narrativeGame - Anatomy of a Game

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Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:40 pm
by Gibby » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:39 pm
So in setting up my new GameType, I had to find a name for it that suited it’s purpose. The quandary is that it’s not too far removed from VCTF or TDM play, the real difference being the players are staged in the middle of a larger conflict taking place around them. The idea is to give the player a ‘cinematic’ experience where he/she can play and action character like James Bond, Jack Ryan etc. Given that the gameplay is setup to tell a story over the length of the play session, I’ve decided to call it ‘narrative’, thus narrativeGame will be our new type.

  • Number of players: 10 co-op, 5 per team PvP, up to 64 DM/TDM
    Number of Teams: 3-5
    Typical game length: 30-60 minutes
    Camera: TFPS/RTS
    Spawn type: Variable
Now I have some parameters with which to begin setting up gameplay. Rather than just spawning in thin air as in most FPS type play, we're going to have the player arrive/depart via transport. If he dies in-game, he can respawn but has to be re-deployed. Not quite perma-death but it makes players think more about tactics before running into a fight blindly. They will also be able to call for evac if injured saving not only their life but their powerups.

Players are assigned teams that represent factions. There are a minimun of two, typically attacker/defender, but a third is standard, creating attacker/defender/counter. Up to two extra counter factions can be added. Typical setup is one team setup at a location and the other attacks it. The counters' attacks come from a different direction and can be allied to either attacker, defender or oppose them both. Optionally two or more factions attack the same location simultaneously.

Overriding the game is a scipted series of large events akin to the plot twists in a story controlled by a planner. Each faction will have a planner called a commander and the level itself has one called the ontology. The planners have simple behavior trees that will then access ai subsystems for humanoid, vehicular and environmental automation. Players or server admins can interact with or optionally control the planners as well.

Creating a Story

As in conventional storytelling I'm going to use archetypes to represent the elements of the story, and then relate them to the elements of the game.

"All the world is a level" - the Level serves as the Stage for our story.
Players are the Actors.
The Plot , well that's a challenge. In most gametypes, spawning/scoring/dying are handled by the gametype. I need these to be variable, so I use a set of subscripts I call Stratega, called at mission load, to more creatively define how those functions are handled. Typically these handle how the players enter/exit the level 'spawning'.
Dialogue is created by the Players as they explore the level, by AI using procedural means.

Game Specicifics

In my demo level I'm going to use the default stratega of amphibAssault and islandDefend.
  • Defenders hold a valuable item in a Main Objective.
    The Objective is protected by two Tactical Objectives and any number of Minor Objectives.
    Attackers arrive via sea and are based on a command ship.
    As the game progresses, the Counter may or may not enter play, and all teams will acquire more resources, via sea, air or orbit.

    Now that I have an idea what the game mechanics have to do I need to set them up. I started with a sketch I'd done in a VTT app called MapTool. I setup the locations of the objectives and attack routes on a grid using RPG icons to mark the locations:


    Next I setup an emply level in T3D, with nothing but a spawnSphere, a sky, and a groundplane. I setup the groundplane with a blue grid to emulate a seafloor and built a mockup of my sketch using convex shapes and some off the shelf models. I added a waterblock to simulate an ocean and wrote a little script to hide/show it while I setup the level:

    'IceBlocks' Level

    Now I can roam about with the camera and get a feel for the pace and flow of different entires and exits. I can see where I'll need detail/structures and where I'll need to leave clear paths for vehicles. So far, my needs are three main areas of detail, four detailed assault points and two seaborne carriers. Players will enter play via submarine, assault boat, vtol, parachute or orbital drop. Once in the level they'll have hovers, flyers, helis and mechs to fight with/against. Here's the list of models/scenes:

    NarrativeGame Shapes
    • Seaborne
      • Carrier
        Landing Craft
      • Hovercraft
      • Bomber/Dropship
      • Mothership
      Manned Asaault Warhead
      • Missile Silo
        Heavy Turret
        Anti-Personnel Turret
        Infantry Missile
      • Main Station
        • Mech/Rocket Launcher
          McGuffin Generator
          McGuffin Matrix
      • Ice Station
        • Ice Floes
          Snow Moving Gear
      • Gun Emplacement
        • Missile Silo

      • 2-8 Monitors

    "Ice Station Zeta" Test Level scenes
    • Main Objective
      • McGuffin Generator, holds McGuffin Matrix inside.
        Control Structures for Sea/Land/Air/Orbital
        Has 'beach approach' Assault position on one side, optional dock on the other
        2-4 small vignettes [Assault Positions may count]
      Objective A
      • "Guns of Alpha One" Large gun/rocket emplacement with
        Control Structures for guns and airborne units
        Isolated by cliffs/ice
        Seaborne assault position
        1-2 small vignettes [Assault Positions may count]
      Objective B
      • "Ice Station Zeta" Research/Control station
        Control Structures for sea-based units
        Icebreaker assault position
        1-2 small vignettes [Assault Positions may count]

      Objective C [Optional]
      • Underwater Base

      Objecive D [Optional]
      • Sunken Ruins

      • 8 Aquatic paths [Subs, Beasts]
        8 Surface Paths [Ships, Hovers]
        2-4 Landborne Vehicle/Mech/Beast Paths
        2-4 Landborne Player/Beast/Hover Paths
        8 Airborne Paths [Aircraft/Flying Beasts]
        4 Orbital Entry Paths

Well, I've got my work cut out for me, I'll post soon...

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