Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Systems, Goals and Fun

It's no secret I've been slogging through the last few weeks just trying to get various gameplay elements in. No news is often same news. I'm still unhappy with how long this is taking, I'm still making great progress weekly, and it's still not done yet. I would be quitting if it didn't look like it was ever going to be done. This WILL come out for any of you who are doubting things. :-)

Much of the systems work is done, that doesn't however mean I don't have to redo things. My comprehension of flash is growing and though I try to avoid making a change simply because I now know a slightly better way, I do end up having to make changes when adding a feature and the current system really wouldn't handle it that way. So it's a lot of painful learning. That part really doesn't stop.

The Goals

If you want to break a game down to an abstract, it's giving the player a goal with a set of specific rules they have to follow. The player has to see if they can try to get to the goal within those specific rules. That "goal" part is important. But you often need plenty of micro goals. That is, things to do while you are on your way to do that really big thing (win the game.)

Those micro goals have to be frequent enough and compelling enough to make the player want to undertake them. I had to add some more in recently, and I'll have to see how they measure up.

But if you want an example of a good game with tons of micro goals check out World of Warcraft, or any massive multiplayer RPG. The "big goal" in those games is often to see all the meaningful and cool content in the game. To do that, you need to get to the "end game" which is the final levels. Since it takes days, even weeks sometimes for people to grind levels, you need tons of mini goals to do along the way. This can be small quests, crafting, little places to explore etc. There's tons of things to do, or in other words, there's tons of micro goals.

Yeah there's lots to do. Sometimes maybe too much...

Is it done yet? - No, is it FUN yet?

Maybe I said this before, but an often crazy thing about game development is you spend FOREVER just cranking all the basic stuff needed to get the game running, and usually when you are on a strict timeline, thats it. It's done, but is it fun? Well thats often for lady luck to decide. You may think I'm kidding but sadly no.

It's the end part of the game that has to be stretched out. Good experienced designers with lots of planning can cut this down significantly, but the need never goes away.

My original goal was to get an 80% general rating by users. I'm not really counting on that anymore. Honestly for my first endeavor it was crazy. I'm basically building an entire engine mostly by myself, and want it to be fill with enough stuff to get an 80%, and done in a couple months? Yeah nuts.

So how long until it's done? Less than months more than weeks.

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