Huge game projects

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Posts: 204
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Post: #16
Quote:Originally posted by Shivers
Sure it will take hard work and time.


Oh, and don't forget money Smile

I agree with the general concensus of this thread, which to sum it up in my own words is that you should start small and then work your way up (as with anything in life, once you think about it). Also, don't expect there to be gobs of other people out there ready to jump on the boat with you... more than likely they're already caught up in their own projects and wouldn't jump on the boat with a complete stranger anyways. Therefor, for all of the "artists seeking programmers" and "coders seekings artists" out there, you should lessen your seeking and begin experimenting in these areas which you are unfamiliar. If you're an artist but know nothing of programming, then pick up one of the BASICs and give it a go. You probably won't become the next great programmer, but you will develop an appreciate for what can and can't be done, and which can be done easier than others. Also, for all of the coders out there, pick up a drawing/modelling program and try to create the assets yourself. Sure, you'll end up with the infamous "programmer art", but this will be a great starting point for when you manage to rope in that great artist you'vre been looking for. Besides which, if in the course of coding your game you notice a small problem with the assets (ie, the anti-aliasing is slightly off causing an aweful smudge in a certain animation), you should have enough experience to go in and fix the problem without bothering the artist. Remember, big companies who hire people want well-rounded people for a reason... it is our experiences which make use who we are, and the more and varied experiences you have the more valuable you become.

Oh, and I'd like to respectfully argue David's statement "And massively multiplayer rpgs are NOT POSSIBLE for anyone with a limited budget so that should just be purged from everyone's short-term plans." Although its true that a MMORPG should not be considered for a short-term project, there are plenty of MMORPGs created from limited budgets (Arcane Arena comes to mind). In its simplest form, a MMORPG is simply a multiplayer game with a dedicated server, so as long as you can afford the bandwidth and the server the rest is up to you.

Cheers,
Rocco
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Post: #17
Let me thorw in my 0b00000010 cents as well...

wrt RPGs, those games are all about three things, content, content and content. That means lots of time spent in asset creation, story and dialog writing and level design. Unfortunately, many newbie devlopers believe that an RPG is great, because the coding can be (relatively) simple and they'll have an outlet for their creative ideas. However, most will not finish because they get bored/frustrated/sidetracked because the amount of content is frankly overwhelming. That's why RPGs, which may seem like a good first step, are really a bad way to start making games. Not to say that a first time developer can't do it, but that it takes a bit more effort than you initially believe, and a lot of that effort is pretty tedious.

In the end, finishing one game is worth much more than having hundreds of really large unfinished games. Use that metric to help you decide what to make. My advice is almost always to make a puzzle game of some sort. You wanna do an RPG someday? make a maze game to get movement and interaction down. You wanna make an FPS someday? make a 3 D puzzle game (3D sokoban anyone)

I'll shut up now...
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Posts: 204
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Post: #18
Quote:Originally posted by Shivers
I dont think that money is totally essential for a game dev group. If the team leader sets standards for each person, they are up to their own devices to get the software or hardware to do that. As long as everyone only works part time, in order to keep a job and money flowing in, I dont see why you need a huge budget.

Whether the money comes from a central source (ie, the corporation?) or pitched in by each of the members, it is still a financial commitment. Also, requiring that people only work part time is also a financial hit, since they lose half of their income (and for people with families can be downright impossible). So, as much we all want to "just be able to work together and create a huge game in our (spare) time", you cannot factor out the money people are going to have to either fork up or do without. Money, whether from a single budget or from the individual developers, IS an essential consideration for any team, game dev or not.

Cheers,
Rocco
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Post: #19
At some point, either feelings get hurt or too many compromises are made, so money is a tool used by the head of the project to curb the ego of team members who think they know better.

Of course, there's always the slim change that everyone in the team will be very mature and commited to the project, regardless of financial expectations. I am yet to see that happen.

Time is running out!
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Post: #20
Quote:Oh, and I'd like to respectfully argue David's statement "And massively multiplayer rpgs are NOT POSSIBLE for anyone with a limited budget so that should just be purged from everyone's short-term plans." Although its true that a MMORPG should not be considered for a short-term project, there are plenty of MMORPGs created from limited budgets (Arcane Arena comes to mind). In its simplest form, a MMORPG is simply a multiplayer game with a dedicated server, so as long as you can afford the bandwidth and the server the rest is up to you.


The mmorpgs that I mean are everquest-like rpgs with hundreds of thousands of users, you would have to pay for a lot of servers and connections and all that. I don't mean MUD type games and things like that, which are feasible.
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Nibbie
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Joined: 2008.09
Post: #21
"im going to make the best sidescroller ever!"
that was me a year ago when i picked up a book of learning cocoa. Yes my game is what i intended it to be but now looking back i should have done things a bit differently.
A) Learn the API you want
B) then start coding

one of my former team members asked me in march if i was taking on a project too large. I said to him, "The bigger the project the more i will learn. To make a game like this will require skills, and to develop it i will need to develop myself. I will gain so much out of this."

probably sounds cheesy but everything has gone according to plan so far.Grin
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Post: #22
If you take the time to read the postmortem of most games, you're going to realize that the two major problems in any project are poor planning and poor team management.

Time is running out!
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Feanor
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Post: #23
The newbie-to-pro-game-designer disease is maybe partially the result of the way you actually can go from nothing to something in so many other artistic fields that don't require so much labour just to get your point across. Take movies first -- while we who love action and science fiction and all that would love to just start making extravaganzas, for some reason it usually doesn't send people into fantasy land thinking they can actually do it. They KNOW it takes all kinds of people and money and backing and the whole gamut of infrastructure. So the movie newbs make cool script-driven stuff and use cheapo cameras and still manage to surprise us over and over again.

Books of course just require one person's dedication and time, no real equipment or technology, so it's ever more shocking when someone bursts on the scene.

Something about games isn't like those creative forms, however, since the technology, though in some ways cheap to acquire (just study and read and practise on your single computer), is very expensive and immediately marketable, and it is now impossible to have one-person do everything games, unlike eight or ten years ago.

You need management, co-ordination, technical savvy, and discipline like crazy. It's really half suicidal. Because the damn things have to function, unlike art which just sits there or flows by. Interactivity is just too damn hard if you want cinematic quality. It's twice as hard as a movie in some ways, and most groups have 1/2 to 1/10 the people (maybe 1/50th?).
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w_reade
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Post: #24
Dedication... a long, somewhat preachy, but nonetheless heartfelt diatribe.

Yes, if a small, unfunded team has enough dedication, the can make the world's best game. The trouble is that dedication tends to wane after you've worked for a year or so and you realise that you'll need to keep working at this rate for the next four years if you want to have all those "essential" features, and by that stage someone else'll probably have released something that makes your game look like a cheap me-too, even with all the features...

Can you really guarantee that all the team members will be on board for the duration? I think most developers with any experience at all will be familiar with overambitious projects that end up going nowhere, and projects of this scale set the mental alarm bells ringing automatically, whoever the developer is. When they have money and a publisher, and nasty little no-complete clauses, they have a chance of keeping even the most disillusioned employees, so the project may well get finished... but it's rare when the final product lives up to the initial hyperbole, however big the budget.

There's a temptation to think that people are just attacking these projects because you're new, and that they think you'll never finish them because you're new, but the fact that you're new is not relevant. I think we can be safely expected to criticise anyone, new or old, who goes around with unrealistic plans and expectations - we want you to make games and we'd love to help you.

The best advice people can give is what they're giving - make something you have a realistic chance of completing. The only assumption we make about you is that you don't have godlike powers - hardly rash or insulting, really.

So, please, if you want to make a game... make a small game. You'll get more wisdom, happiness and fame than by doing the same amount of work to produce 3.5% of what'll be the Best Game Ever, once I've added in the AI and realistic physics, and the levels, and... anyway.

A good place to gently divest yourself of some illusions is the postmortems section of this site, where you may get some impression of how much work goes into even a simple-looking game, and then perhaps the postmortems on gamasutra, where you'll see some of the problems encountered in the course of the bigger projects... and then look at your game. Whatever your paradigm-shifting videogame is, it's probably a great idea, but it's inevitably a bad project to start off with.

Pong-with-a-twist is. If you're that good, you can probably knock a pong clone off pretty quickly, right? Even if you do manage to do it fairly quickly, you will learn the invaluable Hofstadter's Law:

It always takes longer than you think, even when you take Hofstadter's Law into account.

...and an awful lot else, all of which will help you immeasurably when you want to make bigger games.

<steps down from pulpit, looks embarrassed>
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Luminary
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Post: #25
*standing ovation*
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Post: #26
Amen. w_reade should be a spokesman. Grin

About a year ago a Windows programmer and I were going to work together to make a game that would have both a Windows and Mac version. I had been programming games for about 2 years at that time and he for about 3 months. He came up with an original game idea and, from what I understand, it was pretty good. Problem came when he fails to, 1) give me ANY kind of design doc, 2) look at the quality of modern games, 3) learn from my mistakes, 4) start small. Prior to this he had never made a complete game. :[

To make a long story short, I get very confused and quit and he ends up with a convoluted game. Moral of the story being this: when you first begin programming, start small. We all have dreams of grandeur but Ambrosia was not built in a day Grin Make little games: pong clones, tetris, solitare, something, just don't plan to renovating the face of gaming with your first game.
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Luminary
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Joined: 2002.04
Post: #27
And if logic isn't good enough for you, how about an example?

Bungie started with Pong. Pong with a twist -- their version was called Gnop.

Imagine the world today if Alex Seropian had started out by saying, "I'm going to make Halo", or even "I'm going to make Pathways into Darkness" -- either way, he'd still be stuck in his garage, having passed over Jason Jones as "thinking too much in the present". There'd be no Marathon, no Myth, no Halo... the world would be a bleak place Sad

It only took a few games for Bungie to ramp up to "challenging the face of Mac gaming", but they were fairly crucial steps, providing much-needed experience and capital...
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calumr
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Post: #28
I agree completely with most of what people are saying here, but I'd like to point out that it will almost certainly be easier to create bigger games in the future. With more engines like Quake, Crystal Space, Unreal etc. becoming more and more open, making major gameplay modifications will probably become a lot easier.

Is it not likely that the languages used will become more high-level, thus making it easier for newbies to create games that are just as complex as their commercial counterparts?

Years ago, only the bleeding edge development companies could do decent 3D games. Now, anyone can do it (with a little knowledge of C) in a few days. The same could be said about sound & networking - there are libraries available that can do all the hard work for you now, or at least show you how it's done.

Maybe in 10 years people will be posting messages to the iDevGames forum saying "Yeah - start off with something simple like a Deus Ex clone".
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Joined: 2005.06
Post: #29
I just realized that I only touched the surface of this in my post earlier and nobody else has done much more than skim over it as well... ahem *stands on soapbox*

As important as it is to start small, never give up your dreams and plans of games that would 'change the face of gaming as we know it'. Without these dreams of grandeur, when your finally ready to do what you had dreamed about oh so long ago, you won't. If you have no dreams or plans of pushing gaming forward, then you won't, plain and simple.

All the people who do push gaming forward are the same people who a long time ago, realized that they would have to work they're way up a steep hill to produce what they dream about, but that didn't stop them from dreaming, for they knew that one day, they might just see their baby come to life.

One important thing to remember however; you will most likely not see your dreams ever become reality, if you submit yourself to working for others, unless you have a tight-knit team, where everyone throws in their ideas. You will not be the guy who creates the killer game if you work for a large corporation or even a small one, if your just another programmer working to get something done.

Some people can take the path I'm taking; the currently lone wolf who does everything himself and plans on creating his own company, and eventually have people work for him. This is arguably the hardest road to trot, yet the most rewarding to take. If you are not up to it or really don't want to do that, you can become part of a small company and make sure your opinions are heard; in the end, it's up to you.

I'm sure there's more, but it's really late (3:30AM) and my brain isn't wide awake, so I'll leave it at this.

*Steps down from soapbox*
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Post: #30
Start by producing clones with a twist. There's no point exactly recreating pong, but if you can create a pong where multiple balls have to be bounced away from the drain or some other variation, then you can put some of yourself into the game. You produce a unique, interesting product and still learn. Instead of trying to make the ultimate 3D sword fighting game or whatever, try a version of space-invaders where the player is a dragon who roasts knights. Start small but use your creativity.

Visit http://www.theDailyGrind.net for your recommended daily intake of embittered satire.
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