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Mark William Nations

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  1. You can pretty much just google stuff and find a variety of pixel art editors. As for the rotations, most free items will only let you do limited rotation (for whatever reason). I've used Piskel before, and that one allows 45 degree rotation along with a host of other simple features. If you're willing to pay a bit of money, you can get Asesprite which is SUPER powerful and versatile.
  2. Rev Rev Revolution Bumper Stars Collidascope (image of two cars smashing into each other and creating a rainbow kaleidoscope explosion) TricKart Trap
  3.   Yeah, that's what I was about to say. Based on the mechanics and variables present during a challenge the player faces, it's easy enough to break down the various types of characters that can exist (and more mechanics increases the possibilities exponentially). I recommend you check out this series of articles which really go into detail about how to design varies and interesting game scenarios (and by that measure varies and interesting character archetypes).   http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MikeStout/20150605/245284/Trinity_A_Game_Design_Methodology_Part_1.php
  4.     I've been "analyzing" games my whole life, just getting a feel for when things are a good / bad idea (and I tended to be relatively good at it), but I didn't start directly reading up on game design principles until my second year of college, 4 years ago, right when I decided to switch to a computer science degree, learn programming, and work towards a game development career. Ever since then, I've been going keeping track of anything and everything that I felt was relevant to game design in my Google Chrome bookmarks, so it persists between computers. Very useful. Have a decently sized library of links for reference at this point.   These are some general "beginner" tips for when getting started with gamedev / game design (as I did):   - Keep up with the gamedev reddit page. There are often some nice questions / links there. I recommend setting up a Twitter account (@willnations) and a github account (@willnationsdev) and getting your game out there / following other indie developers/etc. as quickly as possible. Twitter hashtags to be aware of: #gamedev, #indiedev, #screenshotsaturday.   - Don't worry about the quality of your starting games too much. The first several games you make will suck horribly, so don't worry too much about making them too polished. The first game I ever made was terrible (made in 2 days at a game jam with a small team of artists), and, in fact, I consider the first 10 games I've made absolutely horrible (though I just received an email saying the latest one got greenlit on Steam after 5 months...somehow. Didn't get the impression it was that great... <_<;; called "SYNCH" if curious).   - I also recommend HackNPlan while trying to keep up with any larger projects and managing tasks/game design document/etc. It basically combines Dundoc (which is an underdeveloped game design document template website) and Trello (a task-managing utility which, while awesome, isn't integrated with a design document directly like HackNPlan is).   - Look into the community's advice regarding game design topics: Visit www.gamasutra.com twice a week at least to keep updated. Find video presentations of panels from the game developer conference at GDCVault.   - YouTube channels w/ good game design topics. Extra Credits, GameMaker's Toolkit, HappieCat (<- bit more intro game programming), PBS Game/Show.   To get back to answering the more base question of why your platformer isn't fun, I'd advise you to consider the simplest conception of your platformer, the jumping, and identify what INTERACTIONS with your jump make jumping worthwhile and enjoyable. Take the simple jump in Mario games. You can jump up, into something, and down, onto something. There is a sound effect that provides feedback and responsiveness to the jump (juice - letting the player "feel" that they are jumping), hitting a ? block actually pushes it up and down a little (juice - the world responds to you), something pops out suddenly (more juice - a visceral, tangible effect in the world has occurred!), and more sound effects to accompany the type of item that has popped out (juice - a COIN came out, *ding* - an upgrade came out *bup,bup,bup*, etc.). <- Yes, these visceral, "juicy" things can make it actually FUN to jump into the ? blocks. What's more, the jumping itself now allows you to interact with the world in a real way: the ? block doesn't even let you hit it anymore (or DOES it? Surprise! Sometimes it keeps going~). You get the gist. These are all things the designers did to make the basic mechanic of jumping (and more specifically, jumping INTO a ? block) be very interesting. You'll notice also that the designers didn't just add more and more functionality to Mario. Generally speaking, the added more influence and power to the jump itself. Jumping into or onto different objects begets different changes in the world, and gives the player a sense of their options when confronted with a set of obstacles in the world to overcome. I'm not sure exactly what it is you've done in your own platformer, but you can rest assured that if the mechanics do not themselves present a tangible influence in the world and/or don't have some sense of juice to spice it up, it won't necessarily "feel" fun or interesting, based on my limited experience anyway.
  5. As people have been explaining, there are many ways to go about making a game more or less fun, and a lot of thought needs to be put into the mechanics and level design of your game, whether it's a puzzle game, a platformer, an RPG, shooter, whatever.   As an example of some topics that you may wish to explore further, I recommend that you review the following articles/videos as I have found them EXTREMELY helpful in answering these exact questions (when I started studying up on game design a couple years ago).   The "Trinity" system of game design that helps you to identify what the "range" of the mechanics of your game are, what choices they present to the player, and how to structure a level and its choices to exploit and bring out the potential of those exact mechanics. This has like 7 parts or so (maybe more?). It's pretty extensive and very helpful. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MikeStout/20150605/245284/Trinity_A_Game_Design_Methodology_Part_1.php   Vlambeer's (developer of Nuclear Throne, an exquisitely designed twin-stick shooter for PC) video presentation on how to make "game juice", or in laymen's terms, how to make the game feel good by ADDING fun elements to otherwise plain gameplay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJdEqssNZ-U   Doucet's article on how to make "game oil", or in laymen's terms, how to improve the gameplay experience by REMOVING detracting elements from otherwise fun gameplay http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/LarsDoucet/20160810/279009/Oil_it_or_Spoil_it.php   Pretty much every "Game Design" video made by Extra Credits on YouTube. "Differences in Kind" is especially good. Any video involving the word "Choice". "The Magic Circle". There's tons of goodies in there that can be applied to your game design.
  6. For non-linear games, it's usually a good idea to put "gatekeeper" enemies (a decent level of difficulty representing the area) at the border of these regions that the player will be forced to contend with before fully entering the "epic" zone. That way, if the player is unprepared for the area, they will know right away because they won't be able to overcome the initial challenge.   Having characters and the scenery also warn the player through the story and environmental design also helps a lot, as frob suggested.
  7. What Navezof said, especially in regards to the "three attacks" bit. Dark Souls in fact flourishes on the limited capacity and true specialization of each class of weapon available, allowing the player to make their own judgment about which weapon style is best suited to their currently desired gameplay style and which weapon is perhaps best suited to the exact challenge presented before them. Rapiers, Scimitars, Spears, Maces, and Greatswords all have only 1 or 2 real "attacks", but they each have vastly different "feel" to the way the weapon works based on the fluidity of movement it allows, the hitbox range/size for a given swing, the time between button press and weapon swing, and the time before the weapon can make another swing, in addition to the "normal" stats like damage output, strength/diversity requirements, etc. Each of these subtle characteristics will filter into the "differences" between your designed weapons, so don't necessarily assume that you should have a three-hit combo, especially if it isn't actually necessary to deliver the design experience you are aiming for.
  8. de nature, would you mind explaining what all of these links are?
  9. For me, most of my "game design" goes on in my head, typically while I'm just going about my day (I tend to be relatively busy). If I think of something particularly useful, I jot it down in the Notes app on my iPhone. When I do get a chance to just work on it, I whip out my laptop, throw up Vim (my preferred note-taking software), and start fleshing out my ideas. I'll generally listen to music as I go (either electric/instrumental or in a foreign language, anything so long as I can't understand any lyrics that would distract me). Frequently, as I type things out, I'll reach a brief stopping point where I need to actually flesh out an idea rather than jot it down. At this point, I'll get up out of my seat and start pacing. And I'll pace and pace until I've fully and completely fleshed out the idea. Or until I'm interrupted. And this can potentially go on for hours. Sometimes I run out of time and have to postpone my thinking until later, so I'll jot down a quick summary of how far I got and write down the things left that I still needed to consider.   Generally this all goes on for several weeks / months before I feel that I've got enough material to start working on a project "for real".Then I go to town in Unreal 4, programming something. Granted, I myself am only 23 and graduated college back in May, so I only have 1 "real" game that I worked on for 4 months consecutively with a team (everything else was school projects or game jams of 2 weeks or less, pure prototypes). But I've had about 5 games that I've come up with over the years that I feel are of sufficient enough quality to devote any actual time to and the first of those constitutes my current project, codenamed Spectral. You can look it up on cartrdge.   Part of my "process" is considering not just the gameplay potential of the game idea, but also the marketability of it. If I can't think of way that a game of "this sort" would have a concrete place in the marketplace, both in terms of an existing player base and the current trends in the industry, then I don't really see a reason to continue devoting time to working on its design, let alone programming anything with it.   Not sure what you mean about your "solid concept improvement" question. When I feel that an idea is lacking, I'll usually notice either during my original thought process or during the prototyping stage. In those cases, I can usually see what it is the player is wanting to be able to do (occasionally by getting random friends/relatives/associates to do a quick playtest), see HOW the current design is failing to properly achieve that, and then understand what things need to be fixed to achieve that. Then it's just a matter of brainstorming / prototyping different features to see if they are a good fit for creating the feeling in the player that I am seeking. A nice combination of intuitiveness, autonomy, and functionality.   I don't "go back to the drawing board" as often as some of the other students I've worked with before since I tend to spend a lot more time developing designs and code that emphasize robustness, so my stuff will generally "work" longer than my cohorts' before my team and I come to see the weaknesses in it. I'm actually currently on my 3rd iteration of a robust skill system (first on a project as a Junior, then again on a project as a Senior, and then now). Each time, I've come to recognize key problems in the previous versions and have begun making alterations to the design. It also helps that I've grown in general as a programmer with each year.
  10. If the concern is to have interesting quest activities, then I would agree with the previous statement that the crucial thing is "non-trivial" quests. Gameplay is gameplay and by its nature will either be fun to the player or not depending on its challenge/etc. To make the quest interesting means to make the story context surrounding the gameplay interesting, and interesting stories start with interesting characters. As such, I think your focus should be on how to make memorable and unique characters and how to invite the player to develop a relationship with them through your gameplay interactions.   The player will of course be limited by what gameplay you have programmed in, but even if your task WAS to collect 10 wolf hides or what have you, the quest itself can be made very interesting by getting into the details of the characters involved in the quest, their relationships, and how those relationships are changing as a result of your involvement and decision-making. The more personable, recognizable, and fun character you can put into the "people" of your games, the more the player will actually be immersed in their conversations with them, meaning that they will be able to "believe" that whatever task you've assigned to them has meaning in the narrative and is worth their effort to invest in.   That said, it certainly HELPS when you have a variety of quest ideas to use for gameplay tasks. +1 for sunandshadow's suggestions on quest types: >> 1. Gathering materials from the world whether by drop-hunting, growing crops, or gathering  ---1a. the degenerate case of this is gathering XP as combat 'training', like a student ninja or knight or something 2. Developing your social reputation in positive personal ways by doing favors for NPCs, in intimidating ways by killing boss monsters and revealing who was behind crimes, and in professional ways by earning reputation with factions and pleasing class-related mentors in order to gain new class-related skills and ranks. 3. Achievements of dexterity and/or intellect such as solving puzzles, crafting complex objects, amassing collections, high scores on minigames, stunt jumps, PvP rank, making money in the auction house, breeding a rare pet... what's possible here varies widely by game.   Getting that variety in will take a lot more development time though, so it may be better to focus on a small subset of activities, but make those activities deep systems that result from the intelligent combination of several small and simple systems (ex. Portal's puzzles, Super Mario enemy/level design escalation and sequencing, etc.). That'll get you the perception of gameplay diversity while not too wildly blowing up your production budget as you try to create gameplay content for any story/character development you work in.
  11. Ditto on the Google Docs note-taking backup of the ideas.   In my case, I've had a number of ideas that I have been developing for several years, but they are always sparsely re-visited. I would have an idea for a game or a story that I knew I couldn't produce yet, so I would sit on it, but every couple of months, I would spend a night ruminating about the idea, transform it, refine it, and then take more notes over the ideas. Over the years, many of my ideas have not only changed radically and improved, but have also become more and more within reach as my skill improves and I can start to envision how it might actually be developed, etc.
  12. Well, without knowing anything about Tripe Triad, I would say that making a COMPETITIVE card game based on rogue-like mechanics and randomization would probably not be fun to play as there would be too much of a chance that the randomization gives one player a distinct advantage over the other. As soon as players realized what kind of scenario they were given, they would have a fair idea of how the match would go in the metagame and it would be over before it began. The more you move away from that, the less it carries the characteristics of a rogue-like, so all in all, my first instinct is that the two types of gameplay just aren't really designed to be synergistic.   However, creating a rogue-like card game that is single-player might prove very interesting. Card mechanics are essentially the same as "normal abilities" except that you have 1) usually more complex arsenal/loadout/ability organization and strategy, 2) don't have access to all skills at once, 3) must rely on luck/probability, 4) must adapt to an unpredictable and dynamic play capacity, all of which may be in favor of development in a rogue-like system.   The thing to be mindful of in that case would be ensuring that players feel as though the game is based on their skill and intellect rather than the game is just screwing them over with bad luck. The player should always feel like they had all the tools and knowledge they needed to evade, counter, or defeat any threat that is posed at them.
  13. Not sure if this is like the materia (haven't played FF7/FFCC), but there are many games that make it so that equipping collectible items lead to you getting certain abilities and combining them strategically in available slots can lead to unlocking new abilities, so there is experimental/discovery stuff going on that adds to the enjoyment of the game. Could also make it so that those items themselves can level up and "evolve" into new abilities. Then you have things like Transistor where you have a single "skill" that can be equipped in 3 different slots as either an active ability, a modifier to an active ability, or a static ability. (excellent game)   Also, as for the web and tree systems you mentioned, the web isn't necessarily "arbitrary choice and luck" since, if you want the player to feel more directed, you as a designer are completely free to sub-develop these webs into smaller webs, highlight paths, or create 'organic' combos that the player will immediately see and think, "oh I should go this way for this kind of character!" that in turn leads them towards the abilities they need for that sort of character.   As for just leveling up the player linearly, the degree to which it feels like a "grind" is entirely the system designer's fault (as you described). If the gameplay experience-gain rate is slated low, then the player will have to grind. On the other hand, if you give the player the opportunity to get lots of experience more easily or if you balance the game by default so that the player has the right amount of experience by the time a skill is unlockable or needed, then the player won't feel the "grind" because they won't be battling JUST to get experience, but rather they'll be battling as they progress and happening to develop at a reasonable rate along the way.   Notice, however, that the balancing needed for the experience gathering rate will be the same all around so long as you have a leveling system. Levels and experience automatically result in a need for number-crunching, regardless of whether you want to do that or not. Easiest route in that case is to have a fixed number of battles, but if you REALLY wanna have random encounters, then yeah, you need to figure out exactly how many of those random encounters you will expect a player to go through before they are prepared for the next challenge area. Other alternatives are games that do NOT have a leveling system and instead rely solely on players developing skills naturally and unlocking new abilities by completing game objectives directly and/or finding items ala Legend of Zelda / Dark Souls.