Gamedev diary: Research is expensive

I thought development would be the most expensive part of game design, but if I’m doing it all myself, and really only in my leisure time at the moment, it’s not really a big deal. The big budget-eater in front of me at the moment is research. Research is expensive. In both time and in money.

Technology

I’ve gone back and forth on the technology choice, and thankfully that’s not had a huge price tag on it. There’s just a lot to look into. Right now for Project H, the leading candidates are:

Game mechanics

I’ve spent a fair (but not unreasonable) amount on HOPA games across Steam and Big Fish Games, plus tried a couple of freebies on itch.io. There are some things that I don’t like personally, but could see how they’d work in some of the scenes. Puzzle mini-games, for example, are not my favourite feature. I pick a HOPA to play a HOPA, not to do mini-game puzzles I would look for in a different genre of gaming. BUT, some well-done minis that aren’t so complicated as to break the flow may help with immersion and driving the narrative through interactivity.

I do like the different types of HOPA challenges, though. Here’s what I’m currently considering using:

  • Vanilla list — I mean, that’s the basics, really
  • Silhouette list
  • Find X number of Y items
  • Events that trigger upon finding certain items/numbers of items/completion of list

Story and character development

My biggest research frustration right now is the development of the story. I love the urban fantasy setting and mythology, but I’m in two minds about the story and character development. I’d actually love for this to be light on both. Keep it shallow with just enough narrative to drive the player through the game activities. This is meant to be a kind of flow game for people who just want to zone out and find items in cluttered scenes.

But I’m somewhere in the middle at the moment. There’s too much story for it to just flow. But not enough depth to satisfy the story-hungry reader. I’m well stuck on the penultimate act of the script, and it’ll probably stay that way for now while I explore more technology and game mechanics. And, you know, work on my novel WIP. But that’s fine. Step by step, we’ll get there.