ALL RIGHT! A game is taking shape!

So this past week, we split to each work on different basic tasks– Blake put together profiles for everything (file sharing, mostly– looks like Drive is going to be a big part of this project), Anne (who is currently teaching an online summer camp for Roblox programming) put together a couple tutorials and games to look at for examples, and I was responsible for putting together a rough sketch of the type of game we’re going to make.

My original concept was an isometric, potentially turned-based capture-the-flag type game where two teams fight over one flag using simple strategy RPG mechanics. But pretty quickly we decided that that would make multiplayer a much more difficult thing to wrangle (turn order, initiative, and so on– turn based, rather than being a simple solution, seems like it would make things more complicated.) 

So, taking my central idea (capture the flag with one single flag, basically) we’ve built the central conceit of the game. I’ve been reading The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell, and one thing that really stuck with me is the idea that every element of your game should reflect the theme you’ve chosen. In this case, I was really taken by the ‘scavenging’ angle of the rats-vs-crows world we have going. We decided, then, to have each flag be a specific artifact of the pre-apocalypse world, which would tell the story of the setting through the flavor text as well as the item’s design.

From a mechanical perspective, we’ve settled on a quick 3v3 format, contained in a single map accessed from an overworld menu. In the bottom-tier matches, there are no power ups. But each match won provides players with a power-up according to the artifact they won in their previous match, so the next tier of play includes a team with one randomized power-up each, facing off against one another to claim another power-up that they’ll be able to bring into the next tier of play, and so on (so, tin level is no power ups, bronze level is one power up per team, silver level is two per team, etc.) We figured this would be a fun way to increase the variety of play, forcing players to adapt their strategies according to the limited (and unchosen) set of power-ups available to them. 

Each artifact a player claims can be found in a museum in the overworld map, which can then be assigned to their hand-picked arsenal that can only be used in the CHAMPION’S ARENA– a chance to use the tools you’ve unlocked to create builds and face off against other players with similarly picked abilities.

At today’s meeting, we established a rough list of Things That Need Doing to get a finished product of a game. So, I’m putting together a codified design document for the mechanics of the actual matches (or, a concrete notion of what we’re aiming for, anyway.) Blake is putting together music and messing around with artifact design, and Anne is going to come up with some unifying visuals (color pallets, visual inspirations and the like) and start rough-drafting maps.

Oh, we also established map scale– we’re going for “rat-scale,” which is the assumption that a character’s avatar is roughly one foot tall in the game world.

As a final thought, it seems like organizing work into a floating list of segmented tasks is going to work pretty well. Like, break labor into discrete elements to tackle larger tasks, identifying the parts we weren’t aware we needed to tackle, and adjusting accordingly. Another part of The Art of Game Design that really stuck with me is the idea of iteration, which is to say, building in such a way that you are able to test and refine elements as you go. Once we have a good idea of what we’re working with, I think we’ll be able to do that well!

Next week, we’re working on WORLD BUILDING!

Published by itstheinstitute

Table-Top RPG designer, freelance writer

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