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what would you play?, give me your opinion on these design ideas pls

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Hey guys,


First some background on my game:


3d fantasy survival horror game

Complete openworld sandbox game (only transitions are from external to internal locations)


The game is not about looting or getting best gear even though crafting and gathering is a main game mechanic, its about atmosphere and story/lore from my own hand written story world that i have been creating for a while now.


The game emphasises exploration, i dont want the player going from a to b in a straight line and sometimes c, mystery is key.


Initially i was going full multiplayer 8+ players but creating anytype of openworld quest structure in a randomised terrain would have been insanely resource intensive on a team ?


My question is how would you like to play a survival horror game set in an open world, option 2 is do able with some creative editing without the worry of getting random generation correct, instead you can take your time precisely crafting it, not worry about too many quests also gives time for perfecting the core mechanics too.


I guess i spent most of my time writing my story world that i feel i have to put the whole thing in the game lol, im just so proud of it ?



One of the main game mechanics:

The world is darkness and within this darkness things live, the only way to survive is find light, if the light goes out prepare to fight (if your holding a torch it takes up one hand, so your damage/defence is lowered (beware bandits and other wildlife), though if you drop the torch and pick up your bow/shield/offhand the darkness will come, what do you choose?






  • Random terrain generation w/ hand created structures, quests and story
  • No story
  • Full multiplayer 8+
  • Little to no npc's, no encounters???


This option seems pure survival, as it would offer no quests or bigger story to follow, its you and others vs the darkness.




  • Hand created terrain w/ hand created structures, quests and story
  • Simple to no story
  • Full multiplayer 4 to 8
  • Little to no npc's and no encounters


Pretty much same as 1 but offers a more in-depth world to explore with more detailed atmosphere.




  • Hand created terrain w/ hand created structures, quests and story
  • Simple to advanced story
  • Coop 2 players
  • Lots of npc's and encounters



This option would see the world really come alive and offer alot more story, full quests and atmosphere(with only 2 ppl giving the personal touch while keeping things straight forward )




  • Hand created terrain w/ hand created structures, story and quests
  • Full story
  • Single player only (but could be coop)
  • Full npc's, random encounters, borders and factions


This is the full story world, the ultimate living world, think skyrim world but 100x more dangerous (more content, more encounters and really opening up the world to be explored and scared ?)




Last question, do you think 8 players would be too many for this type of game? The lower the players the more easier it is to implement more.


Any ideas or feedback is welcomed ?

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Of the options you presented, which one do you want to work on the most and which one are you most likely to get a finished product? Making a game that you don't want to work on tends to lead to that game being unfinished. And unfinished games don't tend to get played.

My preference... I guess maybe option 3?

  * I don't tend to play multi-player games but that's not to say it wouldn't be fun.
  * In general, I prefer to feel like there's a purpose to what I'm doing. Killing things for the sake of killing things gets old fast as does exploring a vast area without that area having any significance to me. So, whether that purpose is revealed through story exposition or if my capabilties within the game's allow me to create my own purpose, I need that sense of purpose. But to be clear, "story exposition" does not necissarily mean (nor does it necissarily exclude) considerable amounts of text to read or cut scenes to watch.
  * While procedurally generated worlds can help with a game's replayability, I believe they are generally considered more difficult to populate with interesting content. And while I'm less likely to replay a handcrafted world, I really don't have a problem investing time and money into a game that I will only ever play once so long as the experience has been enjoyable.
  * I would lump "NPCs" and such into over all world building and content. It's harder to feel a connection to an empty town but I really don't care for feeling like I have to talk to every inhabitant to figure out where or what I have to do next. I say add as many as you feel your game needs.

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Isn't option four just everything in the other options sans random terrain, and multi-player? So what you're asking is essentially, "If you could make a game by setting a slider between a pre-designed singleplayer world or a randomly generated multiplayer game, exactly where would you put it?"


I think to really answer this you need to tell us what "Fantasy Survival Horror" means specifically. Exactly how do you envision the world, the setting, the plot, the characters, the gameplay etc. That's assuming there's plot and characters that do more than just fight, or fill space in the world. Horror itself can mean either scary, shocking or both. Shocking as in, "oh my gosh, look at those disgusting mutilated dead people over there!" How much scary and how much shocking do you intend to add?


Multiplayer would seriously cut down on any scariness, and it's seriously hard to shock any fan of survival horror. One of the most scariest things for me and presumably many other people is the sensation of being trapped, this is also very hard to pull off in an open world scenario. Sometimes the scariest things are things you can't see, and that are abnormal in some way. People will actually get more scared by watching a television show about ghosts that close and open doors without explanation than say, terrorism, or any real threat that while very tough to surmount, and dangerous, can at least be understood. Being trapped and being chased are both primal fears, and a good game designer can arrange feelings of both in the player.


Knowing more about the setting would greatly help us determine how it should play out. It's hard to be either shocking or scary with things commonly associated with fantasy. I've personally murdered so many ghouls, ghasts, gremlins, and goblins it's hard to view them as significant threats. Note what I said earlier about how understanding reduces fear. You've got to keep surprising the player, and increasing difficulty without making his deaths feel cheap. The first level of Megaman X for example, is beautifully done because you can figure out how to do everything you would need to do in the game without someone telling you, and throughout the game it's rare to encounter a tough situation without having some idea how to handle it before hand. To do scary right you need a balance between having the player deal with the unknown, while not playing guessing games or having him save and reload a dozen times before understanding how to do something. 


The game mechanic you mentioned seems a little too straightforward. What sort of situations would compel you to switch from a torch to shield, or two-handed weapon? Could you go  through the entire game in the dark, or light and have it be the exact same difficulty as if you did the entire thing the other way around? Eventually the player is going to understand that he is good at killing crap, what would keep on scaring him at that point? How do you scare a player who can save and reload? Only allowing certain spots to be saved at will negate some of the feel of exploration, and adds irritation at death, but does add a feeling of stress to someone trying to survive.


Overall, the scary sort of horror is hard to do well. Frankly, pros in the genre have failed to do this time and time again while some of the scariest games are also the simplest, and in many cases the oldest. The slender man games only seem to get scarier as time passes. I don't know how accomplished at game making you are but, above all the KISS acronym, "Keep It Simple Stupid," should always be kept in mind for games, and horror games in particular. Generally people are scared by the same sorts of things, the unknown, being trapped, being chased, and threats to their safety due to the previous two. Unknown can be in the psyche as well as the location, dealing with a crazed NPC can be annoying or scary and potentially deeply disturbing depending on how it's done. Take SHODAN in the system shock franchise for example.

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Initially i was going full multiplayer 8+ players but creating anytype of openworld quest structure in a randomised terrain would have been insanely resource intensive on a team


Multiplayer with friends or strangers ?
Your game seems more fit to multiplay with friends, though needing 7 friends that also play your game will pretty much kill the game from the start.


How is death handled ? is there permadeath ?

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One suggestion since its a horror game -- terrifying things can be small and at your feet.   I was considering this aspect for a MMORPG type some future company might make (eventually, over the rainbow). 


Exploring that 'forbidden drawer' of the desk,  or  'stick you hand in that hole to retrieve the whatzit' , interesting things that happen 'mixing potions in that pot' or 'the toolbench of doom'  -- that level of detail to be a different situation than the usual huge terrain (which being 'exploration'  WILL have to be filled with interesting things too).



BTW  procedural generation is possible/workable but you need seed data for the primary map features and GOOD templates and 'fitting' logic to make things cohesive when they are built up procedurally.  


Have an overall 'influence map' of various high level entities (factions?) which inhabit your map that will shift the area they control (some strategy) in response to what the players (and the other entities) do and achieve. If anything just to control/adjust the spawns  locations or content/mix,   as well as local resource adjustments  (a Zombie army in one location tends to deplete the local supply of 'brainz'....etc..)


Hierarchical templates with parameterization to control variations and behavior modifiers   (the further a entities 'pawns' are from its 'center of power' the more cautious or stupid they (the units in a spawn)  might act and use different tactics  (center vs main territory vs border vs no mans land vs enemy territory).    Tactical entities might be moved about on the map and exude 'control' and 'forces' which then are realized as the appropraite spawns players run into.

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To me, the only vaguely scary thing in games is other players, so if your focus is on horror, go player-and-procedure generated multi-player. I realise you didn't exactly mention that as an option, but once you've got a working influence map going (as described above), it should be no great leap to add player activity into the mix. Having been influenced by a lot of EVE, Tabula Rasa, WarZ (I'm sorry, I couldn't wait), Firefall, and other games which rely on player interaction and player generated (or at least player-determined) objectives and activities in various ways (The Secret World might be worth mentioning here, but I haven't seen it first-hand), I'm convinced that letting the player write their own story is the way forward. Just knowing that I'm working within a player-driven economy, seeing players go about their business and bringing actual life to the world motivates me far more than any amount of rambling about alien empires, psychic wars, or what-have-you.


For some interesting and potentially important thoughts about scale, I'd suggest having a read of this discussion : http://www.gamedev.net/topic/650085-being-relevant-in-a-mmo/


Honestly, I think the decision is already made. You just need to think about what you can achieve, what challenges you're willing to face, and what motivates you, and design a player environment around your priorities. Regardless of what kind of game you make, people will play and enjoy it if it's well executed, so do what you do best. If you're dead set on telling a story, go with a format which will do that effectively, bearing in mind that if you give players free reign, the ending will be "The world descended into anarchy, and everyone died a lot.". This may not be what you want.


To elaborate, I think you need to think carefully about the difference between "storyline" (what I think when you say "my own hand-written story"), which is an on-going pre-determined sequence of events (not strictly linear) with beginning, middle/s, end ending/s, and "back story" (actually "setting"), which amounts to no more than a footnote explaining what the player's goals and motivations are - a kind of subliminal tutorial, if you will.


Setting has very little to do with creativity, and explains to the player what actions and outcomes they should expect to be involved in. Certainly you can be proud of it if it's well-written, but you should already know most of the details of gameplay to write it up.


A storyline shouldn't be forced on a group unless it's complex and dynamic enough to satisfy each of any number of players, or you expect the game to be played at LAN RPG parties (how many of those are there?).


If you've created "The Darkness" which you have to push back, it translates, in gameplay terms, to "it's always night, so you spend most of your time making light". That might make for some fun gameplay, but consider the consequences of making it a central mechanic in a multiplayer (see also : meta-gaming, griefers, etc.) game. You might get your point across better in a linear story-telling environment. By all means include co-op mode, but don't call it a sandbox if you're making the player follow the figurative trail of breadcrumbs (this may be difficult to admit). If you're making a sandbox, kiss your story tenderly, tell it you love it, and shove it gently, but firmly, onto the back burner.


It may also help to think about what role you are assigning to the player. He might be protagonist, antagonist, or participant, each of which implies things about his level of involvement, which may, in turn, describe his environment.


I hope that's helpful - essentially, I want to play a really good game, where the project motivated you and played to your strengths.


One last thought is that I would like the encounters scale to look more like : random encounters - procedural encounters - scripted encounters, where by "scripted encounters" I mean story-driven procedural encounters. With no encounters at all, it's just a DM.

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