Showcase Product pre-planning, Round 2

(Khionu Sybiern) #1

Please read the entire post. The immediate prompt is below the questions.

The purpose of this thread is to discuss elements relating to theme, target audience, gameplay feel, and other more aesthetic and meta details. By the end of this discussion, we should have the following questions answered:

  • What is our cosmetic theme?
    • SciFI? Steampunk? Is the map in space or on the ground?
  • What moods do we want to invoke?
    • Dystopian, war time, adventure
  • What should the player worry about while playing?
    • Stealth? Theft? Side routes? Environmental risks?
  • What kind of gamer are we looking to attract?
    • Do we want to attract people who like League? Stellaris? While we can be a mix of elements, our target audience should be more narrow.
  • What kind of loop do we want the gamer to go through, in their mind and in their actions?
    • Ie Upgrades, Defenses, Push, Repeat.
  • Do we want cooperative play? If so, how does cooperation look?
    • Roles like in League? More specialized? Less? More freestyle?

Let’s start with theme. I’ve seen little to no interest in a fantasy setting, so some level of advanced tech is probably what we’ll go for. Steampunk? Sci Fi? I would note that having it on the ground would mean we have more options for map styling, though we can do the same things for space, too, with a bit of creativity.

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(Abovegame) #2
  • What is our cosmetic theme?
    • In a way i would prefer if we choose ground for our map ( terrain ). It gives us more flexibility towards the map aesthetics eg. different biomes. Preferably steampunk is what i would go for unless we could go with a more like magic / medieval fantasy ?
  • What moods do we want to invoke?
    • Since we want to make this 1v1 or a team vs. team game i would go for a war time type of feel.
  • What consideration should the gameplay impose?
    • Not sure what do you mean by this ? Perhaps you could rephrase it.
  • What kind of gamer are we looking to attract?
    • I assume we want to try and attract people who prefer RTS and MOBA genre ?
  • What kind of loop do we want the gamer to go through, in their mind and in their actions?
    • More like Engage -> Improve Economy -> Upgrades -> ( ? ) -> Repeat.
  • Do we want cooperative play? If so, how does cooperation look?
    • I don’t have any ideas about this for now.
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(Khionu Sybiern) #3

Edited the OP.

MOBAs and RTS widely vary. We need to be a bit more specific. Overwatch and League are both MOBAs, for example, but they target very different audiences. While we can say we’re trying to merge RTS and MOBA, the result will be more narrow than “a MOBA RTS”. We could be trying to bring more MOBA to RTS, which means we could be catering to a more “competitive RTS” audience.

Trying to get more specific than this. But this is also why this should be more of a discussion than just everyone giving their input to the questions. I didn’t mean for the questions to be a prompt, but more for the scope that the discussion should stay within.

So, I’d like to bring this back to theme, and stay there till we’re happy with our answers.

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(doomy) #4

A beginning theme is great to get our minds on the same page. However, we should work on visuals asynchronously to development and put as much thought into how the game looks & feels over the entire course of the game’s development. In the meantime our main focus should be core gameplay.

I’m unsure if it is too early to suggest, but I would like to request taking responsibility for managing art direction. We have a lot of very talented artists and we must make sure we’re all working towards the same set of goals.

I have several ideas I’ve been working on in my off-time that I will be able to share when I finish working today.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #5

I agree, to an extent. However, we’re currently unbounded by theme, and having individuals work on issues asynchronously without that bounding will lead to a more disjointed result. Having the questions I outlined answered will allow us to stay on the same page and not branch too far away from each other.

Once we have a general idea of what we want to work towards, mechanically and thematically, we can work asynchronously to fill it all in.

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(doomy) #6

Good idea and thoughts. I will provide a writeup tonight on my thoughts moving forwards to add to our forum of ideas.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #7

I’m definitely not against having project management broken up like this… but I’ll need to chew it over, though. Being in the position I am in is relatively new to me, and I’m still trying to get a feel for our team as a whole.

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(Karll) #8

Post before edit above, because I didn’t pay attention ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m fairly inclined to a theme around Mechas, kaiju/whatever-is-invading, and an art direction akin to Neon Genesis Evangelion, mostly because it is a popular but not overly explored theme. NGE has interesting visual with it’s combination of summer, futuristic seaside cities, green landscapes, humanoid giant robots and wtf-is-this creatures invading peacefully calm, happy and empty summer cities.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #9

Thank you Karil, but as I said to Above, this isn’t going to be productive if everyone treats those questions as a template.

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(Théo Degioanni) #10

I think @khskarl covers all I’d say in terms of gameplay. Maybe however upgrades shouldn’t be too dismissed, I really enjoyed the idea of customizing your own units.

All general themes suggested so far seem very interesting. I have no strong opinion on them.

I think coopérative play is a must have. I stated somewhere else that it’s good on both gameplay and marketing.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #11

To be clear, we’re not confusing multiplayer and cooperative?

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(Théo Degioanni) #12

Yes. I meant cooperative play specifically, opposed to cooperative play only.
Basically I’m advocating for team vs team really.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #13

Alright. I previously mentioned that multiplayer was more or less a must, I just wanted to make sure we were discussing cooperative play specifically.

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(Karll) #14

Sorry, my bad. :sweat_smile:

You have a good point, so I have edited the post to focus on the discussion around the theme.

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(doomy) #15

Some ideas about a space theme:

  1. Simpler to animate. While we can still have beautiful and complex animations with any thing, inorganic stuff (like spaceships) tend to be quicker and easier to animate than organic characters, since you don’t need to deal with bone influence weights, etc. for the most part.
  2. The WASD-based movement as specified in the original idea works very well with vehicle-type characters. It makes more sense for humanoid characters (such as in LoL) to move with mouse-based controls since having legs lets you move more freely.

A similar solution could be terrestrial, and feature war machines of some sort (kind of like tank battles, but with customizable, futuristic vehicles). The only problem I can see arising is clunky controls that don’t mix with more enclosed environments. I’m sure that could be tweaked to work, though.

BTW, this post is more-or-less stream of consciousness, and the more I think about this direction, the more I like it. I think we could have less restraint with a land theme.

The biggest issue with a space theme is that it’s difficult to populate, especially in top-down. It’s very easy to make it look empty and devoid of life. A terrain with minor details and shading often looks great on its own. Landmarks and map boundaries are easier to define, and game plans are more calculated and less random.

Honestly, this is kind of funny. I sat down at the computer fully expecting to defend my view of a starship shooter, and it seems I talked myself out of it :slight_smile:

tl;dr

Part of the drawbacks of stream-of-consciousness writing at midnight is that I write a lot of stuff that might not make sense to anyone else. So as a summary:

  1. Space theme is great for movement mechanics
  2. Land theme lends itself to more options
  3. I’m leaning towards a terrestrial theme after fleshing out my thoughts

Notes on terrestrial style

I’m happy @khskarl brought up NGE - it’s one of the few anime I’m familiar with. It’s a little silly and even pretentious at times, but the parts that I love about it are the absurdity of the unknown & the fun of discovery. The antagonists of NGE operate under completely different rules of reality which makes it consistently intriguing. I’m not set on mech stuff per-say (because it often comes off as hokey in video games if not done very well) but I love the feeling of that sort of atmosphere. It’s the same fantastical environment that drew me into games like Halo or shows like Star Trek.

Moving forwards

Definitely I’d like us to keep this discussion open so we can get everyone’s thoughts. I’d also like to suggest some actionable goals we can work towards.

  1. Style & Mood boards
    I come from a design background where these methods are used constantly. The same stuff is helpful for visual direction as well. Basically, it’s a compilation of inspiration from anything. Games, movies, books… assembled into one spot it can help us understand what we want to build. I would suggest after this conversation has reached a conclusion to compile several different styles, and then pick one to run with.

  2. Visual Targeting
    After doing some light research, I found this exceptional article on game art direction. It suggests to create visualizations of what the completed project is to look like. Of course, we can’t predict everything right off the bat, but I believe it would be useful in unifying our direction. After we assemble a style & mood, we can create some comps.

  3. Narrative
    I also propose that once we decide on a theme that we have at least some light worldbuilding in place. It’s much easier to create a cohesive visual style when that style is dictated by the story of that environment.

I’m probably getting a bit ahead of myself here, so I’ll leave it at that! I’d really like to hear thoughts about the space vs. terrestrial thing, or know if anyone has a completely different idea that I didn’t even think of.

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(Khionu Sybiern) #16

I’m thinking I would like to have @doomy take on design leadership. So far, design by committee has yielded separate input, but not cross-idea productivity. Doomy has been the only one so far to attempt this, and so I think he would do good at pulling a vision together.

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(Karll) #17

I support the decision, would also like to add that he is a rather active member who seems really motivated for the role.

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(doomy) #18

Thanks khionu and all. I’m hoping to get a post up this weekend to continue discussion for the art/design side of stuff (work work has been hectic lately).

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(doomy) #19

Okay! After some thought, I got a document together. I may update it, so I recommend you check the link as it also includes pictures.. I will repost the text a few paragraphs below. Right now it’s a bit rough, but I hope to refine the wording more as I progress.

I want to share my thoughts on taking steps forwards. Here’s the general process I invision:

  1. Finalize game idea (finished)
  2. Create mood & style boards, descriptions (in progress)
  3. Begin worldbuilding & concepts
  4. Build a visual target
  5. Block out rough progression & more detailed styles (and narrative, if applicable)
  6. Work asynchronously on assets
  7. Review

As I do more research on most effective practices, this might change.

The text of the link posted above is copied here. I’m not going to post the images here, though. This document outlines the general direction and style of the game, and suggests some basic worldbuilding for discussion as well.

Document:

Showcase Project - Mood Board 1

Attributes

  • Physical
    • Less holograms, lasers, or sleek vehicles
    • Think more physical weapons, large & practical vehicles
    • Something that feels attainable & real in the space-age future
  • Vivid
    • Lots of analogous, saturated colors
  • Clean
    • Should not be gritty / dark / edgy / etc.
    • Painter-like realistic texturing (Similar to the methods used in TF2 and LoL).
  • Semi-Realism
    • Slightly exaggerated
    • Think subdued Sci-Fi fantasy
      • Borderlands & Mirrors edge (character designs) are a good example of this semi-realistic style

Possible Worldbuilding

  • Futuristic
    • Advanced Technology
    • Space exploration is common
    • Alien life?
      • Not yet discovered
  • Relaxed Future
    • No known “end-of-the-universe” type situation (at least to the majority of people)
    • “Wild West” in the sense that laws are difficult to enforce, and communities are more isolated
  • Technology
    • FTL Travel (Warp)
  • Setting
    • Star system
      • Battles take place on different continents / moons
      • All gameplay is set on land
      • no space battles
  • Supernatural / Religion
    • NGE is a great inspiration and reference for this
    • Scientific magic? Exploring supernatural topics under the lens of science
    • General absurdism

Questions

  • What is motivation for finding system that the game setting takes place?
    • Some resource there to save/destroy another important place?
  • Why combat?
    • Fighting over that resource?
    • Or, unknown objective. The mystery is sometimes the best part.

Notes on Movement & Characters

  • Characters should be shown in some capacity - whether it’s audio, illustration, etc.
  • Player will always be in a vehicle
    • Vehicle controls similarly to the original spacecraft idea - except for on land. It can be something along the lines of a hovercraft

Technical

Take these points with a grain of salt, they can easily change/be incorrect. I’m technical, but not that technical.

  • A PBR workflow for materials would be beneficial if possible
  • Terrain
  • Static lighting
  • Basic reflections
  • Support for 3D animations

Moodboards

See link

Conclusion

This should hopefully provide more details on my thought processes. And please give me feedback & suggestions if possible :slight_smile:

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(Karll) #20

Personally I would call “Stylized realism” on what you described in semi-realism, but I’m just being pedantic for the sake of a more specific description.

I’m all in for saturated colours, clean visual and some inspiration from Mirror’s Edge! Love that! Man-made buildings could use more defined and contrasting visuals, while natural environments may have a look more in the painterly side of things.

I think it would be interesting to consider mixing the use of colour schemes depending on the thing being coloured. For example, in a hypothetical game with mechs vs monsters, it would add an interesting contrast if man-made environment used complementary colour schemes and natural environment used analogous color schemes and less saturation.

World building: I’m biased over Supernatural, gotta love some absurdism and the contrast of it with science.

Technical: I would consider PBR an important point if this game should be something to attract people to Amethyst, not so much on basic reflections as these may be less necessary than they seem. Personally I think these points aren’t so important right now, it’s probably something for after having formed a visual target and before starting assets.

[Edit]
This is an interesting document on NPR (Non-photorealistic rendering) regarding TF2, it describes in detail their approach, both technically and artistically wise.

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