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  1. #1
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    Need advice from Modders... The importance of game play Vs story.

    My name's Chuck B, Im the envirnment artist on a mod team using unrealed3. We have 13 months to complete a relativly lofty goal. The basic game play mechanics are solid, we know what we want to do, and we know it will be fun!!! It's a squad based linear co-op game with three maps where people work together, with some very interesting elements that I'm gonna have to keep my mouth shut about. What I'm sort of having an issue with, is the desire my team has to crunch on a story that won't be seen at all(no cut seens)...

    My arguement isn't that don't need story, we do, just not something that destorts our original concept into something undoable. Considering our mod is really based upon some fundamental gameplay elements, and we know what we want to do as far as that is concerned, that it is going to make our lives much much easier to keep the story increadably short and simple. at this point the story is turning into something much different than the original thought, which I felt was very solid and simple, and I really felt it was increadably unique...


    I've heard all sorts of view points, and there is a push at my school for story story story. And I understand the need for story in a story driven game, and of course background is a nececity to sell the world for believability puposes. It just seems that with such a short amount of time, these story elements arn't going to be seen by anyone, are changing the game play, and becoming very normal.

    One thing that I am definitally feeling is loss of control of a personal idea... By that I mean, I presented it to the team after we spent two weeks going in circles digging our selfs into a hole with an idea that was far too complex for our capabilities. And when I dropped the idea, everyone jumped aboard imidiatly with no hesitation. And this is an idea I've sat on for quite some time, and have a real vision attached to. But in this group situation, a group that I didn't start, and infact am somewhat of an outsider to, the idea is being bastardized in a sense... I think everyone on the team has really good intintions, and wants something increadable out of this, but at the same time are setting us back up for the situation we were in b4...

    So that said, how important is a very indeapth story in this situation? Where do I stand as someone who has pitched an idea to a team I'm not the lead of? Anyone with mod experience I would really like to hear from, and thanks much for reading...
    Last edited by Spacemanchuck; May 7th, 2007 at 11:57 AM.


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  3. #2
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    I'm not part of any mod project, have never been and are not going to be participating in one in the near future, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, k? Good.

    =========================================

    In a co-op game, I guess nobody's gonna pay attention to an indepth story.
    Co-op should be all about the interaction between the participants.
    The environment, as well as the story, should only provide tools and possibilities to work together, to bond players close together and emphasize teamplay.

    A general framework that sets the mood and setting of the game is necessary, sure, but I'm with you when you said, a short and simple story ought to be enough.

    When you said co-op with not much of a story, Sven Coop for HL1 comes to my mind.
    It focussed completely on the participants and how they had to interact and support each other to survive and win.
    Being loosely based on the setting of Half-Life was only necessary to have an excuse for throwing zombies and soldiers at you.

    "there was this incident with a portal, zombies and aliens are coming through and the military wants to kill invaders and witnesses alike. You and your buddies, survive"

    That's all the story Sven-Coop and its players needed.
    When I was fighting with my buddies, I didn't want to care too much about character developement and plot twists.
    They would have been a nice addition, if done well, but they could have also shifted attention away from the core elements.

    And here's where I think your team is in for trouble.
    • How do you want to develope the story without cut-scenes?
    • In case of scripted sequences, how do you want to make sure everybody is paying attention?
      (many people, high adrenalin and video games... that usually ends in lots of mischiev and fooling around)
    • If people didn't pay attention and missed crucial elements, other people have to fill them in
      (requires squads who REALLY care about gameplay and helping each other, everybody who has played teambased online-shooters probably knows that's almost impossible without playing with close friends or setting up a permanent clan)
    • If people missed certain things, but they weren't necessary to have fun, then why put them in?
      (especially when you're working under a tight deadline)
    • think of additional points where your team is in for a whole lot of pain


    =========================================

    "Where do I stand as someone who has pitched an idea to a team I'm not the lead of?"

    That depends on the team, you, and how well you interact.
    Come up with a list of possible roadblocks you're gonna have to face (sort of like I tried above) and present them to the team in a reasonable manner.
    Be confident about it, make it clear (without being bossy) that you were the one who came up with the concept and that you have a clear idea of how it can be finished.

    Motivation is a two-edged sword.
    You have to provide negative and positive impulses to your team.

    • The negative, to drive your team away from what you DON'T want
      (the list with the roadblocks, to get them away from changing the concept).
    • The positive, to drive then towards what you DO want.


    Show your team that your vision is beneficial to the project, the target audience and the team as well.

    If done as you wish...

    • ...the project will be finished on time
    • ...the project will be a fun and well polished experience for players
    • ...your team will have to endure less stress along the way, 'cause you got it figured all out already
    • - come up with your own positive reasons


    =========================================

    So, these are my spontaneous thoughts about it.
    I hope it helps you somewhat and good luck in bringing your vision to life.

  4. #3
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    With only 3 co-op levels I don't think a story matters. The game I play the most is Wolfenstein:Enemy Territory. It's free, has no story other than WWII is the setting, and has awesome gameplay. The reason I play it almost everyday is because I can just jump right onto my favorite server and start playing. All I need to know is who the enemy is, and what the objective is.

  5. #4
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    Game play is foremost. Playtest playtest playtest.

    Get a playable framework up as quickly as you can, playtest; adjust change polish; playtest; polish, etc. The last thing you want is finding out in month 9 that what you've built isn't fun to play. the mod will be far more memorable with a an hour or two of intense gameplay than 10 hours of cutscenes.

    There're other ways to develop story without cutscenes; audio briefings; Logs that players find that reveals critical story elements; NPCs that reveal story elements.

    As for losing control, that's just the nature of working on a team. You will not end up with what you originally envisioned. You have to be willing to compromise and make changes however dear the original idea maybe to you. You have to trust your team that the end product will be for the better with their input. Anyone on the team who isn't willing to compromise will become a liability sooner or later.

    Ultimately whoever the project lead is has final say; theres not much you can do about that. If this time things don't turn out like you wished, there's always next time.

    best of luck on the project and keep us posted on the progress.

  6. #5
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    Thank you all for the very helpful words... Hito, I think you are right about the loss of control thing, it is just sort of the nature of the beast. So I'm letting go, which now that I have, I can see that I was getting too stressed over something that is actually turning out just fine...

    JFWalls I love Wolfenstein for the same reason, it's a perfect example of what I was talking about. And I think you're right, suggesting the setting and characters is enough.

    I'm definitally going to continute to push the concept of gameplay over story if for any reason things get snagged up on the story anymore. ANd Dirtbag I have been doing some of the things you mentioned, but at this point I think I'v realized that this is going to be an exersize in letting go for me. I'm just gonna chillax, make my suggestions with pro's and cons, and do what I signed on for to beginn with. Draw and paint envirnments...

    Thanks again for your coments, and I will probably be making another thread discusing progress.

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