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Member Since 12 Mar 2005
Online Last Active Yesterday, 11:51 PM

#5315334 Getting more curious and curious

Posted by on 15 October 2016 - 09:43 AM

Isnt that jack of all trade master of none thing?


Nope, I see it as gaining specialties.  Implementing more and more details until you know all the critical details, then jumping down into an even more specialized area.  Once in that specialty, learning more and more details, becoming expert all the way down.

#5315295 Should I buy a console if teaching this stuff?

Posted by on 15 October 2016 - 03:13 AM

WII U, like WII, seems babyish.


Nintendo has a great design philosophy as far as that goes.  You call it "babyish", but that isn't exactly right.  The games that do amazingly well on the platform are approachable and feel more like toys.  Not necessarily baby toys, but toys nonetheless.


The best games on Nintendo systems tend to include 'moments of delight', whether that is Yoshi doing some crazy animations, Link getting a closeup as he opens the treasure chest, or the delight of Smash Bros as you whack your enemy into oblivion.



The games tend to attract both more children (who don't have money) and more parents/grandparents (who do have money) thinking of children.


As the game mechanics generally are more friendly and approachable it means that people who don't have hundreds of hours to invest in playing can approach them easily and immediately get into the fun parts.

#5315294 Complete Noob Trying to take a shot at game dev

Posted by on 15 October 2016 - 02:54 AM

ClickTeam Fusion is probably good given your background is in art.  GameMaker Studio and GameSalad can also be good depending on what system you use.


Of the four choices Unity, UE, Cryengine, and Source 2, Unity would be most friendly to an artist if you're wiling to buy a few things from the Unity Store, with UE4 close behind if you only use the built-in Blueprint system.  All of them will require programming, some require more programming than others.

#5315245 UML diagrams for video games

Posted by on 14 October 2016 - 01:43 PM

I've seen UML used on whiteboards and done so myself when describing how systems are put together, but that is very transitory and as a communications tool.  That's all UML is, after all, is a communications tool.



Like the others before, I don't see UML in design documents or anything related to the game itself on any regular basis.


Rarely someone will document how a system works. They generally don't use UML formally, but with a UML-style collection of boxes and lines to communicate the relationship. Other times the UML communications diagrams showing how data flows over time will show up, but it isn't common.

#5315243 Should I buy a console if teaching this stuff?

Posted by on 14 October 2016 - 01:37 PM

Also, I always hear about PC games. Do those require a lot of memory and will downloading them slow down my computer, or are they mostly online and easy to access?


These days PC games are generally download-only.  Steam is the biggest provider, the other major publishers (EA, Ubisoft, ...) have their game portals too.  The biggest drawback in your situation is that they are purchase-only.  No returns, no exchanges.


And should I conclude that purchasing a console and discs (cds, dvds whatever) is a good investment?


No, they are a terrible investment.  It is possible that in 20-30 years copies that were pristine and untouched will have some collector value, and a few limited release titles will become collectibles.  But overall the value drops quickly, with the biggest value when the title is fresh and new, dropping rapidly as popularity diminishes, and falling on web sites to "free plus shipping" a few months after they are no longer popular.


But I am still not sure which console I should buy.


I like to remind people it doesn't have to be a mutually exclusive choice.  It can be if budgets are limited, but based on industry surveys over half of American homes use multiple game consoles.


I'll assume money is tight and you're looking for just one. 


First, I'd look to see if there are any platform exclusive games you want. For a few examples, the latest Final Fantasy and God Of War will put you on PS4, the latest Halo games or Titanfall will put you on XBox One, Mario and Zelda live in Nintendo's universe.  I think of the current hardware generation PS4 has the longer list of exclusive titles.


The vast majority of games are cross platform between both PS4 and XBox One.  The hardware is similar enough between them there is minimal difference for player experience.


Wii U has its own set of games due to the controller design, and while they are interesting for study purposes they may not give you the choices you are looking for.  However, as they are different, it may give you different ideas.




As I believe cost is the key factor, would just go to the used game store, briefly explain that you're a teacher who was assigned to teach some games courses, and ask them if they can give a discount on either PS4 or XBox One.  


If nothing is at a big discount, and if you don't have a preferred platform, I'd probably take the PS4 500GB for $250 along with 2-3 games under $20 that you can get good return and exchange later.  If you get a bundled game you won't be able to use the full value return policy, but they'd give you a few dollars in exchange.

#5315072 What is the general name for types like Quadtrees and Octrees etc

Posted by on 13 October 2016 - 04:32 PM

BSPs and KDtrees are very different entities with different uses.

I'd say they are only slightly different.


Octree and Quadtree are always broken up exactly into regular grids.  1/2, then 1/4, then 1/8, and so on. It is divided by space.


BSP trees and KD trees allow arbitrary subdivisions. They also tend to focus more on keeping the slices divided based on number of items rather than area covered.

#5315068 Play Station VR

Posted by on 13 October 2016 - 04:11 PM

Now that PSVR is publicly available ....  :D


I see this holiday as the bend in the curve, the tipping point, where enough people with enough wealth are going to have them, bring the devices to grandma's house, show 20+ extended family members who call people up the neighbors and show 100+ total people over the holidays, and suddenly everyone says "I absolutely need to buy one of these VR entertainment devices."





Among the four headsets currently on my desk and assorted motion trackers that are probably giving me cancer, I personally prefer using the Vive's motion controls and the grip for my virtual hands feels best.  I think in the marketplace it will be PSVR becoming the console edition of VR, and Vive becoming the PC edition of VR, and I see them both fighting madly for an enormous multi-million-unit install base next year.  



However, the way the headset lenses distort the display make it look reasonable as you move your eyes around, the Vive's lenses distort and detract from the world much more. While the screen itself is not the best, the lenses visually look better to me, there is less visual distortion on PSVR.



Following Hodgman's list for these three devices:


Tracking: Vive, Rift, PSVR  -- Agree.
Screen: Vive/Rift, PSVR -- Agree, but it is a mixed result because of the next item...
Lenses: PSVR, Rift, Vive -- Agree.  While PSVR has a technically worse screen, the lenses are a serious strike against Vive.
Comfort: PSVR, Rift, Vive -- I'd say PSVR, Vive, Rift. I really want to get my hands on the wireless Vive headset adapters that various groups online have been discussing, as that may change my answer, the tether is annoying.
Audio: Rift, Vive/PSVR -- No preference, I think this varies more by the software used than the device itself.
Motion Controllers: Rift, Vive, PSVR -- I'd swap Rift and Vive.
Price: PSVR, Rift, Vive -- They could all be cheaper. 
Even so, all of them are great, and everyone we've brought in to try stuff has been amazed and wanted to come back regardless of the system used.

#5315064 Should I buy a console if teaching this stuff?

Posted by on 13 October 2016 - 03:48 PM

And with this thread and the other comments, that is exactly what I believe is happening.


I recall back to my own school days, we had a group of us who took AP Computer Science our junior year and wanted another course beyond pascal.  After much begging with the administration and the AP CS teacher -- who was a math instructor that was originally given the AP CS course reluctantly -- they agreed that if we could get 8 students together who would absolutely commit to the course as an elective, they'd find a way to make it work.  


Our teacher was often frustrated by CS topics, but he did an adequate job teaching us C++.  He allowed the more advanced students -- the few of us who were the core who already knew the semantics of the language but not the CS topics on algorithms and data structures, to build projects as advanced as we wanted, as long as we shared with him the CS-side of how things worked. As these were the days before the Intarwebz, much of it was finding information on the limited newsgroups we had access to and finding stuff on Archie/Veronica, and from the few CS departments with publicly viewable ftp sites hunting for gems.



Both from this and the previous thread, I get the impression gameteacher is in a somewhat similar situation.  He (assuming it is a male due to English grammar, if female then 'she') is an educator first, and since there is nobody else willing/able to teach the topic, he's taking it on himself to educate the kids as best he can.  


I love that attitude, and while sometimes there has been disagreement over course scope and discussion topics, I'm THRILLED he is spending the extra time trying to do the best he can for the students who are interested in my vocational field.



So gameteacher, while there are many people who rack up extended hours on games, including me, nobody expects that for the level you're teaching.  While I personally may rack up 100+ hours over the course of several weeks playing a game I absolutely love, it is not necessary for the role you've got, you can play enough of the game to try it out, study it, get comfortable, and be able to talk with enough authority that your students will understand you, if not respect you, for it.



Also now that I think about it, if you've got a game store that has lots of dead time you might talk about your situation and convince the manager to let you play the games there at the store, and maybe occasionally have employees talk about the games with you and the mechanics they like.

#5314917 Should I buy a console if teaching this stuff?

Posted by on 12 October 2016 - 08:21 PM

Game designers tend to play many games, yes. But more critically than playing games: they study the games.

Good game designers dig into the games to figure out what is fun. They ask questions, why did the game developer put this item there? How did they control access to keep the player from getting into trouble? Why is this fun? Or possibly more importantly, why isn't that fun?

The game designers I've worked with over the years tend to love used game stores. Get a used game, study it, return it within a week and get 100% in-store credit, get another used game, return it within a week, repeat over and over. Within the week they can study all they need to understand the core mechanics and new features, and if they love the game enough the costs to keep it longer aren't a big deal.

As you are a teacher, IIRC you were teaching in a public school setting, you should probably be aware of the iconic games at a minimum.

Playing the games gives you a more complete experience, but it often isn't necessary to play the entire game if all you are attempting to study is the specific mechanics.

Youtube viewing of the iconic elements won't give you the full experience of being a player and being emotionally involved in a great story, but it can give you enough to study the mechanics for yourself. We frequently refer to youtube clips to break apart what other games do for specific situations.

As for which console, many games are cross platform; generally if it was on PS2 it was generally also on XBox. If it was on PS3 it was generally also on XBox360. Today if it is on PS4 it is also generally on XBox One. Wii and Wii U tend to have fewer cross platform games since they have a different demographic and because the hardware has different processors and different performance characteristics than the other two major consoles.

However, some of the most iconic games are single platform, and all the major systems have their own iconic characters and iconic games.

You don't need to purchase them nor do you need to play them, but for a deeper understanding you do need to study them. Fortunately used systems are relatively cheap and you can often study core mechanics over a few hours rather than the hundreds of hours many people play each game.

#5314785 Bulk key purchase price

Posted by on 11 October 2016 - 10:01 PM

I think you should consider ho they are, what they intend to do with them, how many keys they want, and the effect on your revenue and your brands in the worst case.

A reputable company buying 50 or 100 keys for the stated purpose of rewarding their employees? Sure, consider a higher rate.

An unknown person out of nowhere claiming to work with a major bundling group? No way, too shady. If they are verified from a major group then they would know better, bundle groups don't typically approach developers for bulk keys that way, they ask for mutual deals that help both of you.

A scalper buying bulk keys can hurt until all the keys are gone, can harm your brand by people thinking your keys the bought cheaply are bad or revoked.

From what you described I'd ask them to verify themselves, then take it all to the distributor (Steam?) and see if they can help stop the group or issue alerts,

#5314777 Minigames instead of quick time events

Posted by on 11 October 2016 - 09:04 PM

I was more thinking about QTE when it's actually good, like with God of War, where QTE finishers are, for me at least, extremely satisfying, and help connect the player to the action being performed in a very tacticle.



This is actually one my disabled co-workers complained quite vocally about.  One is a great game designer, but is mostly paralyzed due to a sports accident.  (One of his favorite thing when people in his favorite FPS games are rude to him is to shout back "You realize your bragging about taking out a quadriplegic?" and if it persists, taunts like "I'm sure it took some skill to shoot the paralyzed guy." which usually gets laughter from the other players.)  Another person in our office at the time (Steve) had some palsy issues and was partially parlayed in one hand and walks with a limp.  




When God of War was revving up for release everyone in the office at the time was thrilled, it looked like a great game.


The day after it came out, Kevin was in the office ranting about how the game was completely unplayable to him. Steve hadn't played much, but the next day came in with the same complaint: the game series is COMPLETELY TERRIBLE for them.


The games are beautiful and is completely fun, right up until they enter the phase of button mashing that only works great if you have full dexterity in both hands.





The entire series is completely unplayable to millions of people who would love to play the game, but cannot because some game designers didn't think through their decisions.  Later games took the lazy route and copied what others did with all the flaws, in many cases making the problem even worse.


I've had designers propose QTEs over the years, and every time I've vocally called out that it is a terrible design for alienating the players.  One time they wouldn't listen, so I got permission to invite some people to a playtest, then called the few paralyzed people I knew to participate. When the designer saw that he was being an idiot, he relented and removed the QTEs.


Now that I'm in a lead position, I always do what I call a Kevin Test.  I must be able to play the game with one finger on my left hand and one finger on my right. I may be able to wedge the controller against something and push in with my body to hit the shoulder buttons, I may curl my hand around with that one finger, and I may rock my finger back and forth between multiple buttons.  But if I cannot play the game that way, the game is inaccessable and I work with the designers to change it.  When it comes time to playtesting I make sure to invite people with limited dexterity and ask them for input as well.


I'm currently working on a title and the Vive controller's squeeze mechanic has been giving grief with the Kevin Test, so just this week I've taken it on to ensure button remapping works so the entire control system has a secondary optional input that can be completely played with the touchpad and a single finger.  I've already alerted the QA leads that they'll need to ensure the entire game is single-finger playable.



Also, read this

#5314583 Designing everything then Program it later - is this a good plan?

Posted by on 10 October 2016 - 04:42 PM

There are a couple things here.



First, unless this is something you have done multiple times it is something YOU CANNOT PREDICT.  No matter what systems and modules you think you need up front, YOU WILL BE WRONG.


So plan for that.  Think about the general systems you know you will need, plan for them as parts of the whole, and call it good enough for now.  When you need something more from one of those systems, add it.  When it does too much, split it.  If it gets to complex, simplify it. 


If you have experience in the systems you can guide the growth into common patterns, but if you don't have the experience it is unrealistic to guess too much in the details.






Don't worry, you aren't alone here.  Many people --- including experienced developers and project managers --- get confused about the level of planning to do.


This is an area of Agile development that people hotly debate.  The Agile Manifesto includes among the values: "We value ... Responding to Change over Following a Plan"



I interpret this to mean we should all make our own plans, but we should begin with a solid understand of the goal.


In a more real-world example, I might give the overall goal "Be at the wedding reception on 8:30 on Thursday, 123 Maple Street."  As the organizer I do not make plans such as driving directions, outfits to wear, or time to leave their locations.  Instead I trust that the individuals involved can make their own planning as needed to reach those goals.


Perhaps a group of people may discuss a carpool and have their own pickup times.  They may give a bit of buffer for traffic knowing they want to arrive by 8:10, so work backward for the times saying we pick up Bob at 8:00, Joe at 7:50, and Fred at 7:45.  Then they work backward for how long it takes each person to get ready, and so forth. Each group attending the event can make their own plans, allowing enough time in their own schedules to accomplish the clear goals.



For software, you should know what it is you are trying to build.  You should know where you want to go, when you want to get there. Then you can work backward to the things you know you will need. Allow enough time for unexpected elements, and build up the schedule as best you can to accomplish your clear goals.  If you don't have enough experience to know what those items are, then finding out those things should be your first set of tasks.





There is no best plan, no universal template of what to build and schedules to build them with, just like there are no universal plans to get to 123 Maple Street by 8:30.  Some people travel north, others travel south; some travel on trains, airplanes, cars, or simply walk. Whatever plan you build and path you follow should be unique to you.  My plan for me almost certainly won't work for you.

#5314549 Minigames instead of quick time events

Posted by on 10 October 2016 - 10:02 AM

why not do QTE?



Because Quick Time Events are frequently both a bad design and a lazy choice.


They tend to be fundamentally different actions than main gameplay, often rapid button mashing. As such it takes away from the game experience, you go from controlling a character with making fine motor control actions of selection and careful picking into a button-mashing masturbatory-style action.


Also a problem is that while game designers frequently take steps to enable people with poor motor control to play the game normally, they'll throw in these button-mashing events rendering the game inaccessible to those with limited motion.



I know several people with partial paralysis in their hands, and over the years I've even worked with quite a few of them.  They tell stories of how games include all kinds of options to enable accessibility like remapping controllers, switching to wait-style actions, adding color blind modes and closed captioning, and then after doing all that the lazy game designer suddenly adds a Quick Time Event where you must mash buttons rapidly in seemingly random order, even though the player's game settings clearly indicate that they have limited mobility and a reason not to do so.  So suddenly when they get to the epic boss fights they cannot win them at all or they are excluded from getting heavy hits or other benefits because the designer was too lazy (at best) to consider their entire player base.


Don't use QTE if you want a good design, or at the very least, make them optional in a way that doesn't hurt the game.




On the flip side, if you're going to do a minigame, make sure it fits with the same game.  


I played one game where the main gameplay was thoughtful, slow, measured, and careful.  Then, for no reason, about every 6-8 levels when you win the round the game presented they player with a "memory" style game, an grid of tiles where you must make a match to clear two tiles, and you must clear the entire board within a time limit. Every level normally gives stars based on how well you cleared the main level, but these stupid "memory" levels discarded your actual results on the puzzle (never do that) and then gave stars based on how fast you cleared the non-sequitur memory game.  Near the end of the game they were fully 20x20 grids typically requiring about 200 match attempts to clear (they reused several tiles so they weren't unique pairs), but the clock only gave two minutes.  It was jarring and did not follow the rest of the game.  T

If you're going to use minigames, make sure it fits with the rest of your game; if they've already completed levels normally use those results in addition to your minigame.  And like before, consider making them completely optional with a switch to turn them off.

#5314506 "Self-taught" 18yo programmer asking for carrier advice. Seriously.

Posted by on 10 October 2016 - 12:50 AM

While it is possible you have learned all that students typically learn in a standard CS program, it is much more likely that you simply don't know what you don't know.

Algorithms and data structures form the absolute core of computer science, and it is an area most younger programmers are severely lacking. That's fine that you can get stuff on the screen, but can you do it efficiently?

For example, good CS graduates will frequently pick and choose between various sort algorithms. One frequent question I use in technical interviews is to ask for as many ways to sort as the person can think of, and when each is better. Most CS programs will teach ten or so, along with the reasons why each is superior for different cases. Most industry veterans can name off several methods that they use frequently, and some they never or seldom use.

After algorithms and data structures are math topics. How is your statistics? Modern games are stuffed full of statistics and probabilities, and not just as loot drop tables. You need to know your distribution curves and how to write them. How is your linear algebra? The math of 3D worlds is linear algebra, so get that down solid. How is your calculus? While some programmers get by with iterative methods, being able to write code that directly calculates positions and variable changes over time is an important skill set. Schools also typically require study of technical writing which will be helpful for all programmers, and often have some courses on basic business which is important over a career.

If all those are down solid that's great! You can test out of those courses and jump into the meat. Fill your days with study of artificial intelligence and machine learning, or with distributed processing and networking, or with digital signal processing, or with machine theory and computing theory so you can improve how your software maps to actual hardware.

Assuming you live in a part of the world where higher education is important for breaking in, if you already know the fundamentals you can spend that time focusing on even more useful content. It is an opportunity many people never get, and one that is usually once-in-a-lifetime around age 18-25. If you already know about a subject ask the teachers how you can test out of the class so you can use the time more productively.

#5314437 Where do i get feedback from?(New user)

Posted by on 09 October 2016 - 01:01 PM

Moving to a more appropriate area of the site, since this doesn't have much to do with mobile development.

As was mentioned, this is a discussion board where it may take a day or two to get full responses. It isn't an online chat board (although we do have some people chatting both on this board and on IRC on AfterNET servers in #gamedev).