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NickHighIQ

Where to next?

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I'm pretty sure I posted a while back whining that I'm too shit to complete a project or that games never work out for me, but finally I have a partially complete (but fully functional as yet!) game project. It's here (You need XNA Redist. and also the file is listed as a text file because they won't let me keep .rar files on there, so just rename to "tds.rar" it when it's done). I would really appreciate it if someone could give me a nudge (maybe a story idea or something) because at the moment it sits as a demo, and I can't think of how to move forward. Yes, the A* is pretty pathetic, but I'm trashing that anyway. AI is my next piece, I think, although without a concrete goal, I don't think I'll know exactly what the enemy will need to be able to do. It's planned on being single-player and multi-player co-op (peer-to-peer) using the same campaign, probably. It's not meant to be the next Doom, it's just for me to complete a project, but have a half-decent game and reasonably-well written campaign. Any input is appreciated, guys. If anyone wants the source-code (doubt it!) you can have that too, just pm me or something.

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I don't have XNA (?), but I can approximate your gameplay and project pretty well from the description and screenshot. It looks nearly identical to my first game development project.

I was ridiculously obsessed with cyberpunk back then, and I was trying to design a game in the image of the Shadowrun console top-down and isometric shooter games. Well, nothing has changed. I'm still writing it.

Anyway, if you're looking for ideas for gameplay features, I can name hundreds. For stories, I can only name one or two. But if you are going for something cyberpunk-like, I would avoid any type of world saving goal. If you save the world, you'll end up removing the depression, and you need the depression for the dystopia, and the dystopia for the cyberpunk. You don't wanna lose that - even at the end of a single player game.

As for programming, I would recommend not getting very serious with AI until you're almost positive that most of the combat and gameplay features are done. If you implement it now and add grenades or destructable walls later, your AI will need seriously upgraded. And that type of thing won't end until you've made up your mind to stop adding features (expanding the engine) and start building the actual game (creating content).

Here's my recommended order of operation:
1) Get most of the general gameplay elements ready, like maps and items.
2) Get a decent scripting engine set up. You'll most definitely need one with a game like this. Start by using it for complex or dynamic map elements like doors.
3) Finish the character, combat, and weapon engines. Every feature.
4) Start and complete the combat AI.
5) Get all NPC interaction and dialog systems finished, if there is any. Try to rely on scripting for most of it.
6) Completely finish the wanderer/explorer engine - if there is one. Again, rely on scripting as much as possible and don't hardcode everything.
7) Come up with a story.
8) Start designing actual people, gangs, corps, special items, and locations.
9) Build and create content for everything from 7 and 8.

If only it were as easy as typing them into a list.

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Thankyou very much! That is an awesome set of guidelines; almost exactly what I was looking for! So you reckon leave story until last, hey? OK. It makes sense now that I think about it, a game is exactly the same underneath if you just change the names and the graphics, I suppose.

Any other suggestions?

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I disagree with leaving the story last. But only partially. The story depending on how crutial you want it to the game, can give you gameplay feature ideas.

However if your story is nothing but a mcguffin (a reason to have the action) then yes leave it to last.

If its a bit more integral, then you may want to outline the story so that you can get an idea of what you want and if its going to call for anything in the gameplay. You don't need to really flesh it out, just outline it.

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Original post by robert4818
I disagree with leaving the story last. But only partially. The story depending on how crutial you want it to the game, can give you gameplay feature ideas.

I can understand how the atmosphere or setting can give you gameplay feature ideas, but how is the story going to influence it?

Game engines are far too complex to hinge the programming code and engine functionality on part of a specific story or plot. That's what scripting is for. Gameplay should be the only influence on the engine. And sometimes even a major part of the gameplay can be handled with scripting. The less written in stone, the better.

Still, I didn't mean for the steps in my list to be completed in absolute order. But each step in the list won't be required by any of the steps before it. It won't hurt too much to finish steps 7 and 8 before starting 1. 7 and 8 can pretty much slide anywhere in the list.

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I can understand how the atmosphere or setting can give you gameplay feature ideas, but how is the story going to influence it?


It depends on how critical the story is to the game as I said earlier.

You said atmosphere could influence your game engine. Game story is the same way.

It really depends on your philosophy and the game experience you want the player to have. There are probably many more engines designed before the story than vice versa. So it works. But if you have a story in your head before the engine has a line of code its also going to affect the way the engine is built.

Say your making a cyberpunk game. You've made most of the game, and then you work on your story. While writing the story one plot device contains stand alone portals that move people from one side of the city to another. If this was not something you originally put into your engine, then it may be something you want to add.

As said before I'm not advocating writing the entire story, but an outline could help on features not thought of before.

And again it depends on how integral it is to the overall game. In a Zelda game, its probably more important than say contra.

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Quote:
Original post by robert4818
You said atmosphere could influence your game engine. Game story is the same way.

The atmosphere and setting define the type of terrain, the type of items, weapons, clothing styles, etc. A story is nothing more than a scenario that takes place in that setting. It shouldn't have much of an effect on the engine.

Quote:
Say your making a cyberpunk game. You've made most of the game, and then you work on your story. While writing the story one plot device contains stand alone portals that move people from one side of the city to another. If this was not something you originally put into your engine, then it may be something you want to add.

I think that example fails. Any decent game engine will already have a method intended to move characters without relying on velocity and physics, even if the engine was built for a medieval setting. Anything other than the actual teleport, like the specific special effects and particles, would not need to be coded into the engine.

Quote:
As said before I'm not advocating writing the entire story, but an outline could help on features not thought of before.

I'm not disagreeing, but I can't think of anything significant myself.

Quote:
And again it depends on how integral it is to the overall game. In a Zelda game, its probably more important than say contra.

There was nothing that happened in a Zelda game that couldn't have been handled with scripting that was written into the game engine long before the story was conceived.

I can't imagine anything bad happening because a story was fleshed out before the engine was started. But if we measure by difficulty, it would be much, much easier to change a story to suit an engine than to change an engine to suit a story. Game engines take years and years to complete. Then years more to test and debug. Stories can be imagined and detialed within a week or a month.

If you write the story before the engine, what will you do for the sequel?

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Your right. There was nothing in zelda that couldn't have been done without the story. A story is not essential to an engine. Like I said, your story may give you ideas about features you want in your engine. Its a designer question on how your making your game.

Idealy they might be created at the same time, both adapting to advances in the other.

However I suggest we move this discussion to another thread and let this one get back on track.

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No, it's helpful.

The engine is entirely separate from the game and was completed months ago. The game is being built over the top of the engine, although I don't think that the story could possibly influence the gameplay in such a way that things would need to be re-coded, but it could possibly give ideas for additional elements.

Let's take counter-strike for example. The functionality to 'win' games, kill things and detect if things had been moved to a certain location were all probably in the game engine already, however, their use in the game would not be apparent until the story or setting was created. Why would the game need to be able to check if hostages had arrived safely at their destination if it was a ten-pin bowling game? Conversely, a bowling game might use the same functionality to see if the bowling ball went into the gutters. Another example: Counter-Strike needs explosions, whereas our nondescript bowling game doesn't. However, the bowling game may display fireworks when a high score is achieved which uses the same particle engine that the explosions do, etc.

Story may not influence the game engine, but it definitely influences the use of the game engine.

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If the story is important, then it's quite clear that the story may place requirements upon both the rendering and the gameplay. That in turn can place requirements upon the engine. To think otherwise is mad.

If my story dictates that I fly between planets and fight off enemy spaceships along the way, then that places significantly different demands on the implementation than if the story dictates that I sneak through deserted catacombs under a city. If the story indicates that I do a lot of negotiating and diplomacy, then the engine will need to support more advanced dialogue. And if all I do is shoot aliens, the engine may not need it at all.

It's no good to say that it can all be done in scripting. Script is just an easier interface to the code. Functionality still needs to be supported by the engine, as there are things you just can't do in script alone.

This isn't to say that the story in this case could, would, or should influence the engine. But generally speaking, the game requirements dictate the technology requirements. Taking a bit of technology and wedging a game in there is limiting the scope of what you can do.

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