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Finishing a game while in a budget - some thoughts.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ippokratis, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,
    I had some really interesting discussions during the last few months with some fellow developers and I wish to share some thoughts. A frequently occurring pattern is that a developer or a small developer team in a budget, say under 100000$ wants to create a game and it never finishes. One common conclusion is that the main problem was the project's complexity, specifically a high number of game "assets". It seems to me that when someone is in a budget, hundreds of game items, character rigs, AAA - assets are out of question. Yet I see in the forums that most people opt for such approaches. I am really curious about your personal experience, from your finished games :

    1. How many assets do you have ?
    2. Do you use character rigs ?
    3. Are your assets AAA ( normal maps, detailed textures, your definition ) ?
    4. Is this game achieving the goals you have set ( be it number of units sold, establishment as a developer, or other ) ?

    To avoid confusion, I am defining assets as gameObjects with a mesh filter ( a building, a car, a character ). Also, I would appreciate if you could share your views in the above matter.
    Thanks in advance,
    -Ippokratis
     
  2. handsomePATT

    handsomePATT

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    You can have alot of different assets quite easily. Im a programmer but I know the modellers use one model for alot of different things. Example we only have a couple character models, but with a combination of different textures and shaders you can make them look like different characters. This is a quick way to get a variety of different looking characters or other objects.
     
  3. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    I believe too that modular assets ( if I understand correctly this is what you describe ) are very useful in a developer's hands. They do have an added cost but give the ability to create entire environments from relatively few assets. I actually doubt that creating a small to modest game is possible - profitable without taking this route. I am unsure on the " quite easily " part though, because they still require extensive prototyping, planing and skillful artists. Those things cost, the more items you use ( or the more environments you create ), the bigger the cost. If someone adds complex character interactions with the environment, e.g climb some stairs, pick - use items e.t.c cost rises even more. I think that those matters should concern people who try to build complex games in a budget.
    Again, thanks for the feedback,
    -Ippokratis
     
  4. handsomePATT

    handsomePATT

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    I guess what I meant by easily is that the designers can pump out assets really quick that way once they have the base model to work with. Its really just textures after that. Once you bring it to the programming side then yeah you might have to write different behaviours for each one.
     
  5. wccrawford

    wccrawford

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    Where did you see someone conclude that too many art assets was what caused them to fail, in particular?
     
  6. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

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    It's nothing to do with more assets and everything to do with a bad design which requires more assets (and more code) in general. Doing more work is doing more work, its as simple as that.

    A one man band spending longer than a month on a project is setting himself up for a fall especially if he hasn't already shipped a few titles.
     
  7. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    How long did you spend on Physynth? Seems like it was longer than 1 month. Was this self-flagellation? ... Self-flatulation?

    Gigi.
     
  8. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,
    wccrawford :
    It was a common conclusion among many fellow developers in private discussions, in person and in the irc during the past 4 months. I just wish to point that the problem is more the resulting complexity, as a consequence of the high number of assets - environments - complex characters - interactions.

    hippocoder :
    I totally agree with you regarding design. I just wish to point out that, more work, means bigger cost, in every way possible, be it time, money or something else. My point is that the more complex is a game, within a limited budget, the more difficult it is to see it finished. I am not talking about the obvious ( I have plenty of time, lets build a MMORG RTS whatever ), I actually believe that even a few rigged characters and 4-5 levels are out of the reach of most people within a budget ( for a polished final product with some chances to give some profit ).

    Gigi :
    I would appreciate a lot if you could avoid conflicts in this thread. I am not a moderator and I cannot suggest you how to behave, but I devote time in this forum and I hope to see some constructive comments - discussion emerge from this thread. Please do not interpret this as a hostile reaction, all I really want is to keep the conversation in a constructive level and I am seeking your help in this. I've seen many threads closing lately due to conflicts and I do not like it.

    Thanks all for your feedback, you could help me a lot if you could respond to the questions posted as well,
    -Ippokratis
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  9. Essential

    Essential

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    I think you need to be realistic in your aims… Maybe not even just realistic, but under-estimate what you think is realistic by a margin.

    I'm working on a 2.5D game (2D side scroller, 3D assets) but this was a conscious design decision because it requires a lot less in terms of assets than something like a FPS or full 3D platforming game might have.

    I think if you're a small development team you can't just pick any style of game you want to make. You should make a calculated decision that accommodates for the work required and also how marketable the game will be. Then, IMHO, you should spend the next 6-12 months designing the game down to the smallest detail in a design document before even touching a line of code.*

    I've heard indie devs also blame the amount of assets for the reason their project fell apart, but I often ask details about the game and they don't have any. I often hear about a basic outline, basic plot for the game, but they don't fill in the rest of it, they expected it to form itself if they started making levels and drawing concept art of cool-looking aliens. I don't think that's how you give life to a game. I think you need to know where you're going, otherwise everyone on the team is gonna get bored and quit.

    *This approach doesn't apply to everything, and many fun mobile mini-games start out as basic prototypes with no definite direction, but I'm speaking purely in terms of any project aspiring to be greater than a basic 'fun' mobile game.
     
  10. justinlloyd

    justinlloyd

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    This part:
    Being the key component you probably missed.

    P.S. writing a longer reply to the OP question.
     
  11. lockbox

    lockbox

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    I think this video can help put things into perspective. No matter what you might think while watching it, just watch all of it! It has a valuable lesson.

    Seth Godin: Quieting the Lizard Brain

     
  12. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    If your target platform is mobile.. perhaps.
    If you're doing standalone PC games with more complexity this statement makes no sense whatsoever.
     
  13. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    Maby because you are likely to go broke? and if you had previous games you get the revenue from those.

    Must be a long reply if it took over 12 hours to write ;)
     
  14. dreamlarp

    dreamlarp

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    1. I would say first have a clear GDD and stick to it. One of the bigest problems with game developement is feature creap. That is the non stop adding of features witch take more assets and money.
    Pick a clear set of features and plan out the exact assests and keep to it.

    2. Put the pen to the paper. this was my moto to all my clients when I was on wall street. And I find that it is a great moto for any game project. Do a price to benefit chart on all features and assets.

    3. Dont rush. Take your time making any decision even the small one when it comes to your project. I find the most costly decisions come from rushing.

    4. Dont be afrade to ask for more money. There is never a problem doing another funding project on say kickstarter or indigogo especialy if you have made great strides since the first funding project.

    Hope this helps just my .02 cents.