Update #8: Half Time; Game Design Goals

  Mar 29, 2018     Iron Harvest

Kickstarter Campaign Half Time! 

As of today, we’re officially in the second half of our Kickstarter. Needless to say, the first half has been excellent! We’re going to hit $1 Million this Saturday.

Money pledged (including PayPal): http://www.iron-harvest.com

Game Design Goals

Before we even had a title for our RTS, we had a series of about 20 extensive meetings where we discussed RTS games in general, specific reference titles we were playing at the time and what we felt were the most important goals we wanted to achieve with the game that became Iron Harvest.

Here are some of the goals we set. These are just a very small fraction and pretty high-level stuff. But we thought it would be interesting to show you some of our goals, because we want everything we do each and every day to bring us closer to achieving these goals.

If you like it, let us know in the comments. There are a lot more disciplines / parts of the game we defined goals for.

Gameplay Rules

  • There should be as few rules as possible and as few exceptions from these rules as possible.
  • Rules should be communicated clearly or - even better - rules should be experienced instead of taught.
  • Rules should be intuitive and "logical" (based on real-world experience).
  • We start with almost no rules at all and we only add a rule if it enhances the user experience considerably. We DO NOT add rules to make the game more complex or "realistic".
  • Rules have to matter. A rule like "If you attack from an elevated position, you make 5% more damage" isn't worth it. If you double your damage or kill an enemy instantly, it might be worth a try.
  • Traceability: Players need to be able to understand what's going on, just by looking at it.

User Interface & Controls

  • Simplicity: "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
  • We want a clear, intuitive design: The less we need to explain, the better. We will try to avoid redundancies.
  • Let the player decide: The player can decide what they want to see and where they want to see it. Everything can be configured. This way, a beginner isn’t overwhelmed and a pro has all the info they need.
  • The player needs immediate feedback for everything they doe (visual, sounds).
  • The UI has to be fun. A look that matches the time period and the “mechanical world” we’re in. 

Leveldesign & Gameplay

  • Players need at least one clear goal at all times. It can be very hard to achieve that goal (or even unclear on how to achieve it) but it should never ever be to hard understand what that goal is.
  • Sandbox gameplay: We believe RTS players don’t want to be spoon-fed by the developers, they want to be in control and come up with their own tactics and playstyles. Players are faced with varied challenges in the game and they have a wide arrange of tools and possibilities to solve them.
  • Players need enough time to assess a situation, explore all possibilities, come up with a plan and execute that plan. Tactics have to be more important than clicks per seconds.
  • When you reach a goal, a new one, an even more interesting/bigger/harder goal, appears, leading up to the final showdown. Action-heavy phases alternate with quiet ones. A level should oscillate between “almost too easy” and “almost too hard”.
  • Levels should be visually interesting and tell stories (big ones and small ones). Nothing should be there “just because”. Everything needs a reason to be there and each level has to tell us something about the world and the people living there.