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Prioritizing Ideas

by Jacob Way, 2011-12-01

One of the difficulties of making an RPG - or any game really - is prioritizing ideas. Ideas will come to you as indefinitely as the wind during development. To be successful, you must know when to turn away from a new idea and build on what you already have, to simplify something or remove it entirely from your game.

In I Shall Remain, our zombie survival RPG, we had a really tough time deciding how the game was going to work with our NPC teammates. How much could we control them? At first, our plan was elaborate. You would be able to take each one, equip him, train him, tell him where to fight, how to fight, and give him real time orders in battle. Before long we knew that if we wanted this we would have little time to spend developing other aspects in the game and there was no guarantee our players would even like our really complex teammate development and engagement system. Our solution was to simplify it and it was a good decision. It freed up lots of time to develop other aspects of the game.

Another early idea that we killed was having the game take place during the winter. We wanted this because the zombie blood would look amazing on the snow, and we could use footprints. The way we have our game engine set up, it would have taken a really long time to make it and make it look good. Instead we chose to have our game take place in the fall. The way it looks now, came to us as a pleasant surprise!

To help you decide whether or not to use an idea ask yourself the following golden question:

What is the cost vs. benefit of using this new idea? The cost can be measured in both man hours and opportunity cost (what else could be done with the time, or money spent on man hours).

If you are still uncertain, ask yourself does the idea help you reach your goal? Will it be liked? This is important because sometimes you will have an idea that will make YOU like the game more, not necessarily anyone else. (I once wanted to put an entire texas holdem game in one of the buildings in the  city. Just because I like playing Texas holdem on the weekends that much..)

Some more ideas that were to be or not to be:

Drivable vehicles in the game demo → not to be due to time constraints. Though they will be there for players in the full game.

An incredibly complex single player story → we turned this down in favor of free roam with a series of 'story' missions. This in the end will free up man hours for the multi player platform.

Zombie virus travels in clouds, after zombies are killed the remaining virus particles lifts up into the air and flies away to an unknown location. → (shh!! ) This one's on the back burner. You might notice the zombie bodies disappearing into a black cloud in the demo. Now you will know what this is.

Money as currency → in the post apocalyptic world hyperinflation will surely be an issue. Surely, the most valuable thing people will have is the serum that prevents them from being infected. Serum in the game, is now its currency. Tons of things you can do with it! (enhance your ammo by tipping it with virus killing serum? ..shh!)

Character-centered camera. → thanks to the feedback from users on RPG watch, we killed that bad idea. We scooted the camera back so you can see further in front of you, and not so much behind you.

One idea that we plan to go forward with, even though its benefit is uncertain, is the ability to capture zombies and then take them to a ring and make them fight to the death.. for money. We had to put gambling in somewhere..

Ideas can be a lot of things. They can curry new support for your game, make it great.. or make it weak and waste a bunch of money. Our demo will display many of the ideas we've implemented, I can't wait to share it here on RPGWatch and hear what you have to say!

Box Art

Information about

I Shall Remain

Developer: Scorpius Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Modern
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 10-20 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released: 2015-08-24
· Publisher: Unknown

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