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The Kiwi's TaleWitchBlasterDerelict Blow Stuff Up

Advice for people with game ideas #2

A slightly more controversial follow up to my post on game design advice.

This post is an expansion of the previous one as well as a response the comments it received. First of all, I'm sorry if I offended anyone at all by suggesting their projects aren't going anywhere. As someone who, for a long time has made games in my spare time, my intention is to help you understand the reality of game development so that you can make practical steps to turn your ideas into actual games.

7. Content is lifeless, the only thing that brings a game to life is code

A 3D model is only a collection of vertexes joined together to make polygons. A sprite is only a set of coloured dots. Only with actual code can these be given life. Code is what makes the game, you haven't really started making the game until the first line is written. I believe that a project with content but no code has far less chance at being finished then a project with code but no content.

8. Tools do not make a game - talent and hard work does

I partially agree and disagree with the comment stating to stay away from tools like Game Maker and FPS Creator. Its true that nearly every game I've played made in engines like these were terrible. I'm guilty of making awful Klik and Play games back in the 90s (thankfully, these ones were lost before we got Internet access).

Despite this... These engines are aimed at people who are inexperienced and don't want to put a great deal of effort into making games, so most of their games were probably slapped together in a few hours. If you put in the hard yards, you can make virtually any engine produce brilliant games, and there are examples to prove it.

Even if there are very few diamonds made with these tools, there are still diamonds. This also applies to content creation. Owning Photoshop won't automatically give you the ability needed to make stunning images.

9. It's hard to develop games in a linear order

Instead of developing the whole game from start to finish, make a low quality rough version of the game that loosely resembles the complete version, including the opening menu and high score table (if applicable) then simply refine the code and make more content until you're ready to publish the game. Doing nearly anything artistic is best done this way. Even experts of drawing the human form start with a stick figure and add more and more detail until they're happy with it.

10. It's not a bad thing to be a just little bit too ambitious

Obviously if you're far too ambitious you'll just get frustrated and give up. But not knowing how to make your game idea doesn't mean you can't. When I started Derelict I didn't have a clue how to make an interface where you could simply click to tell a Marine where to walk to. It sounds simple, but the problem is that the map (despite being flat) is a 3D object that moves in all directions (when you scroll) so you can't just translate the mouse position into 2D coordinates. After spending hours experimenting and putting different variables into the engine I was finally able to get it to work.



JoshuaSmyth (not verified)

Don't know if I agree with you on number #7...

Alot of the fun and polish goes into the content - Although this often goes hand in hand with code.

Ideally I'd like to have the code done so that content is easily added to the game. Unfortunantly what often happens is that I need to refactor alot of the code because I haven't actually thought of what some of the 'real world' content is actually going to do.

JoshuaSmyth (not verified)

Btw, wrote this a few years ago...

Mouse->3D intersection

Unfortunately my image links broke when they changed servers.

That codes a bit horrible too, I should probably do a rewrite someday.

JoshuaSmyth (not verified)

Ah.. now I know what I was trying to say.

Sometimes code inspires content and sometimes content inspires code. Its hard to completely develop one without the other.

Erik Hogan (not verified)

That's an interesting tutorial, though I gave up on complicated 3D mathematics when I started using Blitz Basic (the built-in camerapick(camera,x,y) function is used to select a 3D object with the mouse).

I'll try to clarify what I meant in point 7# a bit. Content -is- vital to the game, however the content can't do anything without code. Its like a chassis without a motor.

I don't think its a good idea to start by making content first because later you might find that the content won't fit your engine (polycount too high, texture resolution is too high or low, 3D object should have been made as a BSP etc). Instead, the code should be written first and then develop content based on what you know you can support.

Anonymous (not verified)

I am the one that posted on the previous "Advice for people with game ideas", the leader is quite good at 3d modeling but is just learning to code. That is why I am requesting help on his behalf, I will post his email at the end of this post. Finally, I would like to say keep up the good work on Derelict.