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Matthew - -∞ -> July 2 2015

Discussion in 'Developer Progress Reports' started by PsychoticLeprechaun, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Hey guys, so I noticed you were getting a lot of programmer developer progress reports. Which sure are fun and give fantastically snazzy pictures. But I thought you might want to hear a bit about what's happening on the design side of the coin. I'll discuss a couple of the things I'm working on, can't say too much about the second of the two due to its nature, but hopefully it will be interesting to most of you nonetheless! Because of the nature of this period of design, updates like this are likely to be less frequent than other updates, but once we can start working on gameplay directly with the scripting, expect much more frequent, and image/video laden, updates!

    So, what am I working on? Well, I have over the last few months spent time sketching out things like the way UI will work inside the game. I'll jump on that first, as I can give you a bit more detail about that than I can some of the other topics:

    The UI will feature in two main forms: a holographic and an augmented reality form. These two are key to how you will interact with the world and other characters. Holographic UI will be UI that is displayed in the world space, so will be visible to all, and data displayed will be exposed to all who look at it (note that in terms of functionality, a computer screen would be "holographic" - the name just sounds cooler for internal documents, and more practically there are likely to be less screens around and they'd need fewer UI elements). The UI in AR form will be displayed to just the person for whom it is intended - this will mean that the PDA we have mentioned various times over SoA's history would have a display in this form. We have some ideas of mechanics we might implement surrounding these basic tenants of UI, especially in aid of the cooperation side of the game. For now, however, we'll let you think on what these may be and we'll let you know more as we get to implementing it!

    Another major thing I've been working on is the story. The narrative of the SoA vanilla game is designed to be as engaging as possible, and will give you an opportunity to learn about the backstory of the game and the setting in which the colonists find themselves in. I won't spoil anything, but the narrative is being designed to give you a lot of power over the end events of the storyline, which will strongly affect any continued gameplay in that particular instance of the world. The story is intended to get you emotionally invested in the events, and in particular with your own choices. The narrative will be much like the gameplay; dark, even unforgiving at times if you aren't careful and will give you a real sense of the power that nature and violence have over life and death.

    These are only a few topics that I could have discussed, but a lot of the others are worth waiting for being implemented in the game before discussing, I thought these two were ones that might be the most interesting to hear about early on!

    Finally, as a bonus: the last thing you might be interested in that I've been working on is hiring two writers to join us and specifically myself with the work on the narrative, and ultimately to produce the dialogue for the player character and NPCs and written pieces to be found in the game world. We are nearing the end of that process, so we should be welcoming two more team members in the very near future!
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
    PsychoticLeprechaun, Jul 3, 2015
    Last edited by PsychoticLeprechaun; at Jul 3, 2015
    #1
  2. Thomas988

    Thomas988 Back Into Space

    • Member
  3. Sevio

    Sevio Back Into Space

    • Member
    Nice to read a bit about the design side, since alongside a good programming implementation, design is what makes a game get you hooked and keep you interested for more!

    Could you tell us a little bit more in a general sense of what your design role means? Will you for example be determining how technological development and gameplay progress happens throughout the game, what capabilities weapons, equipment, high tech machinery and enemies have?
  4. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    So, as a designer, my role alongside the other designers is to figure out which game mechanics should be in the game, and how they should work. Then we implement them via script/YAML. We also have to do the level design, so for example the Trinity specification Georg has made, and soon that will be extended to creating Trinity in its actual hand-crafted sense as the programmers (Ben in this case) get the terrain generation working - in this case we would be working with the YAML data files as described in Ben's terrain generation blog post. The UI design is also a task for designers to work on.
    Other areas of design exist too, of course, so working with you guys to get feedback on features and tweak them for balancing purposes. Narrative design is also very important, and I have been working on that for a while now, as I really want our story to be solid and I also wanted something for the writers to be able to see straight away to get an idea of where we are going with the feel of the narrative. Yet again, another aspect would be social design, which is working out how the game mechanics and the rest of the game systems lend themselves to social interactions - be those player-NPC or player-player.

    Some specific examples within those would be, for example, specifying technologies that can be developed in the game, how technology development would work, ensuring players and NPCs can group together and work collaboratively, and taking data from stats of the game and feedback from you guys to tweak design of mechanics and statistics of items.

    If you read the Vision blog post, a lot of things mentioned on there come under the parameters of design work. The programmers will create tools to assist with that (those tools ultimately also making modding easier) as well as creating the engine and game code that the scripts hook into. The other facet designers can help with, if they have technical expertise of some degree, is to assist with the development of API specifications and so on that are exposed to the designers by the programmers. That's something I've done a bit of with the UI specification, given I have a reasonable understanding of both the code engine-side (for a designer) and a (I hope) really good understanding of styling from a web designer perspective - which is one really powerful way to design UI elements.

    I probably missed stuff, but in summary, designers do a lot - the same as any position on a game development team - and have to work closely with all the other positions in a team (artists, programmers, modellers, etc.). We're all just cogs in the machine that is a game development team (you don't want any to jam ;)).
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
    PsychoticLeprechaun, Jul 3, 2015
    Last edited by PsychoticLeprechaun; at Jul 3, 2015
    #4
    Sevio and Thomas988 like this.
  5. Sevio

    Sevio Back Into Space

    • Member
    Thanks for the extensive write-up, there's definitely a lot to the designer role! Something that stood out to me is when you mentioned social design, game mechanics which affect the player's interaction with other players or NPCs.

    Remember minecraft's randomly generated villagers? The idea was the player would take care of them and in return they would trade you useful things... Now that the mechanics of how they work have been figured out, their "interaction" with players is usually to be herded into specially made cages for iron golem farms or to be stuck inside a 1x1 holding cage forever if they have good trades - Unwanted villagers are disposed of in a lava pit.

    That's of course quite an evil way to treat villagers, but at the same time one can't blame players for it either, because the villagers' simplistic mechanics allow it and in fact encourage it. I hope (groups of) NPCs in SoA can be designed that the best way for a player to get what they need from them is to help them in a believable way, rather than "farm them" by restricting or filtering them for maximum efficiency.
  6. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Hahaha, yeah, we have a fair few ideas for different methods to make NPCs much less farmable in SoA.

    One idea is simply to make them far more believable as characters, to invoke a more emotional response in players - closer in nature to say games like Skyrim. But of course, that wouldn't solve the issue on its own, in fact it solves that issue to a tiny extent - most players ain't got time for emotions unless a game specifically demands it, and that can't be done constantly or else it becomes bland. The other aspects of the game should prove far better solutions to that issue, while also offering some neat gameplay mechanics to boot. A) the game will be designed to have scales, like I mentioned in the design blog I wrote a while back, these being scales of the number of characters the existing technology serves, and how many characters are needed to utilise those technologies. Want to play at a larger scale? Expect to cooperate with NPCs. B) the NPCs won't be isolated entities, harm one, and others of its group or other groups that are of a decent moral standing will react to that in ways you may not benefit from. That said, there will also benefits to be had if you choose to go the route of attacking NPCs: things like items and technologies. Though we of course don't limit you to acquiring such things from NPCs via violence, there will be options to peacefully trade, or intimidate them into yielding to you, such things.
  7. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    Ooh! Ooh! Did you look to my weapons-tier suggestions for inspiration? :3
  8. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    That was more directly about types of weapons and so on, wasn't it? We haven't actually done any documenting or implementation of weapons or how they'd work in-game as of yet. Though we will definitely be taking a close look at all community suggestions when we do come to it! :D
  9. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    I am of wishings to help!
  10. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Any suggestions you put in the forums will definitely help, especially those that are very well explained and focus on mechanics of gameplay of weapons from creation to usage. Those will give us an idea of how you guys want combat to work - don't just think guns either!
  11. Kesorvas

    Kesorvas Crash Landed

    • Member
    A major Idea I had for my game, was perhaps medieval themed futuristic weapons (Energy required swords, plasma crossbows, Nuclear catapults etc.) and with the crafting, make them complicated. So complicated it will take the players years (real years) to make the most basic energy weapon and they need to charge it. jk ;) probably just towards more of the realistic side, like nuclear catapults require more than just uranium/any-other-highly-radioactive-substance to be used as ammo, or energy, plasma, laser melee weps need a catalyst (the sword) to be used up in the crafting, but cant use all melee weps. Is this idea to much? also, thanks for taking the time to read this
  12. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    But why
  13. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    I think we want to keep technologies as believable as possible. By the time we have developed nuclear weaponry, we'd no doubt have developed better payload delivery mechanisms than catapults. Though maybe nukes designed to go off on impact could be launched from catapults if both existed and catapults were to be flexible enough to launch many different things. We might not necessarily put catapults in, but that could be a weird situation to end up in should you see that! As for energy-based melee weapons, these sound really neat - a lot of sci-fi games use them, for the fact they are just damned cool.
    PsychoticLeprechaun, Jul 8, 2015
    Last edited by PsychoticLeprechaun; at Jul 8, 2015
    #13
  14. Kesorvas

    Kesorvas Crash Landed

    • Member
    Well, it was just an idea. If you believe that this idea shouldn't be implemented, then that is you choice. No harm done to me. though I have to agree, seeing a catapult hurling nukes would be very uncomfortable.
  15. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    I couldn't say if it shouldn't be implemented just yet! We haven't decided how detailed to go for each technological "tier" of humanity. If we decide to go the really detailed route, I'm sure we'd give them a try. Then it would just be a case of whether catapults could launch anything, or only specific things. If they could launch anything, then a timed or impact-based nuclear warhead could theoretically be launched by one! It would be ever so weird, and very uncomfortable indeed if you were to be on the receiving end. :p
  16. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    After the 'sane' part of tech I'm sure we can get preeeeety outlandish...
  17. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Outlandish, in a way but you wouldn't start using older technology in the future unless it did a job better. Missiles tend to be better than catapults, unfortunately for the catapult enthusiasts out there. Though again, not against the idea of programming the game mechanics in as dynamic a way as possible to give you as a player more options!
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