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Game designing from the ground up, from the aspect of a freelance programmer:)

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so many ideas arrg

Ahhh I'm still in the midst of developing all the ideas, core game mechanics, and story of this indie game I am working on. I have so many notepad files with lists of coding features, editors, and tools. And I realized that while planning all the features of the game, I haven't really decided how the game is supposed to played.
The game is a multiplayer FPS. How can I make this game different from the bigillion other failures on the market today? Why would people want to play this game instead of many others?

Like I've said before, every game should be intertwined in story. Even an FPS.
I know a lot of people like CSS. I've also heard that people would like a game like that in a mmo style. AND I'm sure there is a way to add in the story.

To show story, I also think there should be more integration that cut-scenes. The gameplay, NPC's, and world should expose the story in every way. NPC's should show loyalty to their clan or race: show jealousy, hate, and sadness. The player should overhear information that matters, that they can use in the game: they could find secret passages, special items, enemy secrets.

The gameplay should involve the player with combo attacks and twitch gaming. The user needs to be a constant part of the game, not a mindless zombie......On the other hand, wouldn't it be cool to let the player choose which way to game?

These are some of the questions ever bouncing in my head all the time. Ultimately, I think the best game would be customizable to the player. Let them choose every thing....that is IMPORTANT. Never give the player choices that don't matter.
Ahhhh....prob need to make another list about how to integrate story into gameplay now:)




The Engine Craze Part II

Well after I sent out a bunch of emails to a couple different engine companies, some of which I got rather rude replies, I think my search for an engine is coming to an end. The C4 engine is gonna win the race, simply because of the length of our project. We have a time schedule of about 3 years to create a MOFPS. I've heard the networking capability of C4 is limited to about 16-32 players at one time...HOWEVER there is a rumor that Eric updated this?? HMMM?

Other than that I am looking at a networking middleware solution, like RakNet. It's inexpensive for the most part and is a nice old standard C++ library. Any other suggestions would be cool too:)

Perhaps to add the the outdoor terrain I will use Freeworld 3D and import the maps. I do believe Eric of C4 is going to add a vegataion update to his engine too, so we'll see.

And for physics, I believe there any many physX plugins and wrappers available for free.

So I think using the C4 engine and applying our own modifications, we can come up with some good multi-player goodness and eye-poppin graphics. Hehe

And of course, any suggestions are welcome!




Time to play the classics

I've been going to game development school for about a year and a couple months now. I've made a couple games and about a bigillion small applications and tools. The more classes I take at school, the more eagar I get to make my own game. SOOOO you know what that means? It's blockbuster time!

I thought, if I really want to be a game designer, shouldn't I go play all the classic games that people have raved about for the last couple years? ( or more years than that, seeing as how I am poor:) So the latest games I have come to acquire and play are Sony's ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.

I started ICO about two days ago and already I am wowed by the unique design of the game. Yeah I know people said that like 5 or so years ago, but hey....o well. The simple point of the game is to guide the princess and yourself to safety, but the actual methods of doing so are very unique. I think the aspect of the game that stood out first to me was the simple act of the Ico (the hero....I think that's his name?) holding out his hand to the princess and she slowly lifts her arm and gently places her hand in his. This simple 2 second interaction between the characters speak so much about both their personalities. Although it is kind of funny that after they take hands, you can make Ico start running and the princess just gets whipped around as she follows him. But the way that Ico bends down to help her up a ledge, her pause when looking up at him and deciding to take his hand...these interactions speak louder than words. There aren't many times where they speak anyway and they talk in funky languages at that. I favor the interaction above speech in this game.

Interaction between characters is one of the most important things I consider when constructing my game designs. I'm still one of the firm believers that some type of story is needed in every game. It's also a way to get the player to give a crap about the world and story he's being plunged into. I want the player to be immersed in a new world, with new characters that they WANT to know more about. Perhaps we need to start making video games not like movies, but more like books:)




Too many engines!

Well I just joined an indie group to start development on an FPS. I also joined as one of the programmers, so I have been having an endless discussion about which engine to use for our game. I know, the most discussed topic since ninjas vs. robots. Well I have been looking at C4, Torque, Vicious, and even Unreal. The most impressive is the Vicious engine. It has cutting-edge graphics, multi-platform conversions, next-gen capability, almost everything our team wanted. HOWEVER their site stinks:( The lack of information is really quite depressing. Does anyone know about the license or its expense? Could anyone recommend the engine? Has anyone WORKED on it?? Slightly frustrating:)

Our backup plan is to use C4, since it is a stable engine and the second best. The license is inexpensive and they have a good support community. Another question I'm facing is, would it be too much effort to change engines later in the game if C4 doesn't work out? My gut instinct says yes....

So as I mindlessly dig deeper into the internet for scraps of information, maybe one of you lucky souls out there could drop me a line! You know you want to!




The Classics: Part II

So I played some more of Ico tonight, secretly sneaking online ONLY ONCE to solve one of the puzzles. While I decided that the intricate level designs of ICO's rooms and dungeons are great, there are some things I need to remember to dislike. 1)If I am standing in a pool of water and there is a pipe with a circular handle staring me in the face, I WANT to turn it. 2) If I am leading around a girl who can climb ladders, I expect she can climb ladder-like objects as well, such as a pipe with little handles jutting out of it. 3) If my feet go over a fence when I try to jump it, but collision detection keeps me from jumping, makes me a sad panda....

So the point that I have come to realize is this: don't mislead the player!!! Rah.
Great level design can only get you halfway to a complete level. If the player gets hung up on a feature of the level that is simply part of the scenery, the level design needs to fix that problem. I don't mind when games use a little flash on important objects in the room, or useable objects are well-lit, in the point of view of the player, or useable objects all have a similar visual format. I think the player should spend more time figuring out the solution to the level or puzzle, instead of figuring out where/what the puzzle actually IS.

Well with ICO almost finished, I know some of the do's for design:
- character interaction is key, not speech
- puzzles are awesome, especially ones with multiple ways for a solution
- HUGE levels really create a great atmosphere for an epic adventure

- Do not decieve the player with scenery
- If actions are to be repeated to solve problems, design the level to remove discrepencies
- Didn't mention this before, but give the player a sword early in the game:)

Next is Shadow of the Colossus, the next "chapter." ohhhwoowowooowoooooo....:)



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