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The Kiwi's TaleWitchBlasterDerelict Blow Stuff Up

Advice for people with game ideas

Six things I think that every new game designer should know.

Since I started developing Derelict I have received emails from people who have ideas for games but have nothing concrete other then some concept art and and a design document. These people are very passionate about their game ideas, but it makes me sad knowing that these projects will almost certainly go nowhere. If you want to make your ideas into a game, then there are a few things that you will need to understand first:

1. Almost everyone who is a gamer has great ideas for game projects

I really believe that you, the person reading this blog, have great gaming ideas. You probably have a dozen ideas for games that would be absolutely fantastic, however;

2. A great idea does not equal a great game

On paper, the concept for Daikatana sounds great. A first person shooter where you travel through four time periods, each with its own unique weapons and monsters. Yet the final game was terrible because of poor execution.

On the other hand, Jack Thompson's game idea where you have to go on a coast-to-coast killing spree murdering gamers sounds awful. But it was turned into the wildly entertaining I'm OK: A Murder simulator by a group of passionate game designers. Your ideas, as great as they are, have almost no value by themselves

3. If you want your vision to become a reality, you need to do most of the work yourself.

Because nearly everyone who makes games has their own great ideas, then they will want to spend their time just doing their own projects.

4. That doesn't mean you have to work entirely by yourself, provided;

You pay them. Or convince people that their contribution to the project will be worthwhile (I practically begged to be a playtester for Trilby's notes because I was a fan of Ben Crowshaw's previous work and knew it was going to be brilliant). You could also try a trade. For instance, if you're good at 3D Studio max I might be willing to swap programming time for great 3D models.

5. If you try to make your first game next-gen caliber, then you will fail

John Carmack is universally accepted to be one of the greatest minds in the games industry. But his first game wasn't Quake. It wasn't Doom. It wasn't Wolfenstein 3D. It wasn't even Commander Keen. It was an Ultima I styled RPG for the Apple II.

I'm still building up my skills. Derelict is the most complex project I have ever done. I have learned a lot from it, and my next game will not only be more complicated but probably feature better gameplay. Start with simplistic games and build up your skills and experience. You can't remake World of Warcraft if you can't remake Space Invaders.

6. A powerful engine does not equal a great game

People get too hung up on the features that a particular engine can or can not do. Practically any engine can produce a good game provided that a decent amount of time and effort is invested. Some great games like Seiklus are done in engines that can only handle 2D.

Instead of focusing purely on technical features of an engine or programming language, experiment and find one that you're comfortable with using. The final game may not look quite as polished or feature rich as you had originally envisioned, but you'll find developing it a whole lot less frustrating. You could always port everything you've done to a more powerful engine later.



JoshuaSmyth (not verified)

Thats some pretty sound advice there Eric.

I'd just like to add that everyone should make a space invaders clone, wide-eyed young-un's may scoff at such a primitive concept. But you'll be amazed at how complicated and time consuming making a full game (and not a tech demo) can really be.

Anonymous (not verified)

There are very few diamonds in the rough when it comes to game maker. Stay away from game maker. Stay away from any shortcut tool that promises the world. FPS Creator, MMO Creator, etc.

Sure you want to make a game, but don't you want to be taken seriously too?

Anonymous (not verified)

I have previously posted here regarding JFG2, and I can assure you that we have more than just concept art, we have several high-res models,
a few screens of the alpha build, (well they aren't public, only our leader Master Juno Jet has them) several handfuls of concept art, a story, and finally weapon & vehicle ideas. You can check the website out later, it has a long URL, so just google Jet Force Gemini 2. Thank you.

Oh, I forgot to mention, good tips.