The angst of original game design

December 24, 2008 | Filed under: game design

Game design is a pain. But ORIGINAL CONCEPT game design is like a pain intensified with pain amplifiers set to MAXIMUM_PAIN.

90% of games have very little originality. Some of them have some original ideas or twist ion existing concepts, and very few of them are totally utterly new. The Sims was a reworking of little computer people, and Kudos is in some ways a new take on the Sims, albeit different in fundamental ways. Democracy is a bit of a weird one, being influenced mainly by neural networks and watching TV debates over politics, but it probably looks like some other game to someone. I’ve heard talk of ‘shadow president’ but never seen or played it.

The last 3 games I did were Kudos 2 Democracy 2 and Kudos:Rock Legend. These are all games I worked hard on and am very proud of. D2 and K2 are my fave games, and I think they are the best I’ve done so far. But the last time I released a totally ‘new’ game was the original Kudos.

I’m determined not to coast on past successes, so this new game is totally different. I’m trying to carve out a new idea for a game again, and it’s a pretty tough job. The problem this time is technical, not conceptual. I can see the game in my mind, how it plays and how it works. Translating it into code is tricky. There is a lot of conventional AI to code (unit AI, as you might get to some extent in an RTS), and that stuff is a pain to get working consistently at reasonable speeds, especially with the pretty big number of units I’m hoping to support.

So this next game will take a while, hopefully getting done before the money runs out. But it will be pretty origianl (I think). That will give me 3 strings to my gaming bow (kudos, Democracy and NewGame). On the positive front, it’s also got me coding more hours than ever before, because I hate it when the game looks like it’s a mess…

2 Responses to “The angst of original game design”

  1. SR says:

    Democracy reminded me a bit of an old favorite, Hidden Agenda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Agenda_(game)), a government simulation game from the late ’80s.

    Good luck on the new project!

  2. Alex says:

    Wow, a game designer that actually updates his blog regularly.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights. I’ve downloaded the D2 demo SOO many times, because sometimes I really crave that game(being a political junkie). I’m going to finally buy it today.

    Keep up the great work and the originality!