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mboeni

A dedicated tool for game conceptualization & design

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mboeni    106

Hi guys

In most studios (at least in my experience), early game concept and a lot of game design work is done in disconnected tools (wikis, excel, mindmaps, etc) which make it very hard to organize things, especially when working in a team. I did a bit of research to see whether dedicated tools are available but was not able to come up with much...

Having the same issues at our studio, I have started to design a tool specifically for game design / conceptualization in my off-time. Ideally, the tool would used as a 'hub' from the first idea through to post-launch expansions. It should integrate with a chosen game engine (where sensible) and other production tools.

I got a lot of encouraging feedback from the team and some other studios and am now considering turning this into a full-featured product.

Here's a high-level 'teaser' of the functionality I have in mind for the tool:

  • World design: setting, plot, world concepts, factions, etc
  • Narrative: setting, plot, events, dialogue, character journeys, etc
  • Entities (Characters, NPCs, Mobs, etc): definition, stats, progression systems
  • Items: Item definition, item stats, item progression, enchantments, etc
  • Buffs: Temporary char / item stats changes
  • Crafting: crafting & material systems, progression, stats
  • Level design: sketching  & interconnecting level maps in 2D (what about 3d?) with hotspots, item links, etc
  • Gameflow: Tracking of stats & variables through a journey of a character (simulation of possible journeys, based on player choices)
  • Balancing: Stats simulation and analysis to iron-out any stats peaks (e.g. checking DPS of potential character builds with certain items & buffs, etc)

It will be a highly visual tool and I would like to put a lot of emphasis on usability and reduction of complexity, e.g. through smart infographics. The system will also have a strongly-defined underlying structure (imagine a simple form of an ontology) which allows me to do analysis runs on almost anything in the system.

Now its your turn:

What do you think about such a tool? Would it be useful to you? What would you like to see, i.e. what would be important to you in such a tool?

Let me know what you think!

Cheers,
Michael

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ActiveUnique    867

I'm not fully versed in this type of software, so what you wrote may have been crystal clear already.

It sounds like an auto documentation which is intended to represent changes made to the files for a game engine. Am I on the right track? I'm not sure what the idea is supposed to be, could you explain more?

 

But from my understanding a lot of programming design is done with many disconnected tools because they're required in order to convey different meaning such as the use case. If I didn't know anything about a program I just came up with other than what I intend it to 'feel' like I'd need something very rough to begin with like the use case diagram.

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mboeni    106

I'd like the tool to focus on conceptualization of the game idea and its parts, not the actual programming. You can imagine it as a place where you can put down all your ideas to structure and develop them.

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ambershee    532

I can't really comment on the concept of the tool, because (perhaps a little ironically) you haven't actually described what it is designed to do. What does the tool do, how?

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ActiveUnique    867

Is it primarily a brainstorming tool?

 

I think if that is the case then drawing two very unrelated concepts and connecting them with a line to show there is actually some sort of relation works. I'm the only person who's going to look at the brainstorm, if I had to share that shadow documentation then it is more revealing about the way I think than the way the program's intended to work.

 

With that in mind, it doesn't sound useful for a solo programmer. On the other hand, if you could figure out some way to get everyone in your studio to think the same way, it could be useful to you.

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mboeni    106

I can't really comment on the concept of the tool, because (perhaps a little ironically) you haven't actually described what it is designed to do. What does the tool do, how?

 

Hmm, okay - I'll try to be a bit more elaborate with the next update ;)

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mboeni    106

Is it primarily a brainstorming tool?

 

I think if that is the case then drawing two very unrelated concepts and connecting them with a line to show there is actually some sort of relation works. I'm the only person who's going to look at the brainstorm, if I had to share that shadow documentation then it is more revealing about the way I think than the way the program's intended to work.

 

With that in mind, it doesn't sound useful for a solo programmer. On the other hand, if you could figure out some way to get everyone in your studio to think the same way, it could be useful to you.

 

Actually the team has forced me into writing it - so I have a mob of devs im my back that are pushing me ;)

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Tutorial Doctor    2573
This reminds me of the idea i had for a game engine (before I knew it was called a game engine.

All apsects of the game are done right in the engine (not like Blender 3D which has a broken workflow). Each "phase" leads into the next phase. I actually threw away the original documentation I had long ago because I figured I would never be able to make it (didn't know programming at that time).

If I can recall it was setup like this:

Phase 1: Level creation (sketchup/zbrush
Phase 2: Object creation (Sketchup/Zbrush)
Phase 3: Character creation (Marvelous Designer & Zbrush)
Phase 4: Effects Creation (node based programming)
Phase 5: Logic Creation (node based programming)
Phase 6: Menu Creation (WYSIWYG) (node based programming)
Phase 7: Game Flow creation (cutscenes, level order, storyboarding)(node based)
Phase 8: Testing Area
Phase 9: Publish

I might have missed something. The words in parenthesis is the style of creation I would want. Or you could integrate your engine with these software (make them compatible).

I broke down these phases in detail to show what each one could do. Perhaps I will re-write it some time.

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ambershee    532

What you're describing isn't an engine; what you're describing are tools.

 

Personally, I don't see what the advantage is in reinventing the wheel, then locking people into your wheel. There are a variety of tools out there and because we use generic formats it's possible for alternative workflows or new tools to enter the market to change the way we work. With a locked in platform you do it 'their way', or not at all.

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BagelHero    1524

This (the OP's) idea kind of reminds me of articy:draft, at least, from what I'm hearing so far. Personally, I'm more drawn to tools along the lines of this, I find them very intuitive and nice to use, along with making getting everyone on the same page much easier, so it would be interesting to see where you go with it.

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ddn3    1610

I'm also making a generic rapid prototyping engine for 2D games mostly but I'm not focusing on pre-building logic for the users, I'm more focused on making a tool which fosters experimentation, incremental development and modding. Encoding things which I've learned over the years as "best practice". I'm gonna start a journal soon of the progress if your interested in following its development.

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