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Biz: Athenge, game design, web games
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The big project I’ve mentioned is a web-based game: in 5-20 minutes per day, you recruit and send out your roster of secret agents on operations from secret bases in an online world made up of your friends and hundreds of thousands of other players.
There’s a lot to that high-level description, so let me unpack it one piece at a time:
- You play in your browser, no plugins or downloads. This opens the game up to the widest possible audience, but imposes a lot of restrictions: no fancy UI, no 3D graphics, limited animation. So the game must be more cerebral than action-oriented, and a turn-based game is a natural fit.
- 5-20 minutes per day
- In a day’s typical session, you’ll issue commands in ongoing operations, give base construction orders, and check the mail and forums for news from your allies. It will fit into your life rather than taking hours to play, though if you particularly enjoy it you could spend more time.
- roster of secret agents
- You’ll begin with a small team of two or three agents under your command. Agents aren’t like characters in an RPG, they don’t “level up” or have innate skills — what you choose to equip them with determines what abilities they’ll have available for use in…
- These are the heart of the game: equip and deploy your agents with and against other players. Make tactical choices and know the mind of your opponent to succeed. Turns are simultaneous, so you make your move anytime during the day and all the action occurs when everyone’s done so.
- Base construction works in real-time: you give the command to expand the barracks and construction will finish in a few real-life hours or days. The facilities you construct will let you collect and store resources, produce equipment for your agents, and reach out into the world.
- online world
- The operations you undertake will influence the world that all players (who speak your language) share.
- Form alliances with your coworkers or fellow students, or with players from halfway around the world. You’ll work together on both operations and bases.
- hundreds of thousands of players
- Typically web games end up sharding to cope with the volume of players. By careful game and system design, I think I can build a single vibrant world split only by language.
My next game post will be about my goal in designing a game about (of all things) commanding a secret agency. Also, I’ve avoided cluttering this with references to the all the games I was influenced or inspired by and will be posting about the most important half-dozen.
And, yes, I badly need to come up with a name for this game.