Tearing Down and Building Up
Hello. It's been a while, hasn't it? I have reasons and excuses, but most of them aren't really very interesting. No, really. I mean it. Nothing to...
...okay, I'm lying.
Since September, I've been building bits of this game, trying them out, rewriting them, trying again, refocusing on some different aspect of the huge design and then coming back to do that little circuit all over again.
As this was driving me insane, I also decided to learn how to model in 3D which ate another chunk of time.
I promised I'd try and make this blog useful, and I intend to keep that promise where possible. This involves making the world aware of when projects go a bit wrong, rather than always focusing on the positive, and hopefully help people avoid the same pitfalls.
Everyone knows what a Turducken is, yes? That weird thing served in the US at Thanksgiving to illustrate quite how a massive cull of wildfowl can be crammed into a single dish? Some people think it looks delicious. To me, it looks kind of like the world's worst Star Trek transporter accident, or a deleted scene from The Fly 2.
Some people claim it is delicious. I am not convinced. Due to this, I am sure nobody in their right mind would think it a good idea for me to try making one. Bear with me. This is relevant. BeMuse has/had become somewhat of a Turducken. And we all know what the first syllable of that is, don't we? Not good. At last count, BeMuse was about 5 different games:
- Demon summoning, bargaining and defeating
- Exploration, secrets, rumours and lies
- Personal interpretation of rituals
- Multi-user Interaction
- Endless gameplay
Trying to massage these into a whole, solid thing has been extraordinarily painful, and has resulted in a messy concoction that is going to take more effort to straighten out than I have time to implement those changes. Nasty. After my experiences with Incoboto (which had turned into a Roguelike at one point, remember!), I swore I'd never do this again... and yet have done it again.
As such, I have decided to focus my efforts entirely on the first two.
What Have You Learned?
This is easy.
"DO NOT TRY TO EMPHASISE EVERY PART OF A MULTI-ASPECT GAME"
"KNOW WHAT YOUR GAME IS REALLY ABOUT!"
I am better at creating linear experiences and mood than I am at developing complex, interacting systems. Despite this, with BeMuse I had five aspects of the game competing with each other, daily. My notion of creating a complex system was to try and get lots of elements of the game in... and to a finished level of quality. Yes, I know prototyping isn't supposed to work like that, but just one more hour and this inventory system will work really nicely!
Of course, this idiocy also leads you to start believing that every part of the game you start working on is the most important. I have no other partners working on this project, so there's nobody to say, "Hang on... why are you spending so much time on that?" The net result is that it's easy to start 'cycling'. As each new part of the game is emphasised, all the others get pushed out of the way, broken, or mistreated. One glance over your shoulder and you say: "Crap! Must go back and fix those bits... and polish them... and..." It is the very definition of a vicious circle.
This can all be avoided by knowing what ONE thing your game is about. If you think it's about more than one thing, you're probably wrong... or bolting two games together.
Competing foci pull a game apart.
BeMuse - What is it about?
"BeMuse is the story of a small child who learns about the Demons that inhabit his world, and slowly learns to defeat them through exploration and ritual magic."
"BeMuse is a series of stories framing opportunities for experimentation and discovery."
That's it. Many of the other elements of the game as described previously are still present, but if they get a bit broken along the way, I shan't worry too much, because the game is about stories.
And that is enough.
I'll leave you with a totem illustrating four of the major demons in the game. I shall not tell you their names, as they are words of power (and spoilers!). I'd hate people to be eaten from the inside-out by tiny spiders they inadvertently summoned up. That would be bad.
If the game works out, I may well get this tattooed onto my right arm as a reminder not to lose focus quite so badly in the future. Thanks for your patience.
Lovely game you have here
11/23/2013 01:49:28 pm
There are currently 3 games I am waiting on:
Lovely game you have here
11/23/2013 01:52:41 pm
Scratch that, Planet of the Z-Bots just came out :)
Rub a dub dub
12/23/2013 01:29:24 pm
Really, there's always a first for everything. Maybe this game might actually work, focusing on all aspects of gameplay. You ought to release this into a closed alpha or something so that people, not just you or your friends, can give you an honest opinion of what they feel this game could become.
12/23/2013 01:31:08 pm
It's fun making all these usernames, but I seem to be the only one commenting on all these posts - First! (For the past 3 or so)
12/23/2013 04:40:51 pm
Yipe. Somehow missed this!
12/27/2013 02:10:00 am
Not to bash you or your judgement or anything, but shouldn't your game-players be the ones to tell you how your game feels to them, and possibly how to make adjustment to fit the feel that they think would suit the game? Also, I say you should make the game available on iTunes first because people, namely me, like having portable games when they go places. (No need to make it free, though. I got I $50 App Store gift card for Christmas, and I wanna use it)
Matter Eater Lad
12/24/2013 02:11:44 am
That sounds dandy, but I'm not gonna ask for a release date - remember that whole Eden World Builder thing?
12/26/2013 03:07:13 am
Honestly, I think you would easily be able to include the last two. That's how MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Club Penguin, and Toontown got so popular. People love endless multiplayer. I mean, Toontown was so popular that the fans programmed a new one after Disney gave it up. Even all the big-name console games, like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed have Multiplayer, which gives them endless gameplay. I think what I'm trying to say is that, give your games multiplayer, and they will become endless. Also, multiplayer games are generally more popular than just single player nowadays.
12/27/2013 01:18:52 am
I see what you mean, but there are many, many popular games that do not include multiplayer and are better able to focus on the single-player mode because of it. This makes them more fun. Take Plants vs. Zombies for example. If Popcap had focused more upon a multiplayer mode, then the great single player mode that attracted everyone might have been worse or non-existent.
12/27/2013 01:28:34 am
I'm not saying that the game should be focused on multiplayer. Assassin's Creed is mostly single-player, but has a nice multiplayer built in. The fact is, the game could have a single player mode and a multiplayer arena or hub where people could interact by, say, summoning the demons they had captured at each other.
12/27/2013 01:46:01 am
Well, it doesn't matter what you think, so long as Dene thinks its a fun idea. Aside from that, I'm wondering how you first came to this blog, cause I can only really think of two ways - Incoboto and Fable
12/27/2013 01:56:28 am
I've never actually played Fable - I like Nintendo and Sony more than Microsoft systems. I did, however, download Incoboto when I saw it on the App Store, cause it looked interesting and was the app of the week. After playing it (and being a little disappointed that there weren't really any secrets that I could unlock with the Jetpack cause it had beaten the game) I thought, "hey, that was fun, maybe this guy has more games," and checked the credits. I saw his blog, and I came to it, and I saw the posts on Bemuse, and I said, "that looks like fun." I think the reason I wanted more like Incoboto was because of its puzzle mechanics - the puzzles weren't just repetitive, like so many other games are, but they had lots of intricate parts and things interacting. That's a big reason that games like Tiny Thief and the Eyezmaze Grow games are popular - people like seeing new things interact.
12/27/2013 01:59:01 am
This is probably the neatest comments section on any blog in history. I can't see a single spelling mistake or any internet abbreviation (aside from MMORPG)
12/27/2013 02:00:45 am
ik rite ths is so totes perfectly pretty commends
12/27/2013 02:56:49 am
Holy hell, this just got busy!
12/27/2013 03:37:08 am
Tee hee! All these posts have been made by one person:
12/27/2013 03:38:09 am
Liar! They were all made by me:
12/27/2013 03:39:58 am
No, they were made by me:
12/27/2013 03:41:17 am
Boys, boys, boys. Calm down.
12/27/2013 03:54:01 am
Maybe not an MMORPG per se, but a sort of hub or or area which the player can access once he beats a certain demon that lets him talk to or show his "collection" of demon souls to people (and rumormonger freely). Probably should be separate from the actual game, especially in the iPad version (where the single player mode should be accessible w/o Wifi)
12/27/2013 02:57:52 am
Oh, and thanks for the kind words on Inco, folks!
Mr. Trolololol Jr.
12/27/2013 03:10:40 am
Not to be sarcastic or anything, but:
12/27/2013 03:16:16 am
Is there a paternal link between Mr. Incoboto and Bemuse? I require this information for my database. Also, it has become apparent to me that Helios is a friendly demon.
Mr. Trololol Jr.
12/27/2013 03:23:07 am
3/22/2014 12:24:10 pm
Ha! You seemed to have ignored this guy to death, even with his previous quotation of you!
3/23/2014 04:04:47 am
GDC slowed things down a bit. On the other hand, seeing such amazing work out there from other indies has been really inspirational. More news a little later this week.
12/27/2013 03:28:27 am
You said, on the forum, that you were gonna post some videos? Not to bug you or anything...
12/27/2013 04:22:03 am
We demand a new post!
12/27/2013 04:22:39 am
How do you know what we demand? Let Dene do as he pleases
12/27/2013 04:23:23 am
I agree with John - also, how bout that playable mini-version you promised in August?
12/27/2013 04:24:16 am
Boys, boys, boys. Do calm down.
12/27/2013 04:38:34 am
I think Dene has stopped reading all this ceaseless dithering on this one post, but if he reads this, I suggest going back and reading all posts - many contain useful information or ideas for Bemuse.
12/29/2013 02:52:04 am
Dene reads all posts, silly or not.
12/29/2013 04:32:22 am
Then make a video post! (Please)
12/29/2013 08:30:57 am
I'm so bored...
1/12/2014 07:29:31 am
C'mon now, we want updates!
1/18/2014 11:17:09 pm
Patience is a virtue. But demons are sin.
1/19/2014 12:25:41 pm
You mean a vice?
1/19/2014 12:30:38 pm
But I digress. Would you consider Bemuse to be able to be put into a "closed alpha" stage yet? That's what Toontown rewritten is doing, and there development seems to be going on rather smoothly. To be blunt, I think you should let us play it the way it is now, sans most polished features, so we can provide advice better than we can now. (our enjoyment of it is just a plus)
1/22/2014 12:03:54 am
I don't have a twitter, I can't tell what's going on with this game. It's been months since you put out a post here, have you given up on this blog? I hope not.
6/12/2014 08:05:28 pm
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Fluttermind’s director, Dene Carter, is a games industry veteran of over 25 years, and co-founder of Big Blue Box Studios, creators of the Fable franchise for the XBox and XBox 360.