The Grand Vision

So as I’m nearing a pre-Alpha Alpha version of the game engine to send to friends, I sit back and continue to ponder my vision for this game. Just what do I want the end product to look like?

Although this game has been in the works for a while, the media used for the game is quite crude. While I can make passable models in 3D and have an eye for keeping the polygon count low, I find the texturing portion of the model to be quite difficult.

My initial idea is to make the game as functional and as fun as possible. This is, after all, Funcy Games. I will try to make the game decent looking enough, but it is not one of my main goals. Hopefully the fun and creative factor of it all will allow people to begin caring about it enough that they want to make a difference.

There are many talented people out there, and some of them may take a liking to Marble Maze and decide to offer their talent toward improving the project. In freeware or open source programs this occurs regularly — but I have lingering doubts this can work for a product that is sold. There is a feeling of entitlement when you pay for something, and why should you help someone you just gave money to?

Much of the media I use (textures and other images) will not be packed into an encrypted file. They will be there as regular files for people to tweak and modify to their desire. In a future post I will go over the idea of “Level Themes” and how it is a simple way for users to modify how a level looks.

Many indie games thrive on fostering a community. The greater the transparency between the developer and fans of the game, the stronger the interest in such a game. It is my hope that a community will develop around Marble Maze Construction Set both during its Beta stage but especially after its release. There could be forums (new widget ideas from users, painting levels, etc.), online catalog of user made levels with a rating system, perhaps even a wiki containing level-making tips. There are many ways a game like Marble Maze would benefit from a community. The most obvious way is by user designed levels being shared. A marble game with 50 levels has a decent amount of entertainment. How much entertainment would a marble game with an infinite number of levels offer? 🙂

If you build it they will (hopefully) come.

2 Responses to The Grand Vision

  1. I think the ability to “mod” a game is a big win for everyone whether or not it is open source or commercial. Providing decent tools to do it just encourages it.

    Look at the mods for Doom (shareware), AOE3 (commercial) and even Microsoft Office (_very_ commercial).

    Another thing you might consider is having good modder documentation. Knowing you, you probably already have good dev docs, so the info should already be there. Anything you can do to make it easier will encourage people to play around with it.

  2. The extent of literal modding (where I don’t need to be involved) which can be included in the game is basically the level editor and having media available to try out and modify.

    I’d love to have a scripted object/widget build system where the user can describe everything about the widget in a script (its collision shape, model to load, texture, behavior with marble, etc.). People wouldn’t have to wait for me to add a new widget, they could make one, add it to their map as something custom, and pass it around to others to use in their maps. Think the creature system in Spore… shared media that enhances the game.

    But modding like that is a bit beyond the scope of this current game. Perhaps in a 2.0 rewrite version of it… whenever that happens!! What I’ve done now is tried to make it as easy as possible for me to add a new widget into the system. I still have to update internal widget lists, and code new behaviors myself. But I’m hoping that after release, apart from fixing bugs I’ll continue adding to the game based on user suggestions, which would include new widget ideas I haven’t thought of and still fit into the game nicely.