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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsShady Political Rouge(ish) - Devlog 8: Alive.
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oldblood
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« on: September 12, 2016, 06:10:06 pm »

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far...” - Theodore Roosevelt, US President

DEVLOG I.

After spending some time post my epic fantasy project, I threw around a lot of ideas... Including not trying another project in 2016. After a lot of deliberation and talks with friends, I decided to jump back in this year with a project of a slightly smaller scale...

...A game about creating a politician and lying, cheating and blackmailing your way to the Presidency. There are other political simulator games out there. But none that really embrace what politics is truly about. The mud-slinging, the digging, the stabbing... In short, this was really inspired by the 2016 race for President in the US and "the Brexit" with our buddies over in the UK.

THE CONCEPT: FTL meets House of Cards. A satirical turn-based game of politics, corruption and power. A narrative rogue-like with an emphasis on the “rogue”. Take control of a randomly generated (or custom designed) political candidate and lead them to victory over your colleagues and opposition alike. Build your platform, hide your past, cover your tracks, dig up dirt, debate and win the hearts of the people! Decisions, decisions, decisions! Sure, your political intentions may be pure- but you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet...

***

You should only make games about something you're passionate about. The funny thing is that I hate politics. But I think maybe I passionately hate politics? This should be a fun way to work through my anger and disappointment while teaching gamers a valuable lesson of the dark side of politics.

I've spent the last 3 weeks laying the ground-work for the game:

     ● Documenting: This will be a text and menu-heavy game, I've got to sort out a LOT of systems and databases that connect to each other seamlessly. No use prototyping anything if you don't fully understand how it works on paper. Fast forward 25-30 pages of documents later...
     ● Prototyping: Working with my friend from the last project again. Been reviewing the design and documents and trying to prioritize the key features.
     ● Project Management: Setup a massive trello page to manage the entire game and a few "sub trellos" for managing sprints.
     ● Look & Feel Ideas: Just starting to dip the toe into figuring out the look and feel of the game. Don't have anything to show here but I have some pretty cool ideas for the game's aesthetic and I'm excited to see how true to vision it turns out.

One of the first big feature tests was slapping together some doodles and prototyping out the "paper doll system" that will be the foundation of character customization:

The initial look at character customization! Just ignore that mock-up art okay?

Sure it's hard on the eyes and is just a skeleton but it's a foundation. A shared skeleton/rig/animation with customizable parts and colors. Lots of ways to build on that with a character creator. More updates with some actual test artwork is on the horizon...

...In the interim, I'm all ears on feedback, questions or suggestions. More to come.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 06:59:00 pm by oldblood » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 05:57:33 am »

DEVLOG II.

So currently working on a few aspects right now, targeting a few key components. Obviously, still working on the character customization. But in addition, working through how an Event System would work. This is basically exactly what it sounds like, a system that periodically throughout the game pops up with some sort of political event and the player is presented with multiple ways to respond to this event (which will have good, bad or useless results on your campaign).

To complicate the event system, it will also be taking into account "Traits" which will be various characteristics your politician will have that are either there based on selections you made when creating your candidate or also randomly assigned. These traits give you the ability to also respond to events in ways other than a traditional Yes/No sort of way and allow for a very diverse number of results all coming from the same event.

The Event System is likely going to be driven by a very, very, very large database. I will probably write more devlogs on this in the future as it is nailed down as this will be a huge part of the design process for me in terms of coming up with events, responses and results. More on this later.

***

Also working to nail down the "look and feel" of the characters (which will likely drive the rest of the aesthetic). One of my goals with the game is to feature a lot of the darker side of politics. To help juxtapose some of the darker side of the design, I'd like to use characters that follow a more traditional cartoon style that feels a bit "over the top".

This is a style that I'm incapable of working in, so I will be working with a friend of mine named Oleg who I've worked with in other games. We're currently working on nailing down the characters and making changes to what all body parts they have/need and how that changes the UI system we have in place.

I thought I'd go ahead and share some of the initial tests to help give an idea as to what we're aiming for:

Male & Female Candidates. Look & Feel.

Sorting out body parts and making sure movement works...
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2016, 11:59:26 am »

This sounds like a very interesting concept, and I look forward to following this some more. I have been a fan of your dev logs, and love all the detail you put into them. Cant wait to see what you come up with next!
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2016, 05:33:07 am »

Thanks PixelDensity! Appreciate that.

DEVLOG III.

Still messing around with trying to find the "look and feel". Here are a few more test concepts experimenting with varied body parts. These don't work as actual useable parts since they're colored (the final art will be white to allow for custom colors):


Not overly keen on the shiny/plastic look but we'll see. Hoping to get some workable files completed over the next week and actually put into the game to replace the placeholder roughs.

Also working on more of the foundational stuff that's needed for the character customization. Added in some randomization that will allow the system to generate unique names, characteristics, traits and appearance for the candidates. So you will be able to roll with your own hand-crafted candidate or roll the dice. Randomness will be a big part of the game with a variety of things being random like your opponents, the events that occur throughout the campaign and even things like the geography.

Here are looks at the name randomization and assigning points to some of the key characteristics you will have access to:

Names are tied to gender so female candidates will have their own database.

Assigning a score to various characteristics.

Characteristics will dictate how good (or bad) your candidate will be at various political functions. Charisma being tied to your abilities to communicate, which in turn dictate how well people respond to your speeches. Intellect determines your level of intelligence, and very high or low scores can trigger various unique traits (more on traits later). Stamina determines how much you can do every turn, although I may actually remove this characteristic. TBD. Fund-raising is pretty self-explanatory, the higher the score, the better your fund-raisers will be. Religion indicates how religious you are of course. People expect candidates to have a healthy (or active) view on religion so the less religious you are, the harder a sell you will be. Appearance is how attractive you are. This is subjective of course, but your marketing campaigns and interviews will likely go better if you're not an eye-sore.

Your score with certain characteristics will also generate "Traits". I will go into more detail on traits in the future, but the short answer is traits allow you to respond to political events with more unique responses which can drastically change the results of various events. More on this later.
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2016, 06:02:26 am »

I love political games :D (you could check out The Invisible Hand for that matter, in my signature)

Good luck with it, your concept looks so fun, and you art is so appropriate :p
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2016, 04:38:38 am »

Wow, this is a *lot* more interesting than the fantasy project in my opinion.

The reason why I followed your Masochisia is because, while more an interactive story than a full-fledged game, it was pioneering and exploring rarely visited areas. In the end, while I like the art, it wasn't my cup of tea because it was more story driven than gameplay driven.

Regardless, the game itself was very interesting because of its concept and willingness to explore a dark and delicate theme.

When I read that your next project was going to be more mainstream and fantasy based, I was disappointed. It was such a drastic change from the bold, creative endeavor of Masochisia. Gone were the unique personality so to speak, it was just, to my eyes, one more fantasy cookie cutter game to add in the faceless crowd of the genre.

I really find this project concept interesting. I'm not as taken by it as I was with Masochisia (but then again, I like dark themes) but it's certainly a great move forward from the fantasy game. I appreciate the creativity and can't help but feel it's your true artistic colors showing. We're back in the pioneer approach that made Masochisia such an interesting project to follow.

The art is very different but has a nice personality touch to it. I'm not sure about those skeletal animations, this was something I like the least in the artistic approach of Masochisia but I don't think there's really any avoiding it. I hope you'll find a way to instill life in the actual animations so that they feel less like puppets and more like real people. I mean, I hope you'll find a way to sort of make the pivot points less obvious and more "natural" looking?

Following, of course.


EDIT:

Just finished reading the other devlog:

Quote
Masochisia seemed to be a personal game, where as you went more for a commercially viable game here. Do you think that contributed to lack of enthusiasm/belief in this game?

Quote
Additionally, I find that I'm not driven by any deep passion to push the project harder as I have been on previous games and I believe this fully stems from not being 100% behind the concept at some level mentally.

Turns out my impressions were confirmed after reading the last message. I think what happened here is that going more commercial ended up making the project impersonal which eroded your motivation.

I hope you'll find a good middle ground between having a project which brings you enough income on your investment while remaining something personal and driven by your own unique interests.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2016, 04:46:34 am by Zizka » Logged

oldblood
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2016, 04:55:15 am »

@Babar: Thanks! Will definitely check out the Invisible Hand, unique twist on the trading genre.

@Zizka: Thanks, yeah its definitely a project I'm more passionate about so that certainly makes it much easier to work on. I agree that the skeletal animation is no where near as good as frame by frame, but that's just not an area where I have any talent and finding the talent (or budget) to work on that is tougher. I haven't really touched the animations yet, so don't look too closely there haha.

DEVLOG IV.

Well, after messing around with a few more styles and struggling to find one that worked well within the constraints of the customization/randomization system- netted out on a more comic book style that works well with what we have. It's not quite as cartoony as I originally aimed for, but it works for now and gives a base to build off of.

Also got the randomization working across a variety of fronts including:

     ● Name
     ● Gender
     ● Political Party
     ● Candidate Background
     ● Skintone & Clothing Colors
     ● Characteristics
     ● Personality Traits (not seen below)

Still WIP, but fully functional.

The randomization all applies to the same skeleton, so I only have to rig and animate and single character to get all of the candidates moving (will obviously need some randomization on various types of animations down the road). Below is a GIF showing the randomization in action. Don't mind the broken skeleton or animation, I haven't touched the original placeholder (you will notice its the same exact animation as the original GIF I made with placeholder art).

Yes, I'm aware how bad the animation is. IT'S THE ORIGINAL PLACEHOLDER OKAY?!

This example is with just a two body types, two heads and a handful of custom parts. BUT-- it shows the proof of concept well. With a large batch of custom parts, the end results should be quite diverse. There are still a few more things I'd like to add in. I want to make small things like teeth color variable and we need offsets so that the placement of things like eyes, nose, mouth etc can either be customized or randomized to add further diversity.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2016, 05:34:07 pm by oldblood » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2016, 07:36:08 am »

DEVLOG V.

Work is occurring on a few fronts now:

     ● FTL-Inspired Event System & Database
     ● More Male Character Customization
     ● Foundation for Staff & Agents

Primarily, I will just talk about the FTL-inspired event system. The additional male customization is exactly what it sounds like- taking the system that works and updating it from just a few random parts to a lot of randomized parts. Once that is done, I will likely loop back to character customization to add in a few of those other options as well like offsets. Once male customization is done, will move onto female candidates- but thats still a ways out from now at this point.

Also laying the groundwork for a system that allows you to hire and fire Staff & Agents for your political campaign. Staff are key members within your organization like a Campaign Manager, Finance Director and Press Secretary. Agents can be a wide variety of things, but will talk more about that in the next devlog.

For Events, I was looking for something that will force decisions on the player on a regular basis. Decisions that will impact your policy, promises, peoples awareness of you, scandal and of course- voters. These events will pop up on a regular basis as you play. The topics will range from serious social issues, hot political topics, light-hearted humor, and responding to hundreds of situations and scandals. Below is a look at the foundation of the event system, inspired by FTL's events:

WIP of Event System.

In this GIF, you can see some various aspects to events:

1. Diverse topics.
2. A range of responses. By default, you will get 2 responses to any event. Your traits and vices (Ultra-Religious, Liar, Racist, Sexist etc.) give you other optional responses to different situation. Potential for many outcomes to every event.
3. Responses impact a variety of areas, not just voters. But Awareness (higher your awareness, the better your speeches/marketing do) and Scandal (higher your scandal, increased chance of a Major Event triggering).
4. Variable elements to response, will pull in your name, opponent names and have other variable elements to mix up the events.
5. Every response will have at least 2 outcomes for further diversity.

It's all powered by a MASSIVE database. Will have to share some gifs or vids of this down the road. Each event will have up to 60+ columns of data and responses. And there will be hundreds and hundreds of events (500+). Working on this database will be a huge part of the game, I'm currently concepting out event ideas and have about 250 ideas notated thus far. More on the event database later...
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2016, 05:57:12 am »

DEVLOG VI.

Laid the foundation for Staff & Agents/Consultants. The game wont get too deep into the weeds here, but will allow you to hire some key staff for your campaign including the Campaign Manager, Finance Director and Press Secretary. Each staff member will help your campaign in various aspects based on their role and experience level. Agents & Consultants will have special roles and I will cover them in a separate devlog later on.

You will be able to hire or fire the staff at will, and will be able to browse a randomly generated pool of talent with potential candidates at various talent levels and salary requirements. It may be tempting to replace a mediocre staff when you find a better candidate down the road but firing key staff could potentially make headlines so you have to make these decisions carefully. The staff will also progressively improve in their roles the longer they employed. So a cheaper staff member will improve as they progress. Here is a quick breakdown of where the staff impacts your campaign:

Campaign Manager: Your right hand man (or woman). A good Campaign Manager can help keep your dirt hidden away and keep you on point.

Finance Director: The money man/woman. The better your Finance Director is, the more money you will be able to raise at fundraisers and the cheaper advertising will be.

Press Secretary: They manage your message and their quality will help dictate the response to your advertising efforts across television, print, rally and social media.

WIP Staff Hire/Fire
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2016, 11:43:59 pm »

Hi,
I followed you in your masochisia thread, then your start an another project but it seemed too inappropriate for you.
Now, you come up with an interesting projet, very actual..and it looks great  Grin !


Did you make all the code and the art?


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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2016, 01:13:28 am »

I don't know if you've locked down the art style yet, but I must say that I became a little disappointed when you didn't continue with the muppets look, which to me is much more refreshing than the current ink style you're going for. I think there's been a few games that has made it big as of late with this approach. Of course it's subjective if that particular style is saturated, I mean, I still think my own game with low poly can stand its own and that's much more saturated.

But I also think it can be good for personal growth, since if you're working without line work you've to build characters more as a painter than as a drawer/draftsman (don't know the best word in English). And I'm also selfish and want more muppets in video games. Smiley


Other than that I'm really keen to see where this game is going!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 01:57:25 am by Greipur » Logged

oldblood
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2016, 05:31:39 am »

I followed you in your masochisia thread, then your start an another project but it seemed too inappropriate for you. Now, you come up with an interesting projet, very actual..and it looks great  Grin ! Did you make all the code and the art?

Hi Lionel! Thanks for the comment (and following the other projects I've been involved with). Glad to hear you find this one interesting! The art is done by a friend of mine named Oleg, I mentioned him in Devlog 2 but it probably got a bit buried behind my walls of text! I have a lot less time with my day job than I've had in the past so I've partnered with some people to help on this project. Oleg is managing the whole look and feel for this game.

I don't know if you've locked down the art style yet, but I must say that I became a little disappointed when you didn't continue with the muppets look, which to me is much more refreshing than the current ink style you're going for. I think there's been a few games that has made it big as of late with this approach. Of course it's subjective if that particular style is saturated, I mean, I still think my own game with low poly can stand its own and that's much more saturated.


I actually agree with you. I mentioned it earlier in the devlog, but it seems it was missed but I'm actually working with a friend of mine named Oleg. We worked together about 4 or so years ago on other projects and he agreed to take the lead on art for this project. My original vision was to go for a more cartoony "muppet" look as you suggested but I gave Oleg the ability with whatever design he felt he wanted most. We did try a variety of styles, he is a pretty talented artist but this is the style he has decided to settle on for now. That maybe subject to change in the future, but for now- where we are. One of his concerns being the rising popularity of the look, which as you said- may or may not be a valid concern as its subjective but-- is what it is.

He's currently working on some additional components for the male character and then shifting over to getting females implemented. I'm still focusing on fleshing out the massive event database with hundreds of event ideas and figuring out how the map system is going to work... My goal is to have enough political events that you could play a campaign through 10 or 12 times without hitting the same political events and having enough responses and outcomes to those events to create thousands of possibilities. We'll see...
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2016, 07:06:32 am »

I don't know if you've locked down the art style yet, but I must say that I became a little disappointed when you didn't continue with the muppets look, which to me is much more refreshing than the current ink style you're going for. I think there's been a few games that has made it big as of late with this approach. Of course it's subjective if that particular style is saturated, I mean, I still think my own game with low poly can stand its own and that's much more saturated.


I actually agree with you. I mentioned it earlier in the devlog, but it seems it was missed but I'm actually working with a friend of mine named Oleg. We worked together about 4 or so years ago on other projects and he agreed to take the lead on art for this project. My original vision was to go for a more cartoony "muppet" look as you suggested but I gave Oleg the ability with whatever design he felt he wanted most. We did try a variety of styles, he is a pretty talented artist but this is the style he has decided to settle on for now. That maybe subject to change in the future, but for now- where we are. One of his concerns being the rising popularity of the look, which as you said- may or may not be a valid concern as its subjective but-- is what it is.

He's currently working on some additional components for the male character and then shifting over to getting females implemented. I'm still focusing on fleshing out the massive event database with hundreds of event ideas and figuring out how the map system is going to work... My goal is to have enough political events that you could play a campaign through 10 or 12 times without hitting the same political events and having enough responses and outcomes to those events to create thousands of possibilities. We'll see...


Yeah, I didn't look that closely to be honest. It makes sense for the resources you have. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2016, 02:17:28 pm »

DEVLOG VII.

The last few weeks have absolutely flown by. Development has continued, albeit a bit quieter. Development continues on several fronts that I outlined previously, just at a slower pace than I hoped. The ground-work is being laid for a map system. One that lets you jump around between States and then find randomly generated cities within each state.

More rough placeholder art...

The goal is for the player to navigate a changing national map comprised of various states. Within these states will be a variety of towns, cities and metropolitan areas that will be randomly laid out. Some functionality that doesn't exist yet is the ability to stop at each town or city to give speeches, hold rallies or do various types of marketing and promotion. As you can see in the GIF above, you will also periodically encounter various random events as you travel across the states.

As you can see, the town layout isn't that great- so some values need to adjusted there. Obviously all the art is placeholder as the functionality gets laid out...

...We are still in progress though on visuals. Don't have a lot to show yet, but the male candidate is still being developed out to include a lot more body parts. Here is a quick sneak peak at the WIP on some of the new components.

Male Candidate - Still WIP But Growing
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2017, 07:50:08 pm »

DEVLOG VIII.

My goodness, blink a few times and months have passed between updates. I'm still alive, the project's still alive. Lots of craziness with holidays, lots of travel, my partner moving across the country... All leading to some significant downtime to start the year- but here we are... So back to it shall we?

***

So after some nudging from a few friends and just generally not being overtly pleased with the overall look and feel of the characters. Guess who went back to the drawing board? (Again). Yup.

Back to cartoons...

Reverted back to the original over-the-top cartoon style. Wasn't a fun decision, as it means literally throwing out a decent amount of character work that was already complete but I do believe long-term it will be for the benefit and its just a style that I think juxtaposes the semi-serious undertones.

The goal is to be "back" to where we were with character art by the end of February. Not sure if that's possible- but it's what the goal is. So ideally, in the next few weeks there should be a lot more character art to see as we nail down some looks and start replacing out whats in the game currently. Hopefully, that will also include female candidates.

***

In other news, lots of random other components being touched. Most of which isn't visible at this time. The "Events Database" which is going to be a massive database driving well... the events... in the game has been fleshed out with over 600 random political events that could occur (enough to play the game 10x in a row without the same event populating) and now I need to get started on fleshing out the thousands of potential responses to these events and then the results to the responses. It's as huge an under-taking as it sounds. I suspect it will take several hundred hours to complete. Sadly, not an exaggeration.

The skeleton of your political opponents has begun to appear as well. They dont do much but travel around the map at the moment, but they will start getting fleshed out soon.

Something I CAN show you...

Also starting to make some headway on the music side. My good friend Jake Wilkins (who also did the Masochisia soundtrack) has been tasked with creating music that is FAR different this time around. In our early tests thus far, I'd say he is hitting it out of the park with these mood tests.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts:

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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2017, 05:26:12 am »

Welcome back, I guess you get daily fuel for this project now when each day feels like one wakes up to a scandal. I think the decision to go back to the earlier art style is a wise one, I think some subjects deserve an art style that takes the edge off its serious side.

Not sure I'm sold on the music though, feels too bombastic and not "roguish" enough, and now I meant thematically. Wink Being a sleazy cutthroat politician has a different soundtrack in my mind, or maybe you want an intentional split between what you hear and see?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2017, 06:59:47 am by Greipur » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2017, 06:39:31 am »

Just posting to follow and catch up on it later! Smiley
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