Grimbright: A Tale of Indecision

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Grimbright: A Tale of Indecision

Post  BrailleOperatic on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:55 pm

Since PJ so nicely pleaded for forum postings on our various projects, I thought I'd take a moment and tell the story of the little pet project I've been nursing.

So the day after our discussion of game design documents, I sat down and said to myself, "What sort of video game do I want to make?" So after much deliberation what I thought would be interesting would be a fusion between games like Guitar Hero and Street Fighter. It would combine the action and violence of a fighting game, then combine it with the flow of a music game. The fight scenes would be choreographed and it would be awesome and cinematic, but it would allow the players to still be in control. It would be like the opposite of Dirge of Cerberus.

With that in mind I got to contemplating the actual mechanics of my rhythm beat 'em up. First off, how to make it still distinctly a fighting game while maintaining the rhythm element. What if rather than being set notes they had to hit, the moves they used created the notes? Well...what if the player sucks at music and just makes really gross melodies...or what if they just spam one move over and over...the music element might get sort of buried in the fighting mechanics. Well, I can't have that. That defeats the purpose. Hrrm...this is getting sort of difficult to contemplate and I seem to be emphasizing the fighting elements in my ideas. Maybe I'm actually trying to just make a fighting game with a really strong sound track. Yeah, let's go with that.

Well, now I had a new can of worms to deal with. I've spent nearly no time playing fighting games. I don't think they're especially fun. So I tried to think of what it was that wasn't fun and see to fixing that. Well the stories are stupid and lame. The game play is repetitive. The artwork is sort of hit and miss sometimes. I prefer things with strong stories, compelling characters, and the ability to feel as though I'm part of the story. What can I do to get all these elements in? The solution I came up with was thus: customization. If I create my own character, I feel like I star the story because that's me on the screen. I know I won't look dumb, because I control my appearance. If the story has to be compelling because now it's my story. In theory at least.

Unfortunately, I still had to fix the problem of the story. The premise of most fighting games are weak at best. So I'd need to come up with a really strong hook. I figured I may as well lead with what I have. If I emphasize customization how can make a compelling story out of that? What about there's a set of books that form a seal against an ancient, unknowable evil that choose owners to protect them from an endless onslaught of monsters, but give them magical powers to defend themselves including the ability to summon customizable monsters? Maybe a little melodramatic, but I liked it. Then I thought, what if only the player can customize their books monster power because their book epitomized the power of choice and the other books held other virtues? Then I could put in a moral choice system like Dragon Age and have branches. The endless mooks could give an old school beat 'em up style experience in The World Ends With You-esque vignettes with the story taking place on the over world! Damn I'm good.

Well, then I had to start fleshing out the story of my little creation, now titled Grimbright. Seven books in the set, seven characters, a couple of side characters. A few fleshing out moments of the story and...crap. I hit a wall. I can't for the life of me work out what comes next. Everything seems wrong or forced or cheesey or aimless. So I'm sitting around in one of the dorm lobbies when a couple guys appear and boot up Devil May Cry on the big flat screen. I sit and watch them play for a while, making particular note of the setting. Suddenly, I'm struck by a bolt of inspiration. A Haunted House appears in my game world Castlevania style and my heroes need to investigate.

Now I have a new problem: The TWEWY brand combat isolation doesn't make sense in this context. It would allow players to run through a rich fantastical environment, make note of nothing, cruise between cut scenes, and that's no fun at all. Okay, we'll scrap the old battle system and bring it more in line with Castlevania and everything'll be okay. Well now I'm not liking my monster summons ideas. No real reason, I just don't like it for this setting. So that has to go. But now I can bring in more combat abilities because there's free space in the game's processor. Now players can fight how they want to. But I just made a bunch of design decisions based on wanting the players to really experience this environment. Do I want to to make fighting the focus? Or do I actually want exploration to be the core component.

Which leads at last to where I currently am in Grimbright's development. Do I want to make a Metroidvania or a sidescrolling platformer?

BrailleOperatic

Location: Denton
Join date: 2011-10-11
Posts: 10

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