Posts Tagged ‘game design’

Symbll Day 6

15 December, 2009

Today I had a little argument with a friend of mine. It boiled down to a few main points (it was really all over the place, which is how I think and consequently argue).

I told him about Symbll by telling him I was thinking of making a mall simulation game. I found out that describing a game to anyone is a difficult task. A person will judge new ideas based on old ideas. Immediately he thought that creating a mall sim was a horrible idea. He didn’t think anyone would have fun with a mall sim game, and thought that someone had already made a mall sim game (without any examples), so there was no reason to make a new one. I told him my idea about using symbols and icons to explain everything, but that didn’t seem novel to him at all. No matter how much I tried to explain the game to him he would just came back to the conclusion that I shouldn’t make a mall sim game because no one would find it interesting. I was confused because he had such a strong view that no one plays sims, even though I enjoy quite a bit. I was also mad that he was calling all sims the same. I said it was like calling Modern Warfare 2 and Killzone 2 the same thing because they are both first-person shooters. Imminently he said that wasn’t a valid argument because the two games have different game play, and are set in different times. I was baffled, he considers FPS games to be completely different from each other, while all sims are the same, especially if a mall sim was already made. I guess I should have used two World War II first-person shooters to drive the point home. This is why I hate explaining a game that is in development to a person, they will automatically inject their own vision of what a game will look and play like, even before I can explain my vision fully. I wonder how to overcome this bias, since most games already describe themselves in a particular genre, even though aspects of the game are different.

We have been bouncing ideas around about an MMO game for a while, so when I told him that I wanted to create a mall sim he didn’t really understand why. I starting telling him that this would be the first game that I ever made, and I needed to start out “smaller” to gain knowledge of how to code a game, and all the process that went into creating a game. His view was, “we have to create the best game ever made” (which is massive with all of the ideas we have had) and nothing smaller would be acceptable. He suggested I make a game where you defend a caravan, which is something we might implement in the MMO. For some reason he assumed I was shooting too low with a mall sim. He also thought I wasn’t going to try to make it the best mall sim I could. He said, “my philosophy is to be the best at what you do.” Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence. You know, for a second I was toying with the idea of skimping on quality from the beginning. Anyway, I brought up that Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t just paint the Last Supper, he had to practice before he could create such a masterpiece. He thought this was a totally outlandish statement, and remarked about how “he probably didn’t just sit around and draw poop.” I thought that was an outlandish statement. Either way, I think his point was that you should start big, and do it right without any practice. Maybe by refining as you go along, I didn’t really ask.

So the arguments were all over the place, but I think the main lessons I learned were:

  • People like different genres, some are more set in one genre while others float around. Some people will hate a game because of the genre it is placed in, like a sim.
  • Never state your opinion on a game unless you have played it, or have at least let the developer explain their vision fully.
  • Try to be constructive when telling someone about your dislike of a genre. Try to be more constructive than just saying people won’t play it because you don’t have a personal interest in the genre.
  • Understand that people have different tastes than you.
  • In developing a game make sure you consider what other people like and dislike in “similar” games.
  • Even if there is a “similar” game don’t jump to conclusions that the game being developed will have the same “mistakes” as the other game.
  • Most people don’t fully understand the complexity in creating a game, especially from scratch. Its more than just thinking up an idea. Writing the code is often complex in itself, it isn’t as simple as clicking a few buttons and saying its done. Even while using a game engine, you have to appreciate the people who created the engine which makes it slightly easier to write your game. Don’t take game engines for granted, and don’t say it was easy.
  • Arguing about subjective views will get a person nowhere. Each person has their own interests, and simply arguing about them will not change either person’s view.

Sorry about the rant, but there are some things that irk me.

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Symbll Day 5

14 December, 2009

Possible core mechanics/what the players will be able to do:

  • A player will drag and “snap-in” walls onto a grid. The walls can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. These will make up the structure of the mall
  • The view will be over head, the map can be rotated clock-wise and counter-clockwise. Using the arrow keys or bumping the edge of the map with the mouse will move the map. Both mouse buttons held down will allow for dragging the map. Scrolling the mouse wheel or page up and page down will change between floors.
  • A player will be able to click on shoppers and find out what they are thinking and feeling through bars and faces
  • A player will be able to click on shops and find out how much business they are attracting, along with any information that is needed in aiding them (competition, locational issues).
  • A player will be able to name their mall and will be able to use a user name.
  • A player will be able to play without having to manage each shop within the mall.
  • A player has the option of setting routes for security guards, maintenance workers, or janitors.
  • A player will have the option to select from a set of icons to use in the game, they can import their own.
  • A player will be able to save at any time, and there will be an optional autosave every ten minutes.
  • A player can guide shoppers but can never control them, placing objects will affect the shoppers.
  • A player must keep shoppers coming into the mall to continue playing. If there are no shoppers then the game is over.
  • A player must keep at least one shop inside of the mall, otherwise the game is over.
  • A player must have funds to pay for upkeep of the mall. They will be able to play without funds, but shops will likely leave without proper mall upkeep, and shoppers will soon follow.
  • An upkeep cost will be placed on the mall based on size, amount of shops, amount of shoppers, and misc events, and will need to be paid every month in the game.
  • The player will be given offers and opportunities from each shop, the shops are competing with each other to maximize their profits.

There will be more, and these are kind of broad, but I think its a start. I will have to link all these ideas to icons and symbols. I think the shops might prove to be a little tricky, because I have to show competition, and its not the easiest subject to explain with symbols.

Symbll day 3

12 December, 2009

Today I thought about the scope of Symbll. There are three options I am considering. The first option is to keep the game entirely in one location, with only one mall per scenario, where the player has to deal with only the problems of managing the layout inside of one mall. The second option is to expand the game into the entire world, with multiple malls that the player has to keep working with and developing. The third option is to create a hybrid of sorts, where the players create only one mall per scenario, but after they are done with the scenario they will be able to manage all of the malls they have created. In this hybrid model a player would choose whatever scenario appealed to them (out of a map of the world), and then only focus on that scenario’s objectives or goals. Once those goals are met then there would be an option for open play, where players can manage all of their previously created malls from other scenarios. I’m leaning towards the third option. This will allow for players to feel that their work doesn’t just end after the scenario is over. I was thinking about Sim City or Roller Coaster Tycoon where you have your own creation, each build for a different set of purposes, but you can’t interact between them all. There was also Pizza Tycoon from Microprose, where the player could select from a major city on the world map and begin their own pizza chain in that city. After building a pizza chain that was raising decent capital you could expand to other cities. The only downside was that there were no scenarios to challenge the player. Once you had an idea of how to create a decent pizza chain you could just apply it with a few changes in another city. My goal is to make Symbll accessible for people who need the structure of scenarios along with making sure that players feel their efforts actually create something usable after the scenario is over.

I also found a few sources for inspiration on the icons/symbols that will be used in Symbll. I haven’t looked over all of these yet, but they look very promising. It made me realize how much diversity there can be in symbols. I started working on a few icons a few nights ago, but only got 3 or 4 done. I need some more inspiration, and this might help tremendously.

Symbll Day 2

10 December, 2009

I’ve been thinking about how to explain the game to players without the use of text. My conclusion: it is possible, but there will a huge tutorial. Now I know that tutorials are somewhat tedious, and every game has a “tutorial island” which really isn’t necessary in most cases. Symbll’s tutorial will be optional, and split into smaller optional segments(about 10 second sequences that repeat as needed). When a player clicks on the tutorial symbol(blackboard or some learning icon) and a screen will come up listing all of the different subjects covered. Each subject will be represented by the icon that is used in the game. For example, the cash icon will have the sub-tutorials of where money is displayed in the game, how to make money, how money is spent, and all the other subjects about money. I think this will fully explain the game for any one who wanders, “What does that icon mean, and how is it affected?” Maybe I will split the tutorial screen in half, and on one side have an interactive screen of the game, and the other half list all of the subjects. Then a player can just click on the icon from the interactive screen instead of having to search through a list. Hmmmm…..

I worked last night on thinking of objects that need icons. Plants, benches, fountains…do these need to be in the game? I think so.

After some consideration I might also throw in Line of Sight for the shoppers. The way I see it, everyone has a different line of sight, and a major part of malls are to get people to look around. Line of Sight for each shopper could be widened if they like some object (or event), and narrowed if they dislike some object. Players will have to balance out these effects, so if a store is placed next to a bathroom shoppers might not notice the shop(focusing only on reaching the bathroom). Advertisement would also be an issue, stores provide a sign and the player must decide where to place the sign so shoppers can see it and walk to the store before being distracted. I’ll try to make these aspects fun and not some tedious chore.

I’m not sure what to use to create the game. I might just go straight C# or C++. Should I use a search engine? I’ll worry about that latter, after I finish all of the gameplay elements and design all the icons. Don’t want to rush things. In reallity I don’t expect to begin programming for a couple months. I know there are those who say to rush a prototype…I’ll probably just make a paper and pencil game first.