May 27, 2008

Totally Boned

It's been a rough day today. Not like the rough days of last term (thank God), but a number of unexpected turns that have made this week look to be a lot more busy than I had originally anticipated. My rather unproductive weekend is at least partly to blame. Not so much for the Thesis research I had intended to do as I ultimately went a different direction from the topic I would have been researching, so it would have probably just been lost work. I could have, however, used some of my many wasted hours to finish my level for LD5 which is now woefully underdone. This all wouldn't be a big deal had I not received the most important news of the day, the top "10" (I think there were actually like 13, but we are supposed to combine some of them) concepts for our big project.

I am happy to say that one of my ideas was, in fact, in the top 10. Not the one I expected most certainly. In fact, up until almost the night before I wasn't even sure I wanted to give the pitch. That's right My Robot made the cut and Geomancer was nowhere to be seen. My opinion is that Geomancer smacked a bit too much of boardgames and hexes for most people to appreciate it (sad though that may be). Anyway, that's not the "interesting" part. The interesting part is, I'm not on the team currently designing My Robot. That's right, the faculty has decided that in order to get a fresh look at the ideas none of the original designers are working on the next pitch for their project. Moreover, personal rankings (i.e., how much we liked a given idea) supposedly weren't even factored in to the assignments. There were completely random with the exception of some minor considerations to specialization and personality.

Needless to say, I was pretty peeved for multiple reasons. First, I had an idea that I was very passionate about stripped away from me and handed to people who are mostly disinterested in working on it. I have no doubt that they will do their best to handle it professionally, but it seems like an awful jagged pill for most people to swallow. Add to that, that I was also placed on a project that I'm not terribly interested in. Well....I take that back a bit. It's not that I'm not interested in it, I actually think it could be interesting done well and with the right team, I'm just not sure that's me. I was tasked with the attempting to design Music: The RTS. It is a real-time strategy game pitting various musical factions (e.g., Rock, Electronica, etc.) against one another in a battle to control the "airwaves."

The most notable problem with this pitch is that it lacks any real gameplay mechanics, it's mostly just a theme, and interesting theme perhaps, but a theme nonetheless, and that is not a good start to having a complete concept document written by Friday morning. So now I am tasked with trying to think up some way to make this work (the original designer himself says he's not really sure) while at the same time trying to "help" the team pitching my original idea from completely tearing it apart. I'm not sure really how much time I intend to put into the latter, but when the LD assigned to your topic tells you before it is assigned that he would have no idea what to do with it, it starts to make you worry.

Anyway, that was today. The good news, I did make the Top 10, so my ideas aren't complete crap (hooray!), and I managed to finally settle on my Thesis topic so I can begin work on it in earnest. Well, I haven't exactly nailed down the topic, but I have at least limited it to a particular field, which is good. Now, I really have to get to work as I have a meeting with my team tomorrow morning to figure out what it is we want to do with this game. Night, all!


  1. I would think with music, you'd want the game mechanics to have a musical feel.

    E.g. units have a "beat" - you have to / can click on them at the right time to make them do something / be better.

    Chords - certain groups of units have synnergy.

    "resonance" - holding territory / creating wayposts attunes the landscape to your faction and gives you bonuses.

    Stuff like that.



    Ok, so it's not exactly game design, since it's based on an anime, but how the hell do you come up with a concept like that? It's further proof that the japanese really can incorporate schoolgirls into everything!