Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Interesting Survey

Recently, a guy posted in the GameDev forums about a survey he was undertaking. He recently posted his results, you can view them here

The findings are very interesting and I highly recommend having a look, some of the results are quite surprising. The survey covered 7 key forum types and, while is by no means a complete demographic of everyone (2 different sections are to do with game content creation and they are all video game related), this is pretty much the target audience of any game that I will make in the next 5 years, so it is highly relevant for me. The survey recived a fairly impressive 1540 responses.

There are a couple of things which are particularly intriguing. Firstly, I am pleased to announce that RTS's are still near the top in popularity (unsurprisingly FPS is the no. 1, especially considering one of the forums is a HL2 one!)

Another result was that most people, unless they play for more than 24hrs, don't play more than for 12. Whether this is because games fail to hold their attention or because that after about 12 hours something else comes along is not clear. Should, as a developer, I use this as a guideline for how long the main portion of my game take to complete, or should I use this as a target? Ie. does it need to be about 12 hours or at least 12 hours.

Another key area of the survey is the "Key Aspects" which is what people want from a game. Unsuprisingly, looking at the list of forums, gameplay is at the top. However, people will inevitably put this, because when you are not playing a game, it is clear that this is what SHOULD matter. I found what came second and third to be more insightful. High up is depth and story. The thing that I personally find imporant, game customisation, was not voted that important. Given the forums, I find this suprising. The story is something I hadn't really considered, as I find that the best stories are player created. Whether people who voted story meant a system that would allow the player to experience their story I don't know, but the implication is not.

As for depth, I think this means things like back story continuity and things to do hours in to the game that you have only just found out about. Depth is somewhat of a buzz word, but ceartinaly something worth considering, as it came so high.

The survey did ask what price would people be prepared to pay for a decent game. The implied meaning of decent is one in which there is reliable evidence that the game will be good and to their taste. A question I would like to see answered is how much would people be prepared to pay for a game which has a less proven record. Not that people said it is bad, as no one wants to pay for something rubbish, but as an Indie developer, what would people be prepared to pay for a game which looks potentially good, but is very much a gamble.

See the results in full

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A user created content centerd MMORPG

After reading this post on forums, a seed of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) was planted in my head. No, it is not a clone of World of Warcraft or any other current MMOG. The closest thing I can think of is Second Life, however, it is very much a game (as opposed to Second Life, where the game aspect is somewhat lacking)

All users would be able to create both rooms and items. Rooms would be a 2D world for players to explore. Anyone who wanted to create a room would use a simple script editor and an image editor to create any world they wanted. Obviously, to keep maintenance down, rooms would be hosted remotely by anyone who wanted one. The central game would not be responsible for the rooms content. Connecting to a room would be as simple as find the rooms unique RP Address (spoof on IP) These rooms could be big or small.

Users would also be able to create items. Once again, this would be made with a script editor and a image program. People could make these items do anything within the bounds of the game (and here is where it gets complicated) I thought about this game and concluded that to create items, the user must do something that requires time. Let me explain how I can see the item creator being used.

What I really wanted to happen is someone use the game in an imaginative way (which could happen, have you seen what people have done with Forge?). They make an item which really pushes the boundaries of what can be archived. Then, they place it in their room. If the user was allowed to create them without any limit, however, the item would become worthless really quickly. If, on the other hand, the user had to spend time completing something every time he wanted to make the item - think of the emergent game possibilities.

Rare items could become mere legend. Someone developed a way of doing something really cool (and this is where I am stuck - I can't work out what these things could be) but only made one. He placed it deep within his room, puzzles must be solved, mazes explored and maybe even enemies defeated. Then, he would make maybe one more, show it to people, show what it could do, and give them the RP. Everything is finite, so once someone has taken it, someone has taken it. Obviously, there are logistical issues with this - what if someone took the item and left the game. But there are solutions to these problems. But it would be like an ever evolving adventure.

I have long dreamed of playing a game where you are finding stuff out and doing genuine research to get something. I got a real buzz when reading Harry Potter (laugh if you want!) and researching forgotten branches of magic.

The problem that faces me is: what kind of things can you create. It is easy to say: "Let the user create what he wants". But there needs to be something to create. The only way I can see this working is through two layers. The network layer would be kept completely separate and no one would have access to it. However, the game play layer would be available to anyone. One would have to write a comprehensive top down RPG in it's own right. Everything would have to be soft coded (Using a variable instead of a number, eg, user moves a "speed" where speed can equal 10 as opposed to user moves at speed 10) Everything would have to be structured in a logical way in which most of the rules of the game were compeltly emergent (an outcome of building a base set of rules, for example, with a full physics engine, the behaviour of the objects is emergent, they weren't told to do specific things, just react to a set of rules)

What needs to be done is work out different things that could be made by the user. None the less, I think their is potential in the idea, ask me again Jan 2010.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Boids in 3D

I did it. I have completed my Boids motion flash project. The boids now stay on screen pretty much, do not accelerate to stupid rates and all 3 laws do work as expected.

I also managed to implement a depth motion as well. Although it is not perfect - boids are not rendered according to their depth (ie. boids can appear in front of boids they are actually behind) However, to fix this, I would have to re-draw every boid every frame, assigning them new MC (movie clip) names using the createMovieClip() function. However, everyone I asked said it was barley noticable.

You can view the finished result here
I also converted it in to a Windows32 screensaver, which you can download here.

I created the screensaver using InstantStorm. Botworks does not take responsibility for any damage caused by downloading the screen saver - it worked on my computer!