It’s been some time since we’ve posted anything on our blog, a symptom of having too much to do and too little time. However, we recognize that running completely silent leaves the community a bit in-the-dark about what we’re spending time doing. Doing that in general isn’t good for our morale, because we really like letting people in on what we’re working with. To that end, I’m writing this series of articles that explain what our workflow process is and specifically how we get content into the game. This will be an ongoing series as time permits, but we will make an effort to keep them short and sweet with lots of pictures!
For the first article in this series I want to talk about how we start the long road of creating content for Delver’s Drop be they enemies, characters, objects, items, whatever. All these things start in ideas sheets, and these sheets live in an organized document structure… mostly. This post will defy the description of this series I *just* gave in that there aren’t a ton of pictures sadly.
As you can see from this snapshot, all of our planning (and later, game data) is stored and managed in Google Drive. We use Drive to handle *everything* that we work with, from Delver’s Drop content to Kickstarter backer fulfilment to contract work and other random game ideas. Drive is at time tricky to deal with, particularly since it has no fundamental organizational structure; the folder tree I see when logged into my Google account may be different from Baker’s or Coby’s folder structure depending on how each of us has arranged and color-coded it. Likewise, there is the nebulous “My Drive” area that is a catchall for all documents that I have access to. Regardless, the automatic revision history, relative ease of sharing, and collaborative editing have proven to be invaluable.
DD Content Design — It All Starts Here
This folder is the core of where we store our ideas. Each sheet tends to have an “owner” in the sense that there is someone who has created it and tends to shepherd modifications to it, but most documents are edited collaboratively. We use this folder to store our stubbed in ideas for specific content, as well as general documentation for use in-game. For example, here’s a screenshot of the spreadsheet we reference when setting the heights of various objects in-game (you can expand for a more detailed view):
This is very important for normalization, to make sure everything is using the same baseline. We also have sheets for the various AI behaviors, room compositions, weapon data, etc. These sheets may mirror our actual game data sheets to a degree, but all the content in them is stubbed in based on various goals. Let’s take the enemies sheet for example:
We take passes at this sheet adding ideas, putting in temporary names, but most importantly trying to define where a particular enemy fits in the landscape of Delver’s Drop. Do we need more elemental creatures? Are we too light on enemies for Zone 2, or maybe too heavy in Zone 5? What role does this enemy serve — quick harasser, sneaky gotcha, damage-resistance brute, heavy hitter, or annoying little pain? Names and descriptions are merged together or split apart as needed and then finalized so that the art pipeline can start and we can begin setting up the AI and planning for their use in room designs.
This same process is followed for various other pieces of the game. Traps are created with an eye toward how they can be used in a puzzle setup or to define the movement design in a particular room… and of course in consideration of how much the player will tear their hair out. Objects each serve a purpose apart from simple decoration, unless of course their purpose *is* to be decorative. Pots and barrels of various visual types serve as light containers with little loot but are fun to break. Crates are midline containers with coinage and possible some items. Chests of various types exists for increasingly better amounts of loot.
That’s it for now! Next time up, we’ll cover the art pipeline.