Managing the
Unspeakable
One Year of Pre-Production for the Indie-
MMORPG
Quo Vadis
15.04.2014
Who we are
 Alexander Zacherl – Founder, Design & Business - Munich
 Sebastian Dorda – Founder, Development - Munich
 M...
What we‘re creating: Das Tal
You must be crazy!
 Why do we do it?
 Nostalgia / Dissatisfaction / Creative Needs / Destiny / Delusions of
Grandeur / „...
Tools to manage risk
We did this and we‘ll talk about it
 Does anyone want this? -> Validation Board / Interviews / Smoke Tests
 Will it be e...
The Validation Board
Pro: Structured approach to
challenging your assumptions
Con: Setting your success
criteria right i...
Interviews
 Thesis #1: People Stopped playing Sandbox-MMORPGs because of adult
life time pressure (work, significant othe...
Smoke Tests15% Conversion Rate 10% CR (new) vs. 6% CR (old)
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Combat Prototype
Made with LÖVE (LUA) &
NodeJS
Supports up to ~10 players in a
Arena PvP experience
Evaluates control s...
Macro Gameplay Prototype
First try: Board Game
 Failled horribly because of unit &
ressource management & full
transpare...
Network Server Evaluation
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Network Middleware
Which tech is a good fit?
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Style & Setting Visual
Design
 Uniqueness
 Belieavability
 Entertainment
 Timless Graphics & Modern Gameplay
 Doable with a few ressouces
 Easy ac...
 Geology
 Cilmate
 Wildlife
 Available ressources
 Causality and interaction
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 ...
 Former civilisation
 Society structure
 Language &
technology
 Energy sources
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2...
 Less is more
 Color relationships
 Fewer FX & pleasing for the eye
 Visual rhythm
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tec...
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Architecture
 Recognizable & functional
 Aesthetic & entertaining
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Character Design
 Choise of material
 Attention to detail
 Strong sil...
Visual Design: Why 2D?
 Nostalgia
 Personality
 Quick results & controllability
 Timless look
Validation Gameplay Tech...
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Perspective
 Unusual perspective
 No depth
 Read- & differentiability
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Outlines
 Hue, saturation & value
 Emphasis on outlines
 Nuanced use ...
Final result
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Camera Mapping
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Example Asset
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Depth Effect
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
First Blockout
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
In-game Test
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Export Projected Blockout
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Paint Over Projected Blockout
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Refine Mesh
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Why?
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
Budgeting / Scope Estimation
160 ITEMS IN A SPREAD SHEET 2.317 ITEMS IN HANSOFT
Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Bu...
What we have learned so far
 There are a lot of people out their who want our game!
 It is doable:
 A sandbox without q...
Where we are right now
 We have finished pre-pro.
 We know what to make, how to make it and with whom.
 Now we need the...
Thanks & Please Get In Touch
 Fairytale Distillery UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
 München, Werk 1
 Alexander Zacherl
 alex@f...
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Managing the Unspeakable - One Year of Pre-Production for the Indie-MMORPG

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Log onto any game-dev forum on the net and check the "new projects" section - you are sure to find hundreds of posts by students and hobbyists trying to recruit about 20 artists and programmers for their revolutionary WoW-Killer-Sandbox-MMORPG. And you will find hundreds of developers mocking them for their blue-eyedness, their ignorance and general stupidity. And those critics are usually right in their scorn as these projects tend to have the life expectancy of a snowball in hell. But what if you really need to make that one game? That big, crazy sandbox MMO? There is a saying in the start-up scene that you should either “go big or go bust”. Have dreams so large that everybody will call you crazy – only then can you create something completely new and change the world. Sebastian and Alex are in the process of doing exactly that. The two-man-team has spent the last 12 months doing pre-production for their time-boxed PvP Sandbox-MMORPG “Das Tal”. They have spent their time interviewing prospective players and gauging their interest. They have created a multitude of prototypes ranging from combat to clans to character development. They did tons of technical evaluation - from scalability to network latency to experimenting with art styles and the game’s pipeline. Now – as they are going to embark on the next step of their games journey – they are going to include you in that ride. You will see the prototypes they made. You will hear about the things they learned. What went right, what went wrong and what can still break the project’s neck. Enjoy the ride.

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Managing the Unspeakable - One Year of Pre-Production for the Indie-MMORPG

  1. 1. Managing the Unspeakable One Year of Pre-Production for the Indie- MMORPG Quo Vadis 15.04.2014
  2. 2. Who we are  Alexander Zacherl – Founder, Design & Business - Munich  Sebastian Dorda – Founder, Development - Munich  Michail Mamaschew – Art Direction - Berlin  & 4 pre-production team members off-site in Germany & Australia
  3. 3. What we‘re creating: Das Tal
  4. 4. You must be crazy!  Why do we do it?  Nostalgia / Dissatisfaction / Creative Needs / Destiny / Delusions of Grandeur / „Think Big if you want to change the world“  Every second 12-year-old „game developer“ wants to make „the next WoW killer“  99.999999% of these projects fail.  Even huge developers have failed: Project Copernicus (200m USD)  Main Reason for failure: Scope: Size & Features (too much of everything)
  5. 5. Tools to manage risk
  6. 6. We did this and we‘ll talk about it  Does anyone want this? -> Validation Board / Interviews / Smoke Tests  Will it be engaging? -> Gameplay Prototyping  Can we make it? #1 -> Prototype & Server Tech Evaluation  How will it look & feel? -> Setting, Art Style & Visual Design  Can we make it? #2 -> Client Tech & Asset Pipeline  How long will it take, how much will it cost? -> Budgeting Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  7. 7. The Validation Board Pro: Structured approach to challenging your assumptions Con: Setting your success criteria right is hard Con: It can clash with your gut feeling and creative vision – what do you do then? Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  8. 8. Interviews  Thesis #1: People Stopped playing Sandbox-MMORPGs because of adult life time pressure (work, significant others).  Method: Ask “Why did you stop playing?“ in Sandbox MMO forums  Result: 26% mentioned „not enough time“, 21% mentioned „grind“  Thesis #2: I want to play again (& I want these features)  In-depth interviewed 10 „former players of Sandbox MMOs“  via MMORPG-Forums & circle of former guildmates Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  9. 9. Smoke Tests15% Conversion Rate 10% CR (new) vs. 6% CR (old) Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  10. 10. Combat Prototype Made with LÖVE (LUA) & NodeJS Supports up to ~10 players in a Arena PvP experience Evaluates control scheme, line of sight, skills, micro- progression P2P & no security allows for RAPID prototyping Usability and Performance sucked Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  11. 11. Macro Gameplay Prototype First try: Board Game  Failled horribly because of unit & ressource management & full transparency Second Try: LÖVE & NodeJS  Failed horribly because it would have required a pretty complex simulation (too much work) Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  12. 12. Network Server Evaluation Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  13. 13. Network Middleware
  14. 14. Which tech is a good fit? Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  15. 15. Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Style & Setting Visual Design
  16. 16.  Uniqueness  Belieavability  Entertainment  Timless Graphics & Modern Gameplay  Doable with a few ressouces  Easy access (visually & technically) What we want and What we don‘t want Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  17. 17.  Geology  Cilmate  Wildlife  Available ressources  Causality and interaction Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Creating an environment
  18. 18.  Former civilisation  Society structure  Language & technology  Energy sources Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Culture & technology
  19. 19.  Less is more  Color relationships  Fewer FX & pleasing for the eye  Visual rhythm Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Color themes and design language
  20. 20. Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Architecture  Recognizable & functional  Aesthetic & entertaining
  21. 21. Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Character Design  Choise of material  Attention to detail  Strong silhouette
  22. 22. Visual Design: Why 2D?  Nostalgia  Personality  Quick results & controllability  Timless look Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  23. 23. Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Perspective  Unusual perspective  No depth  Read- & differentiability
  24. 24. Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting Outlines  Hue, saturation & value  Emphasis on outlines  Nuanced use of techniques  Serious & mature look
  25. 25. Final result Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  26. 26. Camera Mapping Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  27. 27. Example Asset Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  28. 28. Depth Effect Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  29. 29. First Blockout Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  30. 30. In-game Test Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  31. 31. Export Projected Blockout Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  32. 32. Paint Over Projected Blockout Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  33. 33. Refine Mesh Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  34. 34. Why? Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  35. 35. Budgeting / Scope Estimation 160 ITEMS IN A SPREAD SHEET 2.317 ITEMS IN HANSOFT Validation Gameplay Tech #1 Art Tech #2 Budgeting
  36. 36. What we have learned so far  There are a lot of people out their who want our game!  It is doable:  A sandbox without quests or PvE = not a lot of art assets  Projection Mapping & Humanoids = sane art pipeline  Unity & Photon make a proven team for all your MMO needs  Pre-Production will eat up all your time if you let it  Proper pre-production is less fun than prototyping / jamming
  37. 37. Where we are right now  We have finished pre-pro.  We know what to make, how to make it and with whom.  Now we need the cash to pay everybody for their work.  My current job: investor relations
  38. 38. Thanks & Please Get In Touch  Fairytale Distillery UG (haftungsbeschränkt)  München, Werk 1  Alexander Zacherl  alex@fairydist.com  +1 (0) 163 685 23 65  Dev-Blog & Forum @ http://das-tal-game.com  Steam Greenlight Concepts, IndieDB, FB & Twitter

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