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Are people in denial about how hard it is to be a game dev?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by splattenburgers, Jan 10, 2019.

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  1. kdgalla

    kdgalla

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    I tend to get over-ambitious with my projects. I'm a professional programmer, but I can also make art, music and sound as well (Not great but good enough to satisfy me)- so I can do everything and there is no aspect of my projects that I can't do, but even if every aspect of the game is easy (Makes you think the whole thing is going to be easy), it's still hard to find time to do everything.

    Take Skyrim for a hypothetical example:
    If you wanted to program this whole game, break it down in to easy bite-sized pieces:
    1) Make an NPCs name appear above their head when you look at them. Done! that was easy.
    2) Inventory System. Took a few days. No
    GUI yet, though.

    3) Make it so when you click on a flower, it adds "blue mountain flower" to your inventory. Done! only took a few hours but I had to go back to number 2 and change the inventory system.
    4) Make it so when you walk past a shop counter real fast, all the stuff falls on the floor. Trivially easy! That's done.
    5) Make it so you can't drop quest items. Hmm. I wonder if I need to go back to number 2 and re-write the inventory system from scratch.
    ...
    then you realize this list has 50,000+ bullet points and you've spent a month working on the first 5 (I have a day job too, after all).

    Then we get to doing the art!

    1) a made a spoon!
    2) The fork took a lot more time but now that's done too.
    ...
    Oh, this is going to take a while.

    This is why I've changed the scope of my epic fantasy RPG/Zelda-like to instead, being a short, linear platformer with light combat elements.
     
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  2. aer0ace

    aer0ace

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    It's not even just the amount of bullet point tasks to do. Once you get some done, you still need to re-evaluate along the way whether mechanics work, whether it's fun, whether that spoon and fork you built matches the visual style to the trebuchet you build later on. It's a lot of iterating over the ENTIRE work, such that it feels like a cohesive, smooth, aesthetically pleasing, yet challenging experience. It's not realizing that ITERATION part that trips up beginners. It's not a one-and-done thing. A lot of the work ends up not getting used, some of it has to be redone because things aren't working out. And the easy thing to do at this point is to quit instead of trying to fix it, because after all is done, it feels like "a waste of time", and like you're "not making any forward progress". When in fact, it's all part of the entire process of finishing the game!
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  3. kdgalla

    kdgalla

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    Absolutely. That's sort-of what I was hinting at when I was joking about refactoring the inventory system over and over, but you expounded that point better.
     
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  4. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    This got me thinking, I've never even thought of it as work before. Or hard, just some things are complicated and take a little more time. The whole thing is fun as hell to me, even when I was a kid just messing around with WED/GED making levels out of my dreams and 3DSMax and whatnot (C'mon, we all had a copy). I'll play some games, change chairs and try to make some games, both are equally fun. But yeah, S*** takes time to digest and come out. I just happen to be psychotic enough to not get bothered by it. I mean, I've forgotten everything I knew, but it's not really a hinderance. Having said that, all I got to show for it, right now, is my ass.
     
  5. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    OMG. I'm old. I did the same, but in 3D Studio in DOS...
     
  6. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Let's feel old together. I've used 3d Studio 3.
     
  7. aer0ace

    aer0ace

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    Yeah, same here. 3D Studio R4 from 7 floppy disks. I liked the hierarchical menu so much. It took a while for me to switch over to Max, especially since the machine I had at the time was barely able to run R4...
     
  8. tiggus

    tiggus

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    Only counts if you had to edit the license key in hex with PC Tools.
     
  9. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

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    I don't think people are in denial about difficulty, everyone knows gamedev is sort of difficult and requires patience, that's no biggie

    People are in denial about development duration

    It's very easy to plan in your head a project that takes +20,000 work hours... like...... tactical shooter with aliens and planet traveling BANG 10 year game development... it's easy like that, and so common
     
  10. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    Ha! Quitter! I never switched to Max.

    (I switched to lightwave instead :p )
     
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  11. RichardKain

    RichardKain

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    I get where you're coming from. I don't think most of the people who get into game development consider it to be onerous. If it was, they wouldn't do it. That's certainly how it is for me. We're just pointing out that it does involve a considerable amount of effort and training. Far more effort and training than some people expect it to. No one can really appreciate exactly how much effort goes into game development until they've tried to make a game themselves. That's when you really "get" it.

    I adore game development, and have for quite some time. And this is AFTER I attempted to make a game and spent multiple months of my life pouring every free second into it. I am well acquainted with how much manpower and time this hobby requires, and I love it anyway. You clearly feel similar, and there are plenty of other people in the same boat. It may not be easy, but that doesn't mean it isn't appealing. I can work on a personal game project for hours and come away from that effort feeling invigorated and excited. I hardly ever consider any aspect of it to be a chore.

    And I often envy the young up-and-comers. Once upon a time, game development was far more arcane and inaccessible. The cost of the software alone was enough to prevent most people from ever even trying to develop a game. Compilers and IDEs used to cost thousands of dollars, ditto for 3D programs. A copy of Photoshop used to run you hundreds of dollars, and was pretty much required for serious 2D art. OOP barely even existed in those days, and most engines were a tangle of C coding. (and were also prohibitively expensive)

    These days the vast majority of commercial game engines have free versions for indies to use, and anyone to learn on. Numerous open-source alternatives exist that can be utilized free-of-charge. Pretty much all of the tools you might need have capable free alternatives. Blender exists for 3D artists, GIMP for pixel pushers, Inkscape for vector enthusiasts, and Visual Code for programmers. Even Microsoft's Visual Studio has an express version. And the internet is flooded with a wealth of documentation and support for anyone curious enough to dig in. Things are SOOOO much better now.
     
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  12. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    TLDR; I said I enjoyed it, not that it was easy.


    Ah, the voice of the people! Is that when you get it? So at the top you say everything's a struggle for you, and at the bottom you say how easy it is. I am not your talking point, I am not your target audience, don't mansplain to me. Things still cost the same, btw, you'r talking like it was a listless dystopian past where software and documentation was inaccessible. There was plenty of documentation, if you were willing to read. Sorry to seem defensive, but I see no reason why you would talk to me like that, in that belittling fashion. Maybe I don't have anything to learn from you. Maybe I just don't like 4 paragraphs of lecture when I didn't ask you a question.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  13. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    It does kind of seem like a contradiction / paradox even what I wrote in a couple of different posts. Because it is in our control as far as setting scope. And that goes a long way toward making a project simpler or more complex. A much shorter time or a much longer time. And on one hand it is a lot easier having information and tools so readily available than it was back in the C64 days when basically we had monthly magazines or a book or two if we were lucky to find one. Most of the stuff was just trial-and-error every step of the way. Yet on the other hand everyone else has the same information & tools available and expectations have increased which kind of takes away some of the advantages all of the information & tools being readily available brings so in a way nothing has changed.

    Everything takes time. I always wish each thing each tiny tidbit of a task would take about 0.1% of the time it actually does. All I know at this point is my head is already kind of fried and I need to get to work on my next game now.
     
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  14. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    No worries, I was on Discreet 4, not so far off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  15. JohnnyA

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    I saw someone mentioning GameDev was harder than other creative pursuits but from an 'ability to make money perspective' I think its easier. If we consider only those making money from their art (i.e. contract work, etc)

    - I know several game devs who make enough to support a family
    - I know several musicians who make enough to support themselves, but they couldn't support a family
    - I know no visual artists who make enough to support even themselves (noting I know a lot less visual artists than musicians and game devs)

    Anecdotal of course, does that align with others experience?
     
  16. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    That's actually how it is with people I know...I never thought about it.
     
  17. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    The fairly reliable stream of single digit post count members creating threads in the Connected Games forum, with seemingly little to no coding experience, asking what turn key solution is best for X hundreds or sometimes thousands of currently connected users to a single server has me thinking there is a lot of denial out there.
     
  18. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    I like to think they have all knuckled down and are now working hard on their MMOs. They are in a better place now.
     
  19. 5argon

    5argon

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    I started my first game with 4 friends, turns out doing fine but provides like 700USD per person per half a year. We don't care and just take a day job and think of it as a bonus money. Technically I am the only one in the team right now.

    Later I stop sharing those money and put aside some portion of it and says you can only take this portion if you work on pushing a new version for the game (calculated hourly) but no one cares because that's still so low compared to day job, so I ended up draining that money alone from time to time. I even have to half the amount for only myself because otherwise it would run out before I can push a new version.

    Later I made some asset store stuff and ended up doing better than the game itself. Recently I got over the "keep alive" threshold just by the asset store income. In Thailand eating everyday to stay alive will be 200USD/month, I don't travel, don't need public transport and some more for coffee shop where I work on a game, and my family pays for house. So yeah I managed to get over 200USD passive per month which makes me immortal. Good decision to publish an asset store item.

    I started a new game solo this time, to keep the cost down I don't hire but I still commission artists to help. I spent about 3000-4000 USD for the game over the course of 2 years. It is a scary amount, but nothing comparable to the amount if I decided to hire, it would be much more. I could say I am happy to not be in debt? And when I am done with it I would go to a day job to find new opportunities. I am a type of wanting to do various things rather than collect and grow, I do want to experience office life with stable income. (for a while, then I will decide later)

    Then I learned ECS to fix some problem in my game, then I used it to do some part time job which my manager think it should be difficult and takes multiple months. As I listened to his requirement it is being mapped to components and systems in my head so I ask him could I use any method? He said yes so I go ahead and turns out with ECS I could do it in 10 days. I got more than my asset store items and my old games combined on average.

    Also I do a part time sound design and composer job for some other game company.

    What I want to tell you is things you want to do does not necessary that it have to be able to make a living. If you want to make games then you may have to take a day job additionally. For example what if it is not a game, but you really want to do crosstitch and want to make it big, I think it is even less resonable than making a game to make a living with crosstitch, but they have something in common, it is difficult than avarage (the stuff most ppl are doing) to make a living with. I ended up making more from non-game stuff as I said, which I think I am really lucky that I found them along the way.
     
  20. Frpmta

    Frpmta

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    Unity ruined my life.

    I was making 3 MMOs but due to Unity blocking Improbable now I only have time to make one :(
     
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  21. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Or be like me, I don't care about how hard it is, I'll just grind it away
     
  22. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    Maybe will be at least good one, since you have opportunity to put good effort and focus. ;)
     
  23. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    There is definitely much denial and part of it is the marketing of the "ease" and "pain free" way that you are allegedly supposed to be able to make a game with Unity. The "democratization" myth. There is still far too big of a gap between creative visions and IMPLEMENTING it inside a computer system. So many technical things to do, and like the OP said gotta be able to do many diverse things.... many programmers can't draw good art, artists that can't code, etc. I'm having to/trying to learn to draw more art now because in hindsight I see how I always was quite good at the programming but as soon as I needed art, I hit a total brick wall and the project died. The only way forward IS to take on all these different roles and abilities. Either you gotta pay someone else to do it meaning, ultimately, you are not really 100% the developer any more, or you gotta open up to learn a whole bunch of skills, some of which you may or may not even enjoy.
     
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  24. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    It is really a denial and futile saying that Unity didn't do already a lot for democratization and easing on the developers. Of course it's not enough and I don't see that they would stop finding ways to make it even easier. In fact I see the opposite. Visual Scripting BS anyone?
     
  25. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Completely agree on taking on all of the different areas in one way or another. That has to be done to complete a game.

    The other topic though about Unity it is possible that Unity just isn't the best choice for you. And I am not trying to push you away from it by any means. Just saying every one of us is different and although a lot of people apparently connect very easily & quickly with Unity that is certainly not true for everyone or all people would be using Unity period. I think it is possible there are even some people using it who might find a more productive and enjoyable experience working in something else.

    Just wanted to mention that. It is possible there is another way another engine that you would connect with better and if so that is not anything bad about you or this particular engine. So maybe check out some other things.

    As an example I made my last game in AppGameKit and am developing the current one in Construct 3 using all visual programming. Obviously anyone familiar with my preferences and posts over time knows this is a huge change but for whatever reason for the first time just found a GUI-based and even visual programming based engine that seems highly logical to me. And it is an amazing experience for me personally at how much work it saves and how much more efficient it makes the entire dev process compared to me writing everything myself as I have enjoyed so much for decades.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  26. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    One of the troubles with democratization is that everyone has access to the democratized tools. Which means a well funded team of 50 will almost always be able to outpace an individual. No matter how good the tools get.
     
  27. nipoco

    nipoco

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    It get's even harder when you hanging around this forum all day long, isntead of doing something productive :confused:
     
  28. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Maybe if we become Unreal developers, we don't post on the forums on the weekends. ;) (sorry I couldn't resist)
     
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  29. nipoco

    nipoco

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    I'm pretty sure that also helps.
     
  30. Zarconis

    Zarconis

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    Hindsight's a beautiful thing, I believe we've got a tendency to equate difficulty to a game category whilst in some cases it works ultimately it's project dependant and even more importantly YOU dependant.

    There's a stark contrast between a fully cinematic RPG experience like the AAA classic's opposed to a half arsed RPG walking simulator and I personally would only be happy with the former. So, I assisted on projects to gain experience and I did some small personal projects like a side scrolling shmup.

    I'm already a musician so audio was fine, then I focussed heavily getting up to scratch with artwork. The project was a nightmare from day one, pre-made engines fight you at every turn (even if you're able to fix issues in the first place), AAA engines are so epically convoluted that it takes an inordinate amount of time to do anything meaningful (in the context of THIS project, I mean with some experience you can bash out a side scrolling shmup in a week easily).

    Years on I'd pretty much given up but I decided to strip it all back, I used a 2D framework with some pre-made art / animations. I automated everything I could to the point where I didn't even really need to code, this was done through event managers, JSON files, finite state machines and some common use macro's.

    Six months in I'm still only FOUR hours into the game, forget the technical or art side there's a ridiculous amount of moving pieces and implementation vs. design initiates soooo many re-iterations. You begin to understand how most AAA companies waste 10MIL+ just on prototypes, Square Enix initially said the FF7 remake was "too much work" with a massive team behind them.!!

    On the flip I am beginning to understand whether or not my game is fun in practice, it's playable / workable with an in depth choice, battle, inventory system and story line. I do want to convert this to 3D at some point but every part of it is a slog, nothing is EVER straight forward when it comes to 3D RPG's even from a third party toolset perspective.
     
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  31. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    That's very true, even games that look simple have a lot of moving pieces. I haven't got to the point of balancing my game but I expect it'll not be easy.
     
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  32. Quingu

    Quingu

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    The reality is that very few games can be made solo in a reasonable time frame. Many inexperienced indies are unable to estimate the amount of work needed to complete a project. Beginners frequently underestimate work time needed by an order of magnitude. They think something should take a month while it takes a year. Making games is not very hard. It's simply extremely time-consuming. Proving Fermat's Great Theorem was hard. Making a big game is hard as in leveling a mountain.
     
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  33. Zarconis

    Zarconis

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    Sure, cause nearly having to be nearly PHD level in mathematics, physics, audio engineering, art, computer programming etc. is real simple. All those "specialists" that spend decades improving things like lighting systems must be muppets right?

    It's completely dependant, just because an engine throws a smorgasbord of tech at you it doesn't automatically equate to a gruelling victory. As soon as you hit limitations (which you will) without the applicable background skills you'll be dead in the water instantly. All artwork considerations factored, try getting a game that runs poorly on a GTX 1080 onto a console platform.. Sometimes it requires middleware integration or a complete rendering pipeline re-write.!

    There were a bunch of people who demanded UE4 source code access so they could flex their programming genius when they hit issues. Low and behold none of them could even fix basic issues with shadows.! That said, it took Epic a year.
     
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  34. Auticus

    Auticus

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    Definitely valid, each of the skills used in game development require years of honing. I have accepted that I am a programmer with many years of experience, but I am a poor graphics artist. I need help with my art and animation. I take Blender courses to improve but to really master graphics design and sculpting, I will need several years.

    And thats just making 3d models. Level design, lighting, etc... those are all also skills that take years to really get good at.

    If one wants to go at it solo one needs to tackle projects that can be accomplished in a solo-fashion. Trying to make the next world of warcraft or skyrim by yourself on unity is not a realistic endeavor. Making an angry birds or retro NES clone however is very doable solo.
     
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  35. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Asset bashing a open world game is not entirely impossible, look at PUBG for example. Sure not the most visually stunning game but a large map never the less.
     
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  36. Zarconis

    Zarconis

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    It's also amazing how something so simple like a camera perspective can cause so many headaches, I'm thinking about switching my project to top down. On PC / Mac that'd be 90% of all performance issues gone in seconds.!
     
  37. xVergilx

    xVergilx

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    Yeah, that's what I do. Maximum kitbashing, minimum art creation.

    (Because I suck @ art)
     
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  38. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    I think I am in denial about how hard it is to be a computer scientist. Someone send halp.
     
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  39. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    I agree wholeheardtedly. Its been an arduous journey creating code for my game. Its only recently that I discovered that assets can make things so much easier. Why rewrite the wheel? Only if there's profit to be made. I come to realize that coding is cool and fun to do but to tackle the creative aspects requires you to not be bogged down with code. Which is where assets come in!

    If you're not using assets then you're doing it all wrong!

    Part of me wants to create an asset, but not sure what. To "test my mettle", and prove that this is possible. Not sure what idea I'd run with but still. It would be nice to have a resume piece and make some $$$ in the process.
     
  40. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    There is no wrong, or right. There are plenty reasons, why/when use/not use assets.
     
  41. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    @Antypodish I admire your positivity and pragmatism. I just think that in the interest of time, assets can be very useful. That is all, but I do agree. Not using assets can have its benefits too.
     
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  42. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    I fully agree. I am not denying that.

    However, for some, time is not a critical factor. For example hobbiests.
    Or when uniqueness is required.
    Or performance is a priority.
    Etc.
     
  43. lucernagame

    lucernagame

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    >user posts experiences they've had in the hopes of adding to and helping the conversation be productive

    Blankdeed says:
    I say: Are you a bot?
     
  44. satchell

    satchell

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    Incredibly passionate thread. I'm not smart 1.9 gpa. I like to draw, photoshop, whatever. Don't you? I consider it an incredible hobby for artists or creators. And would encourage anyone to share their creations. That said I'm open to criticism.

    My first app was on blackberry maybe 09 or 2010 within 9 months, then android, both with the Eclipse IDE. After consuming HTML to PHP, apache, whatever. Let's call that the 4 year Rabbit Hole. Circa 2014, I remembered looking at Unity awhile before and new there was potential but acquiring assets is hard, harder then. The lack of content available to Devs/Small Publishers was not good. That is slowly changing artists are realizing their channel's. Unity, I'm hoping continues to showcase AAA Assets. [Insert take my money] If I took myself 10 years ago to today It'd be too easy. Photoshop(Gimp), blender, Unity, ability to comprehend as few as 3 up to 100's of pages of code. I've published 6 original titles. While working full time jobs. Anyone can do it.

    It's oversaturated anyways. My games aren't AAA. So cream of the crop with the flappy bird exception. My advice is be better than the next guy. It's sad to see harsh responses but I get the frustration from those who spent money on their EDU and have to compete against terrible publishers destroying the property value. Even huge publishers are taking the easy way out in recent.

    Thank You, Brent
     
  45. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    I compare game industry to fashion industry, where every little girl wants to be a super model. Unfortunatelly, there is only space very few. And often already well known families. All rest are to be in a shadow at best.
     
  46. BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

    BlankDeedxxAldenHilcrest

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    Affirmative, I am a toaster. I compute in bread.

    Edit: I should have said, "Bread and butter is my bread and butter.".
     
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  47. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    On further reflection, making a game is only hard if you compare it to a normal job or a normal hobby. The same way that being better than average is only better if you are comparing to the average.

    Maybe the difficulty of game development is the true state of normal human endeavor, and a normal job is just being lazy.

    The only question is, what can you achieve and how much do you want to sacrifice to get it? There are no right or wrong answers.
     
  48. Ne0mega

    Ne0mega

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    I have to:

     
  49. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    Indeed. Once you give the same tools to multiple groups of people, who compete with each other on an essentially better but EVEN playing field, who REALLY benefits? The tool company. They don't care if markets become saturated, the are only interested in maximizing the number of users.

    How about we make it so that everyone on the planet can make a game. Then..... no-one will need to buy games any more.

    The same thing has happened with the "drop shipping" model in business.... you can't sell hardly anything on amazon anymore because you'll get 50 other companies competing to sell the same thing.
     
  50. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    7,846
    Anyone on the planet can make games now. Anyone on the planet can sing, act, write, dance, make shows/movies, cook, play football, run and jump. That is just life, always has been. If you want to make games, make games! Have fun and enjoy. Doing something in no way guarantees that other people think you are good enough to throw money at you. That is up to you. Having tools != excelling. Most people suck at most of those things, and are happy to invest their money they earned from doing things they are good at into those who are good at those other things.

    Make games and have fun. If you want to make money at it, don't suck at it.
     
    imaginaryhuman, Pagi, aer0ace and 4 others like this.
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