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overactor

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Everything posted by overactor

  1. Before reading this post, I'd like you to keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and that I am not presenting it as absolute truth, but rather putting it out there and asking for opinions on the matter.   There seems to be a lot of hate directed towards the 'idea guy' in the gaming community. He adds little to the project in terms of both work and end result. The quality of a game comes down to execution, iteration and polish. That is at least, if you'll believe the popular opinion on the matter. I tend to disagree though, and I'd like to explain my views by tying this question into another one: "Can video games be art?"   At first glance, there seems to be very little preventing video games from being an art form. Much like film, it mixes several media to create a new one. Many of the processes required to make a game a reality are considered an art form. An argument you encounter often is that interactivity, exactly what makes a medium a game, is what keeps it from being a piece of art. People have done a better job than I possibly could explaining why this argument is faulty, so I won't go into that. Where they tend to go wrong though, in my opinion, is when they try to identify the real reason why some people have troubles recognizing games as an art form. Apparently, they are too new as a medium. For one thing, this means that they have a bit of growing to do. Additionally, people who didn't grow up with it, don't fully understand the medium. I don't necessarily disagree with this, but I'd like to point out a very real problem that I think is hindering games.   The lack of appreciation and even depreciation of the 'idea guy'. What I think is absolutely essential for art, is that the creator has something they want to share with the world. They have a vision for what they want their piece do art to become and make decisions when creating it based on that vision. Not based on what the money thinks it should be, not based on what will go down well with the audience and not even (primarily) based on what will make for the 'better' piece of art. It's true that everyone in the gaming business, including the janitor, has ideas for games, but let me ask you this question: Does everyone have good game ideas?   Now, I'm not saying that the 'idea guy' should be held on a pedestal and that his contribution to the game, the initial idea, is the only thing that counts. It is still very true that, if the only thing he has to add is the initial idea, he is of not much worth. After all, what worth is a great idea for a painting if you can't paint? And that's what makes an artist, the essential skill set necessary to create his art and the initial idea.   This just leaves one more question, when it comes to making games, who is the painter? Well, that would be the game designer. Because as people have argued before me, game designing is a skill set and I will say more even, it is the only one truly essential to the quality of games. So where do the other people involved in making a game fit into this metaphor? If the game designer is the painter, the 3d modeler, animator or 2d artist might be the manufacturer of the paint. And the programmers can be the one who made the canvas the painter is using. They are all admirable professions, without them, no painting could be made, and it is pretty awesome if the painter does some of these things himself, but that's not what makes a great artist, it's the technical skill and knowledge as a painter and more importantly, the initial idea and vision.
  2. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      I said it is necessary, didn't I? All I implied was that it's not the most important thing for an artist.   It was just a metaphor and I never claimed it was entirely accurate, it talks more about their artistic contribution to the game than the amount of work they put in. They could very well be considered artist and their lines of code or drawings could be art in their own right, but ideally, they don't change what the game is in a significant way. Unless of course they are better game designers than the game designer.     Why does everyone here always focus on monetary value by the way?
  3.   I like how you leave it completely open whether it's good design or not. What I'm thinking of course is to be a bit more consequential and direct but also a bit more forgiving. You'll know when you've fucked up and the game will fuck you over, but not so bad that you have to restart. After all the whole idea of the game design is that it doesn't ever break immersion. And having to restart breaks immersion immensely.
  4. Hi all,   I'll be entirely honest, I joined this forum a few hours ago with making this thread as a sole reason. I have however read and made some post and will try my best to make this thread comprehensible and up to standard.   So, I recently had an interesting idea for a game. In this 2.5D puzzle/action platformer, you play as several characters stuck in one body. You can switch between the characters who each have their own strengths and weaknesses to help you overcome the obstacles you'll face along the way. At this point you might very well be thinking: "Sounds an awful lot like Trine.". And I'd have to agree with you, which is why I'll now get to the part that tells you why it's not like Trine.   The whole game is designed around the concept of permanent consequences for the characters. This means that if you jump or fall off a ledge that is a bit too high, the character you were playing with, might very well break his leg and spend the rest of the game with a limp. Or maybe he'll even simply die and you'll have to go on without him. The game auto saves over your only save file and without cheating, there is no way to undo your mistakes. The reason for this is because I wanted to have an extremely high penalty for mistakes without having to cause frustration or having to stop the game and break immersion.   I believe this has several positive effects: The player has to be extremely careful and thoughtful when approaching an obstacle. A wider range of feelings is accessible through gameplay (and not story). The punishment for mistakes is neatly wrapped in within the world of the game and feels consistent with the rules of that world. Your characters actually feel fragile and therefor more human.   The rest of the game is designed to amplify this effect. The characters all have their unique traits that make navigating the world easier and even make some content reachable that you could reach without them. (A very interesting and boring example could be a ledge that is too high to jump over for every character but one.). At a bunch of key point in the game, the way you handle certain obstacles will procedurally form friendships or hardships between your characters. Throughout the game you uncover a back story and each character offers a unique view on the events.   The back story as I currently see it works like this: The characters stuck in this body are actually several personalities of a person with dissociative identity disorder. The player will discover this rather quickly in the game as will the characters. The person these personalities belong to had a disinterested father who he desperately wanted to make proud. At some point the father left his mother without ever saying goodbye to her or their son. The son took this very hard and was sent to a psychiatrist who taught him techniques to shut out the pain. This resulted in a split personality. From then on, the boy started creating new personalities for increasingly trivial and specific obstacles he faced in his life. He was however not consciously aware of doing this and at some point in his adult life, he noticed he seemed to black out sometimes and felt like he missed some parts of his life. Another visit to the psychiatrist reveals the many personalities. The therapist has the man relive the events that caused the creation of these personalities and tries to show his subconscious that these personalities are useless when it comes to overcoming obstacles.   This is what the player plays through, a physical manifestation of the memories of this man, with the added obstacles the therapist throws in to challenge the personalities.   So that's what I have so far. There are other things I've thought out but these are the ones I'd like feedback on. I really like the core mechanic and would like to hear about other people's take on it and if anyone thinks it might be effective at all. As for the back story, I'm not entirely sold on it but I believe it makes sense considering the core mechanics, it explains some weird aspects of the gameplay and neatly ties up all elements of the game into a consistent and sensible package. It is however rather cliche and has the overly typical twist.   Any thoughts?
  5. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      In case it wasn't obvious, I posted the image as a comment on your 'ideas guy as an artist' stance, rather than a comment on artists in general.   As for the 'real meaning' of the image, (which was created by an artist, presumably) that, like all art, is open to interpretation.    On the subject of artists, have you ever watched an artist at work? Because they don't always get things right first time. They prototype, iterate etc. just like developers.   I did mean an ideas guy who is also the lead game designer, I don't see why he shouldn't be considered an artist. Yes, artist don't always get it right on the first try, but they try to get it right without getting too distracted from what they were originally trying to convey.   Nobody is suggesting this. A critical skill for a lead game designer is knowing which ideas and changes to incorporate and which to leave out, and when to remove ideas that sounded good but that aren't working out.   The main thing we are suggesting is that the lead game designer must be willing and able to apply the same process equally to their own ideas and those of others.   Game design doesn't have to be a democracy, and it probably shouldn't be. A benevolent dictator will work fine.   I fully agree with you there, the only thing we have slightly different opinions on is to which extent a game designer should deviate from his original idea to optimize it. And to which degree his original idea is worth anything. (I do think it's only worth anything in the hands of a capable and passionate designer with the possibility of actually making it.)
  6. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

    What advantage is there to refining an idea in the abstract, rather than in a concrete series of prototypes (also know as "implementation")? Game development isn't Socratic philosophy, you know...     Collaboration is a relevant skill, I'd settle for that. No one likes a diva, which appears to be what you are describing.     I feel like implementation will take you away from what you want to achieve with your game and drag you into teh question of what you can achieve. I'm not saying tehre is something wrong in principle with doing it that way, I just don't get why refining it in abstract seems to be frowned upon. Is knowing your game and what you want to achieve with it through and through by the time you have to deal with practical problems really such a horrible thing that's not only not worth the time you'd spend on it but just a plain bad idea?   As for a game designer having to eb able to collaborate, of course that's an important skill. But if you as a programmer suggest a game mechanic and he doesn't see howm it fits in his design, why would it be a bad thing if he doesn't want to change it? There's a difference between being a diva and knowing what you want your game to be.       -picture-     Note that I never said I see myself as an artist, I don't think I have it in me. You have a really cynical view of artists though.
  7. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

    I've read through all of the replies on this topic since my last post and, for obvious reasons, won't bother with quoting them all. In stead I will tell you where I stand on the issue now, after your input and some reflection on my part.   I have concluded that the points raised in my initial post might have been a bit miguided, if not wrong. It's obvious that I don't have much real experience in game development and I don't think I ever tried to claim otherwise. I will try to rephrase some of my views to better fit how I feel now.   One thing the gaming business seems to rely on very heavily is iterative processes. This is of course very understandable given the complexity of an average, let alone a large, game. It also seems that these iterative processes mostly come into play during the implementation. And that's where I have a bit of a problem. Of course it is unavoidable that there will be a significant amount of iteration during implementation, but I am of the opinion that starting from an idea that has been thought out to great extent and will thus require less iteration will result in a product with more integrity. Furthermore I feel like the need for iterative processes are a shame. In a way, it reduces people to components of a machine, each with their own specific functions. This is good for implementation, but not ideal for refining ideas. In stead of working as one creative person, you work more like a computer program.   Another thing I'd like to comment on is that I notice that a lot of people seem to object to the game designer being the true artist at work in game design. Even stating that you can't be a game designer without other relevant skills. All I can really say is that I disagree. I think it is sad that it is froyned upon that some people want t get into the gaming business without art or programming skills. Game design is a very real skill set and good game designers are just as rare (if not rarer) and intergral to a game as good programmers and artist. (and writers and composers and animators etc.)   So here's what I now think the value of an initial idea is: I think the value of an initial idea lies in how it can make a game designer passionate about it. If a good game designer thinks of or gets a hold of a game idea and falls in love with it. I think he should, depending on the type of idea, refine it as much as he can without even taking steps to developing it. And when he feels he has done all he can to make it perfect in his mind, he can start on implementing. He can do that alone or with some friends or with a hundred man team. And I personally believe that at this stage, sticking to your idea can sometimes be more important than listening to everyone who has a way of optimizing it. Of course you can consider every suggestion, but weigh the possible benefit against how it fits with the integrity of your game.   Thanks for all the replies on this thread, I really appreciate them. If I offended anyone with one of my posts here, please know that I purposely took a bit of an extreme stance and didn't mean to insult anyone. I'm not done thinking about this subject yet but I think this thread has helped a lot.
  8. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      While I think that this is a positive evolution, it's still a bit lacking. In stead of trying to please a publisher, the game designers are now trying to please the end users. This is of course a significant improvement but not the way to go if you want to make art. Don't get me wrong by the way, by far not every video game should strive to be high art. Another thing that the crowdfunding model doesn't address is how much say the game designer gets in all aspects of the game. The open nature of the model seems to promote that everyone gets to contribute to the project, even the consumers. And since when do consumers of art know anything about the creation of art?   What I will say for the crowdfunding model is that it enables passionate people to work on the ideas they are passionate about. But they still have to adjust them in a way that they will sell well rather than stay true to the original meaning.   As to what it has to do with idea guys, some people are simply better idea guys than other people, those people should be recognised and encouraged to learn about game design and possibly other aspects involved in game making, because that person could be the Rembrandt of the game industry. As opposed to a very talented programmer or 3d artist.
  9. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

    1. $.008333 2. "Yes." 3. The entire team, including the producer. I couldn't disagree more. How can a game have any personality what so ever if everyone involved gets a real say as to what direction the game goes in. Furthermore, do you really think everyone in the gaming industry has good ideas about what games should be like and how a good game is designed?
  10. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      Unfortunately, even with all the enthusiasm in the world, the lack of experience basically means your idea of 'how things should be' may not very well rooted in reality.   Let's suppose though, for the sake of argument, you're right. Idea Guys are a downtrodden and under-appreciated font of creativity, and games developers should make better use of them.   How do you propose we harness their untapped potential? Should studios start hiring Idea Guys? What are you actually proposing here?   How about this, you move from huge projects being the standard to medium sized projects. You give the game designer an even bigger say and have him work form an idea he came up with himself or is extremely passionate about. The problem of course is, who in their right mind would finance that over some sequel or rehashed game that is a guaranteed moneymaker? It might turn out to be a flop, it will definitely not appeal to as large an audience as AAA games do, but the end product will have a hell of a lot more integrity.
  11. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      What about a good game with good implementation where every element implemented was carefully considered by someone who is very passionate about the project and is a talented game designer?   As an answer to Hodgman's last post: You are right that on very large projects, it becomes basically impossible for one person to have a full overview of everything. This is why large projects will always be so different from what small and medium sized projects. There is nothing wrong with tinkering with a formula when it is necessary, but every step away from the original idea is likely going to detract somewhat from its personality. Of course it can improve the end product but it seems obvious  that starting out with an idea that needs a minimal amount of tinkering and having said tinkering done by the person who originally came up with the idea will result in a game with more soul.   I agree with most of what you're saying, really. This is a very idealistic view of game design, I just think that there is nothing wrong with the ideal itself. And that it could be strived for a bit more in the gaming industry, especially the indie community.
  12. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      You're exactly right, someone with enthusiasm suggests how they think things should be and someone worn down by the industry talks beside the question by stating how things are. I never said unimplemented ideas have any value, it's the passion and vision of a talented game designer that give them value, but that doesn't mean that there isn't such a thing as a bad and a good idea. And a great idea for that matter. If a thing is worth what someone will pay for it, the Call of Duty series must be the epitome of gaming.     If it's of any value, I'm not making record sales with any of my game designs because I don't think I have what it takes to be a master game designer.
  13. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      I'm not going to deny that I haven't worked with large teams, because I would be lying. I should have said they usually don't touch the heart of the game, I should have said they shouldn't. It's clear that making a game requires a lot more technical skill than making a painting, which is exactly why paintings tend to turn out as more artful than games do. People who don't share the vision of the artist get to mess with his product, it might be largely necessary to deliver a decent product, but it's far from ideal. A good compromise would be having a game designer with a maximum amount of knowledge about all the aspects involved n making a game and a team that only suggests things to the main game designer but lets him process what they tell him and use it as he sees fit, without further discussion. Unless of course what he wants is impossible, but that would mean that he's not a very good game designer.
  14. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

      This is exactly why I said he needs to be really good. If his idea is dumb, he isn't a particularly good designer in my book. If a hobbyist painter goes to the paint shop and tells the guy who made the paint what he's going to paint. He might very well adjust a few things based on what the person tells him to adjust to improve his paintings. But do you really believe that this is going to result in a masterpiece? If a modern day Rembrandt goes to the same paint shop though, he likely won't need to ask the guy working there for any advice. If he did, he wouldn't be worth calling a modern day Rembrandt.     I'd like to add that I realize there are practical problems preventing things from working this way, A game is not a painting after all, not by a long stretch. But that doesn't mean it can't be an ideal to strive towards.
  15. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

    No, that metaphor completely misses the point that the interaction between designers, programmers and artists are all two-way interactions. The artists and programmers, the artists and designers, and the designers and programmers, all supply work to each other and feed off each other. All those relationships are reactive and dependent on each other. For this metaphor, you'd need the painter to require some specific kind of paint and canvas that don't yet exist, and his art to be an iterative process that requires a search for both the final painted image that he's after, and a search to develop the kinds of paints/canvasses that will allow this image to be created. This journey would likely change directions at different points as certain limitations in the search for paint/canvas are decided upon. All of this R&D is also costing money, so all the artisans involved must balance the amount of time they spend on each area with the value that it will bring to the artistic vision, which is where project management comes in (which is often another skill that good game designers are expected to be trained in, but the stereotypical idea guy lacks).   I must say that I was fully aware of my metaphor being lacking in that aspect and knew that that would cause some backlash. It's clear that programmers, 2d artists etc. play a much larger and more interactive role in the creation of a game. But the fact remains that they usually don't touch the heart of the game and merely provide the framework and tools the game designer can work with. And if the game designer is REALLY good at his job, they shouldn't meddle with his process besides telling him what limitations he's working with.
  16. overactor

    What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

    I do agree with your views on the stereotypical idea guy. An idea on its own isn't worth much and an idea guy without a skill set definitely isn't worth anything. Especially if his ideas aren't even good. But i still hold my view that possessing a skill set does not make an artist, it is necessary, but not essential.   I'll try to clarify what I meant using your strawman argument concerning Rembrandt and the guy who had the idea to paint Jesus calming a storm. I said the designer is the painter and that he needs to have a great initial idea and a vision to be a great artist. In this case, the initial idea came from someone else. Does this mean that the other guy is the real artist and Rembrandt merely the technical implementor? Maybe. It all depends on why he thought his idea was a good one. Does he understand how it will translate into a painting and what message it can convey to the consumer? Then yes, he can be considered an artist. And if he somehow translated that to Rembrandt and Rembrandt merely tweeked it a bit using his technical knowledge about painting, then Rembrandt should not be considered the artist. However, if that guy just thought it would look cool and Rembrandt saw how it could work out and be a great piece of art. Then Rembrandt is the artist and the other person simply sparked some great idea in his mind.   There are many people with great technical skill, not very many of them can be considered great artists though. Bad design and great implementation leads to good entertainment, good design and bad entertainment leads to bad art. I'll take good entertainment over bad art any day, but that doesn't change that striving for art in stead of entertainment has some value to it.
  17. overactor

    Out of Class Items As A Gateway to Mayhem

    It sounds like a very compelling idea, but I'm not sure why you would put an actual cap on it at all. Might as well let a level 1 player use a level 20 item. Or maybe the effect you're going for is the technology being so incredibly advanced that you simply can't fathom how it works?   Maybe it would be interesting that you would need to have someone explain to you how to use certain types of items, or at least see someone using it.       I must say, this thread along with your previous one has gotten me quite curious about your game, how is development going, if at all?
  18. This might not be what you are going for, but this reminds me of battle royale and a battle royale game would be beyond awesome.
  19.   That's a very positive way of looking at things. I wouldn't let them kill it off entirely though, because I want to be consequent with my permanent consequences. The characters get it, but so do the players.   And that was my thought exactly, if every playthrough is different, it will be fun to talk about it with your friends who played it or even online. A bit like the way The walking dead has so many possible paths through the game.
  20. It seems a bit difficult to start on a very programming heavy project as an artist/writer.   I'm not telling you to give up on the game you have in mind, but maybe you should start off with something more focused on writing and art to prove that you can actual deliver a decent project. Then maybe you could try working on your bigger project with the programmers you worked with during your smaller ones.   That's just my input, not that I have any knowledge about this stuff.
  21.   I definitely see your point there, it might not be an easy sell.     The way I see it, is that rushing in and deliberately throwing lives away will be severely punished, both on a gameplay as an ethical level. I don't intend to go lightly over a character dying. If that doesn't stop them from playing a bit more conservative and they end up losing all of their characters and then complain about the game being stupid, I guess the game wasn't for them. I was always okay with it being a rather polarizing game. I actually think people throwing a character away because they don't like the playstyle they offer is interesting, as I will rub in how heartless their decision was. Also, they will still encounter puzzles that highly benefit from stealth, just a tad less and less essential puzzles will still require stealth.
  22. I don't think there is something wrong with this damage system persé. Although I'm not entirely sure about some of the formulas, the chanced effects being linearly dependent on the damage seems a bit weird in my mind (since it can technically go over 100%) and I agree with Lorenzo that the bleeding and a lot of different stats should also depend on where exactly the target gets hit. I feel like you've put some decent thought into this however and will not go deeper into it as I'm far from an expert on this. (Maybe you'd be best taking this to a physics professor or so?)   I do still wonder how this will come across to the player though. Can you give an example of what you expect the player to read before understanding to a sufficient level how the damage system works? Also, what can the player actually learn by simply playing the game?
  23.   I think I may have worded myself a bit poorly. I didn't mean that I wanted to design every level for every possible combination of characters that could be left (which is 32 for 5 characters and 64 for 6 by the way). What I meant is that I design a whole bunch of modular obstacles and assign some values to them representing how easily certain character combinations can get across them. Then I'd use those values to procuderally generate the game world as the player goes along. My estimate is that it would end up being about 2 to 3 times more work than just designing a static, linear game world.   It's interesting that you mention that this might encourage players to kill off characters to make the levels harder, I hadn't thought about it like that yet. I'm hoping that the player would be too scared and too attached to his characters to kill them off for a more challenging game. Don't forget that this would mean that he actively makes game content inaccessible for himself.   Thanks for your reply in any case, food for thought. :]
  24. I've been thinking about some of the concerns you guys raised about the concept and hurdles for the level design, and came up with a possible solution.   What If the levels' content is based on the characters the player has left? This means that the game would lay out the obstacles faced in the game semi-randomly a few steps ahead of the players. I'd throw in the random factor to make sure that the player still feels theb yeight of his previous mistakes throughout the entire game. But now he will get to use the characters he has left more often and the puzzles can be more geared towards certain characters. Every obstacle can still be overcome with every character, but this way I can make the default way a lot harder.   This also fits into the back story as the therapist would adapt the challenges he throws at the personalities based on which are left. Furthermore, it would seriously ad to the replay value, as each playthrough could be vastly different from the last one.   Obviously, there are some technical difficulties (especially since I'd prefer the game world to be possible to navigate without loading screens) to overcome and this means more content to design and create, but I feel like it could provide a significant improvement for the game.   Does anyone have any feedback on this idea?
  25. overactor

    Yet another introduction thread.

    It was a mess really. I didn't use the machine code of the calculator, which is used for most games on ti calculators (because I didn't know how). In stead I used the build in programming language, which is made to make little programs that solve math problems for you.   There are no methods or functions, you navigate the program with things called goto and labels. If you write goto A it searches your program for a line saying lbl A and starts continues reading from there. There are built in commands for making menus and outputting text at a given coordinate (which we used to make our screens) Before I started on the second game I mentioned, me and my friend discovered that you can execute programs from within a program. We used those to split up our code a bit but it really wasn't al that helpful since you couldn't use arguments.     Did I mention I learned the programming language by looking at a snake game I had on there and trial and error?
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