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RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age
RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age: Blog
Dec 13

Written by: Jashan Chittesh

My original plan was to have three games. Traces of Illumination, which is currently under development and scheduled for release in 2009. Then, there was Meditating Pill Cruncher ... basically some sort of "fantasy multiplayer Pac Man on a Tropical Island". And finally, RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age; that's the game this is all building towards.

During development of Traces of Illumination I noticed that I really don't like building too much upon old ideas. This is a "tron-esque" game, and was designed that way right from the start. It also goes way beyond what any of the clones or the "original game" came up with. But still, it has this obvious source of inspiration - and that's something I don't really like about it. It's cool for a first game ... but ...

... it won't work for me for a second game. Now obviously, what I had planned for Meditating Pill Cruncher was even way farther away from Pac Man than it is the case with Traces of Illumination and the other games of that "3D-Snake-Lightcycles-Genre" - but in the end, it's a similar story. Besides, while I have a few nice ideas for MPC, it never really burned inside of me.

So, I decided to let go and re-focus.

RaMtiGA is a huge project. If you knew about it what I know about it, you'd think I'm completely insane. That's why I don't speak that much about it publicly. During the last couple of weeks, however, I spent quite some time writing down the incredible flow of ideas I've had related to RaMtiGA. It's starting to evolve from "a bunch of ideas" to a solid concept for the MMO of the future.

Basically, the main idea behind MPC was creating a prototype for some of the ideas I have for RaMtiGA so I can see and evaluate them "in action" - plus that "Pac Man on a Tropical Island"-thing so that it would feel more like a game on its own.

I realized that this won't work. It might work if I tried to make it work, but it will consume too much time for its purpose. It would be effort instead of Joy. So, instead of trying to make a prototype for RaMtiGA a game in its own right by squeezing into it another game that's not really original, I'll focus fully on creating the best possible prototype for RaMtiGA. That prototype will pretty much feel like the actual game - except for the size of the game world. So, it will basically be a "vertical slice" of RaMtiGA.

So ... those are some significant changes to be aware of. The good thing about this is that I can focus more on Traces of Illumination; and I can also focus more on RaMtiGA.

Back to work ... there's major network refactoring on the plate ;-)


3 comment(s) so far...

Re: Future Projects - Changes and Advancements

Jashan, in some respects I think you are making the right choice. Focusing on RaMtiGA is a good idea - especially given its massive scope. But then again it is massive. There has got to be a way to carve that project up into smaller pieces while still retaining your focus. I say this because I thus far really like your work, and so would like to see more of your work reach completion. Huge projects have a way of burying those working on them - even the best of us.

What do I mean? How can you work on pieces of a project while still focusing on it? All sub-projects would share 95% of their assets and concept with RaMtiGA. For example, if you are working on a magic system for magic using characters, then make a subgame that focuses on using magic. This allows you to focus on the magic using interface, the magic system's mechanics, related art assets, and gives you a sandbox in which you can test the gameplay related to it. Once each subproject is done, you have a game to post that will help you further grow a community of interest for your MMO. You also have a whole set of assets that you can fold right back into the big project - all the behavior scripts, art assets, interface. The only wasted work in this process that I foresee would be say a scoring system or establishment of a goal for the subgame that would not translate to the larger project.

The key elements to these subprojects is that they exist in the RaMtiGA world, use identical art assets and effects, identical game mechanics and interface, and reveal hints of the larger game through names used in game, glimpses of lore, etc....

Anyway, I have thought a lot about this because I also have an ambitious MMO type of game that I would like to make, but am overwhelmed by how much I'd have to learn just to put the plan in motion. (I am not a computer game developer by any stretch of the imagination. I spent this year just learning how to model art assets for example in my tiny slice of freetime.) Given how slow my process is, I figured that I might as well share these thoughts with you if they can help you.

By aaronparr on   2008-12-16T17:22:35

Re: Future Projects - Changes and Advancements

Hi Aaron - thank you for sharing this idea! I'll definitely consider this or something similar for RaMtiGA. My current plan is to first create a "super-polished prototype" of RaMtiGA with all features, but very limited scope; within a timeframe of about a year. In other words: All systems would be in place and it would even be possible (and hopefully fun) to play this prototype - but it would just have a single "zone", and maybe only a couple of "levels".

So, playing this prototype would be pretty much like playing the actual game - but it would end giving you "something new" after maybe 5 or 10 hours playtime (which obviously is a huge difference to the actual game - but that's why it is a prototype and not the actual game ;-) ). The nice thing about such a prototype would be that all the interactions between the different systems could be evaluated very nicely, as well as evaluating the individual systems themselves.

Furthermore, with such a prototype, one can write a very precise design document. So, from there it's "only" creating massive amounts of assets and content. That's still that which will consume most of the time (years) - but the good thing is that from the prototype, you'll have a pretty good idea whether it works or not. It can still fail working when "scaled up" but the risk is significantly smaller than when finding out the core mechanics aren't really fun much later in the process.

One very nice thing that happened in the "RaMtiGA design" recently is that it's becoming more of an integrated design. Up until recently, I had a lot of ideas - but in a way those ideas were kind of loosely coupled instead of making up an integral design. From the design perspective, I think what has happened recently is a really nice change - but obviously, it makes implementing your approach, which I think is a very wise approach, somewhat tricky.

So, I think what I'll do (once Traces of Illumination is done ;-) ), is looking at my feature-set for RaMtiGA and try to find out what really are the core features upon which the major game mechanics build. If I'm lucky, it turns out that some of this can be used to easily create (a) small game(s) that work "on their own" - without consuming a massive amount of development time (and ideally, as you outlined, creating those "small games" would provide assets for "the big game" ;-) ).

By jashan on   2008-12-17T16:55:36

Re: Future Projects - Changes and Advancements

Your eyes are open, Jashan. You obviously know what you are doing (as much as anyone can, that is). I'll be watching your blog to see how things go with this project.

That the game design is coming together in an integral whole is interesting. I want to see what this RaMtiGA is all about! One thing that is very nice about a holistic approach to a RPG is that it feels immersive to play because game mechanics, lore, and setting seamlessly integrate so everything feels "real" or at least internally consistent. I think one potential pitfall of tight integration however is that it limits expansion of the game - unless you plan ahead for it.

In any case, I wish you well on your project. Good luck!

By aaronparr on   2008-12-18T06:11:25

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