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Post tutorial RSS The Birth of Games

This article discusses how lasting ideas for "successful" games are formed - where the criteria for success here is simply a game that the developer does not give up on, and a game that is overall well received. Are these games all well planned out before development, or do they go with the flow?

Posted by on - Basic Design/Concepts

I’d like to discuss where games come from for a bit - the birds and the bees, so to speak. Before I go off on a tangent, just realise that I have no idea what I’m talking about - and I won’t even attempt to cover AAA titles.

I’ve always thought the best games are likely well thought out and planned before they were conceived by their parents. As I single parent, I planned another one of my early attempts, Grave Days (Forums.tigsource.com) well beforehand. I did eventually get an artist on board, but I was solely responsible for raising it, so to speak. During development I spent lots of time thinking, plotting and planning as well.

Needless to say, the child didn’t even make it to its teen years…

It’s still a child I’m very passionate about, and one I may try to conceive again one day - perhaps I’ll involve more people in the process next time. Personally, I found it encouraging to have a motivated team with me (I’m looking at you, Chris and Zynique).

Before I let the analogy becoming weirder in that direction, let me jump right into the beginnings of Control Shift. I vaguely knew I wanted to make a new local multiplayer game - perhaps a dungeoneering game, where players would explore and fight together. Perhaps a game where players fought for territory in a procedurally generated cave system. From that, the territory-holiding and local multiplayer bits stuck, but not much else.

I teamed up with a colleague of mine, and one night after a couple of beers at a local brewery, Control Shift was conceived. Actually, it was named Battle Orbs or something back then - we iterated over many names before Control Shift finally stuck.

Raising Control Shift to be the teenager it is today was a difficult process, and I can’t say I never thought of giving up. The process involved plenty of beer, and not very strict coding standards (parenting guidelines in this analogy? Is that a thing?).

We also really never knew what the goals were, and kept on adding on random features until we had the monstrosity named Swarm Wielders - Youtube.com

It was a confused demon child, not knowing whether it wanted to wield swarms or control territory. Two apparently conflicting ideals. After some deep soul searching and advice from the community, we ripped off the child’s metaphorical swarm wielding arms, and focused on the territory capturing strategic bits instead (yes, I’m bad at maintaining this metaphor, but in all fairness, I’m not a parent so I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to this topic).

In the end, we had a solid prototype with a strong core idea that we could work with, and had a game that people could finally understand. Sometimes it’s really very necessary to mutilate your ideas and your game (not even going to try the metaphor here), so that you can build it up better, with a clearer goal in mind.

From there, you can add many more features, strictly sticking to your theme. In Control Shift, we started adding new game modes, all with the territory capturing theme in mind: Youtube.com

We’re excited to see where Control Shift goes and what it becomes, and hope that there are others who will share in our excitement.

Keep having fun making and/or playing games!

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