I’m generally an optimist. I try to see the good side of bad things. Sometimes, bad things turn out to not be bad things after all.
Something bad: we’re waiting for Lila Dreams to get back into production. The good thing: I get a lot of time to think more deeply about the game design while I’m working on smaller projects.
Right now I am working on a game design which isn’t Lila Dreams, but it is actually revealing a lot about some fundamentals that I hadn’t considered enough. Eventually, I would have, but with constant financial pressure bearing down on you when working on a game someone else is paying for, things just get skimmed and even skipped. It’s actually really nice to just think about the game and not have that constant nagging in my head to “hurry, hurry up!”
So this other game design has as its core mechanics a competitive combat system (which I hope to make into a multiplayer Flash game). In the course of studying other games and reading articles and all that, I am improving my process for developing a combat system. I don’t think that I would have seen some of the dimensions of the design that I see now without the “leisure” afforded by putting Lila Dreams on hold which has allowed me to marinate the ideas in my subconscious for a while.
This will undoubtedly lead to some changes in my ideas for classes and combat in general for Lila Dreams–especially if the combat is not in the context of side-scrolling control mechanics.
The more I think about it, the less I want combat to be restricted to the twitchy, 2d-plane of a side-scrolling game. It would not only open up some possibilities otherwise absent, making encounters a lot more tactical, it would also reduce technical hurdles. Action gameplay (even the more plodding sort I have planned) is a lot more demanding in terms of technical design as well as from physical resources, that is, the servers. (If combat isn’t from a side view, that change cascades to a bunch of others, but I won’t be talking about that for a while.)
The real thing I’m wrestling with at the moment is how my new insights will affect the nature of classes and skills in Lila Dreams. The old debate arises: classes or skills? There will be some of both, as I’ve always planned. There are a lot of ways to make those two play nicely together, and by exploring various approaches in some smaller projects, that will lead to a stronger design for Lila Dreams.