Goshdarnit, Fallen Earth!

It’s slow going at Apocalypso towers at the moment. The artist says he has drawings, the gameplay guy says he has skill trees, me, I’ve been learning Blender for no good reason, and reading about C++ without actually trying to code in it. Love theory, hate practice.

And I’ve been doing something I can’t talk about for reasons I can’t tell you. An NDA is an NDA. So let’s talk instead about how Fallen Earth has cut the rug from under us.

Our scenario: it is 2161 and civilisation on Earth has collapsed following a deadly pandemic and a nuclear war. A hundred years on, small tribes and factions are fighting for survival in a harsh environment &c &c.

Fallen Earth’s scenario: it is 2156 and civilisation on Earth has collapsed following a deadly pandemic and a nuclear war. A hundred years on, small tribes and factions… yeah, you get the picture.

We knew we were leaning a little too heavily on Fallout , that given the demand for a Fallout MMO and current social concerns we probably wouldn’t be the only ones in an apocalyptic frame of mind, and that our story wasn’t shatteringly original. I’m glad this happened at the drawing board stage, but it’s still a little… irksome.

I’ve been turning over ways to differentiate our world further from Fallen Earth. We have a different setting (ours is in Britain), and different gameplay (no levelling, less FPS-y combat), and some rogue elements such as the Spires that are, I hope, not much like anything else. But it’s not enough. /sigh

Paul Barnett Talks

Gamasutra have an article up on Paul Barnett of Mythic’s recent presentation at the GDC. Despite being one of the faces behind Warhammer, he seems very excited about the ‘new Golden Age’ of simple, fast-to-market indie games made possible by iPhones and the like. Makes me wonder if we’re chewing the leg of a dead horse, trying to make an indie game that has all the trappings of an old-style hardware hungry, labour intensive MMORPG. But I’m not bored of immersion, of virtual worlds that feel like places you can live in. It’s something games just haven’t ever quite delivered for me yet, and I don’t care if I chew until I hit bone – I’m doing this thing.

Wikiwiki – Documenting Game Design

I decided that the only way we were going to progress with the MMO project was to start inputting all our research, discussions, decisions and design documentation into a Wiki. I tried a few out and settled on Netcipia. It has the same problems as PBWiki – the WYSIWYG isn’t, and the overall feel is cluttered and not customisable enough. But it’s free, and it’ll do for the time being. There are tools available for working on MMO design (e.g. Video Game Design Pro 2006 (http://www.thecorpament.com) ), but I’m not ready to invest in a commercial package at the moment.

I made a list of articles I wanted to write for the blog, but feeding the Wiki has taken up an immense amount of time. And that’s the thing with a collaborative project; you have to write everything down. Topics on the Wiki cover our initial vision for the game, background reading on sandboxes, multiplayer game design, player psychology, combat systems, skills trees, and elements of world building, such as geography, climate, flora, fauna, transport, technology and politics. We also needed to think about marketing and finance, and there’s a huge section on development tools, as we’re working our way through, evaluating the available options.

It’s a more than daunting task. We’ve been talking about it for six months, and the work is only just beginning.