Sunday, October 28, 2007

The A-Team Are Back

Few days ago me and a few designers were sat down stairs in the studio making coffee. We walked up stairs to our desks to find to our amazement the A-team van just opposite our studios. "Harbouring terriosts are we?"

Most of us had a good laugh, but it still hasn't moved... at all!

Maybe we are under watch be the A-team.

Some of the team say they have spotted BA Baracus in the local supermarket probably buying some hardcore cupcakes.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

New Job

Last week I went for an interview for a game design position, later to find out two days later to be offered the job to be in charge of a new project. I can't realy release any info on it yet, which is a shame as it's a very exciting concept and am happy to be on the project.

Hopefully more to come in later months on some infomation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What Do You Get If You Cross An Ex SEGA Rally Artists With Shockwave?

You get Xcar - City Racer.

I decided to look into Shockwave games. Now that the internet seems to be booming with big buisness's making a-lot of money off these web based games, i thought it would be a bit of fun to see if i could have ago at web game making. To be honest I realy enjoyed it. I had complete control over my own little racing game. Below is screens from my little game project: Xcar - City Racer.

I'll upload the game soon when I get some free time. I have another one in the pipeline as well.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MMO 2.0, Yes 2.0

So here we are in this era of web 2.0. Is it a technological break through or are company's just claiming they have it on there business plan to make millions?

Well to be honest web 2.0 is all about connecting, merging and social. So why we all are seduced to this web 2.0 demon? Well it’s supposed to make our lives on the net easier or even real life. We will be able to access all sorts of social things from our mobile devices as-well as build a huge network of sites which link to one thing. With blogs and rss feeds and MySpace pages all in one. We can access data easier...

Moving on, We like web 2.0 well some of us do. So there's always around the corner of the talk of MMO 2.0. Many people are reading going what?

Exactly what is MMO 2.0?

Well for one thing it's a integration of the web in the massive multiplayer online game. As MMO maps are huge we could very well be seeing MMO's adopting the Google Maps technology so the game map is displayed with cities and towns and even player housing locations. I'm sure that would make it a-bit easier. We could turn on our mobiles and boom our MMO map will be on there constantly changing thanks to Google map software, but it isn't just Google maps there's more MMO’s can adopt to make them more interesting and social (as you kind of guessed now) web 2.0 is Social.

Many players love to write stories and record there journeys. Many MMO's don't even have the journal feature let alone anything else advanced. What happens when you need something and there's no one around? Well the solution could be hitting MMO's very soon. Wiki's seem to be the top choice for collaborative information. Developers could build the basic wiki and let the players fill the advance stuff in. Many community sites for MMO's are like this. Star wars static’s are one of a kind for info on all SWG stuff, from items to city contents it's all there. Problem is it requires all this link clicking ect. So why not Wiki our information? Sure would make life easier.

Now many MMO's will start to undergo this step soon. Tech is getting much better. One example would be BigWorld Tech who is now supporting mobile platforms. So say you've just killed these level 10 monsters and need to get back to home town to meet with friends, but oh you got work to go to. Well sitting on the bus you load up the MMO on your mobile (it won't be fully graphical based yet) and navigate your character to your hometown ready for you to meet your friends when there on. Accessibility is the word here. MMO's are internet based. Mobiles, PDAs, ifones, Internet points all have the option of the internet so why not make our MMO's to be accessible on it. Some MMO's I myself am working on one in production at the moment. Use a web browser based client. Meaning no download require you just type that address in, login and play. What does that mean? Well it means I can load it on my mobile, my ifone and even go to a internet point around London and play it from there.

Now this is still a prototype and I know only one MMO to have this in working alpha at the moment. Couldn't we start to command our avatars in the game from IM? An msn type IM were you can have all your MMO friends as-well as the ability to command and navigate your avatar. That is still a very early concept and requires a web browser based client from my knowledge.

Dynamic worlds are kind of obvious but seeing I’m making a list of the MMO 2.0 I thought I would add it. Dynamic worlds in MMO's are here at the moment although there not greatly done we can start to learn from virtual worlds such as second life how popular a evolving world is.

Last but not least the Social aspect. It's pretty obvious we will be having MMO's with features for players such as blogs and podcasts along with the fan sites but digging deeper into 2.0 meaning we can start to look on giving players a MySpace page environment (all ran by the MMO company) players could have social networks of different guilds, races ect. Helps players gain more friends. You could post up your daily screenshot or maybe a YouTube type section for players to upload that awesome battle with a level 40 dragon they had. Video sharing and other media sharing are starting to get more and more popular. People are creating social networks because of this new way to share info and media. That's a big hook for a MMO to get players. The good thing as-well many MMO's have already huge variety of ready made social networks so giving them something cross between MySpace/YouTube/flickr could top most the MMO market out there.

I myself am aiming on the MMO 2.0 concept. Hopefully in a few years time this will be a normal aspect to MMO development. Although at the moment MMO's are starting to dye in my eyes. Virtual worlds are taking over. So we need to rise up to MMO 2.0 development and help give the players a more social and fun experience.


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Monday, October 01, 2007

Vehicle Concepts

I came accross this video on Sclipo. Showing off how easy it is to make vehicle concepts just from basic shapes in photoshop.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Going Up In The World

Yesterday I was added to Ryan Shwayder's bloginati. With bloginati people such as Raph koster and Richard bartle being part of it. I'm very happy i'm being recognized to a industry standard and beyond. Also happy to have my name with the bloginati group.

www.bloginati.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Adobe CS3 Tour

It was nice to mingle with some movie and games industry people at the conference. I found Adobes new line to be very productive towards many graphical industry's such as the game industry. Some products stood out from the rest. Sound Booth and Premier are one of my favorites along with photoshop's new element of supporting 3D in it's interface. Also the vanishing point has be re constructed so we are now able to build virtual sets and the example we were shown of putting a flat plane CD cover on a 3d model all in photoshop.

My highlight was me winning a In Class Room book from the prize draw, shame it wasn't the actual creative software line which was first prize.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Virtual ME - Revised









Today I'm announcing a small project i've been working on for a-bit.

Virtual ME is a Virtual World Inside A widget. For those of you who don't know what widgets are, they are small handy little icons/flash/apps that can be placed on your desktop. Many give you live weather, news, and game info.

Virtual ME is the first Virtual World in Widget form, and anyone can create there own Virtual World using it! Virtual ME runs off a 2D Tile based format although in your personal virtual world you can link objects and portals to your blogs, websites, wikis, videos, audios.

You need some small experiance with editing via a text pad to create your very own world. Although I will be supplying tutorials for everyone to get started.

Currently Virtual ME is in Alpha Stages. BETA will be announced soon so keep your eyes pealed!


---- Revised ---

Virtual ME 2.0 is now a project name for a MMO (IDEA) based on my theory of MMO 2.0. The project supports many prototypes and thoeries in development for a unamed MMO title i'm currently working on.

Virtual ME 2.0 currently supports any device that can harness the power of flash. Meaning you will be able to play "Project X" on Mobile, Laptop, Blackberry, iFone, PC.

More infomation comming soon.

The Old Classics

The Games That Started It All Off!

These are all widgets. Follow the links to the source site were you can get the classics for your site/blog or myspace.

Space Invaders

http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/102

Asteroids

http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/107

Pong

http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/127

Pac Man

http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/126

Frogger

http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/125

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Virtual Game Conferences










The Side Project -

I recently founded a small group called "VGC" (Video Game Conferences). What VGC is intended to do is bring the games industry conferences to virtual games such as Metaplace, Second-Life, Multiverse Community Worlds.

VGC conferences will allow developers from Indie and Commercial ventures to show off there games and technology within virtual space. Also there is added sections for invited speakers to come along and perform live tracks for Design, Art and Programming. Targeting the virtual world as a venue is a brilliant choice due to there being more people will be able to attend from all over the world without leaving there computers. Developers won't have to travel to present there games. Plus it's open to Independent developers as-well as commercial ones.
VGC plans to give virtual venues the makeover venues with booths, Stages, Conference rooms, Lobby areas.

Currently VGC has it's first conference planned. Although there is no information on targeted virtual world yet.

More to be announced soon...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Areae Inc Announces Metaplace

Some fine news we have today on Raph Kosters company Areae Inc. They have just announced there new project Metaplace. Below is a bit about meta place from the official site:

Metaplace! That's what!

Build a virtual apartment and put it on your website. Work with friends to make a huge MMORPG. Share your puzzle game with friends. We have a vision: to let you build anything, and play everything, from anywhere. Eventually, anyway. We have to finish it first. www.areae.net

More to come soon..

Revisiting Classics

Recently I've been looking at some of the old games i used to play to see how they were and still are enjoyable to this very day. I've been mostly looking at the mechanics of each title and assessing on there "Fun Factor" as-well as other things among the design elements of the games.

Crazy Machines
Developer:
Pepper Games
Publisher: Viva-Media
Site: www.crazy-machines.com

Firstly I looked at Crazy Machines. Although many of you may of thought I was talking about major old games I still am but old compared to me. Crazy Machines is named the wacky contraption game. The game incorporates PyshX with its genre Puzzle game. The aim in the game is to solve the puzzle to complete each objective.

An objective may be get the ball from one side of the screen to the other. Then you get given a set of all sorts of crazy items to get that ball from one side to the other. Below is a level screenshot from the game.

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My Overview:
Game Type: Puzzle
Game Play: Open Ended
Play Time: 10hours Max (Depending on Player)
Design: Medium (Physics Part Makes Is Hard)

Conclusion:
Although a simple idea its a real classic in my books, keeps any player boggling there brain for hours on end.

Clonk Planet
Developer:
Clonk.de
Publisher: Self Published
Site: www.clonk.de

Clonk planet is still one of my favorites. Made by Clonk.de starting off indie they have now brought Clonk into a complete franchise. Clonk Planet is one of the famous 2D building games in my game collection. Clonk Planet is now freely available on there site. There new Clonk game is turning Clonk 3D.

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My Overview:
Game Type: God Game
Game Play: Free form with limits
Play Time: 5hours Max (Depending on Player)
Design: Medium

MAD: Global Thermonuclear Warfare
Developer:
Small Rockets
Publisher: Self Published
Site: http://www.smallrockets.com

My all round favorite out of the three. MAD: GTW was one of the most addictive games I've played. It's a shame though it was left at just a one off release. It had big potential and all the upgrades ect. It could of undergone more options. MAD:GTW had no game play flaws the only problem i see fit was it wasn't big enough. You could reach top with all upgrades on around 2hours game play.


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My Overview:
Game Type: God Game
Game Play: Has around 3 different tracks to take
Play Time: 2hours Max (Depending on Player)
Design: Has some complexity

Well although this post isn't relevant to many I've posted it any way. Maybe it will get some of you trying out these titles or give you inspiration to go back to your old classics and start playing. Makes a change from the high tech generation games.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Next Week - Adobe CS3 Tour









Next week myself and Chris will be attending the Adobe CS3 tour in Cardiff at Cineworld. The Adobe tour is mainly for myself to meet up with a few contacts, but also to learn some new techniques for adobe design and photoshop. I will be taking my camera and also doing a short term write up of how the event went. I'm sure Chris will be having some fun with Blue Screens and CGI. Look out next week for the blog post.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nano - The Short Story

Heres an extract from "Nano". Nano is a game idea written by myself. I started it off as a novel then brang it into the gameing world. Nano has still yet to have all of its infomation released. Heres the start of the short story. Mostly the introduction:

It’s been ten years since the Templar have stepped foot on Earth. My people are forced to live in hope of there return. At this time I sense the stars have yet to re align for seeing our future is impossible. We can not live in fear anymore. It’s time to rise up against the Coretex and regain power and then, yes then we can cry out for our saviours to support us on this journey to freedom.

As I walked to my writing desk I caught a glance of a transport vessel appear out of the thick black clouds. Horrible events flashed before my eyes, all I could feel was pain in my head. I held my hands over my eyes trying to stop these terrible mind tricks. It must have been a few seconds after all I can remember was waking up against a large crate. I remember having the feeling of dirt in my eyes, I started to rub them, they started to bleed. I screamed out in pain, “my eyes” I cried “my eyes”. Blood dripped down my face like tear drops, something had happened “I know” I said to myself. Something must of happened, I suffered serious pain to the back of my head, all I remember was my daughters voice. She sounded distressed. I tried to delve deep trying to remember but my mind wouldn’t let me. I knew if I let it heal, in time I would be able to regain some part of my memory.

After two minutes the bleeding from my eyes stopped. My eyes were still sore but something just wasn't right. I could feel something growing at the back of them. I was paralyzed in pain for a few seconds, It felt like sharp thick needles growing inside my head. Ripping and curling through my skull, it started to die down after a few minutes. My left arm was bruised and I didn’t have much feeling in it. I looked down at my clothes, my red robes which were once rich in colour were now tattered and ripped. What I did worry about was my hands. Then didn’t seem normal, they had a metallic feel to them. I clenched my right fist but my hand started to hurt. I quickly opened it back up and held it up to the sun. Suddenly these huge wires shot out from my wrist, up into the air and into my shoulders. My eyes started to burn, I shut my eyes in terror of pain. The flash backs started again. It was like a electrical surge running through my body which i couldn't control. I opened my eyes and stepped forward, in-front of me lay my home city in ruins. It was as if a sand storm had come and taken away its beauty. I stood on the ledge looking down at the place I once called home. I wondered to myself would I ever find out what’s happening to me? And then I woke, what a terrible dream. Then my eyes started to hurt…

Thursday, September 13, 2007

MMODesigner.com Podcast

I got asked to join the unofficial Multiverse talk cast. I'll be talking about teams with MMO production and also the Multiverse toolset and how we can look to the future for a ultimate editor or still have the tools separately which can be time consuming at the best of times.

You can listen or download the podcast using the link below:

Download Multiverse Podcast 4

Click Here

Monday, September 10, 2007

Update on Behind Cover Design

I've been all over the place with different projects, helping people out and my own hobby projects. I've now started to draft up the design of the whole Beach Landing level. Below is 3 design maps showing overal gameplay and placement of items such as ammo and medic packs.

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Brushing Up On FPS Level Design

I've recently been looking into level designer positions for various companys arround the UK one struck out was a company in london doing a MMO FPS. I had an interview last friday and hopeing to get some good feedback from them. Recently i've be submerged into this FPS design frenzy. Here are some shots of a level in progress.

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Gamedev.net Article

I have recently had my article published into the articles and resource section in gamedev.net. It's a big step forward as I know gamedev only publish articles from high end designers. I'm happy to have made it that far. Heres the link (scroll to MMO Guidelines By James Allsopp)

http://www.gamedev.net/reference/list.asp?categoryid=23

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New Article Contribute

I've recently had my article on "The future of game mechanics" published on www.mmodesigner.com. I'm also pleased to announce i'll be doing some podcasts with them as-well. More to come later next week.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Behind Cover - Little WW2 MP

Behind Cover is a small Multiplayer project i'm doing just to brush up on level design skills and also unite my texturing skills back with me. As you can see from the screen below it's in very early stages, but hopefully within a few weeks will have the "Black Sands" map finished.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Tools For The Average Game Designer

A-lot of people ask me what tools/software do you need for a designer. Well to be honest it's according what project your working on. In a general term I have written a list of tools and software which myself finds very useful for fleshing out and developing the game title:

Must Need Software
  • Microsoft Word – Microsoft word is the designers Kung Fu. Most design is either written or art, having a good knowledge of word is a good start but to lay out your documents you need advance understanding in its interface and shortcuts.
  • Microsoft Excel – A designer uses excel for many things, project planning, lists for weapons with hit points and health.
  • Microsoft Power Point – Power point can be used to produce game flow presentations as-well as an ideas presentation to team members and to show the flow of the actual game.
  • Adobe Photoshop – Has to be one of the best packages out there. It’s a must for any designer/artist.
  • 3D Modelling Package – modelling packages are good for designers to get a theme or model sense through for the games.
  • Zip (Compressing Software) – Sending big files to your team is a pain so it’s god to zip your files up to reduce the file size.

Optional Software
  • Microsoft OneNote – This is a personal preference. I enjoy one note as it’s quick and easy to jot down notes and pictures as-well as produce quick flow charts and scripts.
  • Microsoft Project – I use this a-lot as it’s good for keeping my projects managed. Deadlines and milestones can be noted and sent to others as-well as able to produce a full schedule.
  • Microsoft Visio – Now I would put this into the must have, but some designers like to be different. Visio is amazing for flow charts and planning out system flow diagrams.
  • Adobe Dreamweaver – Some of my design documents are website format so I find it fun to create a website for the team and mostly publish it on the Internal Wikipedia for people to see as guidelines and updates.

Prototyping Software
  • Microsoft Power Point – Good to show off your ideas and test out game flow practices.
  • Macromedia (Adobe) Flash – Now flash is hard to grasp but once you know some good action script you can basically make a full prototype with it. Everyone uses it for the prototyping and game idea generation.
  • 3D Modelling Package (needs to support animation) – Making small low poly base scenes and animating them can give off a good little representation of your game/game idea.
    Good Engines/Middleware For Prototypes
  • FPS Creator – I use to quickly prototype FPS games, and level based games.
  • Multiverse – I use to test out npc’s, questing, advance scripting ect.
  • Realmcrafter – It can be used for RPG & MMO prototypes in my opinion. Not games. Prototypes.

Games That Can Be Modded For Prototypes
  • Unreal Tournament – Powered by Unreal technology, it’s got to be one of the most powerful and easy (when got to grips with the tech and structure) to mod and create your own prototype.
  • Halflife 2 – HL2 engines has been used to create all sorts of weird and wonderful mods. A good choice to prototype a variety of game types on.
  • Battlefield (1942,vietnam,2,2142) – Very powerful engine, allowing players to run around as FPS and drive vehicles, different objectives. Battlefield has the FPS to it. Although some mods have changed it to a RTS.
  • Command & Conquer Generals – Great for the RTS prototypes. C&C Generals can be modded easily for any sort of RTS – Even space.
  • Freelancer – Is a good and very big space rpg style game. I know a few teams who have used it to prototype space session based games and MMO space games.
  • Quake – Could argue with Quake and Unreal. There both mostly the same. It’s what you prefer.

Stationary
  • Paper All Sizes – A designer shouldn’t be without paper or at-least a notepad. Able to jot notes and draw ideas out.
  • Pencils – To draw, and note as-well. Some people can write better with pencils then pens.
  • Coloured Pens/Felts – colour in your drawings with vibrant colours.
  • Pencil Sharpener – To sharpen your pencils. Don’t draw with blunt pencils
  • Yellow Posits – Good for writing ideas down and sticking them around your house or studio. Good for reminders as-well just don’t use to many. I found myself a yellow desk after all my work.
  • Eraser – Make a mistake, rub it out.

Hardware
  • Laser Mouse – With the laser mouse you can move your cursor freely with not jolting in movement or delay.
  • Comfortable Keyboard – You will be using nearly all day so get one your comfortable with.
  • Two or More Monitors – Its easier which anyone will tell you to be able to work on two or more monitors. Especially when using 3ds Max. Photo reference on one screen, Max app on the main one.
  • Printer – Print out concepts, ideas, documents. Just watch the ink.
  • Scanner – Scan in ideas, drawings, from books, scrap books ect.
  • Wacom Tablet – This is a personal preference. I find it better then a mouse.
Other Stuff
  • Lego – Something fun an exciting. Plus good for idea generation. Maybe build your level out in Lego first? There isn’t much limit using it. Especially if you got robotics kits.
  • Laser Tag Guns – Now a-lot of people don’t know this but studios who develop FPS’s play with guns. Not real ones (unless they go to the shooting range). Push up a couple of chairs, get a few laser guns get some of the team/ whole team to join in on the fun. You can practise tactics using them in-game. It also makes work fun.
  • Board Games – Some of the best games are board games. Monopoly, game of life and axis and allies. Those are a few examples but what ever you prefer.
  • Retro Games – Atari, commodore, N64. Look at the very first games and consoles. These were the original titles.
  • Card Games – Some designers like to design a card game for there game first off.
  • Kids books – Designers like Will Wright love to generate new and exciting games. From his experience of reading through kids books, using kids programs and toys.
  • Encyclopaedia – Now this maybe just me but books like this seem to give me a huge handful of game ideas.
  • Remote Control Car – If your developing a racing game. Some studios have adopted Scale Electric cars and remote control cars to have fun building tracks and testing out cars and how fun the actual track design is.
  • Clock (preferably with an alarm) – Random yes, but could come in handy.
It doesn’t stop there. Enhance your creativity with things you enjoy around you and process’s that you can enjoy. I know one designer who writes all his t-shirt. Random yes but if it helps you work why not?
Thanks for reading!

Long Nights?




For those long nights stuck in the studio doing stupid amounts of overtime just to reach your milestone, or if your on the net using msn and working hard away in word. All designers should drink the warmful drink called Coffee! It get's me awake for 20hours a-day working atleast, 4 hours sleep is my usual but can differ from time to time. Have the coffee goodness to get you through those long hours.

It's An Obsession

Everyone has dreamed of getting a super car. Lot's of people like normal cars but there are some who just can't stick to that. Mine is the 25th Anniversary Lamborghini Countach. All I say is it's love :P







Monday, August 20, 2007

Putting The Fear In MMO's

Hi All,

Me and a few local designers went out for a coffee a few days ago and got into a very good topical talk for the MMO design market. We had a good 2 hour dicussion on How a Horror MMO could be made and what techniques could be used from session based games such as silent hill for the MMO.

It's more of a random drafting of ideas then a well structured article, but I thought It would be good to post to share with the community.

Putting The Fear In MMO’s

We see Fantasy and Science Fiction Massive Multiplayer’s all the time. Even odd twist in a MMO, but what we don’t see is the MMO world expanding like the session base market has. We can explore different types such as; Racing, RTS, Platform, FPS, Horror. My point is we can achieve something new for the MMO genre when looking back into the session based market. My point for this article is to look upon the Horror Genre in a MMO.

Many MMO’s these days like to play it safe and go along the terms of fantasy or sci-fi. What we don’t see enough is original titles. Putting Horror into a MMO is easier said then done. First we must look at how titles such as Silent Hill and Resident evil give us the tense creepy atmosphere making players delve into the world and prone to the zombie or monster jumping out any second. Below I’ve drafted up a list of events and techniques the designers have used to keep the horror genre alive.

· Scripted events – such as the player walks around the corner and something fly’s past the window.

· Dark Atmosphere – All horror games and movies have a darkness to them, there is no point having a vibrant light atmosphere as it doesn’t set the tone “What Lurks In The Dark”

· Abandoned places – Well we could argue that all horrors aren’t in abandoned places, although it seems to be the setting for any of them these days, ghost towns, haunted mansions, deep woodland.

· Folk Lore & Myths – Many horrors are based of Folk Lore and Myths we know of. Some maybe original but a-lot of the scary stuff is from it’s based of real events (Such as the Amityville Horror Killings)

· Horror stories revolve around the actions and emotions of the antagonist, instead of merely using the antagonist as a “mechanic by which drama can be promoted among the protagonists.”

· Horror employs subtle horror techniques. Such as a contrast between the calm music played while horrifically disturbing visual imagery is played. This results in the viewers senses becoming confused. Other visually distorted effects causes the viewer some discomfort, such as varying room heights and characters’ facial characteristics being slightly skewed. Anything, generally visually, that seems wrong somehow gives the viewer a sense of psychological unease, if only subconsciously.

So we looked at techniques for the Horror genre, but we haven’t really looks at what Horror is?

· Merriam-Webster defines horror as a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay – which sounds related to emotions.
· Stephen King defines horror as an emotion to be grappled with, a combat waged in the secret recesses of the heart. The emotions of horror, terror, fear, panic all split us off from the crowd and make us alone.

What about horror in a MMO?

The horror concept within a MMO is easy said the done. You need not only make one player feel the tremble of cold fear up there spine but a wide range of players. Myself and a few others formed a discussion group not long ago talking on the ranges of MMO Ideas we could expand on and pull into full production. One that struck all of us was that the Horror genre is a very difficult theme to get across for an online game. It would be bad enough trying to figure out the story line for 100’s to follow but to achieve the sense of dread and painful emotion into such a widely spread online game would be near enough impossible, but we did have a few brainstorming sessions and found that there is ways to pursue the Horror for the Online Game’s market.

Our first question was to be “What setting could we have for a Horror MMO?”

We could look at Silent Hill for online setting, a ghost town set in deep dense woodland with just a bridge that goes there. Our second was to be looking at a range of storylines like Dawn of The Dead and Resident Evil with a T-virus sort of link. Our last idea which we decided on was to place the players in a dense dark gloomy forest. Why? Because nothing is more scarier then woodland at night with night noises plus we could easily create a woodland with procedurals and a Forest Generator. Gladly could argue our own system or a middleware like Speed Tree.

We all came to the conclusion that using a woodland for a world setting would be a perfect place for all these creepy events. Now to deal with players. We know our woodland is going to be dark and gloomy with mist throughout, but how can we tackle the problem of Day time. Looking at Silent Hills story of It’s bright and still creepy but when it goes dark all hell lets loose. We have decided that it would be a great feature to put into the MMO. The woodland is on endless proportion, we don’t intend the player to move in and out of the woodland. We want daytime to be a relief for players. They will go through the scary dark night wishing they weren’t alive then daytime then can regain ammo maybe find there buddies they lost on the way from running so fast from evil (Blaire witch style).

Deciding what this evil is gains a hard respect on what our story is. Ok we have woodland yes it’s scary but how? Mostly down to psychology and physical being of woodland with night noises from owls and other wildlife but how do we turn the virtual woodland into a heap of evil.
Firstly let’s look at what we could potentially have in this woodland;

· Satanic drawings (Pentagram In the dirt, three stones positioned, bones in the trees)

Satanic structures are one that can pull in the player to evil. Many horror titles have pentagrams and other symbols usually in blood to give that creepy feeling. The game will place other structures such as bones form trees, maybe a few carefully placed (3 stone), hanging corpses and sometimes alive ones. Good reference is Silent Hill The Movie. Were the guy is hanging from the fence still alive.

· Monster (Blood creatures, maybe look at resident evil lickers as reference)
Bloody and burnt corpses crawling across the ground at you, strange shadows running across in front of you. Creatures such as Lickers from resident evil to climb and sit in the tree’s stalking you.
· Ghosts (Able to play with players minds, move objects)

Now ghosts can appear, maybe a ghost appear when you walk closer to a tree you can see one hanging, but we don’t want ghosts to just be a art feature but more element to add to a scary setting. Ghosts can roam and disappear, the ghost of a little gal can skip through the forest singing a song and disappear into the distance.

· Eyes (although many of you may be going that’s not creepy when you come across two
glaring red eyes your first instinct is what is that then second is ok I’m out of here)
We would relate eyes to the creatures in the trees or on the ground so I wont go into any more detail here.

· Night noises (Groans, voices, object noises)
Whispers of voices, little girl, satanic, (reference White Noise) voices directing the players into more evil or taunting them.

We want the player to come across and area and think to themselves. Oh dear I’m not suppose to be here. We also want all the players to experience some sort of scary feeling within the MMO and not just players who have been there for awhile.

So we have a basic setting for the MMO and know a brief outline on what to fill it with, we now come across the players game play.
A very good idea highlighted by Alex was to keep players on there toes and not give them range of weapons such as shotguns, mg’s but to replace all of that with Torches. Nothings more scarier then roaming around a haunted/evil place without any weapons to protect but a torch to guide you.
Wont go into any more greater detail on this, just to give you a rough idea on how to approach a session based genre for the MMO world.

With thanks to:
Alex , Jamie, Tim & Myself

This discussion is continued on the Multiverse.net Community Forums:
http://update.multiverse.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=24017&theme=multiverse#24017

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Revisiting An Old Friend



Many of you didn't know but I was one of the content designers for the online world There.com. Contracted for a few months to help them build up there glorious online world space and fill it with 100's of objects and fun games for all its users.

I revisited there.com yesterday and was surprised on how well it's been running. Players have filled the world with there own content. I would advise designers looking to create the synthetic world such as the popular second life to look at there.com

IMGDC 2008

I've just submitted my speech proposal to IMGDC for next year. If successful I will be talking about "MMO Basic Foundations for The Independent Designer". The speech will be talk about basics in MMO design. "You have to crawl before you walk" technique on building a MMO in the independent community. More of an update hopefully next week.

You can visit IMGDC's website using the link below
http://www.imgdc.com/

FPS Games Arn't Dead Just Yet

It's a beautiful thing to see FPS games turn into something new and vibrant. Many FPS are usually remakes of others until Half life 2 my personal word would say FPS games were dying in originality the whole run and gun just got boring after awhile. We now have a new kid on the block. The brilliant team at Irational games presents us with a master piece to turn the FPS evolution wheel again or more than once. Bioshock.



Bioshock bring a twist into the FPS genre and game mechanics of basic FPS. Although it's still a FPS Bioshock gives the player so much more. With genetic mutation devices called Plasmids and other whacked out features such as customizing your own weapons and ammo. What really does bring the compelling world of Rapture (Bioshock's setting) is the AI. The AI is a none scripted oblivion style work of art. Players will come across roaming AI's going about there business such as the Big Daddys and Little Sisters. Other AI's such as mechanical security turrets and Splicers. The game makes the player believe that Rapture is a living breathing world. Although around 20hours of game play Bioshock certainly gives us new hope for the FPS. Truly inspiring artwork, game play and the overall feel allow me to say FPS is reborn.

I advise all game designers to give it ago when it's released on 24th August. It's hard to find a inspiring game but I must say this is one of them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Multiverse Article Contribute

Today I got my article posted on the MV wiki. Thanks to a-lot of support from the MV users they have got the MV developers to post my article in the MV wiki. I'm very pleased everyone’s taking a liking to my work. Hopefully more to come in the future, but for now you can find it below.

http://update.multiverse.net/wiki/index.php/MMO_Design_Guidelines

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

END - Position Update

I have been with Faramix Enterprises LLC. since the start of June 2007. I joined as a designer to help out polish documents and be an all rounder in programming, art and design. I have now been promoted and placed onto the Core team for Faramix Enterprises LLC. as a CIO, Producer, Creative Art Director,Designer. Some big roles there but I have been doing the positions for arround 2-3 weeks now and I am happy to be one of the 4 Core, driving Faramix Enterprises LLC.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

MMO Studies: Creating A Basic Synthetic World. Part 1

  • Hey all,

    A new Case Study, on the synthetic world is being undertaken. I've just published the first part publically. Hope you enjoy :)

    So looking at the online world the biggest successors except blizzards beat machine “World Of Warcraft” are the synthetic worlds. Yes I’m talking about Second Life. Presenting a virtual online world built by players for players. It’s fun to use in-game modelling tools has really boosted its content, players can create pads to chill out with there friends, have parties or even create there own business’s. Big companies such as virgin and IBM have started to catch on and even universities are hosting lectures virtually. Could the virtual world be turning into our real world?

    This isn’t a review of synthetic worlds its a series of methods to help you “the developer” create your own. This would be assuming you have your bases of the MMO up and running.

    Your first step to a bigger world!

    Now before I begin with development cycle for a synthetic world make sure your MMO has persistent terrain or huge zones. Why? Well players will create content, you need space to create that content. If your looking at a big player base get onto a persistent world module. If however your only looking at a few 100 players using a zone based world would be suitable. In-fact “Sims Online” is a zone based MMO. Each property you go to visit is a instanced zone (Idea Springs To My Head). Further on in part2.

    Phase One

    Let’s get stuck in then. With synthetic worlds there’s one key thing that your MMO must need dynamic terrain, if you cant place dynamic objects your on the wrong path.

    With the object creation you need a system to place the dynamic object onto the terrain, able to move it around and then select place making it a static object. Also able to select it again and turn it into a dynamic object to move or delete.

    That’s it for phase one. It needed to be a simple description but many of you know that’s a hard phase to overcome. There are other ways to get around it, for reference look at my MMO RTS Theory.

    Phase Two

    Ok there are two pathways to take here. The Creation Tools or Pre Made Assets. The creation tools pathway is for developers who want to create modelling tools in game for there MMO. Pre-Made assets is for developers wanting to create a sort of “Go to shop by a lamp, place in house” instead of creating it by tools. There is no right way it’s usually according to how your engine handles. Both are combined in some synthetic worlds.

    The Creation Tool Pathway
    Looking at the most popular modelling packages “3Ds Max” the tools presented there are what we need to integrate into our MMO build mode.

    Basic Shapes
  • 3D
    Box shape , Sphere shape , Cone shape.
  • 2D
    Line spline, Rectangle spline, Circle spline.
  • Extrude
    Allows you to extrude the 2D shapes to 3d using the mouse to define the height of extrusion.
  • Add
    Add tool allows you to add one shape to another, sort of a grouping command, you can Add and Un-add (don’t get mixed up with subtract)
  • Subtract
    Subtract tool allows you to subtract one shape from another. Maybe make a doorway in your wall?
  • Poly Edit
    Poly edit is only for advance developers who really want a creative experience for there players. Poly edit allows players to select the polys which make up the shape. They can move them on a Y,Z,X axis creating more random or complex shapes.

    Once you have these shapes in and tools to add and subtract shapes to and from other shapes you can then start to build huge structures using basic blocks & cylinders. So you have your basic tool creation system in-place now you need to build a texturing system. This will allow the player to look in the servers “Texture Library” and select a texture to be placed on any of the shapes.

    Going into advance building, you could allow users to have some sort of login and user account system via the net so users can upload there own textures to there own part in the server so they can use there own custom made textures, or maybe have a url directing to the texture meaning the engine would need to; look for the textures url, find it, render it on screen (streaming the texture from the image source).
  • Your Cursor
    I’m using the 3ds max Gizmo for a brilliant example for moving your shapes around in build mode. X, Y, Z axis.
  • Move Tool
    A tool which allows you to select your shape and move it on a Y,X,Z axis.
  • Rotate Tool
    A tool which allows you to rotate your shape on a Y,X,Z axis
  • Scale Tool
    A scale tool which can scale on a Y,X,Z axis or All 3 (scaling the complete shape)

    So now you have a Content creation tool ready to be tested extensively until your MMO runs perfectly. No errors in mesh’s, bugs, unwanted gaps.
    Note: You may want to add a shape name tool in there. Just to name each shape player creates to keep track. Although when a shape is added to a shape it will take on a different name. Example shape 1 is added to shape 2 equalling shape 3.

    Pre Made Assets Pathway

    So if you don’t have the skill or the engine just won’t allow you to program a content creation tool set into the engine don’t run away just yet. There are many ways you can get around the problem. This problem is to have a premade asset library. Star wars galaxies is a big example, players could place pre made homes into the world and by pre-made objects. No options on editing the properties of the shape or editing the appearance, but still satisfaction of owning there own home in the world.
    Now you could do this by having a vendor which sells houses, furniture other items. Also you could add the option of a Player Made Content Vendor which would search the library on the server of all the models the players have made themselves. Ways to do this would be for a automated uploading system, or getting the player to email a dev, the dev uploaded to the library manually and allowing 2-3days for the content to appear.

    So my method

    First thing players are going to want are houses. Now its easy to make an estate agent vendor (as it acts like a shop). The vendor sells different types of houses. Player selects his/her house. Purchases the deed. Once the player is happy on there location for there house they drop the deep and boom there is your house.

    Note: Maybe have an option to lock content such as houses so other players couldn’t move them or take them. Easy on this way to create a ownership system where when an object like a house is added the player can claim an ownership allowing them to move it and lock it. Although some engines may need a good hardcode system for this and some don’t as many MMO engines these days support Player housing.

    A Idea

    Just a quick idea on how you could develop a synthetic world by looking at games and real life.

    See now this could be fun, you could get players to go to the estate agents when they join, or maybe even start them off in there own flat like you do in “World Of Kaneva”. Players then get some start off money, they get a Job to gain them money or start there own business. Maybe selling off objects they create? Or paying real money for in-game money. You can then proceed to shop at furniture stores made by NPCs/Players, go to placed like electronic stalls. Which sell a video games console were the actual TV allows you to click on it and play a pre-code game like Tetris or something similar. A game within a game. The TV’s could even have a Sims feel to it, you click on it and can change the channel according to what in TV subscription you bought. Pay every game month for the TV license, get better TV licenses get more channels. The channels would be streamed movies/clips from the internet. Maybe even add guns and other fun games into your world so players could create laser zones for entertainment, allow your tools to be the basics but create a vibrant world of endless possibilities. Allow anything to be streamed onto a wall, documents, videos, audios and even flash games. Get players to create content, give them options to create there own stuff.

    Note:All your MMO to be a tool which allows the player to create there own world

My Inspirations are
Kudos,Sims Online, The Sims, The Sims2, Singles, Second
Life, Star Wars Galaxies.


There’s more to come on this subject, just at the moment I wanted to cover the basics on the synthetic world….

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Explore Your Inner Child

It's a bit of an interesting subject when I started to pick up the concept. Designers today like Will Wright all gather the block buster game hits from the simple things of life. Kids toys.

I had a good research and read of many mediums of kid toy rules and dynamics as well as visual aesthetics within the toys and pointed the direction of mediums of games. Giving the player the same speculation as for example "LEGO". A wide open variety world for the player to build and visually create as well as game play on a easy basis learning curve added.

Download Power Point Presentation
http://www.tiny.cc/upk8W

I hope you enjoy the presentation I’ve written and also any questions please post here. This has been written to help others explore there inner child and create new ideas, especially for the MMO market.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

MMO Studies: The Prototype

Introduction

What a lot of developers do is race ahead to modelling and production and half way through writing documents and really just get into such a mess they don’t know what to do next. You have deadlines ran way over due and team are loosing motivation. So start planning first. I recommend not to go straight into your Full on MMO production.

The Method

Write out your concept document explaining the game idea, the target platform and of course the target audience. Write down some key features your game will have. Once you have completed this get a Prototype document drafted. Now your in pre-production phase. This is a big learning curve. Don’t get anyone onboard until you have a small prototype to show off, it also shows you know the engine and development throughout. As a producer you need to know these things otherwise you can fall in to all sorts of pitfalls.
The prototype document should be just a small extract of your MMO world. Get a small world up and running. Below is an example extract from the “Ancient World Online” prototype document. It just explains what the player should see. The sort of content within the world. A tip is to keep it simple and fresh. Don’t go crowding a huge amount of complex particles, animations and scripts. Keep it simple and easy.

“With the demo we need to get the design idea across by using visual communication. As starting off in the town centre of Delarey we will have many things going on, and many static characters all around us. Traders/Merchants and market sellers all going about there daily work. Also some static models will represent players looking for guilds, selling items or just sitting down, some may be fighting others just thinking. The centre is the central point of the city and must show the most life around. The centre also has the cities 4 most important buildings looking over it. The huge sky scraper of city hall, the galactic space federation council head office, the city bank and also the EUCT HQ. Within the city centre there will be recruitment tents for the EUCT and also quest givers. Vendors and trainers will also be present.
The city will have many places to visit such as the bars and clubs present within the city also a casino will be shown but won’t be allowed to go inside it. The life on the streets will be people sat out side the bars talking each other up, others standing and drinking and some law enforcement there to keep things clean. Bouncers will also be present on the doors. If you have a space ship and fly into Delarey you will probably want to land in its big player airbase. Were players can store there ships with safety, also can gain repairs from the local mechanics. When in here you will see around 10 present space craft which you will be able to fly once you have saved up enough money to buy one.

Wondering down the streets pass the player airbase you will see Information desks for players and also some mission terminals and cash machines by the walls. Walking out near the outskirts of the city you will come to the cities space port were people can have planetary travel by using public transport.

Walking around past the space port you will come to some small hilled areas and grass fields, in the fields you may notice players meditating (displaying some special particles flying around them) and some on the hills camping out with a camp fire and pitched tents. Journeying passed the hills you will start to come to the coast and there in front is a small player base set on the sands. It is under attack from another player and a small battle has begun. Explosions, fires and bellowing smoke can be seen all around. “


What is a key as well in a prototype document is to list the limitations. When I was designing AWO I had many limitations from using a Evaluation package. It’s a good skill to find different ways to get around the limitations. Finding different ways to show off what you want your mmo to look and play like is a key essence. It shows you have skill and have the drive for your game vision. Below is the Limitations extract from AWO.

“Limitations:

As using just the Evaluation package of BigWorlds engine we do have many limitations, these are listed below:

1. No scripted entities as we do not have the server to set up on.
2. No Space chooser (terrain mesh program) meaning a small terrain to work with.
3. No means of showing of “Space and combat”.
4. No Showing off of Direct Control NPC and Pet System.”


So what does your prototype need to show. Well for one the games theme and visuals are a key when someone looks at it, but many prototypes are used to get across the game play. The game play for example in Ancient World Online has measurements of RPG and RTS as well as FPS system all built in, but of course the prototype just didn’t allow that thanks to the Evalu engine. So how do you get around that.

Now when looking at RPG system. Your engine may have the capabilities to have shops and vendors even a basic combat system. Well if it does use it. Some engines especially on Evalu don’t let you script anything. So came up with the idea to have speech bubbles above the NPCS with an example speech of a vendor. You couldn’t click it or interact but at least it showed that was what the vendor did.

It’s very easy to get the prototype underway. Create your terrain, your models, then your NPC’s then concentrate on the rest such as skill and combat systems.

Once you have a visually sufficient prototype and shows the game play flow then you can get a team on board as the prototype acts as a sales pitch to your team. You need to have your team buy into your idea and the best way is to give them something to run around in. If your team isn’t motivated by the idea then there are big chances your MMO will fail. Hold on though, don’t quit. Ask them what they want to see in there. Improvements and so fourth. Be prepared to take a lot of criticism your like a mother protecting her new born but you must let everyone have a say. If its just you, your making a MMO targeted for just yourself you need as much input from your team and sometimes the public to help truly build a MMO.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

MMO Studies "Basic Foundation Phases"

I posted this up at the Multiverse forums, some users found it a constructed article and apparently a good read. I thought I would share the same article here.

This is just a method. Not a fact or solution or guide. If you choose to use some ideas from here that’s fine but I’m just making it clear this isn't a guide to create a MMO. More like guidelines ;)

If you look at it realistically you can't achieve it.
If you look at it from a visionary’s point of view it might just be in your reach.

You really need to think hard though about your small MMO project. Planning is a key for mmo success even if it’s only a few months work.

1. What’s the MMO About?
A short description on what your MMO is. Its aim, its genre, its ideas.
2. Game Play Flow
This is a Game Play Flow Diagram (See my example below)
3. World Design
3.1 Setting
Your World Setting, what type terrain, gravity? oxygen? bad weather?
3.2 Contents
Cities, villages, settlements, ruins, battlegrounds
3.3 Quests
Quest Scripts (Set out like Theatre Scripts)
4. Characters (NPC's & Players)
Playable Characters, appearance
None Playable Character, appearance
5. Static Objects (Ties in with Advanced World Design)
Buildings
6. Scripting
6.1 Scripting Events/triggers
Particles, animations
6.2 Scripting NPCS
Dialog (set as script)
Actions
Events
6.3 Scripting Quests
Technical script side to quests
7. Items
7.1 Items
Item List
7.2 Clothing
Clothing List
7.3 Weapons
Weapons List

A-bit of a list, and that's just basic study for the simple MMO. It can be done within a few months. I used to set myself little challenges like this.

Here’s my example of a game play flow for a SMALL MMO project.

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Phase One

Get the Basic Terrain down then start to progress onto character development (playable). I then suggest build a small town and texture it. Once you have that create some NPC's for that town. Start to script just conversation dialogs for NPC's. Then start to graft up some items/weapons to make it more interesting. Add a small Hit point combat system. You should now have a world you can go around exploring different towns (if you wish to build more).Talking to NPC's and able to combat with NPC's.

Phase Two

Add some monsters to your world so you can kill. Now comes the Skill system part. Start by implementing one skill at a time. Test it out before moving onto the next. I would advise start with EXP (Experience). Add skill set + script to the end of combat with monsters. Give each type of monster different exp point to gain from killing it. Once you have around 3-4 Foundation skills you can start to make your quests. Create a simple "Go Fetch Item Quest" then progress to "Kill NPC to Get Item" and so on. Once you have some Skills and Quests you can then start to advance to Phase Three.

Phase Three

Economy systems are hard to get your thumbs around, especially MMO's. Create a simple Economy system. Create a Bazaar Market place in one of your towns. Script in a Shop conversation, and add a game default item like a barrel to the Buy list. Set cost to 10. You may want to look into the start up script and add a give player money event at the start of entering your world for the first time. This is to set the player up. Sufficient 100 would do fine.
Tip. Don’t make your economy too complex. Keep it simple. Keep track of item/clothing/weapon pricing using a Excel spreadsheet.

Phase Four

Well by the time you get here hopefully your few months will be at an end, and hopefully you have a fine MMO project to show off to your examiner.

Hope this helps :)

Added Widget

I decided to add a site viewer widget to my blog. Just out of curiousity I guess.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

MMO Studies "RTS Module In A MMO" - Revisited

Note: This is a Method. It has been tested, but not to an advance state.

I’ve noticed over time a lot of RTS elements would be fun to implement in a MMO. Problem is it requires a lot of core programming into the MMO Engine. Although it’s attracted to more experienced developers, the independent scene doesn’t really get a look in. I’ve devised a series of Easy to follow methods to get the RTS element into the MMO.

I’ve noticed many MMO’s have a item discard system. When the item is discarded by the player it becomes a dynamic object on the ground which is displayed as its appearance when on the terrain.
For example: You have a sword, you drop the sword onto the terrain. The sword appears as the sword model on the terrain. It can be reclaimed by just clicking on it and selecting pickup.

So what’s this got to do with a RTS system?

Well a RTS is a dynamic system, buildings come and go. Units are dynamic and played as NPC’s. So the item discard system comes into play.

The Basic RTS System

Method 1
Firstly you need to create a HQ type model. Model and texture it. Then import it into game as an Item (not a static mesh).
You then need to do some item configuration. Many MMO item scripts have the option to select what model to display when equipped to player and what to display when discarded on the terrain. If your engine does not support this go to “Method 2”. We want the object to display a “Deed Model” when in inventory or equipped to player. The deed could be a simple square model sized to fit the players hand with “HQ” on it. Now we need to edit the item to display the “HQ Building” when discarded. Save this and test it out. If your test is successful, well done. That’s the basics of an RTS System.

Method 2
Firstly you need to create a HQ type model. Model and texture it. Then import it into game as an Item (not a static mesh).
I take it your MMO engine doesn’t support a two way display system for the item, what it will support though is just the Item appearance. It’s not a problem. Just create a deed icon for the item to be displayed in the inventory (Edit the option to be Player Equipable). Your player wouldn’t want to equip it as it’s a huge HQ building. Discard the item and you should be able to see the discarded item in front of you. This should be the HQ building.

Building on the Basics

Many of you know RTS games run in a order of
Must have HQ
Opens up Barracks, Farm, Tech Centre building options

Sounds like some core programming to be done here? Not really we can cheat this by using simple decision scripts and some creativity.

Best thing to do is create a Vendor. The vendor we will call “RTS Mode Vendor”. The vendor is set up to be a shop. For example here’s a dialog layout:

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I’ll go through this as it gets complex. When you buy a HQ two items are added. The HQ Building and HQ Deed. You will need to set the item HQ Building to “player can’t equip” also set the same for the HQ Deed, this will stop your player equipping a huge building on there body. You only need to discard the HQ Building item. Maybe put a description of the item for the inventory “Deploy HQ Building”. However do not discard the HQ Deed item. This will be used for advance building methods.

The portable vendor is a shortcut to a no core free programming. The portable vendor is shaped in a terminal. It’s placed the same way as a HQ building. It’s advisable to place the portable vendor in the HQ building (if it has interior) or next to it. What the portable vendor does is act exactly like a RTS vendor but you don’t have to walk to the nearest city or spot for it. Meaning you can build your base from the comfort of your base.

Now the Portable vendor unlocks different buildings to buy acting upon decisions. Below is a simple flow chart showing how it works.

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As you can see in the diagram the more you buy the more buildings you unlock. The production buildings “Vehicle factories, Aircraft Factories and Defence Outposts” will bring up another shop menu where you will be able select different vehicles and defences to buy, import to inventory and then discard onto the terrain.

You would have the barracks sell off NPC Combat Type “Infantry, Rifleman, Laser Engineer”
The NPC Units will act like a pet. You can command it to “Attack, Defend and Stand Ground”

It’s the same with all units, aircraft, vehicles and infantry. They should all be set up as Pets. Why? Because pets will follow player command plus you can equip armour and weapons to them. (More information on advance RTS below)

That’s a building on basic RTS system method.

Advance RTS system.

Firstly Advanced Infantry
Pets allow player to equip armour, clothing and weapons to them. If you have a normal infantry men and you want him to be a sniper simply implement a Weapons Chamber & Armour Chamber. In the weapons chamber you will be able to buy cheap quantities of weapons, although these weapons can only be used for NPC unit pets. Kit your guy out with a new sniper rifle and a new helmet.

So appearance of your sniper is looking good. How about skill, it does seem like a lot of scripting of skills needs to be done, but it will be worth it in the end. Implement a Academy. In the academy you can train your infantry units up individually. I’m not talking about grinding but just a simple tell pet to walk on training program square. Select what skill you want to “Teach” your guy. Example “Novice Marksmen Ship - $50”, this will teach your guy novice marksmen ship which for example adds +3 HP. So now when you order an attack on another player/npcs your guy you trained up will have more HP damage “+3”

So there you have it. It’s just a method. It has been tested but not to advance system.

Thanks for reading!

EA CEO Says "We're boring people to death"


Reported by the Wall Street Journal (and covered by various other sites), Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has come to the conclusion that "we're boring people to death... For the most part, the industry has been rinse-and-repeat. There's been lots of product that looked like last year's product, that looked a lot like the year before."

Surprise...Surprise. All we see these days is the same old same. Only a select few seem to be new innovated ideas which will take design to new levels. To be honest its pretty bad to see the FPS genre re developed over and over. As well as RTS and Horror. There is much more to explore in all these genres. Even MMO's have got boring as its same old design elements and same game play. Where is the new stuff?

Nintendo Wii had PS3 & XBOX360 running for the hills. Nintendo are truly leaders in the fun design world. There games are new and exciting, plus very entertaining. So why have EA, Sony, Microsoft & SEGA stuck to the old routes.

Simple. Old routes are the safe routes. Nintendo are daring and dangerous, the rest just don’t want to jump into that fire just in case they loose money. That's all the industry is these days Money. The industry should be for development of new technology and game play. My previous article explaining how interactivity will be a big thing. It will. Players need to be involved more in the game.

I think we should take some advice off Nintendo. Keep It Fun & Original.

Racing Games Being Free of Restraints

As we look into the open future racing games are becoming more realistic by the day. Although what we are not seeing so far is the ability of freedom within this genre. Yes cars and environments are becoming more photorealistic thanks to the every growing technology but have we taken to old methods again?

Many racing games are just track locked games. The player can not exceed the track limits “Go Off Road” unless off roading is part of the track. There only a select few of racing titles which allow freedom to the player. Frankly it isn’t much freedom but its more then being locked to the track. Some titles do actually try to present the player with a “sense of freedom”. They don’t give us total freedom as there are still boundaries, but they do lure the player into thinking there are some sort of freedom elements to the game. I’m of course talking about “Motorstorm” by Evolution Studios and “Dirt” by Codemasters.

Motorstorm to be put blunt is a mad stunt style racing game which allows players to dare jumps while speeding radically fast across canyon terrain. Allowing some sort of freedom element in this title does do wonders. You can actually fall off the track edge, and Motorstorm does place you on the edge. Although there are some limits. Height limits are placed and also the courses are track directed, even if you think its off roading there is still a direct path the player must take to complete the course.

Dirt places the player in a truly remarkable rally “simulation”. Yes dirt maybe classed as a racing game but there are different types of racing game; Arcade, Traditional, Simulation. Dirt has a great element of freedom, it truly does add to the Rally experience. Players can drive their cars off the road, down cliffs and hill sides, and unless you’re a brilliant driver with the Colin McRae series you will find yourself steering off the track around bends and sometimes straights.

Hold Up. Back On Track!

So freedom is a good thing to aim for a racing game, so why hasn’t it been explored more? Simple because it has. If you allow 99.9% of freedom to the player in a racing game you wouldn’t have a racing title, you’d end up with a racing RPG. Racing games need that limit so the players can flow around the course completing laps. If the course is to “Freedom Flexible” players could cheat by taking shortcuts and just go completely off road and ruin the race. We can depend on the limits to sometimes help us get around the course easier, and sometimes having being locked to the track can be a fun experience as you can then turn the speed up on the cars. Giving you the arcade experience.

Arcade racing games always seem to be the joy of the racing genre, demeaning all laws of the real world and just keeping the fun factor real. When I worked on SEGA Rally (PC/XBOX360/PS3) I come to realize that pushing technology for freedom wasn’t really a factor it was more keeping on the arcade guidelines while boosting up the graphics.

You just contradicted your question?

Well yes and no. The whole part of writing this is to show there isn’t any real answer it’s really according to what racing game its set to. I’m sure we will see titles like Motorstorm in the future, and there will also be other games like SEGA Rally in the future, but what can we expect in new game play terms. Yes we do need to explore the future in freedom, but also we need to keep those racing limits. I’ve tried to work closely with the two. It’s a hard balance between freedom for the racing genre. So many questions;

How much freedom is in the game?
How much balance of freedom is their within the game?
Depicting freedom and Gameplay, where’s the fun element on the freedom aspect?

My formula for balance of freedom and locked track:

(1) Track X has X Mount Shortcuts Shortcuts=off-road off-road has limits

This is just a concept. It’s being put into testing.

(2) Track X(Level Size a ÷ Shortcuts b) ÷ 100 x Shortcuts b = Y Freedom

(1) Here’s how it’s set out. Track X has X amounts of shortcuts. Shortcuts are counted as off-road (freedom) but off-road needs some limit (locked track) otherwise the player could stray away from the track completely.
(2) Level size divided by the amount of shortcuts on the track equals the amount of freedom to allow within the track. Example:
Track Canyon(3400x3400 ÷ 6 Shortcuts) ÷ 100 x 6 = 34% Freedom

This is assuming your track environment is square it wont work otherwise.

In conclusion there are elements to look into the racing genre, but still need to keep to the old guidelines and keep the element of fun in the game. Arcade is still a key element to be had in any racing title, but as well as exploring the element of freedom and allowing new game play. With the test formula it’s easy to figure out how much freedom needs to be allowed in that level. There are sure to be many changes in the genre for the next generation, but what elements it will keep going is to be waited for.

Bit of Scripting

Just touching up on my scripting. This is RC script. The Script is A MMO based Special NPC who adds a special quest to the player if player accepts. If not the script terminates.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Function Main()
//Sets NPC's Name
SetName(Actor(), "Old Wise Man")
Return()
//Sets NPC's clothes
SetActorClothes(Actor(), 529)
Return()
//Sets NPC's face
SetActorFace(Actor(), 42)
Return()
//Animate NPC
AnimateActor(Actor(), "Idle", 0.7)
Return()

Player = Actor()
X = OpenDialog(Player, ContextActor(), "Old Wise Man")
DialogOutput(Player, D, "Greetings Youngling, Many moons have spoken of someone with such guidence
as yourself to enlighten your path and fullfil your destiny as a Templar.", 255, 255, 255)

Result = DialogInput(Player, X, "About The Templar", "Im Interested", "No Thanks")
If (Result == 1)
DialogOutput(Player, X, "The Templar Knights were formed on a planet called earth during the medieval ages during the blessing and worship of Christ. Sworn to protect the holy powers the templar’s now roam the universe alliance with the Coalition of the Suns the Templar Knights are to help prevent war between the Coalition of the Suns and The Empriea Imperium Alliance. As well as the Exmpirian forces Templars are also hunted by bounty hunters for federation traders to sell off there Ancient Weapons the “CyroSword, GrailBow (Holocras Arrows)”
Everyone has the right to become a templar but only the true followers of god can embark on the galactic crusade. A templar knight must first journey to earth and find the resting place of the Holy Grail, once there they must then pass three tests, once they have passed the three tests. After completion of the three ancient tests they will then be presented in front of the patent of god there they will receive there blessing and will be able to enter the Templar Knights quarters located on Cordia. There they will be able to learn the teachings of the good book and learn the ways of a knight of god. After there training they are given the holy weapons by the leader.

To present rank and order in the universe the templar knights are ran by the higher orders there are twelve higher order which sit around the round table of king Arthur “The Knights of the Round Table”
", 255, 255, 255)
EndIf
If (Result == 2)
DialogOutput(Player, X, "I am pleased you have chosen wiseley. Goto the ruins of Corcai. There you will seek the Order”
", 255, 255, 255)
// Add a quest to the player's log
NewQuest(Actor(), "Seeking The Order", "Goto the Corcai Ruins and Seek the Templar Order", 255, 255, 255)
Return()

EndIf
If (Result == 3)
DialogOutput(Player, X, "As you wish. Do come see me if you change your mind”
", 255, 255, 255)
End Function

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Concept Art-Work

Had abit of fun for a few hours creating this concept print. Just thought i would post it up here to show you all.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Level Design 101 – Part 1

During my days in the industry and working with people on the outside there has always been the direction on level design. How do we define a level?

As many of you know levels are the core if the level isn’t interesting then the player stops. It’s simple. Many artists over rush levels, bugs like texture stretching and just careless polygons left. This may seem great when you’re ahead of schedule but what it comes down to is what players will get. Texture stretching doesn’t look very professional at all.

Motor storm seems graphically brilliant when speeding around those canyon tracks. Have you actually stopped to see how it’s all done? I found some textures stretched on rocks and cliff sides. Although sometimes this can help. When driving at speeds getting a blur effect is hard so sometimes textures are stretched for the advantage.

So what’s the process of level design?
Obviously any of you out there have done a few scribbles laying out a level. As you may of guessed levels start as a scribble on a piece of scrap paper. It’s true ask many environment/level artists they will tell you first thing is “scribbles”, because this is your creative mind at work. You draw quickly to get it all down but come to a conclusion with a small vision of what you want your level to look like. So you’ve just gone from Mind to Paper. You wouldn’t need to worry about quality this is just a “quick get your ideas down phase”. Below is an example of this Mind to Paper action.

Quick scribble of a Toywarz Level

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

So you have your scribbles now what?
Well many people go straight to the level package (Editors/Packages) and begin on the level. This is just because you want to see your level in front of your eyes, but hold you’re horses. Before you even think of going to the editors or packages get a clean layout of your level done. Use a 2d package such as Photoshop, Paint shop or even Flash to get a clean good layout of your level. Below is an example of a clean layout.

Below is a Canyon Track Layout

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Ok great. We have a level laid out. Now a lot and I mean a lot of artists/designers don’t use this technique but I do believe it is great to really get a sense of theme and depth to your level plus it helps the artists see what they need to achieve. Style sheets are a great way to get the levels atmosphere and style to the artist by just using a simple technique of grabbing pictures of the internet and pasting them on an A3 sheet. Below is an example I did for a canyon level.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us


To be continued…

Friday, July 27, 2007

Define Game-Play Presentation

During my days at Girzzly Entertainment I've redirected the team and the gameplay within Warscathed. By doing countless meetings and alot of discussion i've researched design techniques and the basics of FPS game play. I've come accross a presentation which I would like to give public to help designers everywere understand FPS games shouldnt be a Shoot Kill Mission sort of game. They should be more indepth and allow the player more time to explore and imerge themselfs into the world of the game.

Enjoy!

The Link:
http://files.filefront.com/define+presppt/;8087447;;/fileinfo.html

Game Mechanics Developing Over The Next Few Years

Below is an article I have written on my views of how the industry and game mechanics of today are progressing into the future and what the future will present for us as developers and gamers.

Looking at the present design in the games industry I can see already there are some technological achievements already shown in some current games which we will hopefully begin to see advance in the future. For example freedom within games will become a big thing. Online games seem to scratch the surface but many fail. Many designers look at pushing technology to its limits, space within levels are maxed. Dark & Light (MMORPG) was classed as the worlds biggest MMORPG, but had its disadvantages on how to fill all that space. Already MMO’s are using computer generated Locations, Quests and NPCs as it would take the artist/designer more time to hand create/place objects, quests etc. More or less new design ideas such as different ways of interacting with the game interface will start to play a big part in the next generation. Touch and speech will play a big part in players interacting with the game. There’s already a prototype by Meta Mersion where the player actions appear on the screen. These include; Crouching, Ducking, Leaning, 360 viewing movement, crawling and standing up). These are demonstrated using Valves prodigy Half Life.

Technology we can relate to which will play a big part in the future of game mechanics would be Sony’s successful eye toy. The player can use their actions to interact with the mini games presented on the eye toy. Players can wash windows and even do karate in real life which is then processed on screen to the game through the eye toy. Another big player which is the Nintendo Wii has already started to journey into interactive game play. Design aspects of motion sensors put into the controller allowing actions such as Swings, Slashes and even punches. Increasing interactivity is already number one on the list for the future of game mechanics. Players find it more enjoyable to interact with the game full on, instead of through buttons/keys. It won’t be long until we see MMO’s adventuring into the interactive side of game play. Soon we will be able to play World of War craft virtually using headsets which set the player into the world of Azeroth, interacting with players by reaching out and virtually tapping them. Communicating via microphones and battling them from sensors placed in the player’s gloves.

Games which relate to Gears of war in the same layout and game play will become more life like in the next few years. Cry tech’s Crysis is already producing photorealistic screenshots and showing off the huge environment technology they have developed into the game. It won’t be long until game graphics become life like as well as key fundamentals in game design. Imagine Sims in a few years. Will players be able to design there home they live in real life and then walk around it in virtual space?

At the moment there is a MMO that has drawn in many players and business people to the virtual frenzy. Second Life offers virtual reality where players can create a world from scratch using the building tools integrated into the games engine. Many businesses hold meetings on this virtual space and even create virtual offices. Some universities in America are currently holding lectures for students who can’t attend lectures in real life. Is this an advantage? Could the future of our life style (Education, Work and even politics) be played out in a virtual space such as second life?

Games will get better in graphical terms but it isn’t always about the graphics, game play is the key in any game. The future withholds many wonderful things for the games industry. Designers now should start thinking of the future game play; instead of recreating the same idea over and over for games, which are around 10-20 hours fun then the player gets bored. Designers need to get the next generation of games in the pipeline, instead of relying on old ways to get them through. New ways need to be created in order to expand into the future.