Posted by on 5 Nov, 2015 in Fragmental

So, we had agreed that the core gameplay in our prototype played well enough to warrant us continuing to develop the game. Our next task was to properly define the overall game design, or at the very least write a high level overview. It was time to get all creative and shit.

thinking

We had a really good idea of the mechanics and game modes that we wanted to create, but we had absolutely no idea what the setting of the game would be or how it would look. We then did all of the usual things you do when you’re designing a game, we asked a bunch of really high level questions.

 

Who is the player?

What is the  player’s goal?

Why are they trying to achieve this goal?

What is the setting? Is the world realistic, fantasy, science fiction?

 

We then went round and round, coming up with different ideas that would answer all of these questions in interesting ways. It was very similar to the original pitch process, but this was just about the setting and the art style.

 

For a few weeks we had agreed to work on a setting that we thought might work – in hindsight I think we all must have went a bit mental, because it was a totally shit idea, but there you go.

The idea was that you were basically in Hell, all of the players were lost souls who were forced to go through eternity, fighting bloody, gory battles against each other. All for the entertainment of Satan himself. It was all starting to get a bit dark.

 

So, we spent a little while writing up an overview for this setting and we even did some character and environment work to support it, but by this point I think we had all come to our senses. One by one we had started to pick holes in it, until all that was left was a pile of tattered remains of the original shit idea. So, to sum up. The idea was shit and we needed a new one that wasn’t.

 

demon01

 

demon02

 

Please don’t ask about the “demon’s wee boaby”. Paul Large did it, I didn’t ask for it, and it’s not something I’m comfortable talking about.

 

demon04

 

Seriously, Paul? What’s with the Sheriff’s badge? Why? WHY?

 

This was easily the most difficult stage of the project to date, up to this point everything else that we had done seemed to just work. The core game was solid, we were still adding mechanics, weapons and levels to the game, and we were all still enjoying playing it, but without a setting and an art style we didn’t really have a game. One of my workmates has often described game development as being akin to herding cats. It’s really, really tricky.

 

We decided to go back to the start again, and look at the questions we had originally asked ourselves. The only difference this time was that we focused more on the playable prototype we had, the game we wanted to make, the type of experience we wanted the player to have. This altered our opinion on the importance of the questions we had asked. After all, the game we wanted to make had no real need for a story, or for a strong central character for the player to project themselves on to, and the goal of the game was really simple. We went back and looked at our questions again with all of this in mind, and it made our decision on the setting and art style a lot easier to define.

 

Who is the player?

*** There’s no story here, so as long as the characters look good and stand apart from each other, it’s not a major issue. The weapons tend to be the real characters in this game.

What is the player’s goal?

*** To kill their opponents before they kill them, get to 20 Frags, and ultimately win, and then rub it their loser opponent’s faces.

Why are they trying to achieve this goal?

*** Because they totally love winning and absolutely hate losing.

What is the setting? Is the world realistic, fantasy, science fiction?

*** Defining a specific setting isn’t that important, it’s more about solid level design than it is about the setting. Realism is causing readability issues at our camera distance, none of us are big fantasy fans, and science fiction feels overdone in the shooter genre. Essentially we need a look that is visually striking and retains the readability we need.

 

At this point we had decided to go for a more abstract setting and art style, we simply wanted something that would avoid clutter, ensure that the players, weapons, modifiers and levels were as clear as we could possibly make them, and that the game had a visually striking look that would draw the eye, and entice the viewer into taking the time to take a closer look.

This was a very similar stage to where we were after we had agreed on the type of game we wanted to make. Now we knew what our setting and art style had to deliver, we just needed to gather some reference material for different options, then do some tests for each of them to see if we could find one that delivered in each of these areas.

The decision to go with a more abstract setting, made it relatively straightforward to write up the high level overview of the game. However, defining the art style took a bit more time, which we’ll cover in our next post.