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Gauging 2 new concepts, and my (potential) first game

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During my Long egress from this site, I have met and befriended an aspiring coder at my school who has experience with unity, and have met a teacher and another student who both have experience with the engine (one is a new graphic designer).

 

In addition, I have logged onto the unity forums and have gotten some encouraging advice from some of the posters there, and I plan to create my first game using that engine. Finally, i have conceptualized two new games, both of which are indies (one is larger than the other though).

 

There are two things I'd like to mention on this post:

 

  • TWO NEW GAMES:

These two games are both RPGs. I will also provide a list of sample critique points for you to fill in if you feel the need.

 

FRITE FUZERZ (Eastern-style Turn-based narrative RPG): demented, infested with potty and gallows humor, and obsessed with moral panics when it is being serious, Frite Fuzerz is a burtonesque RPG inspired by the likes of Goosebumps crossed with a children's anime of the late 1990's, such as Digimon. There are few words that can describe this RPG other than demented, insanely funny, crazy, and most importantly, unique. The game is a Turn-based RPG with heavy tactical elements, such as character positioning (used for attacks, as they do not auto-target). The battle system is also unique in the way that it does not transition into another screen when combat begins; instead, it goes from real-time exploration to turn-based combat within the same environment. Dungeons are explored using a series of fixed viewpoints similar to security cameras that can be rotated between, and there is a radar for ease of exploration (monsters cannot be seen on the radar; the player must instead find clues within the level to determine where an enemy is). Another unique mechanic is the presence of monster-transformation; the main characters can use soul pacts to turn themselves into monsters to fight. Story-wise, the game is heavily based around the satanic panic of the late 1990's (and the lives ruined, innocents demonized and railroaded, and tragedies of the hysteria) and how humans would actually react to the existence of supernatural creatures, especially when religion is concerned. The game is for the PC, and is targeted towards kids.

  • critique points:
  1. is it appropriate for kids? (due to the heavier themes of society and fear, do any of you believe that this game could effectively be marketed to that audience).
  2. Battle system (will forcing all movements to be turn based be easier to code than transitioning to another screen?)
  3. Dungeon exploration (I have had a supposition that rotational fixed views would be inflexible and difficult to control, what about you?)

 

SOMNION: DARKEST DREAMS (Western-style sandbox/dungeon crawl RPG with visual novel elements): Lovecraft has never been more tween! Somnion: Darkest Dreams is a Sandbox RPG/Dungeon-crawler hybrid that uses a combination of atmosphere and randomization to set the gameplay and experience. Gameplay-wise the game uses a much-less-difficult variation of Bloodborne's combat system (with added options for ranged attacks) combined with a TES-like quest system and a unique item and equipment customization system based off of patterns. Atmospherically (as can be inferred by the title, Somnion partially takes place in a dream world), the game uses a combination of anachronistic technology, nightmarish dreamscapes, an ambiguous lore and mysterious world, and extensive randomization to paint an unsettling picture for the player. All this, however, only occurs while the player character is asleep. While awake, they live mostly ordinary lives, befriending and spending time with other non-playable characters and doing other activities while investigating a mysterious conspiracy perpetrated by fellow students of their middle-school. What happens it the dream world can affect the waking world, and vice-versa. The player may gain access to allies in the dream world by befriending and having relationships with NPCs and can perform actions (such as completing quests or defeating monsters) in the dream world that may aid characters in the waking world. The story also relies on randomization, though these are limited to only a few major and minor points, aside from characters. The game is aimed at the 12-14 age group, and is going to be a download title on both PC and major consoles at about 20.00 USD.

  • Critique points:
  1. Is this AAA/will it require a publisher? (I conceptualized this game with the estimation of an around 100K USD budget. Will it require more?)
  2. Is it appropriate for the specified age group? (despite Somnion's visceral combat, there is no gore as monsters and dreamselves bleed black or white energy. In addition, the game incorporates psychological horror elements and while not a true cosmic horror story on account of the fact that the resident eldritch abominations are mortal and can be killed, Somnion does take heavy inspiration from HP Lovecraft.)
  3. Randomized story: a good idea? (despite the fact that only a few aspects of the story can be randomized, and that those, like items and characters, are based off of patterns).

 

  • My potential first game:

Some of the advice I got from the Unity forums recommended that after my "team" (me, my friend, his 4 friends, my teacher, and my teacher's friend) completes all of the official tutorials is the time when I should be conceptualizing my own games. Despite this I'm having some trouble communicating with all the members of my team, so I've taken to designing a simple dungeon-crawler.

 

It has two levels, five weapon and enemy types, one boss at the end, and is made using pre-made assets and is turn based.

 

  • questions:
  1. Any of you know a good way of networking a small team like the one I just mentioned? could I use Gmail or some other form of email
    ?
  2. How long will it take to complete all the tutorials, and then the dungeon crawler? how much will it cost? any estimates?

 

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Idea 1:

 

Would kids want to play an in-depth tactical game?

 

Would they remember/relate to the anti-cult panic from the 90's?

 

1. Sure, but would kids be interested in that theme?

2. Not really.

 

Idea 2:

 

This is a miserable market idea. A game with Skyrim's scope aimed to 12-14 is doomed to fail. Not only that, it sounds like the art content required is immense and various styles. Games of this scope almost always need to hit a Mature rating so they can get older demographics as well as younger.

 

1. Yes.It will require many times that amount.

 

 

First game :

 

Keep in mind, your teachers + their friends are most likely prohibited from working with you on this for fear of bias. Most school's policies are like that.

 

1. Slack seems ideal for it.

 

https://slack.com/

 

Here are some rough estimates on how much Skyrim cost to make.

 

Skyrim Development Statistics

Number of years it took to develope Skyrim 3.5 years

Skryim development and marketing budget $85 Million

Number of game developers employed 90

Number of actors employed for character voice overs 83

http://www.statisticbrain.com/skyrim-the-elder-scrolls-v-statistics/

 

 

Unity is a great choice for a first engine, though, but you should start with something MUCH simpler, more along the lines of pong.

Edited by conq

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First off, does it matter if they remember the satanic panic or not? It will teach them about those times. There are countless other games that are appreciated because they take place in a time before the players remember, because these games teach them about those times.

 

As for your so-called "critique" of Somnion: why does a game that big (it is not even anywhere NEAR the size of Skyrim) always have to be marketed towards adults? It makes no sense when thought about critically, especially when taking into account other media (books, cartoons/anime, and movies) and games (anything Nintendo makes). Plus, (I may have forgotten to post it, sorry) the game has only one art style: horror-anime. And why will it require "many times" that amount of resources if it is A: only about the size of Oblivion WITHOUT DLC B: Heavily reliant on AREA randomization to create it's own game world C: only partially voiced.

 

Ultimately, I wonder what the point of asking if Somnion was AAA in the first place. I designed it as a AA-non-published game. Plus, again, what is the point of saying that Frite Fuzerz is not for kids because they can't remember the story? You greatly underestimate children's ability to learn, and to relate to what they learn (Frite Fuzerz is targeted towards the same audience as Somnion anyways; Why does everybody believe I am marketing to five year olds when I say I am marketing to kids? it's an untapped market to say the least)

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First off, does it matter if they remember the satanic panic or not? It will teach them about those times. There are countless other games that are appreciated because they take place in a time before the players remember, because these games teach them about those times.

 

Usually you're talking about fantasy environments. Even FPS games learned that people don't connect much with world war 2 shooters, and are instead trying to make shooters set in modern times. The only recent game I can think of set in a somewhat realistic time is Mount&Blade: With fire and sword, which (I believe) went for an M rating.

 

 

 


As for your so-called "critique" of Somnion: why does a game that big (it is not even anywhere NEAR the size of Skyrim) always have to be marketed towards adults?

 

Because games of that scale are much more expensive than books/movies (Unsure about Cartoons. Probably though). Nintendo has a unique market where they can sell based off of nostalgia from when people were kids, and played on the NES/SNES

 

 

 


Atmospherically (as can be inferred by the title, Somnion partially takes place in a dream world), the game uses a combination of anachronistic technology, nightmarish dreamscapes, an ambiguous lore and mysterious world, and extensive randomization to paint an unsettling picture for the player.

 

This inherently means many different styles from different time periods, which means very little asset re-use. Ergo, if you want 2 dungeons themed differently, it's nearly double the content required as 2 dungeons with only slightly different props. Add to that you want to add randomization, so you'd need a large pool of content from every time period to be able to reliably get the effect you want.

 

You also want "Nightmarish dreamscapes" which conflict with a more realistic (but anachronistic) content set.

 

 

 


And why will it require "many times" that amount of resources if it is A: only about the size of Oblivion WITHOUT DLC B: Heavily reliant on AREA randomization to create it's own game world C: only partially voiced.

 

Regardless of choosing to target a scope of Oblivion or Skyrim, you're talking tens of millions of $, or tens of decades of life development.

 

 

 


You greatly underestimate children's ability to learn, and to relate to what they learn

 

No, I don't. But children are notoriously difficult to teach things they don't care about, which is why teachers try to provide rewards like praise/candy when kids learn what they're being taught. I don't think most kids will care about a strategy game set in a time period they don't know/care about, or a horror mystery sandbox game. If most kids don't care about it, it means you're targeting a niche market and need to reign in scope.

 

 

 


Why does everybody believe I am marketing to five year olds when I say I am marketing to kids? it's an untapped market to say the least

 

Hundreds of games that are for teens are released every year, yet the only ones that regularly make it high in the sales charts are the ones based off of existing works (For example, the lego games or the Naruto fighting games).

 

 

Seriously, start with simpler games until you understand the scope behind these larger projects.

Edited by conq

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Any of you know a good way of networking a small team like the one I just mentioned? could I use Gmail or some other form of email

 

gmail and dropbox. skype when you need high bandwidth conversations.

 


How long will it take to complete all the tutorials, and then the dungeon crawler? how much will it cost? any estimates?

 

can't say about time required as i don't use unity, but costs technically can be zero. its simply a matter of how much you farm out vs do it yourself.  there are sufficient free tools of adequate quality to produce near AAA results with zero dollars, just a lot of time on your part.

 


Some of the advice I got from the Unity forums recommended that after my "team" (me, my friend, his 4 friends, my teacher, and my teacher's friend) completes all of the official tutorials is the time when I should be conceptualizing my own games

 

sounds bad.  that means they recommend you learn the capabilities of the engine first, then choose a game (supposedly with engine limitations in mind).  that's putting the cart before the horse. first you design the game, that then dictates the engine capabilities required, then you chose or make an engine. by selecting the engine before defining the needs, you limit the design.

 


Despite this I'm having some trouble communicating with all the members of my team, so I've taken to designing a simple dungeon-crawler.

 

also sounds bad.   just starting out and already have communication breakdowns.   only keep the friends who help you move, and only keep the team members who are consistently on time, on target, and under budget.  games take long enough and cost enough to make already without dealing with people who just make things take longer or cost more. team members who waste your precious development time are the ultimate evil.

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Idea 1:

 

Would kids want to play an in-depth tactical game?

 

Would they remember/relate to the anti-cult panic from the 90's?

 

1. Sure, but would kids be interested in that theme?

2. Not really.

 

 

100% agreed. I LOVE the Burtonesque cartoons and humour, but I always see it targeting more the teen and adult age group than kids. Really, with anything that looks scary and somewhat offsetting to the more conservative adults, you can bet to land a hit among the teens.

 

There was a time when Burtonesque Stuff was pretty big with Teeny girls and young adults that where into the Rock/Heavy/Indie Side of things. I don't know if this is still a thing, but seeing still the occasional Emily Strange or Nightmare before christmas clothing or bags being sold in heavy/rock online shops, I guess some girls and women are still pretty much into it.

 

 

Now, as for the chosen game genre for the setting you have.

 

The combination you have there clearly isn't for kids. You will find the odd gamer kid that will master the most complex RTS at age 5 just to brag about being a comp1337ionist, or maybe because the kid IS exceptionally bright. Generally, the younger the kid, the longer it will take him to grasp more complex concepts. I had real troubles teaching my 5 year old nephew how to grab a foam pad in Little Big Planet every time he was over at my place to play. Now, that kid is actually pretty bright, and he has an AMAZING patience when playing a game.

Still couldn't get it, I always had to move his sackboy whenever he had to hold on to something.

Of course it depends what your aim is. Generally the more hardcore the audience, the more patient they are with complexity, and the quicker they are to complain about dumbed down mechanics.

But generally, if you aim your game at kids, you should drop the complexity (and difficulty) down some notches.

 

Even if you give up targetting kids as an audience, make sure you define your audience well and actually research their tastes. No point designing a game that would be most fun for adult men, and choosing a theme that mostly attracts female teens. That might sound sexist (it is slightly, agreed), and it might work fine sometimes (see the Bronies), but your aim with designing your game is to find an audience.

It could very well be that your game that marries a very complex game mechanic with a theme targetted at kids will find its niche... but do your really want to count on that?

 

 

Idea 2:

 

This is a miserable market idea. A game with Skyrim's scope aimed to 12-14 is doomed to fail. Not only that, it sounds like the art content required is immense and various styles. Games of this scope almost always need to hit a Mature rating so they can get older demographics as well as younger.

 

1. Yes.It will require many times that amount.

 

 

Erh... don't agree 100%...

 

To me the correct answer is "it depends".

 

 

With the information given I have no idea about

a) what the scope exactly is (could be a very short game)

b) what the targeted quality level is (a 8bit inspired 2D game is certainly cheaper to produce than a photorealistic 3D game)

 

Without that information, it could be anything from 10k$ to 100mio needed.

 

 

 

 


First off, does it matter if they remember the satanic panic or not? It will teach them about those times. There are countless other games that are appreciated because they take place in a time before the players remember, because these games teach them about those times.

 

Yes, yes it does. If you design something to tie into nostalgic feelings, this only hooks people that lived during that time and are old enough to remember.

 

See "Saving private ryan", the starting sequences with the beach landings. Awesome action and some disturbing violence for most younger people. A quite realistic depiction of what this event might have been for the people that were there at the time.

For the veterans that had seen the movie, it was something completly different. Many said they had a breakdown, or cried, or something like that during that scene. They were transported back to the time. That only happens if you happened to have been there in the first place.

 

Now, there is no problem using historical events for your game even if you target people to young to have been there. Just remember for them, it is something completly different.

a) you will need to be way more explicit. They will not "get it", and most will not look it up online. You will have to tell them the link for them to understand the injoke.

b) You don't get the same RoI as if you happen to target the people that have been there. There might have been quite some fans of the 8bit/16bit style among the younger generation.

How many of these would pay 100+ bucks for a rare SNES JRPG cartridge just to play that one game they missed in 1995, or that awesome game they lost the cartridge for during one of their many moves over the 20+ years since playing just to play it once more?

Most probably not someone who didn't play the game when it was fresh and awesome. Or at least oogled at it in magazines and stores when it was an amazing wonder out of the reach of normal kids (Neo Geo anyone?).

Nostalgia is a very powerful feeling to tap into. You can also try to tap into the interest of people for history, but it is not the same. Less people are interested, feelings evoked are way less powerful.

 

 

 

About the Team you mentioned... be aware that the team you mention sounds pretty much like a temporary "to get expierience" Team formed during school. That is all well and dandy, but IDK if you can count on that team sticking to it if

a) you overscope and projects take longer than it takes people to finish school (they might want to go look for a job afterwards or just loose interest)

b) you overscope and people loose faith in the teams ability to finish the project (that is toxic to any team, but as long as people get paid, they care less... or if it is good friends, they sometimes stick to their guns even as someone on the team screws up... if you want to test friendship this way (the hard way) is your choice though)f

 

Point is: make sure you all are on the same page and don't overscope.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Well, for the record Frite Fuzerz is actually aimed at older kids (hence the complexity of the mechanics, the weird comedy, and the sophomoric dark humor); it is basically the game version of a particularly intense middle-grade novel.

 

In addition, it is not an RTS. It is a tactical RPG (though not very similar to Valkryia Chronicles; many portions of the gameplay, such as the "move independently of attacks" function were actually inspired by Shadow Hearts, though that game did not have this function). Plus, the anti-cult panic is more of a framing device for the more conspiracy/adventure storyline that constitutes the actual plot, not to mention the story's heavy emphasis on characterization and humor. Frite Fuzerz is also not exclusively targeted to 12-14 year olds; Some elements of the game actually are directed at an adult periphery demographic.

 

As for Somnion: the game is 3D, but does not have a realistic art style and actually uses procedural generation for most of it's content (items, areas, even characters). Even with this, it is still only as large as TES IV: Oblivion because there are not very many hard-coded elements outside of the story.

 

For the team: My teacher was out the entirety of last week, I'm on spring break, and I haven't heard from any of my friends yet. They probably have plans. Plus, it is probably going to be a temporary team; while I wish I could develop Frite Fuzerz with them (I probably will), it's likely I won't (and the team may disband right after it gets made).

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Well, for the record Frite Fuzerz is actually aimed at older kids (hence the complexity of the mechanics, the weird comedy, and the sophomoric dark humor); it is basically the game version of a particularly intense middle-grade novel.

 

In addition, it is not an RTS. It is a tactical RPG (though not very similar to Valkryia Chronicles; many portions of the gameplay, such as the "move independently of attacks" function were actually inspired by Shadow Hearts, though that game did not have this function). Plus, the anti-cult panic is more of a framing device for the more conspiracy/adventure storyline that constitutes the actual plot, not to mention the story's heavy emphasis on characterization and humor. Frite Fuzerz is also not exclusively targeted to 12-14 year olds; Some elements of the game actually are directed at an adult periphery demographic.

 

Maybe talk about a teen audience then. When I hear kids I think about 10 and below. 12+ to me is clearly teen. 12-14 sounds like a rather narrow target though... especially as the theme could reach far higher into the young adult demographics

 

 


As for Somnion: the game is 3D, but does not have a realistic art style and actually uses procedural generation for most of it's content (items, areas, even characters). Even with this, it is still only as large as TES IV: Oblivion because there are not very many hard-coded elements outside of the story.

 

Dude, Oblivion is not really a small game. Maybe with much much bigger games of the last few years it might look that way, but I guess we are still talking 20+ millions in production cost (could only find figures for Skyrim, which is rather modest with 85mio $ compared to some newer open world titles).

We are talking 40-50 devs Teamsize minimum, for years of development time (lets take 20mio, half of that is actual development, and each developer gets 100k per year. That pays 50 devs for 2 years).

 

Apart from that, don't underestimate the cost for all the procedural shebang. Sure, it could save you a ton while giving a much higher replayability, but procedural systems don't write themselves, especially if they should produce anything that is more close to quality handwritten content.

 

 

If you think you can pull it off, why not start with the coding side and see how much work a single procedural system takes you... placeholder art, simplified systems and all. Just see what you can pull off in what time when you just try to write a single system.

 

I feel with procedural systems its pretty hard to make any kind of estimate, as some tasks are easy to solve procedurally, others are impossibly hard (like generating a procedural map that is fair to both players for example, without flat out mirroring).

 

 

 

For the team: My teacher was out the entirety of last week, I'm on spring break, and I haven't heard from any of my friends yet. They probably have plans. Plus, it is probably going to be a temporary team; while I wish I could develop Frite Fuzerz with them (I probably will), it's likely I won't (and the team may disband right after it gets made).

 

Well, treat it as a temporary team, and see that you only try to pull off tasks with this team that can be finished in a short time. Everyone will profit most from this, and it might actually make the team stick together for longer.

 

Generally, keeping a team together without paying any money is hard, real hard. Moreso when there is a LOT of work, that work is often not that much fun but tedious grind tasks, and it takes quite a while to see real results (like in developing anything but the smallest of games).

Edited by Gian-Reto

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That being said, I have done additional work with Unity, and one of my friends replied.

 

He said we're still a long ways off from developing either Frite Fuzerz or Somnion. However, I have nearly completed the GDD on the dungeon crawler.

 

Finally, I have actually researched what life is like for an indie dev. It appears that most, if not all, indie developers must also have a knowledge of the legal system when it comes to contracts, a firm knowledge of business and it's particular quirks, and, of course, knowledge of the market. It seems to me like being an indie dev is more than just making games.

 

As for the critiques on the games:

 

Somnion is a far-future project; when I posted it here, it was only as a hypothetical. The team I have when I work on it is already going to be skilled when it comes to making games by that point.

 

That being said, Pretty much the only reason that I mentioned Frite Fuzerz as being targeted towards 12-14 year-olds has to do with the fact that all the protagonist characters are that age.

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