Saturday, March 7, 2009

Introduction

Hello and welcome to this blog. Here I will be keeping track of the development progress of my project, and will also be discussing thoughts and ideas on game design in general. The project involves a game, built using the Game Maker software. It didn't have a name until about an hour ago when I decided to make this blog, so I kinda needed one. Unless I come up with a better one, it stays. And now, some introductory notes about the game.

As the name implies, the game is is about starting and growing a town. I'm planning to combine elements from popular games of this type, like Sims, SimCity, Settlers and Dwarf Fortress. The concept is not 100% laid out, but the basic line is this: The player assumes control of a character who (for unestablished reasons) finds himself alone in the woods, presumably near a county road. This initial phase of the game will probably serve as an orientation/tutorial, teaching the player about the basic controls and features. The player will help his character build a new house, and that's where another non-player-character will (for another unestablished reason) make a visit. The goal from this point on is to convince visitors to stay and make a living in this community, with the player assuming the role of a mayor. In order for the community to thrive the player must make sure the townies have a useful array of skills and relationships between them are healthy. Townies who have only the basic skills won't be too hard to convince, but in order for the comnmunity to thrive, the player must convince characters with specialty skills (like Architect) to move in, and this can be done only by meeting certain infrastructure requirements.

The townies will act in a way similar to the Sims, trying to satisfy their basic wants and needs. They will also have some deeper and more specific needs like "sense of contribution to the community" which I'm planning to add. Also they will have individual personalities and tastes. The main difference from the Sims is that you will not have any control on the townies whatsoever, except from interacting with them via your character. Specifically, you won't be able to modify their house, for example. It will be built by them, procedurally, depending on their personality and taste. The player's job will -most probably- be to make sure relationships between townies are healthy, that there are no conflicts, and also to regulate town policies and support the economic growth by managing imports and exports.

Again, these are vague outlines of the approach I'm planning to take on the concept and goal of the game, in terms of player interaction. There's more of what I described in the previous paragraph, but I won't go into details from the first post! The game will basically be an ant farm, as it will be fun watching the town grow pseudo-randomly, as the player will only be able to define the building spots (a-la SimCity zones), with the buildings built by NPCs depending on their personality and taste. The onlys buildings the player will have control will be his, and maybe public buildings like museums. Of course don't expect to grow mega-cities. Think small scale towns with low population and two, three -tops- storey buildings. Expect the game to look something like these web communities which there is a huge canvas with an empty city grid of roads, and everyone fills a city block with a pixel-art drawing of a building.

Speaking of looks, the game engine will be 2d isometric, with small cute graphics like Habbo, and actually this is what I'm working on at the moment. Specifically I'm on the task of making stuff like tile elevation and water work correctly... the next goal is to have the map randomly generated, featuring hills, rivers, waterfalls and lakes.

I think that's a pretty thorough introduction! If you're interested in tracking the development you're welcome to subscribe and chip in with constructive comments!