A Second Beginning

It's been 6 years but I'm finally back and ready to have a second shot at building my vision for a brilliant game! I've bitten the bullet and resigned from my day job to focus on game development full time. I have alotted one year to validate whether I have a future in making games so please join me on a wild ride for the next 52 weeks and see if we can find an answer in the affirmative together.

I haven't been completely idle over the last 6 years though, I've been responding to comments here, built a command line parsing library and been laying the foundations of the game I want to make. I've also been working as a full-time commercial C++ developer and as a result my programming skills have been much sharpened.

I'm going to be writing here regularly from now on and as the first instalment see below for an articulation of my motivation and vision for the type of games that I plan to make.

Philosophy and Vision

Beyond any game I might work on I have a combination of ideals that I believe would make the most engaging and fulfilling game to me. Regardless of the form it takes I'll be striving to embody these as best I can in the games I produce.

Exploration and Discovery

New areas contain new challenges, new rewards and expand the playable world

This is the cornerstone of my vision; an open world that is expansive and has a myriad of areas that can be visited, but only if the player has the ability to gain access. New areas contain new challenges, new rewards and expand the playable world. Two of my favourite games: Zelda and Metroid execute this mechanic and instill this feeling very effectively. There are parts of the game world that the player can see but can't be accessed until the player has collected items in other areas. To me navigating the world and finding where challenges lie embodies the feeling of Exploration and surmounting challenges and getting to explore new areas embodies the feeling of Discovery, a sweeter form of Exploration, the payoff for effort put in. I don't want to limit these principles to just the game world and every part of the game should fulfill this principle it in its own way. Skill trees, combat, crafting, all of these can have elements of this put in place.

As this is a primary tenet of my vision from here on I'll refer to Exploration and Discovery as ED when referencing it.

Random Generation

For me randomly generated worlds enhance the feeling of ED in a game. When done right there are new challenges around every corner on each playthrough. The player isn't exploring the same game as anyone else; it's their own game, generated for them. I want to use this to create a game world that is truly detailed and interesting to explore.

A macro level random world populated at the micro level with handcrafted areas which have been randomly placed and gated

Beyond what I feel is the standard random generation seen in games today I want to have generation that is both expansive and richly detailed. What I mean by this is: A macro level random world populated at the micro level with handcrafted areas which have been randomly placed and gated. So at the macro level the world is laid out more or less randomly, but at the micro level there is handcrafted statically specified content that is mixed in with random content. With this approach; as the library of available handcrafted areas expands so will the possibilities in each playthrough of the game and how large the world can be without beginning to feel sparse.

Interactivity and Problem Solving

What use is a sprawling and detailed game world if there aren't interesting problems and obstacles to overcome? The mechanics of the core gameplay should have depth, reward player ingenuity and knowledge. My vision is for each challenge to require a tailored approach based on the situation. A challenge could be overcoming a particular foe, unlocking a door to a new area or crafting a new item. What I want here is for the player to exploit the particular situation they are faced with; perhaps a foe is blind and vulnerable to sound based attacks or a locked door can be circumvented by cutting directly through a nearby wall. The world should have rules governing what affects what and the player can then use this knowledge to win battles and overcome obstacles. Once the set of rules is detailed enough novel emergent behaviours and solutions should come about adding to the sense of ED for the player.

Approachability

I'm a huge fan of the roguelike/lite genre (as you may be able to guess from the preceding sections) and while I love them for their complexity and detail some are incredibly difficult to get into. ASCII only display and interfaces can be extremely daunting for new players and draining for the experienced. My vision is for an intuitive and conveyant interface to guide and ease the player through exploration and interaction with the game world. The interface should not abstract away the need for proficiency and knowledge from the player but at the same time balance that with being too obtuse. The interace should be convenient and enjoyable for a player to use, the challenge should be in the gameplay not the interface.

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