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Zennoya

Backyard Genius [Game Idea] What You guys think of:

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Hi,
at beginning something about me and idea history -> I work as developer in business company, creating mostly business software and tools, and Im very passionate about games. Im playing a lot, and have a lot of ideas, and I want to start game developing too (but only in small scale - mostly to learn). I already had some ideas about games, and I even posted one here before, but after my eyes were opened by community, about game beeing too complex, similar games i didnt knew already on market etc, Ive dropped the project. And now I have new idea, so I wanted to know Your opinion of it. At this moment game is in very early stage, but Ive started making textures, coding and planning tech tree. Please tell me what You think of this game concept, and tell me what would You change, and do not hesitate to criticize it too.
 
The idea of came on, after playing a lot of strategy games - when playing games like f.e. XCom series ones, i realized that at some point I save the game, and start skipping tactical missions, and the plot too just to uncover all the reseach tree - to see how big it is, what it gives me, how my players equipment will change and so on. And I thought "What if there would be a game, when the research is main goal of game, not only part of other game?". So I decided to make such project myself (if there is such game please tell me its name - i will be happy to play it biggrin.png ).
 
STORY:
Story is quite short - You are Mark Glassberg. Mark is a genius, that just recently lost another job, because Your way of "free thinking" did not fit to corporation employee lifestyle. You dedided, that You will be corporation slave no more, and You earn fame, glory and a lot of cash "Your way". 
 
GOAL:
The game is about doing researches, and inventions. Your goal is to get Glory (by making several humanity breakthroughs) or Power (by making super/hiper mega combat suit like Ironman did ;), or some mind control equipment, or different stuff that most of movie/game evil characters try to do. Or just earn a lot lot lot of money, cause money is power too). But its not so simple. At beginning You have only your backyard, and a garage with old desk. You can earn cash in couple ways - mostly by inventing stuff, and selling blueprint or prototype. You obviously earn more cash by prototype, but it take resources and require tools to make those.
 
FEATURES:
- You invent stuff if different areas -> chemistry, biology, energy, drives, materials, tools (Ive already started tech tree of those, but still expanding), and they often require each other to be invented (f.e. to make some drive you need both to invent materials to build them, and a fuel for them using chemistry, and to make some fuels you need to do a lot of research both in chemistry and biology tech tree).
- Ofcourse You cant invent "miracly appearing materials" -> you need to buy them, or make them from something, using some tools, so You are spending the cash too). Also most of experiments/inventions requires a lot of stuff to be analyzed, f.e. in botany sometimes You have to analyze a plant which You can buy easly for 2$, and sometimes You require plant from rainforest, which costs couple thousands, and You have to wait long time until delivery will reach You). 
- You need to watch what inventions You are publishing, cause some inventions can be illegal (like drugs, weapons etc). You can ofcourse sack them.. wasting all effords, or leave them for later. Its Your choice anyway. 
- You need to cover/hide/protect Your lab, cause even if Your invention is legal, and You are not protected enough (both legaly and phisicaly), some people may be interested in getting them from you. Government can try to steal your weapon projects, oil companies can try to steal your fuel/energy projects, terrorists can try to steal some of your biology/chemistry projects etc.
- Ive already started to make engine using Unity, and at this moment game is sited at 2d voxel (terraria,craft the world, signs of life style) backyard map with garage, with digging option -> You can both build Your lab up, or dig it down (preffered options for safety, and illegal operations), but other than terraria style games, you cant build lab made of dirt only (and you rather wont have enough trees at your backyard, and rather wont dig any metals or oil there too) - you need to buy building materials which costs a lot, and get rid of dirt while digging while it costs even more. Ofcourse you can store dirt too, but Your backpacks can hold max 5 items), and its effective only at beginning, while you dont have anything else at Your backyard.
- Your inventions can have different customers (Government, Large Companies, Terrorists, Mafia/Drug Dealers, Ecologysts, or donate it for Society too). Decision You make can affect how much cash You get, but also affect consequences, and affect who and how much is tracing your progress and spy what Youre working on.
 
I think its all what i want to tell at this moment (or Ive just forgot some things i wanted to tell). Please tell me what You think about this idea, and is it game that You would like to play if it will be created someday.
Edited by Zennoya

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It sounds kind of interesting, but hard to see how it would play out. There are different directions you could go. For example if you can build new labs in different locations, then you could have factors such as moving to hide from your enemies, differences in resource availability in different areas, different legal restrictions, etc. Or if there's a component of the game outside the lab you would have the risk/reward choice of using the inventions yourself vs selling them. Perhaps risks of other inventors stealing or reverse-engineering your tech, protecting yourself from cheap knock-offs, other inventors beating you to the punch, etc.

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I'm assuming that there is a main goal: Reach X amount of money within Y time. Once a player achieves this goal, what are some of the incentives for them to try other ways to achieve this goal instead of playing it the same way every time because that way is the guaranteed win. Is there some end-game contents that the player can do? Are there missions? Or is it very open (players get to do whatever they want at any given time)?

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I'm assuming that there is a main goal: Reach X amount of money within Y time.

 

Maybe in some other game modes - scenarios or something there will be time limit, but Im not planning it in main game, but it doesnt mean that You have unlimited amount of time. What I want to achieve is a world invention timeline, because Youre not the only inventor in the world right? If You will be lazy, than someone else can invent some fuel, engine, bacteria or energy source before You, and You wont receive any cash for it. Your inventions can also affect world timeline, because your inventions will speed the timeline too -> this makes game more flexible, because You need to choose -> "Do I need money now, or maybe I'll keep my invention on my PC.. but they may be stolen, or invented by someone else" etc. So no clear time limit there, but depending what You do it can happen, that at some point of game, reaching the amount money to win is not possible to be achieved anymore, and You wont even know about it. But possibility of winning stays with "Glory" way -> Donating a lot of inventions to Society wont bring You much profit but You can win "Hobel Prize" (dunno if its legal to use Nobel Prize name ingame, so I decided to call it this way). 

 

Once a player achieves this goal, what are some of the incentives for them to try other ways to achieve this goal instead of playing it the same way every time because that way is the guaranteed win. Is there some end-game contents that the player can do?

 

Hmm, I hope that main incentive will be that he likes the game, and want to explore the tech tree, and try to winning different way. As the goal of the game is not "reach tech xxx" and I want the tech tree to be quite expanded (at least more than civilisation and xcom research trees together), so theres multiple way You can win, and the victory doesnt uncover whole tech tree. Also finding easy way, and using it always to achieve victory isnt so simple because a lot of stuff is going to be randomized -> global invention timeline i wrote before, robbery attemps, and even inventions cause to simulate unpredictability of inventions i wanted to set time of each research to base + random (from 0 to me base). This way, there wont be two same games.

 

 

Are there missions? Or is it very open (players get to do whatever they want at any given time)?

 

Basicaly its open and player can do whatever they want, BUT still remembering that world wont wait for them with its own inventions. And i plan some "Scenarios" later on, but as a different game mode. Maybe some zombie strike at Your lab, where You need to find a cure, before they reach You, or some space station rescue, where You need to build Your spaceship prototype fast. etc. But as Ive said - when the main game mode is finished.

 

 

It sounds kind of interesting, but hard to see how it would play out. There are different directions you could go. For example if you can build new labs in different locations, then you could have factors such as moving to hide from your enemies, differences in resource availability in different areas, different legal restrictions, etc. Or if there's a component of the game outside the lab you would have the risk/reward choice of using the inventions yourself vs selling them. Perhaps risks of other inventors stealing or reverse-engineering your tech, protecting yourself from cheap knock-offs, other inventors beating you to the punch, etc.

 

At this stage Im not planning to add any areas with different legal restrictions -> only Your backyard. Hiding from enemies is basicaly to hide underground with covered enterance or use your inventions to protect Yourself (Set traps maybe - but still thinking about it - dont want this game to be too much "action style"). Also in this times "robbery" doesnt need to be direct strike - You also need to think what computer You use, is it connected to internet (the one You use for buying stuff needs to be - can You afford another one, or risk some hacker attack?), how deep it is etc, - or You can keep Your most important discoveries in Your pocket (using pendrive - thats why theres only 5 inventory spaces ;) ). And about legal restrictions, resource avability - as Ive partialy said it before i want to resolve that by factions that youre selling your inventions too. F.e. making weapons is illegal... until You sell it to government or have good relations with them. Some resources prices would depends on relations with corporations, and terrorists can help you protecting Your backyard by sending You couple of armed hitmens. I plan to make diplomacy tab to manage faction relations, their awardness and enable some actions you can do to affect those, other than just selling them your inventions. Also they dont like each other (terrorists and government, corporations and society etc). About of addign some outside lab minigames or missions where you use Your inventions.. why not, but it will be at very end, when main game engine will be finished, and game will be already playable I can add those to improve gameplay - not all at a time.

 

BTW i finished drawing Mark, and started to make animations for him -> he will look this way:

 

mark_face.jpg

Edited by Zennoya

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Have you made any games before? This sounds wildly ambitious for a single person to program and make and artwork for, and completely unrealistic if it is your first game.

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Only games I made at this moment are some platformers I made with friend on IT classes at school, and some dirt digging ant game to learn what Unity can and how 3d and 2d voxels works and thats all about games Ive did, but... I may not have experience in games, and maybe Im a bit overambitious, but as Ive said before I have experience in both coding ( i work for over 6 years as full time developer ), and graphics ( i made a lot of sprites for friends, also a lot of graphics for websites, etc.). 

Because of my experience Ive chosen to make game like that which does not require 3d graphics (which obviously i have no practice with so its nearly impossible for me to make), not as much 2d graphics, to overflow my possibilities (and obviously if it will be possible im going to use some free art too instead of drawing everything myself, but main character is quite required to be mine), and as little action/pathfinding/AI code as possible. Ive chosen approche where I can use my code skills (so mainly statistics, research algorythms etc, but it would be boring without some lab building right?).

 

Also I don't mind is someone dev or artist would like to join me in this project, but I suppose that the fact that someone joins me at the state of "idea" is more unrealistic than that i will finish it alone, right?

 

And thats how Corporations, Army and Mafia representatives at Diplomacy will look (it was made using Mark layers, so it looks similar, and time efford to make it was only like 20 mins each):

government.jpgarmy.jpgmafia.jpg
Edited by Zennoya

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Yeah you've got excellent experience for coming into making a game, the problem is - I think the game you describe is huge. I would suggest to make the game as simple as possible initially, making the code with it in mind that things can be expanded, and once you have the game running (you can play through the initial part) and it's interesting to play, then concentrate on adding in all the story and variety. One of the toughest things in making a game is actually making it really fun and interesting to play. It would be rubbish if you spend a great deal of time trying to develop your game and all the ideas you have for it and end up with just a complex mess at the end. 

 

Edit: BTW, those graphics look pretty neat.

Edited by Mats1

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I don't think the game is too complex and huge - i may even say that ist quite easy, because even with big content its still procedural, and repeatable. It also depends in what order I will code it -> first I want to make it playable at all, and then expand, so priority for me is to make backyard digging, building, equipment placing etc fully working, so it will be playable in the simplies manner. Next thing i want to add is to add researching engine, and enable player to do researches and sell blueprints (no prototype building yet). After that im going to make graphics for all workstations, and fully expand research engine, including keeping all techs with requirements, workstations needed, materials needed, base time, base price etc in xml files, so it will both make it easier for me to expand tech tree, and give players basic modding possibility. At this point game should be quite playable and even give some fun, to player. As You see to this point its not as much as it seems, while still beeing playable and giving some fun.

 

Later on harder work starts -> adding factions, diplomacy, events, robberies, game goals, prototypes etc. And yes, I agree here - it will be huge amount of time to write it, but maybe at that point i will both have more experience in game making, and maybe i wont be alone anymore too.

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  Personally I like the idea. I think it's actually kind of wacky, and fun. What I would watch tho is the complexity of your game. Making it deep and layered may offer a lot of depth for players that stick with it for a while, but may overtake a new player quite harshly. Make sure that the very first researches and inventions be done with as little effort on the player's part as possible, then up the difficulty or load of work methodically.( for example: For " Wacky Automated Fork " you only need time and a small amount of money, then for the next one, higher up the chain you need to have researched something or another, and be sure to tell the player how to do that.)
 

  Another thing I would point out is to stick with your style and feel for the game. I see you are going with a simple funny comical look. It's great. Keep going for it, and devote all of your game to that feel. Don't be afraid to name the possible inventions or research topics as wacky and dumb/ironic/satiric as you can think of (while maintaining a solid regard for the age group your game will be targeted at). Also, go nuts with the dialogue. Make each representative as goofy and satiric as you can, give them "catch-phrases" and verbal ticks, etc...

 Also I would also introduce some kind of "Sidekick" or at least a helper character( maybe a lawyer?) to help and consult, maybe act as a help/quest-giver for (Mark?).

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Presumably, the total possible inventions a player can discover is going to depend on the number of recipes that you, Zennoya, can think of and put into the game. What happens when the player discovers them all or otherwise hits the top of the technology tree? Are you planning on allowing the player to continue to play in the sandbox and if so, what would the player do? (A congratulatory Game Over ending would of course work well too.)

It would be interesting if, by selling or other exposition of an invention to the world, you begin to see it in use in the game world both by enemies and any one else. And with your enemies getting a hold of your own tech to use against you, you're faced with an increased challenge to survive that requires you to invent something else. Or perhaps a released invention drives a need for some additional invention. I'm not sure how you'd go about implementing something like that but I think it might make for a compelling piece of game play.

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