Doug TenNapel – Day 2 of Armikrog Game Design

July 2, 2013

I’m amazed at the similarities between all of the art mediums I’ve experienced. Much like siblings, the early process for designing a game is near identical to making a TV show, movie or sculpture. Everything is planned on paper, and it has to start loose so that nothing feels like cement yet.

There’s nothing worse than going rock solid with an idea too early on because once I see something that looks permanent it’s hard for me to think of it any other way. A variety of solutions need to be explored before the best one is chosen. The problem with a bad game idea and a good game idea is that they look similar in the earliest stages.

But the reciprocal is also a problem in that if nothing is ever firmed up then the entire idea remains a ball of much for too long. Indecision is at least as destructive of a problem as is impulse.

9 Responses to “Doug TenNapel – Day 2 of Armikrog Game Design”

  1. msample2 Says:

    I’m really enjoying all these little thoughts that are emerging from this project. It’s like you’ve been given permission to be creative or something. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. Rezza Says:

    Hey Doug, Your old friend Rezza here. LONG time, no see. Anyway, since it’s still early days, I just want to chime in and implore you to avoid the urge to make this game impossibly hard (I’m thinking of EWJ, Skullmonkeys, and some of the more obscure puzzles in the Neverhood)!

    Gamers these days are much softer than they were back in the day; if they get stuck in a part for more than a half hour, they get frustrated.

    Best of luck,

    • Doug Says:

      The issue with making games really really hard is that most people will look online for solutions as they really want the plot, characters and atmosphere to keep flowing. The balance is to make the person satisfied he’s making progress while still beating him with a stick.

      • Elliot Says:

        Nice visual Doug

        Its got to be hard to find a balance where people doing puzzle games feel challenged, but where they also dont walk away feeling like an idiot constantly…

    • Jack Dandy Says:

      No, please don’t dumb down the game! The people who backed you want something like the Neverhood, not a dumbed down product.
      I personally loved having to write stuff down in a notepad and use it to figure out things.

      Maybe you should put an in-game notepad, that you can type and scribble on?

      • Elliot Says:

        I think his exact words are still “beating him with a stick”. I dont think he is talking about dumbing it down. He seem to be talking about the balance of making it fun and challenging.

  3. Idan Says:

    I personally think a game without enough challenge feels boring. Botanicula is a recent example for a game that imho excels in all aspects except for the too easy puzzles.
    Maybe a hint system will be a good idea, so the ones craving for a challenge will get their fair share of head bashing puzzles while the others could use a hint whenever they’re stuck?

  4. Rezza Says:

    I think a hint system is a great innovation. The Monkey Island remakes used them to great effect to keep everyone happy. While it’s true that hardcore puzzle gamers want a challenge, it’s also nice if Armikrog breaks into the mainstream and doesn’t just cater to 18000 people. For the Neverhood, it was the characters, plot ,and atmosphere that were really memorable. The actual game was just a means for exploring another world.

    We just gave you guys a seed, you still need to turn a profit!

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