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I'm Back! And I feel like a n00b!

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Uh... Where was I?:

So, for those of you who are just joining us; I'm Raymond Jacobs
I spent four years with my team developing Morning's Wrath which in 2005 generated about 300 indiependant sales, a nice bit of internet fame, a couple spots in a UK gaming magazine, and a very modest amount of cash. After this I developed a new engine and with my team, started work on my next game The Lost City of Malathedra; around March of 2007 I was losing interest and ended up meeting the most wonderful woman in the world, with whom I'm now living with and who'll likely be involved in future games.

However I haven't really touched indie game dev since March, of course my day-job is educational game development which has been taxing my brain a lot of late, I am definetly ready to get back into the 'game'.

And much like Morning's Wrath, I'll be documenting the development of the game here on my gdnet journal. I stopped updating my journal for various reasons, some of which are no longer issues and at the moment it's somthing I wan't to do. :)

First things first:

So, a lot of you may be wondering... "where is Malathedra?" to which I would answer "on my development hard-drive"; heh, Malathedra is offically on full-stop at the moment, but my goal is to pick it up again however there is a slight problem.

The games I choose to make require too much effort to be free; in order to sell a game and thus be able to 'make up' for the cost of time and other resources that go into it; the game must be of a greater-than-hobby standard. Morning's Wrath did okay for our first endevor, but if I'm gonna again pour years into game making, it needs to be more serious.

What does this have to do with Malathedra? Malathedra cannot currently compete with the commercial adventure game market (yes there is one, finally); and there are a couple of reasons for this.

1. The art is not good enough
2. The game is 2D and without mounds of 2D art can't "sell" the scenes
3. It 'still' takes too long to make this type of game

With all these factors in mind, I determined that Malathedra in it's current unfinished form won't be able to sell enough units to make it's development worth-while (Remember this is fun but it also must give back enough to justify the crazy time investment).

So the direction I'm going to take is development of a new authoring system (an engine and tool-set if you will; please, hold your tomatoes till the end of the post :D), and finding a way to get some competent artists involved.

The first step however is the authoring tool, and that is where we'll begin.

A new authoring tool or, "how I can be super lazy AND make a great game!":

Developing engines and tools is an exercise in investing time to save time; I know from experience, that even if I spend 5 months developing an engine, I could be spending a year using it. The goal of building an engine and toolset is ease of use and good performance; so we'll start by talking about things we as game developers (not graphics programmers, or engine programmers) want.

The Ideal Situation:

I rent a house now, I live with my partner, I'm responsible for doing dishes and mowing the lawn and cuddling (more a perk of course :D); what I'm saying is, our time is precious and for the indie game developer time is hard to find; with this in mind I cannot stress this enough:

make your game development job as easy as possible

For me, the time I'm going to be able to work on my game is likely some nights and some parts of weekends; so every bit of time-waste must be eliminated from the system of development.

I would like to be able to plop down in my chair, fire up an IDE, and use simple point & click, simple command coding and drag-drop functionality to 'script' my game; so that is the kind of system I'm gonna build.

Developing the IDE:

Thankfully, I've been around the block once or twice when it comes to engines and game development; which means I can look ahead and see easier/cleaner ways to develop certain things. The first major step is the building of the Game Development IDE.

The IDE will be developed in C# and will allow the construction of 3D adventure games, which are compiled into a resource bundle that an engine executable 'runs', the next post will start to detail our game requirements and how to implement creation and editing of them in the IDE.

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Good to see ya back in "the game"! =D

I haven't played Second Life but it may be worth checking out for what you want to achieve. Players, while in-game, can design and script new content. What I find interesting is that a lot of content IS being created, which gives me the assumption that it's not difficult to use.

Perhaps you should check out some of the modding tools out there. Unreal Editor was pretty impressive and I've toyed around with the Warcraft III editor which I thought was pretty easy to use. My friend's 12 year-old son was making games with Game Maker which I believe you can get a free copy of.

There's a lot of "content creation" tools out there. I'd recommend researching those and see what features they may already have that is applicable to your project.

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Yeah, are you sure that there aren't already tools out there to do large parts of what you want already? Flash, for example. You could even combine regular Flash drag-n-drop with Flex for those really finicky bits of logic.

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Nice to see you back!

I completely agree that if an indie wants to build a content-rich game then good tools are a must. I'm interested in following what you're developing as I plan to eventually try something similar myself for a different genre (probably platformers).

However is there anything out there already that you can use? I know there's a bunch of adventure game creation engines already in existence that are friendly to non-programmers, although I haven't looked into them myself to gauge their capabilities.

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Nice to be reading you again.. but I must add...


Please build this engine. It will be the one to save us all!


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