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Does this sound fun? I've lost my mind over it.

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by BlankDeed, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    I reached a hole I can't find a way around in my game I've been working on for quite a while. Or maybe I lost faith momentarily, or fishing for excuses. Either way I lost heart and diverted to writing for my second, second fallback game and put it in the WIP for critique, but a few days in and it's starting to feel dirty. I want a 50 foot cork-board to list pros and cons, but that's what a psychotic person would do so I've resourced to just sleeping instead of being awake, I was lacking it anyway.

    I'm just missing a piece. Pieces come from the air, but this one isn't falling from it's tree and it's got me worried I'm chasing a purple dragon here. I just want to know if anyone thinks any amount of this sounds fun, it has consumed my life and caused me to actually learn a great bit about Utah, fracking, and the oil and gas drilling companies in general, I don't want that to be wasted. Ok deep breath, here we go; the game is called Nightguard: The Skinwalker's Ranch. It basically starts out with you driving through the Utah mountains while you listen to music then you put in a training CD for the new job you're starting as a night-guard at Skinwalker Ranch, that finishes and the music resumes as you pull up on the gate, punch in the gate code, and continue inside. Yada yada, you are the night time counterpart to the day shift. As the story explains, The Ranch used to have a lot of paranormal activity, supposedly, and has been through the hands of a few companies since then. The company you work for bought it up for cheap after a very long time with no paranormal incidents, and explains to you that most of your job will be fending off onlookers, campers, and tending to the livestock that is still maintained on the property and owned by the company. Now The Skinwalker itself can turn into any other creature or human, and will sometimes be hidden in livestock, as a wild animal in habitat, etc.. The Skinwalker will have stranger mannerisms and movements, compared to other animals or humans, and will sometimes stand still and just move it's head to follow the player, different things. So the story will have you exploring different bits of the ranch and the area around the ranch, but basically boils down to weird things happening because of the fracking in the immediate area. Say, the first time you see the skinwalker is when you're coming back from exploring something weird on the second or third day. You're driving on a 4-wheeler and mention a brazen deer standing on the edge of the path you are barreling down, yet as you pass by it the creature, every so gently and oddly, stands up on two legs and walks to face your direction in the middle of the path. I once toyed around with having a ghost box app on your phone that went crazy when it was near, but now it's just on my shelf and doesn't really add up. The main thing, I don't wanna give away, but all these weird things are gonna go on that you think are either The Skinwalker or aliens, but it's just going to be good 'ol filthy dirty humans. There will be aliens though.

    So now to my problem. The story part of the game is just the daily tasks and does not reflect the actual gameplay of the game. The core gameplay is something I fear I've modulated into an unusable state. So the system goes, vision/dream-wake up/story-patrol/patrol missions-heading back-staying at the house to protect it. It seems so simple in my head, so long ago, just allow the player to place camera where they want, limited number of cameras, view terminals inside, watch for and keep the skinwalker away until the morning arrives. But, like, does that even work? How do you keep a skinwalker away? And is that even not stupid? I don't know anymore. My friend made a comment while I was talking a little about it (have his permission to use), and it made me think maybe I could use these special whistling and banging rounds they use to scare birds, to scare the skinwalker away. But like if you can just scare her away with a noise why would she even be scary? It makes everything not work, I feel like a rugs been pulled out from under my feet. I've learned a lot regardless, but I genuinely love this game. I want to make it.

    I don't want to waste this game, I've gone full mad man on it. I didn't even realize tomorrow is Christmas. I've picked out an entire soundtrack and have spent too many days just vegging out and trying to really feel the songs and honestly I've built parts of my game around them. I just wanna know if this sounds fun.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  2. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Also, with my skill level, I'm barely keeping my head above water. I am swimming though. Random capitalizations are muscle memory from writing about it, not fixing them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  3. Socrates

    Socrates

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    First, if offered a job at a placed called "Skinwalker Ranch", I would politely decline.

    Second, you might want to take a look at "Five Nights at Freddy's" as your description reminds me of how the gameplay was described to me by my friend's kid who has played every game in the series and then some. (I have not played it myself as when I tried it, the graphics quickly were heading me for a migraine.) The basic premise is that you have to use your limited amount of resources to keep the homicidal automatons at bay.

    Edit: Third, if you're this overloaded, maybe take a few days off the game? Do something else entirely for a while. Play a game. Read a book. Or maybe make a tiny prototype at a level of a game jam just to clear your brain out.
     
  4. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Once again, just looking for opinions related to if it is or is not fun sounding. And I'd honestly appreciate it. Unless you're saying that it doesn't sound fun because someone once explained to you what FNAF was, which would be good information to have.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  5. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Can you restate the gameplay with the story stripped away? This will go a long way to helping us tell you if we think it will be fun.
     
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  6. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Well that is what's so hard, it is mainly story driven. Socrates wasn't wrong, it kindof is a mixture of Firewatch and Five Night At Freddie's. Mixed with some cryptozoology hunting kinda sort of? It's mainly just walking around the ranch and doing various activities as they get messed up or ruined by things you perceive to be scary. I don't know, maybe this is a clear sign that I should make my Roomba game. Maybe it needs to stay in my head a little longer.
     
  7. LadyAth

    LadyAth

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    I'll give my personal view on what you've written so far, so please forgive any incorrect assumptions on my part.

    I think your game has an interesting concept, but you will have to make sure you get the player immersed in the story or the routine is going to make the gameplay boring very quickly. I believe it is commonly referred to as the game narrative whereby everything needs to 'tell the story'. Dialog, music, scenery, even the objectives should flow to tell a cohesive tale.

    So maybe I need to ask you this: What is the story you want to tell the player? What would make the player care about the story? Is there an definitive end or does the game simply continue till the player stops playing? Can you structure it in 'chapters'?

    I am not quite clear if you are going for a jump-scare game or if it is story-driven. If the latter, have you thought about the narrative other NPCs could have in the game? What if the skinwalker is actually the victim of a terrible tragedy or curse and instead of just being another 'victim', the player needs to help find a cure? Maybe the fracking has a key role in this?


    Then just in general, don't let your ideas drown you from the rest of your life. I've been faffing about with my own dream game for 2 years now (actually more my kids' dream game lol) and constantly scrapping it to start again. A bad habit, but life is too crazy to dedicate sufficient time to it. Don't give up on making your game, even if it is purely for the sense of personal achievement, but also don't let it sabotage your life.
     
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  8. Gor-Sky

    Gor-Sky

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    Your concept reminds a bit to the game "uncanny valley".
    There is also a dream and patroulling part.
    What about going for a similar concept?
    The player has limited time a day and every decision or thing you do or discover is important. So if the player plays first time he dies for example after 7 days and doesnt discover much about the skinwalker. Then he plays again and does other things and discovers more and gets a different ending and so it repeats til solving the mystery and getting the best ending.

    I like your ideas especially the deer would really freak me out!
     
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  9. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    It's a game, not a story. Post a demo so we can play it. Less words, more action.
     
  10. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    No, you have a good instinct to bounce around your idea like this for feedback.

    When story, setting, gameplay, and more, are swirling around in your head, it's hard to see each individually. But it's an important step of game design. You could roughly summarize Firewatch's gameplay like this: Navigate a first-person open world to advance a relationship and solve a mystery by completing puzzles and dialogue trees. This says nothing about the story or setting, but you get a decent idea of what the gameplay involves. You may feel like you covered that in your first post, but if you can extract and reiterate only the gameplay part, I think it will help us offer more feedback.
     
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  11. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Indeed. I started treating it like a movie. I have scenes, transitionary scenes, and auxiliary scenes. "Something" sensory is going on at all times, but it is highly driven by speech and music that sort of manipulates the emotions of the scene. It's what lead to the copious amounts of story I've put in it, I wanted a simple game with simple concepts that I could make just simply. It just was always hungry. I want it to speak a message and have a real good window into the destruction of the modern oil and gas industry, as they thrash and flail in the midst of a dying industry.

    I actually just went back to my design doc to fact check everything and realized I may have made this more difficult than it was already, I had a lot of inklings that I somehow forgot. Totally forgot about motion sensors. Somehow I started restructuring things in my head because I forgot them. I'm feeling really down today, I'm gonna try to combine these into something coherent though, but I am running low on energy for the moment.

    Here we go, minimum effort.

    Things to do.
    Patrol the ground. Cabin might have basic information about how to avoid the creatures, since they could have been studied before Player arrives.


    1. Purposefully track and record information of specific ones, while avoiding the others.

    2. Perform routine science experiments, ie. set up cameras for safety and take soil samples.

    3. Daytime and nighttime? Start off during daylight and it gets dangerous when dark?

    4. Bringing back specimens or examples of life on the farm can earn you extra money.

    5. Camera. Take picture and then return to the house to upload them, you will receive money based on the contents of the picture. The picture scans are valuable because the camera captures the image, an X-Ray, a heat signature, an energy wavelength, etc. etc.

    6. Eventually earn enough for CCTV cameras you can place around the property, to better defend yourself. Since they lack the included data of the camera, the images off it can not be traded for money.

    7. The family still lives on the ranch. You should at least try and keep them alive.

    8. If they hide in anything, it has to do them harm so they don’t stay in it.

    9. Noise on the roof, leads to dead animal up there?

    10. Inside CCTV? If so, ghosts should run by it, or apparitions, or something scary, then disappear.

    11. Have a team you can send out to investigate areas? Have to protect them/the each bring something unique to the table.

    12. Hunt alien pieces.

    13. If you look at The Skinwalker and then look away, there is a percentage chance she will disappear while she is out of your view again.

    14. Scratch previous ideas and go to a mission based system.

    15. If The Skinwalker leaves tracks, you can track it and safely enter areas such as The Cave.

    16. Each night you decide between watching the dogs and watching the house/inside of the house. If you see something going for the dogs in time, you can usually scare it off with your 30.06. Just be careful.

    17. Some night The Skinwalker will attack livestock (as certain forms), and other nights it will attack the house (as different forms)

    18. The Skinwalker takes grotesque forms of both humans AND wildlife.

    You wake up in the evening. You sleep during the day so that you can study The Ranch at night. You have a few hours of daylight to do work (Move cameras, inspect anomalies), then it turns to night. You get missions or things to inspect and you use those few hours to follow it out however you want. The missions eventually lead to you going to to cave and stuff.

    Main areas
    The Ranch - A horizontally oriented plot of land where the Skinwalker Property is housed. Contains many different locations within it including, the house, the barn, dog pens, cattle pens, etc. 1.8x1.8 k2.


    The Home - Houses all of your equipment and is where you upload data to The Company.


    Wisp Secret Area -


    The Cave - If found and The Skinwalker lured away, The Cave may be snuck into and explored. Just don’t let The Skinwalker come home and find you when you turn a corner. You should learn things about the fracking here.


    The Shed/Barn - It has a mounted deer head on the wall, right about a fabric mannequin about where the head would be at. I don’t know where it’s placement will be yet. A bright flickering light outside the front of the building could add an uneasy feeling while also making things creepy. If the light is done right it would make you feel creepy on the way to it, then when you walk under it and into The Barn, it should be so bright that you get blinded for one quick instance before you enter The Barn. And also so bright and angled slightly forward that you can not see into the barn, even though the door is wide open. So you walk up to it and can’t see inside even though it’s open, the light makes you unsettled as it flickers and blinds you as you approach it. It makes you enter the building completely blind and not knowing what is inside of it even though your brain would think you should since the door is open. That with the deer head could make something scary.

    "Story"
    There were two Skinwalkers, a male and a female. They grew tired of their evil ways and decided to just accept the animal form inside them and live their lives out as animals permanently. They decided to become Dire Wolfs and lived that way for many man years.

    Even though their inner animal forms had become extinct long ago, they find themselves as pets to the son of a line of Native Americans who had taken the mantle of looking after the Direwolves for generations. Eventually, the female grows resentful of remaining an animal pet for humans. She misses shifting shapes into whatever she wants, including the human forms from her natural birth. One night in a fit of rage, she murders the farmer and his family and then runs away into the night. The male saw that she performed wicked acts of evil on any humans that wandered onto the land, so he decided to remain and protect it. Ever in the form of his spirit animal, the Dire Wolf, he roams The Ranch doing what he can to protect people on it. The female can take on many forms and will try them all to kill you. With or without the help of the Dire Wolf, you must outwit her or die.

    ALT:
    Alien drops down way in the past, bestows powers on two Native American people. One of them ends up being good, and the other is evil. The evil one eventually goes to sleep in the caverns beneath the area, but local blasting and fracking eventually wake it. That interests the aliens, as well as unleashing The Skinwalker to terrorize whoever is unlucky enough to be in the area. Fracking has been halted in the area for a few years and the company owning The Ranch has recently sold it to you.

    ALT:
    The Skinwalkers took their power in order to protect their tribe from the UFO’s that would mutilate their livestock and abduct or harm their people. Something happened to the girl over time.

    Day One:

    First night: “Don’t you have a truck or car?” “Nah I just wait for the company truck to bring supplies every month, besides where the F*** am I gonna go?” Do some S***, nothing happens. Night time is scary.
    Volcano dream.
    You wake up like normal and should almost miss the fact there's a volcano outside. ...simulate lava and put the volcano sufficiently away, and it should be beautiful. Have rocks and debris falling like crazy, go total Dante’s Inferno. Take 4-wheeler to get to volcano, retrieve item possibly story related. It’a a teepee with a foggy mist ball that is The Skinwalker’s soul. It asks you why you hurt the land. (He gets to her and she says, “Whose son are you? Whose son are you? Yes I feel it, the earth speaks to you. Do you see the land? Do you see the land?” /dream

    Day Shift informs you there's been strange lights up in the mountain and that you have to investigate them, it's really close. You end up getting almost attacked by a normal wolf, then you reach a camp that seems abandoned, but the important things like food and medical supplies are still there and everything is fairly new. It goes like, See strange lights(Add to glow stick if not visible)-Investigate-Attacked by wolf on the way there(stand your ground or it kills you-Dialogue-Wolf leaves-Get to empty campsite-See glow sticks-Dialogue, assume a wolf maybe attacked someone(MAYBE MAYBE butterflies lead you to blood spots, but when your partner checks it in the morning there’s nothing there)(Maybe the blood is on the bottom of a cliff and he assumes and animal dragged off the person-Go back-See “wolf” on side of the road-”Wolf” stands up on two legs and is actually the skinwalker-

    Supp:

    You might walk down a path and see an animal. You approach it warrily, but as you get closer it doesn’t move or do anything aggressive, it doesn’t stand up or pay any attention to you. But as you pass by and get about 20 feet off, it stands up and stares at you as you walk. You never notice if you don’t turn around. It will eventually attack if you don’t stare it down, until it eventually slinks off.

    Second day:
    Dream that you wake up and everything is flooded player must...

    Player wakes up and Day Shift is telling him about his day.


    “Something weird is going on, there are dead fish everywhere.”

    “What, you mean like it rained fish or something?”

    “No, it’s the creek I’ve never seen anything like it.”

    “I saw it on my way back at the end of my shift. I hate to say it dude, but you’re gonna have to go check that S*** out.”

    “Well won’t I see it on my route then, I can just peer in a little closer when I make it there huh, it’s just fish?”

    “No man this is a thing, I mean you need to go there first, go there now, and follow the creek. Most the whole mess of them got caught up at the bridge because of the water level right now, so we can know for sure they came from the other direction. Maybe following the creek will yield some information on it, I dunno it just seems like the right thing to do. The company will sure want to know, I know.”

    “Ok, I guess I’ll check that out then.”

    Player gets there, sees a clump of dead fish, and follows the creek. He eventually finds a burst fracking/oil pipe that has been leaking into the water, poisoning the fish. (He gets there and a fracking earthquake happens, then the tanker blows up. Fire (lightning) lands in the river.Then somehow fire falls in the water and the creek ignites. “What...the...FUUUUUUUUCK” The water becomes poisoned later, they tell you not to drink it. You get back and wake up Day Shift, you tell him what happened and ask him to try lighting the water on fire. He is bemused, but does it eventually and the tap starts flowing out fire. (Cinemachine can track an object in the explosion, that starts at the tank and flies into the river thus igniting it. Skinwalker destroys truck in the middle of the night.

    Day three:

    Player wakes up to find his truck is totally destroyed. He calls to report this and the company just assures him that their insurance will cover the cost of his destroyed truck. Mission starts and redacted starts playing. Dayshift doesn’t believe you saw anything. Later you have to go do something that involves you rounding the back corner of a building. Day shift jumps out from around the corner in a mask and scares you.

    After doing chores you start doing something boring, then sit down to play a board game with the other guard/to play a game alone. This is done on a table 6 feet or so away from the window and the player sits facing the window. When looking forward at the table the player should be able to see the window off to the left side of the screen, but it not be the focal point. Eventually far off lights in the distance can be seen through the window. Three lights come down from the sky and slowly travel in a spiraling trajectory, settling towards the tops of some corn stalks or foilage. Use raycasting on the window to check if the player notices the lights (force something if they don’t). Audio plays and the player decides to go off and check out the area around the lights. Upon reaching the area the lights dissipate/are not there. You radio in that nothing was to be found at the scene and you had back to The House. Audio plays about you saying that maybe you imagined that, even though you are sure you saw it. You chuckle to yourself about you being so easy to scare when The Skinwalker jumps out into your path. It will stare at you for a short while, then run off the path and into the darkness. You go back to the ranch and report what you’ve seen.

    Random.
    “I mean, yeah, it’s a pretty boring job. You do gotta watch out for wild animals though, coyotes and stuff.” Then a “coyote” starts to appear in the dark, on the side of the road. MC doesn’t know the ghost box is still open on his phone, but it starts reacting heavily.

    MC: “Oh, speak of the Devil, I think I see one now.” Drawing nearer, the “coyote” rears on two legs and swipes at the character.

    MC: “Holy S***! What the F*** was that? Jesus Christ on a wall it stood up on two legs.”

    DS (laughing): “See a monster?”

    MC: “I saw a coyote stand up on two legs and..it looked like a person.”

    DS: “It probably got scared or something when the 4-wheeler got close to it and jumped. Coyotes aren’t even that big, get it together. My dogs bigger than a coyote.”

    I did kind of get rid of the dire wolf though, I'm not 100% on that anymore now though.

    There will be both scare elements. And that's actually the story per se. The skinwalker is definitely there and can hurt you, but all these bad and horrible things keep happening and you assume it's the skinwalker, but almost all of it ends up being something related to the oil and gas industry. It's her land, so she protects it. When bad things go on or when disasters happen in the area, she's there to investigate. So you're always in danger of running into her, but she isn't necessarily a bad entity. The game ends with you walking up to her and handing her a wireless detonator to go completely FF7 on their drilling operations. Boom, pow, credits roll.

    You're too right, this game was supposed to be an easy thoughtless thing to get me ready to make more complex things. I want to make the game I've been shaping since I was 6, this is supposed to be stress free haha.



    Thanks for your reply, I'll buy that and check it out in a 'lil bit.
    All in due time, my sir.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  12. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    This lowered my blood pressure a little bit, I thank you for that.
     
  13. yoonitee

    yoonitee

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    Game sounds interesting. Reminds me of the plot of The Thing (1982). Maybe if you watch that you'll get more ideas?

    Anyway, with the placing of the cameras, how about some challenge to make the cameras such as collecting scrap metal? You could place cameras, and fires and other things kind of like a tower defense game. Or with some kind of StarCraft mechanics.

    I like the idea of monitoring the cameras for the ghosts and being able to place the cameras anywhere you like (or in certain areas you have protected with fires or alarms). That sounds like a cool mechanic.
     
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  14. SparrowsNest

    SparrowsNest

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    It does sound fun, I got very immersed in your posts and i'll definitely give it a go it when/if you decide to make it.

    I like the idea with the blinding light in the barn, I couldn't stop myself going in.

    Also I was actually really fond of the first thing you posted under "Story", not much about the wolf thing(didn't dislike it, just didn't like it), but about the laaaaadyyyyy (in bill burr's voice) that was good imo.

    BTW
    A 30.06 is a 7.62 for all us metric guys out here. (As someone who spent 3.5 years in the army I was confused as to what a 30.06 was until googled told me)
     
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  15. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    This has been invaluable, I've thought about it for an entire week. It is appreciated.


    Indeed, I did remove the wolf because I felt much the same way, but I included parts with it just in case my opinion was wrong. The cinematic ambiance I'm going for is very clear in my head and if writing it down works for other people then I owe it to myself to spend more time learning how to alter the ambiance in the Unity engine.

    So, the decision is final. I will hold this off for a quarter or so and am gonna make a game where you're a vacuum. It's gonna be more fun to make than my tedious art techniques that I use on Nightguard. Can't be too particular when you're making a game about a "not a" Roomba.

    Seriously thanks everybody, I feel good about this new timeline. And just to clarify, a thirty-ought was just one of the guns I grew up with, but it does shoot 7.65 rounds. Second gun I ever shot, I love that thing.
     
  16. GameDevCouple_I

    GameDevCouple_I

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    It sounds like you are getting dangerously close to my pitfall trap: constantly finding holes in your design and then thinking of a "better" game design and restarting to do this.

    Once you fall into this trap, you will keep falling and wasting time.

    Pick a design, and regardless of what holes come up keep making it.

    Also practise JIT GDD, as in just in time game design documentation. Dont feel the need to define it all in one go or youll end up back here.

    Design it as you go along and youll "find the fun"
     
  17. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Bingo.

    You've got to put finishing and shipping above all else. Complete and ugly is better than abandoned for perfection. You can go into a fight, try your best and lose, but if you are concerned with not getting hit the entire time you have zero chance of winning at all.

    You've got to carefully manage your time. There is a time for figuring on the design, a time for nose-to-the-grindstone production, a time for reassessment and course adjustment, and a time for swallowing hard lessons learned and just pushing onward. If you let your emotions take over, you'll get into useless loops that drain you and lead nowhere.

    You can't just be the artist. You've got to be the boss, the investors, the risk assessors. Be aware of which role you are playing, and be sure it's the right one at the right time. If you find that you cannot easily explain the decisions you are making or why you are currently doing what you are doing, that's a red flag. You should always have a clear goal that can easily be explained in a single sentence.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  18. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Maybe you guys are right. I've sacrificed so much already for it, I could maybe sweat this out a little longer I suppose. I wish I had a team to lead sometimes, I've got so much stuff in my head that I want out. I owe it at least something I'm proud to give a screenshot of.
     
  19. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    Definitely agree with guys in past few posts.

    I very briefly share my approach to my game project.
    I got general concept what I want to do.
    I work out details of features, as I go through.
    I don't focus for example on detailing UI, if I work on mechanics.
    Or GUI, when working on AI. I keep anything in "vague" state, until I feel to come back to it. If I need to, unless is working and I don't need to "rush" such feature. Then if I come back to some part of project, I can consider improvement. Only then start thinking how to approach / design particular feature in details. So if anything, I consider how to interlink particular features in future, and work toward that goal, to at least give brief shape, until some time later.

    I do however investigate options, how things can be approached, to choose best methodology.

    But definitely I don't waste my time, to design full game before hand. It never works like that. You will add and remove features anyway, while prototyping and testing, ending probably with far from what initially anticipated, design wise.

    Just start keep doing stuff. And you will find out what is feasible and what hard to implement / time constrained.
     
  20. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Y'all got me thinking I was maybe being hasty, I should at least finish nailing down the atmosphere I mean honestly sometimes I don't even know what I'm fretting about. I just know that this project is going to be much bigger and more work than I ever anticipated and also, there are projects I've got written out that I'm less passionate about, but are smaller and more compartmented and simple. When I started writing this out, it was supposed to be a little 3 month project to get me used to everything sorta. I guess when this little undeserved vacation ends, I'm just gonna have to get my feet wet and see what happens anyway.
     
  21. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    While my braid was away, I did kinda get the chance to rethink my core gameplay since the original just wasn't working together, there's no real structure YET. I think about it like this now, kinda. The property is rectangular and includes the ranch, of which some of your duties are included therein. Now you gotta use the technology you have; motion sensors, cameras, etc.. to monitor the animals and keep the predators out, all the while doing your story missions so you gotta use your electronic gadgets. So to defend the inner circle you have to go into the "outer" area to stalk and shoot wolves, or whatever there can be other reasons. Now when you're in the outer area that's where the skinwalker actually roams, even though the player thinks the animal attacks are caused by the skinwalker a lot from story reasons. It sounds stupid out loud, but it's basically like thus; defend mark A, by being in mark B, while being in mark B you are under threat of being hunted by skinwalker from mark C, travelling into mark B. So you gotta keep an eye on the camera and at the same while use your characters eyes and possibly more to watch out for the skinwalker creeping around you.

    Edit: And I might scrap day time altogether for simplicity and to be more streamlined. I just want to capture how scary it can be walking in the woods at night where I live, in southeast Texas, even though the game takes place in Utah.

    Edit 2: And I guess to start out, I could give him shy-guy AI and make him seek camouflage and try to blend in as an animal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  22. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    can you describe the game in a single sentence?

    describe the gameplay beats (or loops or whatever people are calling it) in 3 sentencess or a short paragraph?

    not suggesting you do so here or have to prove anything to anybody besides yourself, but it can be a useful exercise to really focus your thoughts and realize where you've got holes in your plans.
     
  23. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    I was thinking that last night. Before I could, but now it's kinda like jelly in my hand. I mean, you patrol a ranch, investigate disturbances, and try to keep yourself and the animals alive. Sounds lame out lout, I'm just gonna have to build both.
     
  24. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    You do nightly patrols across a strange ranch where strange lights and strange creatures almost certainly make sure things don't go normally. While hunting animals that would be making food out of the companies livestock, you are also hunted yourself. Meh.
     
  25. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    I don't know the game, but based on what little I do know here is something more condensed I come up with :


    A lone ranch-hand investigates bizarre happenings in the remote Texas wilderness.

    or


    When a rancher investigates disappearances of their livestock, they find themselves in a deadly game of hunter and hunted against unnatural forces.


    So I am just trying to boil it down to the minimum first. Then from there think about what 5 mins of gameplay is like, then 10 minutes, then a couple hours of gameplay. And so on.

    So maybe, "the player must closely investigate a natural environment to pick up signs of unnatural behavior. They must piece together disconnected clues to understand the nature of their enemy, and then prepare to face their enemy based on what they know. If they choose the right equipment and approach from the right direction, they can successfully defeat the monsters that are hunting them."

    Or, "player must investigate clues in a dark, foreboding and isolating natural environment to understand how to defeat unnatural forces, which will actively hunt the helpless player while they are searching. Keen senses and a need for always having an escape route planned will provide suspense and tense gameplay while the player explores a detailed natural world. "


    You can practice by thinking of the best games and condensing them down like this.

    Halo : A super soldier space marine fights against an overwhelming alien army to discover the secret of mysterious space station.

    Fortnite : Players construct bases and fight to the death in a shrinking arena in fast paced combat amid a zany and fun atmosphere.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
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  26. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Well it started from the real Skinwalker Ranch stories, I just changed literally everything except the location, and then that kinda too. I wanted something quick that people could pick up and instantly know what to do, and have fun for a little bit, and then put it down if they wanted to. I guess kinda arcadey-y. But that was a long time ago. It has to be in Utah though, I've spent months researching it.
     
  27. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    It sounds like you aren't sure what you want to do with the game. Which is fine. BUt before you do any real work I think it's paramount to figure out exactly what oyu want to do, and then avoid the temptation to make dramatic changes once the production ship sails.

    Maybe you need to make several prototypes to figure out exactly what is fun and what isn't.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  28. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    My main thing at first was art, I figured I start recreating the picture in my head, it'll force me to learn things along the way, then actually learn things when I'm not creating that and everything would even out in the wash. Truth be told I love it, and I could twiddle around all year long just changing placement and colors and not ever get bored. Having said that, it's becoming more evident that it's more pragmatic and smart to just focus on making cubes walk around than just making pretty scenes. All that confidence in pretty scenery can go into understanding how to create more complex code. Honestly I'm thinking about just buying Playmaker and Behavior Designer, so I can keep a somewhat practical time-scale and focus more on designing again and vegging off and playing games in my mind. F***, and modeling. It's like I spend a day on designing, then the next will be thirded out into coding, modeling, and random stuff related. Days just blend together and it's something I gotta overcome I guess.

    Edit: I say that, but most of my time is actually spent on design and abstract concepts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  29. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Yeah tinkering with art is a major time sink. Even for the artist, you have to be really careful not to get lost in details, and especially before the main bulk of the work is perfect first.

    If you really want to finish the game, I'd recommend spending some time studying common AAA production cycles and also maybe reaching out to other indie developers with a track record of success and get some pointers. I think many people get into a cycle of endless second guessing, never break the mold, and then write off the whole thing with some excuse besides the truth, which is that they just didn't learn how to get focused.

    Like, in the beginning, I think its more valuable to just go through the entire process and learn the ropes before worrying about whether or not the work is marketable and good. Get the process down and then with projects in the future you start to work on developing the quality once you are accustomed to finishing work and aren't so encumbered by technical and personal issues.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  30. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    I do, but I trick myself so well into still doing my own thing. Reaching out was a little hard, but I'm trying it with this, it's too big for me. That's what she said. My story is pretty completely different universe, but Skinwalker Ranch is a pretty old mythy place, there's a bunch of books written about it.
     
  31. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Well I don't know anything about that and the details aren't what I'm talking about here. I just think you are having a difficult time because you are focused on the details of the project but not on the process of completing the project. If this isn't like your tenth game, I think finishing the project should be the number one priority. Not making a fun game. Keep a journal where you record the whys and hows of what you do day to day. This helps maintain focus on the end goal.

    Above all just get the thing finished, even if its absolutely ugly and the opposite of fun. Learning to finish big projects is what will instantly separate you from 90% of also-rans. Once you know how to consistently finish projects, then you will be in the creative zone where the magic happens. But you can't finish things if you are always tinkering with details long before the basic forms are in place.

    On the next project hten, your mind is less encumbered with figuring out technicals and general workflow process. So you put a little more energy into looks and feels. You make a game that is a little fun.

    Next game you are even more focused on the player experience. You make something ugly and janky but its kind of fun.

    Fifteen games later people are writing to you : "hey man, whens that game coming out. If you need a play tester I'm happy to do it for free."

    on your five hundreth game, you make minecraft and become president of the new world order.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2019
  32. Serinx

    Serinx

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    Do you think it's worth finishing a project even if you're just doing it for completions sake?
    E.g. you had a plan for a project, it doesn't include all the features and polish you wanted, but you just tidy up all the loose ends and major bugs and slap a "done" sticker on it.

    Or do you mean you should carry out your original plans and do it properly?

    I'm in a similar situation where I've rescoped way too many times and it's going to take a lot longer to finish the project properly than I'd intended. I scoped way too big initially, so I cut it down, but now I'm not happy with what's left.

    I have a great new idea which I'm more excited about than any previous project, and I'm really tempted to move on to it..

    Sorry to hijack the thread but it seems relevant :p
     
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  33. SparrowsNest

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    Only if you can still look someone in the face and call it a game (let alone yours)

    Oh boy, tell me about it.
    I've been at it for about 4 years now and I'm yet to release a game, always "eh, it can't be that hard.. oh S***."
    But the one I'm working on right now will 99% see the light of day, almost done working on it. :)
     
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  34. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Well I am taking some liberty in assuming the OP want's to become a bonafide maker of games, and I am also guessing this is their first or one of their first games. So, with that in mind, I think keeping that long term goal in mind is essential. These early projects are training, essentially. It would be a bit naive to expect a greenhorn to output something really noteworthy so early in their development.

    So, first I'll state that what I am doing here is extrapolating my experience of learning 3d art onto the larger and more complex task of making complete games. The details are different of course, but the basic principles of work are the same. Really, the principles of work and professionalism span many industries.

    Actually, you know what, I will just make a new thread and explain my personal development as a 3d artist so far and what I think the importantn lessons learned are, and that will be a pretty good answer to @Serinx 's question.
     
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  35. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    @Serinx ,

    I realized what I want to type will take a lot of time to really say it well and not write a novel. And I'm about to head out for a vacation so now's not the time.

    I'll just say this : You always got to keep the long term goals in mind. Completing a game project isn't a long term goal. That's short term. So the short term must serve the long term, right? So if you are trying to figure out what to do in the short term, the answer is to look at how it serves your long term goal.

    Assuming the goal is to be a maker of games, whether that is as an indie publisher, or working as a director for a major studio, or something inbetween, the purpose then of your first dozen projects or so should be about learning the common development methods and also learning how to adapt yourself so that you can become a reliable finisher of projects. How many people actually finish? It is essential to develop a habit being a finisher. It is essential. Now, does finishing a bunch of S***e games count? Absolutely. Because the initial goal isn't to make great games. That is unrealistic. Even if you try reaaaaally hard, your first games are going to suck. They just are. There is too much you don't know. The process of accretion is slooooooow. That's just how the universe works. No shortcuts.

    But you have to get over this initial hurdle. Essentially, you have to learn to be a true professional. Somebody who understands how to work efficiently, effectively, and to get the damn job finished.

    I said a dozen projects, but really there is no number. You are ready when you are ready. Maybe it takes you fewer, maybe a lot more. But until you can reliably plan a project, build a project, and deliver it, I don't see a point in getting lost in the details of any specific project. Because the details of the individual project don't matter. They don't serve the long term goal. If you think the details of a specific project are what's going to make or break you in the long run, you are missing the forest for the trees. Or however that saying goes.

    First and foremost is honing yourself into becoming the right tool for the job, so that you can reliably finish work. But what of those tough questions? When to push forward? W\hen to retreat? When to get help? When you reconfigure? You'll develop wisdom to answer these questions through experience. But in order to get that experience, you have to finish projects. Lots and lots of projects. So you see how one has to come before the other? You have to llearn to complete things before you'll have the wisdom to do things well. Man was eating raw, dirty-ass meat for a long term before he baked a souffle, you know?

    In the beginning with my 3d art, I spent like a month working on a single character. Because that's what professionals do, right? They take a long time to make a perfect model. But at that point, I still didn't know large chunks of common practices and despite my best efforts, the model came out looking like ka-ka. It was a real bummer.

    It wasn't until I started completing a large quantity of models -- never worrying too much over quality but just doing rapid experimentation and trying out absolutely everything to develop a breadth of experience as fast as I could that I really started improving. Learning comes from making mistakes and then immediately trying again to fix those mistakes. Just liek when you play a game. You don't sit there and think about things forever. You just try something, fail, and then try another approach almost immediately. This is a very effective and the fastest way to learn. Iteration iteration iteration. Just work like crazy. Make as many mistakes as you can. Enjoy the process. Just go crazy and have fun.

    If you keep going like this, eventually to start to notice that you don't suck as bad anymore. And you feel pretty ocmfortable working in the medium. You find that doing the work is almost second nature. YOur hands and eyes almost work autonomously. You can't fake it. You just got to do enough work until you get to this point. And once you get to this point, then your mind is 100% free to start focusing in on those nitty gritty details that's going to take your work to the next level. Only once you've reached this point are you ready to really dig into the details and start working towards making those games where you put your soul into all the little decisions that together, will make it something you are going to be really proud of.

    I've spent the last year learning 3d art, and I'll spend a good part of this one continuing on but I think I should be good enough to start applying to jobs at legit studios before the end of the year. But when it comes to game development, when I get into that full force my plan is going to be to take what I have learned from doign 3d art and apply it to make games. I am going to start by redoing all the unity tutorials, doing all the tutorials on youtube, and then I am going to remake evvery simple classic game there is. And I'm going to keep making all those tiny games over and over until just naturally I can do the work without much stress. Then I'll build more slightly complex games, simply by building lots of smaller games that work in conjunction together. Then, when I am totally comfortably building games from my own initiative, only then will I start focusing in on honing my craft. Making fun games. Making pretty games. Making complex games.

    5-10 years from now, I should have enough experience working in the industry and enough experience developing simple but fun games, and enough professional contacts, to start looking at taking a serious stab at creating the dream games that I really want to play. It's a long term goal that all of my short term goals must serve.

    It's just learning via accretion. It's how all great things are built. You can't be impatient. You have to learn to enjoy the process. Don't be the kid who is told that if he doesn't eat one marshmallow right away they'll get a second, but then they eat the first right away because they are a dumb kid and can't control themselves. The kids who save for the future will accomplish their goals.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  36. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    So, tying back to OP's original issue, I'd say this whole thing is a lesson to be learned about the best way to get work done. Is it beneficial to get stressed out about gameplay details at a certain point in the project? Is there a right time to make deciisons like this? A wrong time? At what point to do put things down in stone and press forward? Is there a way to set things up from teh beginnign to allow flexibility to make big changes if the needs arises?

    Who can answer these questions? Somebody who has made a crap-ton of games. So first become that person who has a ton of experience making games. Which means learning how to manage yourself, your emotions, your stamina, your lifestyle -- everything -- so that above all you can get things finished and move on rapidly to do new experments and figure solutions to all the mistakes you just discovered. Don't try to force the work into being good. Just stay busy and let it develop naturally.
     
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  37. Serinx

    Serinx

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    @BIGTIMEMASTER Thanks for taking the time to write that detailed response! I totally get what you're saying. I've had plenty of unfinished projects and only 1 fully released one. I always seem to get the core gameplay and initial content going but lose interest when it comes to making additional content.
    adding additional content to my game just makes me wish I'd created a better base and scoped for less content and better gameplay!

    I get what you're saying about finishing a project, there are also a lot of steps you don't think about during the final release phase which can catch you by surprise so it would be great to get that process down...

    I think reproducing small classic games is a great idea since the scope is already there, you don't have to make game design decisions (unless you wanna change it up a bit), and since they're small it wont take forever.

    I'd love to bash out some small classic games and get the whole process down, so thanks for that inspiration! For my existing project though.. I think it's best to leave it on the shelf for now.

    Cheers and good luck!
     
  38. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    Maybe you are right. Maybe I should plan for that. I think I know what to do.
     
  39. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    I'm pretty sure that I know exactly what to do now. Heartfelt gratitude, all around.
     
  40. galent

    galent

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    Hey BlankDeed,

    Just skimming through your thread here, and without diving into the gory details (and valiant supportive posts), and I'm seeing a couple things going on. Rather than dive into the details (I see others pitching in there) here's a thought that may help you frame your ideas:

    Some stories make good games, many good games make terrible stories.

    or

    It's possible to make a good video game from the story of Harry Potter, but in my experience a much better game would come from the Harry Potter "universe". Players are not scripted actors in most cases.

    On the flip side does anyone care why we shot birds from a sling shot at green pigs? no. But what made it interesting to so many was the LACK of story. Players got to decide what story (or none at at) made sense. In a strange way Angry Birds was personalized (like many other similar games). How do you divide millions of fans? Force one telling of a story on them.

    In most of your posts it seems like you're telling a story.

    Think about it, perhaps in that context answers will come.
     
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  41. GameDevCouple_I

    GameDevCouple_I

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    You might have a better time portioning up a seperate "concepting" "preproduction" and "production" stage.

    Most jump right to Production which is a bad idea. You should spend at least a month concepting out ideas to know whether you like it, its fun, and whether sticking to it for 6 months+ is viable without going insane.

    Then, you throw away everything and start making it again in pre-production, making informed design choices from concept. The aim in pre-production isnt to have a working game, but to try making all the systems etc needed so you know what the main difficulties ahead are, and have some base code to work from, and have time to iron out all the kinks in design/ end up with a viable design that has no gaping holes.

    THEN you start making the game, using the prototypes you built up during those stages, hopefully which were informed by research (and focus testing if possible).

    If you do that, you wont end up "making" a game for a while and then wanting to change, as you will have taken the necessary time up front to ensure you are ready for the committment it requires.
     
  42. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

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    You, are winner winner chicken dinner. I realized what I had done, was make a book. I will retain both IP's, but I know exactly what to now. I appreciate you coming in and saying that, if I wasn't able to get there on my own, I am glad to know there was a compadre that was going to help me.


    Solid advice as well, I assure you I spent a considerable amount of time concepting.
     
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  43. galent

    galent

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    Glad I could help.

    Good luck on your projects.
     
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