Planning IT Ninja

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Game Development

Planning Ahead

Now that I’ve finally gotten around to finishing that tutorial, it’s time to get to work on making a game. No, this isn’t going to be all about programming or using the Unity editor. That isn’t what I need to do to start developing a game. The first step of making a game is planning!

Some people may be able to just jump in and start building, but I like to have an idea of what I want and what I need to do to make that happen. This may be a design document, a roadmap of sorts, or it may just be a simple beginning to get an idea of what gameplay will be like. This will cover both user experience as well as design elements that I’ll have to implement.

Gameplay

Loading

Need your obvious loading indicator, maybe a progress bar, possibly a random loading screen that mimics the mac beach ball, windows spinning circle, etc. Splash screen with logo.

Overall Difficulty

I’m toying around with the idea of having an overall difficulty. Easy, Normal, and Hardcore. This could affect just budgeting or may affect gameplay further such as more or harder enemies, larger affect of stealth failure, etc. I may have to play around with this once the general game is going. Just writing this down for now so I don’t forget.

Main Menu

So, design elements, user experience. I’d like to make this screen look like your usual helpdesk ticketing system. Although, since I’m aiming at a more 8/16-bit style, maybe have it look like it’s being displayed on an old CRT. I do anticipate using much more modern-day computer concepts though. Maybe this screen design can change based on certain upgrades.

  • Assign Ticket (Main Gameplay)
    • This section will have multiple randomized options to choose from. Each available “ticket” will be assigned a number and contain a simple problem summary that gives minimal information about objective and priority (based on impact and urgency).
  • Completed Tickets
    • This will contain access to previously played levels, you can replay them from here, possibly allowing success on previous failures (or maybe just for fun). You can also view your notes, KPI, and survey results from the last real run.
  • Purchasing (Upgrades)
    • This is where players can buy and change equipped gear, personnel, etc.
  • Options
    • What you’d expect, keybindings, graphics, audio, whatever. May be able to adjust difficulty (if I use it) as well as reset save information to start over or start a new game.
  • Quit
    • Self-explanatory
  • Budgeting
    • Budget Remaining / Overall Budget
      • Possibly not part of the menu exactly, but will be a money value denoting score and allowing players to purchase upgrades. Maybe this will be given after each ticket is completed and the increase/decrease is calculated in.

Assign Ticket

Clicking on a ticket will open a new window that gives more details about it. There will be a randomized user, ticket number and summary from the previous screen, randomized location (describes tileset), impact (describes difficulty), urgency (possible time limit or affect time to completion survey results), budget impact (increase for success, possible decrease for failure). Objective may also affect location (example: destroy virus would be remote control location).

The player will be allowed to “Assign ticket” which begins gameplay, or go back and pick a different ticket to look at. It is possible the main menu screen may just have a link to the ticket queue and in here will just be the list of tickets where you can click between multiples and select the one you want to play.

Main Level Gameplay

The player starts off in some sort of small room depending on the level. Possibly an elevator, outside the store, in a closest, etc. The rest of the level is obscured by fog of war. When they walk through the door the timer starts and the rest of the level is revealed. They can no longer re-enter that room and it is blacked out by fog of war.

Level design is randomized, roguelike. Some levels may be single-story (side scrolling) or multi-story with elevators and/or stairs.

The player will then have to navigate the level to the objective while avoiding users with a stealth mechanic of some sort. Being detected by a user will make them talk to you which negatively affects your time to completion survey results. Possibly have cabinets the player can hide in/behind, cube walls partially obscure user vision and player can duck to avoid detection.

Gameplay changes slightly based on the objective. Once reaching the objective, player may need to navigate to another area to obtain something they need to resolve the issue, then navigate back to objective.

Examples of different gameplay would be Monkeys! where a player must locate multiple monkeys and defeat them with his tools. Fire! would require a player to get the fire extinguisher and put out the fire. Office move would require the player to go to one location, pick up equipment and deliver to another location. Troubleshoot printer would require the player to go to the printer then pick up the toner or paper and return it to the printer.

Level Completion

When an objective is complete the level is won. The player will be met with the ticket screen again with a notes section filled out – something simple like “plugged in printer” or “turned on computer” depending on the problem summary. Something like “Re-assigned to helpdesk” or “Escalated to tier 2” for failure.

There will also be a section for KPI, which will be statistics of your playthrough, things like enemies defeated, steps walked (pedometer), calories burned (pedometer), company savings, who knows at this point.

Lastly, there will be a section for a user survey. This will be your overall score of certain objectives, 1-5 star for each. This result calculated against the budget impact of the ticket will adjust your existing budget.

Upgrades

This section will look like a purchasing system in some fashion. Players will submit a purchase request to get new gear and weapons. Players will also be able to change equipped gear and weapons. When purchasing, players subtract amount spent from budget which is also displayed on this screen.

There will be multiple types of upgrades, will fill in more as I can think of them.

  • Tools – Weapons
    • Range – Ammo is limited due to budget
      • USB Drive
        • Purchased singly
      • CD ROM
        • 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 pack sizes
    • Melee
      • Cat5-O’-9-Tails
      • Fish Tape
      • Punch down tool
  • Equipment – Upgrades
    • Double Jump
    • Shield
    • Pedometer
      • Increases budget based on steps taken
  • Infrastructure – Permanent Gameplay Adjustments
    • Budget increase multiplier
    • Reduce enemy difficulty
    • Wifi Booster
  • Personnel – Reduce budget – This might be better as it’s own section for HR
    • Helpdesk – allows player to bring helpers with different skills into the level with them
    • Back office – more gameplay adjustments

Budgeting

This screen will give the player information as to how their budget is allocated. It will show which personnel they have hired and show their ongoing cost, you can access personnel from here to fire existing employees. Between each ticket the player will be able to spend all of their budget and it will refill after a ticket is complete. I’m not sure if I should allow unused budget to carry over between rounds or if I should force the player to lose budget for unused funds. Maybe easy/normal/hardcore?

Locations

  • Basement
  • Space ship
    • Alien
    • Terran
  • Cube farm
  • Server room
  • Remote control
  • Farm
  • Retail Store
  • Construction site

Objectives

  • Destroy the virus – remote
  • Plug in a cable
  • Replace a part
  • Install software – remote
  • Reset password
  • Troubleshoot printer
    • Needs paper
    • Needs toner
  • Office move
  • Fire!
  • Monkeys!
  • Toilet is clogged
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