How You Can Make a AAA Game Like Today's Developers

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

How You Can Make a AAA Game Like Today's Developers

Yahtzee takes on AAA games, particularly Lords of the Fallen, and how to send in the clones.

Read Full Article

I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

SnakeTrousers:
I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

Me neither. In fact, in most games I will usually just go for the standard long sword. I don't like weapons that are all twisted, brittle looking, or warped pieces of metal. They just look so...stupid. Like I'd end up hurting myself more than my enemy if I used that thing. I don't care if the damage is three times greater than what I'm using. I was so happy when The Enchanter was added into Diablo III because it meant I could finally change my appearance and my weapons to not look like a complete fool.

A perfect summary of Lords of the Fallen, Yahtzee. I did enjoy playing the game, but it is generic down to its core. The developers say that they're already planning on making a sequel. Here's hoping that they listen to this very common criticism and work to fix it.

It's a fun twist of fate that a lot of titles made (independently) with tools like RPG maker are often better than AAA games like this. Mad Father, Ib and such. Even when it's a lot smaller, the creators vision comes through much clearer.

I still consider copying Dark Souls lazy, rather than making something with it's own identity.

Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect.

I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Your employer is of course a Dungeon Master.

Thanatos2k:

Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect.

I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Your employer is of course a Dungeon Master.

I can dig either of these ideas, or maybe some hybrid of them. It'd be like a cross between Recettear and (the good iterations of) the Dungeon Keeper franchise.

Darksiders aesthetic of the armour with a generic fantasy land covered in snow instead of grass or dirt, oh joy.

I always enjoy snow as an environment, but I've found that on occasion it's used to be lazy with the design. Now I suppose one could argue that just having grasslands or dirt is just as boring, but snow allows everything to be all bright and shiny and shit, so if there is a fault in the design you're screwed.

Make snow a nice little rare treat like in Halo 3, not overcrowd it like Lost Planet 3 or (it seems) this game. Maybe you can also be creative with it like Rayman Origins was. They needed an obligatory ice level because it's based off the 2D Mario games, so they made it be a refreshments district with cherries kept in ice packages, and suspicious red fluid flowing all around.

SnakeTrousers:
I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

I'm the audience for that; I've always liked the design of Warhammer (40K to a lesser extent), even if it is totally ludicrous. It might come from modeling, where every detail you put on the character was important mechanically (including grenades, sword, the colours of certain things, etc.) and the fact that some people keep Lords and special characters around for a long time, occasionally redoing them if something memorable happened during a game and they wanted to reflect it in the model and turn it into a story. So I'll freely admit it looks silly, but that I like how silly it looks.

Thanatos2k:
I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Don't forget resetting the traps, messing up the puzzles, and flipping all the levers the wrong way.

Also don't forget that somebody's got to put all those monsters in there in the first place. Maybe you've got some cages to haul in, open up, and escape before the inhabitants awake from their tranquilizer-induced naps.

I don't think even the most generic of the AAA studio committees have yet to gather the courage to spitball a game called SHADOW OF THE SHADOW. But wait. It will come. Oh yes, it will come.

It will feature skulls. Oh yes.

I to am excited for the upcoming release of Shadow of the Shadow and wish to contribute to its kickstarter.

Thanatos2k:

Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect.

I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Your employer is of course a Dungeon Master.

Sounds like an interesting idea. It also sounds as if the typical rpg town started some kind of scam to improve their economy by luring adventurers to them with a fake monster invasion or something.

So my game is gonna be 'Shadow of the Titan'. I'm thinking an open-world zombie game, with crafting and Portal jokes. And the protagonist will be a woman with a blocky not necessarily Minecraft inspired body.
Now all I gotta do is get it on Greenlight with the word 'Nostalgia' somewhere in the description.

Don't forget to add a cloth hood! How else are players supposed to know the protagonist likes brooding?

Shadow's Shadow: A dark, gripping take on the "you are the villain" story, has you hunting down a great monster, using all of your wicked powers at your disposal to defeat all of the enemies, and people, that stand between you and your target. But no matter how hard you try, you never can seem to reach your target, this mysterious, "Shadow." Once you reach the climax of the tale, you'll realize the Shadow has done nothing wrong, that there was a greater darkness all along...the Shadow's Shadow: The one who was always one step behind him, destroying everything in his wake.

You.

Pre-Order Now for the Shadow's Shadow's Shadow DLC bonus Mission.

I'm stuck on the title making part.

"The Mystical Hero's Glorious Epicically Divine Conquest of the Damned Fallen Demonic Shadow Titans............ of Amalur...: The Reckoning!"

"Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect."

Here's me throwing all the moneyz at my screen, just to be able to add that to Mogworld and JAM on my shelf!!!
Seriously, you'd better secretly be almost done with that novel/free short story or I'll be quite sad!!! :(

If people copy Dark Souls, I can't say I'm surprised, but I don't see that as a bad thing. As Yahtzee points out, we've had our era of Doom clones, GTA clones, and I'd raise him with WoW clones, and more recently, DotA clones. Remember when everyone was trying to copy WoW? Remember how everything seems to be a MOBA now? I don't see either of that as bad in itself, because by the end of it, MMOs that came out after WoW are still around, and there's been some MOBAs that have broken the DotA mold (e.g. Smite and Heroes of the Storm).

So yeah? Dark Souls clones? I'm fine with that. Going by history, by the time the phase is over, we'll be left with some good products while the chaff will be forgotten.

Caveat in that I haven't played DS or LotF, so feel free to take everything I said with a grain of salt.

At first I was disappointed that I didn't make the first Shadow of the Shadow joke, but then I realized SEGA might always be waiting for a Shadow the Hedgehog sequel where Shadow gets a sidekick. It will be known as Shadow's Shadow.

Silentpony:
So my game is gonna be 'Shadow of the Titan'. I'm thinking an open-world zombie game, with crafting and Portal jokes. And the protagonist will be a woman with a blocky not necessarily Minecraft inspired body.
Now all I gotta do is get it on Greenlight with the word 'Nostalgia' somewhere in the description.

Dammit, you are going to make ALL the money with that idea!

OT: more funny and clever stuff from Yahtzee; I love it. This article sounded like a more harsh review than the ZP video.

Don't forget, after you've finished your designing you can look forward to people claiming you've plagiarized them. Or worse, copyright infringement claims.

SnakeTrousers:
I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

Hi.

One of my favorite armor sets in World of Warcraft was a Warlock set that had pauldrons with skulls set on top of spikes. Why do I love it? Because it looks hilariously awesome. And sometimes awesomely hilarious. Pretty simple as, really. Regular plate mail and swords and axes and bows are all well and good, but they don't really give me the sense I'm playing some magical fantasy game, you know?

I think most devs should start out using specialized development tools, while moving onto nonspecific gametools as their ideas get more elaborate. If you havn't checked out Yatzee's AGS games yet(especially the John Defoe series, http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/games.htm), please do as they're fantastic and show how much creativity went down into using a very limited tool.

I started out making pseudo battle systems with PowerPoint back when I was 'more shit', literally creating hundreds of slides with different outcomes. I didn't know there were any tools to create games(the modern internet was a couple of years old at that point), until i stumbled upon Hamster Republic's RPG maker(which is actually still live, http://hamsterrepublic.com/ :O)

Alot of startup devs I've come to know have wasted their time trying to create their own game-engine before even having a go at any specialized tools, and therein lies a trap. Suddenly they could end up focusing their energy in all the wrong places, and eventually might even give up, instead of using just a few weeks to realize an idea.

GameMaker is my goto tool to mockup anything these days, it's literally a tool you can make a solid game in just a couple of days if you have the basic concept sketched up. Eventually, we're probably going to stray off into building our own engine, but as startups, there is really nothing to lose by concentrating on one thing: to make games.

PS, I've coined 'Damned Quest', look for it in stores soon(tm).

Thanatos2k:

Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect.

I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Your employer is of course a Dungeon Master.

And that is why I funded "You Are Not The Hero", hopefully all the technical issues are done so they can release it this year.

http://www.youarenotthehero.com/

Veylon:
Don't forget resetting the traps, messing up the puzzles, and flipping all the levers the wrong way.

Also don't forget that somebody's got to put all those monsters in there in the first place. Maybe you've got some cages to haul in, open up, and escape before the inhabitants awake from their tranquilizer-induced naps.

Yeah, and you have to undo the shortcuts, replace signs and barrels that they destroyed (you have to decide which barrels to put the random money and health bits in), and hire a new boss for the end.

Dandres:
And that is why I funded "You Are Not The Hero", hopefully all the technical issues are done so they can release it this year.

http://www.youarenotthehero.com/

....Yeah, I backed it too.

Yatzee:
In fact, scratch that, Lords of the Fallen looks like the example game that came with the dev tool.

OH! OH! THAT BURN! That's just about the most painful thing any game dev will ever hear! XD

Personally, I like the "dedicated" engines. Specifically RPGmaker. I'm good at making stories and I'm good at designing turn based RPG combat systems, so it does EXACTLY what I need.

And the fact I have at least one dedicated fan that I know of that I don't know IRL, I think I'm doing a pretty decent job making games with it. :D

shrekfan246:

SnakeTrousers:
I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

Hi.

One of my favorite armor sets in World of Warcraft was a Warlock set that had pauldrons with skulls set on top of spikes. Why do I love it? Because it looks hilariously awesome. And sometimes awesomely hilarious. Pretty simple as, really. Regular plate mail and swords and axes and bows are all well and good, but they don't really give me the sense I'm playing some magical fantasy game, you know?

I can see your point. To me, though, it makes me feel like I'm playing a toy commercial. I think a mystical feel can be accomplished without needing to pile on the plate and spikes.

Thunderous Cacophony:

SnakeTrousers:
I've always sort of wondered who this type of visual design is meant to appeal to. I can deal with the huge burly guys with tiny heads and all, but why do they also need to be covered in ridiculously over-designed armor? Incedentally, why can't more games have reasonably proportioned weapons? Maybe it's a result of being raised by a D&D/SCA nerd but I've never been a fan of the whole giant-spiky-paddle approach to weapon design in fantasy games either.

I'm the audience for that; I've always liked the design of Warhammer (40K to a lesser extent), even if it is totally ludicrous. It might come from modeling, where every detail you put on the character was important mechanically (including grenades, sword, the colours of certain things, etc.) and the fact that some people keep Lords and special characters around for a long time, occasionally redoing them if something memorable happened during a game and they wanted to reflect it in the model and turn it into a story. So I'll freely admit it looks silly, but that I like how silly it looks.

40k's absolutely an example of this aesthetic done right, but I think there's more to it than just what you mentioned; yes, the details are important for determining the, uh, importance of a unit, but what really makes it work is that all those uber-detailed important characters are actually quite easy to read because they're always expansions on a much simpler design.


For example, this tactical marine isn't over-designed at all, it's very easy for outsiders to understand and because it's the first thing a new marine player will see they'll understand what they're looking at when they encounter a more complicated marine design like this one:

And they do this for almost every character design as well, so you're almost never lost unless you're shown a 40k model out of context. This is something almost every 'hardcore fantasy' since seems to miss; they jump straight into overcomplicated designs right from the get go rather than easing you into them over time.

As a graphic designer, few things get my pants in a twist more than people who can't stop adding to a design. There's an upper limit to what a design can hold, and not just in a physical sense either. In games especially, good visual design should tell you everything you need to know to at least identify the subject with a minimum of effort. I designed board games and kept my monster designs simplistic and logical to start out just so people would get the gist of what they were up against.

I'm not saying monsters can't be complex or pull surprises on you, that's the part of the fun really. A well designed, reasonably complex shape can give a lot of personality to an otherwise drab presentation. The thing is that this has to have a limit of sensibility, and most of the people designing for these games don't seem to recognize that. Whoever designed the Transformers for the Michael Bay movies has this problem too, in that they pay too much attention to the complex minutae and forget that we're not going to be looking at every pipe and wire up close, and at a distance all that detail just blurs together into a scrap-iron mess. Strong, simple design is instantly recognizable, memorable, and reads quickly in the viewer's mind. Clumsy excess of detail is just a mess that gets pushed into mental white noise.

nykirnsu:
40k's absolutely an example of this aesthetic done right, but I think there's more to it than just what you mentioned; yes, the details are important for determining the, uh, importance of a unit, but what really makes it work is that all those uber-detailed important characters are actually quite easy to read because they're always expansions on a much simpler design.

In addition to Warhammer generally doing a good job of when and where to add insane amounts of detail and over-the-top craziness, probably just as important is simply context. As Yahtzee mentions, with computer games (twitch-based ones at least) things like quick recognition of silhouettes is important - taking too long to recognise an enemy type and reacting in the wrong way can mean a game over. With tabletop gaming, that's not really the case. Models don't suddenly appear on the table and require you to decide how to react in a fraction of a second. No matter how detailed and silly a model may look, you have all the time in the world to figure out what it is, and if you still struggle with that you can just ask.

Other media have the same problem, as with the Transformers example mentioned above. The audience doesn't have to physically react as with video games, but if you cram too much detail onto the screen and then only show it chaotically flailing around for a few seconds, they can't actually take in all that detail and figure out what the hell is going on. The Red Letter Media reviews of the Star Wars prequels do a good job of pointing out exactly this problem with those films, right down to the producer almost literally saying "We're cramming as much shit on the screen as physically possible". If you look at things like Warhammer dioramas, they can have just as much detail, but it's not a problem because you can take as long as you like examining it.

So sure, Warhammer generally does a pretty good job of escalating levels of detail that allow easy understanding of what's what, but it also benefits from being the perfect medium in which to cram as much detail as you like without it getting in the way.

Thanatos2k:

Digressing for a moment, I've had an idea for a while now to write a story set in one of these 'hardcore fantasy' worlds, but from the perspective of the guy whose job it is to carve skulls in things. I imagine it being quite an artisan's trade. You know how, in olden days, certain craftsmen had very specific jobs, and often took their surnames from it, like how a Cooper was a guy who made barrels, and a Fletcher made arrows? It'd be like that. John Skuller, in his little workshop directly between the armorer and the dungeon architect.

I want to play a dungeon crawler where your job is to fill up the chests after the adventurers have gone through, so it's ready for the next people. You start out with a whole bunch of equipment and items, but as you get to each chest you have to put stuff into them. Since you start out with good stuff, it's easy to kill all the enemies, but by the end you've put all your weapons and armor into the chests and have to high tail it out of there with nothing.

You earn money/exp/whatever based on how well you stocked the chests (weak items should be closer to the dungeon entrance, better items should be in the far chests or the "hidden" chests), so you can't just save your good stuff for last to put the chests close to the exit.

Your employer is of course a Dungeon Master.

Hey, that's my idea! I thought of it first!

Okay, enough of the whining. The items that you give are separated by value: grey or white colored text = least valuable, green/blue colored text = moderately valuable, gold/fuschia colored text = most valuable. As part of a dungeon master squad, your objective is to create and/or place treasure chests wherever you desire. You get bonus experience for placing it in obscure and/or dangerous areas. You could even set the objectives for which the chest to appear out of nowhere.

I wish we had more fantasy games with fantastical settings. Dark Souls had both bleakness and beauty (although mostly bleakness), but many other designers eschew the visual design of the bright colors for gray stone and torches. I'd like to see more games like Kingdoms of Amalur, provided is doesn't lead to the implosion of their development studios.

another reason why i don't go for AAA games anymore. they're to bland, boring, and generic mostly. Also on such sites as IGN they're denying the web of lies and deceit that runs through the industry today even exists.

Modern games' use of third-party engines and assets is the nature of modern programming, which are now required to accomplish more complex and sophisticated tasks. But third-party code and data only accomplish what's common to many programs - the programmer must still write what existing programs cannot do. Otherwise you may as well just buy the existing program.

This is merely a generalisation of what the author is writing about games. The game developer uses third-party code to achieve more complex and sophisticated games but must still create his own unique and distinctive art, characters and story. Otherwise you may as well buy the existing game.

Yahtzee, please write that skull carver story. Or at least a story that might feature him as side character. I really liked Mogworld and would love to see more from you in a similar vein. I just can't seem to find any books in the fantasy genre that just have fun with the ridiculousness of it all rather than trying to be super serious and establish complex history and lore for their oh so unique fantasy world.

Does anyone here have some recommendations or know any authors that know how to have fun with their source material?

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here