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The curse of the action RPG strikes again!

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Trapper Zoid

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It is becoming increasing clear that my subconscious desperately wants to make an action/adventure/RPG style game. I'm not entirely sure how my imagination managed to do this, but it's slowly twisted my plan for a roguelike dungeon crawler yet again into a story based action game; this time more like a souped up Secret of Mana.

Actually, I have a reasonbly good idea of how it happened. I'd set myself some pretty strict limitations already; the game would have randomly generated dungeons, the game would be set in a single "haunted" castle, and there would only be the hero and possibly one or two NPCs to rescue as the only living characters within the game. However, I needed some sort of backstory, so I found some suitable "haunted castle music" (some fanmade version of the music from Super Castevania 4) to listen to as I did some chores and daydreamed about story ideas. Before long I'd already spotted the obvious loopholes in my restrictions (hey, in a fantasy game set in a haunted castle nothing says an NPC has to be living, right? [wink]), and my mind had constructed about six hours worth of non-linear action/adventure plot, with at least five characters and five massive "boss" fights in their early stages of planning. The word "epic" once again seems to be creeping into my game design. So far, it looks like this game will take a year, probably much more, in order to complete.

However, this time round I find that I don't really care. Most people here in journal land seem to have an impossibly ambitious project they are working on, so why not me? I'm fairly confident that I have or can acquire the skills to complete a game of this scope, since it's not based on impressive technology achievements. It's just a matter of time, and if I treat this as a "hobby" project it doesn't really matter if it takes me five years to finish, especially if I have fun in construction. Plus all the skills I learn will be directly transferable to smaller, more sensible projects.

So I guess this means I will be chugging away on the design document for a bit longer than expected. I should probably set myself a deadline of no more than two weeks from now to get the first draft done, so that this whole thing doesn't drag on forever (unfortunately I really need the design document to be semi-complete before I can esitmate properly how long I think this will take me). At the moment the design is several pages of random paragraphs tacked in an appendix labels "Brainstorming", so some reordering is required too.
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Will be interesting to see how your project turns out. I'm usually the type that likes to "jump right in" when designing, but it seems you are doing the right thing making a comprehensive design document (due to the scope of the project).

One question I have: how will you avoid possible burnout? I've never worked on a project that took longer than 6 months, so I don't have first hand experience with these kind of projects.

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One question I have: how will you avoid possible burnout?

A good point; this would be the number one risk in any large hobby project. I have worked on a few projects that have spanned a year or more (mainly academic things), and the interest level does wane after a while. I guess it is key not to burn up all your enthusiasm in the first few months, and to take a couple of breaks now and again.

However I think I have a slight advantage in the "keeping it going" stakes in that this project is actually going to be an implementation of a lot of ideas in my masters research project which I've never properly put into use. Deep down I've always wanted to put those into a game, and I've been struggling to find an application that is both large enough to be a worthy test but small enough to be completed just by myself (assuming I can't find any extra help). However with all these gameworld restrictions I've placed on myself I think I might have just found something achievable. Or at least the chance of completion is a probability fraction that is significantly higher than zero!

Plus I just have to face facts that I really want to make story-based games. Every idea I've had has warped into one. It's a puzzle game... and a RPG! It's a racing game... and a RPG! I'm even starting to think it would be a good idea to add an adventure-based plot to my thesis disseration.

Maybe I've just finally gone crazy...

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