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Monthly Archives: December 2012

It’s been plenty long since my last update, and a lot has happened since.

After graduating, I joined with DeezGames (and Mediaspike) for about five months, doing mostly server work for Celebrity Meltdown, an unreleased Facebook game based on a pretty famous celebrity (though I don’t think I’m legally allowed to say who publicly but a pretty big name). I had a great time, and learned a ton under Adhi Chittur, Blake Commagere, Dan Dodd, and everyone else. I actually don’t know how much I can say about the game, given the current state it’s in, but I’ll say it was surprisingly cool and fun for the genre it was. I could see it getting a good audience just based on it’s great content, and it’s somewhat defiance to others in the genre. All in all, I had a great time in DeezGames, and I’m really gonna miss everyone there.

I’m also not sure how much I can say publicly about DeezGames/Mediaspike. What I will say is that, due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ve had to make my departure from DeezGames. I am happy to say that this departure of was no ill-will whatsoever, and that I am still in good contact with everyone from Deez. Outwards and Upwards, that’s what I always say.

I’m back in the spin of applying, engineering interviews, etc etc. I have to say, it’s been somewhat easier this time around, especially with my gain in server knowledge. I’m not 100% sure though that server programming is my ultimate end-goal, but it’s an interesting enough field that I do want to learn more about it in relation to game design and development. I do have many game ideas that involve some aspect of network (my one prototype for radio was probably my most developed idea involving networking). I just hope I can find a great place that’s more closer to or in San Francisco rather than down in south peninsula.

One sort of small, side project that I’ve been working on in my free time is a game idea that I had in my head towards the end of my time at Deez. I’ve just recently started a small prototype in Game Maker that I’ve been calling Stick ‘Em Up, here’s a screenshot:

shootemup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yay programmer art! It’s not too much right now, mainly since I’ve been playing with the combat of the game, trying to get it to a good, fun state. Right now, you can move your green guy around, pick up those guns on the ground, and shoot at walls which ricochet off. I’m going to be putting in NPCs in with very basic AI to shoot/attack on sight, possibly to also pick up guns when they are unarmed or out of ammunition.

I guess to put this game into a simple pitch: An isometric action/puzzle game where levels are semi-procedurally generated. The objective for your character: rob a bank, or train, or whatever the hell gets generated. There’s going to be many different ways to execute your objective, but it’s pretty open-ended to how successful your heist is. I’m going to throw in several hard rules that I believe will change the dynamics is how players approach each level, including:

  • Like Binding of Isaac or Spelunky or Rogue, death is permanent. You lose everything on death.
  • The game doesn’t have a definitive win-state. You will usually have the ability to leave the levels at any point without dying, as long as you aren’t in immediate danger.

 

One dynamic I wanted to play with was a player’s willingness to take risks for greater rewards. I had to introduce the idea of perma-death to make sure that the player actually cared about their character, and of all the past-accomplishes they’ve made. This was something I really saw in Day-Z, where your adventure was saved and could be played over multiple play-sessions (as oppose to just one-time-playthrough for BoI or Spelunky). In Day-Z, it was possibly to accumulate plenty of hard-earned gear over many hours of playing. There’s an odd point in Day-Z where you take great care of your surroundings and your situation just because you don’t want to die and lose all of your hard-earned gear. In game, I’ve seen this create amazing emergent gameplay, including very tense moments of players pointing guns at each other, yelling for the other to surrender. You’ll never see that in any other action game simply because you won’t ever lose anything important to you.

An idea I want to introduce to players of my game is the willingness players are to attempt complicated heists while risking their life and hard-earned work with every ticking second on the job. The levels will have many opportunities for different levels of money and rewards. One example I have thought through is for a typical bank level. There are plenty of ways to get money while robbing a bank, including: money at a teller’s station, money from bystander’s wallets and purses, money from a vault, money during a money delivery to that bank (accompanied by heavily-armed guards, of course), and so on. When you look at these scenarios, some are of course riskier than others, and the riskier ones will always have the bigger payoff. I want to see how players would react to the generated levels.

The levels must be generated to some extent for this idea to work. If not, players will simply master levels over many permutations. The levels don’t need to be heavily procedural, just many different random variables that can happen in a level. Going back to the bank example, there can be: different amounts of bystanders, guards, possibility of arriving during a money delivery, how guarded a vault is, how easily it is to break into the vault, how responsive the police are, if a random police officer walks in during a heist, if a bystander tries to be a hero, there’s a lot that can happen in a bank robbery. I want to try and create this tension of uncertainty that I’m sure anyone robbing a bank feels in the heat of it.

A lot of influence for this game came from Hotline Miami, which seemed to perfect top-down rapid action and precision. The theme of my game is going to be pretty different, taking place mostly in the rural south (and possibly northern states) in the early 20th century. I went for this theme because, well, I find the south pretty interesting I guess. I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately, and something I imagine a desperate guy with a potato sack over his head and a six-shooter holding up a bank. One other advantage I get with having this game exist in the south is making it more believable; It’s really REALLY hard to get away with robbing a bank these days unless you’re pulling Oceans 11 type of heists, and there are already plenty of games with mechanics surrounding those high-tech heist themes anyway.

I won’t say anymore about the game right now since there’s still plenty I need to develop on, including playing motivations (why would players take these risks? What kind of rewards will they reap?), but it’s certainly good exercise I can do while I’m out looking for a new job. I also don’t really mind posting about these ideas on my blog because 1) Not a whole lot of eyes will see this blog and 2) Game ideas are a dime a dozen in my book.

That’s it for now, I’m going to try to update this more during my job search.

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