Game Design Presentation – Project Superman Pitch

This is the first presentation I did for my Honours Project in my final year of University. It is a short Pitch Presentation for my Superman game idea. So while it is not as in depth as my other presentations it covers the reasoning behind the game, the key areas of interest and key mechanics.

Project Superman is one of my favourite pieces of work because I had a blast putting it together and trying to make Superman work in a video game setting. I like to think I solved some of the problems but I will leave final judgement up to you!

I will also be eventually turning the other documents and presentations made for this particular game design into videos in the near future!

As ever you can see the full portfolio entry by heading here! (There is a lot more to this particular game design and the project as a whole trust me!)

Honours Project Master Post

This is the Master Post for my Honours Project – DD3992 – For the Game Design Enterprise Course at the University of Central Lancashire

Production

Related Blog Posts: (Oldest to Newest)

Documentation

Time Travel Game:

Superman: Man of Steel:

Visual Design Document and Game Wiki Comparison 

Game Design Wiki and Visual Game Design Comparison

While the two design methods used in my honours project are vastly different and have their own major selling points and downsides. The conclusion I have come to is that both are good for the game designs being presented.

The Visual Document suits the Superman: Man of Steel idea perfectly and allowed me to showcase the design in a larger than life and colourful way. It allowed by its very nature the inclusion of all the image files used in the document that add to the overall look and feel for the game design. The document itself flows from one section to the other and presents things to the point and with the minimum of complication.

The Game Design Wiki suited the Time Travel game perfectly because it allowed me to take the time to explain the more complex ideas and concepts behind the game design. The document itself is presented in a way to easily explore and navigate.

The things is I can not actually come to a conclusion as to which method is better. I think in future, now that I have perfected the Visual Design method I will be able to generate contented for such documents at a much faster rate. As for the Game Design Wiki I am comfortable with editing and organising them now and the merits of presenting the design in an ordered maner make it stand out.

I think in future I would try to use an amalgam of both methods to present a perfect game design document. With the visual aspect covering the spine of the documentation and delivering the key information and the wiki giving you the finer details of the game design.

Visual Game Design Process

You can view the Superman: Man of Steel Visual Document by heading, HERE.

The process for creating the Visual Document for Superman: Man of Steel was a long and fraught process of trying and failing with multiple variations on the idea before coming to the final method used. But while difficult to pin down what was needed the process of creating the document has a few good points and of course some bad points too:

The Good:

  • The way everything is presented in the final document shows how strong visual presentation of a game design can be.
  • Everything featured in the document is presented in a very direct and easy to understand way
  • The format of the document also makes it fairly easy to navigate
  • I am personally very pleased with the finished results of the document

The Bad:

  • The learning curve and iteration process for the Visual Document was steep. Lots of testing was required before I was happy with the style and format I eventually went for. I had to go back to the drawing board a number of times too before coming up with the more long form but simpler presentation method used.
  • The time it takes to produce the document is lengthly to put it lightly. In the end I had to cut around a third of the planned content from the final document due to time constraints. Each page of the document has to be laid out and planned down to the smallest details while still making sure that it is factual, to the point and presenting the game design ideas.
  • To sum up the learning curve and time it took to generate the content for the document has somewhat outweighed the merits of the method

One major think that I have taken away from the project though is that is have improved my overall document formatting and presentation skills exponentially.

Looking into the theory behind the present information via presentation then adapting aspects of it to suit my final document has given me a much greater understanding of how documents should be laid out and presented.

In the end I am happy with the finished result despite the need to cut a lot of the planned content for it. The document speaks for itself and shows the game design in big, bold and bright way which is more than fitting for the subject matter for the game.

Uni Projects Update!

I haven’t done one of these for a couple of days because of my birthday and a major business module deadline that involved putting together a business plan and presentation with the other guys in my year. Anyway on with the updates!

Time Travel Game

Not the major progress I was hoping for but I am still on track. I managed to get a few more sections put together and ticked off the list today: Camera Systems, Animation Sets and Sound Design in a rough form. I’m trying to get through all the “smaller” sections of the Wiki first so that the if the worst should happen and I don’t get the major sections finished in time there should be enough content on the Wiki to show how it works. 

Basically tomorrow afternoon/evening and Friday are all about getting the Time Travel Game Wiki finished and ready to submit (now that it is working like it should be!). So that I have time over the weekend to make the prototype for Hunters of the New Dawn and finish up work on the UDK prototype for the Time Travel Game itself. I can get it done because the Wiki is very much on the tipping point. A few more sections and the rest will basically write themselves.

Superman: Man of Steel

I am glad to say the the prototype for the game is finished and ready to play! WOOOO!!! I’ve been working on it in the evenings for the past couple of days and it has all come together nicely. The plan for tomorrow is to run a few test sessions with some of my fellow students before putting together the final ruleset for the game. All that’s left to do now really is finish off the visual design document for the game. Which is still lagging behind a bit compared to my other projects. I can get it all finished in time though I just might have to have a few late nights which in the grand scheme of things isn’t to bad.

The only major thing that is really behind at the moment is the documentation detailing the two design processes and comparing them. I’m going to be sitting down on Monday and really working on these because if I don’t there is a strong chance that I’ll miss the deadline on them! They shouldn’t take to long to put together and I have been making sure to take screen grabs of the various ways and methods I’ve used to put the two types of design documentation together I have what I am going to write pretty much planned out. It is just sitting down and writing it all out that is the issue.

Hunters of the New Dawn

Hunters of the New Dawn has been on the back burner for a bit while I have been putting the major parts of my Honours Project together. The only thing left to do for this particular project is the prototype which I have pretty much finalised in my head. Like I mentioned earlier part of this coming weekend will be devoted to putting it all together. For what it is, it should hopefully only be a day of solid work to make. The prototype for Hunters has to show players the following key things:

  • Simple and complex combat
  • Player choice
  • Customisation
  • Loot!
  • Fast paced RPG gameplay

I have the first four planned out and the last one should hopefully be shown by the prototype as a whole. As with the Superman prototype I am going for functional first and looks second. And hopefully like the Superman prototype I will at least be able to refine most if not all of it before finally putting it together.

I also asked my tutor today how I was going to submit the physical prototypes for Superman and Hunters. The current plan is a document or video showing how they work. I will most likely go for the video option due to the relative ease and speed I can put demo videos together. Going down the video route will also give me the chance to explain how the gameplay of the prototypes would translate into actual gameplay for the final games but we will wait and see.

Superman: Man of Steel Update

I didn’t get a lot of work done yesterday simply because it was my birthday and I really didn’t want to spend it all working away on my various game designs. So I gave myself a half day of working on the Superman: Man of Steel Prototype. I tried doing some stuff for the Wiki and attempt to optimise it a bit more but it is still throwing hissy fits so I needed a pick me up. (After I have written this I am in solid Time Travel mode for the rest of the day to make up for lost time!)

With the prototype I am nearing the finishing line. After yesterday afternoon I now have two things left to do before printing it all out:

  1. Make the Event Card deck
  2. Make the Map Tiles look better

My plan is to sit down and get them done on Sunday/Monday so once it is all done that is a major part of my Honours Project done and dusted. The rest should start falling into place from then on (hopefully!)

Anyway here’s what I got done yesterday:

Tokens!

The tokens will be used during events as objectives basically. You will have to save/help civilians and children, stop out of control cars, aid the cops in their work and find the hidden 5th Dimension Cubes. Which I have hilariously represented by a sphere! BWHAHAHA!!!!

The idea is that the tokens of people will be the non combat NPCs featured in the final game. There is also a system of gaining bonus XP/Power Points by helping and saving them. It plays on the inherent OSD of many gamers’ need to max out their XP bars and stats while keeping it inline with Superman doing what he does, saving people. All without forcing the player to do so. It is pure incentive. Players will be able to be two types of Superman, one that tries to save everyone or one that only deals with the big problems. With the defence for it being that this is a Superman who is still learning his trade so he cannot save everyone. It also avoids the forcing of saving civilians that has crippled many a previous Superman game in the past (Superman Returns: The Game being a prime example). The idea is that if a player fails at or avoids saving a civilian they will feel a pang of guilt and try better or will be galvanised into action the next time.

The cars and trucks are obviously going to be cars and trucks in the final game and behave as such. Working as enemies, obstacles and weapons. Enemies in the sense that they can kill unsuspecting civilians or the player. Obstacles in the player’s way as they race and leap around Metropolis and weapons with the player being able to use empty or abandoned vehicles as large melee weapons or large throwable objects. If the player wants to grab a vehicle that has occupants there will be an extended animation/lag to allow the people inside to exit the vehicle before Superman can use it. The trick is to do it in a light hearted way. Make it a funny moment for the player rather than a punishment. More, “Excuse me Ma’am I need to borrow you car.” Less, “YOU CANNOT KILL PEOLE YOU ARE SUPERMAN!”

The 5th Dimension Cubes will be one of the game’s collectables, hidden in the nooks and crannies of Metropolis. Why and what is the 5th dimension though? Well it is all to do with my favourite non-Lex Luthor Superman enemy (I use the term loosely!) Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is a being from the 5th Dimension who claims to be Superman’s biggest fan. People from the 5th Dimension can shape reality as they wish and Mr. Mxyzptlk likes to test his favourite hero in a variety of bizarre ways, giving up when Superman either overcomes the challenge or tricks him into saying his own name backwards (which forces him back into the 5th Dimension for seven days). Yes he is a bat shit crazy character but one that sums up the greatness of Superman as an IP. In Superman anything can happen no matter how crazy or stupid. All because of the long history of the character and the inherent fantastical nature of superhero stories. 

In the game Mr. Mxyzptlk plays a pretty important role. Yes I am playing favourites but he is a great character that works so well in the realm of a video game. Seeing as this is very much an origin story game for Superman, Mr. Mxyzptlk’s storyline will be about establishing his relationship and obsession with Superman. Towards the start of the game an event will happen that sees the 5th Dimension seep into ours temporarily. A result of this will be Mr. Mxyzptlk escaping into our dimension along with all these cubes being scattered around the city. Players will be encouraged to find the cubes because after collecting certain amounts of them they will unlock the next part Mr. Mxyzptlk’s story and encounters. The encounters will see Mr. Mxyzptlk testing Superman’s abilities in a variety of comical and bizarre ways. So far so Riddler from Batman: Arkham City you might say, but the character fits that model nicely. Where it gets different from Batman and better is in the game’s New Game Plus mode. 

At the end of the game Mr. Mxyzptlk will be very impressed with Superman and very much his biggest fan. This will give him the brilliant idea of wanting to play a more important role in the origin of our hero. So the last encounter with Mr. Mxyzptlk will end with him having this brilliant idea then disappearing into the time stream to the start of the Man of Steel New Game Plus mode. In New Game Plus the challenge won’t just be greater like it usually is. It will also be slightly different with Mr. Mxyzptlk reshaping it as he wishes. Sort of like the What If? Mode from the PSOne Spider-Man games. It also allows the game and players to experience and play with the crazy gold and silver age stories and ideas. You know things like Ant Head Superman:

Or anything involving Jimmy,

“My life is crazy,”

Olsen!

So the New Game Plus Mode should be a good fun extra experience for the players and keep them playing the game for a long time.

The other piece of prototype goodness I got finished yesterday was the power cards players will be using. For the prototype I am only giving players a limited number of abilities to keep it as complication free as possible. In the final game players will be able to spend the Power Points they get from earning XP upgrading and unlocking new powers via four skill trees. One for each type of power with a further division between two major trees and two minor trees.

Sensory:

Sensory abilities are aids to help the player get through the game. Super Hearing is used to help players find 5th Dimension Cubes by listening for their distinctive sound and alert them to possible dangers or events. X-Ray vision is used to find hidden objects, solve puzzles and help the Metropolis PD and civilians. This is a Minor Power Tree.

Might:

These are Superman’s inherent abilities and are mostly passive skills and buffs that the player can take advantage over. At higher levels they will allow the player to take more damage and recharge their energy at a faster rate. This is the Power Tree for the min/maxers out there it is also a Minor Power Tree.

Movement:

These will be the powers that players use to get around Metropolis. From running at Super Speed to Leaping over tall buildings. The tree will expand into combat varieties or uses of these movement powers. Like running rings around your enemies to confuse them and that kind of stuff. This is a Major Power Tree.

Combat:

This will be the tree most players will be interested in. All those meaty combat powers that Superman can use will be unlocked by putting points into this tree. Heat Vision, Freeze Breath, Super Punches and Combos are all here. This is a Major Power Tree.

That’s it for now. Now I’m off to kick my Time Travel Game up the arse!

Factor 5’s Superman Game

Factor 5’s Blue Steel character models – Via Kotaku

Here’s some interesting character models that have popped up on Kotaku today from Factor 5’s cancelled Superman game. Some interesting ideas and it seems they were trying to go with a familiar and timeless design for the characters derived from the pre-New 52 comics rather than the films. But it does one big thing that makes me mad: It puts Lex Luthor in a suit of armour!

While Lex in his trademark green and purple armour isn’t a new thing, particularly in video games, I have always felt it is a cheap and easy way to put Luthor and Superman on the same playing field combat wise. It is also something I feel flies in the face of what Lex stands for as a character, he is meant to be the best and worst of humanity. The armour at is most basic is Lex Luthor trying to be Superman and working to put himself on the same god-like level. I have always been of the viewpoint that Lex would very much prefer Superman to come to his level and his schemes should reflect this. These schemes typically comes in three forms:

  1. Lex giving Superman a gauntlet of tasks to tire him out to the point where he can be defeated easily. Uniting Superman’s enemies to take him down collectively or the most common type of gauntlet, teaming up with Brainiac in an evil master plan!
  2. Outsmarting Superman by often making Supes his own worst enemy. It also usually plays into the schemes exemplified by point 1. This can also be Lex “beating” Superman by simply sticking to the rules of man. Such as getting out of jail in Superman Returns because Superman didn’t keep his court date to testify against him.
  3. Science! Technically the suit falls under this category but at this point in the franchise’s history it is very, very, very overused. Other science based Luthor schemes involve creating doomsday weapons, robots and genetically engineered monsters.

When approaching the villains and their motives in my Superman game design I am finding very helpful to look at the most basic elements that make them who they are. Luthor thinks what he is doing for the betterment of mankind. Zod wants revenge on the House of El and will do anything to achieve that goal. Parasite is an addict to power, his compulsive need to obtain greater and greater sources of power is the whole driving force behind the character. The list and basic summations goes on and on!

More soon…

Project Superman Pitch Presentation

Link: Project Superman Pitch Presentation

[UPDATED] The link now sends you to a newer public version of the presentation on iWork. If you want to gain access to the full presentation with notes, comments and different downloadable versions please email me at: cal_el@me.com so I can send you a permissions link.

This is a short presentation (click the arrow or the title of the post to view it) I put together to show the basics of the Superman game idea to the other students on the course. The main reason was to get feedback on the idea and to see if the direction I am going in is good. Currently I have shown it to my fellow third years and the first years. I’m planning on showing the second years so I can get further feedback.

It turns out that I am on the right track! The mini Q&A session at the end allowed me to go into some detail about the structure of the game and what end game content would work to keep players playing the game. Also how things like combat and powers would work. The inevitable question of flight came up too which I explained my plan for briefly (more on this in a future post).

One thing that stood out was the positive response the Superman design from the new Action Comics:

The jeans and T-shirt look got a few favourable mentions. So it is something worth considering for the final design.

Finally one thing that a few people mentioned was Crackdown which isn’t a game I have played but it seems I am tapping into a few of the ideas from that game. So I will check it out.

So now that that is over with it is time to get down to some serious research!

Project Superman (NowGamer Thread)

Link: Project Superman (NowGamer Thread)

This is a link to a thread I set up on the NowGamer.com forums regarding my Superman game idea. 

I copied over the initial Project Superman post and ask whoever wanted to reply the following questions:

1) What would you want to see in a Superman game? It doesn’t have to fit into my idea of a younger, less powerful, Superman just tell me what you have always wanted to see!


2) Which villains would you like to see? Lex Luthor has to be in the game so there’s one, but there are loads of others. While I have a greater knowledge of Superman’s eniemies it would be interesting to see what you lot come up with. Also the bad guys don’t have to be Superman ones, think broadly if you wish!


3) Do you have any questions you have about my idea? I haven’t gone into to much detail at this point but the main thread of it is this is effectivley Superman Begins. Any questions and suggestions are very welcome at this point.

The results gave some food for thought and solidified a few ideas for the final project.

More proof that I need to design a good Superman game!

Link: More proof that I need to design a good Superman game!

From NowGamer.com interviewing Rocksteady’s Dax Ginn:

“I think Superman is a very difficult character. He’s an incredible character, but the thing about Batman is that he’s so vulnerable, like physically vulnerable,” Ginn said in an interview. “The fertile territory of games design is being able to provide the player with opportunities for power, but also letting them know that they’ve got something to lose.”

Batman’s abilities are tempered by his own mortality, said the developer. “With Batman, you feel very powerful when you’re surrounded by 25 thugs who’ve just got baseball bats, but give just one of them an assault rifle and it changes the entire dynamic of the fight. But with a character like Superman, that’s not possible. So, I wouldn’t want to throw Batman away because he’s just such a brilliant character to work with, and the psychology of him is just very rich for gameplay.”