Wyrmkeep Entertainment Board

Game Devlopment Forums => General Game Development Forum => Topic started by: Calbeck on August 15, 2004, 01:34:26 PM



Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Calbeck on August 15, 2004, 01:34:26 PM
I for one would like to see an open-ended "explore-it-yourself" sort of game, similar in nature to Daggerfall.

Personally, I have in mind that the player is a courier-for-hire, one who fetches and delivers valuable (or "special") items for a higher price.  This way he/she has a wide range of reasons to see various parts of the world, and the "discreet" nature of various missions allow the player to pick and choose when to delve into the larger storyline.  

For example, the delivery of a small casket (whose contents grow progressively more rancid as the journey goes) to a Boar Noble could result in a war between Minor Houses --- and a more imminent need to evade or cut down his Guards before they skin the messenger!  Subsequently, the player could elect to visit the other House for any number of reasons --- to rob them as punishment for the setup mission, or to spy in hopes of obtaining information useful to the Boar Noble (so as to get back into his good graces...or at least out of his bad ones), or just to sign up as a free mercenary fighting for daily wages and a share of the "dog robbery" (looting the fallen).  Or, the player could simply opt to move on in search of a new mission...although it's always possible that bits of the past can affect parts of the future.  Who's to say an evening spent in drink at a tavern many leagues away won't end in a pairing of blades with the nephew of the "slighted" Noble, sent to "finish the job"?

The centerpiece of the story I have in mind continues to devolve on the Orb of Storms, which disappeared into the misty waters at the end of the first game.  Its mode, having changed from "Observe" to "Action", has left it "awaiting input"...and without that "input", the weather satellites the Orb controls have gone into "sleep mode".

Weather patterns so long regulated by exterior means (even benign ones) begin to shift to a more natural state...a state which, when it is done shifting, will turn most of the Knowne Lands into a hodgepodge of scrublands, desert, savannah and marsh.  Either the weathersats must be brought back under control, or the ecology of the Earth itself must change, if the Knowne Lands are to be saved.

So as our Hearty Adventurer goes about his/her business in the World, weather patterns will fluctuate, getting worse and worse, even wiping out whole villages and towns with mudslides or drought.  Refugees begin to clog the roads, at first asking little or no help, and then becoming more demanding as civilization breaks down --- gangs start to rule the roads, nowhere is truly safe...can the puzzle of the Orbs, and of the vanished Humans, be unlocked in time?  

Note: Ecological Solution impossible without Human assistance...they've got all the data and only they would know how to fiddle with things minutely enough not to screw it up even worse.  And that's assuming the few which survive in their cryotubes can be brought back from deep freeze without killing them by accident!  Damn those three-fingered paws! -:D


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on August 16, 2004, 11:00:52 PM
The courier idea would work as a setup for a sequel; it leads to open-ended gameplay and makes it easy to introduce a larger plot as the courier gets a dangerous package or wanders into a strange situation.

I'd like to be able to choose the hero's race, as that would increase the game's replayability. Having to write different backgrounds for different-race heroes won't be a problem if it's assumed that the hero is always an orphan from a particular mixed-race town.

While ItE should never be about killing, it would be nice to have violence as an option. The combat system in Daggerfall and Morrowind is idiotic, since enemies attack on sight, blindly chase you, and fight to the death, so ItE2 would do better with a more stylized combat system. A fairly simple system in which the loser usually surrenders or flees would be more realistic, more family-friendly, and easier to program than licensing the Unreal engine. =) If you're interested in combat systems you might take a look at the pen-and-paper furry RPG Ironclaw/Jadeclaw.

The thing to do with this plot would be to decide the scope of the game world -- presumably a lot smaller than Morrowind -- and think about an outline "main quest" and the major optional quests. The major game areas (eg. North Island) can be fleshed out partly independantly from the plot; it'd be easy and fun to write up the major sights and characters of a village. The major political factions need to be named and given goals, to start playing with how the plot will unfurl. There's also the issue of how long after ItE1 the sequel takes place; sounds like several years, so figure the original characters are alive but older.

In doing that I'd want to have real NPCs to interact with, though. Morrowind is an extremely lonely game. Interaction means doing more than selling loot and asking where the next puzzle widget is!

-----
Oh, and the local Rennaissance Faire is selling fox-tails. I don't know why.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on August 22, 2004, 09:04:51 PM
I drove 250 miles today to start law school, and had lots of ideas under the influence of "world" music. Here's my daydream about How the Sequel Should Be.


Foxes:
Foxes are known as a tribe of wanderers, something like our age's Gypsies. Also like them, they're feared and distrusted, with a reputation as con-men, thieves, and magicians. Some Foxes even deserve it. Usually found in small bands, they act as traders, entertainers, bandits, and itinerant laborers. One of their more popular services is fortune-telling, using a unique set of cards. Their card "The Fox" has the same meaning as our "The Fool": freedom, with the "flipside" of being cut off from normal life.

Raccoons:
It was a Raccoon who discovered the Orb of Dreams, a connection to the endless legends of the Human Era. Raccoons grow up hearing many of these stories and are known for making odd references that no one else understands: "Ah, it's like the struggle between Beowulf and the Batman." Most Raccoons are farmers living on the coast of North Island, but an increasing number have turned to seafaring as traders and occasionally raiders.

Rats:
These people pride themselves on having been the first species uplifted by Humans, and for having assisted Humans with their research "in some capacity." For some reason Humans tended to dislike them, and the whole tribe eventually was segregated into an underground warren of their own design. Humans saw fit to preserve many of their documents in this cave. During the end of the Human era, for reasons the Rats no longer remember, a group of Humans attempted to take over the Rats' home and seal it off from the outside world. They succeeded only in destroying much of the knowledge their kind had saved, and in leaving behind a set of mysterious sealed doors. These doors still stand deep in the warren, beyond even the dusty archives where most Rats no longer go. Rats are often born with incredible intellects, but others are born retarded or otherwise "defective." Rats believe they have a duty to improve their own breeding.

Boars:
The Boars have expanded to conquer much of the east, under the guidance of famous strategist Okk. Though Boars have a reputation for stupidity and violence, they know enough to let the locals they've conquered take care of their own business for the most part. That means the Boars' subjects may actually be freer -- so long as they pay their taxes! -- than they'd been under other lords.

Ferrets:
The Ferrets are in a dangerous position so close to the Boar border, and are attempting to recruit allies. Their technology helps; they have control over the Orb of Hands, guide to machines and science. They have perfected the lens and are learning about astronomy (through the telescope) and biology/medicine (through the microscope). They are on the verge of developing the germ theory of disease and the heliocentric theory of the solar system. More practical even than germ theory is their rediscovery of the crossbow, a complicated weapon that even unskilled people can use well. Ferrets have a reputation for being immensely practical, to the point of having zero patience for poetry and other "pointless" pursuits. Except maybe architecture.

The Festival City:
In the last generation, the festival grounds at the center of the Known Lands have grown into a true city, nominally ruled by the "Gypsy Duke" Rif. He, his wife Rheene, and their twin children don't do much more than supervise the frequent markets and other gatherings. The city is a natural place for diplomatic meetings, the exchange of rumors, and the outbreak of disease. It has the most diverse population of any place in the Known Lands, and the most tolerant culture. Around it are large farms supporting the city's permanent population.

Plot/Gameplay:
The game focuses on travel, exploration, discovery, and conversation. Early on, the Hero is just starting a job as a courier between towns. Soon, Hero stumbles across the game's main plot: they're the one to find the Orb of Storms. They have the power to control the weather. What part of this power can Hero learn to control, and what will they do with it? The plot grows out of this idea, with Hero learning more of the Orb's commands, trying to hide the fact that they have it (or not!), and using the Orb to alter the Earth. Since the satellites linked to the Orb are no longer automatically managing the weather, the Known Lands' favorable environment is gradually decaying. Will Hero ultimately find out how to switch the Orb back to "automatic" mode, hand it over to someone who can micromanage the world without being evil about it, destroy it, or try to use it himself for good? Floods, storms, satellite viewing, instant communication, drought, wind, heat, and cold are all at Hero's command.

Along the way there are other things to do. Hero can interact with many NPCs including potential friends and allies, do odd jobs for various organizations and rise to power in them, or just explore the world. Little rewards like titles and unlockable costumes are available for completing certain tasks like seeing the Eight Wonders of the Known Lands or becoming an honorary member of every tribe. It may even be possible to start a religion, or join the shadowy one that already exists...

Software:
The game uses high-resolution 2D graphics with a 3/4 overhead view, as in most RPGs through the PS1 era. The controls are direction-based; you press up to walk north rather than clicking on a destination. These controls allow a variety of moves such as jumping, running, lifting, and posing. There is Zelda-like movement (sans combat), occasional stealth mini-games, and an environment where it's fun simply to run around banging into things, picking up everything that's not nailed down, and seeing what hard-to-reach places you can find your way to. Little challenges -- like reaching a ledge by pushing boxes to form a stable tower -- are scattered throughout the game world; some have obvious rewards like items, while others just give you a chance to leap between rooftops or eavesdrop on a conversation. Talking with NPCs is mostly text-based, with spoken dialogue mostly for key scenes and "Hello!"s. It's possible to ask most NPCs about a variety of topics, many of which have nothing to do with the main story.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Raffia on August 30, 2004, 10:35:16 PM
Am willing to make sprites and do game art if someone is seriously going to start this. :D  


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on August 31, 2004, 02:06:16 PM
Hay-hay-hay, dun' forget about poor ol' Wyrmkeep, Raffia. What if he/she/it wants to do a sequel first, eh? ;)


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Raffia on August 31, 2004, 03:55:30 PM
Then I'll help them. *Nods*


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on August 31, 2004, 08:20:14 PM
You couldn't set the game in the world of ItE without their permission, which they wouldn't give. It'd be possible to create something similar as long as you stayed away from specific characters (Rif & Co.) and the terms "Known Lands," "Orb of Storms," "Morph," etc.

Besides that, I can write anything that needs writing (down to mundane "Welcome to our town!" dialogue). I know enough about programming to say what's feasible, and enough about the language Python (with Pygame) to have built a Morrowind-like dialogue system and crude moving-unanimated-characters-around-on-2D-tiled-graphics code with room editor. I would suggest getting a real programmer. Art and music are less immediately important. If someone built even a playable demo with Medusa-ugly graphics it'd be enough to attract artists' attention.

I think Wyrmkeep said once in an interview that the general idea for game-making is to make two lists: the bare-bones, necessary features, versus all the cool optional stuff. You build the first list first, then add to it from the second list until you run out of time or money. So, what would be absolutely necessary to make a playable game along the lines mentioned above? Or is the above plot too flawed? Got a better one? The gameplay mechanic I suggested is more like Zelda or Morrowind than ItE; does it go in the right direction, or is it better to stick with a LucasArts/Sierra puzzle-adventure game?


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on September 02, 2004, 12:29:40 PM
I just want to add that if anyone here is attending MFM, I will probably be there using my real name, Kris, most likely hanging around the gaming area.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on September 02, 2004, 04:15:08 PM
Quote
So, what would be absolutely necessary to make a playable game along the lines mentioned above?

A developer capable of producing:

*An isometric tile rendering engine (3d rendering of this is best and the least haphazard method).
*An internal node-based engine capable of storing data-trees.
*A scene-editor easy enough for someone to use without spazzing out.
*A scripting language to incorporate game-logic, conversations, quests, etc.
**A scripting engine to host aforementioned scripting langauge.
*An inventory-system.
*If combat, this requires:
**A healthy list of weapons.
**Well-balanced statistics, so the game feels "challenging" but fun.
**Six years of playtesting so a weapon 999+ damage doesn't slip through the cracks.

An artist capable of:

*Art. Some kind of art. ;) Alot of people will just stall if they see no visible evidence of improvement or progress. Also, hard to debug rendering issues when all your art is black and white stick-figures (a long-standing issue with rendering order may become apparent if you start using "real" images, but by then you've already done so much stuff to the engien you have no idea where to start searching for the flaw).

A writer capable of:
*A plot. If a character has some strange out of this world power that no one else has, that sort of ability will have to be coded in as a special exception in some cases. ;)

Quote
Or is the above plot too flawed?

The Hero (TM? =D) would have too much power if he actually controlled the Orb of Storms. It could be neutered, but then you would have those situations RPG-lovers hate: the superpowerful boss that took you six hours to defeat joins your party, and he completely sucks ass at everything, despite laying waste and desolation unto you and your party relentlessly and numerous times.

Quote
The gameplay mechanic I suggested is more like Zelda or Morrowind than ItE; does it go in the right direction, or is it better to stick with a LucasArts/Sierra puzzle-adventure game?

The Final Fantasy series was wonderful - just the right mix of combat, action, and adventure. The style of the game did not exclude wonderfully amusing puzzles, either.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Calbeck on October 25, 2004, 01:19:13 AM
Well then, it seems to me there is more consensus than not on the basic premises of the game.  

Regarding the Orb, I would suggest that its powers be slowly revealed via successful adventures related to investigating Humanity.  Initially, let us say that two commands are relatively easy to obtain: "Assist" from the Raccoons (who learned it in order to make the Orb of Dreams work at its basic levels --- it amounts to the "Help" command), and "Menu" from the archives of the Rats.  Together, these will give the player access to the Orb's directory tree as well as tidbits of info on what each section relates to.

However, each section is also password-locked.  Investigating ancient ruins may or may not result in discovering a given password --- or, of course, the player may guess at it.  I'm also considering a "lockdown" function where if you miss X number of times, that section locks itself off and can only be reopened if the Orb is touched with a keycard from the appropriate Human agency.

I think all of the basics mentioned are eminently graspable --- especially if we were to license an existing 2D/3Q engine which is not likely to see use anytime soon.  You know, something functional yet cheap. -:)  The real hurdle, of course, is Wyrmkeep --- but do we know that they're really not open to outsourcing the work on a sequel?  Has anyone asked?


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 14, 2004, 11:14:54 AM
I think that the plot holes that the original ITE left are enough for not only one sequel. Here's a view of how I would like to see it with a possible plot sketch.

There are few things that weren't fully explained in ITE:
1. Possibility of Boar/Wolf alliance
2. Possible effect of Orb of Storms
3. How did the humans vanished.

It's nearly impossible to solve it all in a one game meethinks... mainly because it make everything clear all of a sudden and the world created would loose it's charm. Every world should have it's mysteries and all of them can't be revealed at once.
Many of you would rather have an open game instead of a close one. I'd disagree. I'd rather see a VERY GOOD adventure game instead of a Morrowind clone.

To make the adventure game more challenging and 'open' it shouldn't be so lineral. Some problems encounter should have more than one solution and diffrent endings should be made possible. The best examples of what I'm speaking can be found in Quest For Glory, Gabriel Knight I or Indiana Jones 4. Choosing a character in the begining would also be nice.

Here's the sketch plot I was thinking off that would fit my expectations:

While traveling PC encounters a meeting of boars and wolves (PC see them as 'robed figures') from their conversation the PC learns that a sinister plot to disturb the delicate balance in the known lands is being planned. Unluckly the PC is discovered before he can hear any details. He makes a run for it and succeds luckly.

Few days later while he's accused of a crime of murder which he didn't commit at all.
The PC escapes again but he's marked as fugitive now. Wanted posters everywhere. Guards after him. Now the PC must escape the Known lands (few ways of doing this) and solve the mystery of framing him.

In his attempts to flee far away from the chase he stumbles upon the orb...

As I said. This is only a sketch of the main plot. As you see there could be a few ways of escaping the Known Lands as well of the usage of the orb. Will you get revenge on the ones who exiled you from your homeland. Turn in the orb in exchange of your freedom or try to solve the case.

I think choosing the races would be a cool idea, since it can be done QFG style. Since some of the puzzles can be solved in diffrent ways by the diffrent species.

 


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on November 14, 2004, 07:13:28 PM
Wyrmkeep
In 2004 February I e-mailed Wyrmkeep, saying I'd love to help with the writing for a sequel. (I've got several semi-pro fiction sales, mostly "furry," and the game company Sanguine is supposed to publish my RPG book for "Jadeclaw" Real Soon Now.) They said something about how the sequel was still far away. I don't know what they've been working on lately.

Code
I've been tinkering with AI stuff on my own. I have a new demo available -- see "Technical" thread or just here (http://www.xepher.net/~kschnee/aboutniss.htm) -- but it's not really a game yet, even ignoring the fact that this version is text-based. I've also offered to help with AI for the Wanderlust Project (http://wanderlust.unrealvortex.com/index.php), a prospective MMORPG, but I've done no AI for them since they're busy building a usable version of a fancy 3D graphics and networking engine. An ItE sequel doesn't need 3D graphics, although the discussion over on the Technical thread suggests it'd be useful to get a 3D engine anyway and just draw everything in 2D, instead of spending forever making 3000-polygon character models. If at all possible I'd like to work in Python, since I like the language, it's free, and all my code is currently in that, but I could be persuaded to (relearn and) use C++ if I had a compiler for it.

If I get my hands on a 2D or 3D program that has characters walking around, in a language I can use, I can build AI as good as "Morrowind's" for it. That's good enough for an ItE sequel, and I can then either help with other coding or on improving the AI while keeping it playable.

I guess we could use VERGE, which is ugly but free (basically C++ with an RPG-style graphics engine and tools), or find something better-but-still-free. Thoughts? Should we ask around on SourceForge or someplace?

The Game
I want to make a game. If Wyrmkeep isn't interested in a true ItE sequel, it'd be fine to change the material we've got and produce something in the same vein, but different. Besides light coding, I can write whatever needs writing.

Calbeck: I like the idea of locking the various functions of the Orb; it's a standard way of restricting the player and gradually letting them do cool stuff. In "Metroid," there are red doors you can't open till you get missiles, green doors you can't open till you get super missles, etc., so more and more of the game world opens up as you play.

Suule: Well, imitating "Morrowind"'s open-endedness is going overboard for an indie project. I'd still prefer wandering and side quests to a game that's completely "on rails," but restrictions on the hero's travel and powers can help keep it reasonably linear. "Deus Ex" is a great example. In each level you have several specific missions, but you can solve each one in several ways and wander around in an open level. The gameplay is a "string of pearls" with a rigid opening and closing to each level, but a spread-out set of possible actions in the middle. For ItE I'd want more open-ended gameplay than that, but not much more. My goal is to have players able to chat with NPCs about things not directly related to the plot, to learn about the world, and to explore a bit; all that doesn't require total open-endedness. "Zelda" might be the model. I also note that in "Deus Ex" it's possible to play non-violently; I got through the first level doing nothing more aggressive than sneaking around and throwing a pack of cigarettes!

Raffia: You still up for doing some art?

Side note: I will be at Midwest Furfest (as "Kris").


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 15, 2004, 08:54:27 AM
Okay... I know I should take this to the Tech Concept, but...
Well as I reviewed some of the available stuff on the net that can be used for 'ItE sequel' and nothing suits my expectations, mainly because most of them have limitations which cannot be overcome other than changing the engine's code. I'm more of an old-school programmer (DOS programming, Assembler) and I'm still learning the ways of using Win-comptiable code. I'd rather write an engine from scratch. Why? Cause we can profile it to suit our needs without some nasty workarounds (which are in most cases messy). If we'd try to make Adventure-RPG then nothing free on the web would be capable of suiting our needs, except maybe SCI studio.

2D is a BETTER choice than 3D in my opinion. Cause in current state we CAN'T produce a super-detailed graphics without the usage of a high-end PC. Since now we can use modes better than 320x200x256 and do even 1024x768x16.7m, there would be no problem in creating a highly detailed world.  We can use such programs as Flash in creating the animation frames for the PC/NPC sprites. It'll be easier to make a 2d game now than it was 10 years ago.

I can help you with 2D BGs and sprites since I'm an artist myself and I can produce some conept art till the end of the week IF the college won't keep me as occupied as usual... In case you're wondering my art can be found here (http://www.furnation.com/WhiteLion) though the site wasn't updated in some time now.

As for the game concept:
That's why I want the game to be more like QFG (especially QFG2 which offered many side-quests class-dependant). The RIGHT mix of action, adventure and openess (at the time of 5.25" diskette)  if we could just expand that idea add more 'openess' it would truly be great. As some of you may remeber QFG was a RPG/Adventure mix with stat building and quests/side-quests, the series would go more and more complex with ever part to really blossom in terms of non-linear playing in QF5 (though it was bug-ridden). My idea is to use the QFG RPG/Adventure mix once more in the possible ItE sequel with some features improved/added.



 


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on November 15, 2004, 02:13:43 PM
Quote
I'd rather write an engine from scratch. Why? Cause we can profile it to suit our needs without some nasty workarounds (which are in most cases messy).

You should really think about what you're getting into, 'specially if you're going to write a 2d engine from scratch. There are alot of things you need to take into consideration - Z-ordering, sprite lighting effects, tiling issues, perspective issues, map layout etc - that you get "for free" by using a Scene Graph like OGRE (PyOgre bindings!). Just use thin 2d quads and stretch the images you want to display over them as textures and you're done(ish).

Of course, the best reason to use a 3d scenergraph for 2d is the fact that 3d accelerated hardware is now much faster with its 3d pipeline than the 2d pipeline in most cards, so by going 2d, GDI+/WhateverDrawingSystemHere style, you'll actually be slowing your graphics down.


Also, I like Ham and Cheese.

Check out the demo: http://www.chroniclogic.com/gish/ (http://www.chroniclogic.com/gish/)

The graphics look pretty 2d for a 3d game, eh?


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on November 15, 2004, 02:16:21 PM
Yeah, that's right, I'm the pessimist; deal with it!


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 15, 2004, 02:53:04 PM
Yes. I'm aware of all the things you've mentioned. In my years of programming I've encountered such issues, especially when I started writting a game that featured isometric 2d graphics. The Z-ordering in 2d mode is frankly easy. You just need few things to be worked out (You can do it by applying: Foreground/Backgrouund Layers, dividing areas into 'walk-behind' areas). Sprite lightning effects is easy in 16 and 32-bit colour modes, you have to use SHL and SHR on specific data nibbles in order darken, lighten the pixels... etc. etc. I'm projecting an engine for a DM-style game and I've encountered such issues, there's no problem in solving them.

I'd rather NOT use 3D graphics to build a 2D game on. The slowness of the graphics you're saying are really acceptable in the terms of speed. IF the engine properly optimized.

And when it comes to engines. You don't need a swiss knife to peel the apple. You just need a common knife.

Quote
Yeah, that's right, I'm the pessimist; deal with it!

Slow down dude.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on November 15, 2004, 10:27:04 PM
I've mailed the "WyrmMaster" about Wyrmkeep's thoughts on the game, and managed to make only one spelling mistake in the process.

Since my first two tries at this message got deleted -- the last time because an OGRE demo crashed my computer -- I'll rest for now and write more later.

But briefly, I'd like isometric tiles if we can do them as opposed to square tiles or pre-rendered scenes. (ItE used all three.) Some cool camera effects would be possible "for free" with a 3D engine and isometrics. I'd probably go insane trying to learn Microsoft's compiler; see my .NET ravings in the Technical thread. (But did Threed say OGRE has Python "hooks?") I'm not sure which is better between a 2D engine and a 3D engine emulating 2D, but I'm wary of trying to write a whole new engine. My AI stuff has been so slow partly because I've had to keep reinventing the pixel.

So, would it be any easier to learn a free 3D engine and adapt it to our needs than to write a new, simple 2D isometric engine that actually looks nice? If so, does the 3D engine also support (at no $ cost) music and the other basics a game needs?

If you can do concept art, Suule, that'd be cool. It sounds like we want isometrics regardless of the graphics engine, so maybe a four-way isometric sketch of a villager or potential hero character? (I'm thinking otter, Rennaissance, a traveler; maybe a wanderer's broad-brimmed hat and a staff? And RPG/adventure heroes need backpacks.) We were saying it'd be best to have several races to choose from, so a sketch of any race would be useful. We could always use it for a PC or an NPC race. Best if they're designed like paper dolls, so one fox can be customized with different clothes and colors. "Portrait" sketches like our sigs are also useful, and can be displayed alongside dialogue. We could also use concept sketches of locations, preferably not using proprietary ItE place names or features. A village of otters, or raccoons, or rats? A multi-species marketplace full of crazy disjointed architecture? Preferably anything that's distinctly original-furry-Rennaissance-fantasy rather than generic-Tolkein-ripoff fanasy. Even a chair designed by and for crazed ferrets would be more interesting than some spiky sword. If you haven't seen "Rym" (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/rym3.html (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/rym3.html), such as the items at http://www.fur.com/~ollie/three.html (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/three.html)), I suggest looking there for inspiration.

We can rip off Furcadia art as placeholder art, if we have to. It already has walking animations of various characters, plus objects, walls, and floors.

Check out some amateur music at http://www.vulpine.pp.se/fmf/ (http://www.vulpine.pp.se/fmf/).

...Of course he'd want a more advanced graphics engine -- even his name is Threed!

Enough for now.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 16, 2004, 12:59:44 AM
Quote
But briefly, I'd like isometric tiles if we can do them as opposed to square tiles or pre-rendered scenes. (ItE used all three.) Some cool camera effects would be possible "for free" with a 3D engine and isometrics. I'd probably go insane trying to learn Microsoft's compiler; see my .NET ravings in the Technical thread. (But did Threed say OGRE has Python "hooks?") I'm not sure which is better between a 2D engine and a 3D engine emulating 2D, but I'm wary of trying to write a whole new engine. My AI stuff has been so slow partly because I've had to keep reinventing the pixel.

I'd really want the 3-view engine like in ItE. The isometric graphics for outdoors and large labyrinths, while pre-rendered graphics for indoors. Since 60%-80 of the game would happen outdoors or in large labirynths.

Why I oppose using a pre-made engine. First of all there will be some big programming issues when it comes to coding isometric graphics. I did isometric graphics engine in high-school and I managed to spit out a very simple but fast alpha (I used assembler code in 90%). I really can help you there with my expirences.

Quote
So, would it be any easier to learn a free 3D engine and adapt it to our needs than to write a new, simple 2D isometric engine that actually looks nice? If so, does the 3D engine also support (at no $ cost) music and the other basics a game needs?

First of all... we have a wonderful new library called SDL which not only have the basic pixel plotting, sprite managing procedures as well as music output. It resembles in some way the DOS graphics library I've once coded. Using that library to write a good 2D engine is a good choice sine we don't have to 'rediscover the pixel' and we still can get fast graphics.

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If you can do concept art, Suule, that'd be cool. It sounds like we want isometrics regardless of the graphics engine, so maybe a four-way isometric sketch of a villager or potential hero character? (I'm thinking otter, Rennaissance, a traveler; maybe a wanderer's broad-brimmed hat and a staff? And RPG/adventure heroes need backpacks.) We were saying it'd be best to have several races to choose from, so a sketch of any race would be useful. We could always use it for a PC or an NPC race. Best if they're designed like paper dolls, so one fox can be customized with different clothes and colors. "Portrait" sketches like our sigs are also useful, and can be displayed alongside dialogue. We could also use concept sketches of locations, preferably not using proprietary ItE place names or features. A village of otters, or raccoons, or rats? A multi-species marketplace full of crazy disjointed architecture? Preferably anything that's distinctly original-furry-Rennaissance-fantasy rather than generic-Tolkein-ripoff fanasy. Even a chair designed by and for crazed ferrets would be more interesting than some spiky sword. If you haven't seen "Rym" (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/rym3.html, such as the items at http://www.fur.com/~ollie/three.html) (http://www.fur.com/~ollie/three.html)), I suggest looking there for inspiration.

Don't worry about 'Tolkien-fantasy' repetitions. I HATE Tolkien so I wouldn't want to repeat it in any way. Well I think I have some ideas I can put on paper before I leave to the labs.

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We can rip off Furcadia art as placeholder art, if we have to. It already has walking animations of various characters, plus objects, walls, and floors.

I don't think it would be good in terms of copyright. Plus. Furcadia uses REALLY out-dated technology (it's still 256-color graphics. And I reckon that we want to use 32-bit graphics)and it's all too simple for an adventure game. Floor tiles can be used as a basis for better quality graphics, while the sprite/object graphics should be done from scratch.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on November 16, 2004, 11:26:14 AM
@Suule, on the issue of me being too fast, bai-bee!

The reason I code is generally born out of necessity* - I want something and there's nothing else that suffices, so I general subscribe to the more pragmatic view of software engineering: "Ok, someone else wrote an acceptable <INSERT WORDS HERE> library, I'll use that instead of reinventing it myself." Its why I use high level languages like Boo (Python-esque for .NET), C#, Python, Ruby, etc - using C++ means I have to go through agonizing loop-holes to reinvent stuff that is available by default in those higher level languages.


*I'm not interested in the beautiful simplicty of the fibonacci algorithm, for instance, and I wouldn't bother playing with it unless I needed it for a project.

@Kay, on OGRE and why I'm incredibly lazy: Yeah, OGRE has a Python wrapper. The scene graph engine is still in C++, but the PyOgre wrapper lets you do the logic and control the library in Python. I only advocate 3d scene graphs because (I, uh, think I listed these somewhere else, but I'll parrot myself):

  • 3d pipeline architecture in most video cards has far exceeded 2d pipeline architecture. AKA, "its still going to be faster if you use a card's 3d functions." Why care? Faster pipeline = more stuff you can do. Remember the scene where Riff's on the mountain ridge and you can see the tempest in the background? ;0
  • Scene graphs are a higher abstraction - they don't deal with pixels, just meshes. Instead of having to massage your own entity view abstraction into place (you'll need a data structure that keeps track of X, Y coordinates, current animation state, and a built in function, either global or static, that erases that image when its time to move to the next frame), you just create a 2d polygon with the texture you want to draw, and attach it to your data model. Tell the scene graph to move the polygon to X, Y, (Z), and that's it - there's no crazy bit blitting, the scene graph jsut moves the polygon and changes the texture if you tell it, and it looks like magic. Again, Gish (http://www.chroniclogic.com/gish/) (because Gish is cute and I'm high on a cherry Icee).

  • Free lighting. Add a new light source and everything in range instantly becomes affected without any additional coding. Along with this, free special effects - again, recall the storm scene that I mentioned earlier. You knew someone spent hours doing all that junk by hand, trying to make sure that the algorithm lit just the right pixels.
  • Free, as in, I don't have to pay for it, its a library, and my language can use it, so what the heck to do I care? =D


That's the pragmatic person in me talking. ;)

@Suule, on the issue of Furcadia graphics:

Regardless, you still need place holder graphics or you'll run into a ton of trouble down the road when you're trying to track down a visual artifact - is it a rendering bug, or is it the way you parse and load image files, is it the way you use a coordinate system onscreen; maybe it has something to do with the transformation effects you're applying for per-pixel lighting? You need place-holder graphics - even a simple stick figure - to ensure that things are not broken before you move deeper into the codebase.

I mean, writing a game isn't going to be some easy pa-cheesy 500 line thing, man.



Below is a completely uninformed ranting session that I started to write. There is absolutely no point to it, and I wouldn't read it unless you want a good chuckle or to be offended.
----
I was writing a Furcadia client, from scratch, in C#- C# - and its 32 source files, not including the unit tests I started tacking on later (I broke a previously working function and couldn't figure out where the regression was for, like, hours, so that taugth me a valuable lesson)!

That's a lot, for an application which has very little logic processing (most of that junk happens server side, and the server simply informs the client what to draw on the rendering pane, and what to display in the text pane).

I'm not harshing on anyone in particular, I'm just saying that *a lot* of thought needs to go into it before a line of code is written, or you will end up with Furcadia's graphics engine (its been so intricately woven into the code that there's no way to rip it out and start over; the guys producing it stopped or went out of business awhile ago), the way Felorin architectured Furcadia's protocol, or, worst of all, you'll end up with what I did on my first pass at packet parsing: parsing each packet individually "by hand" and generating nested switch-case trees that are impossible to maintain (I later went back and refactored all of this into a simple polymorphic PacketBase object, but its still not very clean, because Furcadia has different command packets that begin with the same syntax and have variable length - '@' means something, but '@...(some variables here)' means another thing entirely, so now you've gotta lump two completely seperate packet-types into one parser).

AKA, unnecessary work.

The one thing that my keyboarding class in high school brought me was the ability to type all of that in less than five minutes. I'm the champ, baby.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 16, 2004, 03:01:15 PM
Okay. To sum it all up, You want to rely on some 3D engine cause: 3D is fast, the engine is cheap, you're lazy and you don't know many things about 2D graphics.

There has been a GREAT leap since old VESA cards and VESA modes. Now we are capable of 32-bit modes that can reduce the problems with (excuse my language) shit like transparency, color changing, lightning and stuff to almost zero. I have numerous books on graphics. Some of them from Pre-Win era and I really can write most of the procedures for ultra-fast scaling, color transformations and lightning with few modifications of the code I have. I'm AWARE of all problems I could encounter cause I did graphics engine in DPMI DOS mode and reach the very edge of what DOS could do without playing with swap-files and writting a memory<->resource manager that greatly slowed down engine. In it's final stage the engine was capable of 800x600x64kb double buffering as well as 640x480x256 triple-buffering fully synchronized with the VSync or 1/2 of VSync.

I'm just stating that 2D stuff should stick to 2D engines while 3D stuff should stick to 3D engines if you want to archive the best quality. Emulating 2D stuff on a 3D engine woul require workarounds and workarounds are messy and CPU-power consuming, so the 'speed' of the 3D pipeline would be balanced by the slowness of the workarounds.

Now why I want to work on our independent engine:
We could profile the engine to our uses. Like Kay proposed: the multi-viewing engine, capable not only of static backgrounds with sprites but isometric view as well. The sprites are really not a bad choice. The difficulties can quickly be overcome by some basic logic and a bit of thinking. It's really not that hard. All you need is a bit of WORK ! Look at DM scene for example. There are so many clones but none of them base on an engine that was already released, instead they're written from scratch. Just because they want the engine that suit their needs instead of using a commonly used engine and trying to get it to suit their needs.

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I mean, writing a game isn't going to be some easy pa-cheesy 500 line thing, man.

I title thee Lord Of The Obvious
 


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: WyrmMaster on November 16, 2004, 03:29:19 PM
Hi, everyone. I have been asked to comment on this thread (and the other Technical thread). I have refrained from commenting up to this point because the discussion was about an ITE sequel, something on which Wyrmkeep Entertainment has its own plans. Since the discussion is now moved on to about making a game that is just similar to ITE, I can now comment constructively.

First off, I do recommend looking into the cross-platform Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library. We used it to create the Linux version of ITE and are using it for the simultaneous port of The Labyrinth of Time to Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. SDL has support for both 2D and 3D (OpenGL) graphics. See the SDL home page (http://www.libsdl.org) for details.

On the topic of design process, there is no reason why you can't write code during the design process. This can help determine the design contraints for the game. What you have to accept is that the code may have to be discarded if it doesn't match the final requirements given by the design.

I will have more comments later.
 


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on November 16, 2004, 09:41:41 PM
Posted some material to the Technical thread.

Minor details we need to work out, besides the code system:
-What races are available? (I nominate Foxes, Raccoons, Rats, and Otters at least, but any artists get first choice of what goes in!) Any races with special features like flight, weird sexes, or being "taurs?"
-Why do the furry races exist? Are there still humans? If not, why not?
-Is the general cultural style Rennaissance, or something else? (I think it's fine, but would like to throw in random non-Western styles of clothing, architecture etc. for variety.)
-Main "hook" or selling-point of plot. Should be more than "it's a game with furries in it!"

Re: the last point, what I've heard of Nintendo's design theory is that they focus on a gameplay element and build the story around that, while Square (of Final Fantasy) seems to use a generic gameplay system with an emphasis on telling the story. I'm a writer, yet I side with Nintendo lately. "Is this fun to play?" is more important than "Does the villain have an interesting motivation?" On the back of a Final Fantasy box you see: "The world is on the brink of destruction / Only a select few may be able to save it." (FFX, almost exactly quoted.) Yawn. On the back of a Nintendo box you see something like: "Sail a magic boat through a flooded world! Transform with masks and loop through time to stop the moon! Warp between Light and Dark dimensions!" (Zelda series)

So what's on the back of our box? "Control ultra-tech weather sattelites in a Rennaissance world?" Good AI and the ability to interact with random objects (see Technical) could be fun selling points, but a "hook" is still needed. Does weather control sound good? Can we justify it without calling it the Orb of Storms etc.? Other ideas? Unless we don't mind being in a niche, we need to appeal to people who don't automatically buy games because the hero's got a tail!


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Threed on November 17, 2004, 08:25:54 AM
Oki doki! ;)


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on November 18, 2004, 03:04:55 AM
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First off, I do recommend looking into the cross-platform Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library. We used it to create the Linux version of ITE and are using it for the simultaneous port of The Labyrinth of Time to Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. SDL has support for both 2D and 3D (OpenGL) graphics. See the SDL home page for details.

Yes. I'm quite aware of the existence of that library, I've read the docs and I'm slowly learning how to adapt it to our needs. It's very similar to the things I've once written way back in the old DOS days.

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So what's on the back of our box? "Control ultra-tech weather sattelites in a Rennaissance world?" Good AI and the ability to interact with random objects (see Technical) could be fun selling points, but a "hook" is still needed. Does weather control sound good? Can we justify it without calling it the Orb of Storms etc.? Other ideas? Unless we don't mind being in a niche, we need to appeal to people who don't automatically buy games because the hero's got a tail!

I think the main emphasis should be on the 'solving the mysteries' thing. Orb of Storms can be one of the many artifacts you can encounter. Remeber the 'big darts' when Rif explored the hanger in the abandoned human 'base'? The PC should be able to learn the proper names/uses of the artifacts he could encounter. Some of the technology could be non-existant in our world and could have something to do with the origins of the Morphs. Again. Would the PC be ready to know that the races the humans have created was a 'genetic experiment'?


 


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on November 22, 2004, 10:40:39 PM
A quick sketch from an artist at MFF. It's tough being a courier!
(http://www.xepher.net/~kschnee/rabbit_courier.jpg)


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Suule on December 01, 2004, 01:07:06 AM
*Yawn* Sorry for being AFK for that long. I had too much work for the past two weeks. I'll update the sketches I've done so far by the end of the week, before more work sets in.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on December 04, 2004, 10:28:47 PM
Comment on gameplay, cross-posted from a longer post in "Technical":

What confuses me is the idea of party members. If the player creates a fox PC and we have all this tile-based movement and item-manipulation gameplay, the player is going to expect that they can leap Mario-style across pits with their whole party, even though they've got the big tough boar NPC carrying fifty pounds of armor.

I would rather have NPCs following the PC, and limit the game to the more sedate pace of an adventure/RPG, than make the PC a loner and throw in platform-jumping gameplay. I don't know how to do good action physics or combat AI beyond "charge at the PC and run when you're hurt," but I know how to tell a story and create interesting characters.

I want to explore a graphical world meeting characters who remember me, react to the character I've created and portrayed, have thoughts beyond their scripted dialogue, and give the impression that they're alive. I want to be convinced that my sidekick is following me because he likes me, and not because the story gods ordered him to. Secondarily, I'd like to choose from multiple character races, solve puzzles, walk around interacting with objects for fun, and uncover an interesting story. Other gameplay elements are less important to me. What's your main vision for this project?


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Maus Merryjest on April 14, 2005, 12:55:17 PM
Well, there are several things herer I have observed during my lurking...

One: The engine? Some want a fancy 3D engine, some (like me) would like to see this game sticking to the old 2d ways. Instead of building an engine from the ground up, why not take into account the fact that we already have a very powerful little program at our disposal called Adventure Game Studio? (http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/), which -at the hands of the right team- can create wonderful games. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, after all. I am an artist and I find the engine and the programming language rather easy to use, so I don't see how real programmers would find many issues with it...

Second: Concerning the Sequel vs. Similar Game discussion... I am for making an unofficial fan-made game. That is, nothing that happens in the game itself would be considered canon IF Wyrmkeep ends up publishing a sequel to ITE. As it is, WK has been very ambiguous about the sequel, and we could end up losing quite a while of time working on a game that deviates just enough from ITE so as not to be the same game, only to find out WK has decided not to publish the sequel and that we could have been working on the unofficial sequel all along. Considering none of us would be making any money off the production of this fan game, would it still be a problem?

Now here's the question...

What if one or two humans had survived? perhaps in some form of cryo? (Scientist's kids?)

And Tycho talks about humans on the moon, if I recall correctly. What if a small group of humans actually escaped whatever fate befell the race, and are currently on the moon? And what happens when they want to return?


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: Kay on April 21, 2005, 06:21:47 PM
Just saw this after ignoring the board for a long time.
First off, check out my cubes (http://www.xepher.net/~kschnee/landscape2.jpg). This is the result of a few days of learning OpenGL, used through Python/Pygame (and therefore SDL). Translation: a spinning, tilting, 3D landscape that would look good with 2D sprite characters, as in great tactical RPGs like Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Meanwhile, NISS the AI (http://www.livejournal.com/users/niss_the_ai/) is progressing. I've also got an interesting idea for a "colony" game that would have you building a town while exploring a world; details are a few entries back in the AI journal. It could be an original RPG that's not about killing monsters or saving the world.

I'm also officially involved with The Wanderlust Project (http://wanderlust.unrealvortex.com/index.php) (moving Real Soon Now to here (http://www.slothworks.com/wanderlust/)), a planned MMORPG, but so far it doesn't seem likely to have anything happen soon. That's an example of being too ambitious, I think. For a sillier example, see Dragon Fantasy Mystic Shadow Dungeon Horizon Event Online Sports Night 7 (http://www.somethingawful.com/DFMSDHEO7/index.htm).

As for the adventure game engine Merryjest mentioned, I would want to play something that's more of an RPG than a successor to King's Quest, and suspect that a standard engine would limit gameplay to the traditional adventure style. How about something different in mechanics as well as content?

Way back in this thread, I think, was some speculation about what'd happen if one human got revived and tried to save humanity by forcing the "natives" to rebuild the necessary technology before he dies. There'd be some interesting moral ambiguity.


Title: Game Concept: Outline
Post by: skbleader on April 06, 2006, 07:38:20 PM
I just want everyone to realize that if it is going to be around Inherit the Earth at all, you need toi consider that in the first game, at the end the Orb says "dry period has been set in motion" or something and it doesn't receive an "end-date" for it, so obviously, going in alignment to the game, the setting would be that a drought is happening and water is becoming less abundant everyday.  ;)

Just felt like I need to remind everyone that.

And....I still want to be one of the concept artists possibly. I'd do more landscaping/technology that is involved in the game rather than the sprites and characters. Like more of the backgrounds and how the world would be set up. And I just want to do this because I like the game. Nothing of money would be even somewhat considered.

Oh and one last thing. Just so everyone gets everyone's input. I'd like the game to stay the nice old fashioned 2d design. I just can't see inherit the earth in 3d unless it has as good of graphics and dynamic lighting as the game Fable or the new Final Fantasy game for PS3. Haha, thats just my take. When I first played the game when I was about 6 years old, I was playing it off and on, and I could not get through the game. It took me over 3 years to beat it on my own. During that time, I played it trying to figure out puzzles and stuff. An example would be I just got stuck in the dungeon in Prince's castle. It literally took me like 3 days to open the rock. So with that kind of progression, trying out every angle everything over and over and over at a slow pace, I remember the game as a long, surreal, imaginative, adventure for the mind(partly due to the soothing music in corelation to the pixel-graphics). I honsetly don't think you can achieve that kind of pleasure/fun of Inherit the Earth 2 if it were to be 3D graphics like that of the "Cubes" link shown above. Just my opinion though.