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Useless Ramblings

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VPellen

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So, what did I do today? Well, for one, I DIDN'T code useless programs that I wouldn't be able to use. In fact, I didn't do much work at all. I read a chapter of one of the only books in my library, though; Ernest Adams and Andrew Rollings on Game Design. It's an awesome book. But then, I'm a big fan of Mr. Adams' writing. Talked about high concepts and such. How all games start as a daydream. Good book. Anyway.

So, if I didn't do any design-like work, what did I do? Well, I performed basic maintenance on my computer. installed a second hard drive, dvd drive, and a new fan (which actually sounds pretty damned obnoxious at the moment.. I really need to buy some new fans.) And, actually, I did think about it for a few hours. If a game idea starts out as a daydream, then I have tons of potential game ideas. We all do. So what was Kingstone founded on? What was the dream?

To start with, I just felt like mentioning this. I, like most wannabe game designers, want to design an online RPG one day. Everybody wants to design an online RPG, or an online game of some sort these days. Online games are the new black. Being a guy who likes online games, I happen to like multiplayer. No computer can ever compare to the rush that's obtained when you fight a human opponent. Because of this, all games, I believe, should have some fort of multiplayer, if at all possible. These days, there really is very little excuse not to put in a mode that allows more than one person to play the same game.

Where am I going with this, anyway.. Oh, right. Now, here I am, trying to figure out a basic frame for a turn-based strategy game. Now, turn based strategy games are fun games. Or, they can be. But here, I've got a problem of balance.

If it's one thing I've learned from online games, it's that online gamers have no sense of patience. It's reflected pretty much in every online game you can imagine. Blitz tactics in FPSs. Power leveling in MMORPGs. Rushes in RTSs. We even want our computers to be able to keep up with our rapid speed and reactions! Faster internet, faster graphics processor, more ram, more, better, faster, harder. More and more. It's a habit of online gamers, and I'm not quite sure why. But again, like I said, it seems that almost no online gamers have any concept of the word "patience".

Now obviously, the above is a generalization. It's also a bit of a guess. I could be completely wrong. You could hand me statistics showing that 90% of online gamers have a ton of patience, and I'd just sort of stand there looking like an idiot. But I think I can make such an presumption and not risk looking like too much of a moron.

Now, a turn based strategy game is a game that requires a lot of patience. You take a turn, then you wait for the other players to take their turns. Now this can irritate the hell out of a lot of online gamers. So what happens when on one hand, you want to design a turn-based strategy game, and on the other hand, you want to make it multiplayer?

For lack of better words, we have a problem.

So now, we've got a balancing act. To make a game tolerable to the energy-hyped masses who want things faster, faster, now now now, we have to make the game a bit more simple. Cut down things. Make moves easier. Make a smaller map. Shorter battles. Earlier victory conditions. Cut things down smaller and smaller until it can be played like a quick game of chess. But of course, in doing this, the game loses some of its soul. You can no longer realistically include big and complex things in your game, simply because they'd take more patience, micromanaging, and, most importantly, time, in order to play with and enjoy.

This has been a bit of a pain whilst developing Kingstone. A constant balance of speed of gameplay and complexity of gameplay. I'm not sure you can have both; I honestly believe speed and complexity are mutually exclusive. Now a lot of you would probably argue with me on that, and you may very well be right; but honestly, it seems that the more complex games get, the harder they are to play rapidly. Just seems like common sense to me.

So here I am with a balancing act. I have to figure out what I want more priority over; Online playability, or game complexity. Because I really don't know if I can have both.

On one hand, I really want to create something really deep. A game that people remember and keep coming back to, not for a quick bit of fun, but to be totally absorbed in. On the other hand, I want to create a multiplayer game which can be enjoyed by people all over the place, in different timezones, sharing the enjoyment of the experience with each other. I don't know if I can have both, and it's a tough decision. It's also a very basic decision.

Oh well. Maybe more as I feel like typing it all up.
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