Starting on mechanics or world design?

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  • Greetings developers, designers, artists, CC and C2 users! I wish for your advice and opinion on a matter at my hands which distracts and dissorients me from organizing efficiently a concept i hope to develop. The problem comes in with the priority of tasks and areas of work which need to be tackled first, i seem to get lost and demotivated because of it. I am planning and laying out the GDD for a sidescrolling adventure revolving around a town reconstruction mechanic (you must help a devastated town regain its state, helping out with simple collect quests and exploring the different areas of the map). I'm aiming for it to be more of a story and atmosphere experience rather than the gameplay being complex and heavy. I am wondering which is the most effective way to get this type of project running, is it convenient to prototype the questing/reconstruction mechanics and build on top of that or is it better to construct the setting in which the events take place and develop the questing system once there is atmosphere and visual referance? I feel lost in this aspect and would appreciate all advice from fellow developers and designers, thanks in advance!



    First prototype is almost done, three days of working and tweaking! I feel beat xD but very very good results, thanks everyone, pretty much worked the most important mechanics all together (dialogue, questing and reconstruction) very basic but efficient. I do get some minor crashes so i am not sure if CC is the best choice for my final project but will keep prototyping.

  • From experience, leave all word building behind, because it's your strenght, and you can just take a note when you get an idea.

    Break down your projects into mechanics, how does the camera behave, how does the character behave, what are the movements you will require, what are the elements in the world that can be interacted with and how will they behave...

    Once you get all these, you can prioritize them, and get started on C2. You will then realise that things you thought simple are not and that they can conflict each other.

    You can always justify later why this wonderfully advanced civilization decided to banish all forms of elevators and adopt staircases in all their ships.

  • I'm liking that point of view. Have a clearer picture on how to organize all of that first. Any more advise?

  • When I am coming up with a story and the characters, if I don't have the full story worked out yet, I start to think about the background of each character. What lead them to the point where they are and made them who they are. What happened to the world they live in or the area in which the game takes place. For me thinking about these aspects will actually help solidify and fill in the gaps in the original concept. Knowing these pieces can help fill in the "why" of your story which will help you lend context or reason the "how". Not only for your protagonist but also for your antagonists, the enemies and other characters in your story and not just the hero.

    If you put some thought into why the enemy are doing what they are, or what led them to that point, it will often help you come up with many other pieces like behaviors, abilities, reactions, and even deciding on bosses, etc...

    I like to think about these things when I am first working on the concept of the game as it really helps solidify a lot of your mechanics and gives you a much clearer picture of what you want to create. The more fully you can envision what your game world is, the more tools you have for bringing it to life and actually finishing the product. There are few things harder then finishing a game design when you don't fully have the concept fleshed out in your mind already.

    Take notes, test, experiment, then do it again and improve it. I am a firm believer in iterative design. Build it, and then either rebuild it or build onto it. Better and more concrete each time. Just a thought... Just my 2 cents...

  • In "general game design", I'd say start with the mechanics themselves. Those are what will please the player and keep him playing.

    If a mechanic/input doesn't feel good, it's likely the player will get bored or frustrated and just leave your game never to play it again.

    Visual and sounds are "a layer on top" that has to make sense in the context of your game. Nevertheless, if the prototype of your mechanics/base gameplay is fun with ugly looking squares and placeholder graphics, a better visual design will only add to it, but isn't perhaps the most important, whereas a gorgeous looking game with "feel bad" mechanics/inputs will just fall flat anyway.

    But in the end, it really depends on the game or the experience you're making. Whatever feels more comfortable and coherent should fit the bill.

  • When I was a game design student, I learnt that mechanics are more important that anything else. Studios where I was working told me the same. And they're wright, because thinking about the story first doesn't provide you a game, and it may even complicate things, because you will have to justify the story with the mechanics. When you start with mechanics, the gameplay has the priority, and it's primordial, even if your game is based on a strong story (otherwise it's a book...).

    For me, even if you plan to make an adventure games with characters, strong story, etc... You have to think about mechanics before anything. Think about how the player will interact with the characters, items, etc. You say you want to let the player explore the area, them how he will explore it? What can we do in the first hour of gameplay? What are the controls and actions the player can do? This is the kind of question you have to think about first :)

  • Thanks, guys! I like how supportive this community is. I even have a clearer picture on how to organize the GDD more evenly!

    Prototyping it is, will be working on a mock up silhoutte town to combine the dialogue, quest and reconstructing mechanics.

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  • I'm more of a designer than anything else so could just be me but...

    I would actually go one further and say Research and Development come before everything above.

    Once you know who you are making it for, where it's going be played and read up on on games with even the most tenuous of links your going to be able to come up with mechanics that people will want to engage with.

    Unless your making a game for yourself you're going to want other's to play it so make a game that they will play.

  • First prototype is almost done, three days of working and tweaking! I feel beat xD but very very good results, thanks everyone, pretty much worked the most important mechanics all together (dialogue, questing and reconstruction) very basic but efficient. I do get some minor crashes so i am not sure if CC is the best choice for my final project but will keep prototyping.

  • kraed

    hi, I've enjoyed reading this thread..It has helped me.. sounds like you are putting a lot of thought and effort into your game.. I look forward to seeing how it develops and hope you continue to share your progress..

  • <img src="smileys/smiley20.gif" border="0" align="middle" />

    i like how supportive and active the Scirra community is, keeps motivation fueled. I will be posting a complete thread dedicated to the project to keep the forums up to date once i finish up the prototype, have the design document more in depth and have some art to show. But for now i have to re-arrange some variables in the events, need to switch two quests one with the other :/ hope i don't screw up the prototype. (i do have a back up, though!)

    I'll continue to announce my shenanigans here on this thread for now xD

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