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Guest Rabbit

Tiberium Chronicles Blog 01 - The Basics

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Guest Rabbit

I've decided to update from time to time with where I'm at in the design of this game. Designing a game is definitely a completely different experience from creating a stop motion animation, obviously in many ways. Because of that, it's really hard to show you my progress, because with an episode, I could just release the episode and that was that, but in this case, I don't intend on releasing anything until I actually have a final product.

So with that, I figured I'd make a blog sort of updating everyone on where I am, and what the day to day process is. Why not make a video? I feel a video is unnecessary in this case, as a lot of what I'm covering is just as easy to read about, if not easier.

How much progress has been made?

So far, I've designed all the cities on the map, I've created 80% of the in-game music, I've come up with all of the main characters, and I've designed the main plot for the game. I've also established a solid combat system, which you can take a look at here. I've recently created a bulk of enemy combatants and finished the interiors for almost half of the map. By interiors, I mean the insides of buildings. There's a lot. I've also created the outline for both campaigns.

Two campaigns?

Yes. Unlike Renegade, which oddly enough, inspires a lot of this, you can choose to fight for Nod or RDI. With both sides, there will also be a couple different endings.

Where am I at now?

Right now, I'm in mission coding. There's basically three parts of mission design. The overall plot, planning individual missions, and actually designing them (which I'm at right now). I currently have plans for 70 different missions (not including side missions), so this will take quite a while. I've only made a few so far, and frankly, it can take a few days just to get one set up right. Halfway through designing the third RDI mission, for instance, I thought of a brilliant way to improve it and thrust you into the plot more. Turned a one day project into a three day project, because I suddenly had to create more images and implement new scripts.

Let me give you an idea of what it takes to create a single mission. First, I have to gather information. This information is basically all of the following:

  • Where will the mission take place?
  • What is the mission?
  • Who will the main character speak to?
  • Who will the main character fight?
  • How hard should this mission be?
  • What is the goal of the mission, and how does it tie into the next?

After considering all these parts, I then have to script in every single character for the mission. I have to give them speech, movement, timing, and all sorts of other things. Here's an example of what one character speech looks like.


That's only part of what he has to say. And that's just for one mission. There's some missions where you need to talk to several people. Luckily, there's others where you barely talk to anyone, but I still have to design characters in the background for ambiance, and I have to give them something to say in case the player decides to talk to them. The important thing to remember is that even if the player isn't doing any mission, there's still going to be other ambient characters just walking around different towns.

Here's an example of all the items you can "interact" with in a single (small) room. Every highlighted square you see represents a script that involves some kind of action:


On top of that, there's also random enemy soldiers, in and out of missions. Each of them has to be carefully scripted for speed and difficulty. One of the hardest things to figure out is how hard to make a certain group of enemies, because I'm designing each mission one by one, and I have to estimate how strong the player will be by the time they get to this group of enemies. Not an easy task when you have to take into account the players skill, level, weapons, enemy weapons, defense, etc. This would probably be even worse if I was giving the option for easy, medium, and hard (which I'm not doing).

Another tough concept is diversity. Not only do I have to make the missions different, I have to make the enemies different as well. I need to make some stronger and weaker, and make it to where some have different weapons and skills, and defenses.

Enough about missions, what else needs to be done?

Basically, there's three other main things that I work on when I'm not focusing on a specific mission. Those three things are music, ambiance, scripting, and art.

  • The music is pretty self explanatory, but it takes a while to come up with something fresh after having made 30 different compositions over the past two months.
  • Ambiance is what separates this from being a basic game and a fun game. I need random characters to have their own personalities, stories, and humor. Maybe a book in the library can be opened, maybe pictures on peoples walls can be viewed. Basically, I just need to make the game more than a few missions, and turn it into a world of its own.
  • Scripting is sort of mixed with ambiance. I have to add unique scripting to add different (and what I feel are necessary) features. Simple things like lighting effects and pond reflection can take a bit of work. The game was designed to cause an instant game-over when you die. I had to root through the coding that most people avoid touching to create a revival system, which frankly, was a pain in the butt. There's a whole lot of work that can go into the simplest feature. I've been dealing with the gameover issue for at least a month, and have dedicated all of today and the past two days on fixing it, for instance. It can make me pretty aggravated. Luckily, some scripts are pre-made for basic needs, but a lot of stuff has to either be done from scratch, or by significantly modifying a pre-made script.
  • Art is pretty simple, but obviously just as necessary. It can range anywhere from creating new characters, to creating new tiles for a building or city, creating pictures (like maps or in-game paperwork), basic animations, or more. I basically do this on the go. While I'm building a mission, I'll usually notice that I need a certain material and just design it on the spot.

Here's an example of some of the progress I've made. When I first started designing this game, this is the meteor site that we came up with:


As I developed the game and the quality improved, I was determined to improve the quality of everything, including the meteor:


Here's a really large version:

What features will this game have that make it fun to play?

Aside from what I've already detailed, here's a basic list. The game will feature:

  • An active combat system (think Legend of Zelda)
  • Two campaigns (The Brotherhood of Nod and the Royal Defense Initiative)
  • Side missions
  • Many weapons, tools, armors, items.
  • A quest journal, where you can see which missions are active and which ones you've accomplished.
  • Mutants, Tiberium creatures
  • Backup (up to three soldiers who will accompany you on select missions)
  • Enemy ranking systems
  • Easter Eggs (Which I won't reveal at all).

I'm also thinking of incorporating cheats for the kinds of people who like to play for the storyline or for people who genuinely have trouble with this style of gameplay. I guess we'll see where it goes!

I guess for now, that'll cover the basics. Feel free to post any questions you may have about any of this. I figure any future blogs will be more about specific things (and might be easier to put into video format), but I feel like this is a good start.

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