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About DadeLeviathan

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  1. DadeLeviathan

    An RPG without levels/experience

    It could work. RPGs, at the end of the day, are roleplaying games, not "level up and point spending games." The hard part, however, would be to have that sense of progression. If you have the sense of progression only within the story, then those not as interested in the story will not have much reason to play, and you've just essentially done a disservice to them. So there would have to be some mechanical milestones for progression that the player could cling to. What you would do in that case instead of xp/levels isn't really something I've thought long and hard about, so it's not really something I could brainstorm right now.
  2. So this is a topic that has been running through my head for a while now, and actually sparked a debate with a few friends of mine (most of which are not designers, but a couple which are). Open Source development is a concept that has gotten a lot of traction in the past few years where general software development is concerned. Linux runs almost entirely on open source software (heck, Linux itself is an open source OS), and the open source idea has spread to all the other OS, sometimes resulting in a product which is just as good as its traditionally developed competitor (such as Open Office). We have open source versions for almost every type of software developed this days. So with that thought in mind... would Open Source game development ever really work? Games are software, of course, but they are also a different beast. Games are created in a pipeline much more similar to films than other software development. Yes, they share similarities with software development (They are software after all), but in the entire scheme of things their entire development pipeline has always resembled other forms of entertainment rather than traditional software. With AGILE development, this pipeline has now become more of an amalgamation of the two ideas, but it's still a pipeline that very much requires an internal development team, and really cannot function by being spread out between many different people similar to how open source software works. So what do you guys think? Could Open Source game development work with the various Agile and non agile pipelines in the industry today? If not, what would have to change about the traditional pipeline to make it work? How large would the core development team (if any) have to be in order to create something that others would be able to manipulate? Additionally, I want to define that I am talking specifically about a game, not middleware or the underlying engine, or any other software used within the game. Needless to say, you can easily create open source software to use in the game, such as graphics engines, game engines, physics engines, etc etc, heck there are a few options out there now (OGRE, for example). So could an open source game work? Why? Why not? What would need to change within the standard pipeline to allow them to work?
  3. I think this is more of a programming question than a game design question. You should probably ask in the programming forums.
  4. DadeLeviathan

    Table Top RPG design, and first post

    Simply stating that you want the game out of the way of the narrative is one thing, achieving that is another. Such rule-sets require a lot of GM interpretation. If all you have is combat rules, then you haven't finished your mechanics. What about non-combat related skills? Do you want players to persuade/intimidate people through pure role-playing? What about players that just want to trudge through the game and have the persuasion come down to a dice roll? In terms of publishing an eBook, that is the best course of action nowadays with the rising cost of physical copy production. But I think you are underestimating what your adventuring guidelines needs to entail in order to make this a system that will be attractive. Remember that the chief question you need to answering (especially with Medieval fantasy) is, "Why shouldn't I just play D&D?" If your adventuring guidelines are too simple and bland, you aren't going to answer that question. Additionally a lot of what you may take as "getting gameplay out of the way of story" will come down to a lot of abstracts, otherwise, you will end up with a game that feels disjointed as the adventuring guidelines continually clash with the various mechanics. remember that the most important thing in an RPG is not story, but rather the enjoyment that the players have. Story should enhance that enjoyment, not be a bar to that. Overall, to be perfectly blunt, I need far more information on the game to give you any kind of meaningful advice.
  5. Firstly, if this is the first question you ask when making a game, don't get into game design. Game Design, like writing, film, or any art, is not a field you should get into if you're looking to make money. There are many fields that are far easier to get into and pay far more money. Do game design because when you think of what you want to do, you can think of nothing else you would rather do than make this kind of art. With that said, the answer to "What kind of game will make money" Is fairly straight forward: There are two types of games that make "decent," money. Those that are good, and those that are marketed well. "Good," is relative, however. There are just as many that will say that CoD is the best game ever as there are people who will tell you that it is nothing more than graduated DLC being sold a new game, and thus bringing down the entire industry as a whole. So what type of game should you make if you want to make money off of your art? Make the game you would want to play with the resources you have.
  6. DadeLeviathan

    The role of story in games

    Firstly, story is not what drives a game's budget. In most cases (outside of very select studios like Valve, Obsidian, Bioware, etc) story is done last. They make the assets, levels, etc for the game, and then a narrative designer is contracted to basically explain how everything fits together. This is the reason why so many game stories are either incredibly cliche, or feel tacked on. Secondly, I have to disagree with you on how story should work. In Story-driven games, such as Dragon Age, The Witcher, Baldur's Gate, etc, the player knows exactly what they are getting into. They know that this is a story driven game. To say that this is unfair to the player, is similar to saying that a shooter is unfair to the player because it isn't a turn-based strategy game. Games like Serious Sam where the story is just there to explain why you need to shoot stuff are not magically better games than story-driven games, yet you present the argument that the only games that should have story at the forefront are interactive narrative. I'm sorry, but this idea is nothing short of ludicrous. Can story be done better in many games? Yes, and one of the ways it can be done is by writing the story first and structuring everything around it, rather than the opposite way. Most games, as I said earlier, construct nearly everything about the base game before bringing in a writer. This, and not simply the presence of an important story, is what causes the break between game play and story in most cases. Additionally, even in open world games or games without story, you still only have a set amount of ways you can deal with a situation. I cannot, for example, run up in Serious Sam and attempt to talk a Gnaar out of trying to kill me. My options are: A. shoot it; B. Run away while shooting it; C. run away. I have no other options than that. So to say removing story will add more choices allowable by the imagination is, sorry to say, quite ridiculous. A video game is designed by a group of people who each have their own imaginations and ideas. Any game, regardless of the presence of story, will only have a set amount of ways you can deal with issues. Games that push story to the back can easier give an illusion of larger choice, but in many cases actually have fewer choices than in-depth story driven games. For example, let's take Elder Scrolls. When I get a quest I have two initial options: Run off and don't do the quest and just run around, killing things and looting things, or take the quest. That is a binary choice. Now when I take the quest, let's say I am told that I need to clear a cave of goblins. My choices are: Clear the cave of Goblins and Don't Clear the Cave of Goblins. Once again, I have a binary choice. Sure, in a game like Elder Scrolls, the combat system allows me to choose how I clear the game of goblins, but this has everything to do with mechanics and nothing to do with the presence of story or lack thereof. Do some games work better without story? Yes, but to say that only interactive drama type games should have an in-depth story is nothing short of ridiculous to me.
  7. DadeLeviathan

    Organizing for non-linear storyline

    There are a few options you can pursue. First is to create an ordered spreadsheet in which the cells are grouped by datapoint. This will result in a very large spreadsheet if you have a large branching storyline, however. My personal recommendation? Make a flowchart. Lastly, have you ever written a storyline for a game start to finish? If not, start with a linear storyline and familiarize yourself with writing interactive fiction. THEN move on to the confusing, obnoxiously complex behemoth that is branching storylines and non-linear narrative. Now onto writing the story itself. Start with an outline. Starting by writing the story itself is the equivalent of trying to build a house without any architectural designs. The outline at first should incorporate only the MAJOR branching story trees. Include NO side quests or anything of the sort. Stay broad and high concept. once that is done, rewrite it. Then rewrite it again. Finally when that outline is GREAT, add in additional branching storylines, quests, etc, working your way down and repeating the process. What I mean is first you write major secondary quests into the outline, rewrite, and then make sure that is all working well. Then you add tertiary quests, etc, etc, etc, etc. Once all that is done you can finally write the story itself. This organization is required for a project such as nonlinear narrative, otherwise you have no road map. While you can get away with writing a linear (or mostly liner) story without an outline, trying to write a non-linear story without one is akin to hiking the entirety of the North American continent with no plan and no road map. While it's not impossible, it's incredibly hard and incredibly unwise. Both when outlining and writing the rough edition of your story, I recommend using a flow chart or a mind map. If you go the mind map route (my preferred method for outlining non-linear narratives), Freemind is a great open-source program for creating mind maps. You can find it here: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page For flowcharts, there are numerous websites where you can easily create flowcharts by dragging and dropping. Flowcharts are also easily created in a spreadsheet if you know what you're doing, but it takes far more time. Flowchart.com, lucidchart.com are both good sites. Creately.com is definitely the best, but costs money if you wish to use it to its full potential. I would highly advise against doing a non-linear story in word. Trying to write a non-linear story in word, even with headers and document links, is about as user-friendly as a nail gun to the head.
  8. The "idea guy," and Game Designer are not the same thing. That's like calling a screenwriter or a film director the "idea guy." Game design has a lot more to do than just coming up with neat ideas. It's putting those ideas into a formulated plan as well as creating the base mechanics to push those ideas into a practical setting. however, I agree with you that it's a tad silly to demand that a game designer do something else besides design. In fact, outside of teams where multi-tasking is required, game designers rarely do more than design, with the exception of the odd bit of script here and there. For example, on most of your teams in YE OLDEN DAYS, designers would often wear many hats out of necessity. They would also be a level designer, or an artist, or one of the programmers (as was the case with ID and its humble beginnings back when they published under apogee). This has led to a belief by some that in order to be a good designer you need to do more than design. Now, KNOWING more than design is another thing. A good designer knows design very well. A great designer knows at least the fundamentals of all the other fields so that he is better equipped to work with artists and programmers, level designers, etc.
  9. DadeLeviathan

    Zak LeRoi, PC RPG

    A tabbed inventory system could work. For categories, that entirely depends on the types of items you plan on having in your game. For any RPG, I would recommend having at least a Weapons, Apparel/Armor, Useables (i.e. scrolls, magical items), Consumables (potions, food, etc) and Miscellaneous (books, random items, etc) tab. I wouldn't go overboard, however. For example, unless you plan on letting players read them, I wouldn't include a 'books,' tabs. Likewise, I wouldn't include a tab just for non-armor apparel. Finally, I would recommend being able to have a 'Junk,' like tab if you will be allowing the player to hold a lot of items at any given time so that the player can sell unwanted items en masse, rather than clicking on each individual item. Further categories than that would entirely depend on the quantity of item types you will be including in your game and how they will be used. For example, if you will have a lot of quest-heavy items, I would recommend having a Quest tab as well so that players will know which items they must keep. You, could, of course also go the route of simply not allowing them to get rid of quest-required items, but I would still recommend a quest tab in such a case, because then the player would know they wouldn't be able to get rid of them without hovering over them and attempting to get rid of them first. Another idea you could go with, is allowing the player to create their own tabs, and simply allow the player to sell or store en masse all of their items in any given tab. This would allow a player to set up a tab called, say, "Weapons 2" which they reserved specifically for weapons that they would use later, or "Sell High" for items that they would only sell to stores that had some of the better sell payouts in the game.
  10. DadeLeviathan

    How to create conflict

    Since we're on the subject, I will go to my grave citing that writing conventions do not change with medium. The only major change with games is you are writing interactive fiction. The article you posted (and possibly wrote, given your sig?) is sadly lacking in a lot of areas. Conflict is a lot more than the simple three one-dimensional situations you cited. In terms of following the train of thought (choo choo!), game writing is, at the end of the day, writing. It follows the same conventions, the same plot curve, etc. For any writer, regardless of the medium they are working in, they should read the following books: The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Every heard of The Hero's Journey/Monomyth? This guy coined it in this very book. If this book hadn't been written, Star Wars wouldn't exist right now, as Lucas based a massive part of his work on Campbell's work, and even consulted with Campbell while writing the basic overarching plot. Required reading for anybody who wants to get into writing in any fiction medium. Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. This is a screenwriting book, and one of the best out there. If you were to choose only ONE book to read on my list, choose this one. Despite the format differentials, the overall message of this book translates to any medium in which creative writing is involved. Snyder breaks down the conventions of film stories into very distinct premise-based titular ideas, such as Monster in the House, Buddy Love, Whydunit, etc. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. A transcript of Bill Moyers's famous interview with Campbell before his death in 1987. Campbell explains, often in-depth, all of his ideas and theories throughout his decades-long and impressive career. A great resource if you can't buy/find Hero with a Thousand Faces or if you want more explanation of Campbell's theories without buying every book he ever wrote (and there's a lot of them, so you'd be spending a lot of money). They Say, I say by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein Yes, this is a book on academic writing. No, I'm not joking when I say you need to read this if you want to be a writer. This tiny little important book (it's a minuscule 245 pages. Pretty damn small for a "college," book) will teach you everything you need to know about academic writing, that is everything you need to know about "proper," writing. Even if you never write an academic paper in your life, knowing how to do it will make you a better writer. In order to be a good writer in any medium, you need to know the rules of the art you are working within. There are a ton of other books out there that will help anyone who wants to write in any medium. Additionally, there are many books and articles out there on how to apply the knowledge within these books to interactive fiction like video games.
  11. DadeLeviathan

    Zak LeRoi, PC RPG

    inventory system looks... okay. However, unless you are going to be having more types of items than weapons, armor and maybe a few usable items, you'll need more categories if you aren't planning to use the old Infinity Engine games route of only having a very small select number of inventory spots. Bioware, out of most other game developers, probably has some of the worst inventory management systems out of any major RPGs I've played to date. Most of their inventory systems are little more than a chore. So far, their best inventory system was DA2, which allowed fora good mechanic of storing all of your items into a junk category to sell or store en masse. If you plan on allowing the character to carry more than a dozen items at any time, I would recommend having tabs that allow the player to sort through inventory at a higher level than just "weapons, armor and everything else." Additionally, a "sell" and "store" category that players could sort items into would not hurt either, depending on how high you want the inventory limit to be. Additionally, if its going to be a stat-driven RPG with a lot of loot, you're going to want a "Compare," function. This could work if your "equipped" box will change to the relevant item that the player is hovering over. I.e. the player hovers over a sword, and the equipped box shows the hammer he is wielding as well as the stats of both weapons so that the player can easily gauge whether he should keep the sword for later or sell it.
  12. DadeLeviathan

    Idea for a hybrid version of Permadeath

    Here's the problem with the idea: Look at any MMO that allows unlimited player agency, like Eve. Eve has, essentially, turned into a griefing game. The majority of players choose to play the 'bad,' guys, destroying other people's ships and taking their stuff. The NPC 'law' of the game is all but useless. At least that's how it was when I played, but I quit over a year ago because of those exact reasons. Hopefully they have fixed some of that stuff since, but given Eve's reputation, I doubt it. Games like Eve prove that most players will choose the "bad," route in such games, because that route offers the path of least resistance, as well as the most catharsis. As such, the majority of players that join a server or area that allows PKing, are usually there for the sole purpose of PKing. For them, such a system that you propose would feel like punishment simply for playing the game the way they want to play it. This would result in a lot of player rage, and possibly dropping sales in your game because the players would feel as if they were being singled out simply because they enjoy PKing. I'm not saying that your idea doesn't work. In fact everything that Servant pointed out I mostly agree with. But my mentioned example is something to keep in mind. Your system would only work in a game where the benefits of being the good guy and the benefits of being the bad guy are equal. One way to do this would be very harsh "legal" NPCs. I.e. somebody 'murders' someone, and the NPC law system basically declares them a murderer, and any other player may kill them for a hefty bounty (same thing could be reworked to only allow bounty hunters or player members of the law enforcement to kill them without penalty). This would force players who wanted to play the 'bad' guys to essentially form their own criminal underground, and could result in a much more balanced use of your idea, provided you balanced the system correctly of course. I'm throwing these ideas very quickly, of course, so they are bound to have a multitude of holes, but I'm just shooting from the hip, so to speak. Another way to utilize your system would be to have it based upon a player's chosen morality. i.e. instead of a player having a particular morality forced upon him, he would choose a morality at the start of the game, and actions that violated it would increase your "sin," meter. This would allow the player's actions to have consequences without him feeling as if he is being punished. As in such a system, he would actually be rewarded for his playstyle, and only 'punished,' for things that deviated from it. Another way to do it, is to cut out death altogether. When a player 'dies,' they would instead go to jail, or be captured by whichever faction killed them. They would stay imprisoned for the allotted amount of time, and then "respawn." bottom line, interesting idea, but it would need a good deal of work on the underlying game mechanics to work without feeling like you're just punishing players who don't play the game, "Your way."
  13. DadeLeviathan

    2 Game Designs I'd like to discuss

    For your thief RPG idea, you have next to no explanation on what the RPG elements would be. Additionally, you are willingly opening a huge can of worms by allowing the players items to be stolen by other players. The only way to truly do this 'realistically,' would be to go the CCP route as they allow stealing, destruction, etc within their game of Eve. You would alienate many people, however. For every devout player that Eve holds onto, there are just as many if not more than ragequit over griefing. Know that you would be opening the door to the same things. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still something that will heavily impact your design as well as any viability you have to get your game out there. Lastly, CORPGs, even independent ones, are expensive and hard to create. If all you're looking to do is write up some game design docs to prove you can do, then go ahead, but if this is actually something you would want to produce, I would either make it very contained and single player, or put it on the backburner until you have access to a bundle of resources. Lastly, copying other games is not bad in itself. Imitation is the best form of flattery, after all. A Thief style CORPG would be a pretty neat idea. Done well, I would definitely want to check it out, but it would be very hard to do a good thief-style CORPG on anything but a AAA budget. Not impossible, mind you... just hard. ---- As for your space idea: Choice of Scenery; Planet (Desert, Water, Jungle, Metropolis), Asteroid, Space Station (Different planet backdrops). ---Okay, this could work, but what exactly type of manager sim are you wanting to create? Is this Sim City in space? Or is it more of a text-based game, like the older games in the *insert sport here* Manager series, but applied to a science-fiction civilization? Build trade services around your space station such as shops, mercenary camps, freelance miners. ---Sounds exactly like Sim City, but in space. Again, imitation and flattery and all that, but you should remember that Alpha Centauri already did this, and quite well I might add. Create fleets and send them out to mine planets or asteroid belts for minerals too sell on your markets. Also create trade fleets too send your markets off to other parts of the galaxy to increase income. ---Now the idea is starting to sound like Age of Empires meets Sim City in Space. Additionally, if you are planning on a mostly text-base game, these features could work. If you wanted a full graphical game, however, you are looking at a lot of headaches trying to get this large amount of features into a game on a shoestring budget (as I doubt you would be coming to us for advice if you had access to a AAA budget). Manage economies befriending empires to increase business (such as, befriending the human empire which will decrease how much the fuel costs them but increase resource yields and fame, and reduce the cost for repairs and upgrades for the player). ---Economy is one of the hardest, bar none, features to implement in any game. While it's easier in a single player game, because you don't need to balance for a cooperative element, it is still an utter nightmare on the scale that you would want to do it. Not impossible, mind you, but don't expect to keep all your hair. Easy to use UI ---easy to use UIs are always a good design decision. So nothing to really say here. Own multiple space stations and buy out competing businesses and their space stations and fleets. ---I really think you're pushing the limit on what you can do here. You already have mechanics in which you build businesses, an economy that allows you to build economic alliances (ala Civilization), as well as mechanics allowing for fleet building, resource gathering, etc. Adding in a feature to be able to go all Corporate Mogul on competitors may sound like a simple step, but it's not. This would be almost like an entirely new game in itself in terms of the amount of design and balancing it would need. Time System including Day and Night system for planetary scenery. ---Could be done. Wouldn't be incredibly easy, given that it's in space, so you would have to have separate cycles for each planet unless they were all in the same system. Protect your Space Station and fleets from terrorist attacks and alien attacks. ---Now you're adding a combat mechanic and all I can envision is a picture of you beneath a giant pile of rocks, each labelled "features," your arm desperately reaching out from the bottom, crying, "help!" RPG elements ---And now an elephant has been dropped onto that pile of rocks. How would you even implement RPG elements? In a space-sim, that would be incredibly hard unless you're trying to create a single-player Eve, in which case, stop right now because that's not happening unless you have about $12 million and a team of at least 25 people behind you. Overall, for this space sim idea, I would choose four MAJOR features and just go with that. Even four might be pushing with the apparent scale you would want to do go with here. But right now, you have seven major features, all of which would be considered a pretty beefy feature, even in a triple-A game. It's just not something you would be able to pull off well, at least not as I can see it. If you somehow have access to a few million dollars, then maybe. But discounting that extremely unlikely possibility, I don't see a game on this scale happening. The only way you could get this game to happen with all these features, is if you had a decent sized team, and it was entirely text-based. Then you might have a chance of doing it well. If all you want to do is just create design docs, then go right ahead. But if these are actually games you would like to make in the very near future, you need to tone them down.
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