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Stormynature

Your first game idea - What happened to it?

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So I am interested in knowing about people's first game design idea.

  • What was the idea.
  • How far did you get with it.
  • How did that game idea evolve as it transitioned into reality or fell short of being completed.
  • What lessons did you learn on the way.
  • What would the game be, if you revisited the original idea now and built the game with your current ability/knowledge.


    any sort of documentation showing the game design, ideas, artwork etc would also be interesting :)

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My first game idea was horribly derivative and flawed. Many of my early game ideas were. Mostly they were melds of whatever I was playing at the time and/or whatever I most recently saw on TV.

Thus games such as:

  • TMNT RPG
  • Transformers RPG
  • Underwater sub-combat combining Space Invaders with Combat
  • A Wizardry Clone but outdoors instead of in a dungeon


    ...were born.

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Mine was a pizza delivery game called PizzaRush. I did finish it after about eight months of work, even sold a few copies. I was learning C, Mac programming, and a sprite toolkit all while making the game, so I can't believe it was ever finished.

One thing I should have learned was keep it simple. I was more or less forced into that because of my limited knowledge at the time, and as a result the game got completed. It seems too often I get grand ideas that are just too much and I end up not completing anything.

I've actually thought about revisiting the the game again. It was written seventeen years ago and was Mac-only, meaning it won't run today unless you're using a really old computer. Nowadays it would get the level editor and other goodies that were rumored to be coming in the third version (I just remembered...I actually completed a 2.0 version of it!)

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  • What was the idea.

    A zombie/horror game, mixed with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six


    • How far did you get with it.

      My friends and I came up with several character sketches for the player and the enemies


      • How did that game idea evolve as it transitioned into reality or fell short of being completed.

        I was the only one who had programmed anything before (though I had only just begun). As I realized I wasn't good enough to program it, and as we all got distracted with normal 13-year old stuff, it just died.


        • What lessons did you learn on the way.

          a) I'm not as good as I think I am smile.png b) making games isn't actually that easy and c) people with ideas only and no programming, art, business, etc experience are useless when it comes to making a game.


          • What would the game be, if you revisited the original idea now and built the game with your current ability/knowledge.

            Probably something like Left 4 Dead Edited by Cornstalks

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1. A Space Warfare RTS called "Chronicles of Time".

2. I was 12 at the time, and it was inspired by my favorite game of the day, Starcraft. I still have all the notebooks full of concepts in my personal bookshelf.

3. It fell short because I had ideas faster than I could develop them, and when I discovered MMOs (a la Runescape) I could hardly think of anything else :)

4. (should have learned) to Focus and keep it simple. Sometimes I get too theoretical and idealistic, but there is beauty in making something a elegant compromise.

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My first game was some simple text-based RPG combat system on the C64, so that's hardly interesting. My first modern game(with graphics and stuff) after the C64 era was a mix between a top down space shooter and an economic simulation. The idea was to be a corporation providing services (military, production, transport, etc) to other corporations and the empire busy pushing back an alien invasion. The concept was to have the player be in competition with other corporations while cooperating with them to save humanity. It died because of the AI requirements and the required scale to have a decent economy without cheating. Some poor architectural choices also helped dig its early grave.

Lesson learned was that adding gameplay elements from various genre increases complexity and not necessarily game quality.

I revisit the design every now and then. Its latest iteration looks more like a mix between Civilization and Majesty with a strong emphasis on the economy. There isn't much that survived from the original design, not even the setting.

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My first game idea that takes me back.

I did a text based space mining colony game in qbasic. You bought mines, farms, houses and food, and had balance them with fluctuating crop yields and ore prices. The goal was keep your workers alive and colony running in the black.

The next game I did was again in qbasic and it was a simple texted based hack and slash rpg inspired by the old bbs game “the pit”. The game was had different classes of monsters from goblin to gods I think. With different monsters in each group with variable stats monster even had common and rare drops. There was also randomly generated magic items that could be bought at the store. I think there were 3 stats attack, defence, and hp.

After that I went more into a pen and paper type games.

I made a simple space exploration game. There were as 2d6 encounter table and you rolled dice to determine which random area you jumped to. Then rolled on the encounter table to see what was there. You might find a port to trade at and possibly upgrade your ship, or buy more shields. You lost 1 shield each time you where it combat and died if you got hit without shields.

It was fun little game that just required paper, pen, and a die, and could be played anywhere.

Then I made a board game called Underworld Dreams inspired by a dream I had. Each player created their own Prince of Hell using a starting pool of 100 character points and spent them in a number of different areas. The game consisted of acquiring territory, artefacts, building a demonic army, and trying to conquer the castles of the other princes. If a prince was killed either though random event or battle they resurrected back at their castle with half your previous stats. So if you lost your castle it was game over. There were a couple of other victory conditions as well including find 3 rare artefacts and bringing them to the well of souls. Or conquering a sufficiently large portion of the map.

I played it a few times with friends and even started working on an advanced version of the ruleset and better board before I lost interest in it.


That was probably my last finished product. After that I toyed and fleshed out many different ideas some video games other pen paper table games but haven’t really finished anything. Below is partial list:

  • Medieval table top war game about warring feudal lords vying to become king. City building, research, Army building, strategic, and tactical battles.
  • A Post-apocalyptic survival skirmish table top game similar in play style to Necromunda. You could choose to play either a lone mad max style wander or control entire gang or town.
  • An RTS/4X game where the uneasy truce between the techno industrial faction of humans and psionic humans who control living plastic is broken by the secret invasion of race of parasitic aliens.
  • 4X game inspired like MOO2 but bigger! It was MOO2 with different styles of technology to purse such as whole tech tree around physic weapons and defences. As well as intergalactic weapons of mass destruction so you’d be able launch star destroying missiles. Colony control was going to be more involved and allow for partial control of colonies. Strategic resources where somehow going to be involved. And information and communication ranges were going to be more important. So that you had the ability to raid enemy colonies without them knowing they were under until later, you could get away without them knowing who attacked them. Distant colonies might just give the player message that colony X has gone dark, and you’d need to send a scout ship to find out what happened.
  • A table top RPG based on warhammer 40K
  • An Intergalactic Megaman RPG
  • A Steampunk RPG with 4 characters one of which wasn’t unlocked until you’d won it as the other 3 each with a very different play style, experience, and intermingled story line.
  • An rpg/city builder/war game. It started out as an standard SNES/PS1 style rpg but you buy property and land, which you then developed into your castle or city. There was a host of different NPC that you could find throughout the world and assign to either your party or base. They’d grow it in different ways and evolve it. They’d also ask you to due quests on their behalf that would help them level up their town persona. For example the alchemists needs you to track down rare components to level up from apprentice to grand master doing so increases the different goods he has to offer and could improve other parts of the town. The end game consisted of raising an army to take on the corrupt Queen who ruled the land.
  • A Cyberpunk RPG with complex tactical battles. There where a small number of battles each being significant instead of having lots of random ones.
  • An Espionage RPG
  • A RPG set in feudal japan style country.
  • An adventurer game where you tried how many great quests you complete in your lifetime before you died of old age or retired.



    More Recently:

    • A Trading puzzle game for android. Cancelled because the prototype wasn’t fun enough.
    • A run and jump style platformer for android – Cancelled for technical reasons involving an inability to parse meaningful data in real time out of a certain set of data sources.
      Edited by TechnoGoth

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Like Tiblanc, my first games were mostly simple text things on a C64 or Apple2e. I remember a sort of buy low sell high kind of game where the prices of some things continuously went up or down randomly and I'm pretty sure I did some sort of get through the maze thing.

Many years later I finally got a PC and learned how to get bitmaps up in windows. I took a stab at an RPG (The Great Toaster Shortage of '94) that was supposed to be set in an alternate world where nuclear war broke out in the 90s (somehow due to a toaster shortage), a bunch of Canadians decided to terraform Venus and go live there, and the society that evolved a couple hundred years later. If I recall correctly, I had a top down (FF6 perspective) tile based (programmer art) thing going and I remember having it so that for the area that you were in, a file would be read and books would be placed in the area that had a of text you could read. And also a good start on an NPC conversation tree kind of thing which just needed to somehow be aware of tasks the player has accomplished.

And I curse the fact that I have no idea what happened to the code! I don't know if I got a virus at some point and it was destroyed or if I accidentally deleted it or what but I can't find it anymore. I remember it was really simple beginner type stuff that didn't take me that long to get to the point that I was at. It was probably buggy as hell but I've yet to write any sort of parser to take the place of what I had or do anything that resembles what I used to have. It feels like I was so much further ahead back then than I am now.

Lesson: Back up your bloody code, people. Again and again to multiple places. You never know when you'll want something you did from way back when.

The Toaster Shortage idea had a few story tangents that I still remember that I wouldn't mind realizing in some way eventually. No immediate plans though. Maybe something with what happened to the Russian astronauts that were sucked into a space-time vortex when the war broke out. That was a more interesting and plausible story anyways. Edited by kseh

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Aside from stuff I tried to do when I was seriously young, the first game-like thing I remember completing was a wireframe 3D maze program written in BASIC on an Apple II+. I finished it but it wasn't really a game. It had an editor where you could layout a maze with walls and doors and then go through it in 3D, sort of in the style of graphics as Wizardy or another game at the time, Death Maze 5000. I think I was in 9th grade when I wrote that,

The thing that I remember doing that I considered to be a game and was serious about was a cross between Lode Runner and Pengo written to an Apple IIgs in assembly. I never finished it because I had to go away to college and by the time I was done with college the Apple II era was over. I think I got it to the point where you could move the little guy around and climb ladders but no enemies. I still think that that game was a good idea...

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Hmm, what was my first game design? I remember that the game I played that made me want to help make one was FF7, and I would have played that probably in late '98 or early '99. That was the game that made me realize a game could really tell a deep story and be artistic while doing so, which is what makes game design a worthwhile pursuit in my eyes. Also why I have great difficulty ever designing anything simple or small. FF7 had a vestigial dating sim system in it which I think was the first such thing I'd seen, and investigating that led me to discover the possibility of erotic games. I also had played Myst and several other adventure games in the years before that, and they had left me with a lot of respect and fondness for that genre. At any rate I didn't initially have the ambition to create a design by myself, instead I wanted to join an existing project to make an adventure or ren'ai game. I participated in several projects as a concept artist or a writer. What happened to those games? I don't think one of them got past the concept art phase, except the one which was funded up until the lead designer lost his job and defaulted on all payments, pissing off the team in the process. Even that one was pre-alpha though.

The first game design idea that was all mine might have been Date With Destiny. It went through two completely different versions. First was straight from a dream - Destiny was a city, probably inspired by sim city, but it was a first person adventure game with a lot of relationship-building elements. The game itself was rather like the movie groundhog day - the player's main ability was time manipulation, they could at any point pause the game world or rewind it as much as they wanted. There was probably some inspiration from Vagrant Story and Chrono Trigger's "new game+" features there too, that has made it into nearly all my game designs. There wasn't a set goal because I hadn't learned that lesson yet. Or maybe I can't call it a lesson, since there are people who prefer games without set goals, like the Sims series. But I've since learned that I personally have a strong preference for games with clear goals. But at any rate the player was supposed to interfere with the city's default path until the player was satisfied with the results.

A few months later I heavily revised this concept to make it something more concrete, smaller-scale, and easier to implement. Destiny became a small space station in a remote place, orbiting a sun. A natural accident (forget whether I decided on solar flare or asteroid) damages the station, taking out its long-range radio and the course-correction jets keeping it in orbit. From this point everyone on the station knew it was inevitable that the station would slowly lose altitude, and after 6 months it would be destroyed from getting too close to the sun. So this time there was a set goal - you the player received the "vocation" (spiritual task of some non-religion-specific kind) that your job was to keep everyone else on the station as happy as possible until the inevitable end. Yeah, you were all going to die, but you could single-handedly turn it from tragic to not-so-tragic by ensuring that everyone died content and no one went axe-crazy and terrorized the others. The dating sim elements were clarified and strengthened - rather than just flirting with people for your own amusement in the first version, in the second version seducing people and making them fall in love with you was one of the main ways you could try to make them happy. The game+ concept was still there, this time with more of a metroid approach; you could not earn the best ending on the first play-through, but if you replayed the game you started with bonuses and knowledge that made it easier, so the best ending was possible to attain on the second playthrough, after which the player could fully consider themselves to have succeeded at the game. The second version also changed from first-person 3D to 3rd person 2D anime-style art, as I realized that with the technological limitations of that time period and an indie team I could get way closer to the quality of an anime movie than of movie-quality 3D animation of NPCs' facial expressions, etc. And I had learned that I just generally preferred 3rd person to 1st person views.

This second concept was judged generally to be too depressing for an erotic romance game, and too romance-focused for a sci-fi game, so no one in either group thought it was the best choice of a game to spend their time developing. So the concept never went beyond that point, I didn't even bother with concept art, I just moved on, because the main thing I was interested in learning at that point was how to attract programmers to develop one of my ideas.

The other game idea that I'm not 100% sure whether it came before or after Date With Destiny was a blend of EVO, Golden Axe, and maybe a bit of Mortal Kombat. It didn't have a name, and in retrospect the concept doesn't interest me because it had no story. But it's where I first tackled the concept of a character customization system using interchangeable parts. This concept went on to become the combat system for Gimmie Those Wings!, the first design I came up with where I managed to actually assemble a team (with some help). GTW! was definitely after DWD, though, so it's beyond the scope of "first game design". Edited by sunandshadow

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