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Machines, Anarchy and Destruction in development

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We are a team of two, one programmer and one artist, developing an action warfare game with a slight strategy feel. We are not anywhere near a demo release at the moment. Our target release date is March 2009. We're going to try to give ourselves time enough to make a solid single player/multiplayer shareware (or maybe steamware) title (thinking $19.95). The website is: http://mad.orderlymayhem.com We have a few screenshots and a movie trailer up. We invite you to check it out. We're also interested in general impressions, to help give us an unbiased perspective. Putting yourselves in the shoes of the average game enthusiast, do the screenshots and/or video intrigue you and make you want to learn more, and that sort of thing? Or if not why not? Post feedback here if you don't mind. Thanks to those that take the time.

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First off, coming from an indie developer the game looks very interesting and I would absolutely check it out. For two people what you made is absolutely amazing.

Presentation - I believe the game needs a stronger hook. Some of this can be attributed to the game being at an early stage. The consumer doesn't know how small your team is, they are going to be comparing your game to commercial titles backed by millions of dollars. You can overcome this with a strong hook, focus and style.

Before moving on to style, I just want to ad that you should start using the vocabulary that people you want playing your game will understand. Literally and figuratively. "A slight strategy feel" is soft and unassertive. I understand "real time strategy" and I believe that is what you are implying. But you can't tell people about your game using that language.

Here is the product description for Gears of War on GameRankings.com:

Gears of War blends tactical action with survival horror and thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing story of humankind's epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet. Lead war hero Marcus Fenix and his fire team as they face the onslaught of merciless warrior fiends. A revolutionary tactical combat system and breathtaking, high-definition visuals from the Unreal Engine 3 immerse you in a horrifying story of war and survival.
The language is strong and I know what the game is about. I know what tactical action is and survival horror. So find the language you want to use to describe the game and compare it to other games you want to share success in. Your game must be like another game out there, see how they describe it.

In this day and age with thousands of games floating around the net, every stage of your game development needs to be compelling.

style - The style of your screenshots and video falls somewhere in the middle of generic. You obviously can’t compete with larger teams or companies that have developed million dollar technology to showcase their games. You don’t need that though, your game needs to look distinctive.

Either make the game match the technology or make the technology match the game. Because we just decided above you can’t compete with the companies who have access to high end engines you are going to match the game to your engine. You have this cool terrain engine with vehicles, but trying to make it look like a jungle is not working.

This is not a jungle:

MAD Shot

This is a jungle:

Crysis

You know what would look more convincing with the tech you have? A desert or grassy plains.

Desert 1

Desert 2

Desert 3

You could probably come pretty close to creating the desert in the second link, a lot closer than creating a jungle or tropical setting. It could still ooze with style depending on how dramatic you go.

If not already planned, I think you should consider adding humans to your game. Humans are very important in any game because they connect you to reality and help people relate. The most successful games feature humans for a reason, Mario, GTA, Halo, Diablo, StreetFighter, etc. Humans will give your vehicles and scenes contrast. Are those vehicles giant? What about the landscape? They help people visualize and connect with the game better.

I’m not so hot on the style of the vehicles; I think this turret has potential though:

Turret Shot

You should consider making the vehicles more stylized and dramatic. Either beat them up or keep them clean. Right now they are in the middle and we’ve already learned that we don’t want to be there!

Some general style tips:

• Keep things colorful – color helps people escape.
• Consistency, create families of sub-styles that compliment each other. One jeep has 6 wheels and another has 4 – why?
• Use style to overcome technology problems – the alpha grate that is mipping out? Get rid of it, create an additive energy gate instead or solid geometry.
• Focus your energies on things that matter. Is this game about vehicles? Make those a priority.

Lastly, focus. You have to ask yourself, what is easier to accomplish – a complete single player experience with effective AI, interesting missions that may or may not include scripted sequences or a multiplayer only game with easy to use lobby, server browser and steady connections?

After you make that choice, you should then work on making your choice the best you can and focus your energy on the elements that make it compelling. Those elements are easy to find in any successful game, I’m not going to list them.

If this change does not sound like a good idea to you ask yourself this. If you decided to make the game multiplayer only, would that game be better than the multiplayer section from the original plan of supporting both modes? The answer should be yes, but maybe you have a different confidence or other reasons.

If you are only planning on selling the game online and you are not a casual game (puzzle, etc.) your best audience really is going to be the multiplayer crowd.

Just from the video I can tell this game could have a lot of potential. In some ways it reminded me of the old Carrier Command game which was an old favorite of mine.

I’ll definitely track the progress of this one.

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Original post by Dumptruck
In some ways it reminded me of the old Carrier Command game which was an old favorite of mine.


Hehe I love that old game, and I think its influence creeps through in a lot of my work. I have an old DOS version kicking around that ran on Windows ME etc. Not sure if it runs under XP and beyond. I've always wanted to do something similar some day. Hostile Waters was touted as a more modern equivalent but I don't think it did the concept full justice.

Thanks a bunch for the feedback. I think it will be very helpful.

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Original post by Dumptruck
I’m not so hot on the style of the vehicles; I think this turret has potential though


I forgot to ask, what about the vehicles isn't so hot in your opinion? Too boxy? Could they be sportier/sleeker looking? Any unit in particular (4 vs. 6 wheeled)? We probably would want to avoid overhauling them drastically, but if some small changes can enhance and improve them, it might be worthwhile.

Thanks again.

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Original post by Dumptruck
First off, coming from an indie developer the game looks very interesting and I would absolutely check it out. For two people what you made is absolutely amazing.


Generally good and honest feed back. Spot on in most cases, and exactly the right mix of being honest without being hurtfull.

Hope to see more great posts like that in the future!

Allan

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