Archive for August, 2007

A note on Philosophy

Well, I wanted to sort of introduce you fine folks to what I think makes a game fun, and give you an idea of what flavor of entertainment you can expect from me.

And away we go…

The core of my ‘design philosophy’ (which is an ostentatious term I know, but what the hell, let’s roll with it) orbits around the idea that we have been playing rehashes of the same handful of generic games for quite a while now. Surely the graphics have been updated, and maybe a new novelty is tossed in the mix, but essentially it’s been the same first person shooter, the same RTS, the same MMORPG, etc. etc. We’ve all been playing Pac-Man, only now he has individually rendered hairs. I think that graphics are largely overrated, and the rude game play equation needs to be the pillar supporting any truly great game. Don’t get me wrong, graphics are pretty…that’s what they do, but the foundation needs to be strong before prettiness should even be considered, lest ye waste your time spit polishing a turd. So what I’m hoping to do is put together some engaging and truly fun distractions, and if I’m lucky, maybe even create something great.

When I think of ‘something great’ in the context of a game, it should conform to a few simple parameters:

– Only be as graphically complicated as is minimally necessary.

– The ‘entertainment value’ should lie in a well executed and engaging game mechanic, and should lean secondarily on the specific content. (and by ‘content’ I mean story lines, game maps, dialog, cut scenes and all that sort of thing)

– Strong replay value is a must, so the noble goal is to have either:

A) Engaging, dynamically generated content

B) Simple yet addicting gameplay, upon which ‘content’ is thinly draped (not to beat the pac-man thing to death, but it’s a good example)

– A game should aspire to enhance the experience of playing in some new and interesting way, or at least approach an old favorite from a idiosyncratic new angle.

So that’s the grand plan, which I hope to be able to actually implement, but I acknowledge that (especially in the beginning) I may not be able to fully realize. It’s unavoidable that producing anything complex (in this case, software) is a constant series of trade-offs, but each compromise is made one goal in mind: barter for as much quality as you can get.

Given that this whole endeavor is essentially a lark and a hobby at this point, I have the luxury of trying new ideas with wild abandon, so I’m damn well going to do it. I fully expect that some, if not most, will be total failures. I guess that’s just the nature of the game if you’re trying to pull off something truly worthwhile. If I have to climb a mountain of failures to build something great at the summit, then it’s time well spent. (how’s that for a dramatic metaphor!)

So stay tuned, and have enjoy the ride, I know I will.

-Joe out.

Timidity prevails.

So, not unlike a quickly sobering bar fly, I have decided to put ‘the girls’ away. The pre-pre-Alpha has been taken offline, after having gathered some feedback and info from the select small group of folks that even know this project exists at this point.

I was made aware of some fairly serious performance issues in the game engine, mostly due to pathfinding. So I’ve retooled the guts a bit to allow more graceful scheduling of that most processor intensive part of the engine, and that should help pep things up a bit when the zombie count gets ridiculous.

At this point I’m implementing a rudimentary animation engine, so the action will get a bit prettier in future iterations. I’m wary that the increased prettiness will have a hefty performance cost, so we’ll have to see what trade-offs prove to be worthwhile as the situation develops.

I anticipate that I have another month of development before I’m ready to unleash the game. I was hoping for a shorter time line, but I want to be sure it’s done properly. Hell, a month may even be optimistic, but I’m going to cling that hope never the less.

Aaaaand, I think that wraps it up for now.

Move along citizens, nothing to see here.

-Joe out.

Half baked Alpha

Well, I’ve thrown a half baked Alpha version of the game on the main site. It is really in need of artistic polish and still needs a few game engine loose ends tied up, but I needed to get something out to start letting folks play with it and give me some feedback. There is a part of me that feels that revealing the game too soon is a mistake, but I’m fairly sure that the current obscurity of the project will insulate me from making a bad first impression. So go and check it out if you’d like, but expect that the current incarnation will most probably be taken offline for future incubation in fairly short order.