Polygon Thread of Indie Development


A while ago, I created a thread, partly because I was interested to know just how many people here have development skills, and partly because I legitimately want to work with people on the game. While my situation's better than it was, life is still somewhat precarious. The degree I came to school to earn has taught me next to nothing. I can build cubes in Lightwave. Sometimes, I can move them around on cameras.

As I expressed on our Podcast, Polynauts LIVE, last semester was... pretty much a wash. I took a required--but useless--engineering class, spent a semester playing around in Second Life, and messed around with ActionScript and Procedural generation. The department fell down around my head, and I was one of the guys who helped fix things. I've learned very little at school that I didn't already know. I had hoped to learn practical skills--level design, texturing, modeling, or something similar--but this was not to be.

I graduate in less than a year. I have no skills to be employable. It's not to say I have no skills, because I do, but the skills I possess are the skills that tend to include "have worked on # AAA titles" listed in the hiring requirements section.

I want to make games. You have no idea how much I want to makes games. And, at this stage, I firmly believe that the only way to actually become employable in the industry is to actually make a game. I know many of you possess various game skills, and I know that at least some of you are presently attempting to find jobs in the industry.

So... I propose an arrangement: we work together on a game, leveraging our various skills, in order to get something in our portfolios that potential employers will be jealous of. Maybe we sell it, maybe we distribute it for free, maybe we start our studio and do our own thing, or maybe we just part ways afterwards. I don't really know, or care, at this point. What I want to do, right now, is making something and go "hey, I worked on this, and it's good enough that people want to hire me."

Personally, I'm open to working on just about anything, and I'm especially open to learning other skills on the job. I would, of course, prefer to do writing and RP systems design more than anything else.

I've got some various game suggestions, and I know many of you have your own. If you're interested in working on any of these... let's work something out.

* Aftershock: Think about Half-Life and System Shock (imagine the hype about Bioshock being true and you've got System Shock) having a baby. The game merges the gameplay finesse of Half-Life with the intelligent narrative of the latter, while using the immersive world-building strengths of both. The idea is that the player mutates throughout the game, getting new abilities, such as a tentacle that can grapple or an Alien-like wall-crawling ability. A major goal is to explore themes of humanity and transhumanism.

* An Isometric RPG: Dragon Age: Origins, Planescape: Torment, Fallout 1 and 2. These are the games that defined roleplaying for years. I'd like to make a game like it, except instead of having some dumb-ass fantasy world, you actually play as a person (various origins available!) who is recruited into an army that makes its way across a bone and worm-strewn desert (imagine a level on the back of a giant worm, or carved into bones the size of towers?) to a fortress overlooking an endless abyss. This fortress guards a bridge which leads to a cliff on the other side, which you must then climb... only to discover that you were trapped in the underworld, and you have just escaped. Now, you are one of the undead, and you, and the army of the damned you serve, must explore the world above in order to find the means to regain life, while your efforts are subverted by the Necromancers, who wish to control you, and everybody else, who really don't like draugr like you.

* That game wot I mentioned on the podcast: You play in a sort of anime-inspired world, with a simplistic art style and a gentle color palette. It's a mix of slice of life, coupled with that overbearing, desperate feel of Saikano or The Place Promised in Our Early Days. Basically, it's a role-playing game, but unlike traditional ones, it's not about stats or anything, but the choices you make. Basically, it's a summer on an island in a mid-70s world, it's the year before you graduate and leave for university, there's a war on, and the army is building a massive superweapon between you and the mainland. You can do a lot of things--fall in love, steal a bike, go fishing, play arcade games, kill a hobo, get a job, go bowling, make a movie, whatever. To do activities, you spend time, like a currency. When your time's spent, you return to school, the teacher asks you what you did over the summer, you open your mouth to answer... and the game quits to credits.

* Ur Adventure: "Hey, [Dark Lord/Adventurer/Destined Hero], from the land of Ur, it looks like [you've been deposed/there's a giant named Otis terrorizing the townspeople/you've been chosen to destroy our mushroom overlords]!" Ur Adventure is an odd game, but, I think, a cool one. Essentially, it randomly selects one of the main quests it has, then randomly selects the missions that go along with it, then creates towns based on those quests, then creates people for those towns, and so on and so forth. Ideally, it'd function like an SNES-era RPG, but with the massive replayability that comes through its procedural generation. This, more than anything else, seems like it would be the game I could provide the most help on, because I can design everything from combat to quests (and how they fit together) to the game's rules for building towns and worlds.

* Space Guys: Okay, admittedly, this needs a new name. The idea is that you, on the run from various people, have a battered old space ship. It's a mix of Mass Effect and Homeworld. That is, like Mass Effect, you can fly around the galaxy and dock at various ports (not sure if we'd want to go with third person, first person, or what), where you get missions. These missions will be played out like Homeworld's--that is, a 3D, in-space RTS. Money earned from missions lets you pay for mercs, buy new ships, buy your own base, do research, and stuff like that.

* The Game Like XCOM That Totally Isn't: I liked the IDEA of the XCOM FPS; early 60s X-Files game, with lots of adventure gaming and horror elements, rather than just shooting. That's not to say shooting isn't awesome--shooting is totally awesome--but divorced from the concept of the original turn-based strategy games, the idea of this paranoid, first-person adventure game really appeals to me. I'd like to put the emphasis on being a Man in Black, seeing the threat from the other side of the curtain of secrecy. I'd like players to feel that they desperately need to, say, warn a guy away from looking to far into alien investigations, for instance. Levels would be discrete--you'd have a base, the base would give you missions, you could choose which missions to go on, which partners to take with you, and then you would go on the missions. Sometimes, the missions would be a total wash, with no alien presence whatsoever. Other times, it'd be less about confronting aliens and more about simply observing, or, as I mentioned, warning conspiracy theorists away from the invasion.

Anyways, those are some of the ideas I have. Dunno if any of them sound appealing, but I do feel that with simplistic, yet stylized visuals, most of them could be produced a lot more rapidly than those indie teams that try really hard to make games that look AAA levels of awesomeness.

Any interest? I've got a mostly-complete document for Aftershock already done, if anyone wants to talk about it privately. I'll use basically any form of internet communication, though I find that live stuff, like Skype or Steam chat, is vastly superior to email, so I'd prefer to use messengers.