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3rd party software for game dev


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#1 slayemin   Members   -  Reputation: 2119

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 06:17 PM

My background is in C++ and C# with DirectX and XNA. I've spent quite a bit of time writing boiler plate game engine code (like particle systems, input systems, physics and collision detection, etc). I'm reasonably comfortable with my coding skills, so I can somewhat trust my abilities. But, I'm slowly coming around to the realization that all of this is a general waste of time because there are existing game engines which do everything I'm trying to do, and do it much better and have been built and thoroughly tested by teams larger than one person (me). So, I could waste lots of time building a game engine or I could spend lots of time building a game. I prefer the latter :)

With consideration for platform support, my coding background, learning curve ramps, and customer support, I'm looking for software and solutions to help speed up my dev time.

Game Engine: Unity3D
Trees and Foliage: SpeedTree 6 (I started wasting time trying to create fractal trees, then found this today and abandoned my project)
3D Modelling: I personally like Wings3D because the learning curve ramp is short. Blender would take me a month to master.

I'm currently working on an indie game during my free time (learning tech and prototyping phase) and will ramp up into full time when I'm out of contract work. When I start my project in earnest, I'm planning to hire the most talented graphical artist I can find and will pay them well, so I'm inclined to let their skill set dictate what graphics software we'll use.

So far, I love Unity3D and SpeedTree looks like it's exactly what I need for generating good foliage assets. So, my question is this: What other 3rd party tools and solutions are available which would save me money (time is money)? What tools and services are you using on your team to build games faster and better?

Eric Nevala

Indie Developer | Dev blog


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#2 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:22 PM

Hi,

After more than two years in creating content for games, including some marketed, I use Wings 3D for complex 3D geometry models and Blender for simpler ones or animations. GIMP is the 2D program that I enjoy for textures and so on. MonoDevelop and Mono are my main ones for making programs and applications, though I also use Visual Studio Express 2012. Currently I am intergrating CKT+ and CKT# with GIMP image manipulator, Mono and .Net Frameworks, and scripting language or C# to build game interfaces. Take a look at the GNOME website for many useful tools. There are many useful and no cost libraries. Take a look at Bullet physics. There are open source resources in every category of game development, but much of the time you get what you pay and need to program to improve them.

The C# is my compiled language while I am learning Python and Lua for scripting languages. It sounds like I know a lot but I am still in the 2D game development learning stage, however really enjoying the journey I chose.

1) Choose a system of game development or game design and build your software environment to that core.

2) Focus mainly on your core language of that system for a while, making a few 2D games, then go to 3D ones if you are ready for them. I recommend C# in your case, since you like Unity 3D, but your programming options may be better served staying with XNA while using MonoDevelop.

3) Use your programming experience to build a broad but simple game base so you have a complete foundation perimeter and understand the game structure.

4) Build on top of that foundation after at least several months with the system, probably adding a scripting language for game functionality.

Work hard, make rewarding results, and have fun! Posted Image



Clinton

Edited by 3Ddreamer, 09 October 2012 - 09:26 PM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#3 slayemin   Members   -  Reputation: 2119

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:58 PM

Thanks for the reply :)

I did build a pretty elaborate game engine in C# using XNA, but its nowhere near as good as the Unity3D engine. It's a difference in time and resources. So, Unity3D is the preferred game engine of choice for the reasons mentioned above. If I go with XNA, I'd have to spend hundreds of hours writing extra boiler plate code. I can skip all of that and save myself a lot of time and money by using Unity.

1) The target platform is PC
2) The game will be a 3D game with two main modes (strategic view and tactical battle view with procedurally generated content). Unity is the better choice since I get particle systems, physics, rendering, terrain generation, scripting support, etc.
3) The plan is to build a prototype to iron out the wrinkles in my game design and use place holder content until its time for asset creation phase
4) see #3

I suppose it's hard to elicit good third party software tools for game dev if I don't have a stated requirement. I'll have to think about it some more and do research when the time comes. Arg, thinking about it though, it seems I know what to do so I should just start building the game itself. I suspect I'm falling into a bit of an analysis paralysis trap.

So... tomorrow I will get some solid work done!!! Coffee, music, and work!

Eric Nevala

Indie Developer | Dev blog


#4 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6846

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 11:22 PM

Sounds good sofar.

When it comes down to 3d modelling, you need to decide how much effort you want to investigate into 3d modelling, either buy them ($$$), create low poly/abstract or do the whole pipeline (sculpting, modelling,rigging,animation etc.). For the latter one I would sugguest to start with blender, because blender is the only free available tool which supports everything on a very high level (sculpting, animation, 3d painting,baking, modelling etc.), though there are always special tools available which do a better job (sculpting=sculptris, baking=>xnormal) and finally you need a 2d tool like gimp (which is very good in version 2.8!).

Here's a complete list (including PR-tools):
OpenOffice Base => database with quick form creation to export your game data into a suitable format (don't use excel or oo calc for this task!).
Fraps => inexpensive, yet very powerful recording tool
MovieMaker => Free, yet useable video tool
sculptris => free sculpting tool
xnormal => free baking tool
gimp => free 2d painting tool
lua => free, good and fast scripting language, good as well for writing some smaller utility tools.
wordpress => for your website
free commander => free file manager which although can handle ftp (upload your game to your website etc.)

#5 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:52 AM

I suppose it's hard to elicit good third party software tools for game dev if I don't have a stated requirement. I'll have to think about it some more and do research when the time comes. Arg, thinking about it though, it seems I know what to do so I should just start building the game itself. I suspect I'm falling into a bit of an analysis paralysis trap.

So... tomorrow I will get some solid work done!!! Coffee, music, and work!


Yes, I understand. It is easy to get bogged in research and design while dead in the water with actual game creation results. The third party software must be chosen based on your needs because there are so many of them out there. Also, the personal preferences of users are really opinion, so you need to try them for yourself to know what will suit you.

There are many 2D (textures, sprites, and so forth) and 3D assets at no or little cost. I would agree with Ashaman to get some simple ones, even if they are low polygon and increase or customize the details for your needs.

Once you get the 2D skills with a program like GIMP and others, such as layering, then you will find the artistic cans opening for you. You really need a 2D foundation in order to make the game look good. It impacts even the quality of the 3D work in a major way and stand alone 2D work as well.

Clinton

Edited by 3Ddreamer, 10 October 2012 - 07:54 AM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer





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