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Idea for samurai/ninja game

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Hello again, I have an idea for a samurai/ninja game and I thought I might run it by you really quick, since you are people of knowledge and I am just a beginner.

It is called Honshu, War in the Empire and the game would center around several game play aspects.  One would be strategy, where a player would take part in major battles, where he would lead a contingent of soldiers against an opposing force as part of the larger army.  The second aspect would be a general fighting aspect, where a player would fight in melee battles against enemy attackers.  And the all around aspect of gameplay would be roleplaying where the player would go on quests and accomplish tasks for his lord or the shogun.  The player will be able to choose between three different types of characters.  First is the samurai, the loyal warrior who would do anything for his lord and lives a life based around honor and loyalty, following the code of Bushido.  The second type of character is the ninja, a deadly assassin, a stealthy spy, and a manwho follows the orders of his ninja family, and not the Shogun or a lord.  The last type of character is the ronin samurai, who's primary purpose is to engage in melee battles with fellow ronin to test his skills, and every so often, he sells his services to a lord.  Now, the character that the player chooses to play will make a huge difference on what he can do in the game.  The samurai can engage in melee battles, quests, and strategic battles, but he is bound to only one lord, and cannot break that bond.  A ninja can engage in melee battles and quests, but cannot engage in strategic battles.  The Ronin can do quests, melee battles but is unlikely to engage in strategic battles unless he sells his services for that purpose.

The world will resemble ancient Japan, probably during the Sengoku, or warring states era, but it will not be exactly as Japan was, as all the lords and the shogun will be fictional characters.  The primary story will center around seven lords and their leader, the shogun, but some lords are for the shogun and others are plotting against the shogun. When the player chooses to play a samurai, they will have to choose a lord to serve, and they will know which side their lord is on, which will probably influence their choice. A ninja and a ronin do not have to choose a lord to serve as they go forward.  A ronin chooses to serve, or even if he wants to serve while he wanders through the land.  Ninja are spies and assassins, and will do whatever their bosses tell them to and work for whoever has hired them.  As the game moves forward, the world will change gradually as the powers within the game change.  A lord may be defeated, meaning that his house is destroyed and all of his samurai become ronin.  New powers might arise as things move forward, a lord's son may take over his place if he dies.

Anyway, the point of the game is not just to be a game, but to perhaps demystify these characters of the samurai/ninja/ronin a bit so the game would also be a learning tool.  I find the subject especially interesting, as it was the focus of my senior thesis, and I am just hoping that other people would find it interesting as well.  Anyway, any feedback would be wonderful.  I would love to make this an mmo if possible, but it would be a massive undertaking, and as a beginner, as you know from my previous post, it might not be in my means right now.  Anyway, please let me know what you think.  Thank you so much!!

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Combining large-scale battles, personal combat and adventuring is overly ambitious and incoherent: some of these aspects can be reduced to a collateral minigame (e.g. send spies between battles), reduced to a well-integrated part of the main game (e.g. exploration and stealth with specific units and limited purposes within a RTS), or implemented as variants of normal gameplay (e.g. a RTS turning into micromanaged melee combat with a handful of complex hero units and/or into RPG-like exploration with large maps and no reinforcements).

 

Your character types appear a bit irrelevant, because the only real one is the samurai, able to face all challenges and take any initiative. A ninja is, by definition, insignificant cannon fodder, while a ronin can be either hired by a noble house and effectively "promoted" to be the same as a regular samurai or independent and uninvolved in the plot (except perhaps as a minor enemy, not unlike bandits or savage animals).

Since your story is about noble houses struggling for power, ninja clans, monasteries, town leaders, various kinds of powerful free agents etc. cannot be important factions; they should appear as someone's allies.

 

Making a "learning tool" of your game is going to lead to ugly conflicts and compromises between fun and historical accuracy. For example, you might discover that rifles are a dominant strategy in battle and need to be limited or nerfed in unrealistic ways.

 

Regarding making a MMO, see the first item in the forum guidelines. Moreover, you are describing an eminently single-player game (your character vs. the rest of Japan: death or glory) which could be extended to small multiplayer battles without a plot. In a MMO design, not all players could be able to be the samurai general, and being a lowly soldier or ninja would suck.

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1) I could not resist - paragraphs & formatting :D It's not just about posting here, it's also about conveying your thoughts to the player, making manuals and such. If you did a wall of text like here in your promo no one would read it and buy such game, if you made it in the manual no one would read and understand it. It's really the first skill you need to master.

 

2) You try to bite more than you can chew. It's not only about difficulty of making it, you also water down your concept, you lose focus. Strategy+arcade is not the best combo ever (yeah, I know, it can work and there are exceptions), but mixing genres in your first game is kind of suicidal.

 

 

Check "Honor of the Samurai" boardgame.

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I agree with Lorenzo. You've got a lot of stuff you are trying to integrate into a single game and especially as this is your first game, you should start with something exceptionally small. Blurring styles is something that lends itself to people with more experience with the individual styles involved, as well as general game development/design experience already. Each person here likely has several "dream games" that they would like to make one day, but you should be patient. Wait until you have the right team/skillset/experience so that when such a game IS made, it can be exceptional.

In the mean time, you could attempt to make games that are representations of each of the separate elements of the game you want to make. Every game is, in and of itself, a combination of simpler games after all. Even Tetris is composed of the games of "identifying the blocks", "positioning the blocks", "rotating the block for the right integration", and then executing those steps as quickly/precisely as possible. It is worthwhile training to make sure you can complete the smaller tasks for your game efficiently before running head-on into the foray. What's more, the results of your efforts can effectively act as prototypes of the game you eventually wish to make anyway. You will have things to work off of and will become more aware of the pitfalls associated with developing that particular type of game system.

Edited by facehead1992

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Sounds kinda like Inindo: Way of the Ninja but with more of a sandbox style of play to it. I've had that game in the back of my mind as something to aim for one day for so long now (has it really been two decades?). The studio that made that game had a lot of experience making historical strategy warfare games and figured out how to combine that with a typical story based RPG. Essentially your character runs around Japan doing whatever and then at the end of the month the game switched to a mode that resolved the strategic moves between the Daimyos. If you were ninvolved in a battle, you had to be at the appropriate castle at the end of the month.

 

I think Facehead had some good advice, look at making games or projects that focus on the individual elements of the game you have in mind. Each of these elements will pose challenges to sort out on their own but hopefully you'll feel as though you're working towards the grander goal and remain motivated.

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So question: Would this again be a good idea for a single player game with some multi-player aspects? Something like a Halo or Call of Duty or something like that?  Or would it just be best to make something like a single player that is like Tenchu and Way of the Samurai combined?  Both of those games have a mission based part role playing aspect to them.  Or it could also take on a Fable type life.  The only thing would be, based on what character the player decides to play, the missions and quests would be slightly different.  Am I hitting on something a bit more viable now?  Please, give me as much advice as you can.  For me some of it is hard to hear, but it is helpful in understanding the scope of what I can do.  So please, anything, any thoughts at all.  Now that I think about it, it would make an awesome single player game in the console arena.   Please let me know if I am now headed in the right direction.  You have my thanks!!

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From the sound of it, it seems like a game that focuses on a single player story would be more akin to what you are looking for. Managing a complex story structure as you desire wouldn't be manageable with multiplayer components added on top of it. Additionally, incorporating online multiplayer as part of a solo beginner project is really not viable at all. To minimize the amount of content you have to make, I would suggest making a general campaign that every character participates in to some degree, completing the same missions (possibly with very minor differences), and then, since you really want there to be a unique plot integration for each "class", also having a separate line of missions that are exclusive to the specific class being played. For example, there may be a quest in which multiple shoguns are all fighting against a particular threat (the group storyline), and then there could be a few quests that focus on the individual activities of the class. This way, you can produce content that will be used by all of the classes and just devote a relatively small portion of your resources to developing content for the "unique" class stuff. Otherwise, you'll be producing 3 times the work of an actual game in order to essentially create 3 different games, one for each class.

I would suggest you use a simple game engine, particularly one that uses a 2D system, for game development since you are a beginner. Game Maker: Studio is pretty good (been messing around with it lately). The free version limits the number of items you can have, but it's still a good program. Another option is Construct 2 which is HTML/CSS/JS based. It's pretty good as well. Not sure about other options though. I would NOT recommend Unity for this type of project. A beginner jumping into 3D game development wouldn't really be a good idea imo. Not unless you are willing to devote several hours just to learning about texturing, lighting, modeling, and animation techniques, aside from the other aspects of learning how to program a game.

Edited by facehead1992

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So question: Would this again be a good idea for a single player game with some multi-player aspects? Something like a Halo or Call of Duty or something like that?

 
Multiplayer modes add a large amount of extra work because they add significant technical challenges, such as running servers and finding them, designing communication protocols, synchronizing clients while minimizing lag, handling player identities and maybe accounts, etc.
All these problems can be solved, usually in effective and efficient ways, but not for free.
I regret mentioning that in a strategy wargame player vs player battles are particularly appropriate; it's a standard feature but, in your case, probably a luxury that should be left out even under ideal circumstances.
 

Or would it just be best to make something like a single player that is like Tenchu and Way of the Samurai combined?  Both of those games have a mission based part role playing aspect to them.


Both these game series appear to have relatively complex fighting, complex character models and large 3D environments, putting them in the horribly expensive.tier of development budgets.
If you survive the initial setup effort of being ready to make 3D assets (which might be a worthwhile learning/recruiting experience) and getting a 3D engine running (which might be relatively easy and inexpensive with ready-made ones) you are left with the choice between a small and short game, a simplified and ugly game, or both.
 
Instead, as already touched by others, you should focus on cheap technology and development tools.
For example, if you choose a RPG angle rather than a wargame angle, tile-based 2D map editors should be suitable for churning out large amounts of Japanese-style scenery (after drawing some highly reusable tiles), and something like RPG Maker could serve as a tile map editor and allow cheap implementation of large amounts of characters, dialogues and fights, sacrificing the sort of action found in games like Tenchu.
 

Or it could also take on a Fable type life.  The only thing would be, based on what character the player decides to play, the missions and quests would be slightly different.  Am I hitting on something a bit more viable now?

 

No. Something like Fable is even more horribly expensive to make than a "standard" action-adventure game, and more difficult because it's more sophisticated. More mechanisms can go wrong, requiring more testing and more iterations, and it's very likely that more assets would be wasted on optional and mutually exclusive levels instead of used once in mandatory levels.

 

Please, give me as much advice as you can.  For me some of it is hard to hear, but it is helpful in understanding the scope of what I can do.

 

Your scope should be the smallest that leaves you with an acceptable game, and your expectations for a minimum viable product should be proportional to your skill and experience. What's the simplest and cheapest entertaining thing that a samurai or ninja could do?

 

So please, anything, any thoughts at all.  Now that I think about it, it would make an awesome single player game in the console arena.

 

Development for consoles is another difficult and expensive luxury. Choose one easy platform (most likely, Windows PC leveraging game-making tools).

 

Please let me know if I am now headed in the right direction.  You have my thanks!!

 

You are still headed in a tragically ambitious and confused direction, but at least you seem open to suggestions.

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Ah, okay Lorenzo and Facehead, that is very helpful.  What you are trying to say, I believe, is keep things as simple as possible without sacrificing the fun factor, but getting what I want, in some part, as well.  So something for PC would be good to start out with and something with a simple engine that would be easier to program.  I now understand what you are saying, that the original idea was way too ambitious and the following ideas were only slightly less.  I think you are right however and that if I am going to do this myself, or even with a small team, it might be easier to do it as a simple single player than try killing myself with something more extravagant.  Not only that, but I simply don't have the time.  I think that happens to every game hobbyist, but still, I only have a set amount of time to work on this and anything too elaborate would probably be a mistake on my part.  Anyway, thank you.  Any other suggestions or comments would be useful, so keep it going. Anybody has anything else to say, I will listen gladly!! 

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There is some god awful advice in this thread.

 

First about make the game focused on a small aspect and not mixing genres, that's stupid advice.

A budget game's biggest problem is content so you absolutely should try to make as much procedural content and simulations as you can because a pure RPG is absolutely a hog for content.

 

If your game is just another strategy game or just another rpg what is the point? how is it going to compete with the other indie titles that may have a better budget?

If your game is not interesting, if your ideas are not BOLD why even bother? experience? just shove it.

 

No. Something like Fable is even more horribly expensive to make than a "standard" action-adventure game, and more difficult because it's more sophisticated. More mechanisms can go wrong, requiring more testing and more iterations, and it's very likely that more assets would be wasted on optional and mutually exclusive levels instead of used once in mandatory levels.

Far from it, a single developer can come up and iterate sophisticated mechanics because it's their vision and nothing is standing in the way.

It is content that is the problem not mechanics so you should absolutely minimize content and maximize mechanics, it is your only advantage as an indie.

 

As for the idea itself.

MMO out of the question.

If you are not going to focus exclusively on multiplayer, forget about multiplayer.

If you are not a master 3d modeler and animator and know how to create procedural animation, forget about 3d.

Try to think about what differentiates you from Mount and Blade.

Focus on good combat mechanics.

 

Try to make your player an outlier and try to make all your RPG action and quests  affect directly or tangentially the strategic level but never give player strategic command( strategy general in other games). If you give the player an army make it independent  and focus on unconventional tactics like attack supplies, taking out generals,sabotage,betrayals or surgical strikes for capturing high value targets.

 

The strategic level should be mostly AI vs AI so you can abstract it somewhat, if you do not give the player direct command try to keep the AI balanced and slow so as one side no matter how powerful should not roll over the opposition immediately.

 

The player should be a spanner in the works of the strategic level, he is an agent of the lord that is cunning and unpredictable as the story goes, the classes have their advantages and ways but the outcome should be the same.

For example a samurai commander may take out an enemy commander through a cunning trap, while a ninja would sneak and attack directly. A samurai might do raids on the enemy while an ninja might incite riots in cities with both outcomes affecting the economy. A ronin can be a bit of both.

 

But the main conflict of the player should be on an RPG level, there should be other enemy agents that do the same thing and its your job to uncover information and protect against other agents. The strategic level is only the "story".

 

Also politics and diplomacy and logistic should have a real presence and be affected by the player, so for example factions can send ambassadors to other factions and a ninja could incite a scandal on that ambassador and blame it on the hosting faction.

Edited by adrix89

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So what you are saying Adrix89 is to go single player, but to keep some of the multiple elements?  Like the roleplaying and the strategy?  In all truth, I know I am going to need to put together a team, because I am not a programmer, I am a writer.  And this is just one of a million ideas that have come out of the idea mill of my mind.  So when I have a document that more solidifies the idea, then maybe try to find some people who can help implement.  I know it is going to be a massive project, and I have time now for the next three months or so, but I know I am not going to "finish" anything in this time. The point was to put the idea out here, ask for the help of people who have done this before, and  see if it's plausible to try and do what I intended.  From what is being said, there will need to be some changes for the plan, but if you think I can do this with multiple elements, I think that might be what I am going to do.  Anyway, keep it coming. Right now I feel like there are conflicting thoughts on this. Is there anyone who can help clear things up for me?  Any thoughts/advice would be helpful!!

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Putting up a team is useless, nobody is going to join if you don't have at least a prototype to show.

Just use what you are good at, writing.

 

Everybody can be a basic programer, you just need the right tool for your strength like ren'py or twine,those are for people who haven't ever touched code.

You just have to simplify your design and back it up with your writing.

The rest is game design, as long as you can manage the simulation on the strategic level,and it don't have to be anything too complicated, you are good to go.

Just read some books and play some games and yous should be fine.

I recommend playing Dominions 4 as it is very relevant strategy wise.

 

The RPG level can be substituted with writing, it still should still have some gamey aspects probably similar to princes maker, dating sims type training.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! is pretty much writing and still has combat and feels like a game.

You would probably have to be more dynamic and free then most games in your medium(visual novels,adventure games) but the events like assassination, attacks, sabotage and so on can easily be mapped to writing and choices.

 

Just focus on writing good characters with their own unique personality that you can interact and betray and you should be fine.

Edited by adrix89

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