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Hello all.  I was wondering if you all could give me some advice, as I am in need of guidance as a new comer to making games.  In all truth I think of myself as more of a writer, but the truth is, if I get my idea started, I will probably take on a designer role.  Here comes the idea: I was thinking of creating a game that would be a little like Harry Potter, but not at all set in that world or using those characters and it would probably be for a more mature audience.  Think kind of a young or new adult novel set in a magical world with a school for magical people.  The goal would be to attend school, and then once you are out of school (or even during) whether or not you want to fight for the forces of good, or the forces of evil.  After school you would also have to get a job in the magical world, and you would have to continue to contribute on one side or the other.  Okay here come the noob questions: It sounds like what I have heard the most is that it is impractical to make an MMO unless you have access to funds and talent.  As much as I would like to make this game an MMO, if for a first game it is impractical maybe I should not go that route. WOuld it be more practical to make an action RPG single player game, and if people like and buy that to make a new version of the game that is an MMO later on?  Also someone mentioned Steam to me.  Is that a good means of distribution, or it that something that I should avoid and try to get my game published by other means?  Also, I really like this site, and I like the fact that you can post hobbyist projects here.  Is this a good place to find talent?  I have friends on facebook, but none of them are rallying to my call just yet.  And last but not least, what do you think of the idea?  Is it viable?  Or do you think that I should try something else to start out with?  Anyway, those are all my questions at present.  If I have more, I will post them, you can be sure.  Thank you in advance for your patience. Cheers!!

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Yeah, everything Tom said is pretty much the gist of it. If you have little to no experience making games (which is similar to my own department), it would be very wise for you to either start with things as simple as possible (if you want to make something yourself and develop your own skills) or work on a game that someone else plans to program. You essentially need to decide whether you want to learn programming and really become proficient with it. Since you said you were more of a writer/designer, that may not be something you want to devote yourself to - in which case, you'll wanna find someone else already making a game and help them as a writer/designer. I think of myself as a programmer, game designer, and narrative designer, but I'm not talented at actual narrative writing, so I understand the predicament a bit, especially since I am not yet in contact with any writers willing to do free work on a project that likely will not yield any funds.

Edited by facehead1992

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Yes I agree.  I had no experience designing and creating games so I started off small, creating games like Tetris, Pong, Chess (without the AI) then I moved onto bigger projects.  If you are going to be the designer of this game then make sure that it is a game that you would want to play otherwise your project will fail.  You should play other games of the same genre to get a feel for what works and what doesn't.

 

You idea is a good start but you need to flesh it out with a lot more detail.  Once you have a detailed design document then you can start gathering a team to develop it.

 

Best of luck to you.

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On my own, I'd be interested in a single player RPG game like this (sounds like KOTOR to me) but I am probably an extinct race. Nowadays games are multiplayer and console oriented. So your project would be near impossible to realize without substantial money involving.

 

But still think a KOTOR like singleplayer game is niche atm, as a Simcity game is.

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It sounds like what I have heard the most is that it is impractical to make an MMO unless you have access to funds and talent. As much as I would like to make this game an MMO, if for a first game it is impractical maybe I should not go that route.

MMO means multi million online, you can still make an online game.

An online world is a bit much, but an online trade-center, arena or just a social happening are a bit easier.

(your game does sound like a single player RPG though

 

 

WOuld it be more practical to make an action RPG single player game, and if people like and buy that to make a new version of the game that is an MMO later on?

World of Warcraft did it like that, it came from Warcraft, it even switched into another genre.

edit:it could be a good idea but i think it would mean you 'd have to reprogram the whole game, so i wouldn't call it practical.

 

And last but not least, what do you think of the idea? Is it viable?

Hard to say, not much on the game itself.

It seems you 're just starting out though, so maybe see this game as a learning experience ?

Edited by powerneg

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A type of online game that often goes unmentioned is what is called a 'villiage game' -- a term mostly-inspired by the first few successful examples of what is, essentially, a small-scale MMO.

 

Now, any game -- single player offline or , multi/villiage/massively-online -- is a huge undertaking, but there are a number of these small-scale MMO 'villiage games' that have been successfully running for years. No one's getting fabulously wealthy from them, but they're making a living. Villiage games are typified by embracing their modest player base (typically between 1000-10000 active subscriptions, and a few hundred to a couple thousand online players), rather than designing for mass-market like WOW. Players appreciate the more-intimate setting and community, and the devs typically provide a framework for the universe but incorporate community feedback seriously -- in a lot of ways, you can think of it as a smaller, more democratic MMORPG. In return, the player base, although small, tends to be extremely loyal, and generally lacking in griefing or other misbehavior. Most of these games are simpler in nature than WOW, or what you seem to describe, though -- many are 2D even -- but you can't expect to pay for modern AAA content on the backs of only a few thousand subscriptions.

 

 

Now, I'm not saying that a villiage game is much easier than an MMO -- its largely the same type of infrastructure and technology, just with less emphasis on scalability and related concerns. Every game is a tough technical challenge if its polished to professional standards. Mostly what I'm saying is don't limit yourself to binary thinking of "I can *either* make a simple, single-player game, or a complex, 3D MMORPG." There is a world of opportunity in between.

 

Imagine if the movie industry only make two types of movies -- Mainstream Blockbusters and obscure art-house films. Sometimes it seems like that's the reality, actually, because those two categories are what gets the most attention. But there's a few studios dedicated to the in-between -- movies with modest budgets, using competent actors rather than well-known ones, telling different kinds of stories for a particular audience, and not compromising any of that for mass-market appeal. Sometimes, even the big guys do things like that, although their business structures and ways of thinking often aren't aligned to it. Anyways, don't lose sight that the in-between is there.

 

Stepping off my soap-box; I agree with the others here that it sounds like you could use some practice before taking on something so large. You say you're a writer, and that's great -- its a useful skill, but one that is just a small part of making a game. Its great that you'll step up to act as a designer, but again, that's just one small part of making a game (and, frankly, one which many writer types think they're capable of, but actually know nothing about.) Another challenge you will face is that most artistic and technical people already have a dozen game ideas of their own, so why should they work on yours if writing and design are all you bring to the table? Not to mention that what you have presented here is a premise or high-concept -- not a design -- its not much more fleshed out than a gamer musing that he'd really like to play "Zelda but set in Egypt with an Indiana Jones-like protagonist". I would suggest that step 1 for you, if you elect to not seek experience by volunteering for existing projects, would be to really sit down and flesh out your idea -- leave the game-design parts out, even -- concentrate on your characters, settings, relationships, story-arc, side-stories, and all that writery stuff. Without going into design details, incorporate elements that support your envisioned gameplay into your fiction. That would put you in good stead to take the next steps.

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Okay, thank you all for your responses!! They will be very helpful.  It is true that what I have here is a premise that needs to see more developement, but I figured I would ask the question anyway.  Maybe when I get a more solid idea of where this is going, I think I will share more here so that you can see as well.  Right now I am thinking that maybe it would fit more into the in between spaces, as it is not going to be a major release to start out with, so it might be wise to start there.  I just wanted to know if it made more sense to just do a single player to start out with.  I think what I would go for is gameplay somewhat like Fable, as I really enjoyed that game when I first played it, and maybe there will be online elements.  Something like that would be useable on both consoles and PC. But even if it is single player, I would like to have very costumizeable character creation, with choices you might find in a Sims game.  Anyway, these are just random thoughts at the moment. I will have more later.  Thank you so much!!  If there is any other advise you can give it is most welcome!  Cheers!  :)

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Here is the story I came up with for the game.  It is just a brief synopsis, but tell me if it makes sense.  And of course, any feedback or observations you might be able to add are well taken and useful, so please, let me know.

Welcome to the world of Seonia, a world where the magical people and the normals are quite aware of each other but refuse to acknowledge each other. However, a threat is looming on the horizon. A dark sorcerer named Cascaval has come out of the shadows, and he seeks revenge against both the magical world and the world of the normals for slights unknown. He is in search of a great weapon that will help him in his revenge, a crystal of amazing power, if he finds it, all is lost.
Welcome students to Brightstone Academy, the premier school of magic. Here, as the player, you will follow the story of Cascaval's search for the crystal and take part in the effort to stop him as the storyline moves forward from school days to adulthood. A player will be able to choose from four races, the human boy/girl, the centaur boy/girl, the elven boy/girl of the fairy boy/girl. From there, a player will be able to choose a class from Spell Warrior, Charms Master, Beast Master, Rune Sage, Plant wrangler, and monster slayer. Then a player will enter Seonia, go into instances where they will earn new spells and skills, take part in the storyline, and earn experience while taking part in the day to day quests of Brightstone Academy.
A player can then choose, to join the fight against Cascaval, or to join with him in his evil quests. Your alignment is your choice. When you are an adult wizard you can make this choice, building on it in school and then making the final decision. This is Seonia, and there are many secrets within Brightstone Academy, some of which may change the world forever. Your adventure has only just begun, sorcerer.

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Here is the story I came up with for the game.  It is just a brief synopsis, but tell me if it makes sense.  And of course, any feedback or observations you might be able to add are well taken and useful, so please, let me know.

 

From a game design standpoint I think it would be more beneficial to get feedback on the differences between the classes -- what makes a Rune Sage mechanically different from a Monster Slayer or Spell Warrior? -- and the way this magic actually functions in game rather than the specifics of the story.  I'm much more interested in what effects the player's alignment has on gameplay rather than the fact that players can align with the evil Cascaval.

 

I want to know how the spells look, how the spells are cast, how they impact the world, how they can be countered/mitigated, and who can use them.  You are making a game about sorcerers, so I think creating a sorcery system that is thematic and fun is more important than the specific who's-its and what's-its of a detailed backstory.

 

Think of Call of Duty... I don't know much about the story, but I sure know the game mechanics of shooting things are well defined and developed, which supports any story about shooting things.  (I'm not a CoD player, so this example may be off)  Make a great magic system that any story that focuses on magic will work with.

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As GoCatGo said, from a game design point of view the story is not really important. Knowing the context is good enough (who, what, where, when, why)

The rest would rather belong in the writing section of the forum :)

(I might as well give my opinion on the story. No offense, but it seems to be a boring Manichean story with a possible face-heel turn at the end. And using a bad guy who is a bad guy because he do bad thing is a trap you can easily fall (event though here I don't have all the story). I like the fact that you added centaurs and fairy as playable races, if correctly used it can bring some freshness to an overused fantasy setting. But it should be sufficient for non-heavily-driven game. If you just want a simple setting it should be enough.)

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Okay, I understand what you are both say...I think.  Throughout the game, the player will have to make various choices, and do various interactions with important NPCs and even unimportant NPCs who maybe don't have a part in the main story, but their opinion adds to the public opinion of the school.  It is very much like a Fable sort of making choices and being judged by those choices.  Like a player might be given a choice to either help or hinder a fellow student.  If the player chooses to help, the NPC will have a good opinion of a player.  If they choose not to help, the NPC will have a bad opinion.  Also if a player aids an NPC who is known to be wicked, that will take them more to the evil side of the meter or scale as well.  I picture it like this, (which is very mich like Fable, lol) evil----------Neutral----------Good.  A player starts out at neutral and goes either right, toward good, or left toward evil.  Killing neutral animals/creatures (creatures that do not attack you unless provoked, will also lean toward evil.  So I guess it all depends on how the player wants to play.  This will be an interesting system to implement, but it should be an interesting sort of thing to add to the game, if it can indeed be implemented.  Spell Warriors and Monster Slayers use mostly offensive spells, meaning that their attack damage made by spells is more potent.  However this puts them at a defensive disadvantage. A Rune Sage, on the other hand, can use both offensive and defensive spells equally as well.  The Beast Master and Plant Wrangler are also good at defensive/ offensive magic. Therefore, based on what class you choose, you will have different spells available to you.  And a Charms Master is mostly defensive magic.  Say that a Rune Sage is in a battle.  He would have to choose from his store of rune-carved tablets to choose if he wants to cast defensive or offensive magic.  If he chooses the water tablet, that is mostly healing magic with life-drops and such, but they would also have the Tsunami spell available to them, which damages the enemy with a massive wave of water.  If he were to use the Earth rune, he would have "stone protector", but he would also have "earthquake" which would make the earth rumble and would damage enemies.  Also certain races will be more suitable to certain classes.  An Elf may make a better Rune Sage while a Centaur might make a better Spell Warrior, or Monster Slayer.Anyway, I hope that that all makes sense.  There will be a twist to the story.  In the end, the crystal turns out to be in some way attached to a very special person.  Interacting with the story and finding out more about this person and her people will be the meat of the story. In the end, I do want the game play to be about player choices.  However that might be easier said than done.

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(First and a little off subject, and sorry for bringing this, but a little formating is always appreciated :) )

I have few more questions :

1 - Moral orientation : in what their orientation affect the game? Does that affect only the story? Does the people in school will give ou free stuf if your are good? Does it restrain the people you can add to your party? 

2 - Five classes, can they be categorized like following :

Spell Warriors (DPS)
Monster Slayers (DPS)
Rune Sage (All around)
Beast Master (All around)
Plant Wrangler (All around)
Charms Master (Tank?)

Finally, most of your class have both offensive and defensive power and finally seems identical. Why should I choose the Spell Warrior over the Monster slayer? Is there only there skill set which is different? Does they have special mechanism?

The rune mage system would be most interesting (in my opinion) if the tablet will give him either offensive power and boost, or defensive power and boost, not both. With what you describe, the only point in switching tablet is to match the enemies' element, right? (fire vs water, etc...)

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(Formatting would definitely help my understanding as well!)

 

I have two main suggestions:

  1. Find an extensive guide for a game you enjoy or know well (Fable seems to be a favorite of yours).  Study it to see how the actual game mechanics work.  You seem stuck in thinking that game design is simply saying "You cast a spell and have the choice to be good or evil!"  You need a large dose of spreadsheets and formulas to design an RPG.  You are missing meat in this sandwich -- so far you've only got a topping or two and a recipe for sauce.
  2. This opinion (like all opinions) is entire subjective, but... Good/Neutral/Evil morality systems are so BioWare 2003.  They offer very little to pique my interest and I consider myself to be a very typical (if not jaded) gamer.  It tends to default to an obvious Good vs. Bad path with no real story options beyond being Captain Nice or Kommisar Jerkface.  Find a more meaningful way for in-game choices to have in-game consequences.

I encourage you to seek story advice in the appropriate places and to make hard choices on actual design and mechanics for your game here.  I'd be happy to provide templates or examples to you if you would find them helpful.

Edited by GoCatGo

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So the old morality system is old news?  Ah so it goes.  GoCatGo, if you can provide any sort of guidance, that would be fabulous.  I agree with you that the story doesn't matter here and mechanics are more important, as they are what makes the game, or at least 60% of it.  I will look at my guide for LOTRO when I find the time, and maybe my guide for WOW as well.  I have never had to deal with mechanics before, but anything you can offer would be most welcome if you have links, templates or whatever.  Right now I am writing out a rather length document by hand, which includes some of the stuff you are talking about, but at present it is only a written document, and I will have to find time to actually write it out (old writing habit of writing everything out longhand). 

I have been told of my formatting problems before, so I assume that it is really annoying to read the block of text (sorry), but I am on my way to learning, so please have patience with me as muddle through everything.  Maybe adding the morality things is not a good idea, as it would just mean that either public opinion says you are either bad or good.  While I could probably weave in consequences, it might be more trouble than it's worth. 

Also I was thinking that it would go something like this

Spell Warrior (tank)

Monster Slayer (DPS)

Charms Master (Healer?)

[rune Sage, Beast Master, Plant Wrangler] (All around)

Or at least that is what I am thinking, but I will have to go back and look at the exact descriptions that I decided on again.

 

So here's what I think I will do. I will try and find time and type out what I have thus far (no story), and I will try and put it up here under files or something.  But please keep it going. Anything, any advice, anything, would be most welcome.  Thank you for your help thus far!!

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So the old morality system is old news?  Ah so it goes.

 

I do not really agree (but, it's also an opinion, so ^^') In term of morality choice maybe good versus evil is outdated (what is good for you may be bad for other) but instead maybe having a kind of faction-based morality. For exemple, if you do something to help the forest (you hippi!) then you will gain some point in the drudic circle, if you don't (you capitalist!) you will gain point in the Mecamage corporation. By progressing on one or the other "faction" will give you bonus, equipment, and may influence the story.

An other solution would be achievement bonus. If you choose to free the unicorn you will have a permanent bonus of +1 in magic, but if you choose to eat it, you will have a permanent bonus of +1 in Strength. And some NPC will respond differently depending on your achivement.
 

I have never had to deal with mechanics before, but anything you can offer would be most welcome if you have links, templates or whatever.

 

If you want document on game design there is the excellent book : http://artofgamedesign.com/book/
There is also a lot of topic on this forum where people ask how to start, and the answers are generaly quite good :)
 

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A type of online game that often goes unmentioned is what is called a 'villiage game' -- a term mostly-inspired by the first few successful examples of what is, essentially, a small-scale MMO.

Now, any game -- single player offline or , multi/villiage/massively-online -- is a huge undertaking, but there are a number of these small-scale MMO 'villiage games' that have been successfully running for years. No one's getting fabulously wealthy from them, but they're making a living. Villiage games are typified by embracing their modest player base (typically between 1000-10000 active subscriptions, and a few hundred to a couple thousand online players), rather than designing for mass-market like WOW. Players appreciate the more-intimate setting and community, and the devs typically provide a framework for the universe but incorporate community feedback seriously -- in a lot of ways, you can think of it as a smaller, more democratic MMORPG. In return, the player base, although small, tends to be extremely loyal, and generally lacking in griefing or other misbehavior. Most of these games are simpler in nature than WOW, or what you seem to describe, though -- many are 2D even -- but you can't expect to pay for modern AAA content on the backs of only a few thousand subscriptions.
Yeah, I make these (never heard of "village game" term but it perfectly describes it in my opinion :D) The funny thing is the marketing/players numbers, it seems that there is a predefined number of players these games have (500 daily players being the upper limit (at the moment of writing - 2014)) and I have instance of clans/groups of players joining "because there are no players in that game so we can claim it" :) The community dynamics definitely is crazy there and indeed feels like one of a tribe.

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I have never had to deal with mechanics before, but anything you can offer would be most welcome if you have links, templates or whatever.

 

I, like many people here, would be happy to point you in the right direction.  Take nothing I might suggest as a hard-and-fast law, though -- most of it is very much what works well for me and my projects.  I'm constantly touting the virtues of Machinations:

 

http://www.jorisdormans.nl/machinations/

 

and this document outlining RPG design patterns:

 

http://www.autzones.com/din6000/textes/semaine13/Kirk%282005%29.pdf

 

The Art of Game Design (http://artofgamedesign.com/), as suggested by Navezof, is indeed a MUST.  No delay, just read it.

 


Maybe adding the morality things is not a good idea,

 

I may have been too harsh on what you wrote -- it is certainly a fine idea, but the difference between it turning out ::blah:: or AWESOME! in-game is how you implement it.  If your morality is just a scale with EVIL on the left an GOOD on the right, set by a series of binary choices, I believe you might be in blah range.  Again, my opinion.  But with some elbow grease you can turn it into something enjoyable that supports the story you are telling. 

 

You're in the right place to learn this stuff.  Kudos for taking the time to read critical feedback and following up on the information -- that's a great sign that you might bring this game across the finish line!  I will share anything I know with you.  The more specific the question, the more likely you'll get the help you need from this community.

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Okay, thank you very much for sharing.  I also saw somewhere here an example of a design document. I will look at that as well.  While it might not work exactly for what I am trying to do, it could be used for a basic template.  I will have to wait to get the book, because literally no money, but the other one you shared that's online will be useful.  That's interesting the thought of not having a morality gauge, but an affect to attributes instead, which could definitely work!! Plus in some way, it makes more sense, lol... Anyway I am going to try and find some time to do some typing soon. Until then, I will be writing diligently in the old notebook.  But it's hard to draw things in the notebook, as I am hardly an artist.

Anyway, thank you so much for your help.  Anything else you can add would be most welcome. I need all the help I can get.

P.S. Acharis, you are working on a medieval sim?  So wish I could have been in on that, lol. Crazy history major here.  Anyway, thanks.

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P.S. Acharis, you are working on a medieval sim? So wish I could have been in on that, lol. Crazy history major here. Anyway, thanks.
More like finished (almost) working on it, preparing for the big release :)  Then (probably) space empire builder I go :)

 

A practical tip: scale down, always scale down, find one core activity, polish it, make it fun

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A practical tip: scale down, always scale down, find one core activity, polish it, make it fun

 

So true :D

I would also add to break the scaled down core into multiple pieces and work on them one by one.

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Question, and this may be a ridiculous one, but instead of having specific "classes" like they do in LOTRO or WOW, what if I were just to offer the player lots of spells to learn and have them create sort of a hybrid class based on what they choose to work with.  Whether they choose to use healing and protective spells or melee combat and offensive spells?  Or would that be too difficult to implement?  Also I don't want to go in the Harry Potter direction and have houses, but I do think there should be some kind of competition amongst "students".  Can anyone thinks of a similar system that would be easy to implement?

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For classes, maybe do it like a school might, where you have "courses" with prerequisites, and get a "major" and maybe a "minor".  Or try to pull off a dual major, except then you lose out on neat electives that don't fit into any particular major.  

 

If you pass a course, you get a new spell/ability/stat boost, but there's a chance that you fail.  (For example, your chance to pass might be based on your natural aptitudes, which maybe the player doesn't know.  You spend a lot of your first year trying out different things to determine what you might be good at.)  But there are things you can do to up your chances: like completing all the prerequisite courses, or buying the textbook, or studying at night.  (Or you could spend that study time partying instead: risky for spell learning, but increases your bro network to give you allies later.)

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