As the semester begins so does the daunting task of Senior Game Studio Capstone. It’s finally here, the project that we’ve all been working towards since we entered Game History and Development our freshmen year. Now we just have to get started.
Our first week of preproduction has been primarily focused on brainstorming game concepts; 50 to be exact. Fortunately, The Firing Squad has been brainstorming since we formed out capstone team in April. Before the semester started, we were all excited about an idea we had for a First Person Rogue-like Stealth Shooter where the player has to build their gun out of stolen parts and objects they find around a high-security prison they’re trying to escape from. What we liked about this idea was the gun assembly mechanic. Gun parts would fall into 5 categories: grips, firing mechanisms, barrels, scopes, and attachments. All summer we were thinking of ideas for interesting gun pieces, like a shower head barrel that split ammunition into several tiny pieces and fired a wide blast of shots. Going into the fall semester, this was out number 1 idea.
We weren’t thrilled about being required to come up with 50 ideas. While we had a good list going, the Prison Escape game was the idea that we wanted to move forward with. However, once we started putting more time and more imagination into our brainstorming process, we ended up with a whole slew of ideas that we were excited to work on. All of a sudden, we were no longer so certain about what we wanted to work on.
As a team, we voted on our top 5 most interesting ideas. After the vote, our Prison Escape idea dropped down to number 2. Now, the top of our list is occupied by a Western Couch Arena FPS where players have to spin their guns to increase the amount of damage their gun can output and perform gun tricks to be granted new weapons by a live audience. This idea stemmed from the common Western Movie trope of Cowboys spinning their revolvers around their fingers before taking a shot. Looking at this from a gameplay perspective, players will have to maintain control over how fast their gun is spinning, otherwise, they risk their gun being thrown into the air or even shooting themselves in the leg. As a team, we’re excited about the ridiculousness of this idea because we know there is so much room for us to work with here to make this an incredibly engaging experience for players to have with their friends.
After we our brainstorming session, I connected with the Lead Programmer of our team, James Keats, to discuss the core mechanics of our top 5 ideas. The Prison Escape game and the Gun Spinning game both had very clear mechanics at their core that the concepts were being designed around. However, our other 3 top ideas weren’t as developed.
Once I had a conversation with James about the core mechanics would be for all of our ideas, I began throwing together some simple documentation. Most of this initial documentation was text based since none of the ideas have been developed enough for me to create anything that would make sense visually. I highlighted the core mechanics of our top 5 ideas and then showed how they connected with each other to build the main systems for each game.
For one of our ideas–an FPS assassination game where the player is repelling down the side of a skyscraper, avoiding detection from people inside the buildings and from enemies repelling down after you while looking for their target in one of the building’s windows–I put together a very simple VDD to show how the player would be moving down the building and what they would be avoiding to remain stealthy. Just as I was putting this basic diagram together, a whole string of questions came to me about the player’s movement. I realized that I didn’t have enough information yet to go any more in-depth with this document and that a long conversation with my team about this idea needs to happen.
For our Gun Spinning idea, I had enough information to put together an initial gameplay flowchart that described the core game loop. I figured that having a flowchart would strongly help with communication and keeping everyone on the same page with this concept.
Bare in mind, this is all just an initial concept, so the system for obtaining better weapons still hasn’t been decided on. I’ve also looked into a few references for how controls for the gun spinning mechanic could work. James played with an earlier idea that was set up similar to how snowboarding and skateboarding games handle grinding. We discovered this control scheme was really difficult to manage while still moving around and shooting. I felt that something similar to how Red Dead Redemption handles controlling your horses’ speed (reference video) would be easier to manage while still requiring the player to actively balance their gun’s spin.
Moving into next week, I plan on beginning to white- box basic environments for our top 3 choices to get a sense of how the player is going to be contained, how much space we need to be planning for, and how the player will move around these environments. This will help Tyler put together concepts and form a style for our environments as well as help James prototype movement mechanics.
I’m excited to take a deeper look at a few of our ideas. Until next time!