Game Prototype development quote needed

I’m looking for a prototype of a RTS game on iOS developed. Just a single level, basic graphics. 2D sprites on 3D isometric plane.

Happy for it to be done in Unity and/or another rapid development environment. Would be nice for combat (ranged and melee) and some pathfinding for units.

Can be SP, MP or 0P. For the prototype, I’m not fussy. It’s not necessary to have full functions.

Email would be lovely but you can also tweet me.

God Willt

Another book arrived in the post that I’d forgotten about. Deus Vult by Mongoose Publishing is essentially playing the bad guys from The Da Vinci Code but back in the Middle Ages. It’s like Ars Magica re-told from the point of view of the Church.

It uses a variant of BRP which will please some but not all. I’ve certainly had a lot of experience with people heavily into BRP – most notably a guy called Neil who maximised the experience point system of the original RuneQuest II by carrying one of every desirable weapon for a battle and swapping as soon as he got an XP checkbox.

I’m enjoying reading it – mostly because it’s a dead tree edition and a lot easier to read than the eBook versions of Clockwork and Chivalry and The One Ring which I received earlier this week.

New Haul: from Cromwell to Cthulhu via Mirkwood

Today I got a new haul of stuff. Some of these were PDF bundles so at some point the dead tree version of the book will arrive in the post.

These are:

Indies on the Mac

From the Oddlabs blog:

Many game developers, indie or not, view the Mac as a freak that no one cares for or wants to be associated with. They look at statistics that show only 5% of desktop machines are Macs and say: “Why waste a lot of time and money for only 5% of the market?”
Consider this:

  • Out of the several hundred thousand downloads of Tribal Trouble. the Mac is responsible for 23%!
  • Out of all sales of Tribal Trouble, the Mac is responsible for 47%!

Not bad for 5% of the market.. And we haven’t even done any paid advertising that has been directed solely at Mac users.

What this shows is that not only are the Mac users easier to reach, they also convert at a much higher rate.

This is not a secret. Wil Shipley talked about this in 2005. Developing for a platform where the users appreciate design and good software will reap dividend (if your product doesn’t suck).

This is why I question people who make silly decisions. Like not to support the Mac when porting software or deciding to go Android-first when developing for mobile platforms. Go where the money is – where the money truly is.

And yes, it’s not an easy ride. As I said, your product has to not suck. And if you’re entering a crowded market (like games on the App Store), you may have to work a little harder to get noticed but these people do not mind paying money for quality software. That has to count for something.

Although they are developed in software, games are not software

The title of this post is from this article: You Need $100,000.

Users relate to them differently. Immersion matters. Balance matters. Drawing people into the world of the game in a way that doesn’t break their attention every few seconds matters. Any successful game weaves a web of illusion around the player to engage them at more than just a rational level, and so they are more than the sum of their parts.

This applies just as much to tabletop RPG design. They are made of words and pictures but they are not words and pictures.

It’s the difference between a well-made FPS and a poor FPS. The former is addictive, the WASD and mouse look are intuitive and it becomes part of you. You don’t have to think about it. In contrast a poorly made FPS feels like you’re fighting the system. It’s like lag in a multiplayer system – it just becomes an exercise in frustration.

Many RTS games are about whether the user interface is tolerable enough for you to learn. The control of subunits is left to grouping strategies activated through arbitrary keyboard commands. We learn the controls but we’re not learning tactics.

Skirmish MP

Following on from my last post, I would posit that there is something missing from MP RTS (Multi Player Real Time Strategy) games and that would be the lack of a feeling that success has an impact.

Left 4 Dead is my favourite FPS game because it encourages teamwork between players on both sides and even though the macro gameplay is poor, the micro-events within each of the 3-5 episodes within a scenario, make for an entertaining mix. A lucky strike and a Survivor is dead and the game becomes that bit harder for the remaining Survivors. But other than the accumulation of points, there is no lasting effect for poor performance (or even great performance) within a episode of a scenario.

Myth II almost managed because if you had surviving forces, they would become more “seasoned” in the next episode of the single player. That wasn’t extended to multiplayer (and indeed there was no way it could be) but the thought of a multiplayer game where you began with raw recruits and ended up with seasoned warriors through six episodes of a scenario is kinda tantalising. Especially, with the Myth II model, that a skirmish tends to take about 10 minutes. Historically accurate? No. Cracking good fun? Yes.

So, take the Left 4 Dead model of a multiplayer game having 3-6 episodes, add to it the concept of units gaining expertise between battles (and for high performance during earlier episodes, additional units) and sprinkle a little story across it.

Most RTS single player modes suck…

Josh Bycer writes:

Honestly, most RTS single player modes… suck. The reason is that designers try to use it to teach the player about multiplayer which doesn’t work, as an AI is not a good substitute for a player …
Over the years, the structure of mission design has changed and can be broken down into several categories:

  1. Skirmish
  2. Puzzle
  3. War
  4. Story

One of the amazing parts of the Myth series by Bungie was the focus on the single-player story. While there was a “puzzle” element to it – having limited resources and time – it was heavily narrated and each battle, though skirmish-sized, contributed to the progress of the story. So while it was a war, there wasn’t control over the outcome of the war in terms of high level strategy. You fought where you were told to fight.

Compared to the single-player game, Myth multiplayer was a poor cousin with mismatched units and allegiances. While the array of game devices (the various match conditions) was impressive and a lot of fun, I couldn’t help but want more control during match setup, with the ability to select either light or dark units and allow my opponent to do the same. The ability to vary the number of points used – to deliberately create unequal games – would have added another dimension to allow use of terrain, tactics and skill to get a victory against a far superior force. This was the essential gem in the single-player game – the tactical use of your units to defeat wave after wave of superior forces.

So, in the creation of a game to “replace” Myth in my heart, it should offer this “relatively” simple concept.

Back again

I’ve been on a holiday-and-work-fueled hiatus. Two weeks driving in France and Spain and then two weeks spent helping people access seed funding for new ventures in “digital” as part of the CIIF programme.

The latter has been frustrating because essentially as I am part of the process, I am unable to apply for any personal ventures. It’s not because of any impropriety – it is possible to do these things and remain above board – it’s more because of the perception that it would bring. I am, technically, best placed to design something more likely to be funded. And as it is a competitive fund and I’m paid to help people compete, I’d have an automatic conflict of interest.

On the other hand, it ends up being one more excuse piled onto the other excuses about what’s stopping me doing something. I feel burned out at the moment – the impact of working with the fund (and the companies applying) after a holiday seemed to remove all the good work the holiday had done.

So – anyway – I’ve killed off updates on my Twitter for a while and disabled my ‘work’ blog for the time being. I need to spend some time just repairing myself. Doing stuff I enjoy like reading, writing and sailing is going to make life that bit more fun. Thanks for listening.