At the moment, I'm working on some design for my spare time project I've been talking about earlier; Iskall.
The challenge I'm currently working on is to have the story, its events and the introduction of new gameplay elements to work together.
The game's overall story is set. There are a few scenarios in it, not dependent on being in a particular order to work. And all the themes for the levels are set. Right now, they're all listed in the order that makes most sense and creates the best narrative, experience and allows for some nice transitions between the levels. That is, if you only look at the story.
But here's the catch. Many of the events are directly intertwined with the introduction of new gameplay mechanics. For me, gameplay always comes first, but sometimes you have to compromise since a game is not only mechanics, it's an experience to be had by the player.
Let's draw a parallel to Super Mario Bros.. Nintendo could have introduced the Mushroom that turns Mario into Super Mario during the last levels, but it was better for the game to introduce it in the very first level. I can introduce some of Iskall's stuff very late, but it'll be better if it's early and vice versa.
And also, some events are directly tied to a specific level. Some events I can move freely between the levels, while some must be at specific theme.
Meaning, different story sections have different dependencies like theme, level and gameplay mechanic.
I have a chart showing in what order and when I want each new gameplay element to be introduced. Stuff like new enemies, new abilities, etc. But just cutting and pasting in the story to accomodate that chart doesn't result in a tight presentation context-wise. So what I'm doing right now is to find that balance.
I don't have a sure solution for this, and I don't know how it'll end since I'm not done yet. But the way I'm approaching it is to try and constantly look at the big picture and I'm trying to spread it out, so all the good stuff isn't too close together.
There will have to be some editing from both ends to make it feel just right.
These are the best news ever for indies!
The really AWESOME game engine Unity3D, previously priced at (very) reasonable $200 for an Indie-licence is now FREE!
The project I've been posting about, "Iskall" is using Unity. I've been using Unity for some of my own projects. I personally recommend it.
I really think they're right with the following statement:
For the pros, the difference between a $2000 fee and a $0 fee is almost nothing, except that individual developers can just try it out for free and fall in love with it. We think it's really exciting. The [Unite] conference is already underway, and we already had a couple hundred people do classroom sessions.
- Unity People
Now, go get it at: http://unity3d.com/ (28/10/2009)
Right now I'm working on the game design on a personal project (Iskall) and the game isn't going to be very innovative or breaking grounds and thanks to that, I can look at many other games as reference. But what I'm focusing on at the moment isn't what's fun in those games or what makes them great; I'm looking at what's boring.
My goal is to design a not boring game. I know it kinda sounds weird, but I want to try and isolate the boring aspects of similar games and work on them. Now, of course I want the game to be fun. Everyone in the group wants that! (Well... Maybe the artists don't care. They just want it to look pretty.)
But instead of only looking at what makes a game good, I think it's important to look at its "flaws", even if they aren't huge. Even great games have them.
I'm spending some time writing design for Iskall (a spare time game project) and thought I'd share with you what I'm doing right now.
Basically, it's all still in early pre-production and not even the games features are all set now, so what I'm doing is that I'm writing down a million ideas, big and small. They can be anything from a description of majorly game effecting feature to the color of a shoelace. (Do you now know that the game will include shoelaces or did I just fool you into believing so?)
Anyway, the advice I wanted to give people is that even if you know that some ideas don't work with things that are already decided or implemented, keep them! There might be some way to make it work, or it might spawn a new idea that actually does fit. And either way, I think it's great to always keep all ideas so you can browse through them every now and then to be inspired by yourself. Even if the ideas are several years old and from some old project they can still be of great help to you.
That's all for now.
I'm currently using some of my spare time to work on the pre-production of a little game project together with other people. A couple of days ago a friend who's part of the small team kept nagging me about deciding on a project name. I said that I didn't care much about that at the moment since we're still so early in development and everything is still floating in the air. Anyhow, he disagreed and kept nagging and nagging untill we finally came to the decision of "Iskall".
The little man became full of joy and said that finally the "first step" was complete.
So I've been thinking. Maybe a project name is really important when working with people. Not only because of communications, as that's a given but because with a name the project all of a sudden got way more tangible. At once, there was something new to strive for, to work on "Iskall".
The name in itself acts as a hub for the team.
When you've set a project name, you've actually created something, perhaps making you and the team more motivated to "keep working".
It got me thinking...
By the way, Iskall is Swedish and means Ice cold.
Just wanted you all to know that a new project starts today.
We're a bunch of game designers from various parts of Europe that's gonna share a blog and write about game design. The "twist" is that there's always an active topic that we have to post about and the topic is changed every two weeks.
We got people from ex-GRIN, Outbreak Studios, Radon Labs, Strabreeze, Spellbound and Freelancing.
I'll re-post the stuff I write there here on my blog as well with a day or two of delay, but to read everything the other great guys write, you'll have to visit the site:
I really think About Game Design (AGD) can become a great learning experience. Oh, and feel free to join the AGD fan page on Facebook.
Funny thing, I was just browsing through some folders on the computer and I found this picture. It's a sketch for my test to get my job at GRIN, which I wrote about here:
Anyway, thought it might be fun to see how it looked on paper before I started with the document and building process.
And sorry about the whole "not posting for a while"-thing. I needed some time to rest, but I'm back now and my next post will about how to create a lovable video game character. Seriously, how does one do it?
Back in December last year I posted about the University in Skövde using my Bachelor Degree Project as part of the education (Weee!):
I found a video from the level I created for Unreal Tournament 3 that was part of the project. So I've uploaded it on YouTube for anyone who's curious.
It's nothing fancy art-wise but it's actually quite fun to play as I put a lot of thought into it:
- It uses four different heights ("floors") to play on.
- There's no place from which you can get a view of your entire surrounding.
- You're always within reach of a helpful item/weapon.
- And some other pretty basic level design stuff.
As mentioned way back when, you can read a whole lot about it if you can bare with the Swedish.
Oh, and here's vid from when it was early in development:
I thought I'd give you one of my very best game designs ever! And it's not even a computer game, it's REAL LIFE!
First though, I have to thank everyone who was accidental parts of helping create this game, especially Mathias Wahlin, as it's based on a true story.
For this game to work you need:
- a cake
- a cake slice (or other tool for cutting the cake)
- a game host
- a bunch of people wanting cake!
The premiss for this game is that everyone wants cake NOW and as big a piece as possible!
What you, as the game host do is to have everyone gather around the cake, while you create one cut in the cake, defining the starting line.
Once this is made, what you do is that you align the cake slicer with the cut and then slowly start rotating the slicer along with the cake, creating a "piece" between the original cut and the current position of the slicer.
This is where the players come in, wanting as big a piece as possible. As long as no player says anything, the host slowly keeps making the piece bigger and bigger untill a player suddently says "Stop!". When a player stops the game, the player gets that piece!
Now, that player isn't part of the game anymore. He or she already got a piece. It's not up for the remaining players to get their share.
What happens is that people wants a really big piece, but at the same time if all they do is wait for a huge piece, someone else will always say stop before him! So you have to really consider the risk vs. reward-scenario and find that delicate balance.
It might sound stupid, but I was the host and played this with 10 cake-hungry people at my work and it was hilarious! Poor Cozy-Dave, he had to wait a long time for his piece...
So there you have it, a super duper game design for friends and families!
What'd you think?
I'm afraid I'm stopping my little Duke Nukem 3D Source-project. Why, you ask? Blame Cozy Dave!
No, don't... Sorry Dave.
He gave me a URL today that I'd missed because of my lack of (read: non-existing) research. There I discovered two things:
1. A couple of guys; Christopher Glerum and Paul Marsh have already made a really cool remake of Hollywood Holocaust for the Source Engine, even though it's not Left 4 Dead. I'm guessing there are more people that have made the level as well.
Check it out at: http://www.interlopers.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=25036 (8/6-2009)
2. Apparently, 3D Realms doesn't like mods replicating the game. Now, I'm not making a mod, I'm just making a level that could be considered a tribute and I don't think I'd be in any trouble for making it but I still don't feel encouraged.
Besides, yet another huge factor is that I don't have a lot of time nowadays as many of you might have figured out.
But in all honesty, it has still been good for me. I will definately use the Prodemo-Chart in future projects and it's always good to work with the various tools, even if the project didn't finish.
Well, if was a good run!