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Game Idea - Is it enough

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Wannabeuk, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    OK so I've been working on the design for my game on and off for a couple of years, and recently got the time and resources to begin working on it. I've been prototyping for a while now and I've now come back to my design and I must admit to having a slight worry that my game won't offer enough to get other people interested in playing.

    The basic concept of my game is the player is on a spaceship that is badly damaged. Top-down style with click to move controls, There a numerous systems around this ship that work together, these systems are in a state of disrepair and need work to fix them.

    For example a doorway may be lacking power, as such the player would need to locate the nearest power distribution node and work out why that is, it could be that there is not enough power in the system for everything at which point the player could manipulate the power junctions to redistribute enough power for the door. Or they could find and repair something that is preventing enough power to flow into the system (Such as other nodes or generators).

    The game is built up from this basic concept into more and more complex system, such as the engine systems with dozens of component systems that all need to be working and correctly configured in order to get the engines back online. With catastrophic results for misrepair/config.

    The game has atmosphere simulation, power system, resource systems and such to build into these complex systems that will need repairs.

    My question is, would having to solve these dynamic puzzles (which is basically what the systems are) be enough game play to make you want to play? I have no plans or desires to add combat into the game. This is something more along the lines or Visceral cleanup. I'm aware it wont be a mainstream popular concept, but my worry is it might be too focused on what I want to play that wouldn't interest anyone else.

    I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
     
  2. supermikhail

    supermikhail

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    I feel that at this point it's not a question of whether a game will interest anyone (and you have things to do which produce results, so that's good), but whether you'll get lucky, how you'll market it, and I guess what you mean by "anyone". You could look at the numbers for similar games and see if they'd make you happy. Although I'm not sure that Viscera Cleanup Detail is an apt model, because of the difference of perspective (I think that influences the audience).
     
  3. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    http://store.steampowered.com/app/300570/

    Imho this one is one of the most engaging puzzle games I've played so far, and it might give you some ideas on how to make people care about your game.

    From the description of the concept I could see it go either way. It's up to you to make people care.
     
  4. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    Forgive me, I think this came across as "How to i make a best seller" I'm certainly not looking to make the next big hit. I'm more looking for if playing the game, You would be happy with the gameplay as explained, or if it would feel somewhat lacking in that regard.

    Its a difficult question to answer, and im sure many developers at some point wonder if their game is "enough" but today was very much a is it worth doing this day for me.

    Thanks for the feedback so far
     
  5. AndreasU

    AndreasU

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    Have you had a look at Gunpoint? It sounds vaguely similar.

    About your question, it depends on the puzzle/level design. I think with good level design, this could make a fine game.

    But the level design is really the big thing - you dont give too much details about the game mechanics, which is fine btw, but as it sounds the mechanics itself wont carry the game. So, level/puzzle design. Lots of work.
     
  6. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Hmm, this is an interesting question. @Martin_H provided a very similar link which I personally would not find entertainment in, nor does the description you provided sound like something I'd be interested in playing.

    You mentioned you have no desire to add combat to the game, and I think that is admirable. Have you considered though, an antagonist for the player to have to overcome.
    Thinking along the lines of Alien Isolation - but without the combat mechanics. You may consider adding an enemy for the player to have to outsmart, in order to complete the next step in repairing the ship. Like possibly the enemy will be temporarily frozen if the airlock is opened, but the system will loose oxygen, can the player repair the system and other things before they run out of oxygen or the enemy unthaws. The player would essentially have to deal with the enemy using non-lethal methods, hide and evade - all the while trying to fix certain systems, accomplish certain goals in order to get the ship up and running again. And maybe find a final solution to get rid of the enemy before returning to there home planet.
     
  7. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Just out of curiosity, did you play the game, or other Zachtronic games? I remember that I was zero hyped for the game too, based on glancing at the store page, but since I got it with humble monthly I just gave it a shot at one point and was very pleasantly surprised. It mainly comes down to how the puzzles are put into context:
    You play as an engineer who has been abducted by aliens to build machines and weapons for them. Between the puzzles you are in your cell and there is a food pellet dispenser that makes you feel like some kind of rat in a cage. In the levels you can find corpses of other people who were captured and listen to their audio logs. There's even a corpse of a dog in a spacesuite, making you wonder if the aliens have the faintest clue whom they are capturing. After certain batches of finished puzzles you get an evaluation by the aliens that hold you as a prisoner. They talk to you in their alien language and you can't understand anything, then they give you a ridiculous worthless prize for your performance (like a girl's soccer trophy that says "if you had fun, you won!", a baseball cap, the "armpits of iron" vhs tape, and an issue of "intercourse magazine").

    The tasks you perform in the puzzles also get more disturbing as time goes on. You go from making some harmless looking base components to realizing you're actually building weapon systems for the aliens, to automated meat-processing machines that cut a whale into tiny pieces and shrinkwraps them. Iirc you even make a machine to build the kind of holding cells you live in yourself.

    But there is hope, you get broken free by a resistance group that escaped from the aliens, and now a whole new set of levels is revealed where you thought you've reached the end of the game, and now you're building weapons for the resistance. Also there is a very strong competitive element, as all your solutions are statistically analyzed for a set of different aspects (footprint, cycles needed, parts needed), and you see graphs how well you performed compared to other players.

    Imho it's all the stuff around the great puzzle mechanics that makes the player invested in the game. Add to that the brilliant concept of having almost infinite numbers of valid solutions for puzzles and always being able to optimize them even further, both makes you always feel clever for finding the solution, yet never bored, because you always could do better (and you see that others actually have done better on the graphs).
     
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  8. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    Thanks for all the feedback. I know my post was pretty vague on details but that was intentional, I didn't want to describe my game in details for a number of reasons. A big one was not wanting to put people off with a wall of text,.

    @theANIMATOR2b
    Yes for a while i did consider something along those lines, Similar to the way SOMA (http://store.steampowered.com/app/282140/) did, However while i adored SOMA the presence of the enemies (to me) got in the way of the enjoyment more than added too it. I guess that is personal preference. But i've been reading a few posts on these forums about Ego-Driven vs Consumer Driven development. (its on the front page, give it a read if you've not already) and i have to admit right now i'm far more in the ego-driven development camp.

    This game evolved from a game i had already made which was a console driven hacking game, I decided i wanted to add some 3D elements to that game, which in turned evolved into the concept i have now. I already have an ingame console and a emulated network, allowing for "hacking" into things like doors and terminals.

    I've toyed with the idea on and off of having the storyline become the major focus of the game (I do just happen to live with an author) with the idea being that you have some form of mystery onboard this ship (lack of crew, damaged system with no explanation) and the player can dig through terminals and personal logs including the need to "hack" secure files ect to try and piece together what happened. Along side the repairing mechanic. I'm still torn between this idea which would be a structured game. and a more rogue like procedural design with multiple locations (Spaceship, stations, planet bases ect) or perhaps a set of static levels with increasing difficulty allowing for timed runs and the like.

    My main reasons for focusing on the repair mechanic (No pressing e to repair here!) is the lack of other games with this type of system. I mentioned SOMA previously and i really enjoyed their use of terminals as part of the puzzle. I wanted to take it a step further into something quite a bit more technical. I'm aware it's not for everyone but my hope is it will at least be enjoyed by someone.

    Thanks again.

     
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  9. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    I was a little rushed with my comment. I wasn't disparaging the game, only pointing out that game upon first look isn't something that I'd play due to the perceived lack of 'action' and to suggest what would make me more interested in a game like that is an antagonist, although your description does provide an interesting story element which I am a sucker for. :)

    I have not played that game nor any of their other games.. With the extended description you provided I'd be interested in checking it out for research (as a developer) to see how this kind of game could be experienced / entertaining.
    Similar to you, I'd not give the game much attention until it came out in a sale or bundle. I'm not mister $$ bags so the price has to be right and equal to the experience I'm expecting to have. I don't try to intentionally disparage any game or developers efforts, though in this case the game seems to be priced about $10 dollars higher than I would expect a game of this type to cost. Although this has no bearing on the 'type' of game - related to OPs comments, it is related to the games overall viability and popularity.
    I'll definitely give it a shot for research - if I can find it around, at a more reasonable price.

    Funny - the mention of SOMA - your description and the example provided by Martin_H is not a type of game I would play straight away, but after checking the SOMA link - I realized it is in my wishlist - so just this subtle difference in design made me choose to put that on my desired list of games to play, while the less action-y games from Zachtronic have not appealed enough to be put on my wishlist.

    As stated previously - I do play some games because I'm compelled by the advertised story elements - so considering this (taking advantage of your roommate) would entice me to look more into the game.

    In the end - it is important to create the type of game you are interested in making and sticking by your convictions of 'why' you choose to create the game with/without certain elements is respectful.

    I was only pointing out some things that would possibly make me as a gamer, more interested in the game described.
    Thumbs up :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  10. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    Nothing wrong with pure puzzle games. I play plenty of them.

    In fact some of my all time favourite games were pure puzzles. So many hours spent with TIM.
     
  11. supermikhail

    supermikhail

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    I'd also say it's much harder not to muck up inserting an enemy into a puzzle game. Not only do you risk annoying the player, but with limited resources a passable or even good game can slide onto the trash heap with bad AI.
     
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  12. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    @supermikhail I must admit that is one concern I've had. I'm a solo developer and while I have studied game AI it certainly isn't my strong area. and your right, bad AI is a game killer.

    I've finally made the decision to bite the bullet and go into the full crafted game with a storyline. I plan on littering the game with personal logs, missions reports and general day to day communications. Available openly or behind security which will use the "hacking" gameplay to get access too. Piecing together the story of the ship, and why the player is there will become part of the concept of the game.

    I don't want to force players into hunting these clues, So i guess the balance would be leaving major clues in obvious places the player would be unlikely to miss, while making it worth players time to dig deeper if they choose to find out the true story.

    Only real downside is that it will take a lot more time to hand craft the levels to the size i want, But they never said game design was easy :D
     
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  13. Buttons4Bellies

    Buttons4Bellies

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    There's a million and one ways to make what you've vaguely described, some of which would result in a good game. I think you need to push out a prototype to get a better idea of, well, what your idea is.

    I know it's the default game dev reaction to reach for the combat systems when confronted with the unknown, but you can't fix boring mechanics by dangling new and unrelated ones in front of the player's face. You've got what could be an original game on your hands, don't get scared and throw in safe established ideas in the soup willy nilly.

    That's not to say enemy AI isn't what you need, you just need a better reason to need it.
     
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  14. Wannabeuk

    Wannabeuk

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    @Buttons4Bellies

    Thanks for the reply. I was intentionally vague i guess for reasons mentioned above, I have a pretty firm idea of what i want already i just had one of those "oh S***" moments i guess.

    I'm not toying with the idea of adding combat at all, unless there is a solid compelling reason to change my mind, I simply do not want combat in the game. I was simply worried that mine would be another of those with reviews that say something like "Good concept, but lacks content to keep you interested" as you rightly pointed out, throwing combat at the game especially just for the sake of it won't prevent that statement still being true.

    I've had two separate designs for the game and i've been floating between them (Which is almost certainly a bad position to be in!) but thanks to the feedback here and other places I've firmed it up into the decision I mentioned above.
     
  15. Zampavorian

    Zampavorian

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    (I read the original post and skimmed over the following thread. I'll be replying to that. If what I'm saying was already discussed well,.... Here's a biscuit. -Hands biscuit.-)

    I find an issue with this. It sounds a lot like one of those strategy games from the 90s that had five dozen buttons on screen and a lot of text coming from everywhere, but very little to no text on the buttons themselves. All of this was thrown at the player at once, and for new players it was simply overwhelming. If you put this in the hands of someone that already knew how all the systems you have in place work, they'd find it very engaging and fun. Both the 90s strategy game and the setting you're proposing. However I feel new players, just like in that case, would be quickly overwhelmed in this case by all the stuff that they need to manage and was just thrown at them.

    You could do what... I forget his name, did on the new Super Mario titles and work based on small arcs of gameplay that A) Introduce a game mechanic B) Reinforce it some more C) Reinforce it a little more and D) Give the player a last challenge that they need that mechanic to conquer, and as such will feel pretty good about themselves afterwards.

    If you think about it, this is also how TLoZ games work when it comes to dungeons themselves.

    Problem is, if your game is narrative driven (which a lot of puzzle games as of late are), this way to present problems won't make any sense. "Why is my ship breaking apart worse and more often the-- You know what, scrap all that. I just had an idea.

    Let's say that the game is not very narrative driven. There is a setup, and the game experience itself is broken down into two parts. The first where the ship is old and needs constant tuning up and little hotfixes here and there. This would allow the new Super Mario approach where you introduce and reinforce game mechanics on a relatively low stress environment, and around the middle either a battle goes south (if the ship is something like a militar vessel), or it's attacked by pirates or something. Heavy damage is sustained, and after that point all the systems you've managed one or two at a time hit the proverbial fan all at once. You could limit your role in the game to that of the ship's engineer, and substitute tutorials and atmosphere breaking text with worn out manuals and post it notes or something to relay infromation. And either fill those with ALL the needed information to make things work, or take some small Soul-like design choices if you think the player will die-fail a lot trying to figure the small details out and you're okay with this. Things like making the gameover sequence play out fast, make it so they can go back relatively close to where they died, and so on.

    However then, it wouldn't be all that much a typical (or even atypical) puzzle game. Instead it'd be more in the vein of resource management. Except in this case you'd have only so much of something and would be choosing how to allocate it to keep everyone alive and the ship going, instead of finding ways to extract more resource. Pretty much like a more complex Dungeon of the Endless, if you've happened to play that.

    Edit: I just saw the debate over combat inclusion. Just to clarify, in this pitch I'm providing you wouldn't be fighting yourself. You'd see colored flashes coming through your window to the outside and a couple screenshakes and sound effects, but your gameplay would be limited to managing resources.

    ACTUAL IMPORTANT EDIT: And then I read the rest of the thread. I don't have much of a pitch for this one, however, I'd recommend you try out Her Story if you haven't. Also that you look at ARG games and series like Marble Hornets or This House Has People In It. The former to see how this balance of mystery can be applied to a game (I think it's free on itch.io) and the latter to find out ways you can work around that spoonfed clue/hidden clue balance, since they did so fantastically. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE TIME to search this up and delve into the concepts, go to Night Mind's channel. His digests on this stuff give a pretty good idea of the methods they used to work with the audience. In fact the guy has covered multiple ARGs that worked well by leading an audience with breadcrumbs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
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