To begin the Second Semester, I and Jess had a meeting with Dr. James (Millie was absent due to illness). We began by breaking our game into manageable chunks to help us to develop a development plan for the rest of the semester. We knew that we would need to begin with a large gouge – but definitely not this soon – to cut some of the project as our idea is maybe a tad ambitious, we’d much rather produce something very polished for the deadline than have something half finished. Once this was done we would be able to amend our timetable with more accurate dates.
Our focus for the game is on the Art Style and on the Mechanics, to achieve this, I will be working closely with Dr. James to nail the mechanics and ensure the game works well together. We will need to be iterating minigame prototypes and play-testing them regularly to make sure they are enjoyable and engaging for our player base. Jess and Millie will now be illustrating the backgrounds for each of the settings within the game.
To help, Dr. James joined us to iron out the actual flow of the game. Discussing the game with him definitely put the workload into perspective, it also made us question the relevance of certain systems or aspects of the game. It was really useful as from there, we could then objectively decide which areas of the game could be cut.
As seen in the images below. We were just working out the whole player UX, this details the flow between the Player receiving an order, to their production of the final product, through Farming, Harvesting, Dungeoneering and Crafting.
We decided that the whole 3D aspect of the game wouldn’t actually add much to the game experience, we were adding it just because we could, not because it would be valuable. With the removal of 3D, we are also drastically reducing the development time. I do not feed proficient enough to both 3D model, texture and animate the huge list of assets we would need to create a game worthwhile of our third year. Instead we will paint 2D environments that serve as backdrops for the minigames to nest in.
In addition, with the removal of the 3D aspect of the game, we’ve decided to streamline Dungeoneering to be far more straightforward rather than ‘walk around in the dark and kill things for little reason’. To achieve this, we will procedurally generate a ‘monster’ you encounter when you journey to the dungeons. You will still have a helping hand to assist you, but if they die, they will no longer be available to use for the duration of the game. The combat system could work more similarly to old school Final Fantasy (Fight, Heal, Run, Defend) with this change. These changes will make the game more challenging and force the player to think strategically, we can look at Pokemon for reference as it has used this system for years. We’re still going to be using archetypes for both the helping hands and enemies so you can make informed decisions about which Helping Hand you want to risk on each visit.
James also brought up somethings we hadn’t previously considered. If you have more ingredients than you need, is there somewhere to store them? Or do they spoil after a certain amount of time? Also, how could we make the crafting system more ‘game-like’? Say you need a Red, Yellow, Green for a potion and you get Red, Purple, Green (Purple is opposite in the colour wheel to Yellow), your score would be drastically lower than if you locked in an Orange (Very similar colour to Yellow). This introduces a colour theory aspect to the game I hadn’t thought about before.
This led us to think of the ‘Storehouse’, this is where you will keep your ingredients. It also feeds rather nicely into the new dungeoneering, if you are to ‘die’ in the dungeons then you will awaken back in your shop and your storehouse will have been pillaged by the creatures of the Dungeons. This integrates into further game-play; such as choosing the most effective Helping Hand for the job, as losing a battle can result in both the Helping Hand’s death, and the loss of valuable ingredients. Otherwise Dungeoneering works in a pretty similar way and still provides the necessary Rare ingredients to finish off the production of the dream potions.
Finally we are going to be removing the Barter System, this is mostly because we want to provide consequences for the player if they run out of necessary ingredients. The ‘Market-man’ will charge a high price for the missing ingredients they need. This works well within the economy as it prevents the player from hoarding lots of money and trivializing the tycoon aspect.
We won’t be starting officially until Friday. We are working out as a team the rough timetable and what necessary research trips we need to undertake to allow us to collect primary sources to draw inspiration from when producing concept art and game assets.
We need to start thinking about promotion for the game, a development video and final documentation in a book/manual form when we start to produce game-ready systems and artwork.