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overactor

Member Since 20 Apr 2013
Offline Last Active Feb 09 2014 12:56 AM
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Topics I've Started

What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

11 May 2013 - 04:00 AM

Before reading this post, I'd like you to keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and that I am not presenting it as absolute truth, but rather putting it out there and asking for opinions on the matter.

 

There seems to be a lot of hate directed towards the 'idea guy' in the gaming community.

He adds little to the project in terms of both work and end result. The quality of a game comes down to execution, iteration and polish.

That is at least, if you'll believe the popular opinion on the matter.

I tend to disagree though, and I'd like to explain my views by tying this question into another one: "Can video games be art?"

 

At first glance, there seems to be very little preventing video games from being an art form. Much like film, it mixes several media to create a new one. Many of the processes required to make a game a reality are considered an art form.
An argument you encounter often is that interactivity, exactly what makes a medium a game, is what keeps it from being a piece of art. People have done a better job than I possibly could explaining why this argument is faulty, so I won't go into that. Where they tend to go wrong though, in my opinion, is when they try to identify the real reason why some people have troubles recognizing games as an art form. Apparently, they are too new as a medium. For one thing, this means that they have a bit of growing to do. Additionally, people who didn't grow up with it, don't fully understand the medium. I don't necessarily disagree with this, but I'd like to point out a very real problem that I think is hindering games.

 

The lack of appreciation and even depreciation of the 'idea guy'.

What I think is absolutely essential for art, is that the creator has something they want to share with the world. They have a vision for what they want their piece do art to become and make decisions when creating it based on that vision. Not based on what the money thinks it should be, not based on what will go down well with the audience and not even (primarily) based on what will make for the 'better' piece of art.

It's true that everyone in the gaming business, including the janitor, has ideas for games, but let me ask you this question: Does everyone have good game ideas?

 

Now, I'm not saying that the 'idea guy' should be held on a pedestal and that his contribution to the game, the initial idea, is the only thing that counts. It is still very true that, if the only thing he has to add is the initial idea, he is of not much worth. After all, what worth is a great idea for a painting if you can't paint? And that's what makes an artist, the essential skill set necessary to create his art and the initial idea.

 

This just leaves one more question, when it comes to making games, who is the painter? Well, that would be the game designer. Because as people have argued before me, game designing is a skill set and I will say more even, it is the only one truly essential to the quality of games.

So where do the other people involved in making a game fit into this metaphor? If the game designer is the painter, the 3d modeler, animator or 2d artist might be the manufacturer of the paint. And the programmers can be the one who made the canvas the painter is using. They are all admirable professions, without them, no painting could be made, and it is pretty awesome if the painter does some of these things himself, but that's not what makes a great artist, it's the technical skill and knowledge as a painter and more importantly, the initial idea and vision.


Yet another introduction thread.

25 April 2013 - 07:09 AM

Hi all,

 

I resent making anew topic for this, but I felt like I should introduce myself to whoever is interested.

 

I'm a 21 year old guy living in Switzerland with an interest in game development.

I studied game design in Belgium for a little over a year but roved to be a horrible student, I was however, and always have been, rather good at programming.

 

(Warning, in this next paragraph, I ramble about something that is nostalgic to me. By all means, skip it.)

 

I made my first game on a TI-84 calculator. It was a very short text RPG about a guy who deals drugs and beats up old ladies to buy vodka and ultimately go to russia by boat. I made a follow-up game set in russia with a friend, where you could actually walk around on the screen as a letter x and where you had to start a gang and challenge other russian gangs to take control of the area and return to your home with a boat full of vodka. You could also take your gang members to hookers, buy weapons, manage your weed plantage and get a girlfriend (if you got plastic surgery first). We were working on a grand 3rd installment with real quest lines and a reputation system when we bumped upon the limitations of our platform and had to give up on our game.

 

I'd like to really get into programming again and get to the level where I feel confident calling myself a programmer. At the moment, I'm more of an ideas guy with some limited knowledge onn every aspect involved in game design, but far from an expert on any of those.

 

I hope this forum will help stimulate me to work on my skills and maybe even get me into the gaming business, be it as a hobbyist or as a coding monkey for some company.

 

Ps. I'd like to plug my thread on the game design forum, where I ask some feedback on a semi-feasible project I'd like to work on.

Feedback is always welcome, both on that thread as well as on my posting style in general. (I suppose that would go in this thread.)


Game that tackles suspension of disbelief vs challenge.

20 April 2013 - 04:56 AM

Hi all,

 

I'll be entirely honest, I joined this forum a few hours ago with making this thread as a sole reason. I have however read and made some post and will try my best to make this thread comprehensible and up to standard.

 

So, I recently had an interesting idea for a game. In this 2.5D puzzle/action platformer, you play as several characters stuck in one body. You can switch between the characters who each have their own strengths and weaknesses to help you overcome the obstacles you'll face along the way. At this point you might very well be thinking: "Sounds an awful lot like Trine.". And I'd have to agree with you, which is why I'll now get to the part that tells you why it's not like Trine.

 

The whole game is designed around the concept of permanent consequences for the characters. This means that if you jump or fall off a ledge that is a bit too high, the character you were playing with, might very well break his leg and spend the rest of the game with a limp. Or maybe he'll even simply die and you'll have to go on without him. The game auto saves over your only save file and without cheating, there is no way to undo your mistakes. The reason for this is because I wanted to have an extremely high penalty for mistakes without having to cause frustration or having to stop the game and break immersion.

 

I believe this has several positive effects:

The player has to be extremely careful and thoughtful when approaching an obstacle.

A wider range of feelings is accessible through gameplay (and not story).

The punishment for mistakes is neatly wrapped in within the world of the game and feels consistent with the rules of that world.

Your characters actually feel fragile and therefor more human.

 

The rest of the game is designed to amplify this effect. The characters all have their unique traits that make navigating the world easier and even make some content reachable that you could reach without them. (A very interesting and boring example could be a ledge that is too high to jump over for every character but one.). At a bunch of key point in the game, the way you handle certain obstacles will procedurally form friendships or hardships between your characters. Throughout the game you uncover a back story and each character offers a unique view on the events.

 

The back story as I currently see it works like this: The characters stuck in this body are actually several personalities of a person with dissociative identity disorder. The player will discover this rather quickly in the game as will the characters. The person these personalities belong to had a disinterested father who he desperately wanted to make proud. At some point the father left his mother without ever saying goodbye to her or their son. The son took this very hard and was sent to a psychiatrist who taught him techniques to shut out the pain. This resulted in a split personality.

From then on, the boy started creating new personalities for increasingly trivial and specific obstacles he faced in his life. He was however not consciously aware of doing this and at some point in his adult life, he noticed he seemed to black out sometimes and felt like he missed some parts of his life. Another visit to the psychiatrist reveals the many personalities. The therapist has the man relive the events that caused the creation of these personalities and tries to show his subconscious that these personalities are useless when it comes to overcoming obstacles.

 

This is what the player plays through, a physical manifestation of the memories of this man, with the added obstacles the therapist throws in to challenge the personalities.

 

So that's what I have so far. There are other things I've thought out but these are the ones I'd like feedback on.

I really like the core mechanic and would like to hear about other people's take on it and if anyone thinks it might be effective at all.

As for the back story, I'm not entirely sold on it but I believe it makes sense considering the core mechanics, it explains some weird aspects of the gameplay and neatly ties up all elements of the game into a consistent and sensible package. It is however rather cliche and has the overly typical twist.

 

Any thoughts?


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