o I’m going to try out blogging a few things about the development and eventual launch of Fathom. I’m hoping to do this weekly, or at least semi weekly. I think until I figure out what I’m going to consistently say, I’m just going to stick to the stuff that I’ve worked on, or plan to work on that particular week. And who knows, maybe that’ll magically trigger some stimulating conversation…
This week, I’ll start off with the state union.
Fathom has really taken shape, and I think it’s a viable and interesting game. I think it satisfies that desire I had to make something that’s different enough from the games I’ve seen around in the market. Not to say that I have the “mostest originalest game anyone has ever played”, but I feel it’s got a mix of familiar elements put together in a somewhat unfamiliar way. I like it, it’s the game I wanted to play and I enjoy it, even though, secretly, I really suck at it. But the time is coming where I’d like to share it and see if others will enjoy it too. But I really want to present it in the best light.
Now having said that, I’ve been contemplating how to market it, and I have some concerns. Just breaking this game down into genre, this game is an Action-RTS…
1. Basically we started off with Descent-like game mechanics (because Descent was awesome): You’re in a vehicle that can move in 6 degrees of freedom (pitch yaw and roll), and you’re given weapons to shoot enemies with. But I’m pretty sure not all FPS’ers like Descent, understandably that 3D movement can be difficult to negotiate. So marketing to FPSers is might be a bit of challenge, but I feel there’s at least a good pocket of potential players out there to manage this, and it’s probably the most promising group to market towards in my opinion.
2. Next, I felt the game that was a straight up shooter wasn’t… enough. Homeworld was another favorite game, so after some design chats we said, “why not have some units you build to fight with you?” This snowballed pretty quickly. Talking about building units, usually implies structures to build them from, and resources to build those structures. Hence our whole resources->structure->units->fight! game flow started. This is basically the RTS format. So now we have some real-time strategy elements to our game, but not in the normal sense. There’s no top down battlefield view, you’re in a vehicle in the 1st/3rd person all the time, and you’re getting shot at constantly. This may not appeal to RTSers, so there’s probably some serious challenges to appealing to the RTS front.
3. Now this might be a stretch, but there’s a bit of NPC farming in the game for resources. Toward the beginning of the match there’s something reminiscent of “jungling”, so as to jump start the RTS aspect of the game. You can technically use that mechanic to improve yourself with a new DSV to pilot, almost like leveling… eh kinda. This mechanic usually gets automated with deployable turrets fairly quickly… but it’s something. Again a stretch, but it might strike a chord with MOBA players… probably not.
So with that, I made a quick draft diagram of what I think might be our target audience? Probably in the 18-30 year old demographic range is my guess.
It’s pretty niche just by the look of it, but I suppose that’s the risk you take when you try to blend genres implicitly. This obviously isn’t something that’s never been done before. Those that have played other action strategy mixes, like the Airmech players, BattleZone 2 players, or Sacrifice folks, maybe even Magic Carpet players may dig this… I just hope we can reach them to at least try it.
Final note, I realize this is sort of built on a very flat and ignorant classification of players. There’s probably much more diversity to it then I’m showing, so if you feel I’m not considering something or have some thoughts, please set me straight.