TheZoeman

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This is a question that I've had about game development for a while. Which should come first: the story or the mechanics? With the ideas that I've had lately I've had a hard time coming up with a story to match game mechanics and vice versa. I was just wondering if there is a valid reason to think of one element before the other. If it's "okay" to start making a game if you only have either the story or the mechanics.
 

Jarrad

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I feel like establishing a world, not necessarily a story, is good before coming up with mechanics. Giving hardcore FPS gameplay a medieval skin wouldn't really fit, but airships and a good mix of swords and gunplay could be easily worked into a steampunk world.
 

Heirukichi

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I honestly think that's really up to you, but this doesn't mean your choice won't have drawbacks.


If you ask me this is what I think:


Story first:


Pros:

  • No limitations to your storytelling (you can think of a way to adapt your mechanics later);
  • More options when developing your story (like different ending and so on);
  • Will probably lead to more immersive gameplay (ofc that if you don't screw up with the mechanics).

Cons:

  • Having more freedom means you could end up having to face complicated mechanics (and I mean combat mechanics and mini-games here);
  • Haing more options means you will probably need a quest journal to keep track of your quests;
  • Having more endings means you have to write very complex events to handle them all.



Mechanics First:


Pros:

  • This will inevitably give your game a solid structure;
  • You don't have to spend hours to adapt your game mechanics to your story;
  • You can choose which script to use and you don't have to rely on them just because you're desperate and you need something similar.

Cons:

  • This could limit your storytelling and gameplay immersion
  • If you don't want to code something yourself you can ONLY rely on already written scripts which means you cannot implement everything you want to HOW you want to.



That said, since both options have negative sides, as I stated at the beginning of this post is totally up to you.
 

Ms Littlefish

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I don't think either one is necessarily more correct than the other. Personally, I had a more concrete idea for a world/story before I did gameplay. I feel like this is a chicken or the egg scenario for a lot of people. If you have a story first, it can inspire the gameplay. If you have a mechanic first, it can inspire the story. I tend to work on paper for quite awhile before I start to work in the engine anyway, so either way, I feel like I have time for ideas to bake in the oven.
 

Kes

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With my usual fudge - I tend to do these in tandem at first, when I'm only vaguely sketching out possibilities.  As I think of potential characters (story) I'm also thinking about major gameplay elements.  For example in my current project I wanted to give the player some choice about classes.  That's clearly starting with gameplay.  But I have made it so that having the possibility to choose classes appears to the player to be story driven, which happens some time after each one joins the party, not a thing that you just do at the beginning of the game in a way that usually feels a bit arbitrary to me.  Working the other way round, as I thought of characters, I decided that one of them should be a certain style.  I therefore hunted up mechanics which would enable that.


I'm fortunate in that there is a huge pool of script resources for Ace that I can draw on.  I've still had to commission the odd small script, but in terms of mechanics I've never found not being a scripter has held me back.  Getting a different animated title screen than Moghunter's, though, is another matter. (sigh)
 

TheZoeman

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I appreciate everyone's feedback on this question. After seeing everyone's ideas and experiences I think I have a better understanding of how I would like to move forward with making games. Now, if I could just try to focus on a single project idea as opposed to trying to work on multiple haha
 

Vassim74

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I think it really depends on the type of game you're making. I find that a lot of gameplay heavy games don't put too much focus on the story, while story driven games are more likely to conscript a heavy tale over flashy gameplay gimmicks. Trying to find the perfect balance between both can also be difficult too, especially if you're working with lots of deadlines. I find that it's a little easier to come up with at least some of the stories and character ideas first and then build your game mechanics around it. I started off coming up with features first, and it made my project a little harder to work with because I've spent more time debugging gameplay ideas than actually developing the game, which is a habit I'm glad to have broken out of recently.


As for multiple ideas, sometimes working on them aren't entirely bad. I mean, sure it could detract you from your goals, but I also find that working with different ideas can draw new inspirations for the game you're ultimately trying to make. In the past, I fell into lots of traps that resulted in many abandoned projects, but now that I've gotten better at committing to things, I went back to look at old project ideas and dug up lots of cool things I didn't realize I came up with back then. In fact my current project is actually a revival of an idea that I had worked on in VX that was lost to a drive failure.
 

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