In this update I want to give you a little visibility on our design process. More specifially:
How are we, a 20-ish person team, going to achieve a game as epic and rich as Oort Online?
We’re not Ubisoft, we can’t throw hundreds of artists and programmers at problems to solve them. In order for Wonderstruck, a small studio to deliver something so big, we need lots of clever techniques and shortcuts. And that’s more fun anyway .
On this site there’s lots of discussion about features, both planned and unplanned, and how those features could work. The community speculation fuels us and it really does help us make decisions. But sometimes the the thread steers towards “hundreds of stats”, “infinite creature generation”, “thousands of weapons” and whilst sounds really cool, they’re not necessarily things we can do from the outset. But we don’t want to just say “cool idea but we can’t do that” all the time, we still want to achieve the feeling, so let’s design those features smarter…
First things first: think about why you’d want to do those things . What are you trying to achieve? Then should you do them? Is it more important than spending time on [other feature]? Finally, how could we achieve that feature in the purest, simplest way that’s still fun and exciting.
For example, we get asked “give us 1000s of weapons to pick from!”. We could get our art team to design and model 1000 weapons. If we asked them to do that it’s unlikely we’d get any characters, creatures or props . I know this is an extreme example, but we really do face challenges like this when we’re trying to weigh up what we spend time on.
What do we want from 1000 weapons? What it sounds like we want is extreme weapon variability! In order for us to make a decision, we have to decide what counts as the right amount of variability. It might be that a player only sees 100 weapons on an average play of the game, so then we’d have essentially made 900 unnecessary weapons .
Assume we need 100 weapons. How varied do they need to be? Could it be just the name of the weapon? A different colour? A single stat modifier? How else could we achieve variability? What are the simplest ways that give players the most expression? One or a few of these things could be a lot more scalable, cheaper to deliver and give us the same feeling as a lot more expensive version of this feature .
How you can help
Here’s how you can help: be the design team as well as the ideas team . When you think of, or read about a cool feature that could be included in Oort Online think about how we, a 20-ish person team, could deliver it. What techniques or shortcuts could we use to deliver it whilst retaining the feeling of the original suggestion?
With 99% of these ideas there’s usually a really cool, simple and expressive way to do it. Finding what those things are is the exciting challenge we face.
Tiny team, epic game!