Aug 21, 2015

Lessons From Suzy Cube: Why Do a Master Study? (or Why Not Do Something Novel?)

#gamedev #indiedev #madewithunity #iosdev

So, some folks have been asking me: With the opportunity to finally work on a personal project full-time, why not make a more original game? Why devote your time to this "master study"?
As previously mentioned, I'm treating Suzy Cube as a design master study of my favourite 3D Mario game: Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS. What this means is that I'm studying the Mario game (and other great platform games) from a designer's point of view in order to tease appart why I think it works and why I think it's such a great platform game.

This means playing the game very attentively as well as pouring over hours of video footage of people playing the game on YouTube hoping to analyze every aspect of the game's design, from the levels, to the character controls to the types of enemies and other challenges.

Now, to answer the question of why imitate some other game rather than make something "original". Well, the truth is, this all started with me falling in love with Super Mario 3D Land and, as an avid mobile gamer, wondering how I would bring such a game to mobile phones. The more I obsessed over the game, the more I discovered about its design that made me want to dive deeper still.

Exploring original gameplay concepts is very time consuming and extremely uncertain. You can spend weeks, month or even years prototyping something that never really becomes fun to play. There's always this question of whether things aren't working because of the core idea or because of the execution. This is a learning project for me, from programming, to design to time management. By tackling a well established genre, I can focus my energy on solid execution.

So, is it going to be Just Like Super Mario 3D Land? Of course not! First of all, the goal has always been to release the game on iOS first which means having to adapt the control scheme to touch screen devices and adapt the game flow from boot up to game play to the habits of mobile gamers. I'm also not going to be plagiarizing the levels from Mario, so the stages are going to be different and have their own challenges and feel. Yes, I'm making a 3D platform game that may be quite reminiscent of a certain game staring a certain plumber, but I'm not closing myself off to other influences and it will, most definitely, be a reflection of my own design and artistic sensibilities.

So, there you have it. By choosing to look to a master of the genre, I hope to allow myself to concentrate on making the best 3D platform game I can and to make it work really well on mobile devices.

Which games have been a huge influence on you as a designer? Or which games have inspired you to create in other ways? Let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite games of all times is Diplomacy -

    It is a board game as opposed to a video game that teaches you a lot about yourself and your opponents. The core game element of having to make deals with the other players make this one a real challenge as it is impossible to go far "going it alone".