Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monster Merchant - Laying Groundwork

The last week has been a struggle. A struggle NOT to work on Monster Merchant. With the project finally gaining momentum, it's all I want to do, and sadly many other projects currently take precedence. That said, I've found time to devote to the magical world of monsters, and I'll relate the results here.

Game Overview

The game can be described in one sentence: In Monster Merchant, you catch, breed, raise, and train the monsters which populate the traditional dungeons of fantasy role-playing games. 

Gameplay consists of three main things: Filling orders and managing relationship with dungeon overlords; breeding new monsters by mutatation and egg fuzing; and going out into the wild, battling wild monsters and catching them and raiding their nests for eggs. There will also be a crafting system using monster parts, harvested from wild monsters killed in battle.

Game Design Document

After a lot of deliberation, I've finally completed enough of the design document that I'm willing to move into code work. It's far from finished, but the core mechanics are clearly set out, even including some vital algorithms for how monster breeding works. A few example traits and abilities have been laid out, monster characteristics decided on, and combat system has been described. Many more traits and abilities will be needed for the final version, the combat system needs to be more clearly fleshed out and heavily tuned, and the story is skeletal at best. But the core way that monsters and monster breeding works is done, and that's the first thing I want to get into the game.

Coding Has Begun!

With the design document in hand, I opened up Unity and created a new project. A monster can now be created and specified easily within the editor. I deliberated for a while on how to create Traits - in editor, in XML, or as sub classes of a parent Trait class. I finally decided on the latter. I think it will make future expansion much easier. All I need to do is create the new trait class and attach it to a trait library, and it becomes immediately available to the game. This should allow easy additions later in the project, or with DLC.

I also am going through Unity's GUI tutorial, mocking up a GUI for monster stat display.

Getting Started with Art Assets

Roy has started working on a simple monster to use as a placeholder in the GUI screen, and has begun thinking about how to do the modular monster models. It's really exciting. I drew up some (absolutely terrible) concepts of how the monsters vary based on their traits. Here's an example showing different body types for a dragon monster:

Team Building

In addition to the coding, design, and art work, I've also done some work bringing the team for the project together. Communicating our progress, setting up a private Bitbucket page, and creating the lovely banner you see at the top of the page are some of these activities. At the moment, the core team consists of myself doing programming, design, and management; Roy doing design, writing, and art; and Angelina on sound. I also have a large number of volunteers interested in playtesting, writing, and fiddling with numbers. Unfortunately, the game requires a significant amount of 3D art assets, and complex animations for the modular monsters, and Roy may not be able to do all this himself, so we may need to seek another 3D artist and/or technical animator.

Overall, the project is finally moving forward and I'm extremely excited for the future!

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