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punkphreak

Design feedback wanted... Let's brainstorm!

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I have a dream... I''m working on the design for an action/adventure game and I want to make sure I don''t forget anything in the design process. Plus, I want feedback as I''ve never designed a game completely from scratch before. I''d like the game to be from a third-person, top-down perspective - like Zelda, but I''m thinking about using a 3D graphics engine so that the user can rotate his perspective around the hero. Has this been done before? Is it practical? Would any advantage be gained by this? Also, I''m going to design the game to be violence-free! I know, I know... "what? no blood? no gore? no fun!" but I believe I can provide enough challenging, enjoyable gameplay without having the hero kill anything. Thoughts? Suggestions? I''d like to eventually include multiplayer capability (or maybe do that first so I don''t have to write AIs - I''m a lazy jerk). I don''t know the first thing about AI, so any help in that area would be great. Finally, if you''re reading this and thinking to yourself, "Self, there''s no way in hell this guy is ever going to finish that game! He needs to try something a bit less ambitious first." To that I say, BITE ME! I don''t want to hear people telling me what I can and can''t accomplish. I just want feedback on my ideas. I know they''re ambitious, but I''m an ambitious kind of guy and that''s why I''m going to succeed. You heard me...PLAY!

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What EXACTLY is it you want us to reply to?

Michael Heilemann
---------------------------
Designer on Singularity - Sysop at Nerve Impulse
Let us never allow ourselves the sin of forgetting our dreams!

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Furthermore, what exactly have you done thus far that makes you think you''ll manage the first two bits of 3D programming?

George D. Filiotis

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heh heh, hopefully i won''t get as big of a "BITE ME" as the last two guys most certainly did...
if your game is zelda-like, but with no violence, what exactly is the player supposed to do? i don''t mean to imply that a game must have killing to be fun, but in zelda, you spent quite a good deal of time killing things. if the game were just the dungeon mazes and item-finding without stuff to fight, it would not have been interesting at all; the challenge was to find the stuff by surviving the hoardes of enemies that stood in the way.
i think that''d be a cool perspective to play from (3rd person from above, 3D) though. you just need to explain the gameplay.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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Okay, now that you''re in the Game Design forum, you need to provide the central concept of your game, the gameplay elements and your planned control/combat/scoring systems etc. Then we can provide constructive criticisms.

Here''s some help though (pause to watch DMX''s They don''t know - "I am DMX"); a game story has to propell the participants to action. What propels the gamer to do anything in your game? What does the story propel the game to do? How does the gamer do it? (These are very "high" objectives that you''ll need to subdivide to little, atomic elements).

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quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I have a dream...


We all have dreams.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I'd like the game to be from a third-person, top-down perspective - like Zelda, but I'm thinking about using a 3D graphics engine so that the user can rotate his perspective around the hero.


Ok.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Has this been done before?


Does it matter?

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Is it practical?


It doesn't sound that impractical.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Would any advantage be gained by this?


I don't know. You tell us.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Also, I'm going to design the game to be violence-free!


Good.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I know, I know... "what? no blood? no gore? no fun!"


That's not what I was thinking.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
but I believe I can provide enough challenging, enjoyable gameplay without having the hero kill anything.


Ok, so you've got some ideas.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Thoughts?


No.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Suggestions?


None at the moment.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I'd like to eventually include multiplayer capability (or maybe do that first so I don't have to write AIs - I'm a lazy jerk).


If your reason for not doing AI is because you are lazy, then you probably won't finish your project. On the other hand, consider the real reason for not doing AI: it's an undertaking that is rarely ever good enough nor ever truly finished or perfect.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I don't know the first thing about AI, so any help in that area would be great.


Don't ask me. I'll point you in the direction of stuff which will consume all of your mind's resources and march you onto a road of philosophical musing that has no end.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Finally, if you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "Self, there's no way in hell this guy is ever going to finish that game! He needs to try something a bit less ambitious first." To that I say, BITE ME!


No comment.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I don't want to hear people telling me what I can and can't accomplish.


You can accomplish whatever you ultimately accomplish.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I just want feedback on my ideas.


You came to the right place.

quote:
Original post by punkphreak
I know they're ambitious, but I'm an ambitious kind of guy and that's why I'm going to succeed.


Fine.

Edited by - bishop_pass on October 29, 2001 10:53:39 PM

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I thought I´d reply without continuing the dominating mood here... but they have a point. You ask a lot, while giving only very little information.

I´ll reply on what i can:

3d-graphics with a fixed camera position with rotation: I don´t see what the rotation would be used for, which gain the player has from it, apart from some fuzzy "wow-rotation!"-feelings and a general increase in confusion.
Dunno if its been done, do some research.

Violence free? Then what should the player do?

too lazy for AI? can´t help you there.

yeah.. and thanks for the "BITE ME", its always nice to feel appreciated for the feedback you give.



btw: why so cynical today bishop?

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sorry about my previous post... don''t know what came over me.

Look at two really old PC gemes, made by Adeline (french dudes), Little Big Adventure 1 + 2.

They aren''t really non-violent, but they come close, and there is not blood guts or gore involved. Both were excelent engaging games, and both should be on budget offer right now.

Puzzles.

Save puzzles, there''s little you can do. Of course, there are those people who consider figuring out how to kill someone something of a puzzle, so that kills the approach.

I think you should seriously reconsider removing physical combat from the world. It''s an engaging way to carry out conflicts and it carries alot of emotional tension if it''s coupled with drama well.

Oh, and I''ll repeat what has been said thus far, Give us more info, don''t blarb about yourself so much.

George D. Filiotis

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I don''t know what you are trying to accomplish with the third person top-down persepctive camera angle, but if it is top down like Zelda (I''m assuming you mean A Link to the Past or the original Zelda), a rotating camera is rather pointless because you''re not revealing anything that the player couldn''t see by the rotation - in fact, it eventually becomes a hinderance because after a while of spinning the camera around, the player will get disoriented and mixes up the north, east, south, and west.

As for the violence-free aspect, I don''t have any ideas for you, but remember that some of the greatest games are violence-free. Sim City is a perfect example. The goal of the game is to create, not destroy, perhaps you can draw some concepts from there and apply it to an action-adventure.

Artificial intelligence is a very complex subject, but to sum it up in one sentence - artificial intelligence describes what you (the human) would do under the given condition(s). So programming AI would be just that - telling your program what to do when certain events happen.

I agree with you, just like most ideas I read in this forum, this will be an ambitious project; however, just because it is ambitious, it doesn''t mean it can''t be accomplished. If your design is so cleverly done and shows promise, you have a good chance of enlisting help on areas that you may not be the best at. Just stay determined and resourceful and it will happen.

With that, I wish you best of luck.

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Thank you guys for replying. I apologize for the "bite me" crack. I wasn''t in the best mood when I wrote that post. Anyhow, if nothing else, I have a better idea what kinds of things to ask all of you about and a better understanding of what this forum is for. So, in reply to your posts, here''s a better description of the game I''ve envisioned. Keep in mind that this is a bunch of different ideas that could, but won''t necesarily, fit together.

Perspective:
Ok, so "top-down" is a bad way to say it - I didn''t mean straight-down or vertical. There are side-scrollers that are from a lateral perspective, there are vertical, top-down games too. I want something in between. I''m sure some of you have played "the Sims" right? That kind of perspective - at an angle - so that you can place an item behind a wall or a rock or something, where you can''t see it unless you''re looking from the right angle.

Violent Content:
This topic was presented to me by a friend of mine that isn''t a gamer. I was playing Half-Life or Counter Strike (who knows which) when she came in and asked me why the game had to be so violent. I''d never really thought about it before. Why DO games have to be violent? Is it because of our violent nature? Is it healthy? So I decided to try and come up with a way to eliminate the killing without compromising entertainment or challenge.
So, there are all types of games, right? Puzzlers, shooters, questers, twitchers, spookers, whatever. In an action game, the goal is usually to shoot a bunch of bad guys in order to get past them and to somewhere with more bad guys to shoot. That''s part of the fun of the game. But there must be something else that can take the place of killing in a game without removing the challenge.
Take TV. The A-Team was a great show. It was violent, but there wasn''t and blood-splattering, gut-wrenching gore. Take it a step further and you get MacGyver where all the problems in the world can be solved by using duct tape and a swiss army knife.
The point is, I want to remove the killing without removing the action. Maybe the hero will have a stun-gun (I''m sure many of you have played Commander Keen) or maybe he''ll set traps to catch enemies. I''m not sure what I want yet. That''s why I''m posting - for feedback.

Multiplayer VS AI Programming:
So, you know how when you write a three-point essay and you''re really scrambling because you only have two points - two great points, but only two points - and your paper is three pages short of the minimum and it''s already double-spaced in 16-point with huge margins and you only have an hour left to write the rest and hand it in? Well, I''ve been in school too long. I didn''t really think about the AI thing at all. As pointed out by LyLFox, "artificial intelligence describes what you (the human) would do under the given condition(s). So programming AI would be just that - telling your program what to do when certain events happen." I''ll put some more thought into it.

The Storyline:
Honestly, I don''t have one yet. I''m not much of a writer. I''m more interested in designing the game-play.

Gameplay:
This is where things get interesting. I have a lot of ideas, but I know if I use them all in one game then it will be too hard to play. Most of these ideas came to me while playing other games and thinking "wouldn''t it be cool if I could right now? So, here are a few of my ideas:

Strafing V2.0: Let me begin by saying that the man who invented strafing was a genious. But from a third-person perspective, it only gets better! While strafing left or right in Half-Life or Doom, you can fire straight ahead. But what if you could fire in any direction that''s in front of you - 180 degrees? So you could be facing North and firing anywhere north of the East-West axis and moving forwards, backwards or sideways.

Tackling: I think this is an original idea (at least outside the realm of sports games). Instead of being limited to shooting and dodging your oponents, what if you could tackle them? They''re trying to catch you, right? So why are you running away when you could try to catch them? Super Mario was bigger than those goombas, but they got him every time unless he pounced on ''em.

Fully Thrashable Environment: Remember in Zelda how you could cut the grass and bushes and find things? Well, why not make every reasonably sized object able to be taken, thrown, dropped or destroyed? Granted, it would take an awful lot more memory to have to keep track of all those items, but it would be really fun!

Well, that''s all I have time to write for now. I guess I''m mostly just bouncing ideas off people. I''m probably bouncing around too many ideas at once, but that''s the way I think. If you have an opinion on any of these ideas, feel free to post about it, but you don''t have to post an opinion on anything that you don''t have an opinion on. But you knew that.

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Your game idea doesn''t sound non-violent to me. What will you be shooting at and tackling? Is it like a shooting range or training grounds thing, or what? Even if it is, it''s still kinda violent

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There''s been a game using a rotating camera view in 3d like the one you described...it''s name was something with "Hex..." i believe. Seemed to work well, as far as i know.

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My replies:

Perspective: I think youre looking for the word "isometric" where the camera is situated at a 45 degree angle. Honestly dont include camera rotation unless its REALLY going to add to the game.

Violent Content: I agree that in many instances go too far with gore factor. But I think youre confusing blood/gore with violence, in fact I'm sure you are. Using a stun gun or tackling someone is STILL violence. If you stun a rabid dog, that's still violence. And just saying "Strafing" and "Fully Thrashable Environment" shows that its going to be a violent game. As far as AI goes, Harvest Moon was a fun and original game with no violence(that I remember) and relatively little in the way of AI.

Your Original post: Your going to have to be realistic if you really are "a lazy jerk" you are going to have the hardest time in the world taking your game anywhere. You are going to need motivation and lots of it. Design is going to be hard enough, not to mention graphics,sound,story,programming. Even if you have a team a lot will be required of you. I'm not being smart just trying to help see realisticly what youre trying to acomplish and what your up against.

Edited by - TechnoHydra on October 30, 2001 12:17:59 PM

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quote:
Original post by punkphreak
Perspective:
Ok, so "top-down" is a bad way to say it - I didn''t mean straight-down or vertical. There are side-scrollers that are from a lateral perspective, there are vertical, top-down games too. I want something in between. I''m sure some of you have played "the Sims" right? That kind of perspective - at an angle - so that you can place an item behind a wall or a rock or something, where you can''t see it unless you''re looking from the right angle.


Why not let the play choose his/her chosen perspective? Some players like first person views, I particularly like ''over-the-shoulder'' third person views like Tomb Raider''s or Heretic II''s. I think you''d benefit more by letting the user tailor the game to his/her own preferences.
quote:

Violent Content:
The point is, I want to remove the killing without removing the action. Maybe the hero will have a stun-gun (I''m sure many of you have played Commander Keen) or maybe he''ll set traps to catch enemies. I''m not sure what I want yet. That''s why I''m posting - for feedback.


Violence != Killing.

There are two games that spring immediately to mind when I think of violence, and the consequences of violence. One is Soldier Of Fortune, and the other is Deus Ex.

SoF is an extremely violent and gory game. You can shoot people in the stomach, and their guts spill out. However, this is tempered with a restriction. There are two kinds of guys - bad guys and good guys. The bad guys want to kill the good guys (which includes you and the civilians). If you, or the bad guys, kill too many civilians, you loose. So, although SoF presents death as a bloody, gory and unpleasant experience (and it is), you can''t just go around shooting everything that moves.

Deus Ex promises, but doesn''t deliver. In the beginning, you''re told that you''re a police officer, and you should try to use nonlethal methods. However, these methods are slower and more difficult than the lethal methods, and there''s no reward for using them, nor a punishment for being lethal (you can even shoot your comrades in the head, and they''ll get a bit angry for a while, and then calm down).

So, if you want to stop the use of lethal methods (which seems to be what you''re against here), you need to offer rewards for being nonlethal, and punishments for turning it into a bloodbath. That way, the game could offer the possibility of blood and gore, but it would be very difficult to progress if you take the offering.
quote:

The Storyline:
Honestly, I don''t have one yet. I''m not much of a writer. I''m more interested in designing the game-play.


The game-play should be driven by a storyline. The storyline defines what is valid and what is not in your game universe. Many games have lumped together good game-play features, and then hastily put an incoherent storyline over the top.

That isn''t good. The storyline has two main uses. Firstly, it should entertain the player. Secondly, it should allow the player to guess what kind of game-play features he/she can expect to be challenged with. Without a storyline driving your game-play, it won''t make sense.
quote:

Strafing V2.0


If you allowed the player to select a firing target with the mouse, whilst moving with the keyboard, then you could do this. Personally, I think this kind of strafing is long overdue.
quote:

Tackling:


I can''t argue with this. See any beat ''em up for tackles and throws. Shen Mue is the only RPG I know of that allows for such things, but I''m sure there are others.
quote:

Fully Thrashable Environment:


You can do this in Hexen II, virtually anything wooden can be destroyed, as can trees, statues, windows and sheep. Many of the game''s secrets are hidden in this way.

''Nuff said. I''ll enjoy watching you live, demon.

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Well I sure do appreciate a good BITE ME every once in a while.

"I''m not sure what I want yet. That''s why I''m posting - for feedback."

You can''t expect to post "I want to make a game, it has to be nonviolent and stuff... what do you think" and then expect anyone to actually be able to tell you what they think, because they don''t think anything at all!

Here''s what I would post if I was in your shoes:

"Okay, so I''m thinking of STARTING to write a game design of some sort. To tell you the truth I''m really not sure where I''m going to end up, but if you''d be so inclined I''d like to throw a few balls up in the air and see where that leads us.

Okay, first of all, the game I imagine will roughly be so and so large, taking so and so much time to finish. That''s just an outline of course as I''m not sure if I can sustain the novelty of the ideas for that long, but it''s a frame nonetheless.

Now I''d like to cut back on the violence that most games seem to thrive on today, because it seems that noone is really actually trying to make exiting action games where the violence isn''t the priority of the game. So what I''d like to do is somehow cut back on it, but can I actually remove it all and still have an exiting game? That''s what I''ve been asking myself. And quite frankly I''m not sure. But here''s a list of things that I''ve thought about engaging the player with:

- Stealth (Thief, MGS, to some extend Deus Ex and so on)
- Time pressured ''puzzles'' (lock picking with guards in the neighborhood)
- Putting guards to sleep by putting sleep juice in their coffee
- and so on and so forth
- more of the same
- yet another plausible idea.

..."

THAT would have shown me that you had actually put some thought into this so called ''idea'' before throwing it out here for us to give ''feedback'' on.

What you showed initially, and in most posts so far hasn''t shown me that yet. Sorry for busting your bubble and being an asshole, but you haven''t shown me much.

I''m more than willing to engage in a discussion about less-violent gameplay, I think the thought is great, so great as a matter of fact that I''ve written a close to 100 page design document based on toning violent down and character interaction up.

But you''ve got to show some initiative.


"Honestly, I don''t have one yet. I''m not much of a writer. I''m more interested in designing the game-play."

I can understand with that, but I do think that the two go hand in hand, otherwise you''ll end up designing more than you can use, and designing lots of needless stuff, essentially wasting your time and cluttering up your vision.

Michael Heilemann
---------------------------
Designer on Singularity - Sysop at Nerve Impulse
Let us never allow ourselves the sin of forgetting our dreams!

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Try to decide a central theme on the action. For example, you are exploring areas trying to solve puzzles, find missing pieces, search for secret doorways, and maneuver through difficult areas (one instance where a rotatable camera would be useful - helps you know when that anvil might drop from above again - come to think of it, that might allow the player to configure the camera for their own experience as they see fit, sometimes the situation might demand it - a game built on the ability to place the camera where needed... hmm...)

Take a look at the book Game Programming Gems for clues on AI programming.

I''m not going to tell you what it will take to make a game - you''ve got that gleam in your eye that says you at least want to try. Go for it! Be prepared to discover a lot of things along the way, as far as compromising ideas for integratability, your own capabilities (mental, organizational, etc.). Put yourself through the fulfilling stretches and some difficult ones every now and then.

And good luck!

- wizBang

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The view: The angle looking down you descibe is generally called Isometric perspective. Not trying to bash you for not knowing the lingo, but just for future reference.

The violence / non violence: In Hitman, you get penalised for being over violent. The aim of the game is to make a clean kill. Obviously, I''m not very good at it (well, if those policemen are shooting ME, why can''t I shoot them back? Self defence yer''honour!)

btw: Bishop Pass, you are harsh, but funny =) Still, I don''t really see the point in posting =)


Cheers,

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quote:


if the game were just the dungeon mazes and item-finding without stuff to fight, it would not have been interesting at all; the challenge was to find the stuff by surviving the hoardes of enemies that stood in the way.




There is more interesting and scary if there is a small amount of monsters in the game. Let´s say that you have been hired to search for a old tombe in a house somewere. You wait for the ordinary monster to show up but nothing happends. You walk around inside the house, find notes and clues and some are intereesting but most of them are crap. But suddenly when you are least expecting it to happend the horror strike you. And you can´t beet it beccause you have not found the clue that you must have to survive this terrible, strange creature! You must run away or you are going to die! Then on your way out when you are in the garden you meet an strange old lady. She is ghost in fact but you don´t understand that. You talk with her and she tells you the she is the owner of the house. She gives you the clue you need to find the passage to the dungeon under the castle so you don´t have to fight the monster.



Zeblar Nagrim, Lord of Chaos

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quote:
Original post by Zeblar Nagrim
There is more interesting and scary if there is a small amount of monsters in the game. Let´s say that you have been hired to search for a old tombe in a house somewere. You wait for the ordinary monster to show up but nothing happends. You walk around inside the house, find notes and clues and some are intereesting but most of them are crap. But suddenly when you are least expecting it to happend the horror strike you. And you can´t beet it beccause you have not found the clue that you must have to survive this terrible, strange creature! You must run away or you are going to die! Then on your way out when you are in the garden you meet an strange old lady. She is ghost in fact but you don´t understand that. You talk with her and she tells you the she is the owner of the house. She gives you the clue you need to find the passage to the dungeon under the castle so you don´t have to fight the monster.

oh, i know, a game can be made by finding clever ways of avoiding combat, and solving puzzles... but then it isn''t much of an action/adventure game is it? adventure game, yes; action? running away and finding clues isn''t really action.
i would probably play and enjoy the game you just described; i just don''t think it fits in with what punkphreak is trying to do.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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No one else here played chex Quest. It was a fps based off the chex serial. I might have spelled chex wrong, who knows.

Anyway, in chex quest you didnt kill the bad aliens, you zapped back to their home planet with a teleporter gun of some sort, they called it zorching.

I like killing the enemy though, your gonna end up just having a nice "death" scene and then some story as to why they are not dying. Less you want to convert the enemies or something, or liberate them and then no one dies at all, there isnt even a death animation.

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quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Fully Thrashable Environment:
You can do this in Hexen II, virtually anything wooden can be destroyed, as can trees, statues, windows and sheep. Many of the game''s secrets are hidden in this way.

Yeah, but it was a Really Bad Idea. Why? Because the game became a case of Routinely Break Everything You Can Find, Just In Case Something Useful Is There. Very tedious. Sure, it might be realistic, but players feel compelled to do it. I hated it.

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Have you ever played Metal Gear Solid? This might go for all Metal Gear games, but I can''t be sure. In that game, you can''t just go around shooting everyone. Sure, you''re armed enough to take out everyone in the room. But one of them will sound the alarm, and then guards will start pouring in the room by the dozens. You''ll soon be outnumbered and shot to death.

So from the looks of it, this is the kind of game you''re looking for. I hate remakes. Try to add something original, if not a whole new concept. But if a remake is what you''re after, I can''t stop you.

Anyhow, Metal Gear Solid forced you to sneak around most of the game. Of course you always had bosses to fight. You could try an espionage game like Metal Gear. The suspense always makes the game more fun.

Seriously, the only non-violent games that ever sold well were strategy games. There''s not many other options.


Control ... the storm...
Danny (Array Master)

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Ill be quick, when I make long posts I go off topic, I can however reply to further questioning.

1. Keep the violence, keeping the killing is up to you. I say keep the killing to.
2. Depending on the game it may be better to ''put a story on top of the gameplay'' so to speak. There are two options in creating a game. A:Create a story, then make a game out of it, B:Make a game, then explain everything with a story. Most of the time bad story makers(heh) do the second choice to get done faster, it can be just as good or better than the first choice, even worse at times.
3. Also in metal gear(all versions I''ve played) the alarm stops when you change rooms. You have 50 guards running and firing at you, boom open and shut a door, they go back to posts and drink their amnesia coffee.
4. Give lots of details, just nothing that can define you as not being close to being done. The less they know about your failures, the less posts will become the topic of it. If you didn''t say "I don''t have a story for this game" people wouldn''t have hit on it. Saying "I have a story that fits perfectly, and just need help with the gameplay aspects" would work a little better(so I think).
5. Games where something dies are more profitable than games that don''t(in most cases). Furthermore, they are profitable because it is more of a game(in the sense that it lets us do stuff that we are possible of doing, but restricted due to laws), or otherwise couldn''t do.
6. Anyone here think a realistic 3d dbz-based action-mmorpg would be possible(im looking for a yes or no answer only). That is my current project. See me for possible details.

"Practice means good, Perfect Practice means Perfect"

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