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  1. A majority of the units will be melee combat range, and an even greater number of them, although ranged, won't have a firing range greater than a single Battle Map. (IE. Archers engage a unit of swordsmen, the swords still have to make that initial approach to actually attack the weak and frail archers.) My vision / advised use case for archers would be to join an existing battle where enemy units on the battle map are already tied up so they can fire away with imputiny. As far as retreating goes, yes they can. I hadn't hashed out the exact rules for it yet, but something akin to if the entire remaining SU group of BU's are at the edge of the map and there is space on the S-Map for them to exit in to, then after a turn(s) of no combat, they leave the BM and enter the SM. I suppose the ability to 'retreat', even if it is in to another map would solve this issue. However, if two battle maps are adjacent to one another (No space between them on the strategy map), then should they be one huge battle map, or should there be this seemingly 'invisible' barrier that separates them via strict retreating rules. (So they can exit, then re-enter somewhere else on the other map.)
  2. I'm running in to some major issues in regards to the design choices of a game I'm currently working on.  Just to begin, let me define some basic terms I'll use so I don't have to type out long winded descriptions of everything on a regular basis. SM - Strategic Map - A large scale map of the battle field. Think something akin to 2-3 miles across in each direction for scale. SU - Strategic Unit - Units found on the strategic map. These are made up of smaller, individual battle units. For theme, think of a SU as say, a large of spearmen or a group of swordsmen. (100-400ish men in total) BM - Battle Map - A zoomed in version of the strategic map, focused on a small area. Approximately a football field across in size. Much much smaller than the strategic one. The aim is that every tile on the SM represents an individual battle map. Battle maps are contiguous in nature, so if put together, would form coherent looking terrain that represents the SM. BU - Battle Unit - A small group of troops founds on Battle Maps. Represents a cohesive group of guys led by a sub-leader. Represents 20-40ish men or so.  My problem is this... How exactly do I handle the interaction between SU's on the SM and converting them to BU's on the BM, without making the turn based structure of each overwhelming for the player(s)? The issue is that, let's say the player can lead up to 6 SU, and each SU is made up of 6 BU's. I don't want to make the entire battle one gigantic map, as it would be daunting to move so many units (36ish) around at once on such a huge grid. (300+ by 300+).  Thought Process I felt it would be much simpler to shrink the unit size down into smaller groups, then have each of them initiate combat with one another. Any time two SU's collide, they have the option of initiating combat, which 'removes' them from the SM and creates a BM (and the appropriate BU's that they represent) in its place. Every turn the player moves all of their units, regardless as to how many maps there are. Here is where things also get tricky. What about the case where you have two SU's to their one? How is this an 'advantage' besides you being able to wear them down first before striking with the second unit? Surely they don't have to wait around outside the map right?  Battle Maps are designed to expand and grow with the introduction of additional SU's attempting to enter. Hopefully this poorly drawn ASCII grid explains what I mean.  Fig A. +----+----+ | BM |        | |      +------| | BM |  SU | +-----+----+ Fig B. +----+----+ | BM |        | |       +------| | BM    BM | +-----+----+ Two units are alright fighting in the tiles represented by BM, while SU wants to join the fight. (Fig A) As long as they are not engaged in combat already (Which they aren't seeing  as they're still on the Strategic Map in the first place) they can join the battle, expanding the area of the battle map to include the tile they are currently on (Which represents many tiles on a BM, so this would be expanding the current battle map size by 50% in this example) and turning that tile in to a battle area on the strategic map. (Fig B) Other units could then also pile in to that specific battle if the opportunity arises.  This creates two problems for me.  1. Should this 'feature' work this way? Is it a pain in the rear and should be dropped? Theretically, a player could engineer a situation where even if they have a 'line' of strategic units against another line (Two horizontal lines falling on top of one another) they could all enter the same battle as opposed to fighting only the SU in front of them. This doesn't avoid the "Oh man I have 36 units on a 500x500 grid to deal with." situation that I wanted to avoid in the first place. Locking units in to  their map until they retreat, die, or route their enemy though creates situations where you have troops waiting around doing nothing because all of the enemies are tied up already. You can flank them on a micro scale, (Individual BU's) but not on a macro scale (SU's). 2. Let's say I keep the feature and the following situation occurs. You have three units in a horizontal line, while the enemy has two, also in a line, but the middle unit is missing. They move and engage the units on your sides, creating two separate battle maps simultaneously. During your turn, you fight both small battles, but then what happens with your third unit? Is it unrealistic to say they can only participate in one of the smaller battles, even though they are technically wedged between the two? What happens to the smaller maps? Are they merged (and so now it's one huge 3 v 2 brawl with strange map boundaries?) or does it remain a a separate 2v1 and 1v1 with touching boundaries? I'm not against the latter and almost prefer it except in the case where, you're killing the last of their units with one SU worth of troops, and want to help your buddies in the other battle with your remaining guys. (Your spearmen are chasing down their axemen and you want to send your swordsmen who have nothing to do over) I guess I could use the same rules for retreating, but that feels a little clunky. In all, I have this theme I'm not willing to part with, but I'm not sure how to make it work.  Any suggestions or thoughts on how this might play out / what you think of it at a first glance?  
  3. What exactly do you mean by this? I'm a little confused by what you envision for this project. Do you just mean to have a couple of set positions for your units and then they battle it out from there once they are ready? I.E... (Left Flank)  [ Left Wing ] [ Center ] [ Right Wing ]  (Right Flank)                           [LC Back]           [RC Back] Perhaps I'm very mistaken, but you said that they wouldn't directly control the units, or did you mean individual men and that they control the groups as a whole.   Personally, I think it would be interesting to implement in a full real-time way as the previous poster suggested. Why lock battles? Granted, it makes it easier to manage from a player perspective, but in RTS games, if a player is attacked from three sides, they learn to cope. The other players are dealing with ordering their troops as well. It could be a strategy to overwhelm the other player, making them choose which battles to focus on and order about manually. Others, they'll have to rely on defensive positioning so they can either deal with the bigger threats on other fields, or simply let those armies be crushed while they hopefully win elsewhere.  I don't know what kind of game you plan on creating, but if it's a many player game (4+), having things like fog of war and observer units to see the battle fields may give players an edge. If you spot them already involved with another player and in combat, now might be a good time to sneak attack and strike an army / town while they don't have the resources to devote to all of their battles at once, increasing the attacker's odds of victory. With this, you might be able to draw out the length of battles a little bit, and slow down army movement on the overview map.
  4. I have a couple of questions about your proposed game before sharing the ideas I had while reading yours.   1. What does the player have to gain by being a part of the world? The creature side of thing seems pretty obvious (or so I presume) in that the better your creature is doing the more 'points' you'll have to spend or new parts / abilities you will have access to when in the design phase. Would the human player also be contributing to the player's creature(s), or would they have their own pool of resources to spend on certain upgrades? (Faster, Stronger, Tougher)   2. Related to question one, what is the relationship between human players and their / other's creatures. Would there be some sort of tribal mentality for the humans in that they worship these creatures, or do they just exist and go about trying to survive? (Just a thought.)   3. What happens if the human dies and is eaten by some big baddie? Would they just be able to re-spawn as another somewhere else and continue the good fight? Or perhaps there is like a 'central' hub(s) where the humans live and do their thing, and is generally a quick kill for wandering creatures who get too close?   4. What do the humans have to do other than kill creatures and survive? Can they kill each other? Can they build settlements? Note, each of those adds quite a bit of complexity to the game! As far as the idea itself goes, I absolutely love it. Although, before reading the details, I had a very different idea of how the organizing creature stage should go. For inspiration though, as mediocre as the game feels, Spore may be something worthwhile for you to look at. So, how attached are you to the RTS portion of it? When I read the idea, I immediately thought something akin to Sim Earth. When you first mentioned humans, that quickly shifted to Monster Hunter. Now, I've never played the series, but the thought of designing the creatures that are in the world became quickly appealing. Granted, the theme in that game is very different, in that the humans (At least to me) appear settled, cultured, and generally safe. However, they must go out and kill the larger, more dangerous beasties to protect their home and collect things from them. Could this idea possibly be tied in (Or perhaps you're set in stone, but an idea none the less!) Players, as opposed to controlling a tribe of these creatures could instead lead a pack from the Alpha Creature's perspective. Perhaps it would play similar to the humans, first or third person or whatever the view is, except there may be some squad commands as well. (Surround, attack anything in sight, stay close, etc etc)   As creatures kill more and more (perhaps even humans) they gain notoriety. As this increases, humans are offered town rewards for their hide / parts / whatever they may drop as a sign they were killed. Perhaps it could be proportional to the number of that creature out and about in the world as well? (As to not promote extinction, if that would even matter in the game?) Or perhaps when numbers are very low, a player could possess his last creature and artificially kill off the rest, creating an increased bounty and pinging their location to the humans, creating this mad rush to claim the last of their kind. To make it worth it for the creatures, perhaps points gained are increased many-fold when being used as a creature as opposed to played by the AI, and human kills are worth a lot, depending on their combat experience. Might be worth briefly looking at The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot to see the kind of AI vs Player interaction. Although, there is no true PvP I believe in that game. Enough rambling!  Regardless of all that, I think the idea is really solid. To answer a few of the questions... A. It depends on the size of the world and how complicated it is really. EVE manages to be a game with 50,000ish players on a day at any one time where they are all on one shard. Granted, the AI in that game is almost non-existent, but here you wouldn't have to deal with a lot of the interstices. Handling the entire game on a single machine? Not likely. If you can split the world in to smaller areas (Ala basically every other MMO in existence, EVE included) and handle each of those on its own machine, it's certainly possible. Being able to quickly and intelligently 'compact' AI routines when there are no real players around and quickly simulating an area would be a huge benefit, and could certainly make things manageable. Don't expect to simulate every tick for all 20,000 creatures when there are 20 players though... (Perhaps my scale is off, but it would quickly become an issue none the less. B. This is a difficult problem. My proposed idea avoids it, but... Hmmm. Perhaps make it the primary goal of the player during this 'phase' to go out and kill / explore / 'claim' new territory (Either little creatures to eat, or fertile grasslands from other herbivores). C. Doesn't sound like a problem to me! As long as there are risks and rewards for all of the players involved (So that they'd actually WANT to) this sounds like a great thing! Even multiple creature types (Although realistically you shouldn't have herbivores and carnivores teaming up unless their sizes are way different, but whatever) could band together to fight the humans, or perhaps certain creatures aid the humans if they want to take territory. Lots of possibilities, but with that, lots of processing time and work to be put in to such a project if that's AI driven, or even player driven.
  5. Economy Driven Terraforming Mining with either very large drills or lasers. Cargo Space Modifiers +/- Planet Smasher  Orbital Bombardment Bonuses / Capabilities Broadcast / Advertising Ship (Space Radio of sorts, or perhaps supplies goods too?) Movement Driven Standard Impulse Speed Modifiers +/- Warp to and from locations +/- Turn Rate Modifiers +/- Warp 'Network' to warp to and from predetermined locations. No engines at all (Immobile Stations) Warping to specific units (Perhaps a scout with a Warp Signature Module or something for ambushes) Defensive Driven Sensor Boosting Modifiers +/- (Improved/Lower Accuracy) Sensor Range Modifiers +/- (Improved/Lower 'Vision') Weapon Capable Cloak (Weaker/No energy weapons, some sort of flickering) Non-Weapons Cloak (Standard) X-Weapon Type Hardened Shields/Armor/Hull (Resistance to X type) X-Weapon Type Weakened Shields/Armor/Hull (Opposite of above) Defensive Point Defense Systems (Flares, Weak AM lasers) Offensive Point Defense Systems (Space-Flak, can be used as a 'real' weapon too.) EM Burst (Takes friendly / enemy modules offline. Deadens combat for a while?) Repair Crew Skill Modifiers (Repair Rate +/-) Repair Shuttles (Repair of friendly ships) Shield Transfer  Offensive Driven Unique Ammo Types targeted at Shield/Armor/Hull Missile Velocity Modifiers +/- Weapon Type Damage Modifiers +/- Reload Speed Modifiers +/- Effective Weapon Range Modifiers +/- Ramming Modules (Mentioned, and a great one) Multi-Module Ship (The Clustership idea mentioned above. I think they're referring to  where a single ship can split up in to two functional parts and combat the enemy on its own.) Drone and Drone defense modules Drone Damage, Drone Speed, Drone Accuracy Modifiers +/- Types of Weapons High Speed Mass Drivers Lasers Missiles and Torpedos Tractor and Repulse Beams Kinetic Projectile Weapons (Ala Space-Chaingun) Scatter-cannon (Ala Space-Shotgun) Bore Drill (I personally haven't seen anything like this, but if such a missile could get through shields, or even a Shield Bore variant it could hurt. (No idea how that would work))
  6. Exactly. I think I'm narrowing down on a solution that could appease players like yourself (Who do not have a vested interest in the actual activities they are providing), and those who do. As much as I would want to force everyone on a specific time scale and have basically 'always connected' features, I don't think that's a feasible goal not only for creating the kind of environment I want for my players, but also considering the fact that I am a single developer working on this project. If I can stay away from live networking, as much as to dive in to really using it would be fun, this is less of a learning project and more of a doing one.   In regards to the tycoon aspect, hopefully I did not imply that I was forcing players to watch the activities. Although, in certain aspects, watching them may prove valuable. I hope to have a rather realistic simulation of the games being played, including trying to simulate whether your customers are having a good time or not. For instance, if you organize a game so that it is 1 vs 19 and the one player's respawn point is out in the open, chances are no one is going to have a good time. That single player dies too much, there is no 'tension' in the game (Close scores at any point), and the 19 players are not getting enough 'kills' for them to enjoy themselves either. Watching the games can help you pinpoint these problems (Assuming for whatever reason the data wasn't supplied to the player. Another design decision, but something to think about) and help fix the issue of, "Why are all my customers leaving unhappy and not spending lots of money?"   Could you elaborate on this a bit? I'm not quite sure I follow exactly what you mean here. I think at this point the social aspects are slowly wilting away to more of cameo appearances, rather than fundamental portions of the game play. Customers / Teams / Events from other people's games may appear or have effects on your own, but nothing theoretically impossible to just 'have happened' in the real world so to speak. (Basically, the actual influences between games are light, not forced on the player (No more than random events would be), and non-detrimental if they do not participate.)
  7. Sorry, I did not want to go in to detail about what 'sport' I was trying to simulate, and in turn, pretty much made it impossible for others to imagine what I had in mind. This is not exact, but the closest thing I can come up with is the player is running a Speedball Arena. (Paintball if you would.) There can be multiple areas that can hold a game each at a time, each the same, or potentially serving different purposes (Attack & Defend, Deathmatch, whatever) Players will be paying to use the field, borrow equipment, membership fees for services, things of that nature, while expecting the owners (The player) to cater to their needs, make sure the playing area is fun and interesting, and offer them a pleasant experience for a reasonable price. Unfortunately in the real world, the sport I had in mind is probably not truly a spectator sport at all, but there are lots of simulation games of things that aren't necessarily true. (Space Sims, for example) As long as it's believable, it should be okay. This is something that I haven't pinned down as being concrete, but for a realism factor, should certainly exist in some factor. With almost any sport, kids can play as well, and just because the parents bring them there does not mean that they would want to participate as well. This aspect I envisioned being something the player cares about late game, after their customer base is large and already profitable. This is probably where I worry most, with some players desiring to speed up the game to skip past the simulation aspects and others wanting to play the game at 1x speed the entire time. Not that I have a problem with allowing for increased simulation speed, but it certainly conflicts with the 'real-world' nature of the project that  had in mind. I'm leaning towards dropping that aspect of the game, but keeping the minor social ties. Perhaps my original idea of having true simulations between players might not be feasible without either removing the option for simulated time (Which simply puts artificial waiting periods on the players), or not having the 'realistic' connectivity between games.   This answers a problem I've been having with "Why should the player care about their 'smaller' locations at all once they've set up shop and have a gigantic place with lots of space and business?" The rest of your comment that preceded that though, yes, I was planning on constraints by the population and the physical space the player has available to them to change what kind of business they run in that location.   The actual numbers could always be tweaked to not ruin player experience in either direction, but I was imagining more that the actual customers who do show up are less random and are more selected from a pool of those who have been referred. (Instead of choosing 100 people out of 10000 to visit, choose 95 out of 9900 and 5 out of the 100 who were at your friend's place.) I definitely wouldn't want that feature to be a detriment to 'friendless' players by starving them of business, nor would I want to make the game a cakewalk for someone new who has friends who've already established themselves in the game. In hindsight, I'm not quite sure I was coherent when writing that bit there, that or I can't even figure out what my concerns were now when writing it. I think the fear was more, "What if players get bored?" Perhaps my real question is, what makes a game like Roller Coaster Tycoon so entertaining? In the newest one, you could ride the coaster. That was kind of cool! But in the older games, ones I certainly loved as well, what was it about building coasters (And I was terrible at that) and watching people ride them that was so exciting? It's essentially the same thing is it not? You watch them ride when you make money, occasionally plop down new attractions (Some which you don't even get to mess with, like merry-go-rounds.) and build some paths, hire nameless people and put them in an open field to mow the lawns. Why was that enjoyable? With me having expanded on the type of things a player could do to the game space (Paintball arenas can be arranged in many ways, landscaped, all kinds of neat stuff, different game types can be played, etc etc), is this akin to how the roller coasters are built? Does that seem like a reasonable connection from. "Hey, this coaster I built is really cool! I would ride this, it's the best!" to "This paintball arena is awesome, I would play here." even if you don't play the game or ride coasters? Not to reference RTC for the thousandth time, but that game did such a thing with no fast forward options and did so quite well I believe. 'Watching' the games would be in the same format, where there are other things to do in the mean time. Upgrade existing services you have, set prices, change options about your business, do silly customization things, design the next area for customers to play in, that sort of thing. I had no such intentions of locking the player's view or 'switching the game mode' so to speak on them and forcing them to watch the game. It simply happens while they continue standard play. Who didn't drop what they were doing to watch the coaster they just built go around the tracks one or two or five times, just to see how it was performing for a new crowd?   I briefly talked about removing such a high level of connectivity between players, and I'm still not dead-set on what the solution would be. On one hand, I don't want to punish players for not attending to the game (ala a lot of social games) where crops rot in farm games, or your city falls in to disrepair or something of that nature. Here the equivalent would be you weren't making tons of money, and something changes in the simulation and your business drops even further,and you as a player can not react and return to game failure because you ran out of funds. That's not the kind of game I would like to create. On the other hand, I think that would be really fantastic. I'm going on a mental tangent here, but perhaps it would be interesting to also pull in the map data from the player's businesses. That way, the simulation aspects of it won't be ruined.  Player A and Player B both have teams. Both games 'know' about the other team and the business map. (Ignore technical issues for the moment, although I don't think they're that numerous besides where the data is stored and how it's transferred. Well, kind of big, but whatever.) Player A schedules a tournament to be hosted at his place. His game searches the customer database for some teams, and finds Player B's. Player B's team arrives in Player's A game. Player B's experience is not effected by this at all, other than perhaps a notification of such? "Hey, your team is being used in a network game!" Player A's games sim normally, and everything plays out as normal. Player B is notified that the game has concluded, and has the option of 'watching' the game if they wish, through the power of seeding random number generators. (I believe this would be possible if all customer variables were stored along with separating any other random game logic from the actual sport simulation logic, along with map data as well). I imagine it could work in the opposite direction as well, using other player's business maps for when your team travels (and having the option to watch the game if you so choose). I really appreciate all of the feedback. It's been immensely helpful and productive on my end!
  8. If you don't mind elaborating, if the removal of obstacles and other various objects in space is not your primary task in the game, what is? How does this add to the experience? What you've described (I'm sure there's more in your head of course) makes it just seem like the best course of action is to mash all of the buttons on the keyboard to ensure your own safety.  As you mentioned, Typing of the Dead proves that the style of typing things in to achieve a time sensitive goal is possible (And fun even!), but how are you presenting it that it's not the core mechanic, and is not tedious or ultra repetitive to achieve the best result/outcome?
  9. I had the original idea that a player's physical location would determine their 'in world' location, but the more I think about this idea the more limiting and less fun it sounds. Forcing the player to physically move to a new location to progress in a meaningful way is not only irritating, but seems more targeted for a mobile game... That was something I forgot to mention ( I know, scope, I know. ) in my previous post about tie ins with mobile devices, but I think I'll leave that for another day and another post. Back to the topic though. I was more focused on the aspect of having multiple locations of business. Since this is a fantasy world, new locations for players to 'settle' can be spawned at will so that players generally have the option to settle in a similar, but unpopulated location. To avoid frustrations, I think modifying the core of those locations would be a bad idea though. (You move in to a little village. It grows in to a gigantic city and your business flops for whatever reason. Don't want that.) I think dynamically allocating space for players is another problem in and of itself again though, but in my head, I like the sound of it personally.     I know I haven't said it, but the random nature is almost a function of the sport I plan to model, so as long as my AI and handling of the simulation is at all accurate in any way, the results should not be predetermined. I think I am worrying about nothing in this regard, and you bring up good points with just 'watching' a game. Granted, how many people sit down and let the CPU play out a game of Madden and watch? I think I've heard of some very specialized leagues that do just that, but that's certainly not the norm. Regardless, hopefully it would be entertaining to watch.      This is a terribly amusing point. I certainly wasn't targeting my game at that level of casual, but simply more of people who tolerate social-multiplayer aspects in their game. I wasn't imagining forcing you to advertise your business to your friends to progress, but doing so enhances the experience for both you in a tangible way. More so how games with co-op are generally more enjoyable when played with others.     This unfortunately does not surprise me. The entire time writing my post I could only think about how muddled I was making it out to be. I have a clear picture of what I want in my mind, and I'm still working on making it sane (In scope). I think if I were to sum it up in a single phrase, it would be something akin to Football Tycoon Manager? Football Manager Tycoon? But, just replace Football with another sport. You run the business, you appease the customers, you give them a place to grow and develop their talents. That is effectively phase one. You then grow as well, making deals with good players to promote your business, acting as a host for events, developing leagues, and expand, each location unique (or the same I suppose) to increase your influence and popularity. It's key though that for a 'connected' user, their accomplishments are known, or felt, even if they are in minor and non-detrimental ways.  For example, say you have a group of customers who you've officially sponsored and have a manager to help them acquire games. They find a game, and you're the home team! Hurrah! On the bus that shows up days later could be someone else's (Another human player) team, that they have built up and developed over time. That other player will experience the exact opposite situation. If there aren't suitable human teams for yours to be playing against, it's a simulation! Generate more players, a team name, and a silly logo or something and ship them to the player. No big deal. The game would have to be intelligent enough to not pitch max-ish stat players up against rookies, but that's a technical problem, not a design one. Also, simply typing it all out and re-reading it is a very helpful exercise sometimes.
  10. Hello everyone! I'm currently in the design phases for a new project of mine and I'm trying to narrow down the design issues of the game before I begin diving in to the specifics of the project. I'm not sure if I have two ideas that simply refuse to mesh with one another, two audiences that refuse to mesh with one another, or I'm just not seeing the ever obvious solution to the problem. I'll begin by describing the game portion of things, and then how I want to present it to the players. The latter part is where I'm having problems making my dream fit in to reality. I'll mark my questions in bold italics as I type, since I have a lot on my mind in regards to this project. The Core Gameplay The game itself is designed to be one of many tycoon games, much like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Zoo Tycoon, where the player's goal is to generally run a successful business under area / time / technology / any number of constraints. Customers come and visit their establishment, and it is the player's job to make sure that their place is well staffed, well equipped for the job, and can keep the customers happy so that they spend money. Lots of money.  Unlike many other Tycoon games, what I want to focus on though is not only managing the business itself, but having a 'realistic' simulation of the environment as well. To clarify, unlike say, Roller Coaster Tycoon there isn't a whole lot of simulation in regards to the customers. They walk around, they get hungry and find food, they interact with your creepy mascots. In mine, you are running a sports business of sorts. So I can go in to more detail, let's assume my game you are running a Basketball Recreational Center. Your customers have not only the ability to play a realistic game of basketball (Forget the difficulties in coding such a thing, it could be theoretically trivial as a tic-tac-toe game center or something like that), but are all capable of playing the games in different ways. A taller player naturally has some advantage over a short opponent, and vise versa. More importantly though, is a focus I want on persistence in the world.  Customers exist in the world, and when they leave the center, they do not 'un-exist'. Sure, they may not be there, but it does not mean they won't ever return. Perhaps after a couple of visits (Determined on whether they had a good time or not, which will be determined by things like the quality of the courts / pricing / extra services your center provides ) they will become better at basketball and start stomping the newer players in to the dust. Other customers may arrive already a prodigy, or be a complete klutz and never hope to achieve any sense of skill. Games should be, in some sense, entertaining to watch. Players should have a vested interest in their players, and having dynamic interactions between the customers (and perhaps even employees) is how I hope to achieve this.  Does this personally sound like something that would be appealing to you? If the game was something you'd want to watch (Let's make it any sport for the sake of argument) and had a generally compelling AI, would you enjoy something like this in its currently described form? Maybe there's only one court that you manage along with the staff who deals with bathrooms and concessions and cleaning up seating and everything of that nature?   As customers become more and more vested in your business, they would have obvious desires. Some may want to form teams with one another, and with the right services and budget, you can provide a league for these players. A league that you as the player could then follow yourself and have a vested interest in. You can schedule these games, and then watch them play out, seeing how the competitive players perform on your courts, in your business. This is not only another revenue stream from a business perspective, but makes your business more well known. Say the league is finished and one team ruled them all? Why not sponsor that team, give them a name of your own. (Everyone loves making obscenity filled team names don't they?) Sure, they may transform from paying customers to paid employees, but the potential winnings from events they go to, along with the hype of having 'professionals' rise from your center would more than offset their pay (theoretically. That's assuming you don't sponsor a bunch of terrible players or something').   Disregarding the scope of such a thing, this is not personally something I've ever seen bar personal simulation games. Is there anything of this nature out there where the game play does not transition, but simply expands in a logical direction like this as you grow as a player both in, and out of game? I know there are lots, but are there any that do this in this particular fashion and does that concept alone appeal to you?   The Proverbial Wrench Now here is where the problems arise for me in planning this project. If this were an entirely single player endeavor, I would have no issues sitting down and begin properly planning how I want to tackle this project. However, that's not the case. There is a lot to be gained from social aspects, but there is also a lot to lose, and I want to get others feelings for it. I mentioned earlier that customers in your world are persistent and exist. Let's shift focus a bit and say this is a standard restaurant tycoon game for simplicity's sake. We don't eat at the same place every day right? Of course not! We try one place one week, then another later, and eventually settle on a favorite, going there far more often than others. I want this principle to apply to the world as well. I do not want this to be a barring feature for a new player (All customers in the universe love their places, you have no customers, game over before it ever begins!), but rather something to enhance the player experience, especially in regards to players who know one another. Perhaps you and a friend are competing for the most visitors, or to have the best team of players between the two. I'm imagining such a feature being akin to a restaurant having a brochure advertising another 'sister' store up front, or after a customer leaves telling them about it. (Back to basketball, sorry!) John Smith, the best shooter that's ever stepped in to your establishment is told about your friend's place. John then in the near future is introduced to your friend's game, who is stomped by his far superior squad of regulars. What implications this would have I wouldn't be sure. (Would John just stop coming to your rec center because the competition is pathetic? Realistically...maybe. Would that be fun? Probably not. But that's another design decision in and of itself as to how to handle that.)   One thing that you might be worrying about is, "Well what happens when you and your buddy Jake get together and your place is way better. No one would go to Jake's place!" This feature would not be designed to 'steal' visitors away from one another,but simply to give them more options, of sorts. If you cater to the exact same audience, then perhaps yes, there will be a little bit of a tug of war between certain guests, but company loyalty would certainly be an aspect of the game. To build on the differences, yes, two basketball courts if they're made of the same material are generally going to be the same, but you're going to want to play in the air conditioning with access to showers and free towels over having none of that, right? Not necessarily! Some customers might like the outdoors, and not care about such extras. Theoretically the outdoor center would be cheaper, and be targeting a different audience. Perhaps you have special short courts that cater to children, or different styles of leagues that players can be a part of. Maybe some of your courts are reserved for 3v3's, while Jake's are 5v5's or whatever else the customers want at any given time. There are, and should be opportunities for two businesses with the same goal to cater to a different audience, something that is simulated by the game. So tying this all together, would this persistent world of sorts bother you? Let's say it is not forced, and customers can be generated in your own little world, but if you 'connect' you have access to not only viewing other people's creations and work, but being a part of a 'living and breathing' world of customers who simply want to have a good time and have different needs.   Real World vs Simulation My final problem, and this one is a doozy. Tycoon games are typically not run in real time, and I don't plan on having mine function that same way either. However, one thing that I'm not sure how it should be handled is this sense of interactivity between players and the traditional 'sim through everything at 4x speed'. What if a player doesn't care about the games that are being simmed and just wants to make tons of money? Is this not a game for them? Should I try and cater to those players anyways? Is it feasible to please both groups at once? My true vision for the customer persistence is that everyone's game is in psuedo-real time. Customers are in one person's game at once, and are assigned from a master database. Admittedly, this is not really feasible for a number of reasons. It becomes very hard if a player can simulate at X times speed and pass through days / months / years so much more quickly. Is this actually a problem I should care about in a game like this and a world like this, or am I worried about nothing and the 'player should be able to have fun and do what they want in an interactive environment.' It's no MMO, but I want that Massive, and I want that feeling of 'one world' if I can at all help it. Players can't grind through the quests at 8x speed because they're in a rush and bored. Is this a problem of perhaps I'm worried players will become bored waiting for games to end? Do you think this can be avoided by giving the players enough to do other than simply working on the courts, then watching players for ever and ever play on them? What if they have a 'perfect' business? Would you simply watch the games and earn money so that you could spend it on, well, nothing besides perhaps some internet fame (or building another 'location') for procuring 10000 professional players in your corporation's life time? Let's say each Basketball game is 10-20 minutes long, depending on the player's settings, and an in game day is 2 hours long. Few customers arrive early, lots mid day, then a few at night (Depending on lots of stuff of course.) In Roller Coaster Tycoon, you don't have to watch the visitors. You're either thinking about where to put that next coaster, building that next coaster, or watching it a couple of times to make sure it doesn't dump your riders in to the ocean or fall off the tracks.    I apologize by the absolutely massive wall of text there, but I would really really appreciate feedback on some, if not all of the questions I presented there. I might make my own remarks on them over time, but thank you for reading!    
  11. Nethack is an example of one of these games, and my experiences with it (although they were frustrating and painful for me personally) are the ones I'm going to relate to in this regard.       Nethack may be the very game you are referencing here, and things like this were one of my pet peeves. I should not have to go to an outside source to see what things I can do with an object. The problem with text based games is that there are occasionally a lot of actions,that players can perform, but may not be immediately obvious to the player, and thus are punished for it. (seeing as praying and sacrificing were typically good things.) Instead of simply letting their mind's wander about why this object even exists, why not let things like examine give them more information? "This altar is adorned in white marble. A small circle of blood can be seen on the stone, along with a prayer (Let's assume the player-character can read) etched in to its surface." Perhaps that's not even enough information, but it gives the idea that not only have others prayed here, but there's a reason for that circle. I'm all for 'discovering' these actions, perhaps once you've examined it will give you a list of 'obvious' things you can do with it? Instead of just blindly typing 'kneel', 'dance', 'sing a gospel song', it'll say if you do 'interact' and have examined it previously. 'pray or sacrifice' for special actions.   Edit: This ties in with what I wrote down below, but my 'white marble' altar could be useful in hiding what alignment the altar was from the player (NH had I believe Chaotic, Neutral, and Lawful). Perhaps the white implies that it's likely Lawful, could be neutral, and is very very unlikely chaotic, perhaps a 0% chance even.)        To be fair, the player in this instance IS playing a rogue-like, and it should kind of be expected. If it's not, it certainly will be. It would be interesting to build off the altar example if you were to include hints about different effects, rather than spell them out for the player. "Nearby the floor is singed, as if lightning struck indoors .How peculiar!" or "The smell cleanliness wafts from this altar." (Perhaps not a great idea, as it might imply that the altar always does those things, but hopefully my point is clear enough.)     Here's another aspect that I think Nethack did right and wrong. (or perhaps I missed an action I could have done, that's totally plausible too.) In that game, fruits were fruits and there was no difference between them. However, where a similar aspect applies is in two places. One: Scrolls. Two: Wands. Potions were another case but I think due to the nature of them they were reasonable in how you experimented (Drink or break it over something's head basically). Scrolls were enigmas. It might be a Cursed Scroll of Genocide or a Blessed Scroll of Wish, and as far as I knew, beyond having a curse / bless detection spell or item, you couldn't determine anything about the scroll before reading it. There were no implied relationships between a 'good' scroll and a 'bad' one. Perhaps a fireball spell and an icebolt spell would look very similar, and if you had read one already you'd know they were similar. Maybe this is for the best, I don't really know, but it certainly frustrated me. That game was hard enough, and having to restart 90% more often because the best 'strategy' was to drink / read everything you come across for the first 20 minutes (and inevitably drinking a potion of boil or fiery death or something) was just an un-fun mechanic. Wands however, they did it right. Wands were generally 'good', in that typically pointing it at an enemy and zapping them with it wasn't an action you were going to regret (minus wasting a charge and letting them get closer / maul you again). However, one thing you could do with them on top of 'using' them properly was write with them. Granted, it was depicted as more dragging it around on the floor, but one could tell a lot about the wand by the way it interacted with the stone. Leaves a sear in its wake? Wand of Fiery Death. Sparks shoot out this way and that? Can probably safely bet it'll be shooting a lightning bolt at the next thing you point it at. There were lots of these effects, and some were immediate and obvious, but others were not. Wand that resists you dragging it along the ground? Wand of Force (Push Spell). Basically I think there needs to be a way to 'experiment' without using the item proper, especially if there are deadly things that could come with using it. In your fruit example, why wouldn't there be an option to nibble? Perhaps you'd only get a vague idea of whether there was something wrong with it. "You nibble the apple. You feel a little ill but quickly shake it off. You eat the apple. Your stomach rumbles and burns! (Take damage) You are now immune to poison!" Or something like that. Why not also potentially harm and benefit the player at the same time? These experiments do not have to be all knowledge granting like in the wand example ( I think all the write effects were unique, don't quote me on that though ) but for food, perhaps a whole class of bad things makes you ill, but positive effects are left to the unknown. About to die in a fight and the apple was fine but the cherry was not? Chances are eating the mysterious apple is a safer bet, even if the cherry wouldn't necessarily kill you, and might even help more (If that's something you decided to do). Granted, the big issue with what I just typed up...there's no punishment for experimenting. Why not nibble everything? That I can't answer at this very second because I haven't thought of a solution! But having that element of randomness I think is always a little exciting, I just hated having no way to determine what things were other than blindly using / drinking / reading them. I loved wands for this reason. It was always exciting to not look things up, but feel like I had some semblance of knowledge in the game. That is of course, after looking up that I could write with them in the first place. Figures~
  12.     Similar to that, Minecraft does a very similar thing, and I'm willing to bet Dwarf Fortress (Adventure Mode) does something akin to that as well. (Although to be honest, that game is a scary scary enigma. Toady probably doesn't even know how it works.) Depending on your game this could be a feasible (and in some cases even relatively easy to do) option. Even if your world isn't tile based or anything of the sorts, loading the world in to multiple 'chunks' of sorts could be a good step in reducing load times if you can pre-load some of the data before you cross that proverbial boundary in to another zone. Perhaps when a player gets within a certain distance of a predefined area transition assets that are smaller and quick to load are loaded? Though, this is more of a game programming issue rather than a design one in regards to how to tackle such an issue specifically. With the Skyrim example though, the same technique could be used, even if there has to be a hard transition because of a change of scale. Generally the world in that game is one gigantic no-load screen block isn't it? Why is there no system of detecting that the player is near one of these boundaries and make a best attempt at loading assets that they might come in to contact with in the near future? This is especially the case of shared assets.  Player enters a town for the first time and has a quest to talk to the mayor of the town. Why not load assets like common beds, interior wall textures, things of that nature? On top of that, it's reasonable to believe the player will be visiting the town hall, so why not pull out more specific stuff while they're at it? The banners and conference room chairs could be loaded as well? (Assuming there is room in memory for all this extra stuff. Nothing trumps fast loading times like low memory and slow file read write speeds)
  13. Milcho made some great points, and I'm going to comment with some of my own perspectives of some of them.     This problem really depends on the scope of your game and the size of the areas. Gigantic 3D Monsters of games like Skyrim and the like are practically forced to have these transitions for the sake of only being able to have so many assets in memory at once. Another issue that wasn't really touched on here was that of the change of scale that occasionally happens between transitions, and those being the reasons for them. This is especially common in 2D games, but I'm sure it's done elsewhere too. How many times have you entered a house only for it to be this sprawling mansion once inside? Not having loading screens (unless you use some really fancy tricks ala something I'm sure Antechamber does, which would be disorienting anyways) means that your assets have to be to scale for whatever you want to be inside of those buildings / structures / caves / whatever. In a smaller game, loading times are basically negligible (or should be anyways), and shouldn't negatively impact the user's experience. Unless an area is very large in your game, you are quickly moving between non-contiguous spaces, or there is a change of scale (town to world map in old RPG's, things like that) user experience could probably be improved by a fancy camera switch and streaming content in to the world. I know games like some of the later Tony Hawks did this (albeit poorly from what I understand) where you skated though long tunnels that connected their zones. Bar the player cheating and giving themselves super speed, (Conjecture) the new area would have time to load and unload old assets as they moved through the tunnel.     This is huge, and should be avoided as much as possible in your game. If someone is forced to use frequent transitions for whatever reasons, I would much prefer to have awkward loading transitions between seemingly connected areas than being barred off because my skill / ability / whatever can't be used at range because it's at the border of a transition. (and makes sense to use it there.) Not only is it immersion breaking, but it's frustrating, more so than sitting around and doing nothing slightly more often in my opinion. Granted, no one likes loading times, but I don't want them to get in the way of my experience as I'm actually playing the game either. For example, some of the Zelda games do this poorly at times. (I'm talking older map tile based ones). It was more frustrating than anything to exit screen left, only to be faced with an immediate, obvious, 1x1 tile of space that you can walk around in that they decided to put on the other square. This was frustrating for two reasons! One. Now I have to wait (Even if it's super fast) and go back to where I was so I can find a way around, rather than just seeing it clear as day in the last 'room'. Two Now that map square is marked as visited as well! I didn't go there, I simply got a good view and went home. Granted, that's more of a level design flaw in my opinion that doesn't fit well with the constraints of the engine. If you have ideas for your levels, and are building the level loader / transitions around this world, take such things in to account!  
  14. Why not equip the hero with a tool that fits him best? Or have you not decided on such a thing at this stage in the planning process. From my perspective, two characters, one who uses a rapier and a rifle verses one who uses a great-axe and a rapier are two very different characters. Some questions to think about and ask... Which of the two weapons is 'primary'? Or is this something you'll leave open to the player if there's an upgrade system? What are some of the requirements for getting to new areas? Can't get to high places, why not have a grappling hook attachment for the rifle? Need to chop down trees/bramble/bone-walls/whatever to progress? An axe weapon is an obvious choice. The rifle though I think would be capable of a lot of tasks in terms of 'moving' places. What are those specific barriers that block the character's path? Who is the character behind the weapon? Does it mean much to them? Is the weapon plot central? Is this some ancient blade with hundreds of kills to its name, or is it some cheap look-alike the hero brought along for his little journey and fully expects to get newer / better gear? If he gets better equipment, it would make sense for them to use a hammer the whole game but perhaps it's not 'heavy' enough to hit certain switches or break certain walls down. Will they be keeping and using it the whole game? If you implement weapon switching for melee, perhaps tying it to the player as a 'key' to progress might be a bad idea, unless there are only two or three different ones they can equip. (Axe for cutting down X, a hammer for hitting giant switches behind bars, a sickle on a chain for tugging objects / levers from afar?) Maybe you're just looking for a cool weapon to fit those other things I just mentioned though.
  15. I think people will be able to better answer your question if you elaborate on what kind of game it is. I mean, the vision that I get from what you described is more than likely very different than what you actually had in mind. I'm imagining something akin to those old zombie flash games that used to be super popular, where WASD was your movement and you'd use the mouse to aim where you wanted to shoot. Except well, the obvious different is that there will more than likely be 'interesting' terrain, which is the topic of your conversation, and instead of zombies, other players to kill. Some questions you might want to ask first though... Are the players 'equal' at the beginning of the game? If that's not the case, is it something they can change during the match, or a permanent setting depending on the match? (IE, do they select a couple of different 'classes' that determine their base stats, or can they choose from one of five starting weapons, that kind of thing.) What kind of power-ups do you want in the game? Are there only weapons to be collected, or are there other things like increased speed, extra health? How is your hit system? One shot and you're dead, or is it more akin to having lots of health? What are the game modes? This is probably the most important question in determining what the maps should look like as a whole. I'm just kind of speaking my mind here, but these are probably some things that you want to keep in mind for a level design of a top down game. You want to focus the action in a couple of key places, much like first person shooters. I know there are heat maps online (I know Bungie did this) and since you're experienced with Halo, you might be able to determine 'why' players were dying in those places so much.  Power ups are central to the movement of the players. They always want to be moving (Unless there is a sight mechanic in the game where you can't see around corners / in dark spots) to another location to become stronger, find another man to kill, or otherwise run away from a bad fight. Power ups are where they're going to go. Choke-points. Sometimes funneling players into tight corridors is the way to go. Huge open rooms are only so fun and strategic. That narrow hallway which contains the rocket launcher is not only appealing, but dangerous as well. You can bet lots of players are going to die near there. Bases should be defend-able. Power ups or weapons should be aplenty for players who are killed and have to respawn, and perhaps even accessible only to the team who lives out of that base. (Force walls that only let them through but bullets can pass, something akin to that? With a top down game implementing Z is, in my opinion, not all that intuitive unless everything takes place in doors and there's no way to interact with another level (besides moving between them), mainly because of graphical concerns. You can't see both a man up on a ledge and the guy right below him. Pitfalls I don't think are necessarily appropriate, but depending on your game, other kinds of traps certainly are! Environmental Hazards. Are they a part of your game? Saw Blades, crusher traps, shifting walls, 'random' force fields that can be activated or that pop up? These can play a huge role in where players go, where they want to go, and where they can go without being turned inside out.