As a relative gaming zealot, I find cheating in online games abominable. When you cheat in a single player game, that is fine, you are defining you preferred game experience. When you cheat in a multiplayer game, you are forcing other players to be the foils of your preferred game experience, and that is truly vile. Say what you will about the problems of the world overshadowing anything to happen in a game, I would reply that virtual wrong-doing has the potential to be just as malicious as the real.
I feel strongly about this. If I was granted legal mandate to personally neuter cheaters, including anyone who has bought or sold game currency, I would ask for the most rusty, jagged scalpels available. The painful genocide of a race of cheaters tickles my megalomania, even if most of them do it out of ignorance of their wrongdoing. Such zeal is not completely rational, but hey, everyone has their pet peeves.
I am attempting to shift more priority into my game development endeavors because, as I have noted many times before, I have been a gamer so long that very little of what game developers come up with can really surprise or entertain anymore. If my recent finishing of Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is of any indication, I can certainly enjoy a good visual novel, but in that is sort of cheating: those are mostly about the story, not the gameplay.
My target game remains the same as it has been for quite some time: Minecraft, with Civilization on top. Or so I said. Actually, it seems what I want is a survival game where the goal is not just to survive, but rather to build something of lasting purpose.
Purpose is the keyword here, and it is a damn hard one to nail down. Games are, in a way, a microcosm of life itself. Just as life has its goals and its rules, so do games. You can bumble your way through life, accomplishing little, you take little purpose to the grave with you, but you at least have that. When you design a game, you are responsible for adding the purpose of the game as well. What is the meaning of the game I mean to make? Well, if they're microcosms of life, then what is the purpose of life? Uh oh.
Civilization level can be completely supplanted with a story; Civilization is being used as an example of a story generating mechanic. What I am having trouble deciding is what story I really want to communicate, within a framework of being a survival game.
It has occurred to me that both Planet Explorers and The Sims Medieval are actually pretty close to the game I want to make. Planet Explorers is Minecraft with a story added via quest hubs, but I find I am thoroughly tired of questing. The Sims Medieval would be excellent... if the world building were not too abstract to feel virtual worldly, and I was allowed to focus on a single hero instead of jumping around from hero to hero... and it was not a The Sims game. Animal Crossing is actually pretty close, but it stops short with deliberately insignificant subplots and making the junk collection mechanic the primary goal. The point is that I have enough near misses to ferret out where I want to be... granted, it's still a fairly wide aperture.
In any case, I am showing renewed interest in the GameMaker platform after discovering that YoYo Games is planning on bundling the YoYo Compiler for free soon. If it really does provide significantly better performance for games made in it, then it seems like a natural choice for my lofty ivory tower game concepts. Even without the benefit of the compiler, I have tested the A* pathing routines and found them to be remarkably fast, certainly faster than the soft-coded version I made in BYOND. I could see simulating a whole 2D world as a viable possibility in that engine.
I realize that the main thing holding me up is not the platform at all, although power will be an important consideration down the line. The main holdup is I need a complete design document. More, I need a complete design document that looks good enough that I am excited to want to produce the game. If I could do that, much like writing a great story concept, perhaps my muse will be committed enough to make it happen. It is tricky, though - I am better at programming than I am at making design documents. I am also a lousy artist, which might cause trouble down the line. In any case, sitting here blogging about it will not get it done.