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Worldbuilding + Concept Creation

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I've started dabbling in some programming (mainly jquery and java) and then I thought to myself...shouldn't I create a virtual pet sim firstly by establishing a concept and then focus on figuring out how to go about making it afterwards? I could just make all of the art asset and the actual content of the site and then go about putting it together then, but why is it that I'm already wanting to start learning programming instead??? I realized it's simply because programming will be faster for me to learn than trying to create a pet sim because when you're creating a pet sim it takes up a lot more time, especially if I'm wanting to make one successful (basically a pet sim that's popular/well known and has a chance of being around for years). 

On that note I'm curious, what steps did you take to developing your game? Was there any obstacles that hindered you from proceeding that was memorable? If you're currently building a game or games right now how is it going for you so far?

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What I did was learn programming alongside worldbuilding and concept ideas for the site. The reason being that a lot of things can sound good on paper, but the challenge comes in at "how can I properly convey this lore on the site in a functional way?"

For Wild Souls, I did minimal worldbuilding before I went all out into making the site (so just the setting and a tiny bit of lore). Afterwards I did more brainstorming and coded different features to see what sticks and what doesn't. I don't believe you need to have absolutely everything planned out lore-wise before coding the site. Even AAA games have scrapped features.

 

My current obstacle is figuring out how to make an idea work in a way that is interactive. In Wild Souls for example, there's a hunting mechanic (which is done by yourself) and a pack hunting mechanic  (which is done with others non-frequently). The thing is, I've yet to figure out how to implement this without it being a simple dice roll from a button.

 

Other than that issue, I would say development for it is going really well. I've had to put Foodbabs on hiatus because I wanted to redesign pretty much everything with it lol. 

I'm in the process of working on a murder mystery visual novel, which would be my first ever commercial game. Hopefully it sells well, but I plan to use the money to better improve my sites, like premium servers, domain names, and staff. I plan to make a topic about it actually once it's a little more done (I've been keeping it hush-hush until I have a playable demo, but in some places I post about it to build hype)

Edited by Dinocanid
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I think the question to ask yourself is What do you want to accomplish?

Adam was pretty candid about what he wanted to do when creating Neopets. He wanted to make a place where people could go when they're bored and maybe make a little revenue off banner ads. He accomplished both of those things. And he did it without really giving an immense amount of thought into the story or lore or even the mechanics behind how Neopets worked. Years and owners later there still isn't a decent or even a coherent story behind how the world of Neopia works but it still manages to draw a enviable amount of traffic. It seems during the first few years of the site they focused more on gameplay than world building. That came after Adam was bought out. 

How's it going for me? I'm back to Square One. 

After spending three years planning out everything from the concept, story, art, lore, pets, and characters and about two months actually building the game ... I decided that this wasn't what I wanted. Like @Dinocanid I thought that the game struggled with being interactive and ultimately fun. I decided to scrap the idea and change my approach. 

Now, I have a concept. 

This week, I was working on Theme and Style. 

I've come up with what I think might be a really good and ... unusual idea when compared to what you might see in a more Traditional Pet Game. There are some elements still there. You still get your dailies. You still get your pets. You are still raising and attempting to create the best ... something ... in a specific way that makes sense with the theme. I ditched the Medevial Fantasy feel from the original concept and decided to work on something set in the not-so-distance past. Research was done to capture that style, those trends, and most importantly that aesthetic since I want it to hit people as soon as they land on the page. 

Now, I'm going to start building the game. 

I have a vague idea of how the mechanics of the game will work, but I don't think I'll get a good-enough grasp of it until I actually start building. If there's any advice I could give from my experience -- is that you should start building sooner rather than later. 

You're not going to know what works or what doesn't on paper. 

I want to get people in front of it as soon as possible. 

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I agree with the posts before. Things can look nice and everything on the paper or in your mind but when you're actually working on it you may notice that things do not work out as intended.

I started with my game 2011 with no programming knowledge. I taught myself one year while working on the game. 2012 I launched the very first alpha version with very basic content. Only a few friends of mine were invited into it to test it. After 10 days I opened it up to the public but did not advertise it at all. So the community was growing slowly through word of mouth and I was able to integrate feature after feature and get immediate feedback of what is liked and what not or what the players would like to see. Also while playing the game myself, I found out what I wanted to see integrated. And so the game grew and grew and now it is very feature rich. Not all ideas I had were great and fit into the game. I removed features I thought that were not that great as I imagined them to be. This was a learning progress. 
Overall this was the right way for me. Probably because I was so inexperienced in programming, game design and overall management. Nowadays with already one game up and running, I would definitely develop the second game to a more polished state, before I would launch, but I would still only make a vast concept instead of planning each detail out. The details come while developing. At least for me. :) 

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I started off with a concept I've dreamt of bringing to life for years. Now I'm 5 months into learning my languages of choice and have just begun building a basic UI, registration & login system as my first few steps into development. I am very motivated and excited for the future because nobody in our gaming niche has designed a game that is similar to the concept I have in mind, so unless there is someone out there already working on the same idea, it's going to be something quite different and fresh. There is usually some aspect of it in games, but it has never been a central theme of any pet or sim browser game to my knowledge. It's the one thing that really drives me: no one else has made this game yet.

Thanks for this thread by the way. I appreciate the insight of others here, it's quite helpful!

Edited by Celosia
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Morning. 

Think I'm far enough out to actually start the building. I bought a server, domain, and have everything set up and configuration on my server. That was the easy part. Now, I have to figure out how all of this is going to work. 

Since I don't really have anyone to bounce this off of anymore (long story) I'll do it here. 

Behind a "You Must Register" Wall, of course

Spoiler

 

It's a ... Virtual Mall? 

About a year ago I came across a News Site that I had a little game that was supposed to be poking fun at the so-called "Retail Apocalypse". The truth behind what is happening in retail is considerably less dramatic and newsworthy -- but I thought the game was actually pretty interesting. It is possible, though difficult, to "win" this game though it just takes you to the same Doom and Gloom scene as if you lost. Are they saying you can't win? I don't know. 

Originally, this was going to be one of my before-mentioned Pet Site's few mini-games. Instead of making hundreds of Minigame-ish games I focused on building a handful of quality games that people could demo on-site and then download a full microtransaction-free version of from their favorite App Store. Though I made a decent amount of progress I thought the theme of the game didn't match the pet-site and dropped it. 

Well now its back. 

You are the owner of a store located in the game's titular mall. You have a great deal of control over the look and feel of your store. You give it a name. You make a logo. You make your advertisements. You buy your stock from the wholesale warehouse store and set your prices. You decorate it and upgrade it and generally make it look nice. And not just for aesthetics. It affects sales. When you first join the game you are given some walking around money (called Nicos) and investment capital (Credit) to jump start your business. There are also cooperative and competitive natures to the game. You can partner with and go on business ventures with your friends. Everyone also competes against each other to see who can create the Highest Rated and/or Most Profitable Business. 

That's the first part. The sim. 

The second part is the "raising" game. 
Here, your "pets" are really your "workers". 
You must recruit and train them to run your store. 

One recurring issue I had about Pet/Raising Games is that the interaction with your pets is minimal and, in the worst games, optional. That is thrown out the window, here. In order to have a successful store you''ll need to recruit and train a team of well-rounded workers to assume roles in your store. Meanwhile you assume the role of the Manager; making the big decisions when it comes to running your store, finding talent and keeping them happy, and stepping in to help whenever something comes up. 

Then, there's the rest of the Mall to explore. That's where the "World Building" comes in. 

Given that the game takes place in a Mall this is what I mean by the "not-so-distant past" ... 

The in-game world is set during the year 2000; drawing inspiration from the decade spanning 1995 to 2005. Computers are a thing but they are nothing like what we have today. There are no Smartphones. There are, however, CDs, MP3s, and Floppy Disks. The Internet is this mysterious place that  looked  gaudy (and I absolutely want my game to look like this). Stylistically, I want to capture that retro feeling while still incorporating some modern conveniences. The site will still be mobile. The site will have a fairly modern forum. The site will use HTML5 over Flash and (probably) a headless CMS which will allow me to better integrate it with mini-games. 

Inspiration for Stylistic Choices - 
http://www.crazyfads.com/00s.htm
http://www.crazyfads.com/90s.htm

The game isn't all work. That's not fun (though I'm incorporating some elements to make it less tedious). 

You'll also be able to troll around the mall just like a customer; looking over other people's stores and products, playing games in the arcade and kiosks (which are dailies), chilling in the food court, and buying gifts for yourself, your friends/business partners, and your workers with your spending money. Since you are also an employee of the mall in-universe you have access to areas that customers usually don't like the employee lounge, guest services, offices, and security desk which will enable you to do some quests and go on ... adventures. 

Yeah. Let's use that word. 

Are there Heroes and Villains? Of course. Street Punks who loiter, steal, and vandalize. Corporate Overlords (an eppy for the Big Box Category Killer) who are strongly opposed to the idea of your little shop in your little mall. "Problem" customers and workers who make running your business more difficult. Rival and corrupt store owners. Something about a ghost in the back corridors but don't mind that. 

 

There are still some questions I need to answer as far as lore goes, but I think some stuff can be made up as we go along. 

The concept seems pretty solid, at least. I know what I'm building towards. 

Edited by Mobotropolis
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I always start with the concept and then drill it down to an MVP. I find it's best to start off small and build up from there rather than trying to tackle everything at once because that quickly becomes completely overwhelming. You can read a lot more about it and my design process here: https://jadendreamer.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/the-game-plan-minimum-viable-product/

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