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Kasuko

Help Learning to Design a Tile Based Web Game?

8 posts in this topic

I am currently in my 5th and final year at university for computer science in a game development stream. I have experience in actually making games but I have no experience in doing the actual design, and that is where I need your help.

Well it's time to do my honors project and I have been thinking of beginning development on a game that I can turn into a personal project after I graduate.

I want to do something similar to what [url="http://nexuswar.com"]Nexus War[/url] (now closed) and [url="http://urbandead.com"]Urban Dead[/url] are like. I know MMO is a bad word around here when it comes to first game development topics but I really don't have delusions of grandeur and want to make the next WoW. I think a simple web based, tile map MMO shouldn't be too hard but I am willing to reconsider if I get genuine advice to stay clear.

So I would also love to get advice on how to flesh out the game design? I have little slices of the big picture in my mind and I want to do this properly and really plan it out before I just "dive in" to programming (my usual approach) and find out I have an unplayable piece of garbage. So tips and hints on how to properly plan a game would be great!

Any links to articles (I did a google search but am looking for more) would be appreciated as well as any personal advice.

Update: It appears the above reads like I am new to making games, please read [url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/635594-help-learning-to-design-a-tile-based-web-game/page__view__findpost__p__5009484"]this post[/url] (or just read the whole thread) to better understand my situation.

Thanks a bunch
Kasuko Edited by Kasuko
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[quote name='heavycat' timestamp='1355202715' post='5009322']
Key to a first game project is to make it simple, simple, simple. Simple and finished always beats ambitious and abandoned for lack of time/money/interest.

If you really want expert advice I recommend a book called "The Art of Computer Game Design" by Chris Crawford. The man is a genius on a number of levels and he explains the process of game design far better than I could ever hope to. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

I absolutely agree and that is why I am really looking out for those gotchas you can run into for a first time game designer (I have been "brought on" to many a ambitious projects as a programmer which suffers from all of those issues)

I know what I want to do is really develop a "core" game and then build from there. However if I sit down and brain storm I get into feature run away where I come up with a bunch of cool features that aren't really related to each other and all seem to need even more features to be fun. I really need to learn how to focus that down.

I will check out that book at my university library and give it good read.

Thanks
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[quote name='heavycat' timestamp='1355202715' post='5009322']
Key to a first game project is to make it simple, simple, simple. Simple and finished always beats ambitious and abandoned for lack of time/money/interest.
[/quote]

This is very true, I would cut your scope mercilessly. Instinctively, I would be vary wary of anything O and 2nd M, much less "Massive"... Practically, I would make a list of new things you would have to learn (from the ground up, re-learn, refresh, etc.) to complete your game, and think hard about how to cut down on that list. Focus on [i]one[/i] thing to do well and cut your features strategically around that.

Think about whether your primary goal is to create something great or learn something new, and focus your features on that.

As for actual game design, I would simply try to find games that are similar to what you would want to do, and keep note of any flaws you notice or "Wouldn't it be cool if"'s that you might find. But be careful, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." has sunk more game projects than probably anything else. I would keep a list of your ideas, if only to get them out of your system.

Good luck!
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Completely agree with all of the above.

You couldn't spend the first twelve months of your career better than creating 3-4 small games. Being able to prove you can move through a project from start to finish is MUCH more important to employers, than having fantastic ideas and starting things that go nowhere.

Plenty of time to make your MMO after the first twelve months. :)
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[quote name='BRRGames' timestamp='1355248753' post='5009475']
Completely agree with all of the above.

You couldn't spend the first twelve months of your career better than creating 3-4 small games. Being able to prove you can move through a project from start to finish is MUCH more important to employers, than having fantastic ideas and starting things that go nowhere.

Plenty of time to make your MMO after the first twelve months. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

I fear I may have been misleading in my original post. This isn't my first game. I have made several games before. This is the first game I am designing (I am already quite knowledgeable in game programming considering I have been studying it for 5 years in school). It's my fear of the design being bad and not the actual game itself. I understand the limitations in place. If someone said "Here is a good game design ... now make it" that is where I'm good. Actually being creative and trying to come up with an idea (not product) mildly entertaining is the problem area.

Second, I can't just make a space invaders clone ... as I mentioned this is for my honors project at school. I don't think I'd do very well if I created something the same as the Missile Command clone I wrote back in high school using PyGame. The reason I chose to make it web based is because that is a class the University is lacking in (they teach you web development but not in a game context) so it is a good learning opportunity which is what the university is looking for in an honors project.

Again, I know this thread is prefixed MMO, but I have no desire for it to be massive! Just a little web based game where the map is just colored tiles and you only have 50 action points to spend per day. There is nothing ground breaking about the genre. I don't plan on having multiple maps with 10 different playable races with 100 skills each.

Also, there is a lot of talk of "finishing". I have no intent on marketing this or trying to break into the industry with it. I have already been offered a good web development job, I just want a nice personal project to work on in my spare time. The plan is to create the core mechanics for my honors project and then to just have fun creating content releases as a hobby.

If I want to make a game to show the industry what I can do I would just take the engine I developed for my 4th year project, build on it and put a game on top. That wouldn't be too hard at all and shows a deeper understanding of what goes into creating a game.

So just to summarize, I apologize if I mislead you, I am not afraid of not being able to make the game. I am afraid of making the game and it sucking. I am not a creative person and this is my first foray into the land of coming up with my own ideas, and that is what I need help with. I am looking for advice and tips on focusing "creativity" into an interesting game idea instead of just a list of "cool features" that when put together sucks!

Thanks
Kasuko Edited by Kasuko
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Ah gotcha! Totally understand where you're coming from now. :)

All I can say is that, the best designers have bombs too. So do not fear failure. If anything, you can't really learn to improve, till you bomb out. ;)

Personally, I design games I want to play. If others want to play it too, then yeehaw! :)
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[quote name='Kasuko' timestamp='1355203260' post='5009332']
I know what I want to do is really develop a "core" game and then build from there. However if I sit down and brain storm I get into feature run away where I come up with a bunch of cool features that aren't really related to each other and all seem to need even more features to be fun. I really need to learn how to focus that down.
[/quote]
This paragraph here is actually a major part of what I have spoken and written about when covering the topic of introductory design. (My current project is actually a guide to how to design a pet-themed game, aimed at people who have little or no game development experience.) You should definitely sit down and brainstorm features until you have gotten all those ideas down on paper. Don't be afraid to get carried away. It should be a cathartic exercise, a brain-dump. You can even research other games of related genres to see if they have any cool features you didn't think of. Then after you have written the list, you prioritize it. What is absolutely essential to a playable alpha version? That's your core game. What could be added at a beta stage to round out the core and give it personality and memorability? What is a luxury to be added later if a newer and more interesting project doesn't present itself? Edited by sunandshadow
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Sorry if I jumped to conclusions but 99.99999% of posters talking about an MMO (or really any vaguely ambitious project) in any sense are exactly the kind of people who need [u]The Feature Creep Talk[/u].

My first step would be to read articles/books (gamedev's collection: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/creative/game-design), then after you're primed to look at games through the eyes of a designer, check out other games similar to your idea, or even games you like in a different genre.

Sunandshadow has it right, if you have too many ideas, don't worry about it, just record all of them to get them out of your system. Some people even set up a wiki, which might not be a bad idea at all if your project is long-term.
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