Diecast #201: Another Funeral for Mass Effect - Twenty Sided

Echo Tango says:

Monday Mar 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Since the original Mass Effect hasn’t had anything take its place, I’m going to play make-believe for a game in this unfilled niche. Since no AAA studios seem to want to tackle this, I’ll assume that this needs to be a smaller game, but large enough and shiny enough to be relatively satisfying. (Text adventures aren’t going to scratch the ME1 itch!) First, I’ll aim for a budget of a million bucks, and three years. That would work out to a maximum of 6 people’s salaries, assuming they’re living in Saskatoon (where I live) or Pennsylvania (I believe Shamus lives / lived here). This might not be “ideal” locations for game dev, but we’re going for budget. If the money’s being burned too quickly in year one, we’re firing the least senior person, and moving to the nearest relative’s farm, to live in the barn with the cows (we’ll buy a wi-fi repeater, so it reaches to our smelly office).

Now for the actual game. Cartoony graphics like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Borderlands 1, XIII, or Windwaker. We’ll buy pre-made assets for most of the stuff in the game, and run it through a script to make everything the same low- or medium-level polygon count, and have the game apply toon-shading on the fly with graphics-card shaders. (This will also keep our system requirements relatively low.) The main characters, statues, and primary locations will have hand-made 3D models. Pre-made music will be our soundtrack – if Kevin Macleod is good enough for the Diecast credits music, it’s good enough for this game! The game world will be made like System Shock 1, or Minecraft, out of blocks. (This will help a lot with our budget.) All terrain, buildings, and doors will be destructible, like X-COM. Unlike X-COM, we’ll throw in some basic physics from an off-the-shelf physics engine, to have things tumble into a pile of debris, for any blocks that aren’t outright destroyed. After the animation / physics is done, they become blocks again, so that players can traverse them without the physics engine going bananas. This will allow brute-force solutions, like exploding doors, or tunneling into the secret base that you couldn’t sneak, bribe, or seduce your way into.

Most of the story will be told with crappy text boxes, like Faster Than Light, Into The Breach, or System Shock. If budget permits, we’ll make a few in-engine cutscenes, with voice-over from the nearest starving voice-actor. Since we’re doing most everything in text, we can have lots of branches and dead-ends in our conversations, like the main areas of Fallout 1 & 2. We can also have lots of side-quests, like the Fallouts, and Mass Effect 1. Skill points will be kept small, like Darkest Dungeon, Into The Breach, or Mass Effect 1. To keep this matched up with the story, there will be some countdown on the main quest, like dwindling water supply at home, or some invading force. This let’s us keep everything balance-able, and lets us focus on interesting stories / simulation of the game world. Once the quest is done, or time limit reached, queue voice-over ala Fallout 1, minus the expensive Mr. Perlman. :)

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