Voxel Engine Gameplay

Posted by (twitter: @AlwaysGeeky)
May 29th, 2012 7:13 am

Starting to add more and more functionality to my voxel engine and it is starting the slow evolution into a game, with fun elements. :) I’m still aiming for daily videos showing progress and hopefully each one showing a new feature or something cool.

My guide/tutorial site is taking shape, but I am still coding lots and lots and finding it hard to put a massive amount of time into writing articles. More will come with time though…

I have some questions for the community and gamers.

  • What sort of creating tools would you like to see in a voxel sandbox game?
  • Do you think it would be good to offer a library of common objects that the player can import/export to re-use as they are creating?
  • What parts of a game would you like to customize (and share with others)? Your character model, weapons, items, NPCs, quests, particle effects, world regions?


Also anyone who has played Minecraft (or other sandbox games) can probably help me by answering a couple of questions below:

  • During the creative parts of the game, i.e crafting, building, customizing… do you prefer to still be emersed in the game while in this mode or do you prefer a more abstract tool/interface? For example when crafting or building in minecraft you still have to walk around as the player, rather than having a fly around ‘god-mode’ when you can craft/build with a mouse pointer.
  • Is there anything frustrating about collaborative creating, Do you wish you had more control over allowing others to modify what you create, tools for information exchange?
  • How much do you think a sandbox game should be released with actual story content? i.e should the game already have a main quest, completion goal, or just be totally open?

Thanks 😀

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7 Responses to “Voxel Engine Gameplay”

  1. caranha says:

    Well, you know what would be really cool? Stygmergic NPCs.

    Stygmergy is the indirect communication through partial work done. So in the case of ants, they put nest together by picking up material that they see lying around, and then dropping it when they see similar material that has been dropped by other ants, or randomly with a very low chance. Just with this kind of very simple behavior, ants can build really organized nests (concentric circles, etc.

    I would love to see some NPCs with emergent properties like that. Not only picking and talking, but walking on pheromone trails, or attacking something that they see their “friends” attacking, or things like that.

    It would be cool a sandbox game where, instead of directly altering the world, you indirectly alter it by modifying NPC behavior parameters :-)

    • AlwaysGeeky says:

      Wow, that sounds really interesting and a great suggestion. I too like the idea of indirect control. Having NPCs react and do things which seems natural is always a great mechanic and can be very rewarding to a player. Helps greatly with the exploration nature of a game.

      I can imagine a building simulation where the NPCs build similar structures to what the player is building (look, style, colour, height, etc), by learning and experimentation. This would be cool as each player would have a different experience with their NPCs in their own world.


  2. vigrid says:

    The way I see it – it’s too late to release a purely sandbox voxel game. You will be accused of copying minecraft, and that’s never a good press (well, actually any press is good).

    I think you should create a basic story and goal, and a theme for your game. I really like the idea of user-generated quests – that would be an awesome thing to have in the game. Think Skyrim. The main story line isn’t as fun and epic as in Morrowind, but the side quests are where the game really shines. If you give people tools to create the side content, you will have a game that will potentially live forever.

    As for the construction and construction experience – have a look at Castle Story – I think these guys made it right. I kind of found construction / creation in Minecraft to be tedious. There are mods that allow people to use proper editing tools (what you call god-mode), and I think this shows that first/third person view isn’t the greatest when it comes to editing.

    • AlwaysGeeky says:

      I totally agree, sandbox games need to offer a lot more these days. Both in terms of actual substance and a purpose to playing the game (i.e a main story, quest, objective) as well as good tools and creation parts.

      One of the main things that frustrated me about minecraft was how primitive the creation tools are. It is an awesome sandbox that has the potential to allow massive customization and creation, yet you are limited to placing block by block… I haven’t played it recently or tried any of the mods/tools but I would have loved more control over the creation elements as a player…

      I really like the quest creation idea that I have come up with, I need to nail down some specifics and look into the technical side, but if I can implement what I have planned, it should be really fun and very powerful.

      These are a few of the things I should hopefully be addressing in my ‘game’ 😛

      • vigrid says:

        Maybe instead of creating quests or tools for them, think about ways to make quests emerge by themselves by giving NPCs or Gods or what you’ll have motivations and way to express them (and reward the player of course). It smells like a canned quest generators from Daggerfall or EVE Online, but I think the potential for sandbox quests is in emergence. I’m happy to discuss this, as I had this idea at the back of my head for some time, too :)

        And have a look at http://www.storybricks.com/ – just food for thought.

  3. supageek says:

    I think sandbox games and MMO’s need more tools based inside the fiction to give them more life and purpose. For instance, EVE is built on economy but allows the players to manipulate the economy any way they want so the players control the game and the freedom allows a lot of changes. Take a game like WoW and ad things like monster breeding or carpentry or spell research and the content of the game will be controlled and produce by the players and will infinitely change and grow. LittleBigPlanet is one of the greatest examples, giving the players a refined set of tool with which to create and allowing for remarkable creations. Minecraft allows the same with the inclusion of logic switches. Expanding these tools and restricting them to the fiction will guide the growth of the game.

    Also, more specifically, including some sort of procedural chemistry function for creating new materials (one that is not limited or defined by what the developer creates) would allow a lot of growth and discovery to games. And would exponentially expand the possibilities of sandbox games.

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