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Minimizing a game down to its essence...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Torsh, May 8, 2012.

  1. Torsh

    Torsh

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    We are a team of 4-5 people including myself making a large RPG. Right now, the GDD calls for 100% of the game being done to equal a full game. Luckily, I know how to trim this figure to 66% if necessary and still have a complete game. But at the current rate we're going, we'll get 15% done.

    But there is still hope. I have seen Nintendo DS games that have taken complex concepts like my RPG has and made them into small, bite-sized chunks - that 15%. I'm just wondering how they managed to do it. That is, make a large game into little more than a cell phone game.

    And that 15% figure is a little negative. Our team can get 25-30% done with the right time.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  2. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Your question seems too general to have any meaningful reply. Care to elaborate?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  3. Torsh

    Torsh

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    Basically, how do you make Godzilla into a lizard?

    How do you produce a great story on minimal content?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  4. burnpsy

    burnpsy

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    That should be rather easy. Just think "what is the absolute minimum this game needs to run?" For a platformer, the first thing that comes to mind is platforms, jumping, and movement. You basically have to learn to filter out the fluff.

    Sadly, most RPGs actually need that fluff.
     
  5. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Using a metaphor is not elaborating :p

    Are you talking about simplifying your mechanics to fit a portable device? Is it the graphics? I'm not sure what we are talking about.

    Are you talking about making a "serious" RPG into something more "casual" that fits in the mobile market?
     
  6. Torsh

    Torsh

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    I added the question: "How do you produce a great story on minimal content?"

    True.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  7. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

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    I think there's a 99% chance your statistics and mine are wrong.
     
  8. Haledire

    Haledire

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    That's still actually kinda ambiguous. "Great" as in "Large" or "Great" as in "Good". Sounds more like a matter of size based on your analogy, which really doesn't say much about what you're trying to get at.

    We could be talking about text files, texture sizes, programming methodology, feature sets, model assets, polygon restrictions, so on and so forth.

    There's still nothing telling us "what" is the problem. You've "seen" Nintendo 3DS games that do what you're trying to solve, which? Playing guessing games and word puzzles isn't helping you get your answer any faster.
     
  9. JamesLeeNZ

    JamesLeeNZ

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    66% of statistics are pulled from ones ass.

    including this one.
     
  10. Torsh

    Torsh

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    I'm trying to figure out how to use advanced concepts in a small game.

    Then we get into what "small" is. Episodic. Some DS games are episodic even though they are full games. How do I make a large game more episodic?

    Then there's what "advanced concepts" means. Complex. Complex storylines.

    So far what I mentioned, is all that I've covered.

    I'm trying to make this storyline shorter and less fluffy to make the game smaller, without taking away the storyline: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/134265-Charcoal-Rock-game-idea-I-had-GDD-included. This would mean shortening it to the interactions between Cleo and Namantha and shortening those interactions, in my opinion. But the difficult part is shortening those interactions while conveying the message. And there are other questions I have, like whether you need 4 dungeons for 4 orbs.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  11. MadRobot

    MadRobot

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    Choices. Get rid of them. To do a proof of concept or a 'basic version' of the game, or whatever you call it, you dont need 50 kinds of armor and 100 kinds of weapons. You need 1 kind of armor, say 'shields' of which you have 2 kinds 'basic" and "deluxe." If that works, then it's not much harder to later on introduce helmets, body armor, boots, and gauntlets.

    For weapons, do the same, you don't need short sword, long sword, bastard sword, two handed sword, rapier, scimitar, blah blah. You need 'sword'. Why? To demonstrate you can do melee hit mechanics. Your other weapon? "Bow" with arrows. So you can develop your targeting and ranged weapon mechanics. Or whatever is actually required to do the game. Technically, you could get by with a single weapon, whatever it is.

    In this way, you develop your technology to do what you want, and later on you add in additional content and choices.

    Start looking at your whole game this way. What are all the big choices that don't actually add anything to the game play, but just expand the quantity of game play? Get rid of all of it. You don't need 10 levels. You don't even need 2. You need 1 level. If you want to develop the 'advancing to the next game level' technology, then have a demo/tutorial level, plus a single game level.

    Have a city? Just do a single road. Have 50 kinds of shops? Just do 1.

    Look at your game. Set aside all the things you like about it and try to pick out a single representative example of the things, the "core" things, that really define how your game is played.

    That's your trimmed down version.

    I read your GDD. I would suggest doing just the first village and the first dungeon. Cut down the people in the village to 1 person that gives you info, and 1 person that doesn't. Again, anywhere you have a number, try to reduce it to either 2, or better still, 1.

    To preserve your story, structure the dungeons so that you think you are about to face the BBG at in the final room, but just as you arrive, *poof* they disappear and you are left with your "original" dungeon BBG. Now you have a cliff hanger at the end and your story is preserved. The game feels like it is part of something bigger than just itself (the over arching story) and you haven't created any obstacles to creating the rest of the game, either as expansions, or as new chapters.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  12. DallonF

    DallonF

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    Write a book?

    If you're trying to go heavy on story and light on gameplay, then you're probably in the wrong industry. If you want to "minimize a game down to its essence", the first thing to go should be story. Keep the backstory, keep the environments, but focus on the what, not the why. Let players decide why the characters are going here and doing that.
     
  13. Torsh

    Torsh

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    Or making a RPG.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  14. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Stuff to do:

    * Less is more.
    * Finishing a project > all.
    * You need less requirements.
    * Drop almost everything, including the episodic stuff.
    * Find the barest minimum that still makes anything.
    * Then, make steady progress each and every day.
    * Always stay in a runnable state.

    Good luck,
    Gigi.
     
  15. DallonF

    DallonF

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    Or that. Maybe your team can't handle the scope of an RPG? It may help to switch to a action-adventure or a dungeon-crawler, which have almost the same design and story elements as an RPG, but are much simpler and gameplay-oriented.
     
  16. Torsh

    Torsh

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    I'll keep that suggestion in mind. We've grown to 6-7 people so we might be able to do a little more now am looking forward to seeing how far we go.
     
  17. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    You will accomplish less than you think. Set the BAREST minimum goals - the LEAST behavior possible. Focus entirely on running software. Don't build systems - those are time-syncs that kill a distributed team. Structure everything to enable steady progress. The second progress slows, 6-7 will drop to 4-5, and then 2-3, and soon... it'll be just you.

    These forums is littered with the carcasses of dead projects.

    Gigi.
     
  18. Torsh

    Torsh

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    It could be worse. I could be making a MMO.
     
  19. ppan

    ppan

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    That is much better then making an MMO IMHO