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DvDmanDT

Top-down tactical shooter/rpg?

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Hi everyone! Here's some early ideas for a game I might attempt to create. Apologies for the long post, but it's hard to express an idea with few words sometimes.. Some background/history (this is just some 0.01a version of the background) The year is 2134. There has been a worldwar recently (well, it's not really over) which has left most of the world uninhabitable. The game takes place on what we currently call Greenland. It's divided into north and south, and you play as someone in the north. The war is still going on between north and south, although, both sides have suffered much losses and have very limited resources, so it's quite calm. However, the north side is divided into two camps, east and west, and some (important) west guy was murdered by someone who is believed to be from the east side. This means the west side might rise against the east side, which would be devastating as the south side would definitly take advantage of the situation and attack. The players mission is more or less to find out what really happend. The game takes place in a city, that has been 'ruined' 50 years ago by the war, where 'North' has set up a new HQ. There are tons of empty buildings, and some of them aren't empty. Perhaps some soldiers from 'South' are hiding in one. There are also a fairly large group of people who lost faith in technology and science, who decided it would be better to live a life like thousands of years ago, using fire to cook food, swords, spears and bows to hunt and fight and so on. Some are religious and makes sacrifices to some god every day. The war made use of nuclear weapons, as well as chemical and biological weapons. Some parts of the world used robots, some geneticly modified humans and animals. The player might very well experience a huge tiger sent out to kill him. How the game is played It'll be party-based, and will have two interface modes: Group or solo. The difference is that in group you control the entire party at once (useful in cities, where you mostly walk around and talk to people), in solo you control the main character, and issue commands to the party members (SWAT style, you use numpad, first to select who the command applies to, then what the accutual command is. For example, char 1 - throw grenade, char 2 - cover char 1). To use a weapon, you equip it, and then point in the direction you want to fire, and click. Those are the basics, these things are not what's most important, and might change somewhat. The interface There will be a picure of each party member on a panel to the left, a quickbar at the bottom (think baldurs gate 2), and to the right there'll be a fairly large panel with two parts - commandlist and information window. The commandlist shows avaible commands you can issue to your party members, and which hotkey is used for what. The numpad will be used for this, as in swat 3, but in this game you'll also be able to click the commands, where in swat 3 you had to use keys. A commandlist/commandsystem like this gives you fairly good control over your party, while still allowing you to play a fairly fast game. The information window shows a picture and sometimes a description of whatever the pointer is currently over, or in a conversation, it would show a portrait of whoever is talking at the moment. This is useful in a top-down game, because otherwise it would be very hard to know which person you should be talking to, especially if everyone in a section wears the same helmet or hat, then a picture of the person could help alot. At the bottom of this window, a description of the person would be shown, for example, skin color, eye color, color of clothes and so on. If the person is looking away, some of this info wouldn't be known, and therefore not displayed. This would also be used by AI (more on this later). Quests/missions There'll be a main quest, and then subquests and sidequests. There should be multiple solutions to quests. If you are sent to acquire item X from person Y in area Z, then it might be solveable by just talking to Y and explaining the situation, or by killing Y, or why not by dressing as his servant and steal it that way? Also, a flag system will be used for the quests. If flag X is set, then solution Y is not possible anymore. Or perhaps, if flag X is set then character Z will give you a different response or a new quest. Hell, he might even try to kill you. Description system and some AI Since a large element of this game will be investigation, there'll be a description system, containing a unique face-id (this won't be exposed to players, but will make some people recognize you even if you change clothes for example), dna-id, name and visual description of each character in the game. Sometimes you might not have all the information avaible (you can't compare the dna of the blood you found at the scene with the dna of person X, since you don't know it, or when you question someone what he saw, he might give you some incomplete or inaccurate description). Using this system you can also pretend to be someone else, to sneak into a camp. Perhaps you can use a Mission imposible-style facemaker, or perhaps you have to send your asian party member dressed up with a specific clothing to fool someone expecting an asian messenger. Classes, stats and skills I want to have some form of rpg system in it, but I can't really decide on how this should be. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Perhaps the player can't play as all of them, but have them in the party? My ideas are something like this: * Soldier - Just your average marine, proficient in guns and grenades * Devicemaster - Place/disable bombs/explosives, use remote-controlled vehicles, assemle guns from parts, .. * Hacker - Hack into computer systems, recover data, write virus, .. * Rogue - Pick locks, set/detect/disable more primitive traps, pickpocket, .. * Barbarian (?) - Handles swords and other meleeweapons better than the rest, and is overall thougher * Ranger (?) - Bows and trown weapons.. Might use some dart thingy with sleep poison, and can perhaps throw grenades a bit longer * Medic - Name says it all, doesn't it? * Alchemist - Creating that sleeppoison, or that vaccine? * Genetic (??) - Geneticly modified human, very strong and fast, and can take more damage. * Librarian (?) - Translate texts from wierd languages, knows about various cults and historical events, ... You would level up in the various skills. Perhaps a statsystem (str, int, dex, ..) should be used. But I'm not sure that would be usable/interesting.
So, do you think it could be a fun game? Or do you think I'm trying to combine too much into one game? All feedback is greatly appreciated, especially about the description system and the classes/skills system. [Edited by - DvDmanDT on November 27, 2006 4:43:43 PM]

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I think you've got something very good going on here. It sounds like you've really thought this through. You will be successful, if you keep up the level of effort you've put into this post, and don't do anything stupid like try to conjure an engine from scratch or try to make all your own art. You'll have to either hire an artist at some point, or use free art, unless you have enough time and patience and drive to draw your own art while at the same time as you alter the engine to suit your needs. Most people would get tired, bored, and lose thier vision if they tried somehting like this. Go for the path of least resistance on anything that will be halfway decent now and easy to upgrade once everything else is done with the first pass.

I really like your ideas. The tense political situation is great, perfect setup for a lone commando or small team to just get a general objective and go with it. I really love the freeform quest solution deal. IRL, there are always more than one solution, and it should be possible to solve a quest without feeling like you have to hunt around for the particular solution the developer had in mind.

I would Combine the barbarian and ranger into one, and then sperate them, out again into alternate weapon specialist, and demolition specialist. THe weapon specialist would be best at making the best use of non standard weapons, like throwing knives, dart guns, grappling hooks, whips, swords, daggers, etc. Make her a little better at throwing grenades, etc, but a little weaker, less accurate with regular guns. Make the Demolitions expert better with rocket launchers, detonation packs, etc. make it possible to use an explosion as a distraction, or to breach any wall.(some walls are obviously harder than others) Know that you don't have to stay wiht the standard class system, but it sounds like in your game, that will be the easiest to do. Make your rogue good at detecting higher tech traps too. explosives, laser tripwire, etc. maybe combine with device master into something with a name better suited to your genre. Change the name of the alchemist mad chemist. alchemy and genengineering don't mix in the same world, unless somehting REALLY funky is going on.
I personaly like your devicemaster class, although the name could be considerably better. It sounds something like a mechanical hacker like Dave Gingery (a man who built a lathe from recycled aluminum in his backyard, using a foundry and furnace of his own design and manufacture)on steroids with super powers. Just make it cool enough to be balanced.

Thank you for putting a well thought out design proposition. there are so many morons posting these things, I'm not sure the community knows what to do with a good one...

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This is pretty cool. (Though I'm not much of a fan of such multi-period character casts... Robin Hood vs Terminator = Instagib.)

Can I ask why Greenland? It's got a tiny population, and after the ravages of war, who knows how many would still be around? But then... that actually might be the cool post-apocalyptic aspect (Mad Kalaallit instead of Mad Max? [smile]).

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Greenland because everywhere else had been nuked and so on. Given the small population of Greenland, noone bothered to nuke it during the war, and therefore everyone left on the planet decided to move there..


About the classes.. I like the idea about combining the barbarian and the ranger, together they might be interesting. I am however not so sure about the demolition expert, I think he would steal lots from the devicemaster (which is just the working name btw, I just couldn't find a better one).

The multi-period thingy allows for some interesting cults/sects/religions, which is why I want them. For example, someone is murdered in the high-tech camp, and some low-tech guy is blamed for it. They live isolated from the high-tech people, which is why the high-tech people are afraid of them.


Engines.. If you can name one top-down (2d) engine capable of things like these, usable from C#, then I'd be happy to use it, but I'm afraid I'll have to write it myself. Why topdown, and why 2d you might ask? Well, because then I might accutually be able to finish it. I can't really do 3d-modelling, but I can do basic 2d-sprite drawing. My next step will be to write down how everything is going to work (class designs, algorithms, map structure, ..), and then me and another programmer will start coding.

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I really like the setting. I think you could add more to it by thinking about the classes of society before the big war and how they relate to the factions that form afterwards. For instance the political leaders of the world are one social class. They have a great deal of wealth and power at their disposal, but this becomes worthless when everything gets blown up. Common sense states that they would immediately try to regain their positions of power in the new world (and probably form something that resembles an aristocracy), but with their wealth lost what can they do? Their only leverage is in their power over another social class: the military. But would the remaining soldiers side with them or try to take power themselves?

Thinking along these lines can also give you a good idea for the character classes. Clearly the soldier class is ex-miltary, and the rogue an ex-criminal of some kind. What would the other social classes become in this new environment? What would happen to the academics? The technicians? The skilled workers? The cheap labour?

The bit that doesn't make as much sense to me is how the low-tech society forms. Here's what I'm thinking: Once the rich have manipulated the military powers in some way to gain control, they would extract from the remaining classes only those of definate worth (i.e. the well educated) so as to create a more efficient society, leaving the poorest behind to fend for themselves. Hence they create this hunter/gatherer community not because they believe it to be the better way but out of sheer necessity.

You should also think carefully about the overall technology level, as you can be really creative here. Since it is set in the future, the level of scientific understanding is going to be higher than our own world, so you can add in whatever weird and wonderful discoveries you see fit. However, since everythings been blown to s*** and back, the resources are wearing thing. In particular you're going to have a real lack of machinary, and more importantly people who can build machinary (and remember most machinary is made by machines these days), so the overall manufacturing level is going to be significantly lower. Certain technologies, like computers for instance, though not particularly advanced scientifically, would have no chance of being built in a post apocalyptic world due to the sheer scale of the manufacturing involved. Thus any high-tech equipment that remains unharmed by the war is going to be effectively gold dust.

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About technology, I think indeed I can be really creative here, because
1. A lot of chemical and biochemical weapons were used in the war, which doesn't affect machines that much, so basicly all those things still work
2. Even if tons of things are blown up, it's not like you wouldn't have more than enough left anyway


Also, there are people left in the rest of the world as well, it's just that greenland is 'the final battleground'. People in the rest of the world might live isolated and/or underground an so on though.


There are still something among the lines of a government, and military ranks. People still follow their leaders, they don't really have a choice, most of them realize they have to stay as a team to survive the war. There might however be some bad guy trying to take advantage of the situation to become the new leader. Also, about the low-tech society, think about homeless people IRL.. It's basicly the same thing, except they might dislike the leader and high-tech way of life, or whatever, and choose to live that way. For example, they might blame the leader for the war and wants to disassociate themselfs with them. Although, they might still be good people, and they might still want the best for the people in their country, and therefore still fight the enemies. .. Damn, I really need to think the story through, I just have some basic idea of the setting really..

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This is one of the more lucid game designs I think I've ever seen posted. I can't really give any feedback on the system, though, until I've give the game a try. If you build it, I will . . . play it.

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Quote:
Original post by DvDmanDT
Engines.. If you can name one top-down (2d) engine capable of things like these, usable from C#, then I'd be happy to use it, but I'm afraid I'll have to write it myself. Why topdown, and why 2d you might ask? Well, because then I might accutually be able to finish it. I can't really do 3d-modelling, but I can do basic 2d-sprite drawing. My next step will be to write down how everything is going to work (class designs, algorithms, map structure, ..), and then me and another programmer will start coding.


XNA Studios. That is your best bet, I'd say, if you want to use C# to build a game engine these days (or in the near future). I am 99% sure, though, that GarageGames is working on an engine for XNA.. I believe it's a total conversion of their Torque engine(s), which can do anything from 2D to 3D. They even have special engine packages for making certain genres such as RTS/FPS/etc.

Also: If you use XNA, I am fairly certain that means your game will be compatible with Microsoft's XBox Live Arcade stuff.. and there's always the chance that you can get your game published onto that. Note that it's XBox Live Arcade.. I think right now they're only showcasing games that are arcade-y, but I wouldn't doubt it if they let people publish non-arcade-y games when XNA is mainstream (and in fact, didn't Microsoft speak of some Youtube-like system of XLA in the future once XNA is mainstream.. some sort of system where anyone can create and publish their games, etc).

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I'll take a look at XNA, although, I doubt Xbox is interesting due to lack of keyboard (not sure though, might work with gamepads). Another problem is that it'll minimize any possibilities to port it to other platforms/OSes (such as Linux), or at least so I assume? While I have no plans on porting it myself, there might be someone who'd like to (that'd be a Mono/Tao.OpenGL port).

Also, I am a student, and intend for this to be a free game, so I can't really/don't really want to purchase an engine.. :( It'll have to be free I'm afraid.

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DvDmanDT - about engines/porting... while I have no authority on the subject (or even actual knowledge), I still think you should be wary of making your own engine. I find it always seems like a good idea to make an engine with total flexibility, portability, mod-ability, and what-not... but all the time you sink into that is time stolen from making the game. The chances of someone demanding to be able to play your game on Linux (or customize it with an uber scripting engine, or whatever) are remote.

Look hard for a free engine before you start making your own!

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Well, the chances are bigger than you'd think accutually. I have a friend who I definitly can see porting a game, especially if it's easy.

What I would basicly need in an engine:
- Ability to render in orthographic mode (no need even for 3d-models)
- Play a sound
- GUI system (!)
- Scripting system (AI, conversations, map triggers/traps/alarms, ..)
- Ability to use custom map format (or one with a format compatible with the design specs)
- Networking

My own game framework I've designed should be able to take care of most of those things. I know that I should be using an existing engine, but it feels like I'll either end up with spending even more time trying to figure it out and modding it to suit my needs, or that I'll end up with something far too limited, or worse, something just not usable/suitable for my needs, meaning I'd have to redesign some parts of the game.

I have written engines in the past, just never in C#. The two most challenging points tends to be physics and graphics. This game doesn't really have physics, and only very simple graphics (from a technical point of view anyway).

There are cases when using an existing engine would be just plain better, like when making an FPS, but I also think that there are cases where one would be better of just writing his own stuff. Using an existing engine just for the sake of using an existing engine isn't really wise imho. But then, I suppose it's not very wise of me to think I can do anything by myself either. :p

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