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Games are Easy to make, So why is making Video games so hard?


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#1 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1624

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 11:11 PM

When I was a kid, we could make up a game on the spot. We create the rules, and over time we adjusted the rules when someone found a way to bend the rules to make the game unfair.

For instance, here is a game I will create right here on the spot:

Game 1:
One person has to hide an object somewhere in the house. Then the player has to write clues for how to find the object. All of the other players have to search for the object based on the clues. The first person to find the object wins the game.
End Game 1

Bam! One game down. Now, this game can be expanded to be more interesting and fun. I already see some ways it can be made more interesting. The point is, I made that game right on the spot. It didn't take much logic or pre-planning to make it, and it is playable right now. Wrap it in a box, put it on a shelf, and someone will buy it.

So, why is making video games so hard? Why does it require so many logical conditions and such?

There must be a better way. Currently I am big on the node-based programming thing, but perhaps I have thought of a new idea. What about a rule-based programming? Anyone heard of such a thing?

I am a firm believer of the idea that great graphics are not what make the design of a game good. Sure, the design of the graphics are good, but without good mechanics, it can't be much of a fun game.

What do you think? Why is making video games so hard?

 

Update:

I just found that there is such a thing as Rule-based-programming. And I found a very interesting lecture on youtube talking about Rule Based Systems. 

 

 

It is crazy how all my topics lead into one another. This is the stuff I was looking for without looking for it really. Just going with the ideas that cross my mind. 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 28 February 2014 - 11:38 PM.

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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9878

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 11:45 PM


For instance, here is a game I will create right here on the spot:

Game 1:
One person has to hide an object somewhere in the house. Then the player has to write clues for how to find the object. All of the other players have to search for the object based on the clues. The first person to find the object wins the game.
End Game 1

Bam! One game down.

 

That's not a game. It's an idea for a game.  There are a lot of details you haven't worked out in this description.  It's always harder to execute on an idea than it is to have the idea. 


-- Tom Sloper
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#3 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1624

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 11:54 PM

Well, it is a game, albeit not a video game, but it would certainly be a game. It is more of a childhood game, but it is complete. It has rules and a victory condition. 

 

I have started to think in terms of games, and not in terms of computer generated games. When thinking in terms of "computer game" it is only an idea for a game, but I can play this game right now. Hide and Seek is a game too. The rules are just as basic, one person hides, and the other tries to find them. End of the game. Basic but complete. 

 

Of course, there is more I could do to make the old game of Hide and Seek more interesting, and from observation, people are making a bunch of money off of refactored old video game concepts (angry birds is just catapult with a catchy theme). 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 28 February 2014 - 11:55 PM.

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#4 ivan.spasov   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1760

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 12:08 AM

There are several things here to note. First off - as you said it your self, as a kid you think up of a game and adjust it's flaws on the fly. With games you can't do that for several reasons - you are charging people money for your product, you are paying devs, artists and so on to make the changes, so off goes the budget, the player already has a bad taste in his mouth for an under thought mechanic so he might not even download your patch.  Another thing is the artistic side. As a kid, you have a wild imagination, however it is your own. If you are playing a cops vs. robbers game, you are imagining something totally different to what your friends are, despite the similar rules. In a game you have a physical representation of those rules and the imagination of one to several people and you go in the realm of visual arts. If you don't have a clean, detailed and full blown idea of exactly what has to happen in your game, the art is going to go in all sorts of unimmersive and weird directions. To build off of that, you have the technical side. Every single little mechanic in your game is turned into a technical feature. Every one. And it is a separate feature, especially if you are going for behavior driven development. Now, let's say you are not in the clear right away on what you want to have ... then you bust out several features that end up being flawed and buggy, be it as a logical error or just flawed in generally. And let's not forget how many games went down the path of obscurity by employing huge game changer updates. This is not something you want to do once you go live.

For "sandboxing" your ideas, how a child would, you have your alpha and beta stages, respectively. This is the time to experiment, remaster, rework, remove or add, develop, bold up and further features and mechanics.



#5 fastcall22   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4333

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 12:13 AM

Making video games is hard because writing software is hard. Logical conditions are required because logic is the nature of computing and programming. Your aforementioned game is easy to create in the real world, because you borrow everything that already exists: The universe, the laws of physics, the communication to convey the rules and the state of the game, and etc... You can turn it into a video game, too, if you knew the lua programming language and you're okay with using Garry's Mod. While it's not rule-based programming, it's certainly the fastest way to get your game fleshed out, otherwise you'd have to create everything from scratch: The universe, the laws of physics, the network communication, the objects, and etc...

Sure, Angry Birds is "just" a catapult with a catchy theme, but it is the execution is what made the creators a lot of money.
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#6 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1526

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 12:21 AM

Thinking of a game, and thinking of a game programmatically are 2 totally different  beasts.

 

With the addition of programming language, you must force your brain to adjust to the "logic" of computers, and ignore human "intuition" .

 

Example:

Tic-Tac-Toe

 

 As a human you can easily infer where you wish to place your mark that may give you the best position.

 As a programmer you must make very specific mathematical and/or boolean rules on turns, were marks can be placed, how to strategically place marks ( AI ), and what are the rules for game over. Than you must make some sort of visual representation of the game board and what state it is in.

 As a human this can take less than 5 seconds to set up. As a programmer, this can take up to 4 hours to code ( without graphics ).


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#7 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3718

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:13 AM

I have started to think in terms of games, and not in terms of computer generated games. When thinking in terms of "computer game" it is only an idea for a game, but I can play this game right now. Hide and Seek is a game too. The rules are just as basic, one person hides, and the other tries to find them. End of the game. Basic but complete.
It's not complete, it has many assumptions (fine for a reasonable kid, but not for an alien or a computer probram or a non behaving player).

- is it allowed to fly to another continent to hide?

- is it allowed to kill the seeker so you can't be found (one of the best tactics)?

- is it allowed to coerce your parent to deny the access to the room where you are hiding?

- define "hide", is avoiding being found for 2 years a victory condition for the hidden player?

 

Try hide and seek with adults and make the stakes high enough (like an office game "who will get fired this month"), you will see much more creativity and rule bending :D


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#8 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:14 AM

I am big on the node based programming thing . . .
. . . it is crazy how all my topics lead to one another

I thought i was the only one.
I really like the idea of intentional, visual, declarative programming . . . and speech.

Making video games is hard because writing software is hard . . .

and because you can't just type:
create 3d world, 10km*10km using directx11 graphics, with 2000 npc's and 1pc, with the following rules:
If user tries to cheat, end game.
If user tries to go to end without passing through the right path, end game (racing) etc.
and the following missions:
Bank robbery.
Hostage rescue etc.
and with the following attributes:
Learning AI.
Real world physics.
Daytime cycle.
Real world weather conditions etc.

We can't do this sort of declarative and intentional programming, yet :).

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#9 ShiftyCake   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:56 AM

Physical entertainment versus virtual entertainment is where you have made your mistake.

Childhood games are physical entertainment.

Video games are virtual entertainment.

 

Then to separate even further, adult (including teens) entertainment (not that type of entertainment) versus child entertainment.

A child's entertainment is short and simple.

An adult's entertainment is long and complicated.

 

physical entertainment built for adult entertainment is time consuming.

physical entertainment built for child entertainment is not time consuming.

virtual entertainment built for adult entertainment is time consuming.

virtual entertainment built for child entertainment is time consuming.

 

that is where the problem starts, and ends. Creating entertainment on a virtual level will always be harder and more time consuming then simple games a child makes up. Even if all the programming dissapears, if graphics magically create themselves, and ideas are designed and fleshed out on the spot, it won't change a thing. You'll still need the time to implement and polish the video game.

 

Which isn't a bad thing, do you know how underwhelming the industry would become if games could be made instantly. It'd overload. There would be too many games at once, too many games at once means only a few really ever get played out of the thousands created. Since, say, 10/100 are played the other 90 games produce no money and the people who made them go bankrupt. Eventually, the the industry would collapse in on itself and you'd see only money making games coming out at any point in time.


If, at any point, what I post is hard to understand, tell me. I am bad at projecting my thoughts into real words, so I appreciate the knowledge that I need to edit my post.

 

I am not a professional writer, nor a professional game designer. Please, understand that everything you read is simply an opinion of mind and should not, at any point in time, be taken as a credible answer unless validated by others.

 

I do take brief bouts of disappearance so don't worry if I either don't reply to you or miss certain things. I am quite a lazy fellow.


#10 Nikster   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 05:29 AM

Well, in your example, in a video game you have to create a house.

#11 Simon West   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 08:45 AM

But i would say to answer the question quite generally what makes it so hard is balance.

 

Lets use your example of hide an object.  What clues can the person write or not write.  What makes it fun and interesting for the seekers.  Ok as kids it is fine but then what about after 1 hour, do the people still want to play?  Who got bored the seekers or the hiders?  Did they both get bored at the same time.  If you cant get the right balance one side or the other will feel dejected, then it is game over.



#12 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 835

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 04:36 PM

Here's my interpretation of what a few people said.

 


It's always harder to execute on an idea than it is to have the idea.

 

Advertisement, and gaining other people's interest can take a long time, and sometimes there's a trend that impacts you negatively if you advertise wrong. Without proper advertising, your game doesn't get played.

 


If you are playing a cops vs. robbers game, you are imagining something totally different to what your friends are, despite the similar rules.

 

Touche. In the real world you have pillows and furniture. Outside you have trees and buildings. You might imagine this white building is a saloon. Your friends might just see an obstacle blocking their view. In either case, it's a very realistic and well detailed 3-dimensional obstacle.

A flat untextured cube for terrain is and any effort made to imagine it's more than a cube is more valuable than the effort put into using the [insert cube] command.

 

If you don't pay or work on an actual saloon and well detailed assets, nobody's going to enjoy your game.

 


Thinking of a game, and thinking of a game programmatically are 2 totally different beasts.


What about a rule-based programming? Anyone heard of such a thing?

Someone needs to program the high-level language. If you started working on a GUI language, the visual kind, it's not much easier. But it's a similar case, someone said "guis look so similar, why not program it all with mouse dragging?"

 

The closest thing to"rule based at the moment could be modifying. You still end up doing a lot of work, and it starts by finding the game you'll create the mod for.

 

There is no easy button. Although someone who really loves their work might exaggerate how little they do.


time consuming

 

Time comes up a lot. People want to spend time having fun. Businesses make money off said people. Their employees need to work on a schedule.

 

Employers will naturally gravitate to a ball and chain / slave driver solution, otherwise productivity just bottoms out. Atlas Shrugged will give you an idea of what happens in a world where that didn't happen.


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


#13 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1624

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 04:48 PM


Your aforementioned game is easy to create in the real world, because you borrow everything that already exists:

 

Good point! I could merge the two. A game that is played both in the real world and in the virtual world at the same time. Not something like Kinect games, but a game that requires real world participation. 


They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#14 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2134

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 10:06 PM


When I was a kid, we could make up a game on the spot.

 

...

 

So, why is making video games so hard?

 

 

Because making up a game is simply the preliminary design phase of building a computer game.

 

the old "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" concept.

 

its only hard when you don't know how to do something, or don't have the right tools for the task at hand.

 

once you know how to do it and have the tools, its mostly "inspired gruntwork", "glorified word processing",  etc, etc. In that respect, its only the coolness factor of the resulting product that differentiates it from any other type of software development.

 

also, real time, interactive, multi-media, relational database driven, networked, multi-user,  modeling and simulation (did i forget any? <g> ) software applications (IE computer games) are one of the more complex types of apps out there.  


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#15 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1624

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 10:16 PM

I see some game developers trying to change the process. One attempt is Project Spark, but you soon find out that you actually have to use programming concepts to do anything spectacular. 

 

Another one I saw was the ToyBox mode in Disney Infinity

 

Of course, before all of these was Little Big Planet by Media Molecule

 

Now, supposedly, Media Molecule is trying to do something completely original. They are trying to bring the game creation process into the real world:

 

One of the most exciting technologies to me is Augmented Reality. Anyone done any research into that area? Another facet to being able to achieve this "real world gaming" is Virtual Reality

 

So, augmented reality takes a virtual world and projects it into a real world. Virtual reality takes "you" and projects you into a virtual world. A merger of these two would put things one step closer to the perfect game creation environment. Okay, that is all for my fantasy. 

 

Still, there just has to be a better way to make computer games. 

 

As another note, I was also interested in the Euclidean Engine:

 

Their idea is a good one, taking information from real life and using that to create virtual things:

 

Also the 3-Sweep software is a very good idea:

 

Wait, I am not finished yet. 

3D printing is gaining popularity nowadays, but I saw the potential long before at Siggraph. 

 

Now, before a computer generated object is printed, it is a 3d file. So when you print the object, you then have two identical objects, one in a virtual world, and one in the real world. 

 

Unfortunately, the robotics industry is far behind. haha. 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 02 March 2014 - 10:19 PM.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#16 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30387

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 11:04 PM


As another note, I was also interested in the Euclidean Engine:
Their idea is a good one, taking information from real life and using that to create virtual things:

Just to nit-pick --

That's not their idea. They're deliberately misleading in their videos, confusing their own voxel-renderer with 3D scanning technology (one reason why they've got a shite reputation in the games industry).

 

Their product is just a renderer. For their demo, they used another company's 3D scanning software to create the assets.

You can use the same 3D scanning software with any renderer.

 

In fact, many games already do make use of 3D scanning technology (it's standard practice for AAA games!!), they just don't lie and pretend that they've invented the idea!


Edited by Hodgman, 02 March 2014 - 11:13 PM.


#17 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3718

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 04:44 AM


As another note, I was also interested in the Euclidean Engine:
It's fraud, or creative marketing, don't listen to them :)

In short "there are too many polygons to process, so instead make even more atoms and it will be easier to process" :) Come on...

And the funniest part "unlimited quantities" :D That's against the laws of physics of our universe :)


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