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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.


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  1. Isn't this exactly like Five Nights at Freddy's?
  2. Very helpful post! +1 While I already have procedurally generated content, I have completely forgotten about player-created content. That is definitely a direction I want to go for more content.
  3. Nope. Thanks for pointing it out!
  4. I love games like Terraria and Motherload, where players have to dig down and find more and more advance ores. The goal in both games is to dig all the way down, get the best items using the best ores, and beat an end boss.   I was wondering if you guys have any ideas or have seen a spin on this? Without making it into an open world sandbox like Minecraft.   In particular, as a small indie developer, how could I create more gameplay without having to add new content like what the developers of Terraria are doing?
  5. I am programming a browser game that is based on Urban Dead (open PvP zombie apocalypse) and Nexus Wars (exploration, open PvP, biblical good vs evil).   Mine will be open PvP + exploration, set in a fantasy world with heavy magic (spells, magical items, potions etc). Like Urban Dead and Nexus Wars, the focus is on players exploring the game world for interesting bits of lore, and finding other players to kill. In fact, killing other players is the primary way to gain EXP and level up.   Initially, I had a "tournament" backstory like Quake/Unreal but that does not work well with exploration. In Urban Dead, you are exploring a post apocalyptic city. In Nexus Wars, you are exploring the afterlife. It isn't so interesting to be exploring a tournament arena.   So, can you guys recommend a backstory that works with my game?
  6. I am not in favor of the time-based-leveling system but one could see it as a "less demanding" version of the typical MMORPG grind. In most MMORPGs, you grind experience or gold to unlock the next character or equipment level. You are forced to spend X hours/days/weeks grinding to get there.   Instead of making you sink time into grinding, they just automate the process. In either case, you are forced to wait X amount of time to get to the next level, but for the time-based system, you can spend that time doing what you like instead of being forced repeat boring grind.   Unfortunately, players don't tend to see it that way. As pointed out by someone in this thread, because it takes away agency, players feel as if they don't have any control or impact on the leveling process. The time-based system could be timed in a way that it matches optimal grinding, but players will probably still feel bad about it.
  7. Thanks everyone the input. Really helped a lot in sorting my ideas out. In the end, I decided to try and add some rudimentary combat and RPG elements (equipment, skills etc) into my game.   I realized that games with great exploration tend to have some combat elements in them as the "main" activity. Even a game like Journey had "combat". Pure exploration games like Dear Esther are hard to make for a one man developer with no graphics, and tend to be very short.
  8. The MMORPG Eve Online has this skill advancement system where you pick a skill and it accumulates "experience" on its own over time. Once it accumulates a certain level of experience, your character obtains or level up the skill.   It might take minutes or hours to train low level skills, and months to train high level ones. There is no way to speed up advancement, and you can only train one skill at a time. E.g. you want to pilot battleships, you choose to train battleship and one month later you acquire the skill.   I used to be quite against this type of level system. I have seen similar systems in free to play (FTP) games where you have to "wait X days" to upgrade or build a new weapon for example. I always thought this was a blatant way to force players to pay to speed up the process.   But recently, I started wondering if this might be a good way to spread the game out more. Instead of letting players grind through all the weapons in a few days, you can force them to play with each tier and wait 1-2 days before they unlock the next.   What do you guys think? Have this sort of system been implement well before?
  9. It seems like "exploration" on its own isn't strong enough to be the central focus of an entire game.   I just discovered a fishing flash game where you sail around on a boat catching fish. The mechanics of fishing is simple but it drives the exploration. Players want to explore new areas to catch new fishes and sell them to buy equipment to "level up" their boat. I guess I really need a central theme like that so players will continue running the hamster wheel.   I am trying to avoid the easy solution of incorporating the typical RPG combat in my game because I find that it takes a great deal of time and energy to make a good/detailed RPG combat system. Time and energy which I don't have right now.
  10.   Well...the game doesn't have combat.   Players explore, pick up items and there is some minor crafting.   After players finish exploring all current content, is there a way to keep them playing? In games with combat, they can just keep leveling up or PvP. But I am finding a hard time designing an "end game" when my game doesn't have combat.
  11. One of the key issue I have is that as a one-man-no-budget developer, I won't be able to pump out as much exploration content to keep up with players. I was hoping to add some sort of non-exploration objective and leverage it with the limited multiplayer (find rare materials and trade etc) to keep players hanging around before the next content update.   E.g. with RPG elements, the player can revisit all the areas to grind and level up while waiting for new content.
  12. How about this idea from the incremental game "A Dark Room"? Later in the game, there is a part where you explore a post apocalyptic wasteland but your food and water supply, and your limited inventory size limits your exploration range. Unfortunately, this is basically "leveling up", where you level up your water/food/inventory containers.
  13. I guess I am hoping to get the player to interact with the environment more and/or get more replay value.
  14. I have a very basic game running right now: using the WASD or arrow keys, the player can move around on a huge empty 2-D grid map. E.g. if you are in the box (0,0), you press the "up" arrow, you end up in box (1,0). The grid lines are there but are invisible to the player. There are some capability for multiplayer interactions: sending each other items (trade perhaps) and messages but not full fledge multiplayer.   I am hoping to design a bare bones exploration game around this. Crucially, there will be NO RPG elements. No EXP, leveling up, combat etc. Currently, I have the player finding materials and combining them to unlock new areas. E.g. finding materials to make a rope to reach a cliff area or building a boat to sail to an island.   However, I am finding it hard to have a central long term goal that the player can strive for without combat. Games usually have RPG/combat elements so players are driven to loot, improve their equipment or level up. This combat driven goal can last forever as new levels or more powerful items can be added to extend the endgame.   Any ideas?
  15.   Technically, there is no real "failure" in your game. Since there is a "sure-win" strategy: try every possible path, restart the game each time.   So technically, there is no real "puzzle". Therefore, it really boils down to how much pain you want your player to go through to reach the ending.   What I said above is a good reason why most adventure games are like that. Since the "sure-win strategy" is to try every path, there is really no point in making players restarting the game and repeating all the exact same actions again just to try a different branch. So instead, break the game up into pieces, and make it so that players can "solve" each piece one by one. Instead of making it painful: forcing a restart and having to solve all the pieces again. Yes it is a bad thing because of my first point: there is really no way to fail since "trying every possible path" is a sure-win strategy. Not breaking the game up into smaller pieces is just trying to make the process as painful as possible without actually making it difficult or "puzzling". I don't know about you, but I love adventure games. Too bad they are mostly dead nowadays. But I don't love them because they are hard to figure out or painful to complete. I love them for the story, characters, interesting scenarios/environments etc. The puzzles are really secondary for most players (who WILL turn to walkthroughs if they're stuck).