Average about 400-600 kb.
Phew... I'm a bit undecided about page 3, on the one hand, it's really confusing and twisted. On the other hand, thats not necessarily a bad thing.
After starting my trial of EQ2 today, it brought back afresh all of my thoughts on design. Possibly the most dissapointing portion of modern MMOs for me is the relative sameness of the titles in the genre. There are some that have radically different controls, or introduce a few new and interesting features, but by in large we've seen the set pieces of the genre placed and seldom see people approach those with an eye to change.
Perhaps I have a unique perspective on MMOs since my first, and best remembered, MMO was a free to play browser based war game. The action of building an empire and leveling a character are fundamentally different actions, and build very different sets of core rules. For instance I never grinded for my empire level, in fact going to war was always a risk, because you could grow very quickly by winning and absorbing population, but you could also lose very quickly if the invasion went badly.
I understand the pressure in the industry to conform to the proven formula, but it seems as though whether it is a random person on the web or a key note speaker at GDC everyone is keenly aware that change is needed. If we continue to produce games off the same formula, burnout is bound to set in, if it hasn't already.
Of course it is easy to say cover new ground, but finding that ground is the source of some debate. I know there are some people in the industry reading these blogs so I'd like to give any of them in a position to take action some ideas that may be actionable.
Firstly: A political/fashion/counter culture MMO. What you do is focus on a single city, and populate it with NPCs who can vote on major political issues every couple months. The players spend those two months forming activist organizations who can paper the town, hold in game concerts, tag buildings, etc. The fashion layer is mainly on the community level, as players should be able to design their own clothes or purchase other people's designs.
Each Player gets a certain amount of money every day, and an amount equal to that is sent to their cause(guild). The only way to increase your money is to win community awards which should be at least biyearly, if not bimonthly. Best graffiti, best musical performance, etc..
Second: A Medieval Re-Enactment MMO. Unlike the basic D&D based MMO, the MedievalRe-Enactment MMO is to mirror the usefulness of actual weapons and armor from the dark ages. While obviously you aren't looking for complex physics simulations, you are looking to emphasize the situations in which each combination was actually useful. For instance heavy armor and large shields gain large bonuses when in a workable formation, but are basically an excercise in exhaustion in one on one and small group. Calvary has it's place, but it's weakness to a well organized phalanx relegates it to the actual use of calvary in history, breaking the flanks and harrassing.
You could leave historical servers where you could replay historical battles and work for hsitorically accurate organizations. You could then open free-play servers where a large section is left open for players to colonize and develop.
These are just a couple of ideas I've had over the last couple of years. Maybe they can help people get a feel for directions you can go besides the current MMO standard.
When I sit down to write, which honestly doesn't happen too often, I tend to start with a few basic ideas. I covered in an earlier post my brainstorming for what my comic would be about, and then I gave a peek at the scenes I would use. Here I want to cover how I came up the content of the scenes themselves.
First, I need to get a view of the bigger picture of my writing. I never have an ending in mind when I start, I do however have an opening arc. A story that needs to be conveyed to give the setting a proper introduction and open up lots of possible story options in case I need to drag it on indefinitely. I don't want to ruin the story, so I can't reveal what the opening arc is exactly, just know that I have it.
Still out in big picture territory, I like to think of what it is I like in movies and comic books. Strangely enough, I actually like cheesy, and over the top movies, Tarantino flicks, Shoot Em Up, Smokin' Aces, but I like them for a particular reason. Movies that know what they are and don't pretend to be anything else, so when I approach the writing I ask myself, "what am I trying to be?" I'm always trying to get across a deeper point, but the vehicle for that needs to be in keeping with my basic genre. I'm using horror, since it isn't thriller it doesn't really have to be suspenseful, but it does need to stray outside of people's comfort zones.
Also since we have a creature we need to lay down some ground rules. For instance, it kind of defeats the purpose of the monster if they can be defeated by an unarmed and/or untrained opponent, also even a well armed and well organized force shouldn't be capable of easy take down, the point is that the creature is significantly more powerful than the human characters. Lastly, there should be no closet popping, it's the inevitability of it's win that is important to our story, we want to clearly introduce it in a scene. Also closet popping doesn't work in a non-real time environment so it would be a waste of panels anyways.
Now I move into an individual scene. First I pick out the most important character in the scene, or a focus object in scenes with no characters. I generally prefer to introduce them with nice long shots that immediately place them in their surroundings, but variety is the spice of life so each scene needs to be examined as to what will have the best effect. The rest of the panels I've alloted them, usually I prefer to devote a page or two, are supposed to be informative, but to show you, not tell you... I want you to have an experience. When the creature attacks the plane for instance, I have to introduce you to the creature as an oddity in these people's lives, and also as inherently dangerous. When the people in the plane react it gives you a good sense that the expectations of this world are much in line with our own, and the human reaction helps give the scene some life on the first page to contradict the third page. Going into the Control Tower removes us from the action, it keeps an air of mystery about the creature, but also builds our human connections, it says to the reader that i'm more concerned with characters than with action. But coming back to the plane on page three we see the carnage, we see the monster in true form, and as little as we understand we make it perfectly clear, the monster's job is to kill things.
In a comic though, we need to worry about pacing, you've probably noticed, but I tend to move things along at a rather deliberate pace. Early on, there isn't really tons of story going on, but everything that happens, and every character introduced has a great deal of significance. By keeping it slow and quiet, I can use few words and expect the reader to attach the proper significance to them.
Anyways, I'm no expert, but I thought I'd share my thoughts on my style. Finally, some more script.
Page 7, four wide panels.
Top panel: Looking at the car from earlier from a rear perspective, empty road in front of them with a billboard off in the distance.
Second Panel: Focus in on the billboard with a Denny's advertisement.
Third Panel: Inside the car, behind the front seats.
Fourth Panel: Same as third but with a dialogue bubble from the girl. ("I'm hungry.")
Page 8, One large panel on top half, two wide lower panels.
Top half: Chopper angle of the car parking in a denny's parking lot.
Second Panel: They're sitting in a booth. The woman and the waitress chat. ("Well thats a pretty darling there, Shelly, where did you get her?")("Found her by the side of the highway, was going to take her down to the sherriff's office. She probably has a family looking for her.")
Last Panel: The front window of the Denny's through which the scene from the second panel is visible.
Page 9, 4 panels
Top Panel: Back inside the plane, with airmen in latex gloves crawling over the seats, while engineers take measurements on the hole.
Second Panel: ("Doctor, we could certainly use your input on this.") A woman in a white lab coat stands in the latrine from earlier with an officer. ("They found her here right?") ("Yes Ma'am")
Third Panel: The woman is rummaging through a purse that was seen on the counter last panel. ("Ma'am?")
Fourth Panel: She is grabbing a woman's suit coat off the floor with one hand while holding up a perfume bottle with the other. ("I may have an idea.")
I've wanted to make games since I was 8. Since the first time I sat down and kicked pixelated dos based ass as Jill of the Jungle, I knew I wanted to make games. My dad wanted me to be a coder, an engineer of somesort so I could be like him. I bounced from learning Visual Basic to C to Java to PHP to C++ to ladder language, and back again... I find it safe to say I am not a coder by nature.
Which brings me to the first problem of game design. A design is useless if you cannot prototype it. I've seen many designs of varying degrees of brilliance that will never see the light of day, and have created a fair number for whom that is equally true. I should probably start a compendium and write down the designs and their stubs, but honestly it may just be too depressing for me. Back to the topic though, the only way to get your design out there and really make it work is to get a prototype of it done. Collaborative prototyping works about as well as team shoe tieing and fails for much the same reasons. So at the end of the day, no ways around it, you have to create a prototype of your game, or at least an important feature of your game.
Of course, surfing around the internet you get to see a wide variety of desigeners, creators and contributors and the variety of motivations behind them. The real proffesionals are generally the ones making money to do it, they've got opinions and are happy to tell em to you. The smaller their budgets the more likely they are to be found bumping around IRC with other small teams, or at least so it seems to me. Perhaps the difference I find most striking is they're the ones out there beating down doors to find investors.
Contrarily you have the GNUligans who also display a greater sense of professionalism, but have activily removed any option of getting paid for their labor. One defining attitude of the GNUligans is "if you want it to do more, write it yourself". This isn't to say that they won't support their product, but rather that anything which doesn't rate highly on their priority list is better left to someone else who feels strongly enough about it to do it.
Further down the list are the modders and the hobbyists. So far of all the groups I've seen or been a part of, the most dangerous thing to projects at these levels is the process of collaboration. Get too many hands in the pot and rather than working on making a game that follows a design, they work on making the game that follows their individual design regardless of the consistency of the project. These have to have strong leadership, or else the whole thing falls apart. Now a large section of the one man wrecking crews fall into this category also, but their major problem is the sheer difficulty of any game project.
The last category I'd like to cover is the one I fall into, the hopefuls. A hopeful doesn't start every project expecting a pay-off, but they do expect all their projects to eventually lead to their getting paid to make games. Probably the biggest problem to face a hopeful is feature creep, we always want to make the next BIG splash, sometimes we forget to just try and make ripples first.
I've started at least a half-dozen projects lately, only one has any hope of my getting paid. But I intend to finish all of them one way or another. Still I think it's important to leave a word of advice to other hopefuls and hobbyists, something I've learned from a thousand metaphorical scars. Start with one. One room, one character, one gimmick, one button, doesn't matter, just start with only one. Work on that single item until it's damn near perfect, get it playtested, get it polished, make it shine until you can see yourself reflecting in it on a clear day. Then make another one, a different one, and go from there. After you've made enough ones, you'll finally have something big.
turns out panel sexiness is increased a hundred percent by monster appearance... I didn't do as well in the panel layout on that one, seeing as how it's an overglorified storyboard anyways...
hopefully you can figure out whats going on in page 1. It's hard to fit that much in, while still being understandable, when your just trying to get shit down to give you an idea where it should all wind up.
Okay just kidding, that was from a few days ago and it's utter shite. This is what I did today.
I just barely started playing around with the non-black outlines so now I have to go back and fix all of them, but it's okay, it's worth it.... I think.
These were made for Battle for Wesnoth, btw. It's a free open source game available at Wesnoth.org... Great game, but try and ignore the portrait art whenever possible.