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Meanwhile, Fun Space Game: The Game (still a working title) needs a plot

You can't be taught the right way to write, it depends on what works for you. That's why I dropped out of high school. Personally, I never work out the full details of stories before I start writing them, because I find there's no faster way to lose interest. I just throw some characters into a situation and see what happens. The plot, themes and conclusion come to me over time, and once I'm finished I'll go back to the start and tie the early bits into it better. That's how I wrote Mogworld (to be published by Dark Horse in August don't forget plug plug) and that's how I'll write Fun Space Game: The Game.

With game development, I start with an opening level as a sort of proof of concept for the core gameplay mechanics, which also doubles nicely as a tutorial for the player. In the case of FSG:TG, we open with our scavenger hero (still unnamed) searching the wreckage of a large ship for collectible salvage. Then a big hostile ship arrives and the player must hide amongst space rocks and debris.

And with even these bare parameters, the plot almost fills in the blanks by itself. The big ship is probably allied to the ruined ship, so they attack you to stop you stealing their stuff. If they're doing that they must be fanatic about protecting their technology, since you're just one tiny independent operator and they're basically doing the equivalent of using a katana to swat a fly off the cup cakes. So we've got our first big player in this fictional universe - a vast navy of fanatics that obsess religiously over technology.

One idea for a gameplay mechanic I had was flying down a long narrow tunnel, weaving around obstacles, to reach the bonus in the center. That's the Luke Skywalker-Death Star thing. So I designed an enemy spaceship based around that - two long tunnels forming a cross, allowing 4 possible paths to the center. Then I put a circular weapons platform around the outside to bulk it up a bit. And then I found I'd independently reached the wheel-shaped spaceship concept from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I'm fairly sure makes me exactly as clever as Stanley Kubrick.

And then I realized that I now had a name for my technocrat baddies: Wheel. What better symbol for a technology-worshipping faction than the very first machine?

Of course, this has mostly been extremely loose planning for the future, and at time of writing all there actually is in the game is one salvage crate and a big asteroid I don't even like. But at least now I can put a logo on the salvage crate.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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