June 3, 2008

My Robot is Dead

I sadly mourn the loss of my remaining game idea. I still think that it would have been a really fun game to play as well as to work on, but I guess my classmates, for one reason or another, did not agree. I guess I've been a bit disillusioned with the whole process we've been going through this term to determine our next projects. I'm not entirely sure why, I'm sure that my games not making the cut is a big part of it. I mean, it seems like we aren't really voting on games as much as we seem to keep voting on themes. The games selected tend to have cool themes that still need gameplay defined before they are actually games, and while a cool theme is all well and good, I get more fired up about exciting gameplay. That might be a bit unfair in some cases and surely the pitches from last week helped define a bit more of the gameplay in most cases, but it just seems like its much easier to sell a theme than it is to sell a mechanic, so that's what people are basically doing. As I said, that may be the bitter ranting of a would-be game designer whose idea just got the ax.

In all actuality, I'm probably just tired and things will seem a whole lot better in the morning. We had our interviews for the lead positions today and I think mine went really well, so I think I would be surprised if I wasn't chosen as one of the Game Designers for this project. So that has made me think about the different projects still on the table. I think Dissonance has a lot of potential, but I think it is surrounded by a number of rather large "if"s that would need to be handled correctly. Mostly if we could do the game as it has been described thus far, I think it would be amazing. The real question on everyone's mind is: can we?

To be honest, I'm not sure, I'm torn between being the sort of gung-ho cheerleader for the game and trying to be more realistic about our time and level of expertise. I'd still love to work on the sky pirate game (duh) but beyond that I think my interest level starts to fall off. The next (and final) round of pitches are next Friday and from there the teams and projects will be selected. From that, a large portion of my next two terms will be decided so its a little tense. Not nerve-wracking biting-my-fingernails tension, but more just a feeling of something heavy approaching. Anyway, I am no doubt thinking about things too much, and if I know myself at all (which I ought to), I know I'll be able to get behind pretty much anything I'm on. Right now with things up in the air, its easy to poke holes in things and then be a bit sad that none of our ideas are perfect. Once things are settled, I think it will be much easier for me to get fully invested.

As for right now, I am the main designer on Dissonance for the final pitch, though our team has grown to include the original person who came up with the concept (replacing an artist transferred to a different pitch) and an additional programmer. Now we need to actually try and mock up some very general things in Source (mostly to get the programmers and artists used to the engine) and polish up the concept document/presentation for the final push. It should definitely be interesting. On the whole I think that this process has been at least moderately successful in getting people's creative juices flowing. I mean, most of the concepts that remain have seen rather significant development from their initial concept and some have been drastically revised. As I said, most of my negative energy is probably mourning the loss of My Robot and will dissipate as I get focused on the next project. I'll let you all know how things develop.


  1. Well, if it is the case the developers are more interested in taking a neat theme and finding good gameplay then taking neat gameplay and finding a good theme, do you think consumers work that way too? Can you sell a consumer more easily on theme, or gameplay? Do you think they tend to like games that went from theme to gameplay more than games that went from gameplay to theme?

  2. I'm not sure specifically what "developers" are interested in, but I would imagine that at high concept the game is mostly a genre and a theme (e.g., a fantasy RTS) and then gameplay starts to form under that. I don't think that's really a bad approach at all, just not exactly what I thought we were doing here. I think gameplay then theme or theme than gameplay it doesn't really matter, but what gets me up in the morning is the gameplay, and I would be willing to accept just about any theme.

    I think the process we are going about to decide this game is unique and I'm not sure how much, if at all, it mirrors the actual industry. Either way, I've finished mourning my lost project and I'm back to trying to make my assignment the very best it can be. =)