A brief conversation between my and Alex (http://anotherearlymorning.com/) about gameplay and how to use time
9.22 me: hi alex :D
9.23 Alex: hey what's up?
me: all good and u ?
9.24 Alex: going well, just relaxing and working
too much work
me: always too much work :D
and programming ?
9.25 Alex: yea, finding time to do some of that too
just converted my crash library to flash
so I can have collision detection and other stuff
me: i see it on blog
Alex: trying to implement some steering bheaviors now
9.26 how about you? finding time to work on your game?
9.30 me: i'm trying to think before doing something :D
9.31 Alex: thinking!? why would you want to do that
when you could blindly code something that seems fun
me: yeah :D
9.32 but seriusly, analizing problems is my work.. and why not use my abilities in my hobby ? :D
maybe i can put something fun together
Alex: aha well there you go good point
me: (sorry for my bad english)
Alex: was just thinking how good your english is hahaha
9.33 me: ah! no
i'm thinking about a game
how can i say..
what i want to do, tecnologies, programming, etc.. after
9.35 Alex: that's a very mature perspective
me: like you said.. so little time.. so why waste it?
9.36 from my prospective indie developers (like you.. i'm not a indie), must focus on gameplay solutions to catch player attentions.. what do you think about it?
9.38 Alex: haha why are you not an indie? I'm certainly not an indie if you're not
and I think you're right
we don't have the same resources -- money, time, man power -- to compete w/ Halo or whatever
9.39 but it's still possible to have a great idea, like World of Goo for example, and be very successful
obviously it's a long shot to reach that level of success
but maybe getting a quarter of that would be enough :-)
9.40 me: i agree
9.42 but without a realistic analisys of our resources: time, skill, and more important.. what we can do and what we can't do.. i think that i'm wasting my time.. so i'm thinking on a simple gameplay.. foucs on surprise player :D
9.43 Alex: well that's an interesting problem
how to best spend your limited resources
I'm not sure what the answer is
right now I'm taking the approach of trying to enter contests and create something new as frequently as possible
9.44 but you don't want to spread yourself too thin and never create something with substance
at the same time it's also no good to spend too much time on a single project and lose out on other opportunities
9.45 so I guess sitting back and thinking of a few good ideas to pursue is prudent
9.46 me: but you need time to think what to do.. can u understand what i'm saying? it's like Ouroboros : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros
9.47 for me is important to do first something that is intersting for me, not a copy of other's work
Alex: right on
9.48 me: for example
i've tried to do something in 3d
like quake, doom, etc..
9.49 me: is intersting
Alex: sounds very hard
me: not so hard if you want to do a shooter..
but if i want to do a game like gothic ?
it's too much for for only one person
Alex: yea definitely
3-d has so much more content
that alone makes it much harder
9.50 me: but create a world, with story, npc, etc.. with an immersive enviroment.. it's my dream
i don't want quake9 graphics. just a simple way to tell a story and have my gameplay
9.51 Alex: yea I hear you, I think that's really exciting too
maybe it would be worth looking into modding? say the half life engine?
you might be able to get a lot of the engine for free and be free to concentrate on the content side of things, story, interactions, etc
9.52 me: yes
but if you do this
problem is: you don't have enough documentation to enter in who have designed the engine
and you can, again, waste time trying to solve something that maybe is already solved
9.53 Alex: well, in that case maybe scale back and stick to 2d
also I think at a certain point you have to go ahead and try even if you do re-invent the wheel
1. you'll learn something anyway
2. you'll be making progress
obviously it's worth not biting off more than you can chew and being smart
9.54 for instance using Slick instead of rolling your own framework
but I also think there are times when it's worth just trying to do your own thing
for instance a dialog system might be such a case
I'm sure the problem has been adequately solved but if it's interesting why not try to solve it again?
9.57 me: but my question is: why? why do you have to solve a problem againt? how much time you spend on it? it's a good idea to spend time on solving a similar problem? And again.. you can solve it in a new way (for example Neverwinter nights series dialog system VS Mass Effect dialog system) and you can change gameplay in a new way with your solution ? I think that if i (and you, of course) think about a different mode to solve a problem with a particular eye on gameplay effect on it, we can do something new. For me is a problem of what is my objective: for me is to design a good game.. maybe you are more programming-centric?
9.59 Alex: yea I was just going to say, I think part of the answer lies in what you were saying before about doing something that's interesting
I find that stuff interesting so that's why I'd want to solve it
but if that's not the case for you then obviously you should try to find a library that does it
so you can focus on the interesting stuff
10.00 I think the second thing you said is true too, it's possible that with fresh eyes I will see the problem and solution differently
which might lead to an interesting new solution
but the prerequisite is that you find that sort of thing interesting
10.01 as for your problem, if you want to make a really compelling experience, really tell a story it sounds like
I would start by finding the different pieces you need, e.g. dialogue tree, rendering engine, tilemap editor, etc
then I would just start in on something reasonably simple, say a small town + single dungeoun
I'd start with a single shop interaction to buy equipment
10.02 so all text based
once that was somewhat interesting, i.e. like a real game I would try to make it so I could walk around and talk to people
then I'd make the town
then I'd try to have a combat system, then dungeon
use placeholder artwork for everything
10.03 it can just be all rectangles
I think you could do that, and since the most important part would be the story and world you were crafting you could get by w/ less technical work
and start getting feedback early
10.06 me: i agree with you, but my approach would be. I have to tell a story, what type of story? Story and gameplay in videogames are strongly connected, so.. i can't start from a small town + doungeon. And if i want to do a rpg without combat? I really need a doungeon? yes, for example in a game like thief.. player can use violence.. but can sneak, hide, and so on :D
10.07 Alex: right well obviously I was making some assumptions about the gameplay
and you're right you need some idea of where you want to go
on the flip side I think you need to be wary of over designing (i.e. waterfall design)
10.08 because as you develop the game chances are you will find some things don't work, didn't pan out, aren't fun, etc
a friend of mine is having that problem in fact
he's making this game, Psychedlic Farmer, which started off as a farming sim sort of like Harvest Moon
but now he's thinking about combining some tower defense elements because he's worried that the sim part won't be fun enough to sustain the experience
10.09 those are some of the problems I dont' think can be solved until you start prototyping
but if you aren't sure of core mecanics.. you are wasting your time, no ?
that's my point :D
10.10 Alex: hm I dunno, I think you need to have an idea of where you want to go
but then accept that you might end up somewhere else in the end
10.11 for instance w/ fluster, certainly not an amazing instance of gameplay but bear with me, I originally thought the mechanics would be totally different
for instance that jumping would involve blowing downward
but after playing around with that I realizd it sucked
so I suppose the end result was somewhat the same, a platformer + vacuum
but a lot of the specifics changed
10.16 anyway I hate to bail on this interesting conversation but it's getting late and sadly I have to go to work tomorrow
so hopefully we can chat some more later or switch to email, take care!
me: thanks to you alex :D