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Is this a plausible for game development? (Forums : Development Banter : Is this a plausible for game development?) Locked
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Mar 17 2013, 10:42am Anchor

Hello everyone. I would like to ask the forum a question on whether my proposal for game development structure is plausible.

Before I start, I would like to mention that I am a long time lurker and this is my first time posting. So please pardon any shortcomings in this post/inquiry. And I would like to apologize in advance for a LONG post below.

What type of game am I interested in developing?

To start things off, the game-type that I am interested in is a "top-bottom Action RPG" - think Diablo, Torchlight, Titan Quest or even Magicka. I do understand that ARPGS are dime-a-dozen, but speaking as an ARPG player (not a hardcore player though), I always felt that something was missing with the games that I have played - "dependent" co-op. What do I mean by lack of "dependent co-op" ? Allow me to explain a bit using Diablo as an example.

Diablo had co-op, I am not denying this. However, there is little to no interaction between Player A's skill-set and Player B's skill-set (and Player C, D and so on). Co-op on Diablo (and other ARPGS I have played) when I play with a friend, we play each of our own characters, and we play together but my friend does not depend on my character's specific skills and vice versa. Gameplay rarely changes, if at all, through combination of character A's skill and character B's skill.

However, Magicka DID have this - where character A uses a skill and character B uses another and with that combination creates a new effect/spell. Player 1 and 2 would depend on each other's skills to create new spells or effects. The only downside, in my humble opinion, was that all characters were mages. No class variation and no specialized roles.

I am interested in creating a game with Diablo's game structure involving various classes (where each class will have specific roles like tank, support, crowd control etc...) and combine the "dependent co-op" style of Magicka, where you can combine skills of class A and class B to create a new effect on the target.

So how much of this "game concept" is complete?

This is where I am probably going to get a lot of hate - it's only an idea at this point. I only have a full game concept at this point in time - classes, skills, skill combinations, world-setting/lore, major plot characters are all written up. But that's about it.

I have designs for the 4 classes that I have in mind (both aesthetics and roles), but they are, once again, a mere concept at this point.
I have designed/thought of all skills for each classes and how they will interact with each other to create unique combination of skills - but only on paper.
I think you get the idea.

But before you pass me off as just another guy who put in one or two months into thinking about a game concept and thinks that his idea is the best shit, please understand that I have been working on this idea/concept for about 2 years and I am fully aware that my idea is still in preliminary stages with a lot of improvements to be made. I have not been working full time on developing the game concept unfortunately. But I did continuously brainstorm and edit various aspects of the game idea over a long period of time. I know it's not much, but it's what I have as of now.

I am thinking of hiring a concept artist via contract to at least put my ideas into visual drawings/designs so others can better understand my ideas (classes, skills/combination etc...). I think this would be the best first step.

Now I have been lurking in these forums long enough to understand that being an "idea guy" doesn't really cut it. And I agree that the "idea guy" should be able to contribute something to the development other than just an idea. This is why the next section is what I need advice on.

What can I bring to the table?

I am interested in games, and would like to develop games. However, at this point in time, I am a mere observer from the outside the gaming industry. So with no prior game-development experience or skill, I do understand that I am little to no use to the development effort. And it is difficult for me to lead in a field where I have no prior knowledge/experience.

What I can bring to the development team is financial support and team-leading experience. I have been fortunate enough that my current job is able to provide me with financial stability, which in turn allows me to invest a bit into a venture of my choice. In this case, I would like to try my hand in game development.

I can provide housing/food for people that are willing to work with me for the duration of the gaming development process, and I THINK (not 100% sure) I can provide assets that the team would need to make the game I described above. And of course upon completion of the game I will compensate all I can to the contributors.

If I do choose to continue down this path, I am able to leave my current job to support the game development full-time in whatever way I can.

That's all good, but what am I asking here really?

With all the information above, I would like to ask - approximately how many people would I need to make this game development get started/moving? And is it viable for me to lead the team with only concept in mind, strong sense of direction I would like to take the game, and financial support?

I do understand that my lack of technical knowledge/experience in the game industry will make it difficult for me to carry this idea through. But I thought I'd post it here to get some advice on how I should go through with it - if at all. Any advice, even negative feedback, will help me a lot in thinking this through.

====

That's all that I have to say at this moment. Like I mentioned above, should I hire a concept artist first to get my ideas in drawing/image form? Will this help in recruiting skilled contributors? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading - sorry it was so long. If I am missing any details please let me know and I'll provide the missing blanks.

Regards,
Yarb

Cryrid
Cryrid 3D Artist
Mar 17 2013, 12:43pm Anchor

It's definitely plausible.

Regarding the game play it reminds me of X-Men Legends, which was one of my favorite gamecube games and has the type of gameplay I've been missing over the years. It was a good mix of action and role playing, great for focusing on 4-player coop, there were benefits for combing unique powers together, and various levels even had environmental obstacles which required certain abilities in order to work around (a large gap might require someone who can build a bridge, fly, teleport, or have a member of the team strong enough to be able to throw someone across). I always thought it would translate nicely to a fantasy theme.

Regarding your role in things, I don't think that sounds far stretched either. One of the reasons people don't like "ideas-only-guy" here is because they usually plan to contribute nothing at all. It's always "I want people to take their time to make my game for me, and IF it's successful then you might get paid". And more often than not it's usually some kid who has nothing to invest from their own pocket, and their only plan to make the game successful is that they think their idea is a unique gift from God. But that all changes when you can actually contribute people for their time with more than just future promises. It makes you a client (and perhaps enters the realm of Producer, depending on how much of your own time you spend overseeing things). And generally the higher you climb in the hierarchy of a game development studio (the bosses' bosses' boss), the more you find people who are less hands-on in the actual development of the game, and are more in control of the people who are.

So here's my advice on how to get started. Document everything. If you want to put food on people's plates then help will be easy to find, but if you really want to see your vision of a game brought to life then do anything you can to help them help you. I don't think you'll need to have everything mechanic planned out at this stage, but you need an anchor point for everyone to stick to. A project bible that everything revolves around. Lay down whatever you can (what platform will the game be on, who is the target audience, what the game mechanics will be like, etc). Take screenshots of whatever games and art you like the visual style of so that you can have an easier time communicating to your artists as well. Having all this established will help lead towards being able to choose the right game engine for the job, and by that point the ball should pretty much be rolling. It might help to look into sites like this (or any given book on the subject) to get an idea of how others might go about organizing their ideas into an actual project. You don't have to personally get too deep into things like how balancing the economy of a game unless you would like to expand your role and get into that aspect of game design; I just think it would help to familiarize yourself with the general process.

From there, I have no idea. You'll probably need to have a small few who really know what they're doing (a lead programmer and lead artist might be key ones that come to mind, perhaps a focused game designer who can help take your ideas and get them in working order). I imagine they'd report directly to you in regular meetings, and would be an important bridge between you and the rest of the team. I'm only an artist so I can't really say what it's like for the programmers, but I know that having a good Lead Artist is important in making sure that the entire art team hits their mark, remains visually consistent, optimized, and has the required skillsets (and skill level) to make it all happen. And an honest one can help keep everyone on schedule (as well as help you as the producer/client understand how long an asset should take to create, the amount of work that is required to create it, and what any potential set backs might be, why they were caused, or if there are any limitations to what you're asking them to create). Those are probably useful things to know whether you're paying by the hour or paying by the asset.

Mar 17 2013, 1:35pm Anchor

I would advise against going into production. This really sounds like something that will need a strong - as in numbers and diagrams included - design document before it and a mechanics prototype.

Mar 17 2013, 2:15pm Anchor

Hey guys - thank you both for your quick responses.

@Cryrid

The X-men game you mentioned seems to be in sync with what I am looking for - similar to Magicka spell combination. I'm a PC gamer mostly, and never thought that the game-mechanic could be simplified as such to work with a gamepad. Most of my ideas so far, in my humble opinion, require quick twitch control, not just direction of spell projectile, only capable with mouse+keyboard (I think some of the skill mechanics won't work well with gamepad). But as with X-Men games, I should definitely broaden my concept/vision to see if I can make them work with a simpler controller.

The link you have provided, I can't thank you enough for that resource. It seems to outline the preliminary stages of planning really well. I can see that there is still a lot of thing I can, and SHOULD, do before committing my idea to further development.

I will definitely take all your advise to heart. Thank you again.

@somonels

I do agree with you that I shouldn't go into production without a solid plan/document. As I can read from the link provided by Cryrid, there are a lot of things I can, and SHOULD, do with my initial game design/documentation before committing to any level of production.

With that said, I am not looking into getting the game developed in the short future. I would like to spend a lot more time filling in the blanks of initial planning.

===

Should I perhaps hire a concept artist to help me build a "game development bible" in terms of the look and design direction I am looking for? I think this should be my first step before recruiting help from 2d/3d designers and animators. If this is a viable next step, is it possible (since it's only very infant stages of planning) to hire the artist by contract (not a full-time hire, not yet at least).

If I am mistaken with above plan, what would be a better next step? Should I consult another game developer to estimate costs? Or should that come later?

Again, thank you all in advance.

Regards,
Yarb

Edited by: yarbuncle

JigsawPieces
JigsawPieces Shut up, that's why.
Mar 21 2013, 11:12pm Anchor

A couple of things come to mind:

  1. How do you plan on hiring the right people if you don't have the experience to identify the them? If you don't know what a role requires how will you able to adequately assess potential candidates? For example, a competent programmer who is recruiting knows what warning signs to look for when searching for another programmer. Same with artists, musicians, and so on. Just because their programs work or the art looks decent, that doesn't necessarily mean it's been created in an efficient or elegant way. I'm not the greatest modeller, but I can open up a work file and find doubled verts, bad UVs, bad topology, destructive workflow, etc. Though, this will depend on where and how you recruit. I'd wager that someone with a professional looking site that has an impressive and cohesive gallery is going to be someone who doesn't make those kinds of mistakes. Nonetheless, keep this blind spot in mind.

  2. Managing teams requires people skills. Don't underestimate this, especially if the team is going to be in the double digits. I'd recommend reading up on the producer's role in game development. People skills are only one part of managing a team though and I'd agree with Cryrid's "document everything". Even writing documentation is an art in itself. This goes beyond the much-talked-about design document. (Personally, I think it's a mistake to let that document get too big otherwise no one is going to want to read it, including you.) A document which lists each developer's time zone, contact details, most available days / times, their roles and so on is one such thing I found repeatedly useful. Task trackers (in the form of a spreadsheet) are useful too, provided they're decently made; the one I use contains the task, associated dept. (e.g. "art", "programming", etc.), priority, notes, responsible devs, devs to consult / inform, date added / due / started / finished, and status (e.g., "not started", "started", "completed".) In other words, documentation about the game isn't the only thing to consider.
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