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Member Since 23 Apr 2000
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 03:02 PM

#5302287 How Do You Go About Your Game Design?

Posted by sunandshadow on 24 July 2016 - 04:48 AM

I have material that I created in the past about various tropes, characters, gameplay elements, etc. that caught my interest in the past.  To start a new game design project I need a focus - some inspiration or a request from a collaborator.  When I have that focus it's kind of like building a mobile - the focus is the center-point, and I have to find balanced things to hang on it to make the whole thing spin interestingly and have harmonious colors.  So I brainstorm to see if that focus gives me any new ideas, and I also brows through my old material to see what seems compatible or like the two ideas might strike interesting sparks off each other.  I try to imagine playing the game (or reading the story, if I'm designing a story rather than a game).


I think design is a basically iterative process, so something like The Snowflake Method is a good starting point if anyone isn't familiar with iterative design yet.

#5301354 Game Levels - Easy, Normal, Hard... Or Alternative?

Posted by sunandshadow on 19 July 2016 - 06:39 AM

I'm rather confused by this post.  In an RTS, more features never make a map or mission more difficult, unless it's the first time the player has seen a specific feature.  Instead difficulty is about how fast and accurately/efficiently the player has to play to make their resources in/damage out exceed their resources out/damage in per amount of time.  Difficulty is thus adjusted across a game by making the player's units or buildings 1. cheaper to produce 2. more efficient at gathering or at least not losing resources 3. tougher or 4. faster at dealing damage.

#5300792 Slavery, Include Or Not?

Posted by sunandshadow on 14 July 2016 - 03:44 PM

If you wanted to cover slavery in a serious historical way, your best bet would be having a viewpoint character who was a slave.  But that doesn't fit with your game concept.

#5300684 Slavery, Include Or Not?

Posted by sunandshadow on 14 July 2016 - 06:06 AM

Ouch, that's a tough one.  You kinda screwed yourself when picking that time/setting.  I'd normally say no, never put the player in the position of buying slaves unless it's a fantasy or science fiction game.  But people who go for historical games like that dislike inaccuracy.

#5299811 What would make a game better for the arcade?

Posted by sunandshadow on 08 July 2016 - 03:28 PM

One recent cabinet style game that I have heard people jealously wishing they could play (since there isn't one near them) is that VR "you are a bird" game where your arms are on hinged panels and you flap them.

#5299684 Arcade user timing challenge...

Posted by sunandshadow on 07 July 2016 - 03:06 PM

@Dan  I personally go to Dave and Buster's arcade/restaurant on a regular basis, and the reason I do so is primarily for the tickets and the prize shop where you turn the tickets in.  The secondary reason is that I like games like coin-pushers which can't be effectively emulated.  The same applies to games where I can burst balloons with darts, punch targets with my hands, make water splash around while I do some fake fishing, and other visceral activities like riding mock motorcycles.  I guess that's the experience you are talking about, but half the games I like don't even involve a computer.  One other reason I would consider going to an arcade would be if they had antique consoles or good emulations of them set up with big libraries of old games, so I could play both things I felt nostalgic for and things I never got to play the first time around.  Ideally there would be some kind of data storage for all my games-in-progress and high scores, and an achievements system that told me whenever I got a new high score.  It doesn't seem like any of this would quite work with your arcade concept though.  Have you considered using a concession stand as your main source of income and the games as more of a carrot to get people to pay the cover charge and enter your captive audience?

#5299586 Arcade user timing challenge...

Posted by sunandshadow on 07 July 2016 - 07:20 AM

Not sure I agree with the concept that it's better for people to move from game to game rather than stay in one place.  If the game machines are like computers, why not put all the games on each machine, like you see in bars sometimes?  Kind of like a giant smartphone with only games on it.  Then any player will be happy as long as one station is open, since they are all the same.

#5297765 Anyone here interested in real time strategy games and game design theory?

Posted by sunandshadow on 23 June 2016 - 06:59 PM

Children have much much higher tolerance for repetition than teenagers and adults.  Your brain actually changes as you age - and it doesn't change just once, but at least three significant changes at different ages.  People over 20 (well, it varies by a few years between individuals) have an increasingly difficult time finding anything that is unfamiliar enough to trigger that learning-pleasure that children get from lots of things.

#5297019 Finding the "Fun Factor" in a tycoon game

Posted by sunandshadow on 17 June 2016 - 03:12 PM

I always thought the fun-factor of a tycoon game was that you are supposed to be experimenting, plus there's a different kind of fun in the upgrades you buy with the money you make, and then some games have a third kind because the gameplay has a speed and dexterity element to it, and then customer reactions are also fun.

#5296291 How to write a story in games?

Posted by sunandshadow on 13 June 2016 - 02:18 AM

Well, no story is going to entertain everyone, so you might want to check if others consider it boring or just you.  Some genres of game are heavily story-based (RPGs, some adventure games) while some have basically no story (most arcade games), and there are in-between games which have only a few paragraphs of story spread out over the whole game (RTS games, CCGs/TCGs, some platformers and sidescrollers, some FPS games).  If you are a gamer who prefers games that don't have much story, but you end up with a job making an RPG, you are probably going to find the story boring no matter how good or bad it actually is.


On the other hand, if you enjoy reading and playing games with a lot of story, and further if you like the particular genre of story in question (fantasy? sci-fi? horror? drama? comedy? tragedy? romance?) then you might actually be a good judge of whether a particular story is boring.  The question of "what makes a story exciting?" is about half personal taste and half serious writing technique based on psychology.  I'm not sure I could really explain to someone who didn't have a background in writing, but suspense, pacing, and emotion are the main ingredients, and with games it's particularly important how you combine the story with the other game elements like combat, cutscenes if you have them, art style, and sound design.


As far as "how stories are written?", that could be 2 different questions - writing process and techniques, or story structure and mechanics.


If you want to talk about writing process, a writer has different options for where to start: a character idea, an idea for a relationship between two characters, an idea for a unique world, an idea for a particular plot event, an urge to write about a particular theme, an interest in making the audience experience a certain emotional atmosphere, or the question of what type of plot and character would be best for exploring a particular gameplay.  These options are called the circle of story design elements; they are like a circle because no matter which one you start at you have to work your way around to all of them to create the first draft of a story concept, then you have to go around the circle again to flesh out and add detail, and then you can repeat that to fill in holes and add more detail.  An iterative design process, basically.  Ideally story design and gameplay design should take place in parallel - first you decide on a rough concept for both, then you refine both, etc.   Sometimes writers are stuck in the bad position where a game has already been 3/4 completed with no story and the writer is asked to paint a story on top, and to do that cheaply by requesting a minimum amount of changes and resources to make the game support the story.  This unfortunate situation is especially likely to produce boring stories because many interesting ideas will be discarded due to the restrictions of the design.


Structurally, a game story concept will start out as a concept or pitch, which is basically a paragraph or two briefly describing the main character, the world, and the plot.  This is then developed into a synopsis, which is 5 or more paragraphs thoroughly describing the main character, the world, and the plot; usually the plot will be broken up into acts, chapters, or locations where each part happens.  For a linear game this is pretty straight-forward, but for an interactive or open-world game a flow chart, map of the game, or several parallel timelines with story chunks placed along them may be needed to organize the information.  This is then developed into a script, which is comparable to the script for a manga/comic or an animated movie.  The script includes not only text that will appear in written form in the game, but narration and dialogue, which may then need to be recorded by voice actors.  In some cases the script may include the text for sign posts, posters, magic circles, or other graphics that will need to appear in the game.  It may be helpful to assign an ID# to every piece of text or spoken dialogue intended to go into the game; this allows you to script stuff like: If the player talks to NPC Joe, NPC Joe says #J309, unless event #Dungeon03Clear has already happen, then Joe says #J415.

#5295709 creating good quests for games

Posted by sunandshadow on 08 June 2016 - 06:57 PM

Quests are designed to motivate the player to do the gameplay your game already has, so if you have a list somewhere of gameplay types in your game, that's a good place to generate quests from.  Like if you can fish in the game, you can have a quest to catch X fish, or Y type of fish, or Z size of fish, or craft a pole/lure/bait...  It's also good to have the same quest type repeated at increasing levels of difficulty as the player's skill at playing the game improves.

#5295706 Data Games

Posted by sunandshadow on 08 June 2016 - 06:47 PM

Have you googled "augmented reality game" yet?  That's an easy place to start.  There's lists of top 5 AR games of X year, and let's play videos on youtube, lots of easy resources.

#5295662 RPG combat maths

Posted by sunandshadow on 08 June 2016 - 01:08 PM

How much choice do you want the player to have?  In some systems a node does only one exact thing, but in other systems a node gives a player a choice between 2 or 3 options.  Also have you made a list of all your options yet?  It's important to know things like whether the player can separately increase their resistance to or affinity for each particular elements.  No point having physical damage resistance if nothing deals physical damage, but what about resistance to status ailments?  Is HP something that's increased through this upgrade grid or does it increase in some separate way?  And how does MP work, is there one MP gauge that is spent for all types of magic, or something like FF8 where there are separate reservoirs of each element of magic?

#5295661 What to do with extra ideas?

Posted by sunandshadow on 08 June 2016 - 01:02 PM

Yes, definitely write them down.  They are useful as brainstorming sparkers as well as future material.


Also, if you want to develop an idea more, the design forum has a sidebar on the right with helpful links about getting started at game design.

#5293837 Bricking up the exit: Denying completion of the Hero's Journey

Posted by sunandshadow on 27 May 2016 - 12:26 PM

I'm not a huge fan of the hero's journey, but if you want to substitute the idea of the rags-to-riches bildungsroman, I'm a big fan of that in RPGs and MMOs.  For a single-player RPG, I think the satisfying ending is to give the player a lot of praise/recognition/affection from NPCs and bonuses for completing various collections or achievements.  Then, though the linear/exploratory gameplay is over, leave the player with a minigame or two that they may want to come back and toy with every few weeks, at least until the sequel of your game comes out.  Minigame examples would include chocobo racing and other golden saucer games like snowboarding in FF7, Vasebreaker endless and I, Zombie endless in Plants vs. Zombies 1, really any good solitaire or match 3 game or a sim-game like Fish Tycoon/Plant Tycoon would work.  But I'm also a big fan of time loop single player RPGs where the end of any playthrough is a good stopping point but you try to provide the player with enough rewards for them to complete at least a 2nd playthrough, and earn a better or at least different ending.