Game Plan - July 2007

Edit: This is the initial set of goals I came up with in the middle of July when I started thinking about this project.

Create a short quality entertainment experience for an average gamer. Intended delivery is simply one click download, unzip/install, play.

3D Immersive Experience: The goal here is a small playable demo with a very specific focus. The scope of the first project would be about the same size as a casual game, but not actually that specific genre. The term "casual game" usually implies some sort of flash game or 2D board game, and the target market of cubicle office workers killing time while they pretend to work. The size and technology will be more akin to small games released on xbox live where the user interacts within a 3D environment. The target delivery platform will be the PC with d3d9 level graphics.

Not Just A Tech Demo: The first little game will showcase various technology. The reason it is not just a tech demo is that the technology must be used strategically in order to make an enjoyable experience. i.e. All the elements contribute to the gameplay - not just eyecandy. The game will strive to use good common-sense principles of game design. For example, rather than having pages of readme text for the user to figure out what he is supposed to do, the player should be motivated toward action in obvious ways based on what is presented to him within the game world. Feedback and rewards must occur so that the player needs to feel a sense of accomplishment as they progress through the level.

Excellence: Although the scope is not as big as a AAA title, the production quality for the albeit smaller amount of content must meet those same AAA next-generation standards of excellence. The game doesn't have to accomplish everything, but any major aspect of the project should meet market expectations for that component.

Mainstream: The game project should have some broad appeal. Admittedly, many people are turned off from anything 3D, meanwhile others may not have the right platform or lack the video card to run the game. So it wont be possible to attract everyone. However, we don't want to limit ourselves unnecessarily. For example I think we can stay away hardcore zombie gore. We don't want to alienate all the people who don't attend star trek conventions. The genre should be fairly neutral.

GamePlay: The first project will be first person perspective using standard interface for user navigation and control - the ubiquitous WASD and mouselook. The game will stick to single button (left click) action which can still offer lots of variety by simply making this context sensitive. For example, if the player clicks on an object he picks it up, if he clicks on a door it opens, etc. Although other actions (such, as jump, crouch, and sprint and throw) may be available, the player doesn't need these to play the game. The game should be accessible to the broad market - not just hardcore gamers.

Timeline: Its very important to complete something within a short time frame. Because this is the first project a portion of time will go into laying down the technical foundation and initial engine development. After this is mostly out of the way, I believe it should only be a few additional weeks before its possible to deliver a package for initial user play-testing.

Deliver: It is very important to have milestones that involve shipping something to someone (publishers, investors, the public, whoever). You don't have a complete iterative development cycle without it. Things things that need to get done will actually get done. When the product is delivered you get honest feedback about where you are really at.

Long term plan: The game concept below (edit: now named Teeter ) was specifically chosen since it would drive development of core systems that would be applicable to any 3D immersive experience. Consequently, development of this demo could lay the groundwork for future projects. If we can pull this off, then technical advancements and processes developed will certainly be reusable. Consequently, there will be a much shorter development cycle for future endeavors each being better an larger than the previous. The current implementation is PC but the basic tech can be moved to other platforms.

Business Potential: Business plan - whats that? I just have an urge to start building something fun. Admittedly, this first project is just a start without unrealistic expectations of financial return. The idea is to start creating and producing, but do so in a way that will potentially build toward bigger thing in the future. Ideally this project could lead to collaboration with other local and remote developers forming a bigger team that is interested in pursuing additional small projects with commercial potential.

Game Idea

In Game #0, the player has to run around an interior 3D environment and find little gems. Finding each gem will require a bit of arcade fun (with cool technology) including:

After finding each gem he comes back to the starting room to solve the next stage of the simple physics based puzzle using the gem. In particular, balance n gems on a 12 way balance for n=2 to 5. This concept fits the tech we want to show and will hopefully be fun. The physics puzzle is a brain teaser that engineers and science geeks would like, but by letting people solve it with a real implementation (instead of on the back of a napkin) will make this puzzle accessible to a lot more people. Although, experienced gamers out there might initially wonder "where are my weapons?"

Stan Melax