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As someone who has commented on your engine threads in the past(and pointed out this challenge) it's good to see that you're getting towards the content stage of dev.

Here is my tip this time: try to find a lot of anchors outside of the game engine. You can do design incrementally by defining what the "rules", "logic", and "lore" of the world are, in order to clarify it. For example, use a mind map tool like a writer to plan scenario ideas. Pick a genre of music and a visual design language and incorporate them into the game's identity. Consider the limitations of the camera and control scheme and allow those elements to shape the scenarios. Borrow plots and characters from stories you like. Compose an essay response to something you want to critique, and then figure out ways to turn that essay into game form. If you don't have ideas for game mechanics, you can develop the story more instead and you'll eventually find some story elements that convert into mechanics.

The more of these things you can piece together in a coherent way, the more it will start to look like a complete design where "the work is cut out for you", instead of being a mass of bad content to crank out. There are a lot of ways to go about defining the design, but you will have to find some anchors if you want good content without a lot of meandering and second-guessing. The meandering should happen in notes and sketches, well before you try to write final code or assets.

Oh, and all of this can be done with an eye towards marketing. You can opt to choose and highlight elements specifically to capture an audience. The hard part tends to be finding concepts that you're happy enough with to want to think about for months on end.

I agree - ironically I am not particularly interested in a fantasy setting and many other people are tired of fantasy as well (although I could still probably get away with such a setting). Fortunately if I do decide to do some other design there is not really much work towards content yet - all of the stuff in there is broadly applicable. I have always been interested in a Fallout-style universe. As much as those things are important (and they are) above all I think I really need to laser in concept-wise as well; that may just mean mean going with something tried and true in the early stage.

Have you tried asking for help with how to invent/build contents & fun-factor on the TIGsource forums? There seems to be a section dedicated to "the non-programming aspects of game-making":


for example a "sticky" thread titled "Game design resources" from one of the subforums:


Also, I'd think people like to help with generating/brainstorming some ideas when provoked, like you're doing here with throwing around some thoughts. I can barely resist adding my $0.02 of random suggestions already :)

I browse TIG a lot but had not thought to do that - not a bad idea :)

You could always go the route of many 80's and 90's RPG's and mash up some fantasy and science fiction themes - time travel, alien worlds, other dimensions, etc. Nearly every popular franchise of that era pulled in those tropes and they give you tons of breathing room to pull in whatever elements you want.

Yep, that era of RPGs is my primary inspiration. My favorite series were Ultima, Fallout (1/2), various DnD games like Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, and quite a few more.

I think this is great advice. Is it accurate to summarize it as "artificial constraints can create unpredictable strengths"? (In this case, the strength might be a strong sense of identity)

There is probably a name for this concept, but I don't know what it is.

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