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Member Since 03 Oct 2001
Offline Last Active Sep 22 2014 06:23 PM

#5180869 Gameplay similar to SSI's early 90s Gold Box turn-based combat

Posted by on 16 September 2014 - 06:40 PM

The Dark Queen of Krynn

Wasn't that one of TSR's D&D adventure game with an isometric tactical map?

Are you looking for tactical examples, or other rather rooted in RPG (with a small party vs the world).

Also are you solely focused on the combat aspect, or the general feel?


I played Natuk over a decade ago, which was an original take on this. But it might be dated


How do you feel that Baldur's Gate is so different from this game?


And yes, Battle of Wesnoth is a different kind of game indeed. Thank got it's free too!


DQOK was SSI (Strategic Simulations Inc) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Simulations

They published and/or developed this and a few other in the series that were more of less the same game telling different stories and with minor feature differences.


Yeah the turn based combat is what I'm interested in - not necessarily isometric as a rule (DQOK was). Very much the party vs world, different roles of party members, and the large scale battles where you really need to manage your turns to an expert level to make it through. BGII for me was about halfway to NWN in combat (not that I'd played NWN yet at the time) - not quite really turn-based, and with arbitrary movement rather than holding and controlling squares strategically. I loved every minute of BGII and I enjoyed the combat very much as well, it's just different.


an example combat scenario from DQOK:

Begin the battle, assess the location and abilities of enemy units. There are a few extreme threats on the opposing side in this battle, so your mage/s are going to need to assure your survival by taking them down ASAP. You take one forward on the attack, but you'll need to end your turn with a fighter in front of them controlling that space or your mage will be gone immediately. You might take a different fighter around a flanking path to mop up, but you have to be careful not to overextend because any individual party member could be killed in a single turn if you're careless. A few turns in, you've established a front line in the clash as best you can. You're taking heavy damage, your mages have unleashed a bunch of heavy spells to mitigate the worst threats, and suddenly you're thinking very carefully about every individual remaining resource you have left. How many times can you heal some one getting hacked apart from 3-5 sides (inc diagonals), which combination of actions can most reliably remove remaining threats from the board and reduce the damage taken, etc. You might take a long time to ponder a single turn as you figure out the best approach.


That's the kind of strategy I got so engrossed in. I used to rush through easy battles so I could purposefully look for extremely difficult ones, basically to challenge my tactical wits and strategic thinking (it often ended badly, but that's ok).


The classes and character customisation are a big part of it too though. Designing a well balanced party is a strategic challenge in itself and I loved that. Right down to individual choices of memorised spells, with a potentially profound impact on any given encounter.


I never played Pen & Paper D&D, or any board games versions, mainly because I was never really too crazy about the role-play aspect, it really was almost entirely the tactical/strategy/character loadout aspect that roped me into this and similar games. I did enjoy the story as well, but for me story (or rather narrative, I guess) and RP are not co dependant.

#5180614 What constitutes the MVP, When are you ready to release?

Posted by on 15 September 2014 - 10:16 PM


With  the ap store and google play featuring you mostly on day 1 (this is the highest traffic peak you'll ever reach, most likely)
True only with heavily advertised products.


For most hobby products day one gets zero, day two gets zero, day three gets zero... eventually if you keep pushing hard enough you'll have a day with two or three or four downloads.  


It is the curse of obscurity. You need a large marketing budget or a win at the lottery to overcome it.



There's an exception to this worth noting - if you pique the interest of the various App-Feature teams, your day one (actually it's week one) launch can become something of a big deal. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have dedicated editorial teams that are actively interested in presenting good new content to customers. They don't charge anything for it either, so it's worth approaching them if you think you have something special.


Failing that, you're in the obscurity struggle yes.


It's also worth mentioning that the "lottery" shouldn't be thought of as an esoteric or mysterious event, you can always trace it back to something - i.e. a popular Youtuber or celebrity picked it up, a big publication organically included it in a spotlight type piece, etc. While in most cases you might need lottery type luck for one of those things to happen, the more noise you make about your own game (in the right ways) can make it all the more likely.


But, as to the issue of first impressions and help or harm... It's a valid concern. I've seen Steam developers note that they've had early-access customers come and go early on, and then found it difficult to hit any critical mass at "1.0" launch because everyone had seen and played it already. I can vaguely remember an article along these lines as well.


For a small scale project I don't know how much of a concern that would be though - and especially if it's free, the player feedback would be easy to come by and hopefully useful.

#5180376 What constitutes the MVP, When are you ready to release?

Posted by on 14 September 2014 - 11:01 PM

Not to take away from the excellent replies already here, I just want to say that trying to define MVP in a scientific way is not really what I'd recommend personally. So much of the process can be, but for that question I'd really say intuition should be guiding you. Ultimately you're making a decision about what to give a customer who's paying you money on faith - hoping the experience will be good.


That said, launching small and growing from there is really nothing new, in fact I'd pin-point it specifically as an emerging trend in the industry. Steam early access is a good example.

#5180211 Gameplay similar to SSI's early 90s Gold Box turn-based combat

Posted by on 14 September 2014 - 03:24 AM

As a kid I used to play The Dark Queen of Krynn for hours, weeks, months on end, and from my lifetime of gaming it's right up there with my all time favourites. I don't know if it was the story (although I enjoyed that) as much as the style of turn based combat that really grabbed me.


It's kind of been something I often thought about over the years, wondering what other games might scratch that particular itch, and finally now in my 30s I thought I might finally make a post about it.


For thread context; I'm inspired by this kind of gameplay for my own potential game design, but I really have no idea which developers over the years carried and refined this kind of combat in the best ways and I'd love to get anyone's thoughts on that subject. I SHOULD know.. I just didn't keep up. I got into different games, and especially around the time I got into gamedev, I was doing totally different things.


I'd like to think that good game design is always informed by mistakes and successes from the past, and with such an explosion of indie dev in recent years I feel like there must be dozens of amazing titles I don't know about that have this kind of approach to combat. I feel like before I'd even consider working on my little title in the vein of Gold Box TBS I should ideally be really familiar with what's already happening right now in this space, and what kind of audience exists for it.


I'm really talking purely about the combat - not necessarily the audience that exists for Dragonlance type AD&D narrative, nor the audience for retro pixel art, nor the specifics of the D&D ruleset they used (although I did like it a lot, I prefer NWN / 3.0, and even then I'd just do my own thing anyway).


What I loved, in terms of gameplay, was the role separation between party members and need to balance a good squad for all occasions. In a tough battle, every turn of every party member was important - it mattered where everyone was, who you had protected, who's at the front line, who's supporting, who's guarded, etc. I think I really loved the party size of six as well, as you really need to keep everybody alive and protected as a crucial aspect of combat.


I could probably name a few similar games I played over the years but none that quite scratched the itch the same way:

- FF Tactic and Disgaea 3 - extreme addiction occurred in both of these titles, I think they're both actually a good example of something nore recent I enjoyed in more or less the same way.

- Boulder's Gate 2 - absolutely loved every minute of this game, and loved the combat also but in a different way / for different reasons.

- Arcanum - also absolutely loved this game as well, but I never got as engrossed in the combat.

- Battle for Wesnoth (played on iOS) - I really enjoy this game, but I wish it had deeper character customisation and the fact that it's army vs army gives it a totally different appeal to me (not in a bad way, just scratching a different itch)

- Reign of Swords (played on iOS) - actually loved the hell out of this game but for unknown reasons, they killed it on the app store and it never returned.


So I guess what I'm interested in is some of the best modern examples of people doing great things in this space - both because I want to play those games, but also as creative reference. I don't want to make something exactly like anything pre-existing, and I also don't want to reinvent any wheels.


There's actually just about 0 games I can find on iOS/mobile that scratches this itch and I'd love it if there was. FF Tactics is there but compared to PSP the control scheme is not really to my liking. I do also own BG on iPad but I think I'd rather play that on PC, but I've also already played both of those titles and would rather get into something new.


Any insight on this would be really great.



#5100067 Wasting potential, and seeking cloning

Posted by on 09 October 2013 - 09:41 PM

I'm not really talking about commercial failures, or something that one might deem an aggregate failure via metacritic. You don't have to ship failures.


The best kind of failure is just a prototype, a thing where minimal art assets were committed, minimum peripheral effort, before identifying a bad idea. "Bad" is obviously subjective but for me it's anything in the category of "this isn't that fun after all...".


On the flip side the best moments in game design for me are the "holy shit" moments of being suddenly invigorated and excited by some combination of elements that are just super fun to play with.


Even then, depending on how you define failure, there's no way to create guarantees of "success" (also depending how you define that). This is especially true in the realm of commercial-failure, where you can create a highly polished, excellent game with an excellent critical reception, and sales could still be abysmal.


Even cloning a successful Final Fantasy game, if your art doesn't match up to what the original game studio produced using thousands of hours of top-sourced professional industry talent, you're at a disadvantage in the inevitable comparison.


Like probably most typical game designers I'm afraid of failure too, but I create for the fun/love of it. I think personally my obsession with tinkering and building things would always outweigh those negatives.


I think you could probably modify your thread title (if that can be done?) or at least your OP to be more like "ways to avoid failure during game design/development" as a more concise way to get that advice.


It's a huge subject. A much bigger subject than whether to be original or to heavily appropriate.

#5100047 Wasting potential, and seeking cloning

Posted by on 09 October 2013 - 08:17 PM

I'm not really sure what (or if) you're asking here... So I'll just throw in my off the cuff reaction to your thoughts and you can make of that what you will.


So, firstly; why do you make games?


I ask, because your approach to game design and game development should ultimately stem from what you personally want to bring to the table. If your primary motivation for getting into this line of work is a simple passion for game design, then I'd say get your sloppy and unprofessional games done in all their non-glory and use them as probably the best possible way to learn and grow as a game designer.


If on the other hand you're more of an entrepreneurial person with a primary interest in business growth - straight up cloning is one way to accomplish that faster. I do have a moral problem with cloning, in that a game seeking only to replicate (as opposed to build upon or improve) is likely to be, by design, a redundant object. (* this is also a generalisation with hundreds of exceptions).


I think (hope?) you probably meant "appropriation" moreso than "cloning", which is quite different. Say you wanted to bring back the core experience of FFVI in all the ways you feel you can identify as being mechanically excellent in design, an then use that foundation to tell a different story and maybe also throw some new things into the mix, then I think that'd be fine, and even quite normal.


Or a similar example: lets say you wanted to do an FPS. Nobody expects you to come up with entirely new inventions there. You're entering an established genre that ideally leverages years of collective design knowledge.


To directly answer your final line:

If you're at a novice level now, then it's virtually impossible to "waste" a project, as long as you learn from it. I don't really think you can go from novice to expert by copying alone.


I'm quite sure you'll find that most game design experts are at the level they're at because they have en enormous history of incredibly useful failures behind them.

#5099438 Thoughts on implementing four damage types in an action-strategy game

Posted by on 07 October 2013 - 06:56 PM

I'm prototyping an action/strategy game with four damage types, and before going further I thought I'd look for some input on how people would react to such a design. By contrast, many similar games have simply a singular measure of "damage", or some cases dual damage types (e.g. physical/magical).


Four types, in my mind, represents some nice opportunities to create interesting strategic situations, which I can hopefully explain here.


The gameplay:

Mixes Tower Defense & RTS - you have a squad of three moveable "hero" units on the battlefield (before a mission they can be equipped with custom guns and armour), that form the most vital aspect of passing each level.


Rather than just having plain damage, and some amount of armour leading to "plain damage resistance", I've opted to have:

  • physical DMG (bullets / ballistic)
  • energy DMG (sci-fi type weapons - pulse cannon, phaser rifle etc)
  • fire DMG (grenades, missiles, rockets, napalm)
  • chemical DMG (special weapons, acid, toxic, etc)

The above listed types are not augmenters or additional effects - these are THE damage applied - one of the above depending on the weapon (also considering weapons with more than one type).


Additionally, each hero and enemy has one or more resistances to the above DMG types ranging from 0 (not resistant) to 100 (immunity), depending on equipped armour and innate class traits. Heroes and enemies can have any combination of multiple resistances.


Some reasons for this design:

With a lot diversity in what various enemy units can be resistant to (and what they inflict), the constantly changing strategic importance of different weapons and hero classes can maintain a kind of depth that keeps the player adapting, and (hopefully) engaged.


One reason for four types specifically, is that with a squad of three, levels can (theoretically) be designed that no amount of over-levelling or extreme supergear can simply breeze through. In an extreme example, a level could be created with at least one enemy per dmg type that's invulnerable to all but one type of weapon, meaning the player might annihilate 75% of the level easily but still need to resourceful and use good tactics against the remaining element.


My concerns:

FIrst and foremost, four damage types is a difficult thing to depict in the game's UI/menus in a way that won't confuse some people. I feel at risk of creating a system that others won't understand, and depth is only depth if it's actually understood.


Second, and this is something I'd love to hear feedback on; is this design too far outside genre norms? I'm not looking to break any genre rules just for the hell of it. I'm designing a system that I think I'd love to play myself, but there's no sense alienating others. One example of a game with this type of dmg system is Ni No Kuni (iirc, familiars have varying dmg types and inflict that type only). On the flip-side, I think of Borderlands - which has "damage", in a basic sense, and then ADDITIONAL dmg, e.g. fire, as an augmenter.




I think that about sums up where I'm at. I'd love to hear thoughts from others on this. And if there are any other reference examples (particularly in games that were successful and well known), they would make a really useful case study for me.


Hope all of that made sense.

#5084309 Where to begin programming games

Posted by on 08 August 2013 - 10:07 PM

Your question is analogous to saying: I have all this lego, what do I need to do in order to build a "thing"?


It's unanswerable abstractly.


When starting to a build game, you can't do anything before you decide on some starting points:

  • what's the experience of the game?
  • how is the world viewed?
  • does it have a character, and if so how would that character be controlled?

All of those things would drastically change your fundamental building blocks, and only then would you go about thinking about the architecture of your game code (if you were so inclined). Personally, I think it's more productive while prototyping a game idea to just throw functionally down in any crude way to see if it's actually fun. Often it isn't.


Once you're onto something, good code architecture is important for maintainability and extendability depending on the scope and purpose of the project. For example I try to maintain very good structure for any large project (longer than say - one month of dev), but I generally don't bother at all on a Global Game Jam entry.


If on the other hand (interpreting your first post slightly differently), you're just talking about the best way to have an update loop, global engine constants, etc.. Then I guess it is just a matter of reading a few good articles.

#4989453 What Are a Game Designer Job Requirements?

Posted by on 12 October 2012 - 07:14 AM

I don't know what the industry norms are here (I would say there probably aren't any), because every studio has its own internal structure, and the lines often blur when it comes to the who and how of game design processes.

When you say you want to be a game designer, what exactly do you want to do - day to day - in your professional role? If the answer is that you see yourself providing top-level creative direction to a dedicated technical team, then there's likely a very long road ahead. Forget any kind of magic bullet approach. You have to do the nitty gritty, and essentially build demonstrably EXCELLENT games.

So build some games. While you're at it you'll get to find out whether you're actually good at game design.

Out of curiosity, what do you mean by having the right potential?

#4843827 Making Twitter good for something...

Posted by on 02 August 2011 - 05:30 PM

I recently started using twitter, not because I think people might be interested to know my mood every twenty minutes, or what position my cat is sleeping in right now, but because there is some genuinely interesting content hidden away in there.

In particular, it's become one of my preferred methods to skim tech and industry news.

I also recently followed Carmack and found that almost every post was kind of an interesting (if brief and impersonal) window into the daily workings/ponderings of another person building games. It immediately made me wonder who else out there I could follow that also post mainly this kind of dev stuff. For me, it's the perfect way to kill five minutes after work waiting for a train.

So does anyone have any recommendations?

If you don't use twitter or know first hand who has quality posts, maybe you could suggest some other well known people in the industry doing good stuff at the moment? the Twitter accounts of studios themselves are more news-based - pretty much geared for franchise fans, and that's fair enough too. I'm looking more for individual people posting their idle thoughts and learnings about all things game-tech related.