DEV-Talk 1.5 – What can kill your game?

Greetings Travelers!

 

Welcome back to the second part of our DEV-Talk series on what can make or break your game.  Like last times topic, it is hard to definitively say what can break your game, but it is much clearer.  Usually what really breaks a game are developer decisions that conflict with players desires or goals for the game.  The two best examples of this are DayZ Standalone and No Man’s Sky.  Many of us are familiar with these games and the infamy in which they continue their development.

We will begin by examining DayZ Standalone.  What began as an extremely successful mod for Arma 2, turned south quickly when the developer abandoned the game after receiving millions of dollars in backing through early access (a topic for another DEV-Talks).  While DayZ Standalone had the same concept as the mod, the developer made many critical errors.  We could spend way to much time going over all the issues but, I will highlight the big ones in my opinion.

  • Reinventing the wheel in terms of graphics, environment, ballistics, and physics.
  • Lack of content
  • Hackers, bugs, glitches, FPS, and overall optimization.
  • Extremely slow developer progress

These to me where the main issues, and then the cherry on top was the developer abandoning the game after years of no progress to begin his true vision.  Thankfully, he hasn’t received much funding as many are afraid to go near him with a ten foot because of all the bad blood between gamers and him.

 

Next we break down the spectacular failure that is No Man’s Sky.  What began as a very promising game, garner much attention following the slow progress of Star Citizen and gamers desires to explore space, burst into flames along with gamers pre-order money.  Now No Man’s Sky faced a different issue and that was a lack of transparency.  They developed the game behind a curtain and revealed little about the game.  Much to gamers surprise and disappointment, then ended up with a whole lot of nothing.  Over the last year and a half they have attempted to update their game making it into what they promised, but updates have been slow and focus on content not needed or content that doesn’t make a difference.

 

Biggest takeaways when developing your game:

  1. Transparency – Can’t stress this one enough, talk with your players, don’t hide from them, especially if your game is in early access or you participated in crowd funding.
  2. Keep Your Promises – If you don’t, your players certainly will and your sales will reflect it.  Like the timeless saying, don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep.
  3. Prioritize – While everything is important in your game, don’t prioritize unnecessary things, like DayZ redoing weather over and over while hackers ruin the game and zombies teleport and are a joke.  Or No Man’s Sky adding cars to travel planets while no addressing the core issues, like the game is still empty.

I could list more but these are probably my biggest issues when it comes to bad games.  Above all else, listen to your players if you want them to play your game, but don’t let them corrupt it.

 

Stay frosty travelers and check back soon for DEV-Talk 2.0 – Micro-Transactions.

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World Building – History of the Ether

1350 AD, the height of the Black Plague, the world is gripped by fear and disease, humanity fears extinction, but then the Cataclysm struck. A massive crystalline asteroid from space strikes the Earth in Eastern Europe. This event can be traced to the introduction of magic into Earth.

The magic infused crystalline asteroid destroyed much of the Earth, sending large portions of the crust into the sky, and they stayed there. The magic holds these large land masses floating in the sky about 10-15,000 ft above the old surface. The introduction of magic altered evolution, leading to the creation of numerous new species of humanoids, animals, planets and monsters. Humans name this new floating realm, The Ether and refer to the ground as Terra, adopting the Ether as their new permanent home, and started a new calendar, the year 1 AC (After Cataclysm).

The people who survived the Cataclysm begin to rebuild their lives and civilizations in the Ether. The majority of people live on 5 major land masses. Each mass evolved and progressed differently, its inhabitants all believing they were the only survivors of the Cataclysm. As the years progress, Magic emerged as the most prominent field of research as people seek to understand its properties, this led to the rise of Mages.

In the 7th century AC, mages and engineers have discovered a way to adapt old Terra ships to the Ether Realm allowing them to fly across through the skies, the birth of Airships. Powered by a combination of early machines, magic, balloons and Spatium Crystals from the asteroid, people began to explore the Ether and travel between islands. In 731 AC, the Guild was founded on the center most island, home to the largest city, Artis. Artis and the Guild operate as an independent, neutral faction that are the hub of science, trade, communication, magic, art and society leading to a Renaissance.

785 AC, on the western land mass, Occidens, the Luctus Regenum was founded. Made up of humans and other humanoid species, the Luctus Rege, lead by the Mourning King, and his 4 loyal noble houses, begin conquering Occidens. After 15 years of war, Occidens has been unified under the Luctus Rege and the Mourning Throne. Now they turn their gaze toward the northern land mass, Flaugunvollr, inhabited by many clans of gruff, viking-like peoples. In the Spring of 801 AC, the Luctus Rege begins their campaign to tame the North. The mountainous terrain, cold weather, and nomadic nature of the clans cause slow progress, dubbed the Aeris War.

During the 6 years of the Aeris War, the city states of the southern land mass, Meridionalis, have condemned the actions of the Luctus Rege, asking the Guild and the clans of the Orientem land mass to help them intervene in the war. Being neutral, the Guild refuses to intervene, the clans of the Orientem ignore the cries of the north and south. Frustrated by the lack of progress in the North and angered by the cries of the south, the Mourning King launches a new campaign on the city states of Meridionalis. In 807 AC, the Luctus Rege begins sieging the lands of the western most city state, Calidi. After 2 years, Calidi surrenders its city and territory.

In 810 AC, the Luctus Rege has marched further east into Meridionalis, and begun sieging the fortress city of Clypeus. Worried the Luctus Rege will never stop, the Guild secretly gathers the strongest of the Ether Realm and forms the Æther Knights. With the secret support of the Guild and an alliance with the Knights of Aquila, the Knights begin fighting back the Luctus Rege. After 3 years of defeat and humiliation, the Mourning King reluctantly agrees to sign the Ether Treaty. In the Treaty, the Luctus Rege get to keep the lands they have conquered, but must reduce their Army to a smaller defensive force, and not engage in further expansion or warfare. Meanwhile the Æther Knights return to their hidden fortress and continue to keep the peace in the realm.

The year is 817 AC, when destiny brings several travelers together, your adventure begins here…

This is a sample of some of the world building I have done for a new world I started working on.  Check back for more, see ya on the other side travelers!!

DEV-Talk 1.0 – What Makes a Game Successful?

Question: What makes a game successful?

Answer: Who really knows???  This is a really complex question and one that really doesn’t have a concrete answer, but we will attempt to break it down.

 

The game development industry is a very difficult and challenging industry filled with tons of competition as developers all seek to get you to play their game.  Most games never see the light of day, the dev-team scraps the project, the studio shuts down, or loses funding.  But, for the few games that do see the light of day what really makes them successful?  For some developers, just releasing a game is a success.  For other developers it can be numerous things such as:

  • High Volume of Players
  • High Volume of Concurrent Players
  • High Sales
  • High Replayability
  • Long Life/Support of Game

There are probably more that I can’t think of but, those are generally the top markers in today’s industry.  The hard part, no one knows if their game will be a success.  When Call of Duty first started, they had no idea what their game would grow into, now they are one of the faces of FPS games (even though they should stop making games, but that’s a topic for a different day).  This small PC based historical shooter had a modest crowd until it hit Xbox 360 with the release of CoD 2, then it grew from there.  What really makes a game successful is the tastes and preferences of the players.  What are the players looking for, is it fun? Unique? Fresh? Cost to Play? Developer?  All these things can factor into a player’s decision to purchase/play a game.

BUT!!! It is important for developers to not just build a game that players want to play, but a game they want to make.  Going back to the CoD example, this is no longer a game that players want to play or that their developers want to make.  CoD franchise is all about pure profit now, can we make money?  And over the years their sales have reflected that, they put a lack of effort into the game using recycled graphics, mechanics, animations, but update it and charge players $60 bucks plus DLC.  Therefore sales have decreased and continue to.

Another example of how you can’t predict the success of a game is Fortnite.  Battle Royale is not a new concept, PUBG and H1Z1 lead the market in the genre.  Then this 3rd person, shooter, tower defense game decides to add a fun battle royale game-mode and it becomes one of the most popular games, running neck and neck with PUBG and sending H1Z1 to the dumpster.  Who would have thought in the over saturated BR genre with two games heavily dominating the competition that this small game would emerge the leader?

 

No one…

Bottom line, when making a game, be passionate about your game, engage with the gaming community, be transparent about development, accept player feedback, and try to bring your own fresh, unique, fun perspective to a genre and leave the rest to the Gaming Gods…

 

Check back next time for DEV-Talk 1.5 – What can kill your game?

Catch ya’ next time Travelers!

DEV-Talk 0.0 – Intro

What is DEV-Talk?

 

For those who have checked my About Page, my goal and the goal of Black-Hole Interactive is to become my own game development studio.  The goal of DEV-Talk is to discuss and understand different elements behind games, their design, success, production, etc…  While I am not yet a developer, I try to think like one and look at games from more perspectives than just as a gamer.

Check back for regular updates!! Later Travelers!