A pyrrhic victory?

Well, for all intents and purposes, we have basically started the third year of university. I mean, technically we don’t start our actual third year until either late September or the beginning of October, but we’ve finished everything in the second year, we all passed, and now we’re moving on to the third year. And now, we’ve split into two groups and it’s been determined what projects we’re doing. Despite that my assignment was very much incomplete, at least in my view, and there’s still a lot that could have been added, my idea was chosen as one of the two projects. The other is a combination of two people’s projects – one deemed looking in context, and the other in need of a complete design overhaul. The projects were chosen based on the actual feasibility of them being made (keeping in mind we’re still only making a small portion of the game), rather than marks we got for our assignment – some people’s ideas were rejected on the grounds that they were too technical, requiring mechanics that no one new how to do and couldn’t be done in the time we will have.

So yeah, I was somewhat happy to find that my idea for a game got selected. But it was far from perfect, and my idea being chosen came with a price. I was in a group with two people with different talents, ensuring a balanced team. Unfortunately, while they were willing to get behind the idea, they also suggested we change it a bit. See, my idea was a supernatural third-person brawler of sorts where you play as a Cambion (the offspring of a demon and a human) trying to find his brother and try to ensure a better future for his kind as well as the humans and demons they share a world ruined by the ravages of a devastating war with. In terms of story, it stands out against any other game about demons, but in practice it’s a lot like Devil May Cry only with a more stripped down approach (Devil May Cry and its derivatives tend to focus on style and rewards complex and hard to pull off , but mine doesn’t). One of my new colleagues suggested that we could keep the game largely as it is but at the same change it into a more broadly Fantasy game, rather than the specific supernatural brawler. Much of the concern was more about the potential demographic than anything else, but as I’ve learned that can affect the whole design of the game for fairly obvious reasons (who you aim the game at tends to affect the overall design in many aspects, including the art style and what the player does in-game). I was open to it, at first, but I did not always get along with the idea of changing things, and I didn’t like what I saw as the possibility of going after a larger market for its own sake. But to be fair, my idea’s demographic was narrow and small. I believe I succeeded in a small sense in considering the demographic, but it’s very small for a game to rely on. In the end, I decided to agree with the suggestion that we make design changes to make it more of a fantasy-type game, but mostly to avoid the potential for a long and pointless circular argument – the kind I had to deal with in October with the animation students in order to fight to keep my vision (I lost that fight, and in the end we did a still render of a generic post-apocalyptic garage scene for that module, and I hated it).

At first, I feared I’d hate it, but I eventually found that a more fantasy version of my idea still had some of my ideas in mind – namely the presence of demons as morally the same as humans, and the side-moral of “things aren’t always what they appear” (or as my colleague put it “you know not everyone you meet is a twat, right?”). I must concede that I may have failed in that regard because of the amount of hostile demons the player fights in order to progress, which I only put in the my design document because I feared an exclusive diet of humanoid enemies would grow dull in a game with heavy supernatural themes. At least now there’s scope for a wider range of the types of beings you can encounter (the player character, for instance, is now most likely a half-ogre kind of creature who simply receives the help of a sympathetic demon), and potentially even a greater way of illustrating a moral I had intended. The colleagues even feared that cramming demons down the player’s throat would be too much, and it may suffer an age-old problem of the artist – you know your ideas and love them, but not everyone else gets it, and unfortunately for the game designer this means less people may buy your game or even work with you in making it. Obviously, I let loose with a certain facet of my imagination too much and it seemed to everyone else like an obvious self-projection that other people can’t work with. Just another moment where I fear I need an outlet other than game design for some of my ideas. But the way things are going, the ideas we’re pursuing now are ideas I can still get behind and still put a bit of personal inspiration into through some of the research, and it’s still in a suitable degree alignment with the project I initially panned out. Who knows, maybe things won’t be so bad after all. But there’s a lot that needs to be done before October.

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2 responses to “A pyrrhic victory?

  1. sounds really pretty positive, and like you are dealing with these kind of dilemmas constructively 🙂 I liked your idea, but I understand that if you have a singular vision, you might need to put some of it into projects that aren’t collaborative, in order to do that vision justice, but it could still contribute to aspects of collaborative work

    • Seriously, for some of my ideas I’m probably going to have to put them into either music or comic books, and I’m not great at them yet (never done a comic book to begin).

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