The expo floor, where they are showing all the video games is massive! I’m glad I have another two days to check it all out. A great start with Cliff Bleszinski talking about his life, games, and childhood. All in all a fun day, one filled with games, taking about their development and playing them. Can’t wait for more!
I am happy to say that I will be going to both PAX East and GDC at the end of this month! I know that it has been since last September that I have posted anything mainly due to the tough time I have been having since then. In September, I went back to RIT to learn more about Game Design & Development, take more courses, and hopefully make some games too. But as my time there went on, I found that I was enjoying the academics less, and my free time more. Why? Because I was spending that free time working on games. Either in Unity, Inform or some other engine or language I was interested in, I would make games. I would learn through my mistakes, design to my strengths and weaknesses ( I am no artist!). That November I decided to take a leave of absence from RIT to develop a game in Unity for the soon to release console, OUYA (5th Beat). My hope was to get a job or co-op at a game studio to see what it is really like to to work in the industry so I could make an informed decision about what i wanted to do in the games industry. Simply put, I have not been so lucky yet with a job. This caused a spiral of unhappy thoughts about myself and has taken much time to realize what I can offer to a studio. With this realization, I cannot wait to arrive at PAX East and GDC to talk to people about what I can do for them at their studio and to talk people in the games industry. Check back soon with more info about my travels to GDC and PAx East, and my OUYA game 5th Beat!
To all those I met at PAX and PAX DEV, thanks for talking to me/telling me about your work and/or game(s)/letting me play your game(s)/giving me swag/going to dinner and/or lunch with me! I had a great time at both conventions, and even though I was only at PAX for Friday, it was a blast and a great end to the summer! For all your people reading my blog, wondering what I worked on this summer for Red Hat, here is a link to THE Google docs of ALL your design process and research. I recommend starting with the “Final Design Doc” in the Game Design folder and just see what tickles your fancy from there. To those wondering about the game I will be designing with my team for the Ouya, check back in a week or so and I will have more info on the site about that. Thanks again for all the people I meet these past few days and thanks for your attention!
Now with my week and a half vacation all over, I wanted to take some time and think back to the summer and the work I had done while give a quick refresh for those who haven’t been following along and a conclusion for those that have.
This summer I was brought it by RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) and Red Hat (Makers of Fedora Operating System and Open Source Enterprise Server Aficionados) to design an Open Source game for computer programmers. Red Hat was hoping that real world data from places like GitHub, coderwall, and ohloh would be used in the game for the players’ stats and let users change the source code of the game on the fly. After sending Red Hat a nice long document about how changing a game’s source on the fly could (possibly!) ruin the game, I lead a team to research and design a MMO which we have titled FOSSopolis.
After spending ten weeks researching various online games and designing our own, the team was brought to Red Hat Headquarters in Boston, MA and presented their research and game to the company. The team also tele-presented to RIT from Red Hat HQ to the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. We got some great feedback and rolled it into the final design of the game and sent it of to Red Hat.
After sending our feedback to Red Hat, I am unsure of the future of this project. When talking with Red Hat, they seemed worried that there was no monetization in the game, and that without that, hiring a team to police players for exploiting the game or greifing would be difficult. In our feedback, I wrote about how a store for materials for crafting in the game could be used to bring money into the game. Again, I am worried that Red Hat may not move forward with the game, but I did my part for the initial research and design of the game and enjoyed my summer doing it!
Today I am on my way to Seattle to go to PAX DEV and the first day of PAX. PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo and is a game convention (video, board, and tabletop). New games will be shown off, developers will be there with their current releases and swag will be afoot! PAX DEV is the two days before PAX and is a convention for game developers (again video, tabletop, and board) to get together and hone their craft. I hope to meet some cool people and learn some new things.
I recently replayed Mass Effect 3 with the “Extended Cut DLC Endings”. While having me replay 2 hours of content to see a chance in the last 4 minutes was a little much, after seeing the “new” ending, I realized that people will still be angry. Sure enough, checking the plane of the Internet today, many thought that Bioware did just a bad job with these newer endings than they did with the older endings. Why? Were the ending badly written? Produced poorly? Laughable Voice Acting? No I think the actual reason is nothing to do with the developers and all to do with the audience. Whenever an audience has to experience something they have invested in ending, they want to find ways of prolonging it. This is why Star Wars and comic book conventions exist. At these conventions, the audience can gather together and ravel in their favorite moments in the entertainment, prolonging their enjoyment of the entertainment. In a game, the audience’s attachment to the entertainment is so much higher that in books or movies due to the audience playing out the main character’s life. This instantly connects the audience and the game, making their want to continue in that world higher. With a game like Mass Effect 3, where most players have invested more than 50 hours into the game’s lore, characters, and themes, players have put themselves into that world. They have become apart of that world. Ending their connection to that world is gonna be a nasty breakup. Worse than the time the love of your life walked out on you. In the middle of a restaurant. And threw her drink in your face. So its no surprise people are mad at Bioware. People want to keep experiencing the Mass Effect universe and by ending the game with a definitive a way as it was ended, many feel they will never get a chance to delve back into that universe. What can developers do? Have Closure. The original ending to Mass Effect 3 did not have closure with all the characters met in the game, leaving the player wondering what happened to their favorite characters. The newer endings add this to the game. This is all a developer can do to combat the hate that will eventually come their way. But fret not! This means the developers has succeeded in getting their players to invest not only their money and time in their game, but also their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs into their game!
Today the team spent most of the day coming up with ideas of a combat system for the game we are developing. Many great ideas were brought out to dry, such as a game with an economy based soley on resources dropped in the game. No money, just bartering between players. These resources are then used to craft items, weapons, and armor. A really cool idea and one that I want to see in a game (if it exists please let me know so I can look into it!). I hope to see that idea make it into the final game! Another idea was a conditional turn based system (every actor in a battle is given at least one turn per round, those with higher speed may be given more) with a classless leveling system. Players would level up various abilities/skills/stats when their character leveled up, giving players to freedom to multi-class to their whim. A simple game where only health and magic points matter was also mentioned, where players had to time actions against enemies so that they could “get in” an attack, and not just horribly missed. A lot of cool ideas that lead me to realize, there are way to many game styles/combat systems that fall under RPG. Are they any useful sub-classes for RPG. Sure there’s turn-based, real time, tactics and action, but I haven’t heard of any truly specific or useful classification that mention the combat system. Only dealing with the “time” for combat or how much player thought is needed to play the game. I hope that there is either answer out there in the collective thoughts of the Internet, or that someone will come up with a classification soon. Having to read a few paragraphs about every RPG to understand the battle system is a little tedious, especially for newer Final Fantasy games.
Today the game team had a big session of brainstorming various things we want to see in the game. At first the team had a hard time getting into the idea of brainstorming. I had simply asked, “What game experiences to you want to see in the game?” It was not well received. Actually it might have be well received and got all the team thinking, but rather than discuss with one another about what experiences they want to see in the game, they were all still and quiet. So I changed the question. “Let’s take a game we all know. Final Fantasy. How can we add hooks for things like ohloh.net, codeacademy, and github to Final Fantasy?” This question lead to a great discussion. I do not want to go into detail what the discussion was (maybe at a later date), but from this brainstorming session, I have realized that the truly useful sessions are from direction. Having brainstorming that is just about _______ are worthless, having brainstorming sessions about “Hooks into Final Fantasy” give people a jumping off point. Then they can go into their favorite sections of a game (social, economies, combat, crafting, etc) and talk about them in detail. Just from that one question the game team now has over 35 solid game mechanics and ideas that blow the water out of any of the mechanics we had researched for the past two days. Keep checking back for more info on what those mechanics are, and which ones we plan to use!