Monthly Archives: March 2010

Co-Op Stealth Game Idea

I keep getting these ideas and one potential game I’d like to create would be a co-op stealth game. Game called Monaco won the IGF grand prize this year, and this sort of gave me additional boost of fate in this type of stealth games.

I did have this game idea before I had heard anything about Monaco, and my game idea is somewhat different from Monaco (where you have 4 thieves with different abilities, also the graphics would be very different from what I was thinking). I was checking in some Flash stealth games to see how they are doing things. Also did some research & watched some videos about the Tenchu console ninja stealth game. There isn’t really many PC games where you use stealth, much less in co-op form. This gave me idea about a stealth (solo or co-op) game for PC.

I was thinking Edoiki style here. Players could be ninjas working on secret assignments stealing or assassinating in missions. For example, while other guy lurks in shadows, the other makes noise to attract guards. After the guards leave their spot the lurker can sneak in the house and throw a rope from a window for the other ninja to climb up.

Resource wise this would require quite a bit of work and in case of co-op, some networking coding would be needed (not necessarily in such great detail as for example in FPS shooters, but something for sure).

Do You Like Puzzle Games?

I have this love/hate relationship with puzzle games: as long as I can keep solving the puzzles, they are just fine.

When I get stuck, it’s just annoying.

I can spend some time working on some puzzle, but if there’s no hints and the only solution is to check some walkthrough from the Internetz I tend to just stop playing.

And of course I play puzzle games just once (after they are solved, why bother playing the same thing again?).

What do you think of puzzle games? Enjoying them?

Note to Self: Be Careful With Aprils Fool Stuff

Year ago (or so) I published this bounty hunting aprils fool website. I recently got a new email:

Hi my name is ****
Im from ******* ******** and Im *** old.I was wonder if I could get more info about how to get job as bounty hunter.

The reason i want to join your company is chasing criminals. The reason for it is people who try to live against the law always makes trouble for every single citizens and residents.
For example when people copy movies illegally and sell to other people it cause more money to the company who produce movie or software. even people who work illegally in united state cause problem. problem especially now a lot of citizens and residents needs job but they cant get job because of illegal worker. also united state without can live better.

I’m not sure if this guy is trying to fool me, but he did send me another email:

I have a question

If I find someone who work illegally does it count if i tell you guys

thanks

Unfortunately – due time constraints – my bounty hunting website cannot help with the US immigrant issues.

Also, Aprils Fool day is approaching again – just two weeks to go. I wonder what I can set up for that day…

P.S. This blog post is also a marketing campaign reminder…

Simulation Might Be Interesting For Indies

What New Star Soccer and for example Kudos have in common.

  • Both are made by indies.
  • Both are sort of simulation games (or at least the simulation aspect is the thing I found most interesting).
  • Both games sell.
  • Both occupy such territory in the gaming industry that Really Big Corporations (TM) won’t touch that field.

I’m currently drawing a big map (figuratively speaking) about the next possibilities and by playing NHL ’10 I’ve reminded myself about my past interest about doing some sort of “life simulation”. (If you look at Cliff’s games, Kudos, Democracy, Gracious Battles they are all much about simulation. If you’d change the theme from “life/politics/space” and put “soccer” there, you could very well play the same games – with just different theme.

I’ve been some sort of ice hockey fan-ish and enjoy watching that sports. Now I’m adding ice hockey simulation game to my list of potential next projects. The game would be about being (for example) a goalie who is about to build his career in order to become the best ice hockey goalkeeper in the world. This would have several good points:

  • Easy to build from technical perspective: sure, I would need storyline, simulation engine and tons of other things but most of the game would be about adding content (creating events, adding players, writing storyline, and so on).
  • 2D graphics: I would imagine having a cool NHL ’10 style graphics they use in the game menus. This might be too much, so I might need to stick with something easier. Or simply just have good looking menus without people art. Anyway, based on a very brief pondering I think this could be manageable.
  • Fun? I think so. When I try play NHL ’10 as a goalie, I have this feeling how NHL actually points out the worse parts of being a goalie (you suck at deflections, you are punished for making an error, if you make a good save – that’s like expected from you). I’m getting several ideas on how this could be done better by removing action and focusing on rpg/story/events/simulation aspects.

Would anyone play/buy it?
I don’t know.

There’s this easy way to do a market research: google for something.

If there’s tons of results, the stuff you searched info about is probably something people want but everybody is probably doing it. If on the other hand you cannot find many hits (as in “ice hockey goalie simulation”) then it suggest that the niche is so minimal that nobody cares about it. (So, either way you are in shitty situation).

Thank god this time I’m not thinking about market. I’m thinking if doing this game would be fun to do or not. If I see green light then I just might go forward with the idea.

Staying Healthy

Here’s what I’ve done in the past year:

  • Washed my hands all the time. Well, you know – often.
  • Use hand wash anti-bacteria stuff. You know, the thing what you take with you when you go to foreign countries.
  • Stopped drinking alcohol (has been this for a year now – don’t ask me why since I don’t know)
  • Ate less meat (in fact, I cut eating a lot, and nowadays only eat chicken. Delicious chicken.)
  • Exercise regularly (outdoor activities every day), but less than 2 years ago.
  • Minimize taking drugs (you can make funny comments out of this)
  • Don’t smoke (never really have)
  • Keep my stress level low. Or away. I don’t really have stress, sort of.
  • Perhaps concentrated more on “not getting ill” rather than “staying healthy”.
  • Complain more. Well, occasionally. In this blog for example.

I’ve never been so ill than I have been during the last year. (Well, maybe I have but makes a better story this way). During the last year, every couple of months I had got flu or fever or sore throat or something that makes me ponder “I’m not feeling well.”

Well, there’s one thing I’m pondering. I wonder if “trying not to get ill” is the issue here. Or, perhaps I have the issue with the loop “I know I will get ill every 2 months”, and then I get ill. I’m not superstitious but if anybody has a spare rabbit pawn, you can mail them to my house.

10 years ago I cared about healthy/illness as much as rat cares about its buttocks. That would be little. Well known fact. I was never ill. (Another fact that I made up from thin air). Maybe I’ve concentrated too much on this illness stuff that I help make myself ill.

If anyone has a good tip on (1) either staying healthy or (2) how to forget all the fuzz about staying healthy, I’d be glad to hear that out.

Sorry, now I have to go to bathroom to cough some goo balls.

Do You Know Party/Social Game Mafia? (Or “Werewolf”)

I’m not talking about the video game mafia. I’m talking about the mafia party game also known as “Werewolf”.

I’ve played this game live for couple of times and it was the most fun experience I’ve probably ever got out of gaming. We had 8-9 guys and it was amazingly fun. The whole idea of “two secret werewolves and 6 villagers” is an amazingly simple concept, yet it works. (Those who want more information should check the wiki page for more info).

I also very much enjoyed playing Battlestar Galactica which uses a traitor mechanism which makes the game interesting.

I’ve been pondering how to translate this game into a video game, and seen 2 different approaches:

#1: real time (or almost real time) approach:
I’m thinking somehow tie the idea into a real time in such way that for example there’s 3 players in a multiplayer game. 2 of the players are in the side of “good guys” and 1 is “bad guy”. Good guys don’t know who the bad guys is.

The players represent for example fighters who need to combat monsters. Players secretly choose their actions so that it’s not clear how much each person does damage to the monster (but there will be some clues though). The bad guy of course tries to sabotage and keep the monsters alive, while the good guys try to beat the monsters. The game ends after any one player dies (if it’s a good guy, then bad guy wins. If it’s a bad guy, then good guy wins), or when all the monsters are defeated (good guys victory).

By making the game real time, there is certain amount of pressure to handle actions. It also ensures that game moves forward and makes the game slightly similar to the social party game, of course leaving stuff like body language away.

#2: turn based approach
Similar to Mafia games played on forums, or Battlestar Galactica: players encounter something (whether it’s monsters or events or whatever) that they need to collaboratively beat.

No time pressures necessarily, but I’m pondering how well turn based system transforms into a video game.

Technology
Both of these could be (possibly) created with PHP/SQL/Ajax based system (although “real time” would need to be faked here, in reality it would take at least some seconds to get responses). Another option is to use some game engine with a real online multiplayer option, which would get the real multiplayer options here but would possibly be more work to create.

Themes
The game theme could be anything. Mafia. Werewolves. It could be about “a group of heroes who have just beaten the dragon, got their gold just to realize that there’s one traitor in the group”.

It could be about a heist done wrong (Reservoir Dogs style) where the players point guns towards each other and try to figure out who is the freaking rat.

It could be about a group of survivors fighting against hordes of zombies – with one survivor being infected…

Donuts model
In order to get donuts from this game I’m thinking that there would be couple of options:

  • Pay for customization (pay for gear/make character look cooler than others/badges and stuff)
  • Pay for expansions (additional events, items, characters, stuff could be added in the game when there’s at least one guy playing who has unlocked the expansions)

If the game was an online multiplayer only, it would be important to keep the base game free to build a good player base.

Back to design
Anyway.

This is one online multiplayer game design I’m considering. It has several good points: it resembles the game I’ve enjoyed playing, I have somewhat tested the design with different board games, it could be relatively budget friendly game to create and perhaps quite easy to prototype as well.

I have some other ideas lying in my head (like these ideas). I’ll be writing more about these in public – I’ve noticed that when writing things down (and especially to public) there will be unexpected things happening…

To Multiplay Or Not, That Is The Question

Online multiplayer is a tricky beast. There’s couple of things that make it bit difficult to decide from an indie dev perspective:

1) Online multiplayer is cool. Like the coolest way to play games. NHL ’10 gets boring playing against CPU… but put there 12 human players on the ice and you are looking at a totally different experience. Left 4 Dead – I tried it like once solo (boooooring), but go for online multiplayer and it rocks. (Versus mode makes it even rockier).

2) Player base.

That point number two is the tricky part, the part that makes online multiplayer slightly painful for indies. In order to get players, there needs to be players. But in case there’s no players, new players won’t appear.

(The AAA game publishers have sort of figured out a solution to this puzzle: pour millions and zillions of money into advertising and building hype. Then the game might have a chance.)

With indies, it’s slightly trickier.

Even AAA studios were vary of online multiplayer only games. Battlefield 1942 was an “online multiplayer” only game and publishers were staring the devs like a rotten fish or something (a true event based story I just made up) when they heard that it was going to be online only. I recall that it was said to the devs that they should get single player campaign or that game would never succeed.

Well, they didn’t. And the rest is history.

In case you don’t remember the game’s history, I’ll tell you: they made BF1942, they got an publisher, I bought the game, it was the most excellent game I had played for long time and I spent tons of time playing it several years ago, other people also bought tons of games and now the devs pretty much have a solid brand and tons of money in their pockets. Not sure about that last point, but the bottom line is: that game was a success.

The point is. I wonder if it’s monetary wise to even consider doing an online multiplayer only game as an indie. Businesswise my brain is telling me “stop thinking that, do a hidden object game”. The other side of the brain is saying “well, what kind of games do you play? Online multiplayer? Would it – like you know – make sense to focus on doing a game that you know you will truly like?”

How Much Pixel Art Costs?

I have experience and some clue how much doing 3D stuff costs, and before jumping into 2D world I’m doing a bit of research. Inspired by this fine piece of pixel art. I’m trying to find out how much it could cost to do something like the stuff in the picture. (Scene + some objects + guy with a batt + a 4-5 simple animations for characters, for starters).

I have no clue how much it costs to do pixel art. If you happen to know a pixel artist (or happen to be one!), I’d appreciate if you could give me some insight on this.