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Stargorger

Horror/Adventure FPS: Need Concept/Design Help

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Hello World! (Figured that was as good a line as any to start posting with). ;-) So, per the forum rules, I am not posting after only being on the forums for an hour. Yes, I only recently finished registering, but I've been reading the forums for several days now, so I *think* I know what to expect. Thus I am prepared for the worst when I ask this question. I would like suggestions on where to start and what to know/study in order to design this game that I have envisioned. Set in a science-fantasy world, the game would be a FPS-Adventure-Horror/Survival hybrid, something along the lines of BioShock combined with Myst. (Both of which I have played). I would want to enable either split-screen or direct-connection (LAN) support, as the game experience (I think) would increase exponentially with multiple players. Anyway, you would play as a character (one of your own creation) who may join up with other players in solving a terrifying mystery: the origins of your race and your world. Gameplay would be linear-plot and non-linear choice: that is, the plotline would follow a rather pre-determined course, but its limitations on how to follow it would be vague, in the spirit of Myst. Gameplay would include combat, but mostly only in survival situations, where your team's one flashlight goes out and suddenly you must draw your weapons and fight off the hordes of aliens seeking your blood. It would utilize FPS controls similar to Penumbra and BioShock, with weapons (with limited ammunition) that you could both pick-up and find, but a large portion of the items would have no entry in the game manual. Rather, it would be up to the player(s) to record their own notes and discoveries regarding their items in either an in-game or meta-game "logbook". Jumping/ducking, gravity-disruption-physics, etc... would all be available, but only actually needed in intense escape/combat situations. The majority of the plot would center around the quest given to you at the beginning by one of a very few (maybe 3) NPCs you would ever interact with. Access to the populated portion of the world would be prohibited, with your character being sent off into the alien wilderness in search of the legendary "Veritas Hollow", where you are supposed to find the "truth of [our] origins, and the terrifying reality of this planet's creation". Thus, with only a few clues and no idea what, exactly to expect, you might use the automated store to buy weapons, equipment (armor, lights, batteries, etc...) before heading off into a large open-world terrain (like Myst or the Elder Scrolls), looking through dungeons, caves, in forests, beneath swamps, etc... to find clues about the location of the Hollow, the true origins of life and the planet, and so on. Whew, that was longer than I'd thought it would be. I realize there's much more detail involved, so let me begin asking the question by saying: I have some experience in C++, model rendering, 3d design (using autocad and unigraphix), am learning VB.net, have designed some smaller programs (calculators, etc...) and am in the process of programming a small single-player RPG (2d), and will soon start on a 3d smaller project. ALL OF THIS to say: What, specifically, as far coding/graphics ability, and program familiarity do I need to know/learn in order to design the above-described game? I AM NOT looking for "well you ought to be familiar with DirectX". That's obvious. Rather, I am looking for "you'll need to know how to program occluded bodies, create data tables for code reference", etc... EVEN MORE helpful would be an actual organizational chart of development, as in what types of programs I will need to put together for this (PhysX AND Ogre, or just Ogre?) in order to create a good gameplay experience. Thank you all in advance for (what I'm sure will be excellent) help.

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Yeah, sorry. Absolutely right. Well, now that I've made a complete idiot of myself (shows how much I know about the boards)...

Yeah, go ahead and move it to programming. And then consider this post a BUMP to re-iterate the question. Any suggestions/ideas/help would be... helpful.

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It doesn't seem like something you're going to be able to accomplish on your own. Just creating all of the art you could possibly want in game would take an extremely long time. I would suggest laying down enough of a base game as to attract other people to lend you a hand.

If you know some VB.net, might I suggest trying your hand at C# and XNA? Microsoft has put together some awesome tutorials for you to get started with. I believe it will let you get to work on actual gameplay much faster than DirectX would.

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Yeah, I figured that. I know I'll need a "team", but then, the more I can do on my own before "hiring", the better equipped I'll be to show-off my design and ideas.

I'm not yet comfortable with VB.NET: I'm in the middle of learning it while I make this rpg. After that go to C# you said? I can do that. But why XML? I mean, I already know DirectX... doesn't that work by itself?

But I'm really looking for, like, a rundown of the skills I'll need: on that or any other similar project. I'm assuming I need to know collision detection/physics, data retrieval/input, graphics rendering, etc... but what else? And are there any "freak" skills I need that can only be learned with one language? Like, "you can do everything in C# EXCEPT physics: for that you need Lua". ?

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Quote:
Original post by Stargorger

Yeah, I figured that. I know I'll need a "team", but then, the more I can do on my own before "hiring", the better equipped I'll be to show-off my design and ideas.

I'm not yet comfortable with VB.NET: I'm in the middle of learning it while I make this rpg. After that go to C# you said? I can do that. But why XML? I mean, I already know DirectX... doesn't that work by itself?

But I'm really looking for, like, a rundown of the skills I'll need: on that or any other similar project. I'm assuming I need to know collision detection/physics, data retrieval/input, graphics rendering, etc... but what else? And are there any "freak" skills I need that can only be learned with one language? Like, "you can do everything in C# EXCEPT physics: for that you need Lua". ?


A good starting design is great, but don't over-design. It's possible you could design this amazing epic game, but with a team of 5 people there's a great chance you won't get it done, it'll be just too big for your team. Now you could say, 'Well I'll continue working on it until it's done'. It's basically like grabbing a team of people, walking up to a cliff from the bottom, and staring up (seeing your game uptop).

Ceoddyn mentioned XNA, not XML. XNA Game Studio is an API layer sitting on top of DirectX. DirectX is very complex and requires a great deal of knowledge before even displaying a simple blank window, while XNA has simplified that to allow a quicker creation of games while still having an immense amount of power. You mentioned in other posts you only have a small amount of C++ knowledge, yet you 'know DirectX'? I would also recommend XNA, it will get you up and running in no time.

As for skills, for a game that size I would say anything you can find in Bioshock, Myst, or any other game, will probably be something you'll need to learn to implement. Basically knowing what to do is found out by looking at what others have done in this sense.

Finally, you could build your own physics library in C#, you could probably build your own script engine in C# as well (LUA is commonly used for scripts). All those tools out there (like LUA) can usually be home-built, that would just take lots and lots of time.

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I hear you.


Yeah, I'm not planning on it being as big as, say, Oblivion, but... an RPG. They are, by definition, bigger than Tetris ;-)

I did look at XMA, but it looked too simplistic. Is that really a good basis to go off of? It's based in VB.NET right?

I'd rather not learn C# (at this point) unless I really have to, just because it would be a THIRD language to add to what I'm already trying to learn. Any way around that?

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Quote:
Original post by Stargorger
I did look at XMA, but it looked too simplistic. Is that really a good basis to go off of? It's based in VB.NET right?

I'd rather not learn C# (at this point) unless I really have to, just because it would be a THIRD language to add to what I'm already trying to learn. Any way around that?


XNA is officially built to be used in C#. There are numerous indie developers out there that have successfully ported it to VB, but it isn't supported by Microsoft.

Bluntly, no, there isn't a way around that. Although, C# pretty close to C++ in many aspects and in the areas that differ I'd argue is similar to VB (although not syntactically). VB is a good language, but you won't be developing a major game in it. My first game was written in VB so I'm not saying you can't do them in it, but you would probably have better results with C#/XNA.

I took a college class last semester that was an overview of numerous languages, I believe we looked into 4 languages plus had to do our own seperate project on a language we've never used before. So, in the span of a semester (5 months maybe?) I was required to somewhat know 5 new languages as well as report and build a project in one. I wouldn't suggest learning more than 1 depending on how new you are to programming and how much of the language you want to learn (which would hopefully be a lot for game dev). My suggestion if you want to program games specifically would be C# and/or C++.

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