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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.

James Hostick

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  1. A villain can be great if written right, but I believe it is important to give them motivations for what they do. Sometimes you can have great villains who are evil for the sake of being evil or chaotic (The Joker and Kefka come to mind) but the really truly great villains are ones who see themselves and their motivations as heroic. I'll move to TV for a moment and point to Marcus Crassus from the final season of the Spartacus TV show. He's obviously cast as the villain, and yet he sees himself the defender of Rome, the only man capable of putting down the slave rebellion sparked by Spartacus and the man that, in putting down the rebellion, can save the empire from future recurrences of like event. The show does a great job in showing several nuances of the man; he's a loving but incredibly tough father, a brutal leader but one that expects honest assessment of his enemies absent embellishment or overconfidence, and a man driven by a quest to test himself against one of the greatest warriors the Roman Republic knows but also a man who has no desire for titles or positions that he has not earned.   Doesn't sound like a straight up villain. Certainly he has plenty that can make us revile him, but in certain ways the show does a good job of displaying his humanity and humility alongside his brutality and questionable morals. The villain should be layered like an onion. At times you should question whether he's truly a villain, and at times you should wish his untimely demise, but he should be an equal to the hero in terms of successes and failures to really give for an epic story where you can not really predict the outcome. Hard to strive for, but still, hope that helped some.
  2. Try not to think too much in terms of restrictive concepts of games that you have played in the past. That tends to lead to retreads of older games. Plenty of people (myself among them) love both Skyrim and Final Fantasy games. That doesn't mean I wanna play a game that just takes certain parts of both games and mashes them together.   Think first of the story you want to tell. If people can't buy into the story, chances are even decent gameplay won't be enough to keep someone interested for long. Think of the motivations for why we want to care about certain characters and loathe others, and the events that mold a character from a piece of clay to the person we cheer for, cry for, or seethe at. Good examples in media of this are Walter White in Breaking Bad and Spartacus in the TV Series that ended recently. You start with someone that you don't have much emotional connection to and the process of breaking them down and building them up is paced but methodical and without waste. Probably why both are excellent TV shows.   Now think about gameplay elements that you find fun. Don't think about what genre they fit into, but what makes those elements fun and why you'd want to play that game. If you don't find your own gameplay fun, no one else is likely to either. Don't be afraid to experiment, but don't go out of your way to complicate things or make it seem too much like work. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Final Fantasy fan, but random battles that at times happen almost in lightning fast succession are meant to artificially lengthen the game and have no place in a modern RPG, no matter whether it's a "JRPG" or a western RPG.   Third, don't be lazy. Be willing to spend time tweaking game systems to get them right. Be willing to toss out concepts that you like but that don't add to the enjoyment of a game. And be willing to give your characters a really hard time. All powerful characters that always win and never suffer hardship are not going to become those characters like the ones I mentioned who people live and die by.   p.s.- when constructing the story itself, try hard to stay away from old cliches. "The chosen one," "the young girl gifted in magic," and "the old wizened wizard" are so stale in terms of rpgs that most people will instantly shy away from games that go there nowadays. Be ready to tell stories that are not expected.
  3. To borrow from Star Trek, I like the idea of the Romulan Intelligence Agency, The Tal'shiar. A government agency almost more powerful than the government themselves, and often doing things that could be seen in direct conflict with the goals of the government and the military all due to constant suspicion. This could fit such a theme very nicely as an empire in decline might be suspicious of even their own military and government leadership. By the way I'm not suggesting using the name, just maybe if you were looking for a motivation for such a force.   If you invent the whole abbreviated history of this empire, think of a name that fits in with the history. As you can see with my example, it doesn't have to be a name that sounds  like Defense this or Force that. Sometimes a name that evokes a thought of suspicion and espionage or mystery and deadly purpose can do nicely.
  4. Write a skeleton of a story that suggests the story given the player sticking strictly to the main story path. Then write diverging trees off of this path to indicate other choices the player may make at given intervals in the story. Then you can decide how "open" you will allow the game; will you let the player completely skip the main story or will there be some point at which you hand over the reigns to them. As can be seen in a game like Skyrim, sometimes too much choice and freedom can actually slow a story down. Does it still make for an enjoyable game? Sure, but there is something to be said for pulling the player back into a story at a certain point, as even Skyrim attempts to do at times with events such as a dragon coming down from the sky to pull you into conflict.   I'm not saying it's wrong to make the story optional, but I'm saying think about how much you will allow the player to stray and adjust your game's story accordingly.
  5. It is very confusing. You are throwing around a lot of names and terms that seem specific to your game world without any setup or back story whatsoever. Usually in writing if you are going to kick off a story without much back story first, you want to try to keep from getting too specific on names, places, etc but instead ease the reader (or gamer) into the mythos of your world. And you are moving at a rapid pace with these problems. Consider expanding drastically on your concept, as it seems to be something that is supposed to take place over an entire game, and not just the opening scenes of it. I would suggest to make bullet points out of what you've written and try to fill in a good deal of the missing details that tell us more about these characters and places in order to make us care about them.