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Game Design

Description

Talk about game design, ideas, theories, issues, and anything related to gameplay here!

Forum

I'm going to collect and collate the data on game design tricks whenever I can find them. Initially, they'll come from the responses to Jennifer Scheurle's tweet, but there's plenty out there to include.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 13/11/19 - 6:45 PM Permalink

I've only followed a little of what happened there so I don't really have anything of value to say about all that. The actual responses to the tweet are what I'm more interested on, and there's some really valuable tips there, especially for an amateur like myself when it comes to game design.

Submitted by mgarcia on Mon, 02/12/19 - 12:29 PM Permalink

"some really valuable tips".. which tweets? I find it hard to read tweets, and I only saw two.. from OP
"Assassin's Creed and Doom value the last bit of health as more hit points than the rest of it to encourage a feeling of *JUST* surviving."
"In Hellblade, the game breaks diegetic UX to let players know of the potential permadeath that is a myth, but effects emotion and playstyle."

It's interesting trivia, to call them 'design mechanics' is a stretch (ie 2015-16... it was all about screen shake), IMO anyway

Forum

Hi guys, so I am still in the development stage of my first iOS game :P

I will be outsourcing the coding to an online freelancer (not through Odesk, Elance, Freelancer or any 3rd party sites).
I will be providing him with all the graphics, sounds and also the Game Design Documents.

My concern is that I feel like I have no real protection against him from finishing the game, then uploading it himself on the iOS store.

Besides a written contract (I don't know how effective that is internationally and for freelance work), are there any safety measures, methods or programs I could use to prevent him from stealing the game?

Any tips will be greatly appreciated!

Submitted by Flowspark on Sun, 13/04/14 - 4:30 PM Permalink

Hi there, my tip is to employ him through Odesk. They create watertight contracts for you and so long as the dev is not in China, you should be able to sue him into oblivion if he releases the game with all your IP.

Forum

I’m here to pitch my game proposal; this is for anyone that interested on making a game with me, gamers and people who can help. Criticism is welcomed.

The Immortal Racers (Still working on the Name) Proposal

Synopsis

A racing action game that is inspired by super meet boy, Powerstone, Mario kart, Naruto, prince of Persia, Jet set radio, sonic and road rash.

The Immortal Racers is a third person view fantasy racing action game, where racers from all around the world are competing to become the next immortal being. A racing game that combines both platforming skills and strategy.

Game play:

The player will have a variety of racers to choose from, the racers themselves will have different type of skills and spells, ranging from defensive skills, to offensive skills, and support skills.

There are three rules, 1. there are no large vehicles allow, such as cars, buses, tanks, and etc, only small ones like skateboards, roller skates, jet packs and etc are allowed. 2. Racers are able do whatever it takes to win. This includes, attacking, destroying the environment, setting traps and etc and 3. racers aren’t allowed to teleport or use teleporting devices. Two ways to win, defeating all your opponents or being first to cross the finish line. If it’s a time limit race, then the one that’s closes to the finish line wins.

Gems: Throughout the race tracks, racers can pick up gems, gems have a wide variety of uses, they can be use to heal the racer, to activate skills, and increase stats. Racers will need a certain amount of gems to activate skills and spells, gems can also be used to buy and upgrade equipment.

All racers have a heath bar, mana or rage or stamina bar (depending on the type), and at least 3 skills or spells.

Racer Skills:

All racers have jump, dash (ground and air), slide, basic attack, basic defend and use special skills and spells. All racers will have equipment according to their type.

There are six types of racers, offensive, Defensive, Speed, Technique, Special and all rounders.

Offensive(rage bar): Offensive racers are runners who specializing on attacking their opponents and knocking them off the race tracks, the only type that can do normal ranged attacks. Their weaknesses are Technique type racers. This type is designed more for people who like action games.

Technique (stamina bar): Technique racers are able to dodge, wall run/jump, slide, double dash, grind, and double jump, to reach the finish line, they also can dodge all basic attacks. Their weaknesses are defensive type racers. This type is designed for people who enjoy platforming.

Defensive (rage bar): Defensive racers are able to take on a lot of damage, can’t be thrown off race tracks by others, and can set traps . Their weakness is special type racers. This type is designed for people who like to use strategy.

Special(Mana bar): Special racers have twice the amount of special skills of other racers, hold the most gems and have all types of skills, a glass cannon. Their weaknesses are speed types. This type is designed for people who enjoy playing mages in RPGs.

Speed (Stamina bar): Speed racers are the fastest racers, but are easily knocked off race tracks and bumping into objects can dramatically slow them down, their weakness is offensive type racers. This type is designed for people who like racing games.

All rounders (1/3 of all bars): All rounders racers are the jack of all trades, they have no strengths or weaknesses, and this type is designed for beginners

Offense types will have weapons.

Defensive type will have armor or shields and traps.

Speed types will have small vehicles such as roller-blades, skateboards and etc.

Technique types will have gadgets that will enhance their skills.

Special types will have magical orbs that will enhance their spells and skills.

All rounders will be able to have all equipment but will be basic.

Race Tracks:
The race track will be balanced for all types of racers, each track will have multiple routes to pick, the player must choose wisely on which route to pick and picking the wrong route can make it harder for the player, the player can force other racers into the wrong route too. Some tracks will have a Hungry monster chasing after all the racers, and who ever is caught is eaten and will lose the race. Tracks will be filled with monsters, obstacles and traps. The track will be filled with gems, which also makes the players aggressively fight for the gems. The tracks will also have hidden items that can help the racer.

Strategy:
The player will have many choices while racing, for example, will you try catch up to first by running, or stop and collect gems to use a special skill to catch up. If your heath is low, will you use your gems to heal, or risk it and save up to buy upgrades? Should you save up gems to use your best skill, or use a bunch of low level skills? Can your racer take their opponent head on, or should you avoid the confrontation? And with different types comes with different strategies, for example, if you’re a defensive type, you will have to carefully set your traps, and which traps to pick and etc.

Art direction:
The style will be stylized and wacky, and rages from unrealistic to realistic characters and even parodies of famous character, for example, a racer who is a hopeless lover whose special skills are based on love, one of its skill will be falling in love with whoever is in first place, allowing it to catch up to him or her, or blowing a kiss as a ranged attack.

Racers will range from samurais, ninja, zombies, clowns, mutant boogers and etc anything is possible.

Tracks can be mundane or the racers can be swallowed by a giant monster, and race inside the monster and the racers must escape by exiting the anus.

So yeah that’s basically it, if this proposal gets enough interests, I will do a more detail proposal, adding game modes, single player modes, and multiplayer mode, and the story. Also here is some of my latest artwork; something to show you guys what I am cable of.

Artworks:(yeah I don’t do much illustration I been practicing more)

http://imgur.com/a/kTYxM

Thanks for Reading.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/12/11 - 11:19 PM Permalink

Wow, that's a lot of info! I find that the best games keep a focus on 1 or 2 core features. We used to call them the 'pillars of gameplay'. These are the things that your game is going to do better than anyone else. It might be something like 'co-operative gameplay' or 'exploration' or anything really. When you are evaluating a potential feature for your game you should see if it is supported by one of your pillars. if it isn't, then it should be cut (or at least prioritised very low).

With your design above I can see that there are many ideas. It mixes a lot of styles and has an overwhelming number of options to the player. Racing games are often about precision, speed and control (forcing the player into making split second decisions), but you reference mario kart which is a lot more forgiving and is focused less on memorising the racing line and more on fun interactions and power ups.

Blending different styles can work, but it can be tough. Having many different features is also a sure-fire way to development hell. As a rule of thumb, always take your initial game design and cut it in half. After you have done that, cut it in half again. Even then you will probably have something that is too optimistic. By focusing on 1 or 2 core features and removing all else you will not only have a design that is achievable, but the game will be better for it.

Submitted by Jacka (not verified) on Tue, 31/01/12 - 12:56 PM Permalink

At the high level, the concept is pretty sound - there's plenty you could do with a racing game with combat elements where the players aren't confined to vehicles. Making it a 2d sidescroller would reduce some of the complexity making it quite suitable for a little indi project too.

I think the abilities aspect is what needs the most refinement at this point. I think you'd be best to give each player a "ability" bar and then limit each class to a couple of abilities. Giving them too many options is likely to make it overly complicated when they're needing to negotiate the environment at high speed and watch out for other players trying to attack them too. If you still wanted to have a wide array of different abilities, perhaps players could make a selection before the beginning of a race.

Your art direction is something that really needs some development at this point. I think your concept art is quite good and shows a clearer direction than the "anything and everything" direction (or lack thereof) mentioned in the document. A tight, focused art direction will give you a much, much better result than picking bits and pieces from all over the place.

Looking at your concept art, you've got what appears to be a tengu - a demon who appears in the Japanese religion Shintoism. Now couple this with your race goal - that of attaining immortality and you have a potentially interesting direction. Maybe you've got an Asian inspired direction, or potentially more interesting, maybe you've got characters from different ancient mythologies - Shinto, Egyptian, Greek, Norse or whatever else all vying for the prize of becoming an immortal god. Now that's not necessarily in keeping with other aspects of your document - kitsune on skateboards and frost giants with jetpacks might be a bit of a clash (although it is kind of an amusing concept), but it's an example of a more focused direction. Think about what you really want your game to be about and go from there.

Submitted by Nuobz on Fri, 03/02/12 - 1:09 PM Permalink

Hey some really good tips there, and i really like the idea of players being able to select what abilities they want before racing, it adds a lot more strategy, and yes I will consider the art direction more, using mythological creatures would be cool.

Forum

At the moment, most people can commonly agree that melee combat in games is not what it could be.

I've played my fair share of melee combat games ranging from Dynasty Warriors to Oblivion, frankly I've only played one game that had a combat system that felt like it worked on a scale of realism.

I'm coming from the standpoint of a seasoned veteran of martial arts and military background, and games are really just hack and slashes - though are getting better and better as we master and insert more and more motion cap into games.

Regardless, awesome looking melee between two characters is usually two preset motions cap animations that are set in space, and each character can't move out of that space. Meaning it's linear and has no freedom of movement. You could have something like AC or AC2 with their 'X to kill' system, though that makes the game a fully functional line up and die method or people who have a good finger. Then you have complete freedom which turns into Oblivion where the player moves around like they have helium balloons attached to their feet.

None of these essentially harness the true aspects of combat. Looking for ideas here that incorporate thinking systems that render movements based on rules (much like Ai does). Combat really involves, stability, footwork, and speed.

Submitted by Snacuum on Mon, 08/03/10 - 10:48 PM Permalink

It's for this reason that I'm baffled as to why games haven't leapt on the Euphoria middleware that's present in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and GTA4. The system that blends together purpose-based animation (like mo-cap) and reactive-based animation (like ragdoll physics.) The similar to A.I. algorithms set in the middleware decides what parts of the body will be controlled by a preset animation and what parts will react to the environment.

I think I remember seeing a tech demo video where a character that was shot while ascending stairs reacted realistically to both the environment and as a animated dying human would. Euphoria detected that the entity was shot from the front and required a death animation pushing him backwards. It detected the force and gravity physics and found that the entity was placed on stairs which is considered and uneven surface. Ragdoll physics were initiated on the legs while a "grabbing for the hand rail" animation was placed on the torso.

A system that uses this for melee combat would be good, the physics would run only on body parts hit with enough force from the attacker, While smooth motion capture animation would run for actions initiated by the player. All the while the game knows what environment the characters are present in and can adjust placement and movements of limbs accordingly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/05/10 - 2:53 PM Permalink

i would love to see something like that in games but our controlers are so prehistoric there needs to be more emphasis on virtual reality motion control i know the wii has something close to it but would be nice to have a suit or something that you can wear and do the motions for would need a difficulty setting for those that are not as active

Forum

Whether you know some from a test you've taken or found, or whether you have your own which might address design issues, post them here. I've recently taken to trying to answer a few questions which might commonly pop-up in Design Tests during interviews, especially considering I feel my answers for the design test I took recently must not have hit the mark the studio was looking for.

I'd appreciate if this was just a thread of questions, but if you do want to reply to one feel free to post, it's always good to see other's viewpoints.

Here are some questions I found on some random internet blog somewhere (can't remember the link now):

1.Describe the relevant differences between a PC gaming experience and a console gaming experience. How do these differences, if any, affect how you would design a game?
2.What do most people mean when they mention or ask for non-linear missions, and what are the best ways to provide this?
3.Halo, GTA3, and Battlefield 1942 are all examples of games with multi-modal gameplay, whereas Quake, Project Gotham Racing, and MechWarrior are not. What does multi-modal gameplay mean? What design considerations do you need to make to incorporate multi-modal gameplay in your game or mission?
4.What are the design considerations between single-player and multiplayer levels/maps?
5.Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) are 2 very PC-centric game genres with extremely successful games. Describe how you would redesign the controls and interface for one of these popular games (Age of Empires, StarCraft, WarCraft, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, etc.) and make it usable and fun using the Xbox controller, and discuss the considerations that would have to be made to redesign the game.
6.What mission/level design considerations do you need to keep in mind when designing a 3-D flying game? What is unique about them from a design perspective (for example, as opposed to a First Person Shooter)?

I'll probably post some of my own creation later.

Forum

Out of curiosity and intrigue, I will pose three questions to anyone who stumbles along this thread:
1. What is your favourite game genre to develop?
2. What is your favourite game genre to play?
3. What do you think is the most popular genre in the marketplace at the moment?

Ok, it's not all for curiosity. Kind of looking to survey developers and want-to-be developers and whether they think they are their own typical player and whether they find that they enjoy playing what they may enjoy developing.

Submitted by Sabre070 on Tue, 20/01/09 - 3:27 PM Permalink

1. RPG/RTS and RTSRPG or Arcade style games (platformers) or (my long time project) a MMOFPSRTSRPG space sim..

2. FPS/RPG/RTS - It depends what mood I'm in. I like elements of all of them but I don't like some elements of each.

3. Either FPS or RPG. Most new games are FPS due to the graphics quality that we develop now (in comparison to 5-10 years ago). RPGs have the WoW, TES and Fallout games. It is also shown more and more in non-RPG games that there are RPG elements coming in (however minute). For example: Red Alert 3's powers/command thingos w/e they were called. Games that weren't meant to be RPGs ended up having lots of RPG elements - it is what people want these days, the ability to customize their game to their play style.

Thats my 3 sentences worth..

-- Sabre

Submitted by souri on Wed, 21/01/09 - 2:32 AM Permalink

1. no idea :/ I guess for me it would be more about the art and how much creativity is involved rather than a particular genre. I mean, have you seen mini ninjas? How awesome would it be to work on that! Anyway, it wouldn't even matter if it was even pixel art or low-polygon stuff, as long as it's interesting work. But if you put a gun to my head, I would say casual puzzle game.

2. online FPS with focus on class based teamplay with objectives.. so Enemy Territory:Wolfenstein, Quake Wars, and Battlefield 2.

3. most popular? Man, that's a hard one (that's what she said). Wasn't Wii sports the title with the most number of sales ever? Ok, it was lumped in with the Wii, but there are games that have some absurd numbers of sales that just don't register in the regular gaming websites that I visit (which cater for a certain niche, I reckon). Heck, how many sales did Bejewelled get? Over 25 million, wasn't it? By that count, I would say casual games.

Submitted by Soul on Wed, 21/01/09 - 11:54 AM Permalink

1. If I was employed in the industry, I'd have to say working on an RPG would be awesome. In fact, working on just about anything would be awesome. However, as a wannabe game designer I think genres can be potentially restrictive, and in my own time tend to ignore them as much as possible.

2. RPGs that aren't too heavy on stats, or FPS games that aren't too heavy on the shooting. Or just about anything within the two genres with an interesting gameplay hook, or an engaging narrative.

3. I would hazard a guess that casual, family-oriented games are probably topping the charts right now :)

-Soul

Forum

Wow this place is dusty. Like it hasn't been cleaned in ages. *sigh* reminds me of home.

*cleans the dust of a chair*

*cough cough*

Well then lets get down to business. The apparent chances of somebody stumbling over this post is nigh on nil but my mother always called me an optimistic individual. Since the topic is design and since by a miracle of chances my interests lay in that particular area, I would like to bring forth a question, a query if you will. Nay a debate of such fury that the very gods themselves shake in fear of the fan boy might. But enough enough let me tell you a tale.

There once was a Skill Tree based level up system in a popular game. Many people came from far and wide to bask in it awesome power. It had three branches per class and allowed for specialisation in certain areas. For many years this was the norm and the Level Up system was made king. But this king was restrictive, power drove it mad and it would change its mind at the drop of a hat. It power drove it mad and its dictatorship reign cast a dark shadow over the rpg land. People hid in terror as it spread over game after game.

But our tale has a hero and darkness cannot triumph forever.

You may ignore my grandiose way of introductions but this tale is not singular to any game its quite the plague throughout the rpg genre. This skill based tree is my nemesis and I battle it day after day. I find it restrictive and hampers the ability to create my character the way I wanted to create it.

I put it to you brave champions of the new dawn. I have my thoughts but no man can design by himself. I put it to you plainly, if you would design a level up system for a RPG. Lets us see if your idea is better then mine. I will post my ideas up after the first brave sole takes a step forth.

(for the purposes of this topic all ideas belong to their respective posters)

Submitted by Soul on Wed, 11/06/08 - 12:34 PM Permalink

OK, this won't answer your query....

Ignoring the idea of leveling up, or RPGS in general, what we're interested in here is a reward structure that is (at least) two-fold:
1. It allows the player to feel more powerful/successful/important within the game space.
2. It allows some measure of selection, allowing alterations to the interaction within the game, enabling more "individual" expression through play.

It might be helpful to think of it in terms of agency - we need to both increase it, and potentially change its nature to satisfy the player. From this framing, there are multitudes of approaches we can take, and each are highly dependent on the systems unique to each design. Because this reward structure is but one system within many, and each system *should* be tightly integrated within any design, without further specification it's near impossible to answer the question...

Submitted by StephenWade on Wed, 09/07/08 - 7:04 PM Permalink

I'd like to know what *specifically* you find in the skill-tree based system that is restricting your ability to shape the character the way you want. There's not really any obvious flaw in the tree kind of structure, but it's designed to do specific things (as Soul pointed out) and there are obviously things that it cannot do.

Supplementing the system with whatever you wish to increase your ability to 'shape the character' is a good thing, but you have to weigh up how cluttered and difficult the systems become for the player to understand.

Assuming you DO have a tree-based skill/level up structure ...

Likely scenarios where it comes undone is if the player stumbles upon a situation that they'd like to solve in a particular fashion - however because of the decisions they've made in the past, they aren't specialised in the correct way to execute. If the player has travelled down the tree, and somehow come to a point where they aren't able to play the way they want to play, then

a) the tree and it's impact on play is probably poorly designed in the first place
b) the consequences of 'branch selection' were not communicated clearly to the player,

Remedying either of those is just a matter of taking care with the design and taking care with the presentation of choices to the player, making sure they understand what choices they are making.

If you have any good examples of specific frustrations with the system, i'd love to know more !

Submitted by Bittman on Mon, 29/09/08 - 4:44 PM Permalink

I can see both the pros and cons of a skill tree (as I have played Ragnarok Online and very little WoW [obvious reference in your post]) so:

Skill Trees - the complaint of customising it your way is understandable, especially in such a system as WoW where you're either strong in 1/3, average in 2/3 or weak in all. It is a balanced situation designed to allow "player customisation", but usually creates confusion in new RPG players and entices those who want to plan ahead and strategise. Compare this to the skill tree of Ragnarok Online and you'll see that customisation is heavily reliant upon the class rather than what area of the tree you look at (though some classes have large trees). What are my cons on this customisation however? Well obviously it encourages individuality in an MMO environment. And though WoW is the largest MMO around, people really aren't reliant upon others unless there's a war to be had. What WoW has managed to do, however, is make it that there is no "best build" but a collection of highly viable builds. RO has failed on this point.

Not Skill Trees - RPG's that don't rely on skill trees usually rely on another way to obtain skills (buying, rewards, obtained at certain levels automatically). Without a skill tree, players are left to concentrate on their own skill and the use of any abilities a character may come with as opposed to who can make their flames hotter by four levels. The major problem without a skill tree is that there is a lack of true character-to-character customisation and more focus on skill. Though this is alright in my books, it loses quite a lot of the strategy a player would usually hold in a skill-tree based game.

Of course both paragraphs above mean nothing, because the largest plague of the RPG world is un-understandable statistics. Why any player would care if their defence is 1 higher than another's is beyond me personally, they might as well just make grades of stats.

Oh, suppose I should suggest an alternative. If you wanted to use skills, without the beloved "skill tree" then perhaps a system that awards skills dependent upon your actions as a player. Of course this would almost be overly complex and people would surely cry foul for not being able to make their necromancer pure evil whilst helping quest-giver #1564 build a church for fluffy bunnies.

Forum

The game name is "Mechsoul". This is simple third person arcade
with flying character. Gameplay is similar to asteroids and some type
of japans arcade games "Ray crisis", "Ray storm" with scrolling 3D
backgrounds.The main concept.Idea is simple, the mankind at war with their creation - nanobots.... enemy nanobotsThis
is very small robots created by humans to help with various things,
from healthcare to technical purposes. They become crazy after incident
with 2 space freighters fully loaded with nanobots... nanobots was
separated and after crash they become one huge mass. From this moment
was unexpected thing happens - this "mass" of nanobots become
intelligent and faced the world with cold mind of robots and one
intention - assimilate any of the matter in this universe......Humans
is loosing each battle and there is only Sol system now in their hands.
Deep in the system on one of the satellites of the Mars there is secret
project developing. This project is last hope of the mankind... ...codename "Mechsoul"Target
of this project is creating giant multipurpose mech, that consist from
various parts and weapons, but inside filled with nanobots created
using antimatter technology (AMNB- AntiMatterNanoBot)... This give him
ability to assimilate enemy nanobots while them in small groups and
charge himself with more power. Mech able to "feel" enemy nanobots and
assimilate them, but only after bigger was divided in small groups.
power gained from enemy is used to charge health and super weapons of
the mech. mech also have ability to fly or walk. After first
enemy scouts appear in Sol system the game starts. You drive 50% ready
mech from the middle of the Sol system and goes from 1 simple objective
to another, this is practice. After done prelaunch tests and complete
practice(that can be skipped), you start to annihilate your enemy.
First battles begins from outer side of the Sol system, some human
space ships helps you to destroy first wave.. After this first levels,
your mecha becomes powerful enough to trip over the open space to find
enemy "mother mass". At first levels mecha becomes more powerful, cause
humans ships him new armor and weapons part and at the end of the "Sol"
level you have 100% ready to use mecha with full weapons and armor.
Second part of the game is more hard than first, and have 1 important
feature. As you separated from humans and surrounded by enemy you cant
have supplies and replacement for destroyed parts and weapons, but as
you assimilate more and more enemy nanobots, your AMNB mass becomes
more powerful and in the middle of the second stage unexpected thing
happens, your AMNB mass becomes intelligent too... Also with this thing
you find that many of the new features appears. This features have
"offensive" and defensive" effects.. so if player use more "offensive"
- than mech becomes more evil and destructive and if player uses
"defencive" features, than mecha becomes more kind and have additional
features. Every side have their own features and effects, powerful and
weak sides. At the end of second part you will have 50% of the first
seen mecha and non of human weapons working... Third part is
most hard, because mech approached to "mother mass". The main enemies
is spawned by mother mass big chunks of nanobots.. You must survive and
wait untill mother mass becomes very close to "critical mass".. After
this you can try to destroy it..... But you fail, cause any of the you
weapons too weak (good side) or mothermass to fast cure wounds done by
your powerful weapons (evil side)... After realising this mech assume
his own decision how to destroy mothermass and you will see 2 various
ends of the game based on your mech's alignment (evil or good). if good, than mecha crash into the mothermass and blows up himself and supernova will born in this place. if evil, than mecha start to assimilate mother mass and becomes black hole star.this is rough idea, but any suggestions are welcome

Submitted by vaughan on Mon, 20/08/07 - 4:35 PM Permalink

I was having a read, the concept sounds interesting. But you really didn't say much about how the game will play. How do you assimilate destroyed enemies? What kinds of attacks can you do? Do you die in one hit or have a life bar? Do your abilities level up? What kind of categories will the power ups include?I think when coming up with a design you need to focus more on how it works, and what makes it different.  Otherwise it is just a story. I hope that helps you flesh out your idea a bit more.

Submitted by robomaniac on Mon, 20/08/07 - 11:39 PM Permalink

as I say before - this is rough idea... nothing morein the first lines of first post i wrote about gameplay..."Gameplay is similar to asteroids and some type
of japans arcade games "Ray crisis", "Ray storm" with scrolling 3D
backgrounds."if i like idea - i will prepare "1 pager", where in a few words will be described game , not idea ... name of the first post  - GAME IDEA ;) so we r talking about idea first...

Forum

The other week I attended a series of presentations at QUT regarding games and Australian law. Though most of the talks focused on on-line legal issues, one focused on the Australian rating system and it's failings.

For those of you that don't know, although the OFLC claims that games, film and television and rated on the same system, there is no R (18+) rating for games. This means the highest rating a game can receive is MA15+, or else it is Refused Classification, and banned.

The speaker seemed mainly interested in calling for an R rating, though he did spend a lot of time pointing out the various faults, contradictions, and inconsistencies in game ratings.

Some interesting points he bought up were:

The case of GTAIII, which was banned due to it's depictions of violence against women: you could pay for a prostitute (restoring your health), and then after you're finished with 'services', kill her and take back your money;

The case of Man Hunt (I think, I'm don't remember if this was the correct game), where the people rating the game were unable to pass the first section of the game and were worried about the ability for people to kill the same guy over and over (perhaps not realizing that most players would pass the first stage and not experience this);

The famous Hot Coffee incident where by GTA: San Andreas was banned after a third-party mod allowed users to access a sex mini-game that was cut - but not removed - from the final build of the game;

He also showed many other examples of games games were either rated or banned for various, interesting reasons.

I have often considered the problem of rating a medium based on what a user 'can' or 'might' do, rather than what content is most prevalent in the game, and the QUT presentation got me thinking about it again. The vast gap between the content of the game and the possible experience concerns me, so to this end I am calling for a ban on a game that I think allows players to use the otherwise mundane content in explicit ways: Oblivion.

Oblivion is an open-ended, swords and sorcery role playing game, a game where you can kill anyone, loot anything, and play anywhere. Indeed the tag-line of the series is 'Live another life'.

So how's this hypothetical life:

Using the face editor at the start of the game you can make a character that looks like yourself, someone you know, or better yet a psychopath, and head out into the wide open-ended world. You can then proceed to kill all of the many NPCs
populating the world, and strip them of their loot and clothing. You can then hide the bodies in the basement of your very own house you purchased in-game, and using the physics system, grab parts of their bodies and manipulate them into different positions.

But it doesn't end there! You can then open up the Construction Set, the very tools used by the developers to make the game, which is freely available online, and learn to use it with support from sites all over the web, including the official forums and Wiki. Perhaps you'll make mods that allows dismemberment, or make the NPCs drop to their knees and plead for their lives, or even add custom NPCs with the faces of people you know.

Surely this hypothetical situation represents far more gruesome, distasteful violence than most other games. This situation is disturbing and offensive ? and yet entirely possible within the game's vast possibility space.

And therein lies the problem: you cannot rate a medium as open and interactive as games they way you would other media. The content is not fixed. A movie never changes no matter how many times you watch it, even a choose-your-own-adventure
book has a fixed set of content.

But many modern games are an open playground of possibility: sandbox games, modding tools, online community play and voice-chat mean that for many games the play experience can never be absolutely assured. You can never know what the player might do ? in or even out of the context of the game.

It is troubling therefore when a games rating is influenced by these circumstances. You can certainly rate games on the actual content that ships with the game, you can perhaps even rate them on what players are encouraged to do through the
natural course of gameplay. But you certainly cannot rate games on what players might be able to do through creative application of the game space.

After all, perhaps I just want to spend my time in Oblivion skipping through meadows picking flowers.

Forum

This article was originally written for someone I know on another site, but I thought I would post it up here for all the Sumeans to enjoy - or dispute. Comments are most welcome.

Game of the Year

Foundations of the Future

2006 was a big year for gaming. The final two new consoles launched, the third moved into its second year of releases, the two handhelds came in full swing, and PC technology began preparing for the Vista launch. Significantly, 2006 was year that finally kicked off the next generation of gaming. The roads have been paved for the future, but where they will lead in 2007 and beyond no one can rightly tell.

Certainly the big three have high hopes for where their roads will lead them:
Sony to the 'future proof' HD home entertainment and communication hub;
Microsoft to the 'HD era', with network integration reaching out to mobiles and Vista;
and Nintendo to a broad, non-gamer audience;

And indeed 2006 saw the foundations of this. Sony finally released their PlayStation 3, with connectivity to the PSP and access to the online store (albeit in limited capacity), Microsoft continues to build upon its Xbox Live service, and Nintendo found whole new audiences with the DS Lite.

But at the centre of all this were the games. While Sony is yet to justify the PS3, Microsoft has supported Xbox live with a number of quality games, and success of the DS would have been nothing without its strong supply of groundbreaking titles.

But what about Game of the Year? What was the defining game of 2006? What game will we look back on in ten years time as a milestone of the medium?

Certainly everyone has their own opinion. Various websites and podcasts will do their Top Ten, and millions of fans will dispute them on message boards across the web. Any Game of the Year award is always subjective, and so I make no apologies for my choice. Indeed my Game of the Year is influenced by very personal experience, but in the context of everything previously expressed, I believe it deserves the top honors.

Game of the Year

My Game of the Year was not one of the 'big' titles. It was not excessively hyped leading up to its launch,
it did not cost tens of millions of dollars to produce, it does not take over forty hours to complete, it does not make leaps and bounds in graphics, and it does not run in high-res.

It is not Guitar Hero II for improving on an already great formula;
nor is it Dead Rising for its novel use of Next-gen tech;
nor is it Zelda for its excellence in gameplay and beautiful art direction;
and nor is it Gears of War for because everything is so high res;

No, my Game of the Year is far more modest.

My Game of the Year is Wii Sports.

Personally I'm not that much into Wii Sports myself. I played it for a short time when I first got my Wii home as a means of getting used to the controller, before I popped in a 'real game' in the form of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and I've played it at various times over the Christmas break. But I never would have considered it a contender for Game of the Year.

But for three days over Christmas I stayed with my parents and younger brothers. I bought the Wii with me to show then the new system and play with my brothers, them being gamers themselves (though perhaps much less now than when I lived with them). What happened I certainly didn't expect.

You may all have read stories on the web about parents and family enjoying the Wii, and about non-gamers picking up the controller. A lot of people are excited about Wii Sports, and certainly we have all heard Nintendo's rhetoric about expanding the audience. I had no idea how true these stories where.

Quite simply, Nintendo were right.

Even while setting it up my parents were curious. Certainly they have seen plenty of consoles before as I was growing up, often accompanied by cords and games strewn across the floor. But this one bought different responses: ?Why are you moving the table out of the way?? ?What's that on top of the TV?? ?Oh you stand up to play it??

Passing the controllers around my family one by one (and making sure the wrist straps were secure), the results were astounding:

Booting up Tennis the first comment was not so reassuring: having heard a little bit about the Wii and knowing full well he held in his hands a motion sensitive controller, my brother asked : ?How do you hit the ball??. A quick slap over the head helped him see the stupidity of this question. Moments later we were into the game, I only just manage to beat him.

And it only got more surprising from there:

My very much non-gaming mother beat my other gaming brother 2-1, much to her excitement and his annoyance.

My father, after complaining that Wii Golf is not a perfect simulation after a few strokes, soon wanted to attempt the harder courses and improve his score. Afterwards he would talk to me about how he would like to use the controller to play this sport or that.

My grandfather, a golfer himself, and little interested in technology (having only recently bought a DVD player), also played a round. I have never seen him having such a good time, and everyone enjoyed watching him play. My grandmother asked my how much it was, and Nintendo almost got another sale until I told her it was $400. Still to expensive it seems.

Friends of the family visited Christmas eve, and again the Wii proved the highlight of the evening. Boxing, Baseball, and Bowling all got a run, and nobody was disappointed.

I also visited my other grandparents and family (on my father's side) over the Christmas break as well, and though I didn't bring the Wii with me there, I wish I had. My Grandfather recently bought his first laptop the week before and was enjoying every minute of it. I'm sure if I had shown him the Wii he would have bought one the very next day. Potential to reach new demographics? At 97 years old I'd say so.

It was played again several times before I left a few days latter, and I came home with a new understanding of the Wii, Nintendo's intentions, and games in general. All this talk about reaching new markets, expanding the audience, and defining a new way of playing all sounded good in principle, but Wii Sports finally showed it to me in action.

2007 and Beyond

And so my 2006 Game of the Year goes to Wii Sports.

Not because it is the epitome of gameplay, not because it is the next leap in graphical artistry or technology, not because it defines a genre for the next generation, and not even because it is my favorite game of the year.

But because it is the most important game of the year. Because it brings gaming to new people, expanding the audience; because it represents a new way of playing, and because it brings families together to play.

Wii Sports represents an important step in the future of gaming, doing things never before seen, and seldom thought possible. It is the first step a road that has hidden out of sight until now, a road that may very well change the face of gaming in 2007 and well into the future.

And it is for these reasons above all others that I consider Wii Sports to be Game of the Year.

Addendum

Some people might like to argue (quite rightly) that games such as Brain Age (or Brain Training) could also be considered Game of the Year for similar reasons. This is certainly true, as Brain Age has proven a huge success for the DS in bringing new demographics into gaming, and was also among the first of these demographic expanding games released this year. However I have chosen Wii Sports over Brain Age because Brain Age is not a social experience, it cannot be shared with others or bring people together the way Wii Sports can.

This should not be seen as a detriment to Brain Age, inclusiveness is not it?s purpose ? it is designed to be a solitary experience. Nonetheless the inclusive aspect of Wii Sports makes it far more effective in reaching out to non-gamers, and its ability to bring people together socially is something that cannot be ignored.LiveWire2007-01-11 06:45:21

Submitted by souri on Fri, 12/01/07 - 11:20 AM Permalink

I purchased a Wii before Christmas so I could play it with family and friends during the holiday season, and like what you and many have experienced, it was definitely a favourite. It was played everyday during Christmas, nonstop, by everyone. We took it to our holiday at the coast, and it was played non-stop there as well. It was my dad's birthday last weekend, and heck, it didn't get a chance to sit idle much of the time. We've been through eight batteries already for the wii-motes.

I thought Wii Sports was a *great* introductory game for the Wii as well, and Nintendo definitely made a great decision to include it. It doesn't have that much depth though and on the art side of things, it is not impressive by any means, but game itself as well as the controller make this game extremely fun.

After I had my chance to play Wii sports for the first time, I got the feeling I had for games back in the eight-bit era, where the experience was new and highly enjoyable, and the possibilities seem endless for other new types of game experiences. Personally, I loved the Winter / Summer games on the C64, and I'm hoping someone does something like that eventually on the Wii. I wished they did it with Wii Sports, where you can some of tournament and have lots of players go through the whole selection of sports. That would be awesome

As far as difficulty goes, I am a bit ashamed to admit it, but I usually get my ass handed back to me by my nephews and nieces (as young as 7 years old) in Wii-sports, particularly in bowling. I'm making spares and the occasional strike, but these guys are doing strike after strike. My niece did 6 strikes in a row, and got a score over 250.

And yeh, I haven't played too much of the Wii when I'm by myself, it is an experience best enjoyed with many, many other friends around.

Submitted by Malus on Fri, 12/01/07 - 7:31 PM Permalink

I actually like the lack of depth in Wii Sports, it means just about anyone can play it.

Its enabled me to play a few rounds of golf with my old man, bowl a few sets with my mum and get my arse handed to me in tennis by my wife and sister.

I loves playing games and I hardly ever have a chance to play them with my family, most games are too difficult to just start playing if you are one of the thumbstick impaired.

I bought Zelda, Gears and R6: Vegas on my holidays and spent most of the time playing Wii Sports with those closet to me.

... it was magical    

Oh btw Souri I'm a bowling demon lol

Forum

Hi everyone. I thought I'd pop up my WIP game design for a new turn-based grand strategy game. It'll probably take me a couple of updates to get the document finished, but at least the game description and gameplay is here. If anyone wishes to comment, please feel free. :)

Dale

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Design Document for: Empires!

Forge a Nation, Create an Empire

All work Copyright ?2006 by Dale Kent
Written by Dale Kent
Version # 1.00
Friday, November 03, 2006

Description

Design History:
This section will describe the stages taken to create the full design of the game Empires. Listed here is changes made in each version of the design document for the game.

Version 1.0:
Version 1.0 includes the initial layout and description of the game design. The document provides the base roadmap to expand the design of the game on. There are some sections still to be filled in, but the basic premise of the game can be seen.

Version 1.1:
Version 1.1 is the first complete edition of the design document. The entire game design is discussed with each part of the design addressed.

Game Overview:

Goals:

Goal 1
Empires will be a turn-based strategy game set in the time period 500AD-1500AD in medieval Europe. The game will be a grand strategy game where the player controls the national decisions of their nation. Players are required to guide their nation from a single tribal state to a full fledged Royal Authority Empire.

Goal 2
Empires will be similar in style to other such grand strategy games like Age of Empires and Sid Meier?s Civilization. However there will be distinct differences in game play. For example, in Civilization due to the epic history traversed through the game, certain concepts which will be highlighted in Empires are abstracted in Civilization. Similarly, whilst Age of Empires concentrates on expansion by conquest, in Empires a nation will be able to expand and exert a larger influence via trade, diplomacy, religion and conquest.

Goal 3
Empires will be built in such a way as to allow scenarios to be created for the game by players of the game. The map will be defined via a height-map graphic, whilst the initial settings for the game will be controlled via easily editable text files. These text files will contain nation definitions, starting locations, initial building and army locations and composition.

FAQ:

What is the game?
Empires is a turn-based strategy game based on Medieval Europe from the end of the Roman Empire till the dawn of the Age of Discovery. The years covered will range from 500AD till 1500AD. The game will be a grand strategy Empire builder complete with working economy, diplomacy reflecting the time period, as well as other features in the same strain as Civilization and Age of Empires.

Why create this game?
In line with my belief that epic history games such as Civilization over-simplify the topic, this game is the beginning of my grand design focusing on specific eras of history. This will be the first game in a series which will eventually span from the dawn of civilization to the near-future.

Where does the game take place?
The game takes place in a world similar to Medieval Europe. The politics, social fabric, ebb and tide, military, economics and other concepts will reflect the time period of 500AD to 1500AD. The game starts at the end of the Roman Empire in a time when feudal society was just beginning to take shape. The conclusion of the game will see Royal Authority reign supreme marking the end of feudal society.

What does the player control?
The player will be in control of a single nation chosen from the many tribal states that existed after the collapse of Roman Authority. The player must take this tribal state and forge a fully fledged Empire using diplomacy, trade, religion and military might. During the game the player may gain partial control over various other vassal nations and full control over nations that have sworn fealty.

What is the main focus?
The player?s focus is to take a small tribal state and forge a united Empire under their rule. They may take control of other nations by conquest, by other nations swearing fealty to them, or any other means available to the player. The ultimate goal to win is to take your small tribal state through the many stages till your nation is a leading Royal Authoritarian Empire ready to explore the world and expand their influence. A Royal Authoritarian Empire has either conquered or had other nations swear fealty to them, has a strong economy with many chains of production, trades with fellow nations, and has other nations vote on them as a great power within the world. The ultimate victory in Empires is to have fellow nations vote the player?s nation as the strongest great power in the world.

What?s different?
Currently there are a number of games at the present time that are also within the same gaming sphere as Empires. However Empires will be different in the following ways:
?     Age of Empires III: Empires will be focusing on more than military conquest. Whilst there are similarities between the games, they are both in two different time periods, military conquest plays a sole part in expanding within AOE3, and the nations used are already fully-fledged Empires.
?     Civilization IV: This game concentrates on the epic scale of history. Due to this a lot of concepts that are highlighted in Empires are very abstract. For instance, religion will play a much larger role in Empires than the generic single diplomatic bonus religion depicted in Civ4.
?     Rise and Fall of Ancient Empires: This game focuses on the ancient time period in the time of Greece and the beginnings of the Roman Empire. Also, the game has a large component based on first-person role playing in relation to the leaders.

Feature Set:

General Features:
?     Huge flat-map world.
?     Many tribal states vying for power from the former Roman Empire.
?     Areas of barbarians, who are ripe for conquering or conversion to the Faith.
?     Dynamic religion model with schisms, crusades and the incursions of Islam into the area depicted.
?     Scientific discoveries allowing the pursuit of new inventions which advance society.
?     Many diplomatic options including royal weddings, declarations of war, cassis belli, trade agreements, fealty and oaths of allegiance.
?     Fully dynamic terrain where human habitation affects the land (such as forests being chopped down, cities spreading across the land, roads and farmland).
?     Complex economy involving the collection and stockpiling of raw materials, and the processing of these resources into goods which can be used for construction, armies, trade or diplomacy.

Multi-player Features:
Initially, hot-seat and PBEM will be the only MP methods supported. This may change later.

Editing Features:
Editing of the game will be via external text files that will control most parts of the game. Terrain will be loadable via terrain mapped graphic files. All 3D objects will be 3DS Max objects exported ready for use. Scenarios will be easy for players to create using a single terrain mapped graphic file, and a combination of text files containing the settings for the scenario. Additional 3D objects will be loadable via the scenario if required.

Victory Conditions:

Overview:
There will be two types of victory in Empires, a minor victory and a major victory. A minor victory will be obtained when a nation scores the required amount of points in one of the following categories:
-     Military
-     Society
-     Religion
-     Economics
-     Diplomacy
Once a minor victory has occurred, that nation will have the option to play on for a major victory. The major victories also come on two levels:
-     Become a Great Power
-     Become the strongest Great Power (the ultimate victory in Empires)

Military Victory:
A military victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of military points. Military points are scored for the size of the player?s army and combat results.

Society Victory:
A society victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of society points. Society points are scored for science and technology, the happiness of the population, the progression of government and infrastructure (buildings, roads, resource collection).

Religion Victory:
A religion victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of religion points. Religion points are scored for converting the barbarians to the player?s religion, participation in crusades/jihads and interaction with the religious capital (Rome and Constantinople).

Economic Victory:
An economic victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of economic points. Economic points are scored for setting up trade agreements, importing/exporting goods, setting up trading posts in other nations (allows the formation of a trade agreement), owning monopolies on goods and keeping a positive cash flow.

Diplomatic Victory:
A diplomatic victory is declared once a nation has accumulated a set threshold of diplomatic points. Diplomatic points are scored for interactions with other nations, following through on agreements (Eg: following through on a defense treaty), the number of vassals and nations who swore fealty.

Great Power:
If the player opts to play on (if they receive a minor victory during the game) the game will play till conclusion. This is the first of:
-     all 1000 turns being played
-     1 nation remaining in the game
Once one of the above conditions is met the scores of all minor victory conditions are added together to give a nations total score. The top total score is declared the strongest Great Power of the game (and is the ultimate victory in Empires!) and the top 5 total scores are declared Great Powers of the game. If there is only one nation remaining in the game, then that player is the winner by default.

The Game World:

Overview:
The world?s terrain and architecture will be based on medieval Europe. Cities and farmland will be scattered across the land inter-connected by roads. There will be many different nations controlling territory on the map initially, but this will quickly change as nations vie for control over land and resources.

Rome & Constantinople:
Even though the Roman Empire has collapsed, Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east will act as the centre of power in each sphere. As the game progresses, their respective power will decrease till finally they are either absorbed by another nation or they become a minor nation.

Islam & Pagans:
At the games start, Islam will be a small pocket in a far corner of the map. However, via diminishing bonuses Islam will quickly spread from its initial location. Islam will act as a counter against the other religions, being Roman, Orthodox and Pagan. At the games start, a number of tribal states will begin as Pagan religion. These represent the ?barbarian Eastern Europe? which was present at the beginning of the time period. Paganism will act as a counter against the other religions, being Roman, Orthodox and Islam.

Playing the Game:

A Single Player Game:
After the player starts the game, an introduction movie will play. After the movie the main menu is displayed with a number of options. Selecting Single Player will take you to the setup screen. On this screen you select map configuration (sea level, map size, Europe/Random/Load map), the nation you wish to play and enter your leader name. After accepting these values the game (depending on map choices) will either load the default Europe map, load a custom map or generate a random map. This ends the setup phase.
Once the setup is complete the main view is shown on-screen. This view is mostly made up of a detailed view of the map. The player can zoom in or out of the map to get a closer view or an overview of the lands. The view begins focused on the player?s capital. The player begins with 1-3 towns/cities and a range of units. Above the map view is the control panel. From here the player can enter any of the game?s screens, including diplomacy, economics, or military. These screens are linked to function keys as well for ease of access. The main menu button is also contained on the control panel, and it is consistent for every screen in-game. When the player wishes to save their game, or load a previously saved game, or even change game options they access the main menu. At the bottom of the screen are the information panels. One information panel has the minimap of the world, another panel has action buttons for what is currently selected or generic action buttons such as ?build? and ?govern?, and the third panel holds information about the currently selected object. If nothing is selected then this panel holds general information about the player?s nation.
To begin with, the player must make a few decisions regarding what they will research first and what will be built in the towns/cities of their nation. The player then clicks on any units they wish to move and then right clicks on the target tile. The unit will move towards the tile to the extent of their movement points. Once moved to its maximum the unit ends its turn and another unit with movement points remaining is selected for the player. If the player doesn?t want to move a unit they fortify the unit which will take the unit out of this cycle of move-next unit-move. Once the player has finished their turn they click on the end turn button. At this point all of the other nations in the game perform their turn. And so the game progresses.
Eventually, the player will finish researching a technology. Once complete a popup window will appear asking the player what to research next. If the technology has an accompanying invention then the player is able to select an amount of gold per turn to spend on trying to complete the invention. The length of time for the invention to complete is determined by the amount of gold per turn the player spends on the invention. At any one time the player can research one technology and multiple inventions. In this way a player can concentrate on inventions that will benefit them and ignore the ones that hold no benefit to them. For example a land-locked nation can ignore naval inventions but concentrate on land inventions.
Once enough wood and stone is stockpiled the player can begin building infrastructure in their nation. By clicking on the ?Build? action button a selection of choices depending on technology level will be presented. The player simple clicks on the building they want to build and then click on the location of the map to build it. Some buildings will rely on a resource to be build able such as an iron mine, but others can be built anywhere on land such as a farm. The two resources gatherers that allow building are sawmill and quarry. These two buildings will produce the timber and stone required to build all other buildings in the game. Some of the bigger buildings, especially civil buildings for cities such as a library, will also require an amount of gold to build.
At this point the player should be collecting the essential resources to survive and have the basic infrastructure built. They will have researched a couple of technologies and maybe an invention or two. The player should now concentrate on diplomacy and trade. By using diplomacy the player can befriend other nations and form trade agreements with them. This will allow for the import and export of goods to expand the player?s economy. Once the player is making weapons from steel, and has a positive cash flow it is time to build up the army. Whilst it is possible to win peacefully in Empires! a weak nation militarily will be a target for other nations. Even a defensive army is essential to survive. Once the army has been expanded the player then makes a critical choice. Do they try to expand via conquest or diplomacy?
If the player chooses to expand by conquest they use their nation?s army to invade another nation. The player must defeat the armies of the opposing nation and occupy all of the cities of the nation. The nation will consequently surrender all of its lands to the player. Any army remaining of the surrendering nation disbands. During war the player is able to order their armies to pillage and burn improvements made to the land. This includes houses. If the player faces a stronger enemy than anticipated the player can pillage and burn the enemy?s improvements to destroy their economy. This can help a further war later down the track as the enemy has had to rebuild their infrastructure instead of building up their army. The player is able to conquer any other nation in the game, including Rome, Constantinople, the barbarian nations or Islamic nations. However, every declaration of war will result in a counter affect on your diplomatic relations with other nations. An overly aggressive nation risks turning the rest of the world against them.
If however the player chooses to expand via diplomacy, then various diplomatic options are available to help make friends with other nations. As well as the before mentioned trade agreement, the player can arrange a Royal Wedding (only one for each other nation), help them in their own wars with other nations, guarantee their sovereignty and let them be a vassal to you. Once a nation becomes the player?s vassal the player can control the vassal?s armies. The player also receives 25% of the vassal?s resources and gold as tithe. If a player has had a vassal for a long time, and relations are still very high, the vassal may agree to swear fealty. At this point the vassal gives all land, units and possessions to the player. This is how the player expands via diplomacy. This may be a harder path to take, but the player is able to maintain high diplomatic relations with other nations, and there is no impact on the player?s economy.
Eventually over many turns the player is able to expand by conquering some nations and diplomatically other nations. The players economy will become stronger and technology will progress with new inventions improving society. At some point the player may be offered a minor victory. This is where the player has reached a victory criteria in one area of the game. It is the player?s choice whether they take the victory or play on for a major victory. If the player then plays on and becomes strong in all areas of the game, then they will be voted as a Great Power at the end of the game. If the player is the strongest remaining Great Power the player will achieve the ultimate victory in Empires! and go down forever in the annals of history.
DaleK2006-11-02 20:11:31

Submitted by DaleK on Tue, 24/10/06 - 6:32 PM Permalink

Mechanics

The Game World:

Key Locations:
?     Rome and Constantinople will act as the world?s centers of power at game start.
?     Islamic religion will occupy a small area in a corner of the map.
?     Pagan religion will occupy a small area in another corner of the map.
?     Numerous tribal states varying in size from 1-3 cities/towns will be spread across the map. The player will be in control of one of them.

Scale:
The scale will be such that large cities will sprawl across the map. Armies will occupy an area of the map depending on the size of the army. In literal turns, a ?square? on the map (which could be 50x50 pixels) will contain numerous buildings and an amount of soldiers from an entire army. A large city could occupy a number of tiles on the map.

Europe Map Detail:
The historical Europe map will look like Europe and have cities in their actual locations. Map features and city locations will be accurate to their real world locations, including religions, Rome and Constantinople, as well as terrain formations. This map will be as if the player was actually living in 500AD as the leader of one of the existing tribal states that formed during the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Random Map Detail:
The random map generator will be capable of creating an entire world, including terrain formations, seas lakes and rivers, city locations and nations. Rome and Constantinople will be located in their respective sphere (east or west) and Islam and Paganism will be located in random corners. The player will be able to adjust various settings within the configuration of the map generator such as sea level, world size and other options.

Player Map Detail:
Players will be able to create a terrain height map graphic and use that to allow the terrain generator to form the world. Using the grayscale method (where the lighter shade is a higher point on the map) the possibilities are endless for the maps created.

Game Play Models:

Resources:
Natural resources will be spread across the map. These resources are able to be collected by the player to be processed into goods. To collect these resources the relevant building must be built on the resource to collect it. For example, a player must build a farm on a wheat resource to collect wheat to be processed by a bakery into food.

Economy:
The economy of Empires will operate on traditional production chains based on the era. For example, a player can build an iron ore mine on an iron resource which will stockpile an amount of iron ore each turn. The player can then build a forge in one of the cities/towns of the nation which will process the iron ore into steel. The player can then build other manufactories which process the steel into other items such as weapons. Similarly, farms will produce wheat or livestock which is processed into food for the population of the nation. As well as internal production, trade with other nations will play a part to generating a strong economy. The player will be able to export surplus goods to other nations and import resources and goods that they may be short on.

Religion:
There are four main religions in the game. These are Christianity, Orthodox, Islam and Paganism. Christianity reflects the general religion of Europe as a whole at the time. Orthodox will occur via a religious schism during the game to generate an offshoot Christian religion. Islam represents the growing power of the Islamic religion and Arab dominance of the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans and southern Iberia during the time period. Paganism represents the north-eastern European non-Christians who were converted during the time period. Religion will play a role on governing and diplomacy within the game. The leader of the player?s religion may request them to participate in a Crusade/Jihad, and depending on their actions relations with other nations will be affected. Also, religions require players to pay a tithe in gold or goods, or the player faces excommunication or even war. In terms of religion affecting governing the religion of a city will play a factor in what a player builds there. For example, if a player built a Christian cathedral in an Islamic city there would be a negative affect on the populace.

Diplomacy:
Every nation will have diplomatic relationships with other nations in the game. For Christian (and later Orthodox) nations they will also have an important diplomatic relationship with their comparable centre of world power (Rome or Constantinople). Diplomatic relationships will be affected by war, trade, religion, vassalage, fealty and national power. National power will be the influence and respect a nation can exert on other nations. For instance, a militarily powerful nation will be able to demand a lot more from militarily weak nations, and nations with a good another nation wants will be able to demand more from them in the trade. Nations will be able to increase diplomatic relations with a nation in three ways. The first is to perform favorable agreements with the other nation and slowly over time their regard and respect for you will increase. This could result in either the other nation becoming a vassal or swearing fealty to the player. A nation becoming the player?s vassal is a minor important diplomatic victory for the player as a vassal while remaining independent will pay a tithe to the player and allow access to their resources and army. A vassal has an automatic alliance with the player. A nation that swears fealty to the player is a major diplomatic victory as that nations lands and possessions are transferred to the player.

Governance:
The player will be able to govern their nation and shape how it operates. They are able to choose specific methods of how their nation is to be run which will influence various aspects of their nation (similar to Civilization IV?s civics concept). Decisions will be made in the areas of law and order, centralized/decentralized government, taxes, religion, trade and military structure.

Science & Technology:
Science & Technology will operate on two levels: research and inventions. Players can invest gold into either of these two areas to influence the speed at which discoveries are made. Research represents the raw learning of the nation. Inventions are discoveries of how to use that research. For example, gunpowder is the result of research into saltpeter, whilst the cannon is an invention that uses gunpowder.

Society:
Society represents a nation?s culture and nationalism in the game. A strong society will generate a lot of culture and national pride. The level of society is influenced by governance decisions, diplomacy (no enemies means the population fears no neighbor), the economy, science and technology and religion. Society?s strength is representative of the civil strength of a nation. The higher society that a nation has, the happier and more peaceful its citizens are. On the other hand, a low society level could result in strikes, crime or even citizen revolts.

Military:
The player?s military is made up of a number of parts. The player will have direct control over their own army and navy. The player may also have full or partial control over a vassal?s army and navy. A nation?s military strength is directly related to the strength of its army and navy. A nation with high morale troops who are well paid and have a higher technological level of weapons will be stronger than a nation with low morale troops who are badly paid with weapons of a low technological level. Thus it is quite possible to have a powerful small army and navy but still maintain a high military strength. A nation with a higher military strength will be more effective in threats than a nation with a low military strength. The military is responsible for the defense of the nation in war, the conquest of the nation?s enemies, and the squashing of citizen revolts. The military will exert a control over the populace if stationed in cities, but a highly rebellious city may still try to revolt. Armies will be a combination of foot soldiers (swords and pikes), cavalry, engineers (who build engines of war and breaches in city walls), cannon and gunpowder soldiers. When two enemy armies meet combat will occur. Combat will take place on a popup screen which overlays the main view. Both armies will be represented on the map. Each combatant will have the opportunity to deploy their troops on the field in the formation they wish. Each combat round will see each military unit (which represents a number of men not a single man) either move, perform combat or retreat/flee. The winner of the combat is the combatant who destroys the opposing army or forces that army to retreat/flee. Morale will be the deciding factor in deciding whether a unit flees or not. If a unit incurs more damage than they give to their opposing unit, their morale will drop while the other unit?s morale will rise. When a unit?s morale reaches a certain level the unit will flee the field. Units that flee the field are not able to continue in that battle but will reappear on the map ready for their next move. Morale can be raised by higher pay, keeping the unit at full strength, winning battles and the level of pillaging units are able to perform after winning a battle. Though allowing a high level of pillaging (through governance) will have a detrimental effect on the nation?s diplomatic relationships and society.

Technical

Game Engine:

Overview:
The game engine will operate on an event-based system. For example, if the player clicks on something, a MOUSECOMMAND event is initiated. Whenever the player interacts with the game (whether human or AI), or whenever any processing work is required, an event will be sent to the main game engine. The main game engine will process these events and update the game database as required. The rendering system will retrieve the current world information to update the display for the player.

Event System:
The game engine will process via the use of an event-based system. Every time something is required to be done in the game it will generate an event. An event can be as simple as clicking on a button, or as complex as processing a nation?s economy at the end of the turn. The event system will hold no data which is contained in the game database, but the event system will process data from game database and then return it.

Game Database:
The game database will store all of the information required for the game. No actual processing work is done within the database. A game engine event will request information from the game database, the game engine will process that data and then send any changes required back to the game database for storage. When saving a game, the game database will dump all information into the save game file. Loading will retrieve the information back into the database.

Rendering System:
The game will be built on the OGRE 3D graphics engine. This is an extremely powerful and reputable free graphics engine. The map will be represented within a cubic definition. The four sides of the cube will define the ?far horizon? and the ?edge of the world?. The top will represent the ?sky? but as the camera will be looking down on the terrain there will be no need to render anything there. The base will contain the generated terrain. The terrain will have height with mountain ranges and valleys and rivers and seas.

Lights & Cameras:
The camera will operate in a looking-down configuration. The camera will be able to zoom in and out as well as rotating to show different angles of objects on the ground. In no way will the camera be able to rotate up to show the ?sky?. The default view will be representative of traditional 2D-isometric views in older games. There will be one main light source in the game, that being the sun. The sun will radiate light downloads at an angle to the terrain to allow for shadows to fall on the ground from trees, buildings and other objects. There is no requirement for night lights as night is not within the game.

Map Generator:
The map generator will allow for the loading of pre-made maps, as well as the generation of random maps for the game. The map generator will be broken into two components: terrain generation and object placement. The terrain generation component will be the part which creates the landmasses and assigns terrain types to the land. The generator will start by forming the land rise and fall. This will generate low points and high points. The second step is to take a pre-configured sea level and assign ocean to any point lower than this setting. The third step is to simulate rainfall patterns across the map (from west to east). The fourth step will take each tile?s rainfall and move it across the map. This will generate rivers and where water accumulates will be lakes. The fifth step is to assign terrain types to the map. Terrain types will be grass, mountain rock and icecaps. The last step of terrain generation is to assign forests across the land. The second component (object placement) will firstly assign resources across the map, then cities/towns, then the various nations and religions, and finally any starting units. This will complete the generation of a full random map. Pre-defined height map files and scenario text files will replace certain steps in the map generator. A height map graphic file will replace steps one to four of terrain generation, and a scenario?s text files will replace the entire object placement component.

Game Assets:

Overview:
The game assets refer to the graphics, sound, music and configuration files. All game assets will be external files to allow players to mod them.

File/Folder Layout & Format:
The base Empires! folder will contain the main executable and any required DLL files. The main configuration file will reside here as well. The main configuration file will contain the application settings required to run the game. Off the main folder will reside five separate folders: sound, graphics, data, scenarios and saves. The sound folder will be broken into two further folders: sfx and music. The graphics folder will be broken into a number of folders such as: icons, units, buildings, terrain, buttons, etc. The data folder will contain the default settings and configuration files for the game. Such files include the settings for buildings, units and technology. The scenarios folder will contain a folder for each scenario. Each separate scenario folder will contain the height map graphic file and the scenarios text files for object placement. The last folder, saves, will contain all of the player?s saved games. From here they can save or load any game.

Graphics Formats:
As Empires! will be a 3D game, the objects in the game need to be configured for 3D. Thus, objects will be created in 3DS Max and exported to be loaded into the game. Objects will also have animations. Any graphics will be in DDS format to allow fast and efficient loading of graphics into the game.

Sound & Music Formats:
As Empires! Will utilize FMOD sound system the music is able to be in MP3 format. This will allow for the highest quality music possible to be loaded into the game. Sound effects will be in WAV format. This will allow for custom music and sound files to be created for scenarios.

Settings/Configuration Files:
All settings and configuration files, either for the main game, or for scenarios will be simple text files. Each element will have a property and a value. A group of elements will be able to be linked together through the use of braces { }. In this way, a single unit can be defined through a number of elements all linked together.

User Interface:

Main View Screen:
The main view will be broken into three parts. The main component of the screen will contain the map view. This is where the player will perform all of their commands, moving armies, building, scrolling around the map. At the top of the screen will be a thin control panel containing the buttons required to view the detailed information screens. There will also be the main menu button and help button which will direct the player to screens related to their functions. This control panel will be common to every screen in the game and serve as the players guide to navigating through the game. At the bottom of the main view will be the information panel. There will be three parts to the information panel. Part 1 will contain a mini-map of the game world where the player can click to jump to that location in the world. Part 2 will contain the command buttons, including ?build?, ?govern? and other commands which allow the player to rule their nation. Part 3 will contain the dynamic information screen. If an object is selected then information on that object will be displayed here. Otherwise, if no object is selected then generic national information (such as total gold and research) will be displayed.

Information Screens:
The detailed information screens will be popup screens over the main view. The common control panel will still be visible and usable while any detailed information screen is displayed. These screens will display the specific information for that area of the game. For example, the economics screen will display a list of all resources and goods, how much is stored of each item and other specific information to the economy of the nation. Similarly, the science screen will display the technology tree, as well as any research projects underway or inventions being developed.

Intro/Credits Screens:
The other game screens include the title screen, any movies or cut-screens that will be displayed, credits, and main menu, options and help screens. These screens will operate outside of the operation of the actual game as they do not interact with any part of the game engine.

Options Menu:
The options menu will be accessible by pressing ESC whilst in-game. The options menu will allow you to retire the game, exit to the desktop, save the game, load a game as well as graphic and sound options.DaleK2006-11-02 20:12:00

Submitted by DaleK on Fri, 03/11/06 - 7:18 AM Permalink

First full draft of the design document has been updated. :)

Forum

IGDA Game Design Master Class Revisited

Back in June of 2005 John Passfield ran workshop as part of the IGDA Brisbane Chapter Master Classes. The workshop involved taking the game ?Battleship? and changing it into something new by altering one or two of the rules.

I was never happy with the results. I never felt that any of my ideas sat comfortably in context with the rest of the game. That anything I changed resulted in a carryover affect that required too many alterations to other rules, and anything I came up with in the end was awkwardly put together and in all likelihood not all that fun to play. Quite simply they never felt elegant.

Eventually our group settled on a surgery game or something, I can no longer remember. But I do remember that I was not all that satisfied with it.

I cannot speak for anyone else in my group, and I don?t know if they felt the same way, but as for me - over a year latter - I?ve finally figured out where I went wrong.

I have recently begun reading Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. And it is after delving into the Chapter on Rules do I now understand the problem. (Incidentally, checking back to Passfield's old web blog today, I find that he was inspired to run this workshop after attending a GDC workshop by Eric Zimmerman years before - ironic then that I should only understand the problem after reading the book by the man who created the damn thing in the first place!)

My problem was I didn?t understand the most fundamental rules of Battleship. Sure, I understood the rules as they are written on paper, but I was not thinking deep enough. I focused too much on the genre and the rules of operation ? I needed to focus on the fundamental routes of those rules. Genre and operation be damned!

What follows is my new understanding of the problem, and my new solution, based on the Three Levels of Rules, as identifies by Salen and Zimmerman in Rules of Play.

The Three Levels of rules (excerpt from Rules of Play):
[quote]Constitutive Rules are the abstract, core mathematical rules of a game. Although they contain the essential game logic, they do not explicitly indicate how players should enact these rules.

Operational rules are the ?rules of play? that players follow when they are playing a game. Operational rules direct the players? behaviour and are usually the kinds of rules printed out in instructions and rulebooks for gamers.

Implicit rules are the ?unwritten rules? of etiquette and behaviour that usually go unstated when a game is played. Similar implicit rules apply to many different games.
[/quote]

In solving the workshop's problem I will examine battleship under the first two rules.

Battleship

Constitutive Rules:

The game is played in a space consisting of the numbers from 1 to 100.

Each player selects 17 of these numbers to be Critical Numbers.

The 17 Critical Numbers must be allocated in five sequences: one sequence of 5, one of 4, two of 3, and one of 2.

Critical Number Sequences must run in linier sequence either through numbers directly adjacent to the last, for example 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Or by adding or subtracting 10 to the initial number, for example, 5, 15, 25, 35, 45.

Sequences cannot contain within them the following combinations of numbers: 10 and 11, 20 and 21, 30 and 31, 40 and 41, 50 and 51, 60 and 61, 70 and 71, 80 and 81, 90 and 91

Sequences must be independent from one another, they cannot share numbers.

Players take turns calling out a number from 1to 100, and the opposing player must acknowledge that the number is either one of their select Critical Numbers or not.

The game is won when one player successfully identifies all of his opponents Critical Numbers.

Operational Rules:

The game is played on two 10x10 grids, numbered 1-10 along the horizontal, and A-J along the vertical.

Each player has a set of Battleships that they are placed on their own grid.

The battleships are of the following sizes: 5 squares, 4 squares, 3 square (two of these), and 2 squares.

Battleships must be placed either horizontally or vertically on the grid.

Battleships cannot share grid squares.

Players take turns calling out a grid coordinate (eg: H-5), and the opposing player indicates whether the guess was a ?hit? or ?miss?.

Players mark off grid squares as the game progresses, the first player to successfully ?hit? all of his opponents battleships is declared the winner.

We see how Constitutive Rules and the Operational Rules are very simular, however the Operational Rules make reference to the game materials and context in which the game is understood. The Constitutive Rules on the other hand refer to the logical and mathematical structure of the rules.
From this we can see how by changing the Operation Rules we can completely change the context of how the game is understood and what it represents. Furthermore by altering the Constitutive Rules we can begin to affect the design on a more fundamental level It is with this thinking that I have come up with my new answer to the workshop's problem:

Train Heist

Constitutive Rules:

The game is played in a space consisting of the numbers from 1 to 30.

Each player selects 6 of these numbers to be Critical Numbers.

At least four of the numbers must form two sequential pairs, for instance 12, 13 and 23, 24.

Players take turns calling out a number from 1 to 30, and the opposing player must acknowledge that the number is either one of their select Critical Numbers or not.

The game is won when one player successfully identifies all of his opponents Critical Numbers.

Operational Rules:

The game is played with two diagrams of a train with 30 numbered carriages.

Each player marks on their diagram the carriages in which they wish to hide their Gold.

The Gold consists on two single stashes that are hidden in individual carriages, and two larger stashes, each of which must be hidden in two adjacent carriages.

No more than one stash of Gold can occupy a single carriage.

Players take turns searching the carriages of their opponent's train, and their opponent must inform them if they found a stash of Gold or whether the carriage was empty.

Players mark off carriages they have searched as the game progresses, the first player to find all of his opponent's Gold is declared the winner.

We have changed only a few elements of the Constitutive Rules:
> The scope of the play space (the total number of Numbers and Critical Numbers in play)
> Critical Numbers can now only be assigned in sequential order
> Eliminated the rule preventing certain combinations of numbers within a sequence.

All other Constitutive Rules remain the same.

We could now write a slightly modified version of the Battleship Operational Rules for this version of the game, and what we would end up with is only a scaled down version of Battleship.
However by instead changing the Operation Rules to the example above, we create an entirely new context for the game experience. What we end up with is a new game experience, based on familiar game mechanics.

I understand that this is not a very inspiring way of creating a new game, nonetheless this is what the workshop asked for. The workshop was not about coming up with inspired original game ideas, it was about understanding how changing the Constitutive Rules affected the fundamental structure of the game, and how changing the Operational Rules could create a new contextual understanding of the game.

I am happy to say I finally understand this. There you go John, workshop finished. I hope you accept late submissions!

Further Development:
Shortly after writing this I began to consider the possibility of limiting players to only searching carriages within a certain number of the previously searched carriage. Simulating the player physically moving from one carriage to another over time. This would help emphasize the robbery theme, as opposed to the open ended radar theme of Battleship. This may require a further rule change though, allowing players to search a carriage more than once so that they can move unobstructed along the length of the train. (I deliberately left out the possibility of multiple searches for simplicity's sake, and also because whether or not players can be allowed to mistakenly call out a previously searched grid reference often falls under the category of Implicit Rules).

Links:
Passfield Games
Rules of Play

LiveWire2006-10-23 05:04:50

Submitted by Brain on Mon, 23/10/06 - 4:33 PM Permalink

*grins* This was great to read. I remember that workshop well, and it has affected how I look at projects, so after your enlightenment I may need to pick up Rules of Play. Thanks for the write up, and thanks again John for the learning. @:-)

Submitted by Jackydablunt on Fri, 08/12/06 - 4:03 AM Permalink

That's right I remember that class, I remember teaming up with Caleb from Fuzzyeye and Mick from gameaudio's girlfriend Jess and we came up with some sex thing (of course) where you have to hit the right heterogenous zones and build up the blood flow till climax. It actually ramped really well and got a lot harder as it went along though I can't remember what we did. There were also negative scenarios where you'd hit the wrong square and the mother would call and stuff like that therefore making you lose points.... I class it in the educational vain. Anyway yeah that was a good class actually, sorta just broke it all down for you and threw aside all the aesthetic crap games get lost in now, he's on the ball that Passfield guy.

Forum

Skills Test Level:

Due to an upcoming interview I have with the Melbourne Developer Blue Tongue for a level designer position, I thought it would be vital to show them skills relevant to that position that I didn?t cover in my multiplayer maps.

Those skills being:
?     Simple Scripted objects like buttons, doors and elevators.
?     Using the particle systems.
?     Using Simple Scripting to control a Bot.
?     Showing meshes that have collision meshes [karma data] and even linking these objects together. [Joints]
?     Using volumes like Lava and water.

It?s a VERY simple map. Just something to show off some skills. But I?m keen on obtaining this job so to that end I want to give Blue Tongue no doubts or queries into my designs and abilities.

Also note that with the exception of the water, lava and fire textures, the wall textures and static meshes are textured and modelled by myself in Maya and Photoshop. Just some things I had from my single player level.

Anyway. If you have UnrealED download the Zip file form the link and give it a run through. However if you don?t have UnrealED there are also about 20 screenshots you can look at to get the basic idea.

I hope with this small map, the level walkthrough I wrote and the multiplayer map I made a few weeks back that this should be enough to secure myself a position at a game dev studio. Heres hoping. Download the map from the link and wish me luck for thursday when I go in for the interview!

Cheers.

Chris Watts - Caroo

End of line...

DOWNLOAD THIS!!!!

Skills Test Version 1.0 - Made by Chris Watts
**********************************************

Installation:

1) Unzip the downloaded zip file and place the file "skills_testV1.ut2"
Into the "maps" folder where you installed unreal2003/2004

2) Open and run UnrealED. Open the map "skills_test.ut2" . you don?t have
to build the level. Just press the play button and explore the map.

(The "play map" icon can be found on the top row of icons. It's the
Second last icon to the right and looks like a joystick.]

Enjoy!

Submitted by nexx on Tue, 26/09/06 - 4:07 PM Permalink

It would be too late now, but you could try using the Unreal 2 Runtime for this sort of thing. It's basically a stripped down version of the Unreal 2 Engine without any art & game assets (except for an example level). And is free for educational and non-commercial use. It would be perfect for running a demonstration off a CD.

Good luck with the interview!

Forum

Hello all, this is my first real posting of my work here on sumea. I hope this is in the right place, my apologies if it is not.It's a deathmatch map I have been working on for my demo reel. It has taken exactly 6 weeks to create from scratch, from concept to completion. All assets in the map are 100% original content created by me with 2 exceptions; the water material is from UT, and the cloud material is modifed from UT.Thats why the file is 60 meg zipped. It has a lot of new textures in it.I would love to get as much feedback as I can from this map, as I will be looking for an environment art/design job at the end of the year and want to make sure my demo performs well, and anything I can learn from this map to improve would of course be a good thing.anyway, here is the link, sorry for the life story.http://savefile.com/files/97659also, there are some screenshots in my sumea gallery if you want to see what it lookslike before you go and download ithttp://www.sumea.com.au/sgallery.asp?p=A&news=2136

Submitted by Caroo on Fri, 22/09/06 - 12:02 PM Permalink

I'm more thne happy to download and play test your level mate.. but can you please try another file downloading program. That one is giving my comp hassles.

Try RAPIDSHARE .. a little hard to navagate but a reliable download server.

Submitted by nexx on Fri, 22/09/06 - 6:12 PM Permalink

60mb That's one big map!

Looking at the screenshots, the first thing I noticed is the lighting. You have some really cool & gothic shapes going on but the lighting isn't doing it justice. Here are my favourite tips for avoiding the whole 'splotchy BSP' situation: Add ambient light, never use white lights, stay away from UnrealEd's default light radii, and experiment with lightmap details. I also think some distance fog could work (I have to admit I have a distance fog fetish).

Sorry to bombard you with tutorials, but these are good ones! Lighting by David M?nnich is an oldie but a goodie, if not the best. It was made for UT99 but it still applies to UT2004. Angelmapper's optimization guide deals with lightmaps, and old faithful UDN covers distance fog.

Hope that is of some help. And best of luck with your demo reel nexx2006-09-22 08:55:09

Submitted by Caroo on Fri, 22/09/06 - 6:46 PM Permalink

<<>>

I have to agree. You so do! You dirty dirty man!

Guy - One thing i noticed was the lack of background..sure you have a skyed floor..but a totaly blank background looks really bad in todays games. give it something...anything..distent mounterns or even just take a few screen shots of your structures and make it into a 1024x1024 texture and apply it to the 'skyboxes' side faces...

remember mate. Anything is better then nothing.

Submitted by GuyBrave on Mon, 25/09/06 - 9:53 AM Permalink

thanks for the feedback guys, I particularly liked the Angelmapper's guide.

so has anyone actually played the map yet? would love to get some feedback on the flow of the level.

Forum

What is a Level Walkthrough?

A Level Walkthrough is a design document quite relevant to the current video game industry. These documents do just as their name suggests. Written by game designers and reviewed by the lead and level designers a level walkthrough is seeing through the players? eyes the level in both emotional and technical detail.

These level walkthroughs are an important part of pre planning for many games. While level walkthroughs might not be needed for a puzzle game or a game that has no diverse levels It's mainly important for First Person shooters, Role-playing games, Strategic games that have many levels and even a side-scroller needs to plan out what comes onto the screen.

A level Walkthrough gives the fellow teammates a clear view in what they?re making. A good level walkthrough will save much time and energy. Without a detailed walkthrough there could be a loss of continuity between the level designer, environment artist and the designer who takes care of scripted sequences. Mistakes could be made in the overall design of the level and parts would need to be reworked on or totally removed.

So the reality of the matter is that Level Walkthroughs are indeed quite necessary and critical to the development of many games. They exist so there is as little reworking as possible. Better to get the job done right the first time then to coat it over a dozen times.

For the purpose of this exercise I will do a level walkthrough Sample.

That sample being a first person shooter type game.

For the character of this level, let us use an existing character with existing confines and constraints. The reason for this is simple. If I make up my own character I can then give him powers and abilities to combat every situation he comes across, this is bad, as it doesn?t allow me to really think outside the box. Characters like this suffer from what I call 'superman? syndrome.

For the character lets use MEGAMANX. MegamanX has a standard shooter weapon and upgrades he can use. He obtains extra weapon types each time he kills a level boss. He can jump up walls and dash to make a long jump. With upgrades he can double jump and can use a ?kill all enemies in the room? weapon.

But he isn?t invincible by any means. Touching spikes instantly kill him as does falling down a bottomless pit. To start with he can?t take many hits form enemies and he's stunned for a spilt second when he's shot. While megamanX can become a very powerful character he always starts off rather weak.

To keep in style well keep it a megamanX type level. Robotics and Futuristic setting. And those who play the original MegamanX games will remember that each level he goes to both serves a tactical purpose and looks quite different from the rest.

For this exercise well make the level a weapon manufacturing plant with a boss at the end of it.

Step1: Designing the level

Before we type out a level walkthrough and more to the point before we even draw out a level design we have to decide what this level is going to present to the player in terms of rewards, obstacles, enemies and goals.

We try to keep these things in continuity of the level. So if megamanX were in a weapons manufacturing plant then his goal would obviously be to ether suit down the plant or blow it up.

Secondary objectives could range from maybe reversing the AI installed into the weapons so they wont fire at friendly targets and fire on enemies. [Which could change the outcome for later levels] Or maybe MegamanX can sabotage a big mega weapon being worked on.

For my level design well say that MegamanX's primary objectives is to shut down the weapons plant, Replace the AI prototype mold so that all new weapons manufactured by the plant are defective and to proceed to the control room to take out the main boss so that the new manufacturing of the machines are unhindered and undetected until they are out on the battlefield.

Secondary objective is to sabotage the secret mega-weapon being developed by placing explosive charges inside strategic points.

So with the objectives laid out we now then have to consider the level itself and it's appearance:

Luckily with most cases the locations name will sum up what you theme it around. In this case Weapons-Manufacturing-Plant

Weapons: Many rooms can be weapon surplus and storage rooms. Weapon testing rooms and design rooms filled with computer screens with weapon schematics.

Manufacturing: Some rooms and areas can have assembly lines showing the player the manufacture process of tanks and hand weapons. Rooms filled with parts still to be assembled and rooms filled with transport crates and hover trucks.

Plant: Power plant to be more precise. The facility is self-contained and can do a variety of things. Therefore needing it's own power source. Capacitors and small generators are in almost all the rooms. And a few rooms are dedicated to power management and storage.

Next we have to decide if this level is going to have any secrets or bonuses. In the megamanX series that's represented by obtaining two objects in a level. The health heart that gives megamanX a few extra points towards his health and an upgrade item. This can be in the form of a body part upgrade or a subtank, which stores heath to be used later like a med kit.

Placing bonuses is more an art then anything as they have to be challenging to obtain but not imposable and the work that the player has to go to get this item must be balanced to the value. Therefore the heart upgrade is easer to get then the body part upgrade.

As for enemies; MegamanX games are fun in this remark. The game starts with one intro level. But then the player has to pick from one of 8 levels, each level having a different theme and a different boss. So enemies for these 8 levels don?t really get harder from level to level. They pose a challenge to begin with but once you?re done playing and gathering the upgrades from all the levels you can run through the level with great ease, which is fun to do.

What we wish to implement in scripted sequences is also an important factor to any level as these usually mean implementing small in game cut scenes to give away pieces of storyline to the player. In some games the player can even control himself while this happens [like half life]

Another consideration to make when designing a level and making a level walkthrough is the visual style the game is adopting. While not so much important in level game play design. How you place objects and all around aesthetic appreciation hinges on your knowledge to use the atmosphere of the art style to your best extent.

Keep in mind though please. That as a junior many of the technical are probably handled by more experienced people such as planning out the advanced scripted sequences.

The main point is to convey in your level walkthrough to what you believe the player experience will be like.

Step 2: Drawing it out:

Nest step is simple enough. Knowing what you want in the level. Write these considerations down into dot points and start to draw up some designs to what you think the level is going to look like. First just make this a simple 2D bunch of boxes. Like so:

[IMG]http://www.furry.org.au/caroo/before_21/level_layout.jpg"/>
Everyone's way of going about making a level design is different. Whatever works best for you is what you should use as long as it's somewhat understandable.

For me I used what I like to call a ?Circuit? design. This level starts with the character megamanX teleporting into a room with no enemies. [Also known as a safe room]

The advantage of a level like this is that the buildings size and structure hasn?t been viewed form the outside. Therefore we really have no ?confining spaces? to design with. When you get this rare opportunity it's good to space out your level from a birds eye view. The reason for this is so that when the level designer is using his level editor he will have minimal overlap in the top view, which can be a pain and complication at times.

For an inside FPS level a tried and true formula is to make a lot of rooms with a series of corridors connecting them. The rooms housing events, items of interest and intense shootouts while the corridors act as a passageway and maybe having stray enemies now and then. Corridors are also excellent for lifts and stairs. To give the level more 3D depth. But at this time we cannot see that clearly.

Each room has it's own number. The reason for this will be shown later on in this document as I demonstrate the level walkthrough. You want detail in your document and you also want the design to be as easily readable as possible. If you?re making a map with many rooms and different themed places then going by room to room in numbers can be a godsend.

The lines connecting the rooms are considered corridors. The reason behind colour coating them is if you want these corridors to look different instead of describing each connecting corridor just describe a corridor type and colour label them where you want them to be.

On the diagram the name of the room ether relates to the style of room, an objective that can be fulfilled inside the room or an obtainable item. While this isn?t totally needed it helps to avoid confusion about where curtain stuff is.

Now you the designer has an idea of what the level is shaping up to be. The rest of your team though only still has a vague idea. So it's time to write out the Level Walkthrough.

Step 3: Level Walkthrough.

Now it will always very from person to person and genre and other factors to like experience and training. But for me there are two critical features the level walkthrough must convey and communicate clearly to those who read it.

1)     What does the player see?
2)     What does the player do?

There are other details you can include but remember not to go into ?over-detail? with your document. The person reading it should get maximum information for minimum effort on his part. That might sound like a cop-out to your work but lets assume everyone on your team is very busy. Do they have time to read 20 pages of document that conveys one level? These people are professionals. Give them enough info and they?ll fill in the small gaps. Give them too much or too little and trouble will ensure.

Level Walkthrough no: 001
Version 1.0 --- Dated at 17/9th/2006

Game = MegamanX FPS
Level = Weapons Manufacturing Plant
Author: Chris Watts
E-mail: carooau@yahoo.com.au

Corridors:
For all corridors: All corridors for this level must be wide enough to support a walkway for two characters to pass at the same time at the same point, it's preferred that it be a little wider to accommodate details like placed static meshes.
Unless stated otherwise lighting for the corridor is abundant and well lit.

Green corridors [normal] :
These corridors are clean and sleek looking. Minimal object placement in these corridors. Well lit and well maintained. Long lights connect to a metallic roof. Metal plates underneath and paneled walls make up the main detail of these corridors. The walls look futuristic like off some star trek ship with some more added glossy reflection. All in all detail is minimized, as the player hasn?t encountered the themed rooms yet.

Blue Corridors [Mechanical themed]:
These corridors connect the manufacturing rooms mostly. Therefore they keep in theme and style. These corridors are slightly bigger then the normal ones. The walls are a mixed series of pipes and pistons. The lighting is slightly darker then well lit. The overall feel is a futuristic industrial tone. Dark colours and stream venting. Boxes and parts can be placed here and there to also act as cover for the player from enemies. The player should be feeling that while this is just a corridor, there is constant unrelenting movement about.

Red Corridors [techno themed]
These corridors connect the computer themed rooms mostly. Keeping in theme and style the ground has wires and cords running from one wall to the other wall in messes. The walls themselves are a flickering, beeping array of computer terminals, hubs and storage pillars. The equipment looks new but the lighting is low and the beeping lights are visible. The ground also littered with interfacing systems and computers left by worker robots. The player should feel that he knows he's hit the data center of the level when he enters these corridors.

Yellow Corridors: [Power themed]
Yellow Corridors connect the power themed rooms mostly. These corridors are very tight and narrow. To both sides there are rigid power capacitors and generators with energy freely flowing through them. All protected by railings and barriers with multiple cautionary signs. These power units look sleek, the rooms are dark in light and there is hardly any mess. There is also nothing on the floor in way of objects. The player should feel that while he's just in a corridor, that there is a lot of power and energy around him. The humming of generators and the buzz of transformers.

Big Health and Energy pickups: [Star]
These three small rooms are practically the same in dimension and design. [Save for random item placement at the discretion of the level designer.]

These rooms are depot areas. Storage rooms for miscellaneous parts and faulty weapons made in the weapons manufacturing plant. A small room with very little lighting, quite messy in appearance and up keep. An opposite to the clean and perfect nature of the rest of the facility. The player will consider these rooms as a recharge point in the level. As there will be abundant health and ammo pick-ups inside. These pick-ups take the shape of iconic floating shapes they should already be familiar with in previous levels.

Heart upgrade:
A small and hidden room that connects to the room labeled number 4. This room houses the Heart upgrade for the level. The room itself looks to be a smaller and more cramped version of the standard storage rooms. The heart upgrade in the middle of the room. Lighting is well lit and there are no enemies. This room is hidden by an invisible wall [non-solid BSB cut with texture] that can be revealed by using the ?X-ray cannon? weapon upgrade, which the player obtains in another level.

Armor Upgrade:
Another small and hidden room. This time connecting to the room labeled 11. This room houses the ?Leg Armor Upgrade? for the game. The room itself looks to be like a small research room. The leg armor upgrade capsule has been plugged into half a dozen computer systems all-trying to analyze and decrypt the secrets that the capsule holds. The room is very well lit. The room is hidden, as there is a solid but cracked wall in-between this room and room 11. This wall can be blasted open by the 'super rocket arm? weapon upgrade, which the player obtains on another level.

Progression by numbers:
From start to finish each room has been set a different number. The reason for this is to create a more organized level walkthrough. When the level designer wants information in a curtain area he doesn?t need to sift through page after page of level walkthrough notes. With each room being numbered, he can cheek the diagram number. Then cross reference the document to find what he wants.

Room 1:
Starting Room:

The room megamanX teleports into at the start of the level. A small room that has no enemies to confront. This is the players? initial safe zone. The player sees a few monitors on some of the walls that have video of the factory making weapons and enemy robots. There is one door to exit out of. The room is well lit and there are only a few crates and boxes lying about. MegamanXs? base contacts him and tells him his objectives for the level. After that the player would make sense that there is nothing important to do here and move onto room 2.

Room 2
Introduction Room:

After the player exits the corridor he will come into this room. Visually the room is well lit with no shadowy areas. The appearance keeps in consistency to what the player has seen so far, that being a futuristic and clean styled configuration type. In this room there are a few crates and placed meshes to make the room look less sterile. A guard robot in the middle of the room and two other doors other then the one the player has just gone through, one leading to the pick-up room and the other leading to room 3.

The player should enter this room as he's just started the level and herd the objectives. The guard robot is currently shutdown [asleep] and the player can ether shoot it or sneak past it both resulting in no detection. The player ether chooses to go straight to the 3rd room or make a detour to the pick-ups room to get some more ammo and health.

Room 3:
Weapon storage rooms:

These two rooms are quite large and high. The walls, ceiling and floor have the same texture and appearance of the first few rooms behind it with the exception of some wear and tear, a few scratches and dents in places and items. The room is dark and lit by many lights that emit a small radius only. As the name of the rooms states they are filled with creates, weapons, rifles and dormant battle robots. This area acting as a storage room. There is one other door apart from the one the player entered through and a big door that could fit a vehicle through that is locked. The rooms have a few lightly armed guards and patrol robots.

The player will enter into the room and see many dozens of items and boxes. So much so that the exit cannot be clearly seen. The player can ether jump up on creates and get to the exit quicker but have to fight security drone and automated defense systems of the room. Or he can navigate the small simple mazes and only have to take on lighter robot guards. A lot of crates in this room are breakable and house a few ammo and health pick-ups, even a 1-up life hidden about. He?ll find these if he decides to explore the room more. If not he will easily get through and move into the next room.

Room 4:
Manufacturing / Assembly area:

This room is rather large and high. Having a new tone of set design. This is where all the weapons and robots are manufactured. Large machines put together and weld these weapons on multiple assembly lines. Lighting is a little darker then well lit and in some areas lighting is darker then others. There are many small enemies in this room. None of them incredibly powerful but they are in numbers, some flying types and some run around the ground. Faulty manufactured weapons and robots scatter the floor and to the walls. The artistic tone of these rooms is a robotic, dark and mechanical assembly line.

The player enters this room and sees that to get to the other side and to the end of the room he needs to use objects such as crates and other items to jump about and get on higher grounds like assembly lines. While he does this he must also contend with the enemy robots detecting and firing at him and the danger of the assembly line machines. If he times himself correctly though on the assembly lines he can avoid being hit by the machines. This room is basically some fast paced fancy footwork. Once he gets to the other end of the room he will see the door and continue onwards to the next room.

Room 5:
Manufacturing command room ? Primary objective one: Shut down factory production.

A medium sized room. The theme of this room is a futuristic command center. There are many control panels and monitors around the circular room. Cables and wires all over the floors and going into the ceiling. Well lit and very detailed in mesh placement. This room is supposed to come off as being quite important. On the monitor screens are manufacturing statistics and cross section designs of weapons. The room is guarded by 3 medium-armed robots that are alert and ready for megamanX. This room also houses the first primary objective and is represented by a control panel that fluxes a translucent green overlay.

When the player enters the room the three robots in the center of it spring to life. The door behind him locks shut, as does the exiting door. ?Look! There's the intruder! Destroy him!? one robot shouts and they open fire. The player can maneuver and attack the enemies and protect himself by using objects placed around the room as cover. These three robots are a bit of trouble because there are simply three of them. So once the player destroys one the other two are relatively easy to take out. Once they are taken out the player will get a message from HQ telling him that the control panel to shut down the manufacturing is somewhere in the room. The player will find it. Press the action button to shut the plant down and complete the objective. He can then exit through the newly opened door that leads him into the level more.

Room 6:
Data tracks room. ? Storyline Cut Scene: Seeds of war.

A medium sized room. The theme of this room is that of data storage and large computers. The room is wall-to-wall with data storage tracks and tall imposing computers that exist to store information. The room is well lit and there are two other exits other then the one MegamanX comes in from. There are only a few lightly armed patrol robots and pose little threat to the player. The room is clean and it seems to be maintained very well. This room is mainly fabricated for purposes of a cut scene.

The player enters into the room. He only needs to take a few steps inside before the view and HUD fades out and the cut scene for that room activates. The cut scene shows MegamanX walking through the data track room commenting how expansive Sigmas? [the main bad guy of this game] knowledge must be. He finds a computer terminal and starts to access it. To MegamanXs? horrified surprise, there are factories like this all over the world all waiting for Sigmas? command to strike the world with terror. MegamanX contacts HQ and downloads them the locations of these places so others can shut them down. With this done the cut scene ends and the player is returned control. He can ether exit to the next room or take a small detour to obtain some health and ammo pick-ups.

Room 7:
Transport facilities and Vehicle Hangers

Two large and long rooms. Outfitted with massive cranes and heavy item lifting and moving gear. Combat tanks and multiple transport trucks ready to take the weapons and robot warriors out into the world to curse havoc. The two rooms connected and having three large locked vehicle sized doors to which everything exits outside. The rooms light a little darker then well lit and having a messy scatter of fuel tanks, machinery and creates/weapons. Many enemies everywhere in concentrated groups and of different assortments. The overall theme is a fully working set of vehicle hangers. Dark and futuristic.

The player enters the hanger and by the number of enemies he automatically knows he's going to get an intense fire-zone here. The door locks behind him, as does the one to advance onwards. The player has many objects to cover himself from enemy firing. And while he cannot drive vehicles he can blow up them up along with the enemy robots. So by keeping mobile and jumping form cover to cover and shooting at explosive objects he can take out the horde of robots easily with only his buster [default] weapon. If he has armor and weapon upgrades he might not even need to do that. After the fighting is over and the robots destroyed he can advance to the next room.

Room 8:
Robot AI manufacturing/control room. -Primary Objective two : replace A.I.

A medium sized room. Similar to room 5. This room is a circular structure with many control panels and monitors. This room being different to room 5, as it is a lot more crowded in terms of items and meshes. A.I control pillars all over the room. As again there are 3 medium armed enemy robots. Lighting for this room is intense and bright due to all the computer part manufacturing. The monitor screens showing schematics and data based on the AI being created. There is one door other then the one the player just entered through. One of the A.I control panels glows a translucent green to visually state that it's an objective.

The player enters the room and the enemies see him quickly and start to attack. The door locks behind the player and traps him in until he has killed the enemies. Once the robots are destroyed the player moves over to the glowing console and uses the action to take out the factories A.I. chip and replace it with an A.I. of totally different properties. HQ calls megamanX to explain to him what this will do and the player can move onto the next room.

Room 9:
Factory computer system room.

A medium/small sized room but having three stories to it. Circular in shape and having a spiral staircase. The walls of the room cannot be seen as computer systems and hardware encase the room. Large power and data cables leading up to the center of the ceiling and a large mother computer in the center of the room. The room is well lit and is clean and well maintained in appearance. There are many small flying enemies that float around and patrol the room. Most of the computer hardware has flashing lights and make sci-fi noises.

The player enters the room on the middle level. He can ether go upstairs or downstairs. Upstairs leads to the path to the secret weapon and downstairs leads to the path that goes directly to the boss and final room for the level. Enemies here are hard to hit due to flying but die easily and don?t have strong weapons. The player makes a choice on where he wants to go. Lets assume he goes upstairs to go and complete his secondary objective.

Room 10:
Experimental weapon systems room 1 ? Mini Boss segment.

A two story level medium sized room. Clean and pristine in appearance. The room is symmetrical in design and looks more advanced then the other rooms. Well lit and having no dark areas. The room is filled with many computers, Manufacturing equipment and the like. All of this used to make new and deadly prototype weapons and robots. In the center of the room a capsule holding the new weapon or robot in a dormant state. One door at the other end of the room other then the one the player walked through.

The player walks in and after a few seconds the door behind him closes and an alarm is triggered off. Red flashing lights and siren sounds as the capsule in the center of the room vents steam, cracks open and the prototype robot bursts out and seeks it self to kill the intruder, that being the player. The prototype is a challenge to beat. Being fast and having a powerful buster weapon. It will require the player to do some strafing and combat. If the player has upgraded weapons it will be considerably easer for him to fight the prototype. Once he defeats and destroys the robot he is rewarded with some ammo and health pick-ups and can now advance to the next room.

Room11:
Experimental weapon system room2 ? Secondary objective.

A three-story medium sized room. Again a clean and pristine room. This room houses the construction and design of a giant battle robot. This robot is so large that it's head and torso takes over three stories to house. Each story having walkways to access the robot as it's being constructed. Only the head, torso and left arm have been built, thus it poses no threat to the player. The rest of the room has an array of large robotic arms and tools to make the giant robot. There is one other door other then the on the player comes in from. Curtain parts of the robot glow indicating places where MegamanX will place charges to sabotage the robot.

The player walks in and will instantly see the large robot. As it takes up 50% of the area of the room. There are only a few flying guard robots to take out. After destroying the guard robots HQ contacts megamanX and tells him that the giant robot is the secret weapon he was ordered to take out. The player moves up and down the three levels placing charges on the robot. After which he completes his Secondary objective and will move onto the next room. On the third level at a corner wall there is a crack. That's where the armor upgrade is.

Room 12:
Factory fusion power plant.

A large sized room but with only railings to walk on. The majority of space in this room is taken up by dozens of generators and capacitors. Huge power cables coming out of them and leading into spots in the roof. The roof a bundle of different going pipes with flowing pulsing energy. There is no real floor as the generators just keep going down until they can?t be seen. The lighting in this room is dark ironically. The light of pulsing power the only thing to keep it lit. There are multiple small flying enemies around the room.

The player enters the room and from the power cords and machines knows where he is. The exit is on the other side of the room but not visible as power generators block the path. Darkly lit he can?t see everything but the railing is forgiving. All the player really needs to do here is follow the railing and take out the enemies that pop out here and there. This room is here to provide eye candy on the trip to the final boss. The player can exit the room without having to kill the enemies.

Room 13:
Weapons factory command and control:

The final room and housing the level boss. This room is medium sized and two storied. Being the main command room of the entire factory, it houses an array of computers, monitors and important data storage devices. Well lit and having a strategy table in the middle that shows holographic items. Everything looks shiny and new. Nothing looks beaten or scratched. The boss stands at the main controller. An eagle humanoid robot master. There is no other doors apart form the one that the player enters in from. And once entered he cannot exit until he defects the boss and teleports out.

The player enters the room and the door closes behind him. He will instantly see the boss at the controls. The boss turns around and declares the intruders presence. The boss battle music starts and the fight between megamanX and the boss begins. The eagle boss is a challenge and megamanX must use cover to keep himself from being destroyed. Once the player beats the boss a cut scene will initiate. The cut scene has MegamanX talking to the defected boss before he shuts down. MegamanX resumes production of the plant with all the sabotage he did it to. Then he teleports out, ending the level.Caroo2006-09-22 03:21:16

Submitted by Tron on Thu, 21/09/06 - 5:57 PM Permalink

let's see if adding a reply bumps this back upto the top.

edit: Cool, that worked.

This is quite thorough, having not played Megaman for probably a decade or so I can't really comment much on how well your design would work with the game but you definitely aren't leaving any stones unturned! :)

Are you doing this as a purely theoretical exercise or planning to mock up the level somehow?redwyre2006-09-21 15:09:36

Submitted by Caroo on Thu, 21/09/06 - 6:12 PM Permalink

Tron - I'm doing this for the same reason any design student allocates hours upon hors to a project.

To add this to me game / level design folio.

It's mainly theoretical if anything. Its main point is to show local developers that I'm capable to writing game design documents like this level walkthrough.

And probably more relevant to them: A level Walkthrough using a licensed character with previous considerations and constraints.

Doing a mock up level for this wouldn't be hard. But to make the level in the imagery to pass as a 3D megamanX FPS mod I’d need at least one programmer and 2-4 artists to create the content needed and an editor like UnrealED.. Which I have.

So. It’s mainly just theory.
redwyre2006-09-21 15:10:03

Forum

At the moment I am working on a 3 level Doom 3 project and figured I would share some of how progress is going on it.

There's a couple of images, but as we all know screenshots can be deceiving, so here's one of the video captures I have of a friend doing a test run through the second of the three levels. :)

http://www.mapsbytron.com/abd3sp1-2of3.avi

edit: I should elaborate that I posted this here and not in the wip section as I am more interested in working on my gameplay setups rather than showing this off as a showcase piece.redwyre2006-09-21 15:11:12

Submitted by Caroo on Thu, 24/08/06 - 3:35 AM Permalink

From what I can see from watching the video you've done a great job placing static meshes and lighting the place. It does have a smart BSB layout and it's more then just a standard left-right-left map.

I have two critiques that I think would make the level improved overall.

1) Design for a purpose. A good FPS layout has just as many rooms as it does corridors. And remember to make these rooms useful to the mission. If the player has to release pressure form coolant tanks and then has to hoof it back. Make rooms that he goes through is centralised around that theme. Icy rooms. Rooms with dozens of tanks. Control rooms with monitors and the like.

2) Atmosphere for a FPS level is critical. To that end. Space enemies apart and have them come in lots of numbers, make them come out of dark unlit areas. Drop them from the ceiling only a few feet from the player. Surround the player. Make them pop out form the floor. Anything to create the atmosphere that the enemy is out to get the player and not patrolling the hallways.

But a great effort mate. I hope to see more soon.

Submitted by Kris on Tue, 29/08/06 - 9:10 PM Permalink

Nice start! Can you post videos of the other levels? Including sound would allow us to offer feedback on that aspect also.

The fisrt thing I'd point out is to mess with your lighting, it's a little bright and quite flat throughout the entire level. But also offer some variety - there's an area with a yellow caution/warning light spinning around, there's no need for standard lighting to remain on - turn it off to make this light stand out, throw in some heavy music and bust up some vents with explosions. Have a couple spiders run by in a hallway, add a timer for the player to escape a certain area. Basically - build up your tension!

You've a perfect area to go nuts on and to mess with the players mind: the four lifts. Do something other than a simple call for the lift (also make the functional one stand out more), but don't get stuck in cliches, try think up something other games havent done, or have done and just take it to that next level.

Work on identifying which doors are locked or which ones arent - your friend obviously had some trouble there.

And finally...

Have you friend play with god mode turned OFF ;)

Submitted by Tron on Tue, 29/08/06 - 9:39 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Kris
Nice start! Can you post videos of the other levels? Including sound would allow us to offer feedback on that aspect also.

The fisrt thing I'd point out is to mess with your lighting, it's a little bright and quite flat throughout the entire level. But also offer some variety - there's an area with a yellow caution/warning light spinning around, there's no need for standard lighting to remain on - turn it off to make this light stand out, throw in some heavy music and bust up some vents with explosions. Have a couple spiders run by in a hallway, add a timer for the player to escape a certain area. Basically - build up your tension!

You've a perfect area to go nuts on and to mess with the players mind: the four lifts. Do something other than a simple call for the lift (also make the functional one stand out more), but don't get stuck in cliches, try think up something other games havent done, or have done and just take it to that next level.

Work on identifying which doors are locked or which ones arent - your friend obviously had some trouble there.

And finally...

Have you friend play with god mode turned OFF ;)

With the lift thing the plan is to eventually have that burning one crash down when you press the call button, as can be seen by the fact the working lift activates without pressing any gui though that area still needs completion. :)

Submitted by Kris on Sat, 02/09/06 - 12:45 AM Permalink

quote:With the lift thing the plan is to eventually have that burning one crash down when you press the call button, as can be seen by the fact the working lift activates without pressing any gui though that area still needs completion. :)

Good for the cinematic aspect... but isn't that in a few too many games these days? What else could you do here? ;)

Submitted by Kris on Sun, 29/10/06 - 6:35 PM Permalink

How's the level going?

Submitted by Tron on Mon, 30/10/06 - 5:10 AM Permalink

Good but slow, I was actually working on it yesterday a bit. Time has been a bit limited the last month or so with moving interstate and starting the new job. :) Hoping that in a couple of weeks once I am fully settled in I should be able to get back to putting some major hours in on it. :)

Submitted by Tron on Sun, 19/11/06 - 12:26 AM Permalink

One more shot for the moment, managed to get some work today since I'm all settled into the new apartment now. :) The lighting still needs refinement, the lights in the pillars are just placeholders at the moment and I want to make the light more intense near the skylight and fluro rather than being as even as it is at the moment.

http://mapsbytron.com/images/shot00284.jpgTron2006-11-18 13:29:27

Forum

[img]http://www.furry.org.au/caroo/before_21/TANK_BATTLE_logo.jpg[/img]

Ok what we have here is a very simple map I made in a few hours. The name of the game is TANK BATTLE!

What is tank battle?
An onslaught type map although to actually capture the middle node and keep it long enough to destroy the enemy team is just insane. Were talking about team death match here.

16 tanks VS 16 tanks on an open desert playfield.

And that?s it. That?s the point of the game. And as simple as it sounds I urge you to give the level a shot. It?s great fun!

You can download tank battle here:
[url]http://rapidshare.de/files/30418790/ONS-Tank_battle.zip.html[/url]

Install Instructions:
1) Click the link above and follow the steps to download the zip file.
2) When the download window comes up. Click ?Save as? and save it on your hard drive.
3) When downloaded unzip and place the map file into the Unreal2004 directory ?maps?
4) Run the game [not the editor] and go to instant action. Select the Onslaught Game type and the level should be there to play.
5) Enjoy and have fun!

IMPORTANT
With some versions of Unreal2004 the core to power node links aren?t always transferred with the map data. In this instance there is a simple solution. You can tell if this is the case if there are no tanks where you spawn to start off with.

To fix this problem in game. Just press Escape and go to the map screen. Then there should be a button called ?link designer? In this mode click the icons that represent the node and power cores and link the two cores to the middle node. Save this setup, as ?default? and everything should work fine. Have fun.

Forum

Before21 Level design Project –
Multiplayer Level Design for Unreal 2004
********************************
Date completed: 18th – 8th – 2006

Map Name: Two Miners

Game play Type: Onslaught [capture the points]

Time to design and produce – One Week
***********************************
Quick Overview of production:
This map really came together by itself. I feel as if its vision was just being channeled out to me into the editor.

What we have here is a map made almost entirely out of existing assets from Unreal2004. These Assets come form many different packages but all come together to make a whole level. 99.9% of the assets are pre-made with only the height maps and some wall text being the user created items. Most of the work in this project being simple placement of items and pre-designing the level.

While I’m sure I could’ve spent a few more weeks refining the graphics of this level to make it look more appealing it wasn’t what I was aiming for. Maybe I will refine the grathics to showcase to the Unreal Mod community. But you guys in the game industry are focused in this levels gameplay. Not on it’s eye candy.

This map was designed to be fun to play. Intense yet not impossible and giving the player a few different ways he would be able to tackle the map and it’s points. Power and Defense being the theme.
Weapons have been placed strategically and the three power nodes to capture all serve a purpose in ether defense or offence. The map isn’t tiny but not as big as to divert time to explore.

************************************

Problems:
I only stumbled onto one problem through out making this map. It was part of my original design to try and have a pathway in each base that would be able to fit vehicles and lead straight to the power core. But also to have three security doors that would need to be opened by players so that this pathway could be used. This is what the original design description said:

The Tank Way:
The Tank way is a long corridor that a tank vehicle can fit through to use its weapons on the power core. It’s located underneath the storage room. However there is an obstacle that must be met first. This tank way has three doors that must be destroyed in order for the tank to come from outside the base to the generator room. This tank way is another tactical option given to the players of the map to try and add more options into their game play. And as empathises on tanks is strong in this level it would be a damm shame to not be able to use them on the power cores.

The problem however was a technicality in the unreal engine that I didn’t know of at the time. It is impossible for vehicles and mover class objects [Like doors that can open and close for instance] to interact with each other. And to this date nothing has been made to fix this. As stated on UnrealWiki:

SuperApe: I appreciate the additions, but I have a couple comments about the organization. First, vehicles were implemented before UT2k4. They were mostly custom objects, but there's a large section of vehicle pages on that link that address pre-UT2k4 vehicles. Second, pathing issues belong and are covered under Bot Support. Gametype mapping for vehicles (as only certain gametypes allow vehicles) belong and are covered under Gametype, in the Layout Design section. Additionally, Vehicle Gameplay falls under the heading of Map Flow and is akin to Item Placement, PlayerStart placement, etc. Finally, the rants regarding Movers and vehicles probably shouldn't be linked to from here. But, to answer the basic question, Karma objects behave differently than standard actors. I hate to say it after all this work is done, but it appears all this information is already covered in the existing sections. I know that's going to be a bit disappointing. How does everyone else feel about this? Reference from - http://wiki.beyondunreal.com/wiki/Topics_On_Mapping

To sum this all up. Vehicles just don’t work with movers. So in this in mind I had to review the tank way. It was my final decision to keep it in with some added static meshes to block vision to the power core until the vehicle was well into the base. I felt this Tank way was a feature of the game and is needed. And from testing with highly skilled bots it has become apparent that this tank way will need to be used cleverly to be utilized at all.

This was really the only big problem I was faced with.

************************************

What did I learn from this experience?
I already expected as much. But from doing this exercise I know for sure now. One can never plan out things too much. Thanks to drawing out initial designs and documenting these drawings I was able to carve out a clear picture of that it was that I wanted. And with a solid understanding of what I was looking for and taking the time to list the asset packs I was going to use I believe I saved days of work. My theory is simple: For every 1hour you spend planning and designing you will save 3-5 hours in implementing and producing.

But to be fair let yourself be flexible and adaptable. Your design on paper looks nice but if it doesn’t translate well into the level then use something that will. A good example of this in my level is the power room for the bases. My design was to have three elevators and two turrets inside this large room. But when translated into the editor the room was large and too much free space would be available if we used the pre-designed method. So I changed it a little. We now have 4 turrets to combat enemies and vehicles and two stairways and it translated really well into the editor. Add in some decoration meshes and you got yourself something really effective.

************************************

This level is free to play. You do need Unreal2004 to play it however. A demo version might work. I’m not sure on that. Simply download it from the link below and follow the install instructions. Thank you – I would love some feed back from this week of hard and heavy work.

Download from here:

http://rapidshare.de/files/30177803/ONS-Two_Miners.zip.html

Install Instructions:
1)     Click the link above and follow the steps to download the zip file.
2)     When the download window comes up. Click “Save as” and save it on your hard drive.
3)     When downloaded unzip and place the map file into the Unreal2004 directory “maps”
4)     Run the game [not the editor] and go to instant action. Select the Onslaught Game type and the level should be there to play.
5)     Enjoy and have fun!

Let it also be known that this was probably the hardist week i've ever worked on my folio. I hope you guys in the industry will give this map a playtest at work.

Cheers.

redwyre2006-09-21 15:13:48

Submitted by Scrow on Fri, 18/08/06 - 4:42 AM Permalink

downloaded it and had a play around. i'm suprised how much you've done in such a short space of time. you've clearly become proficient at UnrealEd.

maybe it's my noobish-ness in regards to UT2004, but I couldn't find out how to turn on the power of the gun turrets. i also didn't know how to get a "win". time ran out and the battle just continued, though I did bag plenty of kills :)

also, how many players (human or comp) would you recommend to play on this map?

Submitted by Caroo on Fri, 18/08/06 - 5:01 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Scrow
downloaded it and had a play around. i'm suprised how much you've done in such a short space of time. you've clearly become proficient at UnrealEd.

maybe it's my noobish-ness in regards to UT2004, but I couldn't find out how to turn on the power of the gun turrets. i also didn't know how to get a "win". time ran out and the battle just continued, though I did bag plenty of kills :)

also, how many players (human or comp) would you recommend to play on this map?

In onslught you have to capture the points by powering up nodes. They are the round metal devices in the ground that have particles comming out of them. Once they are activated you'll be able to use that nodes vechiles and turrets. Link the nodes up to connect to the enemy power node and distroy the node to get a win!

And thanks for the kind words mate.

I would recommend for maximum play 16-32 players. Most systems should handle that without much laggage.

Submitted by nexx on Mon, 28/08/06 - 9:14 AM Permalink

I havent yet had the time to sit through a couple of games to get a sense of play (and besides, I havent played UT2004 in years [:(] )

Just some visual/optimization issues that I think would add some polish [8D]

Terrain
- The first thing I noticed when opening the map was the stretched textures on steep surfaces. Probably the best way to solve this is to create a new layer (using the same rock texture), change its TextureMapAxis ([url="http://udn.epicgames.com/Two/EditingTerrainLayers#TextureMapAxis"]tutorial[/url]) and paint over the problem areas.
- The second thing I noticed was the tiling textures. It's a tough thing to deal with when you have such large areas I know. But definitely scale them up.
- There's also a lot excess terrain polys on the other side of the mountains etc. Should remove these with the visibility tool. Will get a good performance boost too.

Lighting
- Every level should have some ambient light. Especially for outdoor areas where you said you had problems with dark shadows. I suggest a value of 32 for outdoor and 8-16 indoors.
- You appear to have 2 sunlights!
- Use colors other than pure white. Maybe a slight red/blue for the lights in each base.
- You're using omnilights for the lamps. UnrealEd does have support for [url="http://wiki.beyondunreal.com/wiki/Spotlight"]spotlights[/url] although they can be a bit tricky.
- Distance fog. I know you want players to see across the whole level, so distance fog for optimization purposes isn't an option. But adding a small amount is effective.

The lighting in particlar takes time, so I suppose it all depends on how long you wish to spend on visuals for a project designed aroud gameplay. But I think adding a little polish is important on making a good impression for employers who may only go so far as to have a glance at your work.

Forum

Before 21: Multiplayer Level Design.

Document of Intension:
Document Written and Product officially started on 12th August 2006

This exercise is designed to validate and improve my level design skills. The main focus being on level balance, Bot-path placing and to make an overall impressive map for the multiplayer community to use as they like. As a rule I can only use the assets provided in UnrealED and Unreal2004 to make this level. Nothing can be added in the way of textures and meshes. This is to simply ensure that when the map is completed it will be easily uploaded for anyone to play. The advantage of that being that studios that own unreal can play test the levels for themselves.

For my goal of making this fully playable level to come into life I have set a number of objectives for me to accomplish with this map. These objectives are as follows:

?     The Game type is ?Onslaught? where teams must capture the points in order to link them together. Once the link is connected to the other teams base power generator then they attack it and destroy it winning the match.
?     No outside assets can be used. All artistic textures and meshes must be a part of unreal to begin with.
?     The two teams must be equal in chances of winning the match. No team has an advantage level design wise that the other can?t counter
?     Weapons and Vehicle placement must be fair for both teams.
?     The consistency of style in the level must be maintained. [i.e.: no medieval scenery if it's a sci-fi level.]
?     The map must offer more then one direct way to accomplish the goal.
?     The map must contain both inside and outside environments.

There is no set date for the completion of this level but if I am to present myself as professional then obviously I cannot take forever on one level. Anywhere past December 2006 will be considered overtime.

So the process for making this level I have devised as follows.

1.     Get a Vague idea in your head about what you want to make.
2.     Open UnrealED and browse through the texture and static mesh packages to find suitable material to work with.
3.     Write up a document of intention [this] and a brief description of what you want to make.
4.     Draw up designs and ideas for the level. Annotate the drawings to describe what you want done.
5.     Begin to map the level by boxing out the BSB areas and add a flat terrain to the map.
6.     Shell out the shape your looking for in the map.
7.     Add the needed actors and lights to play the level out to test.
8.     Once gameplay testing has passed add in luxury actors and lights.
9.     Finish off my adding in all the decoration work to make the level look awesome.

Finally ? In order to give you a hint of what I?m working towards I will give you a brief description. As it's very early into design there isn?t a lot I can commit to paper. Thank you.

Level Name: Two Miners

Level Type: Capture the points. [Onslaught]

Level background:
In a newly discovered valley a great treasure is found. Power Crystals. These highly compressed rocks are powerful energy conductors. They are used in the construction of interstellar battleships and city generators. For this reason the two largest mining corporations in known human history landed and made mining factories adjacent to each other.

In time a city grew around the small valley. Strangely enough the crystals could be found nowhere else in the area but both companies took equal shares and prospered to their own means. But sadly this would not be forever. With the Crystals depleting and mining deeper heralding no results, coupled with the fact that the entire city around the valley needed the two corporations support to keep the area powered and stable lead both parties to take an offensive on the other. Within moments both mining bases brought in Special Forces to destroy the generator core of the other. For if that alone went down the other power would claim total authority off the scant crystals left in the valley.

Before 21: Multiplayer Level Design.

Initial level design.

Level Name: Two Miners

Before I open up the UnrealED level editor and start crafting away at a level I thought it would be a good idea to do some preplanning and draw up some simple concepts on what I would like the level to look like overall and explain the reasoning behind the design of this level.

What is the game mode Onslaught? :

?Onslaught? Is a game mode in unreal Tournament exclusive to Unreal2004. The players are divided into two teams. At the start of the match both teams begin at their home bases. They must then quickly and effectively fan out to travel to power nodes. Secure the power nodes and making these nodes connect to their own power core and other acquired nodes. When the team has enough nodes to connect form their power core to the enemies then they are able to attack that core. Once the health of the enemies core reaches zero it explodes and the match is won.

Most maps use Vehicles due to the distance between nodes and the firepower needed to take them over or keep them guarded.

What makes a good ?onslaught? map?

On the unreal multiplayer servers the two most played maps is Torlan and Primeval. These two maps are different in many ways but share two similarities. Number one is that they can both be played fast and a team can win in less then 15 minutes. Number two is that no team has a handicap or disadvantage on the other team. Both are equal in power and placement.

Size of map is another thing. While ?Onslaught? mode maps are the biggest out of the entire game. Being too vast and big poses a problem. The max players in unreal are 32 people. To this end if the map is too big no one will be fighting. Just exploring. So while maps can be bigger then usual they must be focused into points of interest, which is in this game mode a power node. And power nodes should have a strategic point to them. A pitfall in this mode is to make a map with 8 nodes where as only 4 are of any value.

With these considerations in mind I started to design my map based off my storyline idea.

Initial Map design:

The overall design is simple yet it has a lot of potential for a lot of fun to be had. Basically the entire map consists of two identical bases inside a mountain; one to the left and one to the right. These bases hold each players power core. Between these two bases is a valley where all the mining operations have taken place. This valley holds three power nodes. One is in the centre down where all the mining equipment is and is directly underneath the bridge. The other two power nodes are to each entrance of the bridge high above the middle power node. Each of these nodes is focus points and this is where the majority of combat is going to me held.

I believe this map will be fun to play because it gives the player more then one option to beat the other team and in the same respect players with different play styles can enjoy what this level has to offer. Weapons are spaced out in the right areas and no team has an initial advantage.

Power and defence are the focus of this map. The main vehicle used is the tank and I?m exited to say that lovers of this kick ass vehicle will have many to play with in his map. It will be interesting to see how players fair up to trying to defend form 4 incoming tanks. But this will not be an imposable task as the map is filled with many defensive positions. As I said; Power and Defence.

Now we will go into further detail about curtain key areas of the map.

The Bridge:

The bridge is the key connection between the two higher power nodes in the outside segment of this map. The two nodes are so high form the middle node below that jumping off from the bridge would be an instant death. This is to prevent players from acquiring the top node and moving down to take the middle one. The Strategic purpose of taking this node is Defence. When this node is taken you do not get any extra vehicles but you do get two sentry turrets in which you can enter into and defend the node and your base form enemy tanks and players. Additional to defence you are also given a sniper rifle at the weapon locker next to the power node. Being this high and the bridge having small openings in the sides a skilled sniper can take out enemies on the ground. However this is risk as the enemy can simply walk into the bridge and kill you without you knowing it.

If your team is able to acquire both sides of this bridge then the path is clear for you to attack the enemies? power core. The bridge is a key way to win a match.

The Mining hole:

The mining hole is located directly underneath the bridge. Here is a single power node with some weapon lockers. While the two higher nodes next to the bridge are defensive based. This single node is an offensive tactical point. As it is in the middle of the level and both teams have equal chance to acquire this node this is where the most fighting will take place. The weapon locker is the only one that has the rocket launcher and when the team acquires this point they are reward with two more tanks. Taking a teams max tank total to 4. When the team takes this node it connects straight to the enemy power core. Thus making this one point extremely important and to that end half the reason why the top two nodes above this one exists.

Storage room:

The Storage room is available to both bases. What this room provides is both a tactically valuable defensive advantage for the bases team and a refill station for players on the offensive trying to take out the power core by hand. Offering a small ammunition increase for the standard weapons but more importantly for the defenders it is the only place where the ?Anvil? anti vehicle weapon is housed. Players who pick up on this will have a means to take out enemy tanks by hand. This room is here to serve as a way for players to better equip themselves if they are currently in defensive positions. Additional to this is the teleporters that instantly take the player to the tank hanger.

Power Core room:

The power core room is a two story high octagonal room with the core at the end side of it. This is where the offensive team is trying to attack. So the empathises for this key room is to allow for strong defence and power. On the defensive side of things the room has two turrets that players can control and keep the opposing players at by. The respawn time for these has been made faster to better help the defenders. Also additional health pick-ups have been placed near the turrets. These turrets are placed at the 2nd floor of the room and have the most coverage. However they don?t cover under them so they are still avoidable. On the Offensive side we have 3 ways the enemy players can enter into the room. 2 of them are the normal enter ways that the player can run into the room on the 2nd floor. But a key option for the offensive team is the ?Tank way? at the ground floor.

The Tank Way:

The Tank way is a long corridor that a tank vehicle can fit through to use its weapons on the power core. It's located underneath the storage room. However there is an obstacle that must be met first. This tank way has three doors that must be destroyed in order for the tank to come from outside the base to the generator room. This tank way is another tactical option given to the players of the map to try and add more options into their game play. And as empathises on tanks is strong in this level it would be a damm shame to not be able to use them on the power cores.

With all this preplanning in place I can now get to work piecing together my map. Starting with the base boxed out with simple BSB brushes and then making and levelling out the terrain. As usual I?ll make it a goal to document as much as I can for you all. There will be an update once every fortnight.

And as always thank you for reading.Caroo2006-09-21 07:52:03

Submitted by nexx on Mon, 14/08/06 - 1:24 AM Permalink

Have you considered a theme yet? I like the idea of both indoor and outdoor areas & the bridge is cool. To paraphrase the Quakecon ET Quake Wars demonstration: vast maps need choke points!

I understand your choice to use entirely packaged content, but I wouldn't rule out creating a few of your own textures/meshes yet. For example..how will the bridge be constructed? BSP could be a nightmare and a packaged bridge mesh might look less spectacular if users have seen it before...but a custom texture might be enough.

Obviously you dont want to get bogged down creating art assets (and have a large download) but a few specialized textures/shaders/meshes could work in your favour. You can embed custom content inside a .ut2 map file (if you're worried about having users to install/copy multiple files).

Good luck and I look forward to following this project :)

Submitted by Caroo on Mon, 14/08/06 - 8:00 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by nexx
Have you considered a theme yet? I like the idea of both indoor and outdoor areas & the bridge is cool. To paraphrase the Quakecon ET Quake Wars demonstration: vast maps need choke points!

I understand your choice to use entirely packaged content, but I wouldn't rule out creating a few of your own textures/meshes yet. For example..how will the bridge be constructed? BSP could be a nightmare and a packaged bridge mesh might look less spectacular if users have seen it before...but a custom texture might be enough.

Obviously you dont want to get bogged down creating art assets (and have a large download) but a few specialized textures/shaders/meshes could work in your favour. You can embed custom content inside a .ut2 map file (if you're worried about having users to install/copy multiple files).

Good luck and I look forward to following this project :)

The visual theme is sci-fi, as unreal is really. The empathises is less on visuals and more on game play and structure.

If were talking play type theme I?ve already said it's a blend between raw power and defence.

And while the urge to make my very own textures and meshes is always tempting. I must stay within my criteria for this one map. It's about simply using what you have to make what you can.

Getting this project completed is very important as it shows I can finish what I start.

Forum

The before 20 project in review:

Well my friends. It's been a long and hard few months. I wouldn?t call it a slog and mostly it was a labor of love for me. But there where times I was almost pulling my hair out with problems concerning the map. But I eventually got around these things.

As those who read my posts here on Sumea, for one thank you. For two, you know as well I do how far I?ve come in just a few months. Through the support of others I have been able to learn many things to help me become a better game designer. I?ve learned.

? How to use the UnrealED program efficiently.
? How to use Maya to make static meshes and import them into unreal.
? How to texture in Photoshop and the many different types of textures there are.
? Using the many dynamic elements of a level editor like scripting complex single player sequences, particle emitters and physics.

I have documented all this and posted it on the Sumea website. I have gotten good replies to some posts. And not a lot for others. I have the support of many inside and outside the industry and have even had my work posted on the Sumea news page, A rare event in itself that I?m quite grateful for.

My aim was to land any kind of industry related job by the age of 20. The big cheese being a junior game designer position. That was the goal, the dream and the passionate desire. I believed that with consistent passion and hard work I could get this job. I could start my career earlier then most.

Now then. This is what reality had to say to that:

It is now the 11th of August, My birthday and the deadline will be on the 27th of August. I have already sent out folios a few weeks ago with demos of my work. Game design documents and game design theory. Even little scribbles I considered to be concept art [disclaimer: I?m nowhere near the quality of a real concept artist. Don?t worry guys I?m only after one job. And it's not yours.]

8 folios in total. All sent to large-scale game development studios. Let me sum up the results from best to worst.

? 1 folio got me a job interview ? I failed to get the job for whatever reason. Yet I?m still to this day unsure for what kind of job they wanted me to do.
? 1 folio was sent due to initial interest in hiring a junior position ? However they later opted to spend the money to get someone overseas with experience to mold into the project faster.
? 1 folio got me an e-mail response saying while they could not give me a job. They liked my work a lot and it was highly regarded by the HR staff. [co-dos to this studio as they have always been responsive]
? 5 folios have gotten no reply. Considered to be discarded, lost in transit or simply laughed at and ignored.

For this poor result I could take this three ways:

One would to be become bitter about my predicament and grow agitated. It has crossed my mind. I think for anyone who has put so much passion into something to get also totally ignored by the industry is an insult to not just you but also your hard work.

But ultimately. This is the wrong way to look at things.

The second way to take this isn?t much better then the first. I could start to make excuses about why I haven?t as yet got a job. Designers are under valued. Passion is under valued. If I were living in Queensland I?d have a job. If they stopped looking at why not to hire me and instead why to hire me my job would be a lot easer?etc etc.

Some of these might be true to some small extent. But they don?t help the fact that they have a job and I don?t. So why seeth about something like this.

Here is the right way to look at my situation:

I have given it my all. I have worked with passion and with heart. But yet. It is still not enough. These companies are simply not going to hire me at my current level and I have to face the truth of that reality. The only thing I can do to get that job and to be respected is to keep working hard and re-evaluate my objectives and tasks. Be retooling my mindset for Before 21 and do the best I can. And with continued passion and maybe a little bit of luck. I will get that job.

So then. Here's the question I pose to you. What do you think a man like me must focus my efforts on? I have some small ideas. But as always I want your input.

My ideas include:

? A small multiplayer map in UnrealED using unreal Assets and more focused solid and balanced gameplay. ? 1 to 3 month commitment
? Learning a scripting engine like Lau ? 6-month commitment minimum.
? Designing some simple board games ? 1 month commitment
? Drawing up some Storyboards. ? 2 week commitment
? Writing up some new sample design documents. ? 1 to 2 month commitment

What do you guys think? What are your ideas? And what's your advice for me to become a great junior designer?

Submitted by rezn0r on Sat, 12/08/06 - 12:09 AM Permalink

Design (and possibly prototype) some new game mechanics or systems. You might be in an interview detailing the design for a game with your own storyline when they'll say "Stop... now imagine that this game has to be built to incorporate SpongeBobCrazy FrogCharacter X". Make sure that the scenario and setting can be decoupled from your core game design without being detrimental to it. The worst mistake I've seen potential designers make in interviews is to come in and rattle off a game idea as though they're pitching a movie script.

If you're technically able, make something completely small, painfully simple, but really cool and fun. One of the guys in our office had half of us begging to get him in because we liked one of his demos so much (it was a zelda type game which was limited to a single static screen with a town in each corner and an ever increasing hoarde of monsters coming from the centre of the screen). Stylish, slick and simple.

Work out exactly what kind of designer you want to be and focus your abilities towards that area... own the trade, be the best at that particular area. You may find it unrewarding to work on Japanesey handheld games if you want to work on "shoot you in the face" AAA titles... or visa versa.

You have great literacy and you're able to get your ideas across well. You've got an impressively good attitude and I'm sure you're coming up on people's radars now merely from your work on Sumea and your pure drive to succeed at this.

Hopefully some designers can offer you further advice?

Cheers,

Scott.

Submitted by skunx on Sat, 12/08/06 - 5:52 AM Permalink

My 2 cents,

I've seen and know of quite a few designers looking in the Au industry, both from here and even abroad, and I can honestly say that most of them did not show the excitement, commitment and perseverance you have so far. I would agree with reznor that writing down design documents is the best way to impress someone, at least thats what i think. Too many designers rely on simply showing off a level on unreal/halflife2/whatever and none up till now has had any sort of design document to show.

I think that a designer needs to cover both sides, needs to show that they can use a level designing tool if they are going for such a position. But most importantly, at least the way I see it, is the ability to show that they can create a detailed and polished game design document. It doesnt have to be huge, just a few dozen pages, as long as its high quality, well thought out, and with the least amount of spelling errors (yes seems trivial but shows that you put in the extra effort plus spellcheckers are a must) then I think thats enough to impress. I've been taught that being able to document that great idea that everyone has, allows you to stand out from the crowd. Besides, in many companies, a design role includes endless hours writing documents as well as the other nice stuff.

I haven't read all ur stuff so i cant say whats wrong and whats right but keep it up and u'll get there (i know you've heard this thousands of times but its true [:)] )

Submitted by Makk on Sat, 12/08/06 - 11:02 PM Permalink

That sucks to hear, I know you've worked long and hard on this project.
Try to keep at it though, you've worked too hard too come this far and stop.

Anyway, if I were you it my be an idea to ring up some of those companies that didnt bother repyling to you. Just explain to them your situation and say that youre looking for some constructive feedback on your folio.

Submitted by nexx on Sun, 13/08/06 - 10:53 PM Permalink

I definitely agree with making something small, polished, and well presented...building on what you've already learned. A single player map allows you to better show off scripting & triggering (if you're interested in starting in level design). However you've already done that, so a multiplayer map could be a good idea.

If you're aiming at a position in VIC, it might be worth investigating what specific work (engine, platforms, workflow) level designers & designers do at the local studios and tailoring your portfolio to that. Just an idea.

Keep at it...I'm sure you will. And if you need any Unreal help let me know.

Forum

Well well? it's been a while hasn?t it?

A few months since the last level design posting on the Sumea forums. This has mostly been contributed to two things.

1) I moved house. Packing, moving, cleaning and unpacking was a total bitch to be honest. My room was pretty damm easy. The rest of the house was filled with the compound shit of a whole families 10 years stay. Needless to say it took a long time and many trips to the tip.

2) My sister visited around this time as well. And by visited; I actually mean she spent 6 weeks with us. I?m not on the best terms with my sister. And creative work is hindered when her 3 year old comes into my room every 15 minutes. Bounces on the bed and steals DVDs.

It wasn?t a total loss. I got some game design work done. Including documents and a game review. And I?m a believer that nothing is a total waste of time.

However. I do have something special included with this update. A video!!!!

7 minutes long. While not a perfect piece of level design and sporting a few bugs. I do hope it impresses some of you guys on the search for people not just with talent. But those who are willing to learn and are trying passionately to get into the industry. [Honestly though. I wouldn?t call myself talented. Skilled is a better word. Skill is earned. Talent comes naturally.]

A good deal of features is covered in the video. While the quality isn?t the best, take a hard look for some elements. These include:

? Triggered and non-triggered Particle effects like steam ? energy ? beams ? trail emitters.
? Use of the Karma physics engine to create movable static meshes.
? Moderately complex scripted sequences.
? Cinematic Sequences.
? Triggers.
? Water and damage Volumes.
? Animated textures and Textures using Alphas.
? A wide range of textures and static meshes.
? The use of animated static meshes ? Movers.
? SkyBoxes used for outer space.
? The use of zone-portals and anti-portals to maximize performance.

As I?ll say again. The movie has its fair share of bugs. And the screen capture program I was using has chopped down the quality of picture. However at 640x480 and at 30meg one can?t complain.

You can watch it here:
http://rapidshare.de/files/27039817/try2.avi.html

The reason for this video being made is that I?ve just posted and mailed off my midyear folio and design application to a few studios around Australia. The hope being. That with any luck these folios will reach someone who will give it the time to look over the content discs. It would probably be better if I didn?t say whom I sent these resumes too. I?ll tell you one thing though. While the possibly of getting a industry job merits sacrifices and money. Printing and posting just one folio cost me $18.

Personally I?m quite tired of playing the waiting game. And if the job isn?t going to find me. I?m going to find the job. Whether it is level or game design.

Well guys, fingers are crossed. And hopefully something will come of all this. I?m sure hoping it does. Until next time.

Cheers.

Submitted by Scrow on Wed, 26/07/06 - 7:22 AM Permalink

nice work caroo, it's clear you've put a lot of time and effort into the level.

i have some comments though, for the actual video rather than the level itself (which looks great imo).

I dunno if it's the capture, compression/codec or player on my end, but at times the video becomes really choppy to the point of been more like a slideshow. Does it look that way on your machine when you play the video? I'm wondering if it's a problem with my puter or the video.

The actual image quality also gets really pixelated and blurry too. What codec and settings are you using?

btw, is that you for the voice over when the warning goes off? It's so funny hearing an Australian accent for those sort of things... I suppose I'm accustomed to hearing american or english accents for voice over warnings [:)]

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 26/07/06 - 7:28 AM Permalink

i used a divX codec. the problem was however that any higher quality of image wouldve made the file anywhere between 90-400meg.

The parts where it cuts image or becomes laggy is when my computer is chucking a hissy fit for running two high ram guzzling programs at a time. the level and the capture program.

its not perfect. but im not complaining for 30 meg. and it shows all the important stuff.

Submitted by nexx on Wed, 26/07/06 - 8:05 AM Permalink

Any chance of a downloadable, playing version? Would love to give it a play through myself. It appears you've added a little of everything which is really cool :)

Unfortunately I couldnt really see much in that video (17mb of which is the uncompressed audio). You could try the dumpframes console command to get the best output ([url="http://www.ataricommunity.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=486128"]tutorial here[/url]) as it doesnt capture in realtime. Widescreen can also make a big difference.

And yeh aussie voices do sound weird in some media. I guess we've become americanized ;)

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 26/07/06 - 10:28 AM Permalink

i'll give it another go and see if i can get a clearer picture with a smaller screen size. As for giving you a playable demo. While it might not look like it there are a large number of handmade textures and staticmeshes done by myself.

And to this end the total asset sets for the level are 180meg [due to no compression on the textures.]

so if i was to give you a playable version. i would have to send it by disc. and you need a running version of unreal 2004

Submitted by Caroo on Thu, 27/07/06 - 12:24 AM Permalink

Well. I've redone the record process. Same file. But how in 320x240 and practially NO image blur or degrading. The jumps in the video where due to my computers lack of ram. i can't do to much about that. but this version is match clearer to watch. you can find the link to download int he original post. thank you and please leave comments^^

Submitted by souri on Tue, 01/08/06 - 10:13 PM Permalink

Woah, nice work there Caroo!

You certainly know your way around with the unreal editor. Very impressive.

Did you make some of those assets in the demo? If you're only showing off your level designing skills, why didn't you use the high quality assets from the standard maps that came UT2K3/4 maps?

Best of luck with the job hunting!

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 02/08/06 - 12:07 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Souri
Woah, nice work there Caroo!

You certainly know your way around with the unreal editor. Very impressive.

Did you make some of those assets in the demo? If you're only showing off your level designing skills, why didn't you use the high quality assets from the standard maps that came UT2K3/4 maps?

Best of luck with the job hunting!

Thank you very much mate. And more then happy to answer questions.

For the assets. Excluding the gun models and the HUD. All the textures and static meshes are made by myself. The reason for this is simple:

I felt that while level designer really consists of being a great builder. Being able to piece art assets together to made a fun and playable level is one of the corner stones of level design. And also being able to make scripted events and technical things like particle systems and bot path placing. There is no doubt about that.

However. If I used all the pretty looking assets that unreal2004 had to offer - granted it would look nicer. But it wouldn't have the same game play impact I was looking for in my level. And the problem with mixing their assets with mine is that obviously the quality of assets would jar far too much and make the level as a whole look lazy and cheep.

I'm well aware that these self made assets aren?t the best in texture or meshing. But as a designer who strives towards making a quality product, think of the use of a level designer who can quickly knock up his own assets.

For one it loosens up time for the artists in the group. And the level designer can knock up a full static mesh "dummies" in order to further test and refine the level and game play before the artists go to work making the really good art assets. This is only a minor plus in overall production but it's again one of those things that adds to the polish of the game.

And Souri. You're a total legend for posting my work up on the news section of sumea. This has really lifted my spirits and given me even more energy and motivation to keep going with my goals and tasks.

Thanks a bunch mate.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Wed, 02/08/06 - 3:26 AM Permalink

Nice effort Caroo. I hope all your persistence and passion pays off for you finally :)

Some suggestions / ideas:

I've never used the Unreal editor and scripting tools, so I am not sure how possible it is to do. But perhaps adding some heavily scripted opponents, like gun turrets to shoot or bypass somehow ? like taking care of a generator or accessing a computer terminal to shut it off. Other opposition might include simple patrolling bots that would also be heavily scripted ? not just a multiplayer bot thrown in ? as part of some ship ?defence? that has been tripped.

On multiplayer bots, I assume that Unreal has them, not sure how much scripting they need or if they can be scripted. If they can then perhaps having a section using them might be good, though I would lean to only using them if I can script them heavily with waypoints, triggers and various behaviour makers, and, if I can make them work within your singleplayer focus ? perhaps used in that end section of your vid which looked like it was kind of lost in direction, maybe they are part of some kind of pirate raiding party ??? or maybe not :/.

As I said, not sure how easy that is to do with the Unreal editor, never used it, especially as it is a multiplayer focused game rather than a singleplayer one.

Another option to take care of the lack of AI use in the demo, is to make another smaller map either as multiplayer level that is bot ready ? with whatever scripting you need for that, like waypoints and various behavioural makers. Or, use another game engine and level editor to make a small single player level using AI opponents.

You've already said so yourself, the art is not your strong point ? though art skills are still a bonus for a designer, and you've shown you aren't afraid to tackle that area ? so this level I wouldn't bother about creating too much in the way of new art, but rather use existing art that you modify for your purposes, if that is required. The point of the level would be to show that you can work with AI opponents, not just script sequences.

I am sure that with the work you've done, that working with AI in your levels should be of no problems. Unfortunately many in the industry are just plain thick, and have no idea when it comes to design. So without an appropriate example, they may just assume that it is beyond you when it is really as easy as pissing on a copy of their last release ? if they even have one ;).

I think you've done the hard part already however, as I feel many level designers just do the straight multiplayer map and forget about the singleplayer scripting they'll have to tackle in a professional gig ? and you've pretty much already done that, along with showing some art skills and not to mention passion.

Anyway, just some ideas for you to consider, and all the best getting your first design gig :).

Cheers, CF

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 02/08/06 - 8:23 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by CynicalFan

Nice effort Caroo. I hope all your persistence and passion pays off for you finally :)

Some suggestions / ideas:

I've never used the Unreal editor and scripting tools, so I am not sure how possible it is to do. But perhaps adding some heavily scripted opponents, like gun turrets to shoot or bypass somehow ? like taking care of a generator or accessing a computer terminal to shut it off. Other opposition might include simple patrolling bots that would also be heavily scripted ? not just a multiplayer bot thrown in ? as part of some ship ?defence? that has been tripped.

On multiplayer bots, I assume that Unreal has them, not sure how much scripting they need or if they can be scripted. If they can then perhaps having a section using them might be good, though I would lean to only using them if I can script them heavily with waypoints, triggers and various behaviour makers, and, if I can make them work within your singleplayer focus ? perhaps used in that end section of your vid which looked like it was kind of lost in direction, maybe they are part of some kind of pirate raiding party ??? or maybe not :/.

As I said, not sure how easy that is to do with the Unreal editor, never used it, especially as it is a multiplayer focused game rather than a singleplayer one.

Another option to take care of the lack of AI use in the demo, is to make another smaller map either as multiplayer level that is bot ready ? with whatever scripting you need for that, like waypoints and various behavioural makers. Or, use another game engine and level editor to make a small single player level using AI opponents.

You've already said so yourself, the art is not your strong point ? though art skills are still a bonus for a designer, and you've shown you aren't afraid to tackle that area ? so this level I wouldn't bother about creating too much in the way of new art, but rather use existing art that you modify for your purposes, if that is required. The point of the level would be to show that you can work with AI opponents, not just script sequences.

I am sure that with the work you've done, that working with AI in your levels should be of no problems. Unfortunately many in the industry are just plain thick, and have no idea when it comes to design. So without an appropriate example, they may just assume that it is beyond you when it is really as easy as pissing on a copy of their last release ? if they even have one ;).

I think you've done the hard part already however, as I feel many level designers just do the straight multiplayer map and forget about the singleplayer scripting they'll have to tackle in a professional gig ? and you've pretty much already done that, along with showing some art skills and not to mention passion.

Anyway, just some ideas for you to consider, and all the best getting your first design gig :).

Cheers, CF

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks more so for the advice.

Right now I'm working on a room with terrain in it. Grass and trees and all that jazz as so far all that?s been shown is man made rooms. This organic room is part of the folio.

As for AI sequences and bots. That's defiantly something that would be better shown in a multiplayer map. Laying down bot paths is simple enough. It's configuring them to abide special things like climbing ladders that gets heads scratching.

Multiplayer maps while easier in most technical cases are still an art. Requiring both teams to be balanced in weapons and points to acquire. If I was to make a map like this. It would make to be an ?Onslaught? type map. [Capture the points] Using unreal assets so it can easily be uploaded onto mod sites.

One thing is curtain though. I have many people to thank at this point. A good few people in the games industry have really tried to support me in my folio and trying to get me a job. While sadly and usually this effort is messed up due to my utter lack of experience most of the time. [In other words, I've got everyone wanting to give me a go except the boss's of most companies, But fairly so due to the fact that the risk of hiring a person such a myself is so high. I can whinge all I like about not being hired [and at times I do.] but on their coin they'll always take the lowest risk.]

It's with the critique of the community that allows me to improve my skills. To keep learning and not simply stop when 'I' think I?m good enough because as good as I think I am. I can always. Always be a lot better!!!

For now. Crossing my fingers that all this free and not-so-free advertisement will get me at least a few interviews. But if not, I'll just have to keep trying.

Forum

My Favorate Game:

An analysis by Chris Watts

I?ve felt. That if I was to call myself a designer. It would be a good idea to put my money where my mouth is and do something that most designers have already done.

While coming up with your own designs and solving problems is all well and good. One has to remember that no idea is spawned from thin air. Those ideas are calmatives of other ideas and your imagination.

I would find it fitting that my favorite game would be one that is practically dripping in imagination and design. Full of colour and having its own visual style for the time [which has now been duplicated into many games.] This game provided me with over 80 hours of enjoyable entertainment.

The games name is Dark Chronicle.
Its system is on the PS2 and it was published in 2003.

[img]http://www.furry.org.au/caroo/dark%20chronicle/dc136.jpg[/img]

What Genre is it?

Dark Chronicle has a paradox situation. It is a game in which it contains elements from many genres. While designers try to avoid the ?kitchen sink? design due to the player having trouble trying to suss out what it is they?re playing. Also the issue that if the game is stretched out on multiple genres that the quality value of each genre will be lowered. For DC this isn?t true. This game stands in it's own image. It hasn?t gone out to try and imitate another game. It's only gone out to try and revise and improve over the first game; Dark Cloud.

If we want to be particular, I would call it an RPP. Role-playing puzzle. Because so many task in this games are puzzles in themselves. From using the right items to powering up your weapons to upgrading them, to sussing out what's the best town plan for the level you?re on. What type of buildings to use? What colour of paint and what objects to place?

A game that requires one thing from you, to be creative: Which is something many games never even consider.

The RPG side:

DC has two genres. The strongest one is the RPG category. But in fact it's not a conventional RPG. You play the role of two characters. These characters are predetermined and have their own personalities. The game features an upgradeable weapon system and each character has two weapons that the other one doesn?t. The male character Max, boasts a club-style weapon and a gun-style weapon. The female character Monica, has a sword type weapon and a magic bracelet type weapon.

Both characters have one melee and one projectile weapon. And as long as you keep rotating your characters to keep the weapons balanced they are both equally useful. Although some enemies are better to take out with a curtain type of weapon.

The two characters don?t level up though. Their weapons do through using them on enemies. Increasing the characters stats like attack and defense is done by finding chests in the towns you rebuild that contain items that do so by a few points. This method while unorthodox works well in both it rewards the characters to search and explore the world given to him and that the character cannot advance too much further then the challenges given to him at the time. While he can keep playing to advance his weapons level and upgrade them. Better weapons appear in better dungeons so to this end the player is always given an incentive to advance.

Each town that the player visits in the game has a dungeon. Each dungeon has it's own visual style and features. The dungeons are based in levels. You start at level one and each time you get a key to exit that level, you move onto the next one. The number of levels in a dungeon various. The first dungeon has 9 levels while the last few dungeons have 25-30 levels.

Each dungeon level is randomly generated in terms of layout, monster placement and item/chest placement.. Some items are guarantied to be in a curtain dungeon level like needed items and geo stones. Enemies are usually a challenge and sometimes taking some strategy to defeat.

For each level of the dungeon getting to the next level is the primary requirement. But you can also fulfill secondary requirements. These secondary requirements are challenges to the player. Like to beat the level in a curtain time or to finish that level using only a curtain weapon. When these challenges are passed the player gets a medal for each one. And these medals can be exchanged for special items or new clothing to equip on Max and Monica. The clothing is only cosmetic. But is just another level of customization that was put in place.

The Building/Puzzle side:

Another genre this game intrudes into is building puzzles. It's not really an RTS component, as the things you build have no enemies to attack it. The premise is simple enough; the world past the town you lived in for most of your life has been cleared of all human life. And it's up to you, the player to rebuild the world. Not just the way it was before but better!

This means going into dungeons and finding ?geo stones?. Each geo stone lets you manufacture and place down new objects like houses and fences and post boxes. It's all about pleasing the residents.

Making these objects requires a variety of materials, from wood to clay to bricks. These are ether found in the dungeons or brought at a store. By gathering these materials you can then build the object. It goes into your pool of items, then you can place the object onto the ground, the object can be rotated and painted different colours.

Each town has to be built differently however. One town is built on 4 mountains. And these mountains shift up and down in accordance to the weight put on each mountain. And one of the parameters of making the town ?perfect? is to keep these 4 pieces leveled.

You?re playing in the present. To each town there is a portal that takes you 100 years into the future. And these towns need to be at 100 percent in order for you to trigger an event in the future that will assist in helping you out to defeat the evil emperor. More so you are always given a considerable reward for doing so.

Making these towns perfect is a puzzle in itself, but with time and imagination they are overcome easily enough.

The ride-pod

But building a new world isn?t the only thing you get to fiddle with. Each character, apart form the two weapons they use in dungeons Max and Monica also can use a 3ed skill. To change into a more powerful form. For Monica, she can turn herself into monsters. For max though, he has a machine called the ride-pod.

The ride pod is a large robot that Max rides on. Good for taking out heavy enemies and protecting max when he is low on health and he has nothing to heal himself with.

The Ride-pod is also customizable.

The ride-pod is customized into four groups.
Legs ? Ride-pods moment
Arms - Weapons
Torso ? Armor value
Battery pack ? Health value.

These parts are upgraded through ether buying new parts from stores or inventing them yourself. Parts are not brought with money however. They are brought with experience points the ride-pod has earned through its use in the dungeons.

And weapon types are abundant. Starting with nothing more then wood mallets for arms. By the end of the game the ride-pod can have powerful beam cannons. And due to the game having a portal 100 years into the future, it's quite feasible as well.

Photos and Inventing

One of the last creative features to mention for this game is that Max can invent new parts and items.

This is really an interesting game mechanic. This is how it works.

Max is given a camera early into the game. With this camera he can take photos of anything in the game world. Monsters, inanimate objects and special events like boss battles. [You can only capture them when they occur however. So be vigilant]

Max can have a maximum of 30 photos in his album at a time. However he can transfer the objects name into his note pad so the object from which his invention spawns form is always with him. To give you an idea of how many objects you can take photos of. My save game is listed to have 650 recorded objects stored into his note bock. And it's only 4/5 full.

Once you have photos, you start to invent things. It's simple enough. Pick three objects from the notebook depositories to try and combine these objects to make a new invention. While some is purely hit and miss. The game is forgiving to you. If you even have just two out of three compatible objects when you try to make the object the result will give you a general idea of what else needs to be added to the idea. Not only that but around the game world in towns and houses there are many ideas written down that give you details on what you need to make an idea. You just need those pictures ready.

Once you?ve made a new invention. Which can be any useable object in the game world, all you require are the right materials to make the item. But as a general rule of thumb making the item is cheaper to do then to go out and buy it, if it can be brought that is. [the ability to invent and manufacture bread ?health potions- is very handy indeed.]

This is a gameplay feature that has been added for the users enjoyment and creativity in mind. The player can finish the game well enough without it. But for those who like to fiddle it's a fun and refreshing game play feature.

Revisions from Dark Cloud to Dark Chronicle:

As with most sequels made in the games industry. The creators try and revise the issues that people complained about in the first game and address them in the second.

For Dark Cloud there where one or two issues that did indeed annoy the player.
Water was one of these issues.

Every character you played in Dark Cloud had a thirst bar while in the dungeon. The Bar would get lower over time and if the bar reached zero then the character would start to lose health. You could replenish the health bar by using water, but it was an annoying and somewhat useless feature of the game. In Dark Chronicle thirst is no longer something you have to manage. It sometimes comes up as a status issue just like 'slow? and ?poison?

How many Characters should be in the game has also been addressed, In Dark Cloud there was 6 playable characters. Each having their own attack style. But the issue was that in reality players only tended to favorite 2 characters [one melee and one ranged] and try to complete the game just using them alone. Characters lacked depth and felt very fake. In Dark Chronicle this was addressed and heavily revised. In Dark Chronicle you have two main characters that are both playable and both have melee and ranged weapons. Max has a giant robot to ride in and Monica can turn into different Monsters. There is a 5th character but he/she isn?t playable. You?re allowed to take one of the townsfolk you have helped out in the game that have joined you and sit on the train that takes you around the world. These characters have only status inducing features. Like the rabbit Lau lets you see the whole dungeon map before you explore it.

Character switching as also an annoying issue with Dark Cloud. The dungeons had a number of obstacles that required you to keep switching characters. This got very annoying very quickly and thus has been revised in the sequel. In Dark Chronicle there are no obstacles in the dungeons that require you to change your character. People are free to play as Monica and Max to their leisure.

[img]http://www.furry.org.au/caroo/dark%20chronicle/dd_screen003.jpg[/img]
The Hud designs have also been revised and improved upon

Mini-games:

Fishing:
I always laugh at this. This game came out at the time when Zelda has proven that a fishing game in an RPG was a good idea. And fishing appeared in the first game, Dark Cloud. Fishing is simple enough. Choose your real, choose your tackle and then throw it in any water. [And that includes water in the dungeons.] wait for a while and if the area has fish. You can pull it in. Fish types and sizes vary a lot.

Razing fish:
This concept is rather a new thing for the games industry. Late into the game you get a fish tank. And fairly enough with this fish tank you can place in your captured fish. Not only that but you can also feed the fish, battle the fish against each other and breed the fish to make entirely new species of fish with stronger stats. [How a fish can have 6 different statistics is beyond me. But this game has made a poke?mon out of fish.]

Fish Racing:
I think someone in the development team for DC really has a thing for fishes. Because not only can you catch and raise fish. You can also put them into races?fish races!!!

It's as silly as it sounds. You pit your fish against Non-player-controlled fish. They do two laps around a donut like pool and who ever comes first wins. But there's strategy involved! Not only do you have to breed the fishes. At the start of the race you can choose tactics that decides the fishes racing style. Eg: The fish can bolt at the start of the race then slow down quickly and go steady for the rest.

If you think the development team got silly at this point. I would have to agree. But, it can?t be laughed at too much, as the rewards for winning the different fish race championships are quite substantial.

Spheda: [golf]
Yet another little feature that is quite entertaining, although quite utterly useless to the overall game. Spheda is a lot like golf. The storyline dictates that time distortions have appeared all around the world. And that shards of space time [called spheda] have fallen out of them. You cannot touch the Spheda, but you can use Spheda rods to try to hit it back into the space distortion hole.

Though tacky. The game itself is quite fun to play. And the reward for getting the ball in the hole is usually worth your time. Yet another feature added for the sake of fun.

Story:

The storyline is linear. You cannot alter or divert from it. But this is fine as long as it's a good story to begin with. The storyline of Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger couldn?t be changed. But that didn?t mean it wasn?t good.

The storyline is simple and while it confronts some strong emotions. It does so in a more real way. The pitch to this game on the back of the cover sums up the basic layer of the story.

?In the future, an evil emperor begins a journey back through time to eliminate a growing threat to his dominance.?

This blurb does do a good job of getting the attention of those who want action in their games. But the story is three layered.

The first layer is the overall goal layer. Which is to save the past and future from a foe like the evil emperor. [Who ends up being much less then anyone would of thought.]

The second layer is the storyline around the characters. For the male hero Max; it's about reuniting himself with his mother who disappeared many years ago. For Monica, It's the desire for answers and revenge to those who killed her feather. For the evil emperors second in command. It's a story of sadness and regret. And for the emperor himself; it's a story of forgiving a world that was so cruel to him. [it's to be noted that there is a strong emphasis with families in this game, yet another moral pointer!]

The third layer of the storyline is the moral and lesson learned from the adventure. Which is one reason I enjoyed this game so much. It went out and taught me something. It taught me to never forget the past, because arrogance spawns from such things. It told me that one way to help everyone is to build the world better. It was obvious that this game was made from a designer's perspective. So many things that you do in this game is very similar to what designers must do for a living. Be presented with problems from clients and try to overcome these problems through smart ideas.

The story on a whole, While not award winning or as dynamic as say the complexity of Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2. Works well for the content of the game.

Games are learning tools. And we teach in as many ways as we can. Whether be through story or challenges.

Building a better world:

This game is very important to me. In that DC gone out to try it's best to stress the point of helping others.

While Max and Monica have their own agendas and goals, they?re constantly helping out and assisting others with their problems. Every townsfolk you meet has their own issues that Max and Monica need to solve. Some issues are simple. Some are not. [which is a good thing because no modern day hero does something good out of the pure kindness of his heart. Movies and comics have evolved out of that 2D character phase. Eg: Batman helps Gotham city out of revenge to those who ruined his life and killed his family.]

In DC it shows you this point visually as well. When you construct the towns back together in your time and fulfill the objectives given to you as well, the future that you travel to becomes better and better. One example of the forest town. In the present when you place things down correctly the future will correspond by showing you how much more the giant tree that resides in the future grows and prospers. This sentient tree once filly regrown will help you on your quest.

Frankly. As ?original? and ?fresh? as most of you say when playing a game where you play as a serial killer ripping woman's intestines out is. I prefer to play what is known as a ?constructive game.? And to put it simply; A game where you are trying to help good people. De-constructive games tend to annoy me. [That's putting it in polite terms.]

In helping others. Those people eventually assist Max and Monica with their problems and this gives out an image not seen in many games. In many games the player is only ever following his own objectives.

[img]http://www.furry.org.au/caroo/dark%20chronicle/dc130.jpg[/img]
Single Handedly you revive the worlds greatist weapon. A huge floating castle with a powerful secret!

I am the Collector!!!

It can?t be denied that some of the most successful entertainment franchises and games have had their success pinned on the design convention of ?collecting.?

The Diablo and World of Warcraft series is a great example of this used in video games. For the player to improve in these games he must constantly quest for better weapons and armor. Constantly training for better skills and in reality, collecting as much crap as he can carry back to sell off.

For TV shows the Japanese have summed it up pretty well. They know that as long as you make a show interesting enough for a 10 year old that they?ll go out and collect as much toys as they can. Poke?mon, Digimon, Bay Blades. All these turned huge profit because they work on the theory that people love to obsess and collect things.

They?re right. We love to because it's an overall status symbol to show off to those with similar interests. I myself collect Transformer Toys and DVDs for my own enjoyment and to show off how much of a total transformer nerd I am.

Dark Chronicle is no different. While it's not the theme of the game like Poke?mon. It's still a strong feature. Everything you collect helps you in a way. From element orbs to increase your weapons stats, to raw materials to make houses with. Sometimes players will repeat a few levels of a dungeon just because that part was rich in the items they need.

Collecting is addictive. And like many other games. Dark Chronicle recognized and appealed to that.

Why is Dark Chronicle my Favorite game?

To sum it all up. DC is my favorite game because it has so much to offer in itself. Unlike games like World Of Warcraft that require the interaction of other real players to keep my attention going. Dark Chronicle earned 90 hours of my life through its game play, storyline and pure creativity given to the player. This isn?t just a game. It's a toy to be played with, It find it saddening that games like this only do really well in the eastern markets. Dark Chronicle didn?t sell very long in Australia and I was very glad to pick it up when it came out. I would recommend this game to all people in our industry. Providing you can find it!

What would I improve?

Dark Chronicle was by no means a perfect game. But it was fun and entertaining nonetheless. There are a few things that could be revised and improved upon.

Rebuilding the worlds in Dark Chronicle was fun. It required problem solving skills and a little bit of imagination. And while vastly improved over the original, more options could be added to this system to make it even more flexible to the players? creativity. One way to do this would be to make the houses modular. Instead of just placing down the entire house. Why not place down separate rooms to make different house designs?

And to that end, Why not add the option to also edit the interior of the houses built? Be able to place furniture and pictures on the wall and windows? This option would allow for the player to breathe even more creativity and imagination into the game. The technology is certainly there. It just needs to be utilized.

Conclusion:

Games that try to stand out are rare in today's formulated game market. We tend to focus on brand names and game play that is Part A ? from this game and Part B ? from that game.

Dark Chronicle wanted to be nothing more then itself. And in that end it never took off in the western markets. Ether because it didn?t look like final fantasy enough. Or the characters where too kiddy or the total lack of advertisement. One could feel that the publisher sony knew this wouldn?t hit off. But where still polite enough to release a few copies in Australia and New Zealand. [something predicted to be 2000-4000] On the first page of the instruction manual it has written at the bottom right hand corner ?Australian? just to give it authenticity that it wasn?t an import from the UK.

They didn?t have to do this you know. But they did, And for that I?m grateful to Sony. This game is a gem that like many other great games. Just went unnoticed and uncared for. It has its problems. But it's design and presentation is expert and professional.

Those who want to try out something different; this is the game for you.

Forum

There's an interesting article over at [url="http://popcultureshock.com/features.php?id=1402"]popcultureshock.com[/url], the latest in a series by game designer David A. Rodriguez, that's about the realities of a game designer's job and also pleasing the client/publisher.

It's quite an interesting read, and I'm sure Caroo, Ash etc will be interested in reading the series..

quote:I?m not an artist.

Sure I work in a creative field. Sure many of the things I do are creative and I get to imagine things and attempt to put them into reality. But an artist gets to do what they want, how they want, when they want. That?s not what I do. Someone comes to my company with a contract. They give us money to make something. I make it. They take it and sell it. I don?t work in art.

I work?in customer service.

And fortunately or unfortunately, the customer is always right. That means that no matter how bad I think an idea is. That means no matter how unreasonable the request or how STUPID the last thing they said was, in the end they write the check, so they get to decide. I can voice my opinion. I can tell them what I think because that?s what they are paying me for, but ultimately, if they decide that something must be in the game?then you can bet your sweet ass it?s gonna be in the game.

We always hear about this situation of pleasing publisher demands, but it never occured to me that the game designer is the one who faces the brunt of it first.

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 07/06/06 - 9:18 PM Permalink

I read the article through. And while it?s hard for me to post anything really relevant on this as I?m currently not in the industry I?ll give it my two bob.

My assumption is pretty much matched to the article. I understood a while back that it would be a long long long time before I?d get to work on my own game design. I would need to be the creative director of my own studio and have enough reputation before it would come to pass.

And some people never get that far. Ether due to complete and utter frustration of the industry, burn out, or a timid nature that hinders them to seize the appropriate moments to climb the rank ladder.

In other words: We?ll just have to see where I am in 20 years time.

Submitted by Angel on Thu, 08/06/06 - 8:03 AM Permalink

Great article Souri, thanks for sharing. Producers face many of the same challenges, relaying the publisher?s requests to the team and vice versa, but if it's good for one thing, it's definitely good for raising negotiation skills. The same sort of situation occurs between artists and programmers; sometimes you really need a mix of creativity and logical problem solving skills in order to find a balance that works well for everyone.

Submitted by azmodai on Wed, 09/08/06 - 12:03 AM Permalink

Good article. Nice to see people really laying down the realities of working in the industry.

I had a similiar experience in my last role and I had to come to the same conclusion or just go insane. In either case i'm happier now than I was.

I'm mostly happy that this is another step towards debunking the glorious idealism of game development.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Wed, 09/08/06 - 8:57 AM Permalink

I see another person has left the local industry for greener international pastures. No surprise that it is a designer as well ;).

Submitted by azmodai on Wed, 09/08/06 - 10:32 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by CynicalFan

I see another person has left the local industry for greener international pastures. No surprise that it is a designer as well ;).

If you can't join them, beat them with a stick and work for the dutch.

Submitted by DaleK on Thu, 10/08/06 - 8:49 AM Permalink

Good article Souri.

I too faced a situation like this recently. I was asked to submit a design for an scenario of an upcoming XP of a current title and had to find a subject. Luckily the three main fansites had polls running as to what they wanted, and the results from all three sites showed a definite swing in favour of one idea.

Some pen to paper (so to speak) and now I'm doing two scenarios for the XP from that one idea the fansites voted for. :)

Dale

Submitted by panthr on Fri, 13/07/07 - 2:53 AM Permalink

oh how true . I love the architect scenario, it was pretty funny :P

P

Forum

[[I would love to have contributions to this subject. Please if you have any of your own design "aspects" that you don't see on my list feel free to post it.]]

WHAT MAKES A FUN VIDEO GAME?
Theoretical document by Chris Watts.

What is ?Fun??

The reader of this theoretical prose must understand one important fact. The word ?fun? is nether solid or tangible. It's a term loosely used to sum up all the words that encompass enjoyment, entertainment and pleasure.

In an industry were we make interactive entertainment like video games. We should really try to avoid the term ?fun? as designers. But we know there will always be producers and consumers that will want ?Can you make this movie franchise into a game and make it fun??

So what is fun? What is fun in a video game? Academics have their own theories into what is fun in general. But games rely in new and different types of fun then just any normal rule set. There are dozens of aspects of ?fun? that we employ into a game to make it grab and hold the players attention.

Admittedly. Nothing will stay fun forever. Video Games are finite entertainment and the only time we seem to continue playing a single game over and over is when it's a form of social superiority. [World of Warcraft ? Starcraft ? Counterstrike]

In my personal opinion however. Elite Social superiority isn?t a form of entertainment that we as designers should be trying to make into our games. As it can easily move out of the realm of ?fun? and turn into an almost soulless competition for being the top monkey.

Video games are not like league sports. We shouldn?t have to be elite at playing a certain type of game to be part of video games. Elitists will always find places to show themselves off. That's undeniable. And admittedly we all do it all the time. But that's not the majority of players at any given point. Most players want to have fun and thus if too many elite players saturate a game it becomes closed off to beginners and only those willing to fail reputably again and again can ever hope to get as good as the elites. Then your game suffers from what I call ?Counterstrike Syndrome.?

Luckily though. Your not making counter strike. Are you?

We must also remember that we cannot have every facet of design and game play into just one game. Games are becoming more and more complex in both production and styles but if you employ a ?Kitchen Sink? convention to the games you make, not only will those many designs be half done and not thought out. The game will become incoherent and frustrating for the player.

So How many different types of video game ?fun? are there?

In truth. As designers are also Analyzers. There are as many different types of ?fun? as we can justify. And sizing them down isn?t always the answer. It's helpful to be pacific in what you?re trying to explain.

And these different types of fun are not always direct to the player. Some aspects are appreciations that compliment the game.

Below I?ve listed what I believe some design aspects are for a video game. But you yourself can probably come up with even more.

Different aspects of a video game that helps to make it ?fun?

These are listed below pretty randomly. Not that it matters to any great importance. However ?aspects? that I believe are critically important to a game will have a slightly bigger text size for the item.

Obtaining:
To succeed in gaining possession of as the result of planning or endeavour; acquire.

In video games; Obtaining and Possession can become an addictive and popular formula for good gameplay. A game that we all know that employs the aspect of obtaining is none other then World Of Warcraft. You go on your merry quests to improve yourself. But in doing that you also obtain new and stronger weapons, items and armor. Learning new abilities. This continues on and on in a cycle and as long as there is always something new and interesting to seek the player is compelled to obtain it.

Obtaining often leads to new and more dynamic ways to play the game. Like when you get a rocket launcher in a First Person Shooter. You know and expect that this weapon will kick ass.

For games that require the character/s the player is controlling to grow. The aspect of Obtaining is a critically important design.

Obtaining usually appears in: FPS , RPG , MMO , Collection games [Gran Turismo]

Improving:
To raise to a more desirable or more excellent quality or condition; make better.

The aspect of Improving is closely linked to many other video game design aspects like obtaining and power. Put simply both the character and player must improve in and at the game. This usually happens through learning and an almost subconscious process. The katamari series is a great example of a player improving. The concept is simple in rolling a ball to gather things on it; one would think there's nothing to it. But the player gets accustomed to the controls and quickly learns what objects will stick at what sizes. The aspect is the player having the need to improve should be at the core of every Video Game Design.

Also it's important to note that as the player improves his skills, so should the Character he's playing. Rewarding and giving the player an appropriate response to his input into the game is the cornerstone of interactive entertainment. In Jak 3 the improvement of the character is shown in one partially interesting way. As Jak collects new pieces of armour he both visually changes and his health bar improves by two points. Finding this armour is spaced out all through the game.

Improving should appear in all game designs of all styles. Improving can be also be linked to ?Difficulty?

Expanding:
To become greater in size, volume, quantity, or scope

Expanding is an aspect usually explored in strategy based video games and simulators that revolve around business and commerce. Expanding can come in many forms. In the Roller Coaster Tycoon series expanding involved starting out with a blank park. Then through profit and research the player would add more attractions and expand in power and size.

Expanding is an important part of strategy games as it's the equal of obtain and improving to a singular character game. It shows that what the player is doing is correct. Of course expanding isn?t solely a design aspect for strategy games. Katamari requires you to grow bigger and expand.

Expanding appears in Strategy and collection games.

Power:
A person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others.

Power goes very close in hand to Expanding. Most visible in strategy games as usually controlled territory such as the control maps in the Command and Conquer Series. The aspect of power is for most of us a form of role-play. It's fantasy fulfilling and makes us feel superior.

It's important to note that most games designed and made in this industry revolve around power and status.

?     Owning the most Land.
?     Controlling the biggest Army.
?     Owning the fastest and most expensive car.
?     Possessing the football team with the best players.
?     Owning the biggest house and best job.

The reason why we revolve so many games around status and power is simply because that is what we as humans strive for in life. Most of us will sadly never own that luxury sport car, or a 6-room estate. And this sad fact is one of many reasons we play games and role-play about power.

Power is an aspect that can appear in mostly all video games.

Action:
The causation of change by the exertion of power or a natural process.

Action is an aspect and a term of entertainment. Like the word fun, ?action? can represent a lot of things. For this prose Action in a video game refers to intense boosts of gameplay that the player experiences and contends with. An example of this is the play style of the game ?Black? on the PS2. As you play as a black Ops member you follow the gameplay style of very little confrontations of enemies over distances and then an intense boost of game play in an enclosed area. Usually a large room.

Action can be used in games but designers should avoid it as being a core component of design. Pace is allowed to flux but you should strive to make ALL of the game interesting. Because you?ll simply lose the player in a slow boring component. A good example of action working well is Shadow of the Colossus. In this game you have high-pressured boss battles. But to keep the player happy in-between you get to enjoy beautiful scenery as you travel to the next colossus. And travelling doesn?t take to long.

Action can be applied to most games. But is most seen in FPS and RPG.

Innovation:
The act of introducing something new.

The designers fabled word. All designers want their games to be original and innovative. But what does innovate mean?

For the publishers, highly innovative is a risky and dangerous aspect of design to take on, but a small amount of innovation can wield a profit.

For consumers innovation can be meet with both popularity and obscurity. And where you live also takes a part in that. In Australia consumers are conservative and prefer game types and brands that they know and enjoy. Where is in Japan highly innovative and new games can be meet with huge success.

For a designer. Innovation is adding something new to a genre of game or [very rarely] inventing a new genre. Deus Ex is a great example as it sought to bring RPG elements to a first person shooter setting. Sadly most innovative games don?t get the recognition [or sales] they deserve.

Innovation can be easily misconstrued however as many designers try to meld too many genre types together. Giving it this ?Kitchen Sink? form of design.

Innovation can be found in all types of games. From the smallest puzzle to the most complex story driven title.

Role-Playing:
To assume or represent in a drama; act out:

Role-Playing is a multileveled and multi platform aspect. From board games to internet play to theatre. Playing the role of someone else is a recognised form of fun and entertainment for both the participants and observers.

In video games role-playing can be a part of storyline or in the case of a few games, role-playing IS the game.

The SIMS is a great example of this. The player does nothing more then play out and control the lives of a few digital people. The game is quite trivial in its goal and has no real finishing point. None the less being able to role-play in it made the game hugely popular with many player demographics.

The other side of role-playing that appears in games is story based. Your player assumes the role of a character, the events revolving around him and his enemies and allies shape him and the world around him. Eastern RPGs like the Final Fantasy series are a prime example of this style of story. While the player has no control over the outcome he is still compelled to play and see how things will pan out. Basically playing a movie with gameplay elements and aspects implanted into the design.

Role Playing is used in games where you assume and identify the players? character, ether being person or object. As long as you can relate to it and your not ?god?

User-Friendly:
Easy to use or learn to use

If an interface and button layout is easy and well done only designers and analysts stop of appreciate it. Most players wouldn?t notice it. However if a heads up display is clunky and the button layout doesn?t conform to peoples likes. Then you bet your ass they?re going to complain about it. Regardless of how great and perfect the rest of the game is, with so many games to choose from, the casual gamer will simply move on.

The current trend in HUD layout is to make the player have as much play screen as possible. The old design term ?less is more? is coined here.

HUD's and button layouts are a part of the mechanics and core of any video game. And are in all made today.

Complexity:
The quality or condition of being complex.

Complexity in video games has risen in some areas and lowered in others. Complexity is used to add more depth to the game so the player has more to explore and entertain himself with. A perfect example of this is the first person shooter genre. We started out with 4-5 weapons 10 years ago. Today some games have literally dozens of weapon types that all have a different exploit.

X-Com is also a great example of complexity done right. A game of tactics and deep thinking. While complex in your actions and what you could do, all actions are linked together. Complexity is a great tool but should only be used in games where it's essential as part of its overall design. Never over do what doesn?t need to be done.

Complexity usually turns up in tactical games like RTS and Turn based Strategy. But if justified it can be implemented into many other game genres.

Simplicity:
The property, condition, or quality of being simple or uncombined.

Simplicity in video games is usually seen as the tool and aspect used for Arcade and retro games, young kids games and learning tools. But this isn?t the total truth.

Simplicity is important to implement into the backgrounds of the game, such as HUD design and button layout. The design of your characters and the solutions to problems the player must face in the game.

The game Destroy all Humans uses a small and simple HUD design to convey only the information needed for the player to enjoy the game. Context is important though. Because the many gadgets and gizmos on the HUD in the Armored Core series is loved by the fans.

Simplicity is also removing annoying middleman tasks from games like Cryptos recharging health bar. In removing the need for health packs the player has more focus on just running amuck.

Simplicity can be found in almost all games. Centralised around the need to let the player have fun and not busy himself with trivial tasks.

Learning Curve:
A graph that depicts rate of learning, especially a graph of progress in the mastery of a skill against the time required for such mastery.

The dictionary description above is pretty spot on for this. Designers need to take into account their games learning curve and when and how you introduce different features. Do you dump all of what the game has to offer right at the start and hope the player has the time to move through two hours of tutorials? And is your game made fairly to the skill level of the genre?

A good example of well Implemented Learning Curve is from the game Dark Chronicle. A game that has features poring out of its disc. If it dumped it all on you in one hit it would be too overbearing and the player would favor one feature and probably neglect the rest. Instead, Dark Chronicle introduces the different features over time. One feature isn?t introduced into the game until the 3ed Dungeon. At least 10 hours into the game.

If you believe your game will entertain. Then be gentle to your players and don?t give him everything all at once.

Learning Curve is a part of all games whether electronic or sport. And it varies greatly from seconds to hours. The aim is to make learning the game as fast, effective and clear as possible.

Progression:
Movement from one member of a continuous series to the next.

Progression as an aspect of video game fun is a necessity of all games. From the time that the first level starts to the end of the last challenge or goal given to the player the game must progress in storyline, difficulty, game features and expectations of both the player to the game and the game to the player. The player must never find himself in a gameplay ?dead zone?

Dead zones are very easy to come across in games. In Eastern style RPGs it's usually when the player has lost his way on the world map. If the directions weren?t clear enough and the player is getting frustrated then chances are he?ll turn off the game and not come back to it. Or a better example is some of the arcade ?flash? games hovering around the Internet, while entertaining for a few minutes, all features are laid out to the player at the start of the game and once you finish past level 3 or so the game says. ?Well.. You?ve beaten me this far. I?m not going to even try to make it any harder then this. So you can quit now.?

Progression is a part of life. There is always change and always something around the corner. It's so critical to us that we implement it into our games.

Success: [rewarding]
The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted

Every time the player completes a chunk of the game that has posed to be challenging and required him to pursue and persevere at that task, it should be met with a suitable reward to the player.

It's a required clause of gameplay that has evolved over the years. The current generation and on going generations will not participate in a game unless what they do comes with a suitable reward. MMORPGs are the best example for this aspect. The player accepts a quest. Battles and travels to complete the quest and when he hands it in he gets both experience for his character and a new item/weapon/skill. This has become mandatory.

In real life we believe Success to be met with a reward of suitable value to our efforts. And such is with games.

Success and rewarding can be found in all genres of video games.

Exploring:
To investigate systematically; examine: explore every possibility

Exploring as an aspect in video games in one of the oldest around. It started with Pac-man and the fact that the level could not be completed until the player explored and consumed all the yellow dots in every part of the level.

In today's games exploring is important as well. From platform games like the Ratchet and Clank series, to tactical strategies like Civilisation. The need to explore and evaluate all that's around us is both meet with rewards and peril inside the video game. But usually nothing the player can?t handle.

It's important to note though that exploring in video games usually is a spatial and geography based aspect. Exploring in terms of mind and other experimental subjects are hardly ever..well..explored.

Satisfaction:
The fulfilment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite.

Satisfaction as part of a game aspect ties in very closely to success and feedback. Satisfaction however is much more hard to achieve in emoting the player then rewarding and feedback.

For satisfaction to occur. Not only does the player fell that his reward is worth his work. But that the time he's spent playing this game was also worth his attention. In that playing and completing this game he felt that his money was well spent.

There is no true answer to what gives a player satisfaction. But there are things that contribute to it.
?     A list of ?extras? like picture/video content that's earnable through finishing the game is an always welcome asset to any game.
?     Many different play types and features in the one game offer more play time. But if over done and if the features are half-baked then it can turn into a negative for any game.
?     A compelling story with a great ending always puts a smile on anyone's face.

It's important to note however that the satisfaction of your target audience will differ. Not everyone will like the same thing. And putting research into your target audience will make it clear into what your goals for ?player satisfaction? should be.

Balance:
A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.

Balance is an important aspect of any game that has to two or more forces that are against each other. All forces must be leveled out at the time that the players? character moves onto it. The best example for this aspect is your RTS games. Starcraft is a great example of balance.

In Starcraft you have three teams. All of which play differently and have their units and style. However in the hands of a skilled player any team can overthrow the other two teams as every unit and weapon can be counter acted.

Balance is important for video games with multiplayer emphasis. But balanced non-player-character enemies are important to. This ties in with progression.

Balance is an important aspect in most video games but is mainly visible in MMOs and Strategy based titles.

Choice:
A number or variety from which to choose

Choice is something of a new and still evolving aspect of video games. We have to remember that video games are mainly designed on a plate of sets, values and calculated variables. So when we say choice we really mean multiple trees of linear pathways.

Games that allow absolute choice come with the sacrifice of a direct and compelling goal. Sim City is a prime example. No one can tell you what to do and you can essentially play god. But playing god can only be fun for so long. Because when the player has consumed every feature the game offers. He quickly becomes bored and moves onto he next game.

Deus Ex offered many choices. But it was inevitably and sadly linear as any choice lead the player to the final outcome and in that the last level where he chooses whatever ending he liked.

It has choice. But only controlled choice.

Designers must be very careful and take their time with this aspect. For the sake of fun and entertainment ?Choice? isn?t always the best answer.

Emotion:
An intense mental state that arises subjectively rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes.

An aspect of a video game that the designer must think of before and into production of the project. Emotion is linked into the storyline of the game and what exactly the character is doing. This is an important part of any media design.

Stories exist to teach and evict emotions from the player. When we create a storyline we want emotions to run in unison to the style of gamplay and the context of the game. Sadly however our video game stories are often just obscure grafts onto our gameplay design in order to give the player a purpose to why he plays the game.

This shouldn?t be. We are far more creative then that.

Emotion is also a factor of how people perceive the game. Manhunt was first seen in the eyes of the public as poor taste and wrong [and frankly I?m glad they did think this about a game revolving around snuff.] However, once it was banned from the shelves it got bestowed a ?rebel? type label and therefore a handful of people that would?ve disregarded it before would now search for it.

Emotion can appear in games that have a story driven context. However emotions like dominance and superiority can appear in all video games.

Purpose:
The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal

In my eyes probably the most important aspect of not just video games, but life itself. Everything we seek to do and accomplish is for a purpose. Ether selfish or charitable we always have an agenda to the actions we take. For games this holds true as well.

To give a player a purpose in a game we set him up with tasks and give him a character and storyline to relate to. He must feel driven to continue playing this game over all other games out on the market.

There can be more then one purpose at a time as well. Like in real life we can analyze purpose into different frames of scale and time.

?     Immediate purpose: Save the village
?     On going purpose: To find those who attacked the village.
?     Long term purpose: To find those who employed the attackers and get some answers/revenge.

If the players? goals and purposes are not clearly stated and made solid he will only feel half-heart about pursuing that goal.

As Designers it's important for us to make the players purpose in the game compelling and interesting.


Planning and Execution:

A video game design aspect that was widely used when games where in their pixel states but today has been overruled in favor of real time gameplay. Planning and execution is one of the corner stones of tactics and therefore tactical video games.

The PC title Total Annihilation is a great example of planning and execution in a video game. In planning the player made power and metal collection facilities and would focus on building defense and an army to engage the enemy. And likewise the same went for the enemy. Execution occurred when the player would send his army off to the enemy and would find out whether his planning held fruit or whether his units got sl*gged. ['sl*gged? is a transformers term, equal to being destroyed.]

In today's game market of fast pace and real time fighting, planning and execution is getting pushed aside. However if implemented rightly into tactical gaming it makes for a more dynamic and entertaining experience.

Planning and Execution appears in tactical games mostly. But makes the rare appearance in other genres of games.

Visual Appreciation:

Visual Appreciation isn?t really a design aspect but it's a video game aspect and has become a focus-point to many game studios.

As technology has advanced and we have been making games in 3D for 10 years now, the visual quality of a game has become not just an expectation from the common consumer. It has become a competition between studios and publishers.

First Person Shooters, being basic and similar to most other FPSs in gamplay mask this fact with improved and state of the art graphics.

An example of this is DOOM3 and Quake4. These two games have really nothing all that innovative or new about their gameplay style. But with the mask of more complex graphics and complex level layouts the common player forgets or puts aside these faults and simply plays to appreciate the ?eye candy.?

For a designer I have this advice. Pretty graphics can mask a lot of fault in your design. But it doesn?t make a good game. Visual appreciation should be the last priority in your list of aspects and things you want designed in your game.

Visual Appreciation appears in all graphic intensive genres. FPS, MMORPGs, RTS, Sport games and so on.

Atmospheric Appreciation:

Atmosphere is an important part of presentation to a video game. It's the overall feel and look to the game. When the atmosphere of a video game is done well the player wont notice it. However if the atmosphere of the game is mixed and not focused to a style the player will find the game to be corny and less dynamic.

The PS2 game ?Black? gives a good example of atmosphere working well. From the very start of the game the title is mostly in black. In the intro we only hear radio chatter and music and the screen is nothing but black and a few credits. In the game the tone and style is appropriate. The characters are adults, swearing and forceful in acting. The art style is realistic and dark. The HUD design also compliments it and all the weapons are textured darkly.

Atmosphere adds to the experience of the game. While it doesn?t make direct entertainment it compliments and enhances all other video game aspects.

Atmospheric Appreciation appears in all video games. From music, art style, HUD layouts and title screens.

Feedback

An aspect that is the sum of many other design aspects. Feedback is one of the most important design considerations for interactive entertainment. For everything the player does whether it being right or wrong it has to be meet with a form of feedback.

It's extremely important. The basic example is this. The player sees an item that he thinks can help him out. He goes to pick it up, nothing happens. He will try for 3 minutes trying ways to obtain this item not knowing it's not useable in his inventory and it's only there for show.

Feedback is an easy remedy. For this item when the player clicks on it ether makes a sound that presents itself as being incorrect. Or have a small text box or voice over that states. ?You cannot pick this up.?

Feedback is a critical part of any video game and the designer must constantly remember to give everything a cause and effect status.

Feedback appears in all video games.
Caroo2006-09-21 08:00:53

Submitted by skunx on Mon, 29/05/06 - 1:30 AM Permalink

I didn't read through all the post but i'd agree each of those points or aspects are of importance to a game designer. As you said, fun comes in many forms and its up to designers to carefully map out what they believe will be a fun product.

The problem is, every game or genre puts more emphasis on certain of those aspects (and many others) so this needs to be identified in a design. Also, the interpretation of what is fun varies between designers and users/gamers. Put 2 different designers to work on the same project (as in the same subject matter, genre, appeal) and both will come up with a different version of what they envision would make a fun experience. Even if the differences are small, they still exist, and both of them can be valid.

At the end of the day there are a million different ways for a designer to approach a design and many of them can be valid. Its up to the designer to choose and craft together first and foremost what he/she thinks will make a fun game. One aspect that helps this is knowing your market/competition/trends. It sounds boring or obvious, and it would be hell easier for a designer to say "stuff it i'm doing what i want to do nevermind the trends" but it sometimes helps to have an overall view of the scene. Does the design take into account what is already out there and in gamers hands? Is it more of the same? Is it more of the same with a twist? Is it trying too hard to be different? Is the original vision still in there somewhere?

These questions are ones that will (or should) come up in a designer's head during production. Apart from balancing all the key aspects for making good entertainment they also need to question themselves along the way. Take a step back and see the big picture, then dive into it again. Its only too easy for a designer to lose focus on the overall vision and get caught up in micromanaging aspects of the game.

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