Black Hydra

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About Black Hydra

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  1. things you should and shouldn't do when writing stories

    When planning storyline ideas I find it is important to maintain consistancy in the flow of action, or at least make the flow of story smooth. Some games I have played have this exciting intro, some fun first bits, and then they plot sort of quiets down after several boring levels before picking up again. That ruins it. Seeing as we have both auditory and visual media at our disposal aswell unlike books, there are many forms of symbolism and imagery we can explore to give the feeling we want expressed.
  2. Does your design have a moral context?

    Vidio games have been given a lot of the blame for violence which is truly undeserving. Movies have been around a lot longer, so less people blame movies for spawning antisocial and amoral behavior. Yes, Grand Theft Auto III allows you to do some pretty amoral stuff, killing prostitutes included. However, what about people who watched the movie Scarface, or the Godfather? What about the Soprano's? Sure your not 'controlling' the characters, but remember that in a vidio game thats all they are. Characters. Not yourself. Should we also start banning books that are done through the perspective of a serial killer? I think the real importance is to educate children of how this is separate from real life. I could play GTA3 for hours and hours and I would never act out violently. But, it only takes one kid who can't see the dividing line between fantasy and reality for the rest of us to get blamed.
  3. If Gameplay is king...

    This system won't always make sure a game is fun. It just means that, that was your first priority. You could still screw it up just as if you had tried to make a great storyline and nobody liked it. So you're right, the people working at Square could have made the gameplay first. However, I doubt that due to the more obvious differences between story and gameplay. Sure you could make the story and design the gameplay. This is just one of many options, not a necessity. I will have to comment on some other people here: Some of you said that you played games due to the graphics and sound. I'm sorry, but if you were playing just for the graphics and sound then I doubt me spending lots of effort to make a great game would even matter? I could simply make a small demo with tons of high poly models running and fighting while your randomly click buttons. I'm not saying you still do this, but graphics can never be the focus of a game. Sadly, they are often given a much higher priority than gameplay and storyline in many modern games. Result? You get great looking games that are short and aren't fun. Being an individual developer I cannot compete with fancy visuals down in retail. Even storyline is hard to compete with because I cannot realistically make these epic games others make. (sure I can make a cool story, but I can't spend 5 years developing the game for it). So gameplay is the one area I feel that with some persistance and imagination I can compete. Perhaps the advantage even goes to me seeing as I can take risks and try things bigger companies wouldn't be willing to finance.
  4. If Gameplay is king...

    I think your illustrating my point with the FF series. They often have great storylines but a sacrifice is made to gameplay for it. Whereas if you had designed some basic layouts for a gameplay then when making your storyline and the likes, you could say stuff like: "Alright I may have to modify how I communicate this to the player to coincide with one of my gameplay guidelines." Here is an example I'm setting forth. Here are some (not yet finished) of the guidelines I am setting for the next game I want to make. I basically chose the elements I find the most fun. I'm still trying to work out an easy and modifiable difficulty system, but I haven't spent that long on it. Here is the first part of my gameplay design and what I've decided: - The game will have constant gameflow (i.e. not sectioned off into missions/distinct blocks) - There will be no numerical base (except in extreme circumstances) in the game. I don't want players to have to do calculations for efficiency, everything should be based on observation and perspective. - The game will make itself interesting throughout the entirety of the game by introducing new commands (note: commands could mean different things in different games. They could be weapons in an RPG, units in RTS's, ect.) consistantly throughout the game. Also the level of complexity for completing the challenges will steadily increase, but will be patternable (i.e. making sure that the increase in difficulties isn't sporadic throughout the entire game but sensical). - The game's challenges will mostly consist of tactical or strategic logic. Skill will be needed, however, it will not be the major factor and should provide only a very small amount of the difficulty in the challenges. Geometric logic may be present but I am not making it a focus, as it often either requires extreme patternable problems, or presetting them which would be a lot of work to make the game have a long play time. So there you go. As you can see, the gameplay doesn't specify. I still don't know what genre I want to make. However, setting these guidelines assures me that I am making a game I, myself, would enjoy playing. I also made restrictions based on my physical restrictions. I didn't want a huge geometric type of challenge (like Legend of Zelda) as that would take a long time. Instead I decided to use strategic logic, which by varying complexity usually provides enough challenge with less preset coding. I'm still not done as I haven't addressed the issue of 'difficulty isolation' I feel is very important. Basically, I want to ensure that the largest range of skill levels find my game at that right level of 'challenging'. So crappy players won't find the game incredibly hard, and skillful players won't find the game too easy. There are many ways of doing this so I am going over my options. After I'm done this I will decide what type of genre or storyline I'd like to fit with this game. But at least I will have gotten the gameplay issue done as a grounding before anything else.
  5. If Gameplay is king...

    Many of you have made the claim that a game is a form of art. I couldn't agree more. I find games often more exciting and dramatic than most movies, because you get immersed inside them. But I will have to correct you. My plan does NOT sacrifice artistic design. If done right, the only difference would mean that the artistic design (i.e. story, visuals, ect.) would encorporate the gameplay. One example I would like to bring up is the Final Fantasy series. Those games, IMO have some of the most dramatic storylines for any game. Is it any wonder that when polled (for a gaming magazine) most people rated the most dramatic moment in a vidio game was when Sepharoth killed Aries? I love those games, however, I'm never fully satisfied with the gameplay. I always feel it doesn't express the often rapid pace excitement of the story and the drama present. Now, thats personal opinion. Many others love this style. But, in my opinion, it is here where we see a displacement in my previously mentioned GOAL//CHALLENGE theory. In a game the gameplay is the CHALLENGE or the obstacle. It is what makes a game fun. Nothing else makes a game fun. (Drama is another thing, but I'm getting to that) And, fun, in essence, is what defines a game. Without the interactiveness and 'fun' you have a movie or a book, not a game. The GOAL is the forward motion. It drives the game. Forces you to accomplish challenges and continue onwards. It is what makes the game 'dramatic' and 'immersive'. You cannot realistically design every facet of gameplay before a storyline. Usually because gameplay is patternable and logical. Whereas storyline is complex and almost organic. However, you can set the foundation for what you feel would make the game fun, and use those as guidelines. So if you decided that in your game you were going to have a smooth flow of action and no specific jutt's in and out, you may have to present goals before other ones are quite finished to continue the storyline. Or if you decided you wanted modular gameplay to allow the player to sort of 'look back' at their accomplishments you could modify the story slightly too. Storylines can be modified this way with little impact to the final result. Whereas, if you design the story first, your gameplay tends to just fall wherever the story had left it. Example: Lets say your story dictated that after a battle with an evil mage there was little going on for awhile. Then upon going somewhere you find that the mage had unlocked a great demon before being destroyed. Now if you had designed the story first you may be content with allowing this 'lapse' in gameplay where there is a brief lapse in driving force. However, if we set up how we want the game to be played first then you could do this instead: After the battle with an evil mage, you notice he was wearing a pendant with an odd inscription. Your guide tells you to ask an artificer about the makings of the inscription, and he tells you it is of the royal family in a desert land. Upon visiting there you realize that a demon has come out and is terrorizing the land. Despite my crappy storytelling, you can see how in this example there is given a continuity in driving force as dictated by your gameplay design. It requires a minor modification to story, however, when playing the game you won't have the problem of players quitting your game when they feel that there isn't much to do now. The individual gameplay cannot be pre-designed. It must be experienced or defined by your artistic design. However, a good general layout can be used as a foundation to ensure that the CHALLENGE aspect of your game is never brushed aside for the usually more obvious GOAL aspect. But, its only a theory. If you don't agree, by all means don't do it.
  6. I might play a game like that for a short time, have a laugh and set it down and forget. Why aren't people trying to make those games no one will ever forget? I can easily forget stupid games. But after a day or so when the novelty is gone the game is awful.
  7. If Gameplay is king...

    My idea is similar to that, except mine is more theoretical. I'm not really testing the gameplay before I design the game, just using it to build my design off of. Using both would probably ensure that the game is fun from the start. I've always felt that Nintendo made the most fun games.
  8. If Gameplay is king...

    I haven't heard of anyone using my method. My method doesn't use the natural system to think of games so I don't know anybody who would build it this way. If you can make a fun game without doing what I said then go for it. I want to try this and see if I can make more original and fun games than by waiting for specific inspiration. Sometimes the imagination needs a mundane kickstart. The game design should be vague enough that most basic storylines can encorporate it, and most genre's can stick to it. So if I make an gameplay design it should fit possible storylines for things varying from RPG's to Action, to RTS's. By keeping fun gameplay as the driving factor through the first stages of development you will make sure that the game is fun. I'm not trying to say that everyone should use my method. Or that fun games can't be made without this method. I'm just trying to attack the problem from a different angle.
  9. If Gameplay is king...

    While you make some good points I have to disagree with you on some. I don't know whether I stated this in my initial post, but you have to see that a game has two points: 1) The challenge 2) The goal So yes, storyline and drama are required but they only provide part 2 of this equasion. If you think really hard, then the goal isn't the reason you enjoy playing the game. If there was no challenge, it would be a movie, not a game. I would also like to state that this process is relatively short compared to the overall game design. So, no, this doesn't provide three months working out the full details. It merely gives you a strong foundation. I understand your criticism about design. Immersion is necessary, but immersion, drama, and storyline provide you the reason to play through the challenges. They go hand in hand. However, a game is nothing if it isn't fun. So while making the game dramatic and immersive is great, if it isn't fun then that isn't worth much. The other thing, is that, when making a game based on story what do you do? You take pre-existing genre's to define your game. That may be fine for the big retailers who, by advertising like crazy and working for years on awesome new features, are simply making an awesome version of that genre, then they can do that. However, this method allows you to think outside the box. By defining what you think would be challenging, and encompass the widest variety of players, skill levels ect. you can make design new ideas to fit in with your plan and break the stereotypes. For example, if I told you to make an RPG what's your reaction?(aside from the classic dismissal by anyone who's done any serious attempts in gamemaking) You would probably start by thinking of existing RPG's and if you wanted them to be original you would probably modify the features (and of course having your own storyline). If you caught the subtlty of my statement there, you can create that completely original storyline, however it is much harder to make new features or radically change the main idea. If I define how I want my game to be played, then I can begin fitting game elements into this area. Immersion is important, so I don't think that you should confuse this by me making a statement to sacrifice that for gameplay. I simply feel by starting with the goal instead of the challenge you don't think of new and intuitive challenges but rather classic pre-existing ones that will draw you to the goal. This won't work for everyone. If you can already make fun games then go ahead. But I know that as an individual developer, I must think of new ways to tackle the market or I will be beaten by people that can out code/graphics/compose and market me. I figure that if I can narrow down this process it would only take a few days to define what factors you want for a game that you feel you are both capable to do and one you think you would have a lot of fun playing. After that you can create any design you want. By keeping these design factors in you can manipulate your story to include them. It is my personal belief that story limits the imagination on gameplay far more than the other way around. Thank you for your comment, though, as I do appreciate any thoughts on the theoretical process.
  10. If Gameplay is king...

    Well, I've been having some trouble thinking of what project to work on next. I decided to read some articles (which initially led me to this site ;) ). I read tons, on programming, to commercial/shareware successes, AI and finally game design. What I noticed is that in most game design topics they talked about storyline, graphics, ideas and such. All of them assured that gameplay was king and that all other factors bowed to his will. Because what is a game if it isn't fun? But there is a problem with this. What is gameplay? What makes it fun? Sure you can come up with vague answers but I was determined to find out what it was... So I did some brainstorming and I think I have the answer. Gameplay is a system made of two parts logic and skill. Gameplay is basically the mind trying to break and destroy these aspects. To defeat these subconcious and concious challenges. Everything else is just made to give the player a reason to face these challenges. Drama, storyline, graphics, music, effects and the likes are only designed to give a reason to face the system. So, if gameplay is the most important factor, why don't we design it first? Yeah, yeah, your saying: "But I already do that, he's just saying what I already know." Wrong. You don't design gameplay first. I have yet to hear a single person design gameplay first. Many people get an idea for a game and make gameplay a short second (if there lucky). They usually make all the goals for the game first, quite often the storyline and many of the features before deciding exactly how the game will be played. So what I propose is that instead of making our game idea first design the gameplay you want to make. First you need to decide what restrictions you have. Certain outlines of gamedesign require more time, more coding, or they may require high levels of complicated AI and such that you don't want to attempt. So, for example, making complicated premade logical or puzzle like systems (like Legend of Zelda) will take a long time. Remember you don't know what game this is going to be for yet. At this stage try to supress ideas for storyline, characters and mental pictures of realistic things as this will probably distort your gameplay so that it will fit with those factors not the other way around. Then decide these factors: 1) Do I want my game to be mostly logical or mostly skill? 2) Do I want the logical decisions my players take to be geometric or strategic. Geometric logical systems require the player to analyze and make strict boolean type decisions. Where as, strategic are made more on things like gut-instinct and rough estimates as not enough data is known to make strict decisions. 3) How can I keep the challenges new and fresh while maintaining a central theme? 4) How can I make the game so that there isn't any difficulty isolation. Difficulty isolation is when the game (usually ones based on skill) becomes incredibly hard for new players or those that aren't very good and becomes very easy for those who have mastered the skills. This makes an isolated group that actually finds the game at the right challenge level to be fun. Once you decide what your going to do for your game then try to come up with the other aspects. Here is an example: Lets say I decide that I want to make my gameplay system based on these factors: 1) I want the game to be based on skill and strategic logic. 2) I will make the challenges fresh and new by constantly expanding the different methods of beating the system. By doing this players will have more control and must make more decisions. 3) I will keep the difficulty scaled by allowing players to go down harder routes with more rewards all that will arrive at the same final goal. 4) The skill I use will be mostly fast paced and require players to make reactions to there surroundings rapidly. There surroundings will constantly change making adaptation necessary, so that players can't just use the same methods through the whole game. So now I have a nice system to work off of. Now lets apply this to a game. In my game you can control a spacecraft. You must travel througout the galaxy into various environments. You can collect various different weapons. Every weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses. The missions will be set up so that your success level in one mission will give you a mission that is based on your level of skill. Also rewards and enemy strength in each level will be effected by your skill in the last mission. That is just an example but I feel that this system of creating the method of gameplay first may help players come up with a game idea that they know will be fun because they thought of how to make it fun before they even knew what game it was going to be! I'm looking for any comments you have for this process and on ways I may be able to improve it by adding more things to look for to modify the gameplay, and game, as the result. Thanks for reading my long post.