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ZaneLi

Seeking advice on a minecraft-like game project

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Hi everyone, I'm a 26-year old struggling Chinese indie game developer who is working on a game project inspired by minecraft.
Unlike most other minecraft-like games, my initial idea was not to clone the boxy style of minecraft but create a more polygonal style, and start from there adding more interesting and realistic physics and multiplayer interaction.
 
However, the gameplay design is harder than I expected. Since I used to work as a graphics developer and had little experience in game design, it was not until recently that I realize and admit there're simply too much work to do them myself. So now I have to remove some crazy ideas out of my head and really start to think about how to deliver a playable game or promising demo in several months based on whatever I had in hand:

  • A system that can generate a smooth polygon representation from a voxel grid, but with limited dimension. 
  • Some cellular automaton mechanics similar to minecraft.
  • A preliminary fighting system.
  • Simple AI.
  • Multi-player support, but not massive.

I'm no worrying about the visual art, sound and music for now, because they'll be "mod-able". My primary concern is the gameplay design.
 
Here's a video I made last month to show some basic developing mechanics (no fancy graphics effect yet) and hoping that someone will join me to make them a game. I posted it in China and got limited useful feedbacks (considering minecraft is not so popular in China than it is in the west). So I decided to look for help here. I wouldn't expect to really find some kind of "bussiness partner" here but I hope that I can at least get my head clear on what direction I should take. 


[media]

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(I uploaded a new video without music, so this time it should be fixed at last. It was actually the first time I use youtube, sorry for the inconvenience.)


You can also download a demo here if you're interested.
 
Here're some game ideas I have:
 
1. Emphasis on world exploration, building, battle, and survival. Basically it'll look like minecraft survival mode but with more fancy terrain and graphics stuff. The world is big but not infinite, and each server hosts a world and can be different than other servers. Need some quest system to guide the player when they feel nothing to do. I havn't figure out what the endgame will be.
 
2. Focus on PVE/PVP multi-player interaction. It's gonna be a first/third person view tower defense game. Well, picture minecraft + Orcs must die, and a little bit of DOTA if in PVP mode. The world is small, and each match last about 15~40 minutes. There're gonna be dozens of levels (maps), and need a lot of time to design them. The pace of the game will be much faster than the above.
 
3. I should probably go find a job in a game company and make this project as a hobby and continue to work on my old crazy ideas, such as really huge, realistic and fully modifiable world with natural simulation, etc.
 
So what do you think is my best bet? And what do you think is missing from the demo if I'm going to convince you to invest your labour or money in it? 
 
Any feedback is appreciated.

 

Edit #1: After reviewing some suggestions, I decided to go with world exploration for now. Thanks for all your suggestions.

 

Cheers,

Zane

Edited by ZaneLi

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FYI, your video won't play for me (I'm in the US), because EMI music publishing seems to have issued a takedown notice to youtube, probably because you've included music in the video that they own, or at least believe they own. You might want to upload a new version with music that you own the rights to, or with no music at all.

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Video is also not viewable in the UK, for the same reasons Ravyne mentioned above. 

 

Personally, I think if you develop editable terrain, it should have at least a semi-important role to play in the game. It just seems if you do something focused on pvp, the terrain component might go a bit wasted - as in, its role could just as easily be fulfilled by placing objects in the world (orcs must die style).

 

Something focused more on exploration and/or survival sounds more suitable for your engine, at least to me. I've always wondered if you could essentially cross an open world deformable terrain engine with a rogue-like game, such as nethack - basically combine the rich exploration and random item, mob and varying classes generation with survival and terrain modification. 

 

such as really huge, realistic and fully modifiable world with natural simulation

That's a pretty huge goal, but oddly quite a common one. I guess many of us just want a reality simulator that's just like reality, but is not reality.

 

Having a more complete game idea, or at least a strongly defined direction would help you find more people to join your project. Which you should do in the classifieds section =)

 

Good luck!

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ZaneLi, very nice work, really classy! :) I hope you will be successful with your project andI want to ask what technologies you have used for this?

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Looks awesome, i think you should make the cellular automation and game mechanics moddable through lets say a scripting language, so any game could be made using it.

I think the demo would be better if it had a laerger scale though. (big buildings, big mountains, whatever)

Maybe some simple multiplayer action too, for example building together or someone attacking a castle/bunker youve built.

Fire? Fire is cool. Edited by Waterlimon

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ZaneLi, very nice work, really classy! smile.png I hope you will be successful with your project andI want to ask what technologies you have used for this?

 

Thanks.

If you were referring to the "voxel to polygon" tech, it's some kind of derived version of dual contouring I came up with some "hacks" to get rid of the harsh requirement of the "Hermite Data" while still preserving the sharp features of the geometry.

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It just seems if you do something focused on pvp, the terrain component might go a bit wasted

 

How about digging the world as a mean to resource gathering?

e.g. you want to build a tower, you first need to find and dig some stones and wood?

So you'll be given some "free" time to gather and build defense towers before a wave of zombies spawning to attack the base you need to protect. 

How's that sound in general?

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It just seems if you do something focused on pvp, the terrain component might go a bit wasted

 

How about digging the world as a mean to resource gathering?

e.g. you want to build a tower, you first need to find and dig some stones and wood?

So you'll be given some "free" time to gather and build defense towers before a wave of zombies spawning to attack the base you need to protect. 

How's that sound in general?

You might want to check this game named "King Arthurs Gold" where you basically have a side view 2D grid of ground/stone/ore/tree/whatever, and there are 2 teams fighting against each other with spawns on opposite sides of the map. What makes it interesting is that you can build traps and castles block by block using resources youve mined. I think something similiar would work really well, lets say have 2 islands, 2 teams, and they can build castles and attack each other using ships or something like that.

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Graphics look absolutely beautiful!

 

I'd make a "Seige Defense" game. Your objective is to defend a town, person (king), or holy relic from invaders.

 

Enemies attack in waves which can occur either in day or night. There should be a time countdown until the next wave displayed in the corner of the screen.

 

Enemies are able to break down walls, tunner underground, or climb over walls to attack you (currenlty in minecraft they can't do to those things) There should be an emphasis on terrain destruction: catapults, cannons, bombs, fires, battering rams, etc. Enemies AI should look for weak points in your structure and concentrate force there. Enemies may also use seige towers, grappling ropes, or even blimps to get over your walls.

 

As with Minecraft, there are 3 basic things you can do in this game: mine, build/repair, and fight. There are Non-Player Characters (NPCs) on your team also performing these jobs, i.e. miners, builder, and soldiers. These guys do their job at a slower rate than can, so you need to give them orders of where to defend, dig, build, etc. See the game "Dungeon Keeper" for some ideas on this.

 

Miners should have a finite capacity of materials they can hold before they must return to base (or unload it to a mining cart), so you'll have to build walls to protect your mine supply lines. In the game you'll need to choose between defending your resource lines, adding new towers to your base, or reinforcing existing walls.

 

Materials like brick and stone will be damage resistant, but will be more expensive. There can also be NPCs with whom you can trade (buy/sell) for resources. Some rare resources can only be obtained through trading, which are needed for rare items/weapons.

 

Food/farming/water within the town could also play a role. For example if you run out of food, you lose the seige.

 

Watch the movie "Kingdom of Heaven: Directors Cut" for some ideas (last ~25% of the movie or so)

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