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Some ideas on what to do with our game

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Hi there.

We've been making a game called Monster for the past year in our spare time. Most major technical components are implemented and in use. We have a working prototype of the game, and it's playable. But there is one vital aspect with it, which we can't wrap our heads around:

The game is boring.

None of us are artists or designers. We are both programmers working on this.

We'd very much like some input / ideas on what to do with our game as it stands today.

Here are some facts:

* It's written in C++ and target platforms are Windows and Linux.
* Using Irrlicht as the 3D-engine and Bullet Physics for physics.
* The world is in 3D and is procedurally generated, and the world is just as high as it's wide/long (about 2^67 meters in each direction).
* Multiplayer is possible (and implemented).
* The terrain is dynamic and can be manipulated (bombs will leave a crater and so on).

Here is a video of latest release.

Here is our web site with a working download for Windows.

Is there hope? What can be done to make this game more interesting?

Thanks, Edited by Freya

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i see that your monsters are made-up out of parts, one thing you could do is when you kill a monster it breaks down in those parts that all individually try to attack you, or flee.
(let s say red parts are realy dangerous, and yellow parts realy fast, and brown parts will flee, a player might consider attacking a monster from the side that has mainly brown parts so he wont get zergrushed by the parts and can he can retreat quickly, so most red parts stop chasing him, and he only has to kill a few of the yellow parts that he couldnt shake)
other then that, it often helps if you first state what you wanted to make  before asking advice.(your "intentions" with the game)

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[quote name='Freya' timestamp='1357421166' post='5017885']
Is there hope? What can be done to make this game more interesting?


A lot. It looks like you have some of the structure gameplay in place but you are missing any clear goal for playing and 90% of the user interface. I haven't played Minecraft, which it looks like you are emulating, so you might be trying for something different than what I'm thinking.



There needs to be some more indication of the player as to what is actually happening... I watched your video without reading the description, and I had zero idea what was going on. I thought the "monsters" were part of a physics demo or something, since they appeared to be simply floating shapes without any indication that they had any significance to the player. There's very little sound- even basic sounds make a huge difference in making something seem more complete.


It really boils down to the fact that there is no goal for the player. You have to give them one. Are they defending their territory from monsters, gathering stuff, what? Basically, give the players something to do and a way to tell them they've done it (medals, points, kill count, anything). There needs to be some kind of reward system to recognize accomplishment.


General confusing things:

  • Trees drop red cubes... no indication of what the cubes do. Stylistically, something should associate the cubes with fruit or health, and they shouldn't just pop into existence. There needs to be additional effects associating the cubes with the trees, like they grow under branches or something.
  • No navigation. The very small area of rendered space makes it way too easy to get lost. I built a thing, walked for 30 seconds... where'd it go?
  • Difficult to tell that the monsters do anything unless you are looking at the health bar
  • So... I can place cubes without limit? Seems like there should be some resource gathering component to that.


There's a lack of coherent UI, you should be labeling everything.

  • Health Bar - with a medical cross and perhaps a numerical value.
  • Jump Bar - I still don't understand what it does... sometimes you can jump high if you press it more, other times nope. Holding it down does nothing really.
  • Inventory should be numbered and labeled (even just "Inventory"). I expected mousewheel to work, but nope.
  • Need some more information on what's equipped... what is it, what it does, how it work


You need a lot more effects:

  • Better muzzle flash
  • Sounds for guns
  • Sound for jumping
  • Sound for "monsters imminent" or a growl or something. Monsters need to have some more sound effects
  • The terrain deforming balls that a couple of the weapons shoot need to flash or something to indicate when they are going to explode
  • Sound for picking up the red boxes
  • Sound for placing cubes
  • Need some indication that monsters are damaged or being hurt. Even a floating health bar above their heads would be a huge improvement.
  • A better skybox would be nice
  • Different reticules for different inventory items would be nice



Overall it's a pretty impressive engine, and an accomplishment for a small group, but you need to focus on the gameplay.


Good luck!

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Just why did you go the minecraft way? If you wanted to make a shooter with flying around, just make the one. No need for block placement, or other minecraft features. Make it fun to shoot (monsters are dangerous, have interesting behavior and difficult to target), locating food should be easy (like marker on the minimap or something like of hot/cold indicator depending on the distance to the nearest food).


Also, yeah, you need to provide some kind of a goal.

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Because of poor mechanics and lazy modeling... I'm sorry to say it so bluntly, but it's true and it's nothing you can't change.

 The flying, enlargement after eating, minecraft blocks, assault weapon... They are so tacked on. The flight makes it REALLY easy to escape, also, it just looks like someone is in dev mode when they fly. Where are the effects?


It's boring because nobody wants to shoot primitives(cubes, spheres, cylinders) with a pasted on texture using cheap effects....


 This would just be me bashing you if I didn't put in advice and I DO want you to improve your design. 

 Put more effort into the visuals. This is YOUR work, YOUR creative output into the world, are you really proud of how it looks? 

 This world is foreign with odd monsters and odd rules. Throw out the modern weaponry, maybe give them a neat alien blaster, a primitive sling shot, something that goes with YOUR vision. Flying is fun! But not in this game, you are not soaring, you are oddly moving along axis like you're in spectator mode within CS:Source. Have different speeds, gliding, make it more involved. This is flight we're talking about, if you ask someone their chosen superpower it probably would be flight!

 Tie in being airborne with something else. Maybe you fly to high peaks as those are the only habitable places (ground being inhabited by the monsters). You need to fly down to get food, eating TOO MUCH food makes you slow down and if you CARRY too much you won't be able to fly.  Maybe you carve INTO those high peaks, using the dynamic terrain, to make a cave as your home.

 Just some ideas man, I wish the best, please keep us updated.

 I'm serious.

I'll find you.

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Sigh,that's a difficult one...


I will start with what's wrong (that's always easy :D)

- I see that the performance is far too low. FOV is unacceptably short. You need to make it much higher, sight range increased like 3-5 times. When you do it you most likely will notice it all crawl to like 1 FPS I'm afraid... That's the first thing, because if you can't make it fast enough nothing else matters. That's what my programmer's nose tells me (Irrlicht + Bullet Physics + Minecraft destructible terrain are not possible to work fast enough on nowadays machines, note that even Minecraft, which is far less complicated technically, is not running properly on 32bit systems).

- inconsistent technology, sometimes the gameview is smooth, but but when you destroy things it turns out to be made of cubes. It's not good aestetically, nor gameplay wise nor technology wise. Everything ther looks incompatible, like you tossed together all kind of cutting edge technologies disregarding if these work together or not. To put it shorter, are you making a traditional FPS or a cube based destructible terrain game or voxel based non limited to cubes destructible game. You need to choose one :)


What to do (the harder part):

- first, I would throw away the current engine (I know, it's radical). But my hunch is you have fallen in love with it (what kind of programmer would not, there are such cute things included!). You should have fallen in love with the game not with the engine. In the end it will hurt your game. Besides it can't be salvaged without cutting out huge parts of it anyway.

- make a decision what kind of game you are making and stick to it (you can even arbitrarily choose it randomly). Would it be an RPG, action, strategy? Or maybe mix of these? If yes in what proportions? What would you put on the box, on which shelf in the game store the game would land? Again, it's not that important which one you choose as long as you choose one. The safest bet is to choose a kind of genre you like the best. (I also suggest making a list of games you like as aplayer and posting it here, we might be able to help you more then)

- make a decision what kind of technology you want to use (as above, traditional FPS engine, cube engine like Minecraft, some vexel+physics engine maybe)

- generally, I would sit down with your team and discuss, what kind of games you all liked to play, what kind you always dreamed to make etc (without trying to fit it to your current game)


Once you have answer to these, post them, the discussion will be better focused then.


I also need to note that I have to disagree with most what others above wrote. These things are about polish or secondary things. But these alone won't help you. Only the core gameplay an save it (and only after the core is fun you can worry about polish and interface and art, you can't polish something that is broken in its core). Once you have the core gameplay forged out you can attempt polish.

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So far, when you were playing, I couldn't feel anything happening.  I mean, the boulder shooting features looked like it had great potential, but it didn't appear to hurt or phase the enemies movement at all.  It would be far more satisfying if there was a bit of a rag doll effect.  At least that the enemy gets knocked back.

 - I would recommend modifying the Force/movement speed of the approaching enemies when you hit them with something.  The same code you choose to have them take damage, modify their move speed.  This should be an immediate upgrade in the quality of play with little expense in coding.


The same thing goes for shooting the gun.  



Another issue is the lack of immersion.  Games don't need to simulate reality, but the reality of the game should be consistent, even if ridiculous.   i see mine craft block stacking.  but then the gun is real looking.  and also the monster is just a few simple primitives.  Every time something breaks out of the physics of the game, without specific reason, it starts to take the player away from the sense that they are part of it, that the unit they are controlling isn't a natural extension of their own mentality, but a blob in a 3D virtual world.  

 - Upgrade the graphics, even if you can't use it officially, but just in your demos.  primarily, your monsters.  

 - Give them walking skeletons, or movement of some type.

 - the building needs to have some effect on game play aside from hiding.  I think its an interesting idea, with potential, but you'll need to make it more useful.  and visually appealing.

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First, I want to thank all of you for taking your time to help us, we really appreciate it!
Here are some more details about what we thought of before we started development:
- An open world game where you could do everything possible in games (build like in Minecraft, shoot monsters, explore, dig...)
- A game without a goal (is it possible? Minecraft didn't have a goal at the beginning, but was fun)
- And we thought we'd figure out gameplay later.
An important thing about the engine and why we can't really throw it away - we make it ourselves so it's easier for us to change it as well.
So far, we've had no clear visual style or theme. Since neither of us are artists, some things have been kept primitive to get progress and something working. Now we have that something working fairly well, and no good gameplay ideas have popped up.
Reading from your feedback, the most important items are:
* Immersion.
* Consistent theme / visual style.
* Sound for everything.
* Smarter enemies.
* Cause and effect.
* Limited resources.
And finally, we'll polish and keep flying.

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You've fallen into the classic trap of making the engine and thinking a game will pop out somehow, and you really need to step back and think about how to add actual gameplay (not just polish like most of the points you've separated in your post). If you don't do that, you'll end up with a shiny but boring tech demo and not a game.


You really need goals of some kind, even something unspoken, like building stuff or survival (Minecraft), and then require the player to take actions in order to do those things (e.g. limiting resources). Even pure open world sandboxes rely on players to create their own goals in order to be fun (think Second Life). You need to think of what those goals could be: exploring, building a better X, being the best hunter, collecting all the X,  and so on, and then implement features that allow players to track those self-made goals. It might be hard to cut back on your massive ambition, but you should probably concentrate on only one or two of those.


For example, if you limited ammo but spawned more in the world, that would induce the player to move around in order to avoid being eaten by monsters. Building from there, certain monsters drop material to build better guns, and are therefore more valuable. Maybe there are monsters you can't challenge in the beginning, but you can kill later if you get the right weapons, and they give you even better loot. But they only congregate around certain geographic features, so you have to find those... And so on...

Edited by Prinz Eugn

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