It's good to have an idea of what generation of console to study but from how I understand the scope of your course, I don't really think there's a need to buy two consoles at this time. But it'd probably be good if people were to give you some idea of games considered "classics" of that generation or at least are ones worth studying. I haven't actually played much from that era so I wouldn't know what to suggest other than maybe Red Dead Redemption. Don't know how you feel about westerns or if you'll be able to get a handle on the controls but you might be get enough of a feel for what's going on in what I presume is a limited amount of time for you to play. I also hear it has some pretty similar gameplay elements to Grand Theft Auto.
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Of course (as I just wrote) I appreciate games as an art form (to the degree that some have good art. Most have bad art, just like in the art world proper). But playing games cannot be compared to the value of reading books (in general). That's absurd.
I will just say that I have found on rare occasions completing an RPG has left me with a sense of cultural enrichment. That is to say that it has left me feeling like my mind has been expanded beyond just having consumed an escapist experience. Your millage (and everyone else's) may vary.
Not that it necessarily "looks best" but I would probably choose style 4, depending on my colour options. I would hope that you'd ultimately include all 12 styles in a few different colour possibilities.
Pick a language.
Output something to the screen.
Figure out how to store stuff in variables.
Get some kind of user input.
Echo user input to the screen.
Learn how conditionals work so you can output or do different things depending on a variable's value.
Learn how loops work.
Learn how to get a random number.
Learn how to create and use functions.
There's more advanced stuff like objects and polymorphism beyond that but you should be able to do quite a bit with just that much. If I were to look at learning some new language I'd pretty much be going through those initial exercises.
So... why not just always have the player at this "point of death" if that's where all the interesting stuff happens? It sounds as though it's really the point where you go from the player being able to be reckless and the player having to proceed carefully. Except that if it's intended as a sort of heroism thing, well isn't that the sense that the player should throughout?
I don't think it's the exact direction you want to take your idea, but I played Cell Labawhile back for a few weeks and found it enjoyable. Essentially, add an assortment of different cell types to a petri dish and adjust their properties (in effect you're programming them) to try and achieve a particular result. I think (at least some of) the evolution elements you're aiming to include as a central mechanic were basically variable that you could adjust freely.
I think I prefer levels to endless games. If a game is endless by design then effectively I'm the one that decides where the end actually is. And it's likely it's going to be somewhere around when I feel like I get the general idea of the game and I'm not expecting anything new. I might try a bit to beat my own high score but when it feels like I've hit a pretty good ceiling, I'm done.
I think the thing about Crossy Road is that it has a number of unlockable characters and environments and this is what keeps players going. When the character is something that the player feels is humorous or is something that invokes some kind of nostalgic or cultural connection, I think the sense of reward of unlocking that character and potentially striving for the next one keeps people going more than trying to beat their last high score. As such, I don't think the unlock even occurs at the successful completion of some gameplay element and maybe is more tied to how long the player has been playing. (Woo hoo! I unlocked that character that looks suspiciously like that one in that cartoon I used to watch in my youth. I need to unlock his companion now to complete the set. Oh hey, here's one that's supposed to be the president, I have to get that one too. Maybe just a bit longer...)
It's been quite awhile since I've written a Win32 game but if I'm not mistaken, calling InvalidateRect() causes a WM_Paint messages to be sent. Setup a timer to periodically call InvalidateRect() and you should see your text output update. You'll probably want to store that hwnd value from when you create the window so that you'll have access to it for the first parameter. You can use a NULL for the rect parameter to paint the entire window's contents and then it's just whether you want to erase the current contents of the window or not.
Maybe the ability to arm and armour your escort to some degree and otherwise have them be able to use other items you might equip them with. And also the ability to get your stuff back at the end of the mission.
In general when it comes to programming, if you come across something that you don't understand or can't begin to figure out how to approach then that means that there's some fundamentals that you're missing. You have to reduce what you're trying to do to a more basic level and attempt to approach it from there. If it turns out that new, more basic level project is still something you can't wrap your head around, reduce it further and further until you're looking at something you're ok with. Do this again and again while also figuring out how each individual thing you've learned works together with the others to produce more complex results.
From the very beginning to learn point, your first program is likely a "Hello World" program to just get something on the screen. Then you try to figure out how to get input from the user. If you can find out how to generate a random number then at that point you can take a stab at a "Guess the Number" game. If you're creative, you can think of ways to take what you know at that point and come up with other ideas. Hopefully with a bit of experience producing simple projects you'll start to get a handle on what kind of stuff you're looking at needing to learn to get to your dream project.
Best of luck.
BTW, I'm on year 4 of working on my (current) dream project on my own as a hobby project with about 17 years working in IT and I think something like 13 years before that I started learning to program.
If you're in a group that's been weakened and you know that there's a tough foe over the next hill, why would you go over the hill? Or is the problem that the player has no way to tell that he's out classed? If there's something that you can do to give the player a reasonable indication of what he's about to get into, it seems to me that, particularly in a survival game, it's fair if the player ignores that warning and gets killed. (I don't know about your play style and motivations but... I've been warned about the deathclaws ahead, I know what they can do, so while I might've been able to deal with them with that awesome weapon I had awhile ago, I am not running through the short cut without it. )
If you can tell that a particular encounter is going to be too difficult, could you have that encounter maybe just move to somewhere that makes sense leaving the player an opportunity to be stealthy and survive? Possibly as part of a cycle between hunting, wandering, resting states? You could just remove a tough encounter entirely after some time has passed but I think there's something about knowing that there's a persistent threat that's just waiting for you.
Not to discourage you from learning to program but, if you already have an abundance of written material, why are you not looking at doing a book or a comic or a tabletop game of some kind instead? Something that doesn't require years to learn a technical skill before you're able to introduce your vision to the public. If you do have a passion for programming and you learn enough to begin making games, consider that if you've been writing and publishing all this time you would have all this IP at your disposal that has already been exposed to the public and have a measured response for.
Several reasons. I find that video games are a great storytelling medium since you get to interact the the characters and world. The Last of Us had me care more about the characters than any comic, book, or movie did. Plus, I figured a game would have a bigger audience. I don't really care about the money, I just want to share my universe. The best book publishers usually require giving away some of the rights to the ip. I did plan on self publishing a book series that had a shared universe with the game. I seriously considered comics but a video game would make the world that much more believable in my opinion since it would be in motion and had actual sound and emotional expressions. I eventually plan on starting a game/animation studio. I find that animation shouldn't just be for young audiences.
It sounds like you have some enthusiasm for the universe you've created. Perfect, don't loose that. Do you have the same enthusiasm for learning to program?
Consider that while the trade off with publishing a book is giving away some of the rights to the IP, the trade off for creating a game is a significant investment in time, money, and effort that you may or may not enjoy. And there's no guarantee that either yourself or other developers will be able to deliver your vision (there's always some feature that doesn't go quite as planned).
The allure of building a universe from the dust of electrons and breathing life into it is powerful. And as one might expect, looking at it from that perspective, it's not easy or fast. Good luck.
If you want to deduce more about how VO in the game industry works, you should network. I see that your company is in Calgary and does business globally. I don't suppose there's much of a game development community in Calgary (I checked on GameDevMap.com just now and I see that the Alberta devs are all in Edmonton), so you'd need to travel. Get on the mailing list for the Edmonton IGDA chapter, if there is one, and subscribe to GamesIndustry.biz and Gamasutra and Kotaku. Plan now to attend GDC and GDC Europe and other game industry conferences. Talk to producers and audio directors and design directors, not so much to tell them about your company as to learn the things you need to know to navigate this industry.
It looks like the site is a bit inactive but there's a number of links to game dev studios that are still active on http://www.candevs.ca/ Bioware in Edmonton would probably be the most well known studio but there seems to be a fair number of indies throughout Alberta. Google "Alberta Game developers" or whatever city and you get some pretty good results.