Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

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Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by Koenig on Sun Nov 22, 2015 5:11 pm

With our recent development chat I took it upon myself to note down many of the idea's that were pitched, and in the case of one of them create a short summary of what the game could be like should we reach the point that we could develop it. As a working title for this concept, I gave it the name "Tavernaid"

Tavernaid is a game in which you own and act as the barkeep of your very own tavern in one of a handful of towns. It will be up to you to renovate and run this establishment, choose the furnishings, stock the wines, select the menu, advertise, and ultimately cultivate it.  In time you will be able higher staff members to assist with the general activities or specialists for the specific needs of your tavern.
At the start of the game you will own only a simple tavern run out of the corner of a village, but as the game progresses and you gain a understanding of its mechanics (along with the capital to proceed) you can move to new cities and buy or renovate bigger and better taverns to meet the needs of your perceived business.  Will you build a portside tavern in a bustling trade city to service the sailors and tradesmen, or will you cater to the needs of high society in the capital? The sleepy village perhaps? Or the travelers in the mountains? New taverns are not a directly linear progression through the game, but instead taverns will have some clear benefits over others in some aspects, but shortcomings in others.  Where you move and what kind of establishment you want to run is up to you.  
Once you have a bar, your first step will be to choose the menu and stock up on some drinks. You can’t serve customers without food after all, though you could probably still entertain them if you had the furniture.  Given your available budget you will need to procure these items and start your business.  If all else fails or you need some extra cash for something important you can always take a loan, though this will cost you more in the long run.  Mechanically you will need to choose what kind of food and drinks you serve, as well as the entertainment you provide.  There will be many different kinds of each that you can provide and it is wise to cater to the people who frequent your tavern, however you must do so in a timely and quality fashion as your bar will accrue a reputation based on each. Word of mouth and advertising can further spread this reputation by letting more people know about it. The better your overall reputation the more people will frequent your business, however be careful that your services match up to their expectations!  As the need arises you will likely want to buy new furnishing for your establishment and upgrade or replace old equipment.  Both of these will affect your ability to perform well, either letting you appeal to specific clientele or yield better results respectively. There are other aspects such as population, audiences, and certain special situations that we will cover at a later point.
It will be very important to staff the appropriate people to help you run the bar, as doing so will allow you to run your bar efficiently and effectively. This won’t always be easy though, as you will have to keep up with your staff’s wages and be careful not to overwork them. Will you maximize profits at the cost of your staff or reputation? Or will you pour you heart and soul into the place?  The choice is yours.  Keeping your staff happy has its benefits however, as a happy staff will perform better and provide boons and buffs to your taverns overall performance, while disgruntled staff members on the other hand can impede your business.  As time goes on you and your NPC staff can forge friendships and relationships (measurable via a network tree) that further impact the overall performance of your tavern.  When the time comes to move on to a new tavern some may even follow you to it, while others might be willing to stay behind and look after the current one.  Alternatively you could fire your old employees to save money, or if you are less cold hearted you could give them a severance package.  Once again the choice is yours.

Throughout the game many NPC’s will visit your tavern, many of which will have their own story that you can play a part in. Often these stories take the form of an external problem or situation that they have landed themselves in, but as a barkeep it is up to you how to handle this.  You can provide support for them if you wish, or turn them out on their ear.  Whether it be emotional, financial, confidential, or even philosophical, the choice is yours.  Will you be a pillar of support in their time of need? Or is it about time they learned a lesson? Perhaps you could instead drowned out their sorrows with a special blend? Will you pay the gamblers debt or leave him to his fate? Perhaps you could front this man’s cost, or maybe it is a scam? Will you make a donation to the church or spend it on your employees? Should you keep this one’s terrible secret or report it to the authorities? Could you instead sell it to someone else?  There are no right or wrong answers here, just stories that you can influence.  Keep in mind that just like staff members you can also form relationships with certain NPC’s that frequent your bar, and getting to know them will likely prove useful to you for one reason or another.  Certain staff members also have their own stories related to select NPC’s and each other that can only be triggered if they are present and the correct conditions are met; managing these stories can further augment the performance of your bar (For better and worse)
Every few days you will likely need to frequent the local markets in order to stock up on ingredients and materials or in order to upgrade your current facilities.  The shops and markets available to your depends on what city you are located in and the reputation of your avatar; as time marches on you will find that more avenues are available to you to acquire your stock. The “spears” catalogue (Yes that is a painful pun) is another option available to you in which you can special order certain items that might not otherwise be available, however they will take some time to actually arrive at your tavern.  Similar to Staff members and customers, most shops have their own characters and staff selected from a pool of NPC’s;  your relationship with these NPC’s will often affect what items are available to you and what price they will charge you for it.  
During tavern hours you will have to keep an eye on the atmosphere of your tavern, which will be determined by the number of people in your bar, the activity level, and their mood respectively. Typically speaking, you want to always make sure that you have enough staff on hand to match the number of people frequenting your tavern so that none of them have to wait too long and that your staff remains engaged.  The activity of your bar, or rather the “energy” of it the more your will have to pay attention;  the more energetic the atmosphere is, the faster your customers will likely want to be served, while the lower the energy the easier it will be to keep up with everyone.  Finally we get to flavor of the gameplay, “moods”.  Every NPC in your bar including your staff has a mood associated with them.  These moods will often affect what customers want to drink, eat, or play, and in turn affect how they will react with each other.  Moods are cumulative and tend to spread, so be mindful of your staff and patrons; a cheerful melody could make everyone break out in song, while a depressed mood could make everyone else lose interest, finally be very mindful of arguments and fights, as if these were to snowball a tavern brawl might break out, potentially damaging your furniture and costing you your goods. (In game insurance exists to mitigate the damage, but it won’t pay for everything!) Every character has certain moods and activity levels they are pre-disposed towards, along with a number of stats and checks that determine whether or not your staff will be up to the task or make matters worse.  Taking orders, preparing food, providing entertainment, preparing the tables, and breaking up the odd fight or two are all parts of the job. Staff management is key for an automated tavern, however your avatar can always wade into the situation if the need calls for it. You are the boss after all, however you can only do one thing at a time however, so be sure that you are spending your time wisely!
Your avatar is the character that you will be prompted to create at the very start of the game.  (Ideally the player will be given a plethora of customization options for this, but it all depends on the final scale of the game and our development costs) Your avatar is the one character that you will be able to directly control for the majority of the game, and much like NPC characters he (or she!) will have stats and pre-dispositions of their own from which they can work with.  While your avatar will be initial average in all stats, you will be able to improve these over time by completing the related tasks in your tavern or taking lessons between shifts.  Storylines and upgrades can also further improve (or impede) your skills, just as they can for NPC Staff members.  While your initial avatar design is permanent, you will be able to customize your clothing and demeanor with various articles of clothing and story options respectively.  The former in particular is another aspect I will cover at a late point.
As mentioned before, there will be a number of cities in the game.  Each city will have its own population size, markets, exclusive NPC’s, and events that will alter what is available to your tavern should you move there.  Likewise, larger cities will often be split into two or more districts from which you can choose to build your establishment, each more likely to be frequented by certain types of customers than the other.  Sometimes these cities may have their own laws or customs that you will become aware of. You should make sure that your tavern meets the needs of the customers of the town you are in, otherwise it may become difficult to build a good reputation there.
Sometimes certain NPC’s will target you specifically for something.  Critics might attend your tavern and drastically alter your reputation there-after based on your performance.  Some NPC’s could just have It in for your character and try to cause trouble, while others might have taken a liking to you or your work, and offer their services in some form or fashion.  Be wary of going into debt, as some NPC’s might be repo-men who will undo much of the progress you have achieved.
In some towns you may run into competition with other taverns.  If their tavern provides better prices and services you will lose some of your customers to them, and maybe even your employees!  If you want to keep your customers you will have to compete with them by providing better respective services in your own tavern, keeping a good reputation, or lowering your prices. Alternatively you could try to outdo them through the story components of the game, either driving them bankrupt and repossessing their land or coming to a friendly agreement. Just as they can cause trouble for you, you can cause trouble for them; but there is always another alternative. Competition is not the only way to survive though, as you could instead focus on a specific kind of customer, specializing your tavern to meet their needs and splitting the market between you and your competition respectively.[/spoiler]
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by zulux21 on Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:54 am

I just want to say I read this but I can't offer much insight here aside from this would be a very ambitious first project. and if you didn't implement things correctly your game page would likely turn out a lot like this.

these simulation games are games I often find myself interested in trying but rarely every hold my interest long enough to unlock much more than the tutorial thus why I can't offer much help in guidance here, aside from the simple thought that while a lot of different systems sound great on paper, implementing them via program is a totally different story.

Ideally someone else will come in here who actually plays these types of games and have better insight to help you with this idea. I mostly wanted to let you know that someone at least took the time to read this and will remind you that even though a single person(me in this case) doesn't find the idea exciting, doesn't mean others won't, I just try to offer my thoughts and hope you understand that anything negative I say isn't meant in any way that constructive criticism.
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by Koenig on Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:03 am

I openly admit that this is not first game material, but I don't believe I ever mentioned it as such. However it would undeniably be very programming heavy.

*Looks at link*

Welp, so much for originality. And here I thought I actually had a unique idea.
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by zulux21 on Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:43 am

Koenig wrote:I openly admit that this is not first game material, but I don't believe I ever mentioned it as such.  However it would undeniably be very programming heavy.

*Looks at link*

Welp, so much for originality.  And here I thought I actually had a unique idea.

you did not say it was first game material, but as someone else who designs games from time to time and is aiming to make some someday I have shifted a lot of my thoughts towards how doable an idea is and how program heavy it would be.

hell my recent mobile game idea which was supposed to be more simple turned more complicated and might not work on mobile devices anymore >.<; that being said it's still a time waster game I would love to play lol.

I actually have spent a decent amount of time talking to indie developers over the last few years getting insight into the game creation process and pretty much all of them say the same thing, take a concept you have and just try to make it as it will shape your future designs quite a bit. You can hand the same game concept to 100 different people and end up with 100 different games at the end, the end game while focused by a game design is largely decided by the programming. A number of them have said how their concept design changed quite a bit after trying to make a few games as they got a far better idea of what systems would be worth the time and energy to put in so systems that would likely require large amounts of work with little overall effect on the game no longer made it into the concept phase.

One of the indie people I talk to from time to time is Robery Boyd, creator of a few indie jrpg games including Cthulhu saves the world, penny arcade 3/4 and the upcoming cosmic star heroine. He makes the games just him and his friend with some out sourcing so is likely very similar to what ever project you would try to make first.

while I can't find his talks about game design in general I did at least find his post about why indie games fail. not all of them pertain to you but some of them do. You can read it here.

the main one of interest there is the steep learning curve one. I didn't clearly state it in my last post so I will here, while the idea of games like this interest me (I have one called weapon shop on my tablet and thought about buying holy potatoes from the last humble bundle) typically there are so many little systems in place that I stop caring after the tutorial. I am not saying you can't do a game like this, but especially for so many systems in place it's a very very fine line to walk where you have to balance complexity vs ease of access. You make it to complex and you limit the people who want to play it and increase the amount of time it would take to make it, you make it to simple and people might not find it interesting or drop it quickly. You have to aim for that sweet spot where people can find something interesting to experiment with but don't have to read stuff for an hour to figure out how to play.

I also want to make sure I am clear that I am not an expert with this stuff, this is just the conclusions I have made from my discussions with developers and my own research. My own game designs are typically on the to complex side as well and something I need to work on, but at this point I am just going to focus on my one idea and see how that goes as I want to play a game like that, and can't find anything that even comes close, which likely means it's a unique idea. I suppose I should post it sometime though as I would really love for someone to read it and respond "oh like this game." as I would love to play that game instead Razz

The final thought I want to make clear is don't let anything anyone says discourage you from being creative, while some of the things I am saying likely don't sound encouraging an important part of feedback is being able to take the good with the bad and try to figure out what you actually need and apply. And this is important for game design in general. While people might have insight into something, ultimately it is you who will create a game and you who has to decide what is best for the game. You can take other people's input into consideration but always remember nothing that is ever said as feedback is right or wrong until you decide whether you agree with it or not. It's important to have confidence in your choices and faith that you are focusing on the correct feedback.

Anyways I hope I haven't been to much of a downer, I am just trying to be helpful and share some of my thoughts/wisdom like the old guy I am (but younger than mazer still woot woot Razz) If you ever hit the RPG game design I can likely help there quite a bit though as most of my game design concepts are an rpg of some sort. or a story based visual novel... but alas those blow up quickly >.<;
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by Koenig on Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:33 pm

Thanks for the advice.  A downer or no, I value any and all constructive criticism.
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by Koenig on Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:48 pm

*cautious bump*

still looking for some more criticism, questions, and/or suggestions on the idea. At the very least I would like to categorize the information for use at a later date.
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

Post by Koenig on Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:15 pm

*cries*
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Re: Get yours butts in here! Tavernaid

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