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Advice for Games Made by a Single Person


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#1 AgentPaper   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 10:19 PM

Hello. I've been playing and studying games for a long time, and in the not too distant future, will even be attending college with a focus on game design.

 

However, I want to get the ball rolling early, and try my hand at making a game myself. However, I'm not sure where to start. I'm well versed in game design (and design in general), and am decently apt at coding (I've made a few programs in Java and C++), but I've never actually made a game yet. So my questions are:

 

1) What types of games are best suited to being made by a single person?

I'd guess that this would be things that don't require a lot of content, like an RPG would, and not something that requires a ton of testing, like any PvP game.

 

2) What game development platforms work best for a single person?

I've played around a bit with Unity and tried looking at other systems, but most of them seem better suited for large projects with lots of people on them, and/or are very expensive. I've also seen a few things like RPG Maker and Game Maker, but those seem too simplistic to make a "real" game, and don't seem to leverage my ability to write code any. Is there a middle-ground between these, or am I not giving one side enough credit?

 

3) What is a good goal to strive for for a first game?

I recall reading about how new art students start by copying existing art. Should I try to re-create existing games as a first step, or branch out and do something new? How long should I expect to spend making the game? What's a good way to know if I'm being too ambitious and setting myself up for failure?

 

And in general, any other advice for a new game developer?



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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9690

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:05 AM

These are not Game Design questions. Moving to For Beginners.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 xbattlestation   Members   -  Reputation: 320

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:48 AM

1) What types of games are best suited to being made by a single person?

I'd guess that this would be things that don't require a lot of content, like an RPG would, and not something that requires a ton of testing, like any PvP game.

 

This is totally dependent on you.  If you are good at / like producing content, then a game that needs content would be fine.  Really, depending on your ability, the simpler the better.  Making games is always hard / much more work than you think, so start small.  By the way, I didn't listen to my own advice & jumped in at the deep end.  It all depends on your ability.  If you don't know what you are capable of, just start small first.

 

2) What game development platforms work best for a single person?

I've played around a bit with Unity and tried looking at other systems, but most of them seem better suited for large projects with lots of people on them, and/or are very expensive. I've also seen a few things like RPG Maker and Game Maker, but those seem too simplistic to make a "real" game, and don't seem to leverage my ability to write code any. Is there a middle-ground between these, or am I not giving one side enough credit?

 

I'm sure they all work fine for a single person.  It is possible some aren't geared towards teams.  What is your target platform?  What languages do you know?  What technologies do you want to use i.e. 3D? 2D?  These will all impact your decision on what technology stack to use.

 

3) What is a good goal to strive for for a first game?

I recall reading about how new art students start by copying existing art. Should I try to re-create existing games as a first step, or branch out and do something new? How long should I expect to spend making the game? What's a good way to know if I'm being too ambitious and setting myself up for failure?

 

Standard answer - write a Pong clone.  If you can do this, try something harder like a single screen platformer.


Storm Clouds over the Western Front - 2D aerial combat WIP | DarklightXNA on Twitter | 2DFlightSim on Youtube

#4 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20500

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 01:56 AM

Good first game include things like tic tac toe, text-based guessing games, and form-based button press games like whack-a-mole.

As you gain skills and knowledge you can grow to pong clones, breakout clones, and tetris clones.

Look at games from the 1970s. Many of those are reasonable games for an individual beginner to make on modern machines.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#5 NightCreature83   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2754

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:22 AM

If you have never made a game you can start with the beginnings of remaking old classics however this is not mandatory you can jump in at the deep end if you want but that comes with all the warnings that you can imagine.

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when jumping in at the deep end is to keep the game simple and manageable, or set manageable goals, eg. with this project I learn how to use GL/DX/Other Graphics API for example. Build on these smaller blocks and keep building, what you learn in one project you can generally use in an other one.

 

I started off with porting an OpenGL renderer to D3D9.0c, next thing was to make a level for a decent clone, this was not the easiest process to jump into and expect to have to grok a lot of new things. The first was done over a periode of 6 months, the later in 10 weeks.


Worked on titles: CMR:DiRT2, DiRT 3, DiRT: Showdown, GRID 2, Mad Max

#6 creatures-of-gaia.com   Members   -  Reputation: 377

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 11:23 AM

1) Pick something simple.

 

2) I found it funny when I read "too simplistic to make a *real* game".

I mean, being simple should be a good thing right? And what's a *real* game?! If you want to make an AAA title, you're doomed anyway. ;)

For the rest game makers are just fine. The thing about game makers is not that they are simple (that's the good side), it's that they have limitations (like no networking support or importing extern APIs, but some do have...). As for something "in-between", I'd say Unity is perhaps what you're looking for.

 

3) Starting a project is always easy, finishing one is always hard, remember this ;)

It's not making the core prototype work that is hard, it's to polish the game over and over.



#7 ikarth   Members   -  Reputation: 411

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 11:23 AM

Go look at game jams, particularly Ludum Dare which requires one-person games for the compo. That'll give you a rough idea of what can be done by one person. You'll have to gain more experience before you'll be able to match the more polished ones (at least in that time-frame) but it should open your mind to the possibilities.



#8 meeshoo   Members   -  Reputation: 508

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 11:35 AM

1) Go for something extremely simple with a single mechanic out there, better inspired by an old classic so you can compare your results with that one. Get familiarized with the whole process because there is a lot more to it than just implementing mechanics.

 

2) If you want to learn programming, that is an entirely different field you need to start with, but if you want just simple stuff tools like game maker will do.

 

3) The best goal is to finish it, no matter how ugly or feature-lacking it is. It just have to be playable. 



#9 Winfield   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 01:02 PM

1) What types of games are best suited to being made by a single person?

I'd guess that this would be things that don't require a lot of content, like an RPG would, and not something that requires a ton of testing, like any PvP game.

 

 

You're going to need to do a ton of testing no matter what you end up doing, but this is more or less correct. You need to build something that you can create all the content for. You could think about generating procedural content; I'm unqualified to discuss this, but there's a wealth of information about generating worlds on this guy's blog.
 

2) What game development platforms work best for a single person?

I've played around a bit with Unity and tried looking at other systems, but most of them seem better suited for large projects with lots of people on them, and/or are very expensive. I've also seen a few things like RPG Maker and Game Maker, but those seem too simplistic to make a "real" game, and don't seem to leverage my ability to write code any. Is there a middle-ground between these, or am I not giving one side enough credit?

 

 

If what you want to make is very similar to existing games, you can probably find a creation system to help do it. If it's very different, you're likely to be better off writing the code yourself. This is really hard to answer without knowing what type of game you have in mind. Whether you've acclimated to integrating libraries and API usage will inform whether you can build an engine out of off-the-shelf parts.

 

You're right about RPG maker, though. Mostly. You can make a very complex and detailed lo-fi RPG, and you can use a series of hacks to get more out of it, but in the end you're burning time and ingenuity to make a kludgy RPG maker game.

 

3) What is a good goal to strive for for a first game?

I recall reading about how new art students start by copying existing art. Should I try to re-create existing games as a first step, or branch out and do something new? How long should I expect to spend making the game? What's a good way to know if I'm being too ambitious and setting myself up for failure?

 

 

It'd be smart to make a Tetris clone and maybe a simple sidescroller as proof of concept. This should tell you very quickly whether your expectations at this stage are reasonable.

 

And in general, any other advice for a new game developer?

 

 

Don't drop out of college, don't quit your day job, don't go into the long grass.


Edited by Winfield, 13 November 2013 - 01:06 PM.


#10 Squared'D   Members   -  Reputation: 2235

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 01:01 AM

One of the first games that I've made was an R-Type) style 2D space shooter. It wasn't overly difficult and the initial art style doesn't have to be all that good. I just scrolled the background and had enemies enter from the right side of the screen. Later I added layers to the background that scrolled at different speeds. I made this game when I was in high school.

Here's a screen shot. Warning: I made this 15 or more years ago. I was originally working with others, but they didn't do any work and I made this all by myself. In my mind, it was awesome.

spdemo.gif

Learn all about my current projects and watch some of the game development videos that I've made.

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#11 Secretmapper   Members   -  Reputation: 865

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:02 AM

My Recent Article may be of interest: Why your games are unfinished and what to do about it

 

There is a very definite stage in a game developers life where they hit a "well" - they make tons of games and find themselves unmotivated and end up not finishing it. The article hopes to expedite the process

 

 

The reason why there is that "well" is because most new game developers try to think of things that are not important. This is my 2 cents to your problem:

 

What do you want to get out of making games? Do you want to be a programmer? Do you want to be an artist? or Do you want to make/design games?

 

I'd always say start with something simple and small.Your #2 question is a popular one among newbies, the "it's too simplistic for a 'real' game" excuse. Throw that sort of egotism out. Some people will call you out for it, but these too will be game developing wannabees who use the 'best' tool they could find - but end up not releasing any games. You might have started with a simple tool, but at least you have a finished game in the end.

 

Also, don't believe anyone that says GameMaker is a 'simple' tool, it has grown (an example of a game from GM: http://godswillbewatching.clay.io/) Note that I personally do NOT use GameMaker, and I am not trying to popularize it in anyway.

 

Finally, and on your last question, if you can create one game in one day, then you're well on your way as a game developer!



#12 jHaskell   Members   -  Reputation: 996

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:26 AM

Start small and work your way up.

 

1.  Build yourself a couple text based games.  Start with something like Hangman and Tic Tac Toe.  If those games seem beneath you, you're wrong.  If those games ARE beneath you, then it will take you very little time at all to develop them, and it will still be a useful experience.  That experience should encompass the full gamut of basic, required, game functionality.  At the bare minimum a Start screen, game menu, robust and flexible Console and File IO, saved games, Computer AI, and high score boards.  There's a lot to be learned here, and if you haven't done all of that with minimal debugging required, moving on to more complex games will likely be quite frustrating.

 

2.  Once you're comfortable with console based games you can step up to simple 2D graphics games.  Best to start with single screen style games ala something like the old Atari Tank game.  This will introduce you to working with 2D graphics and collision detection; and also provide a good introduction to some real Computer AI.  Navigation and Combat AI specifically.  One of the distinctions of this style of game with regards to AI is that it's fine to give the Computer complete knowledge of the environment because the player also has complete knowledge of the environment.  If you're feeling ambitious, go ahead and try your hand at network multiplayer as well.  Scrollers can be tackled here as well, but it's probably better to leave these as your second or third 2D game.

 

Once you've done all that, the answers to pretty much all of your questions should be completely obvious to you.



#13 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1584

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 12:39 PM

I'm new to game making and I chose to try out making a dress up game by myself (in 3d)

Here are the dilemmas you face going solo:

 

If you aren't artistic you have to get an artist to help you

If you aren't technical (don't know how to program well) you have to get a technical person to help you

Want sound? How good are your musical skills? Voice acting?

 

Thankfully, I am well versed in all things needed to make a game (been learning it before I ever thought of game design). 

 

It seems that if you want to make a game by yourself, you have to be sort of like an engineer. You have to know a little about everything, and how it all works together. 

 

I am using the Free and Opensource Game Engine Maratis3d. Here is a link to my progress on my game and the process I am using to make it:

http://forum.maratis3d.com/viewtopic.php?id=873

 

I am actually liking my game design process, as it is smooth. I am trying to figure out the next step actually. Even making conceptually simple games can turn out to be complicated (that is the part I don't like). 

 

Game Maker is not too simplistic. Very popular games have been made using it. However, it will also cost you a lot to publish on anything mobile. I mean, even if it is simplistic, if your goal is to make a game rather than to flex your programming skills, then that is the way to go (simplistic). 

 

Unity 3d is more complete than Maratis however (and I personally think it is harder to use). 

 

For now, Maratis, to me, is a good cross between simplistic and flexible (you can flex your programming skills) 


They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#14 AgentPaper   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 07:22 PM

Thanks for all of the good advice.

 

I'm a competent programmer, so making the game myself isn't an issue. I ended up going with Flash as a platform, using FlashDevelop. I'm just making a basic shooter for now, so far it works with random enemies and one type of ship, but it's been good practice and I'm slowly adding in more and more features as I go.

 

I think a shoot'em up game is a good starting point, because it doesn't take very long to have a working game, but then you can just keep adding in more enemies, more player ships, more weapons, upgrades, levels, and so on. It's been great to be able to have a basically 1:1 ratio of me doing stuff to the game improving, unlike some other game types I've tried where you need to know exactly what you're doing from the beginning, plan things out, and it takes a long time before you have something playable and fun.

 

I'm not much of an artist, but I can do some basic pixel art, so that's defined the style of the game. I don't want to hire out an artist (or request a freebie) on my first game, so I've just kept it simple. Here's a screenshot of the game so far:

 

y81c.png

 

At the moment, I'm planning to put it up on Kongregate once it's done, since that seems to match the quality and size of the game fairly well.






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