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decisions, decisions

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First, a comped(composited) together view of some elements we might be using for the graveyard.

now read below =)

I hate how time flies =/

Project2 was started back about mid-Oct, and from then till now I've been bogged down in engine work.

While this shouln't be suprising (happened with MW2), it certainly sucks, and while I am better equiped to handle it this time around; seemingly one part of it never goes away 'Indecision'.

Decisions (or not making them) can be a large cause of failure for an indie team. Thankfully I've been in many situations where decisions need to be made. For Morning's Wrath (and now for Project2 as well) we use a 2-person system of decision making.

This is important, it is very hard for two people to decide things, but it is essential to keep the project balenced. Some of you might think that a round table discussion (between all members of the team might be better) this is 90% of the time a bad move, (unless you have some sorta zen-based group wherein you can all see the future and then agree), with full on round table discussion your left with many possibilities and noone with the authority to decide upon one, this leads to fustration and gets the project nowhere.

So in our decisions, Myself and another team member, go over what needs to be decided and both make our points. In most cases, one sounds greatly better than another, and I (having the final word on everything) will say that is how it is going to be (dont confuse this with being a full-on dictatorship, very often my ideas are the ones that arn't used =D)

However, somtimes ideas are black and white, and both parties think their ideas are the way to go, in this case I ususaly sample the oppoinion of others to help me make my decision, and VERY rarely i let them make a suggestion of their own. Again in this case I make the final decision.

This seems to work out fairly well, it allows the members involved to have say in the project, but it doesnt bog us down in endless trials to prove our point.

That being said, I've made some poor decisions lately =D

Though, they only seem poor in retrospect (all too often the case).

[Graphical Format]

Oh goodness, this has been the topic of long debate lately =/
On the table have been 3 options.

- Classic 2D Adventure [Think Monkey Island's look]
- Isometric 2D Adventure [Think Morning's Wrath or Sanitarium]
- 3D Adventure [Think Grim Fandango, Monkey Island 4]

between Oct 15th and now, I've been through all of them.
I've coded, Tested, and Thought Thought Thought.

And here is my conclusion.

Classic 2D:
-too clasic
-requires a lot of art talent (backgrounds)
-we get lost in a sea of other Lucas-Arts/Sierra look-alikes
-simple as far as technology goes

Isometric 2D:
-we know we can do it
-it's a pain to implement with a 3D API
-provides a lot of environmental structure
-isometric adventure games are pretty rare
-we will still be confused with diablo(esque) if we are not careful
-we know we can do it(this is very important =D)

3D Adventure:
-This is a sea of unknown for me (who has to make the engine and art)
-We don't have the time to develop another engine over the course of 2 years (see above =D)
-If done right it would be excellent!
-I have serious doubts we could do it right without lots of help and talent (say goodbye to any profits, and maybe hello to debt)

Many of you have probably been in the same issues, It is after all, a very important decision.

So after all the testing and thinking and coding, I know I need to make a final decision and stick with it.

What is our goal?
-Our goal is to make a good game.

Can we do that with 2D Isometric graphics?
-Yes, I belive we can, Morning's Wrath was good, and there is no reason to think we can't do better this time around.

Is there anything bad about using 2D Isometric?
-Yes, the look is generaly outdated, and we certainly won't win any innovation awards.
-And of course certain aspects of art are harder to do.

Can you make up for these issues in any other area?
-If the graphics are visually pleasing as a base, we can enhance it with animation.
-Spending more time to create an awesome story will help.
-Improved sound effects (making use of 3D sound) will help.
-A sound track to rival Morning's Wrath will be great (we are hoping to get Adam Frechette for this project too (he's like my Danny Elfman =D))
-If we can manage to do voice talent this time around (good quality. well acted. of course) that will add to the overall quality.
-A simpler interface, integrating fixes for the things people did not like in MW will help.

So after those thoughts, it Seems we can live without top-notch 3D graphical goodness. And we can do better that Classic 2D, so we are gonna stick with our staple, 2D Isometric (*hears a cheer from the isometric forum*)

Now my journey through the 3D real has not been without benefit, I have found many systems that can be applied to a 2D game, some of which provide solutions to the problems with the more naive approach to 2D in 3D (quad drawing, etc).

one big one we are planning to implement, is instead of tilesets, we are going to try and 2D version of Texture-Splatting, which will allow us to have very detailed terrains, and actually result in a more performant system (how about that!)
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with full on round table discussion your left with many possibilities and noone with the authority to decide upon one, this leads to fustration and gets the project nowhere.

...and then you go on to say...

... and I (having the final word on everything) will say that is how it is going to be...

So I don't see where your problem is. You don't need a single person making al lthe final sayso's. You get everyone's opinion, then they are discusses, and a majority rule vote is taken.

Personally I think not getting the opinions from the other members of the teams makes them feel left out. They aren't monkeys doing whatever you say, they are a part of the team.

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Laz, not to sound obnoxious but, clearly you've never worked on a large scale game project.

Getting everyone's oppinion and taking a majority vote hardley ever works (I have tried it) and in the best case, is a very bad idea.


1. in a group of 5 people you can get 1 to 5 oppinions
So everyone has a different oppinion on somthing, where is the vote then? You are stuck with everyone having their own idea about somthing and you are powerless to come right out and make a decision (if you give round table and then take it away, you might as well dump your team and start fresh because it creates a bad dynamic.)

2. in your group of 5 people, only 2 might be appropriately informed on the topic.

3. this is a game development project, a business endevor, not a democracy, people who are informed on a topic get to be part of the decision.

For instance, the graphics guy shouldn't have any say in the audio. And I would not ask the marketing guy to choose the game's theme colors.

You will find that teams that do this tend (but not as a rule) find themselvs wrapped up in discussion more so than completing a game.

What makes me such an expert?

Well, I 'did' form and direct a team to complete a large scale game. Aside from that I guess I don't have any other credit :)


About that last little bit, acusing me of being slave-driver-esque:

Laz, seems every time you post you always have somthing bad to say, do you not like me or somthing? (this isnt about copying your style sheet way back when is it ROFL?) Last time I checked I didn't have a grudge against you, but you always seems when you post it is negative.

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This first part is directed towards Laz.

In an ideal world, everybody would have an equal say. In an ideal world, everyone would be equally informed and have equal power share and have equal intelligence.

We do not live in an ideal world.

Ever think about the United States government? Ever think about how a business works? The government has a president, and a business has a CEO. The entire capitalist structure is built like a pyramid. Sure, a CEO has advisors -- so does the president. At the same time, without having the final say, nothing would get done.

During the short time I worked for EDI, I didn't necessarily agree with him all the time. In fact, one of the reasons I left was because I found that I was disagreeing with him more than I was agreeing with him. That isn't to say my ideas were any more correct than his, we just disagreed. Now, imagine if development stopped just because I disagreed. MW would have gone nowhere.

As long as someone has the final word, things will progress. A smart leader listens to advice, and doesn't always go with what he thinks is right. Often, this is done by majority. But if you have the experience to back your opinion, it is often worth much more than someone without experience.

My current team (Hero of Allacrost) works like this: something is proposed as a problem, everyone says their opinion, and Roots (the founder) has the final say. Often his opinion is swayed by the team, though sometimes it isn't.

And those sort of things are KNOWN when you join the team. If you don't like that, tough, form your own team.

Finally, EDI, that call out was certainly not necessary in a public forum. Do that sort of thing in a private message. Perfect example of how I sometimes disagree with your methods.

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I'm just going to comment on the Screenshot because I've always worked solo so I don't know much about the team decisions.

The Screenshot looks really cool, the only thing I might say is that the ground and maybe the trees seem to have a little too much detail for the cartoony borders you have on the objects. When you made the sign a long time ago I thought you had nailed the style, but definitly the ground looks too real in this screen.

I'm not saying it looks bad, if thats what you wanted then cool, but I was expecting more of a cartoony look.

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definetly, the view is just a composited test view, moast of the graphics are stand-in.

the main thing to notice is that instead of tons of little tiles we are going to be using large 'tile regions'

each tile in this game will likely be a square 256x256 image, mapped onto a mesh.

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In my opinion the biggest advantage of having only a small group of people make decisions on a problem is the time factor. It can take a while to get everyones opinion and then reach a compromise. This especially is true when you work with bigger teams on larger scale projects.

The screenshot looks great btw, the terrain has an amazing look.

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Great insight EDI, thanks :). A lot of the really critical decisions about Phoenix Feather were made by me right at the start, but now that we are just finishing of the core engine and server we're going to have a lot of thinking to do.

I already tend to lean toward your form of decision making, so long as its clear to your team that you value and appreciate them, then the lead having final vito saves a lot of hassle and increases confidence in the project.

It's now occurred to me that we started our two projects around the same time, and are progressing at roughly the same rate. I like that!

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Indeed =D

I wonder who will be done first LOL.

Probably not us, we are not known for incredible speed =(

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