect to gameplay is that map travel is nonlinear and that the AI (in the form of enemies and competing treasure hunters) moves freely from city to city. So rather than the game telling players where to go, they must follow leads, pay for bribes and incapacitate enemies to find their next location.

Quote:

- Bad guys: Sinister Germans / Russians – people who generally make good bad guys… And a burned to a crisp ‘uber mummy’.


Players deal with three kinds of enemies: Agents of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan; fellow archaeologists; and supernatural enemies. This mix results in three major approaches to combat:

  • Axis powers form smart tactical squads similar to the Marine forces in Half-Life, requiring use of cover and positioning
  • Archaeologists types exist as unique characters with distinct fighting styles, requiring the player to learn their strengths and weaknesses
  • Supernatural enemies (such as ghosts and mummies) use dumb wave AI similar to games such as Doom and Serious Sam


Axis and archaeologist enemies roam the global map at will, appearing in each level at a frequency based on their own needs driven AI. So players may be trying to follow leads at a bazaar in Tripoli or night club in London, only to square of against rivals who have either followed them or gotten to a lead first.

Supernatural enemies are restricted to tombs and ruins, but continuously respawn based on a regular schedule. When enemies are not present, sprung traps reorganize and retrigger, favoring puzzle solving. This allows players several strategic options:

  • They can clear enemies themselves, facing fewer traps and having a better chance at gaining puzzle pieces first
  • They can wait for rivals to clear traps / enemies, then attempt to steal pieces from them but risk rivals escaping to another city
  • They can employ stealth and puzzle pieces they've already found to turn a level into a death trap for monsters and rivals, defeating them without firing a shot


Each enemy type may fight each other on sight, creating the illusion of a dynamic world. Or they may also cooperate. The player can act to disrupt enemy alliances, weaken the resolve of Axis squads by disrupting their formations and even ally with archaeologists by trading puzzle pieces at key points in the game's story.

etc. etc. etc.

See what I mean? I don't mention story, location or characters because (to repurpose a quote) "they play's the thing." All of that can be swapped out. The setting could easily be an adventure in the world of H.G. Wells or ancient Rome and only surface details would change.

Most importantly, though, there's now enough detail for people to ask critical questions that you then hopefully take to refine your gameplay. For instance:


How exactly will puzzles be automatically generated?
How exactly will the player know how well they or their AI enemies are doing?
How does the clue following system work?
How will puzzles be used in combat?
etc.



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Those are just a flimsy few of my ideas, the details are locked away in my brain.


If you mean that you know the ideas in your mind but can't get them out on paper that is a serious red flag. Creative types know that everything is all warm and fuzzy in the mind. It's the (sometimes painful) act of getting them down on the page, where they can seem lifeless in comparison, that really allows you to make what you dream.

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I should probably just get lost soon I think.


And seriously, guy-- this was said earlier, but I'll say it again: You need to cut this sh*t out. Keep a crisis of confidence to yourself, particularly if you aspire to lead. Would you say this if a pitch wasn't going well if you did get a shot in front of someone with decision making power?


--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#57 Talin   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 02:23 PM

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Originally posted by Nozyspy

I ask myself this question constantly, as it is probably the thing that annoys me most about the games industry. The thing is, everywhere I read says the same thing; go to a university, do loads of courses, become a lowly minion at an unheard-of games studio and then somehow work your way up into a decent position at one of the well known studios. All this must be accomplished before you die of old age, if you ever want a crack at designing your own game.


Not exactly. You must go to university, do loads of courses, become a lowly minion and somehow (maybe) work your way up to a lead designer position on a project in a competent development team. For all you know, it might not even be a project of your choice!

Nobody said anything about getting a crack at designing your own game in the sense that you're given complete freedom to be creative and design something original from scratch, develop your own ideas and such.

There are only two ways to have such freedom (obviously limited only by what is technically possible or rational). One is to be an amateur game developer and do everything yourself the way you want to, and the other is to be the producer who finances everything.

Today there are such things as fixed standards and expectations for each and every genre and sort of game. I won't pretend to know much about inner workings of leading development teams in the industry, but I highly doubt that too many (if any) people in game design today have as much creative and artistic freedom as seems to be the popular opinion among aspiring game designers.

#58 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1770

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 04:21 PM

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Original post by Talin
Today there are such things as fixed standards and expectations for each and every genre and sort of game. I won't pretend to know much about inner workings of leading development teams in the industry, but I highly doubt that too many (if any) people in game design today have as much creative and artistic freedom as seems to be the popular opinion among aspiring game designers.


I've only worked for a couple of companies, but from the war stories I got from friends and what I've heard from talking to folks at GDCs, this seems to be the case.

Barring winning the lottery (where you divide by x million to see how many games you could make with that [smile]) I'd always vote for the modder / amateur path. Yeah, what you make doesn't get to always have the production values that comes from an ever-toiling legion of minions, but it's completely and totally yours. Nobody gets to tell you no-- for good or ill-- and you can do things nobody else has ever tried.
--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#59 Nozyspy   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 09:54 PM

Hmm thanks for the insightful comments chaps.

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Original post by Telastyn
And really, it sounds like a Indy/Tomb Raider/Mummy rip off... (and I fear perhaps a dollop of Myst *shudder*)


It is absolutely nothing like any of them!

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Original post by gxaxhx
Being that you often mention books, movies in reference to your game, it seems to me that you have an idea for a story but arn't entirely sure what medium to use.

One thing to think about is what are you trying to achieve in turning it into a game vs writing a short story or novel? Is it just for the coolness factor of having made your own game? is it to make money? or is it truely the best way for someone to experience your idea?


The story could be adapted for any medium. However there are problems with each. The story requires some globetrotting, going to many disparate locations in a film is not an easy thing to pull off. Games don’t always allow the set-piece scenes that you might want. And as for books…well generally there are no pictures in novels (though you can add them on the odd page, as I have seen in some Sherlock Holmes novels), the thing is that one of the underlying themes of the story requires subtle hints dropped in here and there.

For instance, near the start, a bunch of coal miners dig out a lump of coal with an odd gold object encased within it, The patterns on the object crop here and there throughout the game and are meant to refer to the ‘grand scheme’ of the overall story arc. The thing is that these patterns aren’t meant to be obvious – a carving on a wall, a symbol in a scroll. The player is meant to just ‘notice’ these things appearing now and again without the story requiring that they be explained, at least in the first ‘part’. The idea is that each story is self contained and yet this common thread runs through them all, becoming more obvious untill it becomes the main objective of the final ‘story’. Like I said, the story arc idea I had in mind is meant to be split over three ‘episodes’.

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Original post by Captain P
You've mentioned your modding experience a few times. I'm curious - how much experience do you have with releasing mods/levels?


One of the things I learned from modding and level-design was that, unless you happen to have the same taste as your target audience, going by what you like can be rather dangerous. It's always important to let other people test your levels, to see how they work out with the public. I've been able to build some fine levels because I had playtesters. The main reason why some of my levels are flawed is the lack of playtesting. Sometimes, playtesters pointed out things they found fun, where I didn't expect them. At other times, they asked me to change or remove things that I thought would work well.


Modding experience… Jedi Academy is one of my favourite games of all time (ridicule that all you want!) and the engine used is really very modifiable if you know what you are doing. I make multiplayer maps for this game, nine released maps, 2 in production and one on the drawing board. I released my first level in 2004, however I modded for my own enjoyment for almost a couple of years before that. I have my own site and I work as a file reviewer at JK2files.

I have studied the singleplayer and multiplayer level design in this and quite a few other games to get a sense of the linearity or the ‘openworldiness’ of them.

I am seriously considering trying to make a mod about this idea, but that still requires much searching and enquiry to ascertain its practicality and feasibility.

Wavinator, your suggestions are excellent, a lot of excellent points there, so thanks for that mate.

I only offered a few small snippets of my idea before, so I will elucidate a bit further.

The story is set in the late 20’s early 30’s when the Nazi’s first started poking their noses around. As everyone knows they were obsessed with many ancient mysteries which they hoped would further their quest for world domination. They also make excellent bad guys, because frankly everyone hates their guts, they’re evil and sinister.

The protagonist is a middle class Englishman, who fought and was a Major / Lt. Colonel during WW1. Not rich, but not poor either, so no super rich Lara Croft-alikes here. Said character worked for British intelligence, which automatically bestows upon him all the necessary prerequisites of brains and toughness etc. that you expect from an adventure hero. Possibly related to a famous archaeologist, hence the interest and training, or protégé of a famous university professor.

The idea is that there is a hierarchy of bad guys, and that the initial one you encounter is just one of the lower bad guys. The mastermind being someone who you for the most part only hear in voice, similar to how Professor Moriarty is in some of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The artefact(s) – here there are some problems, which I am still trying to resolve. My grand scheme is that the lump of coal with the gold object embedded in it is what starts off the main thread of the series leading to a hunt for pieces of a device. The device can bestow upon the user great power, but only if they are strong enough to contain its power. Here is where the burned to a crisp mummy comes in. the device destroyed his body but his mind was strong enough to contain its power.

Ehem, back to the original McGuffin for the first story, this is where the problem lies. Really I would like it to be unrelated to the main story arc. The idea is that the first story is self contained, similar to how the original Star Wars movie is, in that it is a story in its own right but can be infinitely expanded upon should it be successful.

My original thought is the Ark of the Covenant. Now, this is not a cheep Indy rip-off. As far as I understand the Ark actually ‘disappeared’ after the Babylonian’s besieged Jerusalem, hence logically it should be in Babylon, not Tanis in Egypt… This story route allows some interesting globe trotting, since the idea is that the Ark is sealed in a hidden vault under the ruins of Babylon. Once the Babylonian’s captured it they became terrified of it and the Hebrew God, and sealed it underground so no-one could ever find it, and it wouldn’t bother them. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

The door to the said vault can only be unlocked with 4 / 5 keys, each of which was given to an important Babylonian official. Through time Babylon was conquered by many nations. So one piece of the key is in the Tomb of Nebuchadnezzar, another in the lost tomb of Alexander the Great, and after the British gained control of Iraq one piece is in the basement of the British museum, etc.

The problem with the story is that its been done before in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it also presents interesting religious issues since the Ark is a sacred object to a few different religions.

Alternatives could be a ‘sun stone’ that illuminates the surroundings without fire, some kind of ancient sword or other device.

Enough of the story, onto the gameplay.

The gameplay is more action oriented than Tomb Raider, however set piece puzzles would still play an important role in reaching the main objectives of each level. The environment should play a major role in the game, with the player having to find an appropriate path down a mountain pass for example, avoiding sheer drops and falling boulders. There being multiple paths down to the bottom. All the while enemies occasionally pop out from behind boulders and take pot shots at you.

One idea I had was for a British museum basement level. Basically you have a 30 minute time limit before a bunch of things turn up to find the ‘thing’ that is being searched for. You have to make your way around several large rooms and crowbar crates open until you find what you are looking for. The object could be magnetic ala Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, hence you would have a compass on the HUD to help you find your way to it. To avoid frustration the level might not end when the countdown timer expires, but rather, along with finding the object, you now have a bunch of armed goons to deal with.

No blood or sex and very minimal swearing, I envision this being suitable for most ages, these things aren’t necessary for a good game anyways. Weapons include army issue rifle and pistol, along with a shotgun, grenades and possibly some form of sword.

A sidekick (probably a young American with a penchant for fast cars) who will join you occasionally perhaps offering hints as to which direction to take and help in combat. This character ends the game with two Bentleys. How?! See below.

During the course of the story your discoveries will earn you a nice paycheque (including one from the Greek government). Your house serves the same purpose as Croft Manor in the TR games. Part for fun, and part training area. As you earn money from your discoveries you can add extra ‘bits’ onto your house like an extension, or a firing range etc. This could be nearer the end of the game, at the start of game ‘#2’ or at strategic points throughout the game so you can go back to your house and practice new moves, aim, awareness etc.

Right, those are again just a few of my ideas, I cant write any more as my fingers are tired, and I don’t want to tell you everything! I am sure I can trust you guys, but, ehhmm, who knows who else reads these forums?!

o.O

Noz

#60 Kaze   Members   -  Reputation: 948

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 06:28 AM

I really think you should just start writing novels instead of trying to make games. You clearly have a lot more ideas for story than gameplay and I doubt a game would make a better medium without turning gameplay into boring grind with story doled out one bit at a time as a reward.




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