Assassins Creed 4: Freedom Cry features some of the best writing and performances in the series. It is bravely ambitious as a videogame, and while it may have flaws, it deserves your consideration for playing. I recommend reading Evan Narcisse’s impressions, and listening to Evan & Patrick Klepek discuss it on Giant Bomb.
None of what I’m writing here is meant as criticism, or if it is, it is the worst sort of criticism. That which considers the nonexistent, what could have been – more specifically it’s just my own thoughts as to how I would tackle some of design challenges and tension I felt between the themes, gameplay, and story while I played. It’s also divorced from production thoughts of resources and time, so largely meaningless.
The next major stage of production is necessarily focused on tools and pipelines. This post covers more design tools (instead of art) as these have a fundamentally different focus when building simulation-drive games. Art tools and pipeline problems may be just as important, but are better understood. Best practices from other types of game for them easily apply here.
In my first post I described why the vertical slice approach covered by the Cerny Method fails to produce the same results in simulation-driven games. Now I’ll detail more of the goals for the equivalent milestone in a production process geared towards these kinds of games.
This is the third part of a series on production practices for building simulation driven games.
The most important aspect of the concept phase is your isolated systems prototypes. Their sole purpose is for you to decide if you want each system in your game because they reinforce your aesthetic goals.
They are isolated prototypes in that each one is focused on a single system and its causes and effects within itself. We’ll look at examples of these single-system prototypes, and more pitfalls to avoid while building them.
This is the second part of a series on production practices for building simulation-driven games.
The concept phase of any game production is about exploring ideas and making decisions. These decisions are yet to be proven, but you need a way forward, otherwise you stall in blank-slate mode (a problem in any game production).