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Old 04-30-2010, 04:42 AM   #1
Isaak
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Default Isaak's Week of Game Design

I want nothing more than forging rich, captivating and awesome experiences through the medium of play and I want to become really, really, really, really good at it.

So, to get to a level I'll be satisfied with I needed a way to reach that goal. In the past few months I've found myself coming up with games virtually everywhere and a lot more frequently. These were mostly inspired by whatever just happened to be around, which is kind of really awesome.

I want to cultivate this, so I've devised a challenge for myself:

Starting from tomorrow (5-1-10) I will come up with a game concept every day. These aren't full fledged designs but do incorporate all the necessary elements to give a proper sense of how the game would play.
So, about 2 pages per game... give or take a few lines.

Everything goes: boardgames, arcade games, racing games, new kinds of sport, games you play with your dog, games for in the bedroom and Guitar Hero 73... the one with the didgeridoo peripheral... which is controlled by your armpits.

Ingredients:
- 1 whiteboard
- too many whiteboard markers
- pen, black
- paper, white... ish
- Evernote
- the boundless imagination of the human mind

Given the time constraint I'm expecting that some... most maybe... won't be all that.
But that's okay; this isn't about results, this is about learning.

As it should be.

I'll be posting the fruits of my labour right here so that you can give feedback.
So, watch this thread!
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:17 AM   #2
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Isaak, doing this will certainly benefit you.

But have you considered trying to make an ACTUAL game every week? If you were using Flash, it wouldn't be all that difficult after a few weeks picking it up.

You might learn more about designing games/immersive experiences by experimenting with simple games that you could actually watch people play, than by totally elaborate ones that just exist in your head. The truth is, simply designing it in your head usually doesn't come close to actually designing a game. You'll skip over the tiny decisions of nuance that can make or break a game. And by letting people actually play your game, you'll be able to see if you've succeeded in making an immersive game, and change things if you haven't.

Another thing, I've heard that most of the games you'd be making if you were a designer at a studio would be given to you already with a concept chosen by someone above you. Like, if your studio gets a movie license and demands it be a third-person shooter or something. That kind of thing happens a lot. Also, it's not uncommon for designers to be put onto projects that have already begun development. The point is, you will rarely have the opportunity to start from scratch and make any kind of game you want. Often a designer's job is to take an idea or project and make it fun. I think designing lots of little actual games and being able to see how people play them would be more pertinent to that.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:43 AM   #3
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Pretty damn cool. Are you going to post pictures of the whiteboard?
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:15 AM   #4
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Day 1 (Saturday)

Cloudhoppers

Overview

Cloudhoppers is a 3rd person, competitive multiplayer platformer/racer where players run across the surface of clouds to get as fast to the finish as possible, jumping from one to the next.

The twist is that players must create their own clouds in order to reach the goal. Creating clouds is done by using Cloudpower.

Creating a cloud drains Cloudpower, but is regenerated by moving over clouds.
In short, the cloud the player is moving on is disappearing under his feet as his Cloudpower is regenerating for the next cloud.

Players can also run across the clouds of other players if they want to steal their Cloudpower, should it be low.

The game is set in Earth's atmosphere, with the levels placed in different temporal regions of the planet: such as tropical, temperate and polar. Various weather phenomena affect the levels' look, with the aim of creating a rich, beautiful, awesome backdrop possible. These include sunrises, sunsets but thunderstorms and hurricanes as well, or even volcanoes.

In addition to the multiplayer mode, the player can also take part in a practice mode and time trials.

Goal

The goal of the game is to reach the finish. The finish however is located much higher than the players starting point, meaning players have to use different types of clouds in order to finish.

Player Victory

The player wins when he reaches the goal. This is done by successfully combining the various types of clouds and making sure the other players stay behind by stealing their Cloudpower.

Player Failure

When his Cloudpower is drained and he is unable to regenerate it, the player loses the ability to create clouds, resulting in his fall to the ground.

Players can also be pushed off their clouds by other players, with the same result.

Should the player fail, he will respawn at the last checkpoint.

Checkpoints

Every X Distance, the player will come across a small but thick cloud field.
This acts as a checkpoint where the player's progress is saved and Cloudpower is restored.

Player Actions

Player characters always run, with the speed at which they travel being controlled by the player.
Players control acceleration and deceleration, in addition to the direction the character travels.

The speeds range from walk to run to sprint.

Walking is used primarily to pass dangerous, unstable types of clouds.

Running is the standard speed at which a character travels.

Sprinting allows the character to jump farther or overtake an opponent. It's ideal to use before a player jumps off a cloud.
Sprinting is limited to an amount of time.

When a player jumps he jumps high and far. Height is necessary for the player to determine where he will 'spawn' the next cloud.

Players can create clouds using their Cloudpower. After jumping

Cloud Types

Since the goal of each level are higher than the player's starting point, the players have to deploy different types of clouds.
These fall in three different categories, which at the same time represent the clouds used in the three stages of each level:

Low clouds, middle clouds and high clouds.

(Note: the height at which the stages start differs per level, as each level takes place in a different temporal region).

Typically low clouds are available from the start of the stage up to 2000m (in height). They are the most stable clouds with the largest surface.
Meaning multiple players can run across one cloud without it scattering immediately.

The player has to switch to middle clouds after passing the 2000m. These provide a more challenging surface to cross as they dissipate quicker and have a smaller surface.

High clouds become available after going past the middle clouds' upper limit.
High clouds are the smallest and most unstable off all clouds.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Designer Commentary

Well, there's the result of day 1 of my endeavours and I'm well into Sunday...
I'm not sure whether to post the result on the same day or the next day. I quite like 'next day', as it gives me a night to sleep on it and a morning to fix whatever I don't like.

But is that the point of it? I'm not sure. Maybe I like it because it's so much like my writing-routine.

Anyway, the design. Take a wild guess what inspired me?
It happened when I took the train back home and there was this awesome sunset with long stretches of clouds hanging over the horizon. "Wouldn't it be cool if you could jump from cloud to cloud and get higher and higher, up into the stratosphere?" I thought.

That thought led to the initial mental notes. I went from those to a singleplayer, time trial-esque game where the player would have to dodge various obstacles such as planes and the like.
But I felt there was a lack of challenge, even with the obstacles and the timer present. The obstacles themselves also didn't quite fit the vision I had for this game.

Planes and UFOs would make it more cartoony while I was going for a more stylized realistic, chill-out-ish vibe... for lack of better words.

Perhaps conflicting, I did want challenge in it, which I added by making the game multiplayer by default.
Multiplayer opened up great possibilities, most of it I haven't even touched upon.

The timer was still in, but now solely in time trials as well as a practice mode.

And thus is the story of this short design concept.
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:01 AM   #5
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It sounds like it could be a very fun game. I think the dynamic created by being able to run on other people's clouds is very important, and would lead to much of the excitement. Also, having the difficulty scale up near the end is always a good way to keep things exciting and it sounds like you've made good use of it with the levels of clouds. Nice job.

Did you think about what I said about making games?
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
It sounds like it could be a very fun game. I think the dynamic created by being able to run on other people's clouds is very important, and would lead to much of the excitement. Also, having the difficulty scale up near the end is always a good way to keep things exciting and it sounds like you've made good use of it with the levels of clouds. Nice job.
Thanks!

Quote:
Did you think about what I said about making games?
Yes, I have.

You're right. Actually making a game every week or so and releasing it would be ten thousand times more educational than just this.
Unfortunately my programming skills are lacking. I'll probably devote a month or so to that during the summer to get things up to speed.
Or I could team up with my friend then.

This is however remedied by my school project, which is pretty far into development.

It's a start, I'm thinking I'll do this every now and then to stay sharp.
Incorporating new knowledge into the next 'weeks', later on actually programming them.
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Last edited by Isaak : 05-02-2010 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:06 AM   #7
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"Simpsons did it!" Super Mario Galaxy 2 trailer. (Spoiler alert?)
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Old 05-02-2010, 02:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protector one View Post
"Simpsons did it!" Super Mario Galaxy 2 trailer. (Spoiler alert?)
... Meh. That was bound to happen sooner or later. Well, sooner in this case.

Unfortunately I wiped my 'board for Cloudhoppers, didn't make a picture of it either.
I shall do so for the next one.
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:19 AM   #9
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Aaaah...I'm lagging behind!

I'm about done with the sunday entry and it's tuesday.
I need to pick up the pace and make up time.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:55 AM   #10
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I'm so disappointed in you.
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