An elaborate interview from 2009 with Richard Garriott aka Lord British talking about his beginnings as a game maker, his weird house and toy collection, Tabula Rasa and his flight into space. Some people call him a nerd (probably because they’re envious) but I think he just simply had the chance to do the right thing at the right time, following his passion about making games and becoming very successful with it, eventually earning millions. This is something that is not so easily possible anymore today like it was back in the pioneer days of home-computing. However he’s the living proof that the single most important driving force to be successful is to have passion about what you’re doing, being it creating games or anything else. Watch and be inspired!
Welcome back to the RPG Design series where I try to talk a bit about the work and progress on my game project, the development of the darkish, space -themed computer role-playing game Stellar Conspiracy: Entanglements Of The Marenis Sector (working title).
In the last part I’ve introduced the character design template I’m using and mentioned to post a character example next time which I’m doing hereby while introducing you to Eliza Retinienne, a Gessjanian security systems expert from the planet Shielle, a small world bordering on the fringe of the Suulun Sector which in turn stretches over a large area of the southern galaxy.
Eliza is one of the key characters in the game’s story and one of the characters whom the player is supposed to encounter and who eventually joins the player’s party. She is also supposed to receive her own side-quest in which the player can engage to help her out of the threatening situation she is currently in.
Note that this sheet is basically just here to give an example of how the character design template can be used to shape out a character so I suggest not to look too critically into the details. Things can (and will) still change and also the sheet is not filled out completely, for one reason because some details are irrelevant for this character and for another that I haven’t found any other suitable details for her yet. Either way I hope this gives a good example of how to utilize the template!
And back to the game design topic! The part I love most about game design is that you can create worlds full of life, intricacy, intrigue and interesting characters, experimenting with scenarios and situations (that would otherwise probably have negative repercussions in RL™).
As a programmer you’d ever only write your code and if you are happy with it that’s fine but we one-man-game-developer types are more like Jack of all trades who want to create complete worlds … and stories. And then tell those stories by means of the game. And maybe throw a bit (or a large chunk) of dynamics in there again … as programmers.
One extremely satisfying aspect of game design (for games where narrative is important) is the development of characters that should act throughout the game. Creating characters is just as much fun as the other bases! If you do it right and create deep and sympathetic characters people will love them.
And even villains can be sympathetic. In fact they should be! Who likes an antagonist that is completely unsympathetic? Nobody, right? But why should you even like a villain, after all he’s the guy who needs to be defeated? The answer to this is that the guy who is the villain is so only in the context of our story. Maybe he’s not so bad after all in a different context. Or in short: Antagonists also have a life, feelings … but guess what? Now I totally digress! I actually wanted to show you my new and all fresh character template that I came up with to shape out characters for my game.
The other day I was playing the Point Lookout Add-on for Fallout 3 and there is this one main quest where you go to inspect an area named Calvert Mansion just to run into a ghoul named Desmond. He seemed very busy trying to defend the mansion against Tribal intruders and without asking me directly he made me help defend the house. At first I thought Desmond seemed to be a cool guy, after all he wears a suit and appeared like some sort of gentleman (as far as a ghoul can appear as a gentleman anyway).
But after we finished bouncing off the intruders and I’ve started a dialogue with him it turned out that he’s not such a gentleman after all. In nearly every second sentence in his dialogue he makes use of the notorious ‘F word’! No exaggeration! After a short while listening to his insults (calling me a moron several times) I got fed up of his overuse of nasty language and started to loathe this guy. Note that it turns out that he’s supposed to be an unlikable character but this could have also been very well transported without the overuse of bad language. … *Spoilers ahead*!
I’ve been designing on a rather ambitious Role-Playing game project since a while now (in fact quite a long while but I’m not in hurry to finish it anytime soon) and while I’m in the process of working out the story, technical details like the combat mechanics, skill system etc. and creating interesting characters I still haven’t made a decision on the type of graphical projection for the game so far. I’ve been thinking about five kinds of projection from the most basic one (2D orthographic) up to full dynamic 3D which would be quite an effort. As my development platform of choice happens to be Flash, the resources in terms of 3D are limited.
So with that in mind I thought it would be good opportunity to introduce some of the most-used projections in computer and video role-playing games to get to know them a little better. This is by no means a complete list of all sorts of projection used in games but I believe these the ones most commonly used for role-playing games.
Probably old news but I’ve just found some time to read about the recently released pushbutton engine, a modular ActionScript 3 engine tailored especially for game development. It seems that Jeff Tunnel & Co (of Garage Games fame) were sitting down and wrote some serious ActionScript library overnight.
“…and a component system which lets you easily package game functionality into reusable modules. The component system draws on nearly a decade of game development history…”
This looks very promising indeed and the component structure makes a lot of sense.
I’ve been working on the hexagonLib on and off but time is sparse currently and so it seems I would never get it into a decent release state. I Might as well see how the pb engine works out for me. Let’s see how this engine fits for my current role-playing game project!
A valuable resource for everyone who is thinking/planning to write a roleplaying game … Indie developer Planewalker Games who are currently making their debut RPG The Broken Hourglass are publishing precious bits of insider information about their game engine called WeiNGINE. The Broken Hourglass is a computer roleplaying game with a strong visual relation to late nineties RPG pearls like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale or Planescape: Torment (who all were based on the Infinity Engine).
Some examples of their articles: Inside the Engine – Introduction to Items, Inside the Engine – Introduction to Sprites, Rules and Mechanics – Group Skills … and there’s a whole lot more when navigating through the links at the bottom of the pages. I kind of soak up such detailed information on game/RPG design as such things are sparsely seeded on the web (you will not see such information leaking from commercial developers!)
In my book “How to become a Flash Game Developer of World Class” I surely will not forget to mention this useful tool … FreeMind, a Mind Mapping tool that is not only free but also very intuitive! It is written in Java and therefore available for all common Platforms. Where other Mind Mapping tools or even MS Visio fails with being intuitive, FreeMind comes to the rescue!
You can lay out all imaginal hierarchical structures, be it your shopping list, you time plan or the story concept for your next game. After creating a new document with FreeMind, it has one root node. From now on you can add child nodes with the Insert Key, add sibling nodes below with the Enter key or above with Shift+Enter. This way it becomes a breeze to create a large tree structure of your project.
You can assign different color and font styles to your nodes. Another useful feature is the ability to link two nodes together with a bezier line. The tool has a MinMap and a Browse Mode and you can even browse your harddisks file structure with it if you want. You can also link files to nodes.
This is the number one tool I would recommend for brainstorming but it is very useful to lay out projects in more detail as well. There is also a FreeMind Document Reader that has been written with Flash, though I’m not sure if it can be downloaded and used offline.
I finally spend some time to make myself more familiar with the Flex 2 Beta and this is what came out as a result: Star Wars Name Generator! It’s a small and modest tool to generate random names (obviously). If you’re a fan of the Star Wars Pen & Paper Role-playing game (like me) you might find this tool useful!
You can generate names for planets and for characters, there are some parameters that can be chosen from before pressing the Generate button. After that it will spit out a list of more or less useful names (some of them sound very exotic). Interesting names can then be dragged and dropped onto the right side list. All names in this list are stored in local shared object on the users computer until the Clear button is pressed. The Switch button displays the saved names in a text area from where the names can be copied to the clipboard. (Small update: Works now with latest Flash Player v9).