Some of my #7dfps ideas, explained in bit greater detail

There’s a really cool brainstorming & developing going on around twitter hashtag #7DFPS (stands for “7 day first person shooter”).

Since twitter has character limitation, I’ll go through some of ideas in bit greater detail.

Find the hidden human
Online multiplayer. In this game, there’s one zombie player who has bird’s eye view (bit like RTS), and then there’s any number of humans (from 1 to 10 for example). Human players wear bloody clothes and must mimic zombie movement. Their job is for example to go through zombie infested zone in such manner that “zombie commander” doesn’t spot them.

Human players have actions: move and then some animated activities. Humans won’t eat dead bodies though… Humans play the game in first person mode.

There’s 30 individuals in the game zone. Zombie commander doesn’t know who are player characters are (their names are not shown, and they look similar to zombies), but he must look at how zombies (real or fake) act, move and try spot humans from AI bots. Zombie player can mark any character as target, which causes nearby zombies to attack him (50% chance).

Traitor among us
Somewhat similar to previous zombie idea, but this time there’s all human controller characters, for example 20 in the game. Each player has been assigned a target. You have been told to shoot one of the players, and you can only know who he is (but you don’t who will try shoot you).

Level is a square with no walls, if you go too near the edge then anyone can push you over the edge. Your goal is to kill your target by pushing him over the edge or by shooting at him. You can only damage your target, not anyone else. You also will get killed if you push wrong person over the edge. The only vulnerable place is target’s back – shooting any other area makes no damage.

Additionally, you have just one clip of ammo.

Saboteur in the nazi house
Requires at least 2 players: one nazi guard, one saboteur. Bit similar to previous 2 ideas, but this time there’s at least one player (nazi guard) who must try find the saboteur (or saboteurs). In addition to human players, there’s 10-20 AI controlled bots in the level. If there’s more than 2 players, then additional players will become part either nazi or saboteur team (as evenly as possible).

The nazi mansion is filled with 20ish nazis and nazi guests. Nazi guards need to investigate and talk to guest and find the saboteur, while the saboteur tries remain undetected.

Nazi guards walk in FPS mode, and can command any target to halt. AI bots will do as asked, and human player must try fake and look as normal as possible to avoid detection…

In case nazi guard wants, he can ask for a passport (saboteur doesn’t have one in the beginning, and 3-4 guests also have forgotten to carry it with them…). During course of game, saboteur can try steal passport from one of the guests.

Nazi guard can also fully investigate any character, this takes longer time (30-60 seconds) but reveals if the person is carrying anything suspicious (like detonator).

Saboteur must find hidden items (like detonator) and make the place explode.

(This idea is similar to Spy Party game, although major differences are that both teams have first person mode and that there can be more than 2 players in the game. In addition, there can be way that saboteur gets rid of nazi guard – which gives him extra time – this way also nazi guards need to try pretend they are AI bots…)

King of the hill – with a gun
Yet another multiplayer, but this time there’s just one gun in the level. Everybody else carries a crowbar. Round lasts 10 minutes. You get 1 point per second you carry the gun.

When person with the gun dies, he drops the weapon.

Everybody except person with the gun is invisible.

Two makes a team
Again multiplayer. This time there’s at least 2 players (coop mode) against bots or 4, 6, 8, etc players against each other (against other teams mode).

In each team, one has gun, other has ammo. Gunman is the only one that can shoot, and the ammo man is the only one who can handle reloads.

If either one dies, then the team loses.

Lead the blind
Multiplayer for 2 teams (or 1 team against bots). Each character is blind (or alternatively, each player can see everything except other team characters), except the team lead.

Team leader has vision, but carries no gun. The leader can place markers on the field that are visible to his team. If team leader is killed, team loses. If anyone else is killed, he is out of the game (alternatively respawns after 30 secs)

The challenge is for team lead to try spot enemy units and place markers, so that other players in his team can shoot.

Make a choice
Everybody versus Everybody multiplayer. When you spawn in the game, you must choose to have either “melee weapon + vision” OR “gun + blindness”. If you choose gun, then you cannot see anything. If you pick melee weapon, you get also vision.

Levels are simple (for example, storage place with 2 levels… and couple of stairs and boxes)

Hit me, I’m blind
Yet another blind multiplayer. This time everybody is blind. When you get hit, you take damage, but don’t die (you have 100 hitpoints and guns do 5-15 damage). As you get hit you gain vision for 2 seconds.

That’s it. Which one you liked most? If you have your own idea, please feel free to share (either here or as #7dfps tweet)

Multiplayer gaming gone cloud

I’ve been so focussed on my card game (now waiting arrival…) that I didn’t know what’s been going on in the multiplayer side of things. And boy, it’s a new world out there.

The first that got my attention was Photon server/cloud. Exit Games has a nice system that gets rid of tons of headache (packet sending, connections and whatnot). Their system is worth checking, and it integrates nicely with Unity (comes with demos too).

Second thing that got my attention was PubNut. It’s a darn simple & fast messaging system. I checked the Monkey demo using pubnut and got it up and running, sending messages back and forth in minutes.

When I first tested developing UDP framework around 2001, I can assure, it wasn’t minutes. Also around 2007 when I knew what I was doing… it wasn’t minutes. Sure, there’s of course many things that you still gotta figure out (authorative servers, what you actually send, persistent data and such), but it’s nice that there’s services that take away some pain in online multiplayer gaming.

I’ve barely checked out what’s out there, so any comments & suggestions for resources is most welcome.

Why finishing games is tough…

Earlier, I drew this as a joke (and shared in twitter)… but it’s not funny.

It’s so easy to get into mindset of doing “just one more change”, “just one more thing”. And that prevents game from getting done. The last playtests I did, made me think that I need to change one card. Gameplay already worked just fine, but somehow I didn’t like how the one card worked, so decided to change it.

That’s it, I say to myself. But this small change means I gotta go through more testing to ensure things are balanced.

I’m already proud of what I’ve done, and even though I keep getting more ideas for more items, more specialties and more everything… I decided to do folder called “expansion” and put the ideas on that folder. When I get new ideas, I know where they go.

That way I feel that my ideas are waiting there, not gone in vain – but also that I get sensible progress.

And, finally I can start say that this card game of mine – it’s near the finish line. I have bunch of tasks on my list. Cannot wait to get them done.

What about you – are you feature creep? Where do you draw the line between “polishing” and “creep”?

Click here to gain some experience points

I recently draw this image that points out a small challenge in game design:

Naturally this isn’t a problem if you happen to have tons of time and enjoy grinding and that sort of stuff.

But for me… this is bit of an issue. In Fallout, it was issue since I prefer to enjoy the story. Random encounters, even some really small sidequests where bit of grinding type of stuff for me that I didn’t like. All I wanted was to get to do a meaningful big scale decision that affects the outcome of the story, not shoot some monsters somewhere in a desert.

Don’t get me wrong – Fallout is great game, and I totally enjoyed the experience and almost everything it offers. But there were times when I stopped progressing main story or fun side quests, and did smaller stuff instead, just to level up.

Let’s take another game: Witcher. I played it briefly, but quickly it started to feel like I’m just getting better skills for the sake of getting better skills, and story for me wasn’t progressing in sane way. I liked the world, the cut-scenes, parts of story and unlock stuff… but it all was wrapped in a big box of repetitive play, which unfortunately I don’t have time to do. Sure, it was different (I wasn’t just killing spawning rats over and over in one place), but doing the same thing in every single side quest (go to place A, kill something, go place B, get reward – over and over) smells grindish to me.

Again, I’m not saying that Witcher is bad. I’m just saying that the gameplay is somewhat repetitive in such way that I perhaps didn’t like so much. It was the main story that kept me playing.

Combat and fighting can be fun. They can provide meaningful choices in them, but when combat is about 100% victory against a spawning enemy with some reward for the sake of leveling up… then we are approaching bad design.

Why bother with battles that players are certain to win and must repetitively do for the sake of leveling up?

It’s pretty much the same as if you’d give player button “click here to gain experience”.