View Full Version : Why I make Games

05-05-2005, 11:27 AM
The reason I write games is that I want to write the sort of Game I myself would play. Obviously to achieve this I need to know what game I want to play. I have been thinking about this game for about three years now and have finally decided to take the time and write down some of my ideas.

I love Science Fiction and Fantasy, therefore its clear to me that my game needs to be based in one of these settings. As fantasy has always been my favorite I the game will be in that setting. I grew up as a Dungeons and Dragons player, this sort of setting is my favorite for games. Strangely I always enjoyed Starcraft more than WarCraft.

When it comes to computer games there are only two genres of games that I enjoy, these are the RTS genre and the City Building/Simulation Genre. My ultimate game would therefore be a combination of these two genres. My problem with RTS games is that they usually feel like a race to build the biggest base, highest technology and then smash the opponent. Also every race in the games basically functions in the same way - Collect resource X and Y and use them to build units and buildings. My problem with city building games is that the world consists of more than one city. Why should I have to build one big city that revolves around a single area instea dof building lots of little towns scattered around the landscape.

Based on my preferences and the problems I feel my favorite games have I want to create an RTS type game that incorporates city building game play. This means that building the cities should be a core aspect of the game. Having a single city is not neccessarily the best option. Also each race included in the game must function in significantly different ways. Learning to play another race should be like starting to play a new game.

To make each race different I want to make sure that the resources that they use, the feedback value types, the units they have and their technology trees are significantly different. As I'm including the city building aspect we can also use the feedback information types that a traditional city building game has such as availability of shops, temples etc. Just as in a standard RTS game different levels of units should be available to the player (Farmer, Soldier, Knight) etc, but when they become available will differ based on the race being played.

I've though of four races so far. Human Civilised, Human Barbarian, Elf and Humanoid (Goblin, Orc and Ogres). The humans will probably function very similar to the standard RTS and City Building games. Build farms to feed paople, build various buildings to keep people happy and fed etc. The people need to be kept happy by having access to different types of products (ie imports are neccessary) and churches/temples. Civilised humans are more based on a city building structure where you need to build villages and turn them into towns etc, while the Barbarians are more likely to need some pillaging and raiding to stay happy.

The Humanoids are very different. They do not need farms or buildings but they draw their sustenance from the area around them (basically hunter/gatherers) and the longer they stay in an area the less and less the area can support them. They do not need to be kept happy but require a blood level, ie how much the kill and pillage.

The Elves are again different, although they do have buildings and things they get their resource from nature. So they need to tend and defend the natural environment in which they live. Making a building is traumatic to the natural world and as such lowers their resources until nature accepts the new building. Elves dont like blood not need happiness, they need beauty. Beauty to an elf is the natural environment in which they live, therefor they need to defend their woods from raiders etc. Of course combat also scars people and would obviously decrese their beauty, so getting into fightsis something the elves try to avoid.

I've also had some thoughts on a Dwarven race. They need stone access which they get through mining etc.

The idea is that all the races compete with one another in various different ways. The Humanoids want to attack every one to get more blood which gives them access to better units and technology, The civilised humans need to be happy and import goods, which barbarians or Humanoids would love to pillage. The Elves want the world to stay as is but everyone else want to grow bigger.

For AI I'd like to see various levels of AI. Firstly at unit level where the unit tries to optimise their own Happiness, Blood or Beauty; Humans want access to church and shops and security, Humanoids want to kill someone and move to new areas to stay strong, Elves want to avoid combat and spend time contemplating the world. Secondly a level of AI that optimes groups of units; So a town of People would try to build the right buildings to make the villagers more happy, while a tribe of humanoids would look at moving to better areas - requiring scouting, and elves would set traps and obstacles where other races often go) Thirdly a political level of AI that would manage a faction in the game. This would then try and optimise their own teams scores, worrying about the tech tree etc.

A AI only game of Civilised humans for example would end up in a more or less peaceful society where they trade goods between them and have borders between factions. Each faction then trying to get happier by building the right type of buildings etc. A AI only game of humaoids would be in constant nomadic movement with skirmishes between the factions as a contstant and ongoing way of life. An AI game of Elves would be mostly peaceful with occasional conflicts between them to secure their own patches of nature. As each faction builds new buildings they disrupt the balance of nature through out the game causing each faction to adjust them selves to repair the damage.

Game where multiple races are involved would obviously involve a lot more conflict and reaction.

This isn't a complete list of my ideas as some are still being formulated. For example how to create a benefit for the Civilised humans to build multiple villages as opposed to asingle city. As each idea gets finalised I add it to my catalog of ideas in my head. This post should give you an idea of what I want to accomplish.

05-05-2005, 11:57 AM
I recently played Armies of Exigo. It may be worth downloading the demo and playing it as it has some similar elements to what you talk about. If for nothing else to see how someone else has tried to do something.
You also mentioned some features it does not have.

08-05-2005, 06:34 PM
I found the exigo demo on one of my NAG magazine disks. I played through the single player demo and its YAF RTS (Yet another Fantasy RTS) as said in one RTS review Isaw.

For example the Humans and the Beasts are both using the same resources - which is opposite of what I want - I want individuality betweent he races etc.

The sprites on Reiners tilesets site are probably getting close enough to do an RTS game. I'm thinking of giving it a try and building a Human vs Human RTS game. I'd need to do my own buildings and things but I can probably get it right with Milkshape given enough time.

I'd aim for about 6 different units (Builder/Woodcutter/Carrier, Farmer, Swordsman, Archer, Knight, Ninja) and say about the same number of buildings. Initially I'll keep it really simple with building, harvesting etc (think warcraft 1).

If I structure it well enough with enough game play in scripts it should be quick and simple to add new factions.

Mmm, sound slike a nice idea. :)
Time for a bit of design...

09-05-2005, 01:11 AM
I haven't yet completed a game and perhaps I never will. But for the past few months (in what little spare time I have) I have been engaged in the making of a game and it has been one of the most thrilling intellectual and creative pursuits I've ever engaged in. This brain food is the reason why I (try to) make games. While I would be disappointed if I never actually completed a game, it actually doesn't matter too much to me. The old saying about the journey being more important than the goal rings true in this particular case for me.

One thing I have learned from this experience so far: I have come to the opinion that the very high quality games, e.g. Unreal Tournament and Half-Life, represent some of the most advanced intellectual endeavours currently being carried out by humans. The attempt to simulate the real world in real time ... that combination of tasks is a daunting one requiring great minds. I don't think I exaggerate when I say that. So I'm in awe and admiration of anyone who has completed a game, no matter how rudimentary it might be. Which is perhaps another reason why I wouldn't be too fussed if I failed to complete one myself.

Game genres is one of my pet topics. I feel that there are too many games on certain subjects, and too few on others. First, there are too many violent games. I am not against violence in games, but I just think that there's too much. Second, there are too many WWII wargames. I feel inspired to buck this trend, at the risk of contradicting my first point. Third, there are too many Tolkien-style fantasy role-playing games. I suppose I'm not much of a fan of Tolkien and the Oxford "fantasists" with their longing for a simpler era. Fourth, AI sucks. While graphics have come an insanely long way in an insanely short amount of time, AI has advanced relatively little. Not surprising when you consider that AI is not a matter of faster processor cycles and larger memory.

OK, I've written enough nonsense.

09-05-2005, 03:11 AM
Hey William, I have not passed this one by! I've been meanning to read it. In fact I just haven't had the proper amount of time aside, as I don't want to just skim over it, but actually read it fully.

I'll make the time sometime this week. ;)

09-05-2005, 05:19 AM
Making a game is a lot of hard work. About 3 years ago I decided I would only do 2D games until I write my "ultimate game". Since then I have slowly built up my abilities to a point where I can start making proper games. This decision was a key turning point in my game development "career" as it ment I started working to a realisable goal.

On a good week I get about 10hours that I can work on my Games. A decent game (something like Run-A-War) takes me about 100 hours of work to do. (This excludes 90% of graphics as I use Reiners). Problem is with a job that taken 45-60 hours a week and a family (inc 3 kids) working this hard on games completely wears me out. Since Run-A-War I have done the LD48 hour contest and almost no other game development, basically because I just dont feel like it.

So from my point of view - game development is a balance between - realistic goals - effort - and dreams.

Unrealistic goals, TOO much effort or no dream means it just wont work. I have a goal, I try to balance my effort and I know what I want to achieve - by having them structured like this I believe I can achieve the game I listed above.

My guess is that I'll have it done in about 3-6 years time :)

09-05-2005, 07:52 PM
Glad to see someone making good use of the creative section of the forums. I too have problems finishing games and like you William have decided to work on realisable goals and work my way up but enough about me and so onto your design...

While reading through your reasoning behind the game mechanics I got to thinking about why RTS all seem to end up with each warring faction using what are ultimately the same unit types (i.e Infantry, Light, Medium and Heavy Armour, Artillery, etc) with slightly different effects to add a sense of strategy to the proceedings (Axis have weaker aircraft but better tanks, perhaps). While the differences between races are there, it's never as drastic as in the way you have described in your ideal game and the reason for this is balance. The bigger the difference between two factions the harder it is for the game to be balanced so that neither faction has any real advantage over the course of a round/match/level. This is particuarly evident with the online component that supplements most modern RTS's. Players/playtesters will complain that X faction is particuarly weak and call for a "nerfing" (downgrade) of it's most powerful weapon despite the fact that it is weak in another area(s) of play. So the developers succumb to the mounting pressure from the players and so they nerf the weapon. Repeat this ad infinitum until every faction has equal weapons and the game becomes like every other RTS on the market and every match becomes a race to build a base and get the first tank rush underway. This is a problem that has comfounded developers since the original Command and Conquer. I am not trying to dissuade you from your goals, in fact quite the opposite in fact I commend your efforts to bring something new to the RTS and look forward to a glimpse of your gaming ideal. I'm just trying to hopefully shed some light onto what it is that has caused the RTS genre to stagnate to the point that only AAA titles with production values in the tens of millions can break the mould (Warcraft 3, Rome: Total War). When the time comes I'll be available to play test your design and offer any helpful feedback. Good luck and I hope it doesn't take 3-6 years. :D

ps, sorry for the essay type response.

10-05-2005, 05:27 AM
I agree on the issues of Balance. The easiest way to make a game balanced is to have everything equal, but to me this makes the game a lot less interesting.

In game design there are a number of principles that need to be followed (I've tried dabbling in Board game design as well) and there are two that to me apply here:

1. Game Balance - everyone should have an equal chance
2. How does someone coming last catch up - there should be some mechanism in the game to allow someone thats behind to catch up.

From my design I want to approach each one seperatly.
1. Game Balance - as each race will use a different set of resources the game balance will come through finding how many of each resource the various races need to gather. (Does killing a farmer give 3 or 7 blood points, does a human cutting down a tree loose 10 or 2% of the elven beauty points). The amount of resourcing will then enable the strength of the race (obviously this will require a LOT of testing:) )
2. Each race should have a way of catching up. Now I find this difficult to apply to the elven Race I've suggested but if Humans are lagging behind the elves a sudden effort in cutting down the forests - resulting in a large war would immediatly slow down the elves. Humans lagging behind the humanoids could possibly raise a militia from their towns folk for a short period etc.

I dont make any excuses that balancing my ideas will be easy but I dont think that should be an obstacle.

I dont plan on an AAA title - I hope for a decent Indie title. :)

Reiner has just added a builder sprite :) to his web site

So for Humans I have
Farmer, Carrier, Builder, Woodcutter, Swordsman, Archer, Knight, Ninja (and lots of others)
Gnome, Orc, Ogre
Archer, Swordsman, (Could modify some others quite easily to make priests, mages etc)
Pirates, Barbar, Barbarian King, Female Barbarian (This is probably not enough for a human race....)