Mar 14, 2011

The Bigger Picture

It's overdue for me to talk about the "bigger picture" of what Bulldog is supposed to be, so in this post I'll hopefully begin to shed light on what I have in store.

Bulldog is a very ambitious project. It may not seem that way based on what I've discussed so far in the blog, but my long term plan for Bulldog is grand in scope. It may take 5 years for me to fully realise what I have in mind, but the project is somewhat modular, and can be broken down into more manageable milestones.

As mentioned in previous posts I plan to have a release out by the end of the year. Beyond that I plan to release new content and upgrade the game at regular intervals, slowly building Bulldog to where I want it to be. This strategy is pretty much essential to have any chance of success, as I am doing this project in my spare time and if I decided to not release anything until its "perfect", there would never be a release. Something (albeit flawed) is better than nothing.

In terms of what genre Bulldog falls into, the best I can come up with is open world survival RPG. Open world is perhaps not the exactly right definition, it's more akin to how Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress generate new worlds and don't force a specific storyline on the player. Perhaps "open-ended" is more accurate, but I haven't really heard that term used when describing this sort of game. The key thing here is that the player drives the story through their actions (or inactions) rather than by completing a series of quests or puzzles in sequence and then getting a nice ending cut-scene.

Survival is the ultimate goal. There will be many variations to achieving this goal. To some players survival will mean exploring the gameworld, scavenging supplies, fighting off threats, amassing wealth and levelling up.

To others it will mean building up a thriving community, rebuilding civilisation and having to content with "the greater good", rather than just yourself.

Origin Scenarios
A key feature I'm planning for Bulldog is the ability to select a specific survival scenario when you start a new game which will define and shape the generated game world. This will hopefully allow more re-playability, as well as allow more options for the player to customise their survival experience.

The different origin scenarios will have a impact the game quite differently. For example, in a zombie outbreak scenario, you'll be fighting off hordes of the undead in a messed up but relatively intact world. There will be plenty of stuff to scavenge, but there will also be danger lurking around every corner, and you don't even want to contemplate what will happen if you don't get back to camp before dark.

In contrast, consider a post nuclear war scenario where most major cities will have been completely obliterated and entire areas will be uninhabitable due to radiation. Nuclear winter may have set in and food and drinkable water will be scarce, weather effects such as dust storms and intense thunderstorms will batter your settlements and destroy anything the nukes left standing.

The origin scenario I'm planning to include in the end of year release is a Desert Island, similar to the situation in the movie "Castaway", starring Tom Hanks. You've washed up on a desert island with a bunch of random stuff and have to survive. I chose that scenario for the simple reason that the player can be contained within a finite space as opposed to the practically infinite dynamic world generation I have planned for the final version. Getting that sort of terrain generation working correctly is going to be a major challenge, and I'd rather start with something simpler, such as a desert island.

An interesting point that people may not realise is that "desert island" doesn't actually imply the archetypal small  pile of sand with a single palm tree. The "desert" part of the phrase doesn't even imply an arid, desert-like climate. It actually comes from the word "deserted", literally meaning there isn't anyone else around.

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