Iron Tower Studio ForumsRPGSystem Crash (Moderator: Gareth)Beta 1.1.1.0 Released!
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MaximillionMiles
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« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2015, 02:07:18 pm »

So, I've been thinking. And my thoughts are tending along these lines: I think you ought to go ahead and sink more time and money into System Crash in order to make its RPG elements stronger.


Mixed feelings about this. On one hand I also agree that the story so far doesn't catch my interest. It's ok so far, but there is nothing to keep me invested in it, no motivation that makes me care. Weird, because the previous story of System Shock, although much more sparse, caught my interest better. The main character was a hotshot, fell from grace, big disaster, and is now trying to get back to the top. Boom, motivation established and I actually care if he succeeds or fails.

That said, the story we saw so far is only the beginning, and it might get more interesting later. Also, Gareth can't keep polishing and pruning and priming the game forever. I may be a big time complainer in these forums, but even I will agree that even if he listened to what we all say and fix everything - somehow, despite everyone having a different opinion - it still won't be perfect. It will never be perfect.

So... Two minds. No real opinion. Do what you feel is best, Gareth. Salute
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« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2015, 11:33:00 am »

Quote
So, I've been thinking. And my thoughts are tending along these lines: I think you ought to go ahead and sink more time and money into System Crash in order to make its RPG elements stronger.

Negatory, daddy-o. Negatory.

Look, it's not that I don't WANT to do it, or disagree that it would probably result in a better game. The thing is, you can chase improvement forever, and you have to draw the line somewhere.

This game isn't an RPG. I made that choice when I still thought I was going to be able to finish the game in 1.5 years. Now, >3 years on, I'm doubly set on that. This isn't an RPG. It's not intended to provide a huge amount of replay. The story/dialogue is a reward (for people who like story and reading), not a gameplay mechanic.

The idea of the game is that you pick it up, play a few battles, unlock a few more story beats and a few new cards, put it down till later. When you've collected all the cards, tried out different strategies and beaten the different enemy decks the game has to offer, it's done. That's the experience. It's consumable. I'm hoping that the game is fun enough that it'll justify the cost as-is. If not, I'll learn that lesson and move on.

It's been backbreakingly difficult to get it to where it is right now. I don't have it in me to revamp the design, not again. I will fix problems with the current design/story, but I'm not shifting it into more of an RPG. Imperfect as it is, I will finish this game, release it, and then take all the lessons I've learned and the ideas I have and put those into the next game, or the expansion, or System Crash 2.

Which neatly leads me to :

Quote
Mixed feelings about this. On one hand I also agree that the story so far doesn't catch my interest. It's ok so far, but there is nothing to keep me invested in it, no motivation that makes me care. Weird, because the previous story of System Shock, although much more sparse, caught my interest better. The main character was a hotshot, fell from grace, big disaster, and is now trying to get back to the top. Boom, motivation established and I actually care if he succeeds or fails.

Ok, THAT'S concerning. I am worried I've made the intro section with JoJo and the port deal etc too long. It takes too long to lead up to the inciting incident, maybe. Or possibly it's what you've said above, that I haven't given you enough grounding in the character and his/her struggle to have you care about them.

I'm going to be opening up more of the story in the next beta release, can you let me know when you try it if it picks up and gets interesting further in, or if it's still flat, please?
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Llapgochmaster
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« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2015, 03:43:04 pm »

Fair enough. My point is that I think you've got a true branching story "outflanked", so to speak, which makes that particular addition more sensible than many others. But I can understand additions being essentially off the table at this point.

Regarding the early game and player involvement, I had a thought. One big part of the gameplay that doesn't get much love (so far) is the deck building. I'd suggest that early on in the game (second mission? third?) that JoJo gift you with a couple of new cards to help you go up against a certain kind of opponent, or to deal with a certain tactic that you just experienced for the first time. You'd then be prompted by the tutorial to go and modify your deck, perhaps. It'd be nice if those cards made a real difference. So I guess what I'm suggesting is that the deckbuilding get pulled out somewhat from the pure tutorial into a "playtorial" or whatever they call it. Would give a bit more dynamism to the first few missions as well.





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« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2015, 03:08:48 am »

That, I think, is a great idea. Smile
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« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2015, 10:07:12 am »

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« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2015, 02:16:52 am »

 lol  Approve
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« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2015, 05:26:12 pm »

Just get the damn thing done!
I made the god damn least ambitious game I could think of and the last 10% still ended up taking 200% of the time, and that's with being strict and saving all the cool features that we would like to have for future expansions.

I'm sick and tired of my own game by now and what you've done dwarfs it in comparison (pun intended). I cannot imagine the loathing you must feel at times when you sit down to work on the piece of art that is System Crash  Tongue
The game is fun as it is, and anything you do (except finish content if that's not complete) is the fucking polish-cherry on top.

With that I present to you The Dwarf for anyone interested.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 06:58:24 pm by mkbonde » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: February 26, 2015, 10:06:23 am »

I can understand the frustration with this stuff, and it's true that the "finishing" stage of most projects often demands the lion's share of the time and effort. But isn't that just the way it is? You don't see cabinet makers saying "screw all this sanding, it looks pretty good already, just put in on the showroom floor, already!"

If the goal of the game is to serve as your calling card, and/or to perhaps earn back some (hopefully all and more!) of the money and time invested in it, then you should cut off development when you're no longer making meaningful progress towards those goals, IMHO.

If the goal of the game was to pop your game dev. cherry and gain experience that can be leveraged for the next project, then you should cut off development when those goals are no longer being served.

If it's a bit of both, then you gotta compromise. I get that. But frustration with the end-phase, the seemingly interminable last-mile stuff? Seems to be that's just the way most projects work. And even though polish and refinement can seem like a lot of time and effort spent for little progress, relatively speaking, I think it's generally acknowledged that it's the last-mile stuff that often matters most to the end-user.

Just sayin'. But then I'm the guy that still hasn't submitted my final M.Sc. thesis because I couldn't handle cutting corners in order to get it done on time. In my defense, I failed to realize that no-one gives two shits about anybody's M.Sc. thesis, it's very much a "go through the motions" exercise, and so you just gotta get those things done before you flame out! In summary, the goals ought to determine the strategy.







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« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2015, 01:10:33 pm »

I agree with everything you wrote. In this case I was talking specifically about System Crash, which judging by the beta does not require more polish IMO.
And good luck with the thesis, I just started working on mine and figure that game development is a great productive way to procrastinate Tongue
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MaximillionMiles
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« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2015, 03:30:22 pm »


Quote
-snip

Ok, THAT'S concerning. I am worried I've made the intro section with JoJo and the port deal etc too long. It takes too long to lead up to the inciting incident, maybe. Or possibly it's what you've said above, that I haven't given you enough grounding in the character and his/her struggle to have you care about them.

I'm going to be opening up more of the story in the next beta release, can you let me know when you try it if it picks up and gets interesting further in, or if it's still flat, please?

Of course. I spoke only from what I saw and my impressions, so it's not the full picture. And, as far as I can tell, the catalyst for the plot and the big motivator will be the big mission Turner and Jinx were talking about, which did not happen in the demo. The beginning is not bad. It's well written, dialogue is believable and introduces some of the characters and the setting. It just feel a bit aimless, like everyone is just killing time and waiting for something to happen.

Then again, someone playing for the first time might concentrate more on learning the mechanics, so that will definitely keep them entertained for the beginning.
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« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2015, 06:28:24 am »

Quote
Just get the damn thing done!
I made the god damn least ambitious game I could think of and the last 10% still ended up taking 200% of the time, and that's with being strict and saving all the cool features that we would like to have for future expansions.

I'm sick and tired of my own game by now and what you've done dwarfs it in comparison (pun intended). I cannot imagine the loathing you must feel at times when you sit down to work on the piece of art that is System Crash  Tongue
The game is fun as it is, and anything you do (except finish content if that's not complete) is the fucking polish-cherry on top.

With that I present to you The Dwarf for anyone interested.

Abso-fucking-lutely. I feel like Sisyphus pushing that damn boulder most of the time. Wink

And congrats man, don't downplay your own achievement in finishing a game! I'll check it out asap!

Quote
I can understand the frustration with this stuff, and it's true that the "finishing" stage of most projects often demands the lion's share of the time and effort. But isn't that just the way it is? You don't see cabinet makers saying "screw all this sanding, it looks pretty good already, just put in on the showroom floor, already!"

If the goal of the game is to serve as your calling card, and/or to perhaps earn back some (hopefully all and more!) of the money and time invested in it, then you should cut off development when you're no longer making meaningful progress towards those goals, IMHO.

If the goal of the game was to pop your game dev. cherry and gain experience that can be leveraged for the next project, then you should cut off development when those goals are no longer being served.

If it's a bit of both, then you gotta compromise. I get that. But frustration with the end-phase, the seemingly interminable last-mile stuff? Seems to be that's just the way most projects work. And even though polish and refinement can seem like a lot of time and effort spent for little progress, relatively speaking, I think it's generally acknowledged that it's the last-mile stuff that often matters most to the end-user.

Look, that's true, but as the saying goes, art is never finished, only abandoned. If I kept going until I ran out of ways to improve it, I'd never stop. And while gamers and clients like to hear that the product is the closest to perfection that you were able to make it, that's not really realistic. Commercial projects involve a large amount of pragmatic cost-benefit analysis, even ones led by famous auteurs.

I've spent 3 years and my resources (available time, money) are low. I cannot really afford the time to do the thing you're suggesting at this point. That's just the reality of it hey.

Also, I wouldn't say System Crash is necessarily intended to be my calling card. I like to look at it as the first, worst game I'll ever release. Not that I don't care about the quality of it, but that I acknowledge that I'm still doing my apprenticeship and that I will roll what I've learned into the next game, and the game after that, and so on. Wink

Except for a tiny minority, most of the designers you know aren't known for the first game they made. Even the ones who seem like you heard of them first the first game they released, tend to have a background where they cut their teeth on multiple projects in relative obscurity.


Quote
Of course. I spoke only from what I saw and my impressions, so it's not the full picture. And, as far as I can tell, the catalyst for the plot and the big motivator will be the big mission Turner and Jinx were talking about, which did not happen in the demo. The beginning is not bad. It's well written, dialogue is believable and introduces some of the characters and the setting. It just feel a bit aimless, like everyone is just killing time and waiting for something to happen.

Then again, someone playing for the first time might concentrate more on learning the mechanics, so that will definitely keep them entertained for the beginning.

Sure, and I appreciate the feedback. I put those missions in as a kind of "introduction to what your character is doing before INCITING INCIDENT" but I fear I might have put too much in there.

What I may do is move the inciting incident forward so the story has more momentum right from the start. But I'll balance the decks for all the missions first before I worry about that, things can be shuffled fairly easily later, once I have the right difficulty/reward progression arc.
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« Reply #41 on: March 03, 2015, 05:33:39 pm »

Quote
-snip-

Sure, and I appreciate the feedback. I put those missions in as a kind of "introduction to what your character is doing before INCITING INCIDENT" but I fear I might have put too much in there.

What I may do is move the inciting incident forward so the story has more momentum right from the start. But I'll balance the decks for all the missions first before I worry about that, things can be shuffled fairly easily later, once I have the right difficulty/reward progression arc.


I'm no story expert, but by inciting incident you're talking about the three story arc thing, right? Inciting incident is the end of the first arc?Something like that.

Regardless, I would say that, if we're talking about this sort of structure, good stories still have interest in them even before the inciting incident. Usually it's some sort of minor conflict, but one that foreshadows the main conflict, or a minor conflict that causes the inciting incident, or whatever.

Star Wars. First there is the scene with the princess, which establishes the two sides of the conflict, and shows two little droids who barely manage to escape. Jumps to Luke in his farm, and there he is unhappy with his life; he wants to join the rebels and kill shit, but his uncle is like "no, Luke. It's too dangerous."

There. Two small conflicts that tie into the bigger conflict (Empire vs Rebels, and more specifically to the film, Luke and Co. Vs the Death Star). First there is the conflict between Princess Leia (wants to smuggle the plans out of the ship) and Vader/the empire (wants to recapture the plans of the death star). Then there is Luke's internal conflict (wants to leave his little farm, but is tied to his family).

These two conflcts aren't that important, and could have been skipped, but they keep us interested enough until the story picks up AND they tie into the main conflict. The first shows us how the plans to the death star went to Tatooine, the second shows us why Luke was so eager to risk his life just because a random chick in a hologram told him to. They're not important in the overall scheme of things, the first conflict is resolved as soon as it's shown and the second quickly becomes irrelevant when Luke's Family dies, freeing him to go out and adventure to his heart's content.

What I'm trying to get at here is that usually even before the inciting incident begins, the lives of the heroes usually isn't peachy keen. Or if it is, then the world is not peachy keen. And it's usually that minor conflict that indirectly causes the inciting incident, or pushes the protagnist into the inciting incident, or... Well, you get the drift. There are many possibilities.

Here is a random suggestion off the top of my head. The PC owes the wrong people a lot of money. He gets an unpleasant visit/call from them telling to "pay, or else" right after the first few missions. The PC is desperate for cash. There is tension. Then, when the big job turns up, they can't refuse.

This is just one possibility that you can use. Perhaps the PC is motivated instead by the desire for prestige, to become a legend among runners? Revenge against big corporations? Do they want to save money for something important to them?

You don't need to change much. Add a few lines here and there, and you can give context to the first few missions without changing the rest. Figure out what makes the PC accept joining Turner's crew, and you're well on your way.

* Just want to add here that these are just suggestions and, again, I'm no story expert. My analysis might be off. In the end, you know your own story best, so do what you feel is right. These are just thoughts that might help you with keeping stuff interesting during the first arc.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 05:36:31 pm by MaximillionMiles » Logged
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« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2015, 07:28:59 pm »

Salute
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« Reply #43 on: March 04, 2015, 03:38:52 pm »

Yeah, you've pretty much nailed the gist of it.

The 1st act in the 3 act structure is setup, showing the audience the protagonist's current situation and their basic motivation/conflict. In Star Wars you see Luke bored and frustrated with his current life as a moisture farmer, wanting to escape and have adventure. In the Matrix we see Neo living as a dissatisfied corporate drone, spending his nights searching for rumors of Morpheus.

The inciting incident (or the first act turn) is something dramatic that happens that forces the protagonist to react to it and kicks off the primary conflict arc of the story. Its role is to force the protagonist out of business as usual. Luke buys a pair of droids that the Empire is hunting for, leading to the death of his parents, discovery of the message from the princess and meeting Obi Wan. Neo is contacted by Trinity, which draws the attention of the Agents and results in him taking the red pill and discovering the truth about the world he lives in. Etc.

I'm not slavishly following the 3 act structure but the story does run along those lines. And yes, the problem is less the inciting incident than that the initial setup of the character you're playing as, is weak. The previous iteration of the story had a stronger setup, you knew who the character was and what their conflict/motivation was, right off the bat. This version, your character is too much of a cypher, there isn't enough reason to care about what the character is doing to hold you through until the inciting incident.

Although I do think I've made the inciting incident happen too late into the story, too. It's AFTER the bit with Jynx and Turner. I kind of intended that early part of the game to be semi-tutorial/easing you into things, but I think I go too long without giving you a reason that your character has a personal stake in events, besides just doing it for money.

As you say, owing money to the mob or something similar would work well. I'll think about it and see what I can do, I should be able to rejig the early story without a huge amount of time and effort.

Writing is, as they say, rewriting. Tongue
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« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2015, 07:34:48 am »

On the subject of sprucing up the early game, tell me what you think...

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