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Epic "I'm making a game Thread" Part 2!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Freakyuno, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Ok, so the first post in this series was a long post with a lot of "startup" nostalgia, and an overall statement on helping those new to the platform get their game going! We had some great discussion and lots of opinions were thrown around. Since all of this is about opinion...I think that's great! Lets get started on Post 2...

    In this post, my goal is to help those newbies overcome some of the more intangible decisions. When you start out, it's pretty easy to show up on the forum and ask programming or networking questions, but what about those harder decisions. The ones related to "should I?" rather than "how do I?" - Lets jump right in!

    Hey, so you've decided to start to make your game. What are the first steps to ACTUAL game design when it's done in the studios, do you follow those closely, which ones will work, and which ones wont for an indie developer.
    So to start with. Here's a pretty rough flow of how a brand new game with brand new IP gets started in a game studio.

    1.) It always begins with the game idea. If you set-out to make a game without an idea for a game then you're doing it backwards. Trust me, it happens. There's plenty of people that start into making games without an idea for one, but with an idea that they want to make one (for money usually). This really doesn't work especially for the inexperienced. Luckily most of the people on these forums have more game ideas than experience making them, so it's not really a problem.

    2.) Prototypes. A studio, will take over all game ideas, and they'll start prototyping on paper, the world, the characters, the rules, the technology, the concept art...then they start to transfer some of those individual prototypes on paper into game or tech prototypes of discreet systems. These little tiny disconnected demos are fast to create, answer a lot of questions (and open up a lot of questions) and pave the way. IMPORTANT: Make these prototypes with the FULL intent to throw them away. DO NOT make these with the intent of refactoring them into game logic. That will defeat the whole purpose, and no mater how many times you tell me you "wont" do it...you'll start to invest to much time and energy into it because it "may" eventually become part of the game.

    3.) Start Setting Budgets. You need to realistically know what you can spend to make this game, in terms of money AND time. If you're an indie developer or a big studio, this is a great exercise. Budget your time and your cash and decide what your maximums are.

    4.) Develop an agile delivery and development plan. Agile iterations save software projects, which include games. You'll love it - start using agile iterative development now...and you'll never turn back. Really understand the concepts.

    5.) Finalize a small section of your rules well enough to get started, finalize a small enough cross-section of technology to base your start on, and GO! (this is where 4 comes in, you don't have to finalize it ALL up front)
    Ok, so now that you're started...now what? Do I really need to do all of these things as an indie? Maybe, maybe not. It depends what your goals are. Do you intend to work for a studio someday? Do you intend on finding a publisher or investment backing at some point, do you intend on hiring other developers and making a real go of it? Then you'll want to get some of these things situated up front, or it can cost you time and money down the road.

    Ok - so you're happily cooking along, your game is in development, you're happy with your progress, and direction and you feel like your game is finally taking shape...BOOM! You hit your first major impasse...

    This can be really tough, because you're inexperienced, you're not confident in your ability to answer some of these hard questions correctly, and you may spin your wheels long enough to stall your project.
    1.) Develop a decision "timeframe" - You'll research your options for X amount of time, and then you'll pick one and move on.

    2.) Decide up front how important the problem is to solve and stick to your core values. Things like "How do we solve floating point precision loss in our world" when you're on your second terrain may be something you'll have to face - but you really don't have to face it right now.
    IMPORTANT: A lot of people will advise you early on, that making small mistakes can have ripple effects into your game later on and be really hard to fix. They aren't wrong, but there's a major problem with that line of thinking, later on your much better equipped to deal with the problem, you'll have a full scope for the problem, and MOST IMPORTANTLY you may spend months solving a problem up front, and your game changes and it would never have been an issue.
    Do not let large problems and the fear of making the "best" decision paralyze your ability to move forward.
    Ok, there's a TON more I could say, but at this point, I'd like to open up these posts for comments. I know I'm going to get varying opinions, and I can appreciate that - so don't hold back.

    If you're a game maker that has published a game to mainstream channels, please jump in and give advise to your experiences as well. It can only help someone wanting to go that direction.
     
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  2. Ironmax

    Ironmax

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    I just want to add that, allot of people confuse game director with game developer. If you never made a game before, or have no idea how to code or design a game, there is no general rule that you have to start with tetriss. If your leader skills are good, and your idea is grounding, plus you have the finical spine. Then it is up to the game director to gather the resource to realize your idea/plan.
     
  3. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    That's really good feedback @Ironmax - There's also nothing saying that you cant be "both" - but keep in mind, that if you're going to set out and recruit a crew, you're going to mainly be the director, and you'll probably need to do more of that than develop, to make sure everyone stays moving the direction you want.
     
  4. Farelle

    Farelle

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    thanks for your posts :) I enjoy reading them and help me to know that I'm probably on the right path atm. And reading such posts also helps me keeping my head above the water, since I currently had to make a break from development :O It's hard if you want to develop, but can't :/
     
  5. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Thanks Farelle! How come you've had to stop development? What kind of game are you making, and how far into it are you? Are you an indie, or a small studio, working with a group of friends, or on your own?
     
  6. Farelle

    Farelle

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    had to stop, because I can't handle a 15 months old toddler AND game development at the same time ^^ I thought I could, but I was increasingly getting irritated and didn't get enough sleep on top of that, so I had to put it on hold, until the next "non-teething and baby going to sleep at set time" phase comes again XD
    the type of game, difficult to answer...The game I really really want to make is an mmorpg, fantasy and hugely on the social side and sandbox game. But due to my inexperience and several people telling me I should start smaller I was going back and forth with other projects, being too afraid to start coding on the big project :eek: (which is probably why I like your posts) so I have like one side project currently, which is a procedural horror amoeba/underwater game XD
    both the horror game and dragonlands have trello boards for concepts and kind of scrum boards (with more practical tasks) aswell as game design documents and alot of reference material and sketches. The horror game has some 3d modelled cave system for testing purposes, an own shader for the character and character controls that I made. oh and some particle and special effects, since it's alot about atmosphere I wanted to set a focal point on that.
    and I'm working alone :eek:

    I definitely plan on going for this years ludum dare again though, so the "stopped game development" can be more interpreted as needing to take a break for as long as it's necessary.

    But yeah....sometimes I wished I could do more...and since you brought the topic with naysayers up again, I was thinking, that it would probably make more sense for me to do what I want and not constantly compromise with imagined expectations of others, that I need to do something else first....I'm here for my game/games, not for making games for others...and it might take me a long time to get something presentable and there might be a future I don't know of and I can't prepare for it, but I want it so badly....

    I know you didn't ask for that much and I wanted to say more, but I'm stopping here now XD I'm interested in what you think :)
     
  7. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    @Farelle - Thank you for your openness, and I can appreciate the situation you're in. There was a time in my life where I didn't mind working 80 hour weeks (and in fact I did, for Microsoft, and then my own two companies) - I mind now, and I have wee ones around that require my attention.

    It's an important thing that you realized the balance in your life was off, and you were able to prioritize what was important. This is sometimes a hard thing...I've been there.

    I 100% agree, that you should be making the game YOU want to make. I think you're realistic enough about your time, ability, and direction. I think you're probably smart enough to understand your personal limitations, and the roadblocks you're going to run into making an MMORPG with open world sandbox attributes.

    The cool part about making a game like that though, is it's extremely easy to compartmentalize and build small parts of it, discreet systems, isolated components, day night cycles, encounter AI systems, pathing and patrol mechanics, procedural (or hand made) level workflows, and then the "features" that make your game special and I'm sure you have a punch list.

    When you get back to it, stay in touch...I'd love to track what you're doing. :)
     
  8. Farelle

    Farelle

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    if you feel like it, you can always follow my blog :D I try to keep posting on it, even if I feel like having not done much :) and I'm using it almost for a year now :D https://fartoindie.wordpress.com/

    other than that, since I can not completely stop, (the URGE! XD) I try to atleast gather more references and watch tutorials or write down notes and discuss topics about gameplay as example with my husband, who is a great help :) (you already met him on the forums :p) or closer friends.

    and I gladly would keep in touch with you :D
     
  9. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Who's your husband on the forums? So you're a husband and wife pair of game developers? Jeeze, freaking lucky!!! That's a half of a small studio right there in your house. Teach your kid to program and you'd be cruizin!
     
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  10. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Gotta say @Farelle - I'm a HUGE fan of all the paper and by hand work I'm seeing you do. If you don't end up with a released game in "your" time I'll be hugely surprised.

    You should have seen the stacks of game design "paperwork" we had around the office when we released our mmo in 1999. It covered our desks, the walls...we used dry erase on all the glass windows and unplugged monitors, it was post-apocalyptic to be sure.
     
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  11. Farelle

    Farelle

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    thanks :) and I hope it works out :D
     
  12. HaruEQ

    HaruEQ

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    Hey, I just read your other thread, then clicked your profile to find this thread. First of all I like your attitude and outlook on game development, it's really positive and actually got me a bit motivated again.



    I've been on and off thinking of creating a world, characters, scenes, storys, and turning into a playable game. My biggest issue that's blocking me from creating the game I want is honestly coding. I love playing games and ceating stuff, but coding has stifled me so much, I've vigorously searched for alternatives and tried blueprint, playmaker, etc. TBH even playmaker confused me a bit lol but I got the hang of simple things with it.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm looking for now. I almost don't care too much about how the game is played, I'm a musician who loves game music and game worlds / characters, I'm amateur at art but have been training every week to get better to create my characters etc. I want to make some type of atmosphere / beautiful fantasy type of game, with cool characters and a story. Honestly I wouldn't mind my project to be animated or a video series, but those seem alot harder. Games seem to allow people to create whole worlds and storys alot easier.

    I've been trying to find a way easier way to make a game, mainly an easy visual scripting experience. I've tried UE4 blueprints and watched all tutorials but I just could not wrap my head around it, it seemed really complicated, probably because it's so close to real coding. I've tried RPGMaker, and possibilitys of modifying it's engine, but it's not the type of game I want to make actually, and to modify it would take as much effort as making the game I want. I've tried construct's visual programming and it was the easiest so far, I make a small platformer demo, but HTML5 and and watching some performance issues with a SHMUP made me reconsider, also constructing a hole RPG system on that seemed really daunting. I've played with playmaker to make a ping pong game, just to get a feel for it, I'm not sure if it can do everything I want, but I think playmaker and some other unity visual scripting language is what I'm going to settle for. I've spent years going like "I'm going to make my game now, then like 5 days vigorous research, then I'm like ahah this is way over my head, I don't need to make a game, I'll just go make more music and pratice drawing because it's what I know"
    then I'd repeat that in a few months or so.

    The type of game I want to make currently, is either a: Platformer rpg action or non action, or a SHMUP story telling type of game, or a ragnarok style rpg (3d backgrounds, I actually love this style the most). Originally I wanted to make a game like FFX, or zelda, in 3D with scenes and stuff, but doing all that with only me on the team seems way too daunting, and after researching some of my favourite game developers (cave story developer, touhou developer) I settled on making a smaller scale game.
    The reason I like unity so much is there are so many assets and premade things to work from.
    like ORK framework, playmaker, and other visual scripting tools I haven't tried yet, but planning to.

    Anyway, I didn't want this post to get too long. Any advice for me? I'm really not sure why I'm even posting, I usually just research stuff, and I already know I just need to do it if I want to do it. The same way I learned everything else, but damn programming is mind numbing. I got so frustrated with HTML back in 2003 when trying to create a small portfolio page.
     
  13. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Yea, programming isn't for everyone @HaruEQ - if you've tried it a few times, given yourself the chance to be good at it, and just don't find that you like it, then you might not be a programmer. Remember, you can be good at something and not like it, and you can love something and be terrible at it (me and golf) but for the most part, we tend to be better at the things we enjoy doing, and to steer clear of the things we don't enjoy doing (thus making us worse at them).

    My advise to you would be, stick with what you like to do. You sound like you might have a conflict there though, because you "like" to make games, but games involve parts you don't like, like programming. :) That's a real circular problem. haha

    The best advise I can give you is this. If you're an artist and musician...you should try to hook up with a few programmers and pitch your game idea and see if they want to get on board. I'm not sure why it seems so, but artists, musicians and the like tend to be in much more short supply than programmers and engineers. It's like warriors and rangers when all you need is a cleric. ;)

    If you're bent on making a game yourself, then I'd say, plug through it. The better you are at something, the faster you'll finish those parts and can move on to the stuff you like. In the end, to create anything, whether it be a game, or a birdhouse, or a concert patio, or a prom dress..you're going to have to do sub-tasks that are less enjoyable to you than other tasks, but all in all thats part of it.

    I'd also encourage you to continue to review the platforms available. Unity is very programming heavy to complete a game. I think if you're avoiding the programming side of things you'll want to maybe choose one that abstracts those pieces a way a little more?

    Did I answer your questions? Thanks for the feedback and the post, I always enjoy reading about someones motivation and process. :)
     
  14. ladyonthemoon

    ladyonthemoon

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    Is it doable to make an entire game (level design, coding, gameplay, etc.) alone?
     
  15. Farelle

    Farelle

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    yes, actually there are even events like ludum dare where some people challenge themselves to make a game in just a weekend on their own.
     
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  16. ladyonthemoon

    ladyonthemoon

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    In just a weekend? Wow! I'm not there yet. Thanks!
     
  17. Farelle

    Farelle

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    it's not as bad as it sounds :) sure it's exhausting, but the game scopes are equally small and one can learn alot from atleast trying :) not to mention it's not really a competition, so even if one doesn't finish a game it's good opportunity to see how far one can get :D
     
  18. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    It absolutely is. The measurement is always, how much time do you have to dedicate to it? The reason most people assume this isn't doable, is based on consumer interest. Look at it this way:

    If technology changes significantly every 1.5 years, and mainstream tech changes considerably every 3 years, then you need to scope your game for design, development, testing and release to taking less than 3 years. For a lot of large games like MMO's and such, this timeframe isn't really doable for 1 person (mostly because of the content / art generation). So the message that's broadcast is "you cant do it" when what they really mean to say is "you cant do it fast enough to ever sell it"
     
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  19. ladyonthemoon

    ladyonthemoon

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    Sounds right. I don't plan making a game the scope of a Skyrim or Fallout 4, just an honest little game. And I must learn enough about how to use Unity before beginning anything of my own. Thanks for the input! :)
     
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  20. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    You're in the right spot. There's a major amount of brain power in these forums that impresses me on a regular basis, good luck with your game and please keep us all posted on your progress, consider us your beta audience. ;)
     
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  21. ladyonthemoon

    ladyonthemoon

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    Thanks! :D
     
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