Nah I feel like you can learn the basics in about a weekend if you have the time :)
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I would aim for a small group of friends, when I started GMing everything I read said never do more then 4 starting out because it just becomes a nightmare to manage and make fun for everyone if you are not prepared.
Other two questions are really up to the person running the adventure and the people in the group, if the players are less into the role playing parts of it and more just want to get into the combat then you probably want a higher number then a group that wants to try and talk their way or stealth their way through most problems.
Maps can make for great world building material though!
So wave spawn system is in and working but an unexpected issue has come up. Apparently if you use the built in team function NPC melee attacks don't hurt players. Which means I am now going to have to add my own custom team code. (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
Spent most of today working out how to handle the wave spawning mechanics. I think I have most of the design portion done I just need to implement it. Decided I didn't want waves to be hardcoded or have them baked into the maps. It will now load in the wave data for text files that the game parses. This way if you have some cool custom NPC you want to play against or adjust difficulty you can without digging through my code or recompiling a map.
Another thing I still need to decide on is how spawn positions are chosen. Right now it's done by grabbing the position and angle data from spawn points the mapper places but I think a more elegant solution might be to make volumetric spawn zones that way you can cover more area without placing a ton of these spawn points. Then when the game needs a spawn point pick from the volume, do a trace to the floor and send that back.
Use premade assets or ones you can put together fast and figure out what is necessary and what is just something that would be nice to have. For example I could work on a player model selector right now or I could just throw a few lines of code in that gives them a random one from a list.
In an alternate reality there exists a sport known as fluctus salvos where teams competing in arenas fight seemingly never ending waves of enemies that the royal event coordinator requisitions from the royal labs. This game is concerned with two such teams, Team Snake and Team Iguana.
Game is a team based wave survival where two teams try to finish all the waves before the enemy team does or be the last one standing. The twist however is if a team kills an enemy from a wave it respawns in the other teams arena. Teams also earn gold in various ways during the match which they can use to buy items/upgrades. This is all loosely based on this old custom map I played for Supreme Commander FAF long ago called "Waves of Death" that I thought was super fun.
I originally wanted to use UE4 for this project but truth be told I don't have a lot of experience with it and I really wanted to make something multiplayer focused. When I was trying to read up on how one might go about adding it the general consensus seemed to be "don't do this for your first UE4 project unless you have a lot of time". So I fell back to what I knew which is Source.
I'll add pictures/video to this first post once I have some but right now it's all just dev textures and bot players running around into walls.
One thing I definitely want to focus on with this game jam is trying to change my habit of trying to make things look nice before the actual gameplay portion is finished. In that regard the only things done this weekend was writing code for the warmup/lobby system and setting up some basic files. The initial playable version is probably going to be using a good number of default HL2 assets. Hopefully I can talk a friend into helping with some of the art otherwise expect some ugly reskined citizens with poorly drawn snakes and iguanas on their shirts.
That sounds really cool! Have you ever heard of Carnage Heart? Was kind of an overly complicated mech game for PSX (and later the PSP) that had you doing some flow diagram style programming. I could never really get into because doing all that with a controller was very time consuming I felt like. Might provide some interesting ideas for ya.