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Old Tricks of the Trade?


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#1 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1651

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 01:11 AM

Anyone know any old school tricks of the trade when it comes to making a 3d video game (particularly a 3rd person game)? I only know a few, but I am looking for more tricks on lighting, level design, animation etc. 
 
Foliage
For instance, instead of modeling trees, they use flat planes that are rotated around to create the illusion of depth to save on processing time. 
 

Character Shadows
Another trick of the trade I remember is that shadows underneath a game character was just an ellipse shape with a gradient alpha channel (no real dynamic shadows, but it worked.

 

Modular Design

Modular design makes level assembly much more straightforward and fast. Use pre-built pieces to assembly variations of a level or game. 

 

Fade to Black

No need for fancy video transitions. At a live stage play, lights off means the scene is finished. Lights on mean a new scene has started. If you don't can't integrate video into your game, just turn the lights off, re-position the camera, and then turn the lights back on. 

 

Zipper Pickup

You don't have to animate a character bending down to pick up an item. You walk over an item, it disappears, you hear the "zipper sound" the health bar animation advances to the next frame. 

 

These are all I can think of so far, because I am new to making games and I can't recall some of the things form old games. Perhaps I should play an old game too. Anyone have any to contribute? 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 23 December 2013 - 01:18 AM.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


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#2 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 837

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 09:23 AM

Look again, you are only thinking of the graphics.

 

In 3rd person you say. Darn. The biggest trick of all was putting a player in 1st person so that games never have to render the player character outside of cutscenes.

 

 

Here's the real trick. Omit realism in favor of gameplay and reducing workload.

 

If I put this into a 3rd person 3D setting, there are still many things that would affect graphics and work in any game, but the assets are going to be 3D.

  • games usually have a gui to transmit important info
  • floating arrows tell the player where to go if I can't build a specific level
  • floating text bubbles tell the story when audio is too expensive to store in memory
  • enemies can use fields of aggro or a single bubble where they spawn and run away
  • limited mob spawns in open areas, no extras are spawned
  • have any excess of enemies process info less often
  • use ambient scenery for places the player wishes they could go
  • (optionally) limit the distance a player can see altogether by placing huge obstacles they can't see above
  • (optionally) box the player in, players love caves
  • limit the camera angles so that it is always above where a player might jump to (if it's a platform type)
  • let the camera clip through scenery (a camera that switches sides is confusing and takes more programming)
  • include no extra animations other than character movement
  • everything should be done in as few player interactions possible
  • use a limited poly count per mob or character, as few as possible to make the shapes necessary
  • if a feature is the most important thing your audience you include it, for example:
    the player should be given what they need automatically from inventory unless ...
    if the game is a hardcore rpg type, then include an interface where the player is forced to do all inventory transactions manually
    if players loved something in a previous game, put it in the next
    if players hated something that was necessary, improve it
    there's probably more that fits here, etc.
  • special hazards that appear often and look different can all do the same thing
  • reuse as much of the previous assets, including programming, possible (or throw away over 100 hours of work per month per employee, or whatever you paid for it)

Obviously these tricks are sometimes too underhanded, a player would spot them a mile away now. I first saw a Gran Tourismo and I couldn't get over the fact the wheels did not spin forward ever, no matter how slow the cars moved, the wheels were all spinning backwards, talk about cutting corners!

 

From what I read while randomly viewing the forums here, the AAA industry has no incentive to reuse assets. There's a positive spin, they are stimulating their economy by hiring thousands of people to remake everything.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#3 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1651

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 11:31 AM

Nice post ActiveUnique. I'm going to look into those things, and also post some tricks I come up with. I need to cut corners with this little small level/game idea I have because I know it can get complicated really quickly. I want it to feel like a AAA game, but require 10% of the work (doing it by myself) so Im going to get creative like 1920s television.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#4 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1463

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 03:02 PM


floating text bubbles tell the story when audio is too expensive to store in memory

I would let the player pick music from what they have on their computer, especially if you can't afford good music.

 


Modular Design
Modular design makes level assembly much more straightforward and fast. Use pre-built pieces to assembly variations of a level or game.

I would 've expected this to have become somewhat standard for most games.






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