I’ve been looking over the ORK Framework (ORK from here on in) recently, clicking all the buttons and checkout out the integrated help panels, and while it seems like a lot of boxes to check and forms to fill out, I think it’ll go a long way towards helping streamline development of…something. Just, something.
The difficult part is going to be coming up with the part of the game that’s not really covered by the mechanics. With Project Universe, I didn’t need to really come up with a story. I was just providing the tools that would allow the player to interact with different aspects of the game — buying, selling, shooting, discovering, etc. — and let him go on from that point. Anything I try to work on with ORK is going to require an actual narrative of some kind. Maybe.
The easiest path would be to use ORK to handle missions, inventory, characters, combat, and AI. I’d be on the hook for visuals (terrain, models, animation, audio, UI) and story, of course. Taking this route would lead to a relatively standard RPG. I would need to come up with a story and missions, and would also need to spend cash on city terrain assets, and would have to find some way to deal with character and NPC models. That last part frightens me the most, because one option would be to have a character creator with customization options and that requires a whole lot of art assets that I don’t have and don’t have the skills to create. Or I could just go the Deus Ex route and say “you are this person, and this is your story”, trends be damned.
The more difficult path would be to use ORK to handle the above, and add to it the same elements as above, but also to add ancillary systems to the mix. I’m not sure how to get access to ORK from code, but I’m sure it can be done. There’s also a framework for plugins that allow developers to create their own systems to be recognized by the framework, and to hopefully take part in ORK’s features such as loading and saving, menus, events, and variable exposure. This option means that not only do I need to tackle the “easy” paths more difficult structures, but have to figure out how to code against ORK and maybe make plugins.
The bottom line is this: no matter how “easy” any of this seems when employing shortcuts like ORK or Playmaker or other framework, there’s never an “easy” way to create a game. It’s a project, like siding a house or building a boat (a real boat). When we’re living in the house or riding in the boat, we tend to take the work that went into putting these things together for granted, and that’s part of the point of construction anyway — so we don’t all have to construct our own. It’s only when we get down to trying our hand at making something ourselves do we really gain a deeper appreciation for the difficulty and time that goes into the things we enjoy.