Game Design Journey
Today I realized how little I have been away and decided to give a little update on what has all been going on.
In relation to the title, I have been working away on what I would consider my first "official" video game. I published a simple web game quite a while ago when I was first getting into game development, but as of lately I have been hard at work on a game that I have had intentions of making for quite some time. I have been ironing out the storyline that I want, the flow of the game, and what I want to achieve with it. All in all I am very excited on where it is heading!
Although I am talking about my game, it doesn't mean there isn't any value here. The reason for is because I spent a great deal of time deciding on what I wanted out of my game and how I was going to accomplish it. Its one thing to make a video game, but its another to make a game that people will enjoy, and works the way it should. Trying to put all that together along with my story took a lot longer than I had expected.
When making a game, you really need to start looking at what "makes" a great game, and although it would seem simple, once you really start diving into it you start to learn that there are SO many moving pieces to account for. Will it have a multiplayer mode, will that mode be for a campaign or player vs player mode, or both, or none? Do you want it to be an open world game, have dedicated levels to navigate, a combination of both or maybe even something entirely different?
Another thing to be mindful of is framerate. Do you have a target framerate in mind? Maybe 120 FPS and have it dedicated to the new consoles, or just aim for 60 FPS and leave it at that? How do you achieve such a high frame rate if you want an incredibly detailed world? Cut your scenes up into tiny pieces, have a form of GPU instancing, or rely on LOD of game objects?
If your head is beginning to spin, you certainly aren't alone because that was exactly what happened with me. I almost gave up and tried to build a simple smaller game, but pushed through the thoughts and kept researching and testing.
That was just a few things that I dealt with on the game I'm working on, but another thing to consider is what would be considered as "fun"? My version of a fun game could be different from another person. Maybe the mechanics just don't feel right, the story is boring, the levels are lame or the AI doesn't have a lot of personality? Round after round I went trying to lay out the foundations of what I wanted in a game, and once I thought I had a good idea, I changed it up because I realized it wouldn't work with the story or just felt like it was unnecessary.
My story changed drastically by the time I finished it, if I can really say I'm finished with the story. I may make changes as I go along, who knows? Seriously though, my game when I started planning it out was completely different to the one I have now. I have a lot of the same characters and general direction of the story, but it evolved as I built the backstory of all the characters, the world, and what their agenda was in the game. I added more depth to the story where it felt like it was repetitive and boring, or after writing it all down and examining it just didn't feel right.
Planning and laying out the foundation for a good game required a lot of back and forth thinking, not only from a designers perspective, but also from a player. Something may sound good, but if the mechanics and story conflict with one another, then it's back to the drawing board! I did this what felt like countless times! Plan out story and then try to work the mechanics into it, only to realize one had to change. The difficult part was deciding on what I wanted to change and what I wanted to keep. Thus the ever evolving story.
To give you an insight on the game I am working on, I decided to only provide a single player campaign mode and plan to use a combination of open world and level transitioning to accomplish what I want out of a game. I started with just levels and having the player work their way through like it was a Mario game, but then wanted to give it a bit of open world feel. So I changed to total open world, but realized that my game was progressive in the story and decided that a complete open world would only mess it up.
At this time I barely have a prototype going, and I'm okay with that. The reason I'm not worried is because I wanted to know where I wanted to take this game and how I wanted it to look before I started building. I didn't want to get past the prototype and start adding the detail in only to realize I need to completely change my strategy and have to cause a lot of rework.
So if you are working on a game and have barely gotten anything done on it, don't beat yourself up over it. Games aren't built overnight, and the bigger your dream game, the longer it will take to build.
I am someone who doesn't like to spend money if I don't have to, which caused me to research and find ways around having to shell out money. In the end I did purchase a handful of assets while they were on sale, and even managed to find some free ones that did everything I needed them to. I'm working on some of the game assets myself, but needed a little help on some of my environment. I also have a few tools to help me build out the game a little faster and allow for easy changes.
The tools that help me with the game are probably my most important purchases, I could have done things the manual way, but if there are tools that are decently priced, on sale or even free that will save me hours of time, it was worth looking in to.
Right now I am getting familiar with some of the advanced tools and workflows I need to perform so I can start plugging away on my game properly. I am still prototyping everything out, but I essentially have a dummy project where I use it to experiment.
If you are working on a game, especially your first game, it doesn't matter what stage you are at in it. Just keep plugging away at it and it will get done. If you are needing some inspiration or some insight on what to do or not do in your game, just do a quick search and watch some videos. Believe me, watching videos on what worked or didn't work for a game helped me make some decisions that I never thought of.