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cutting the cost of game development

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it is ridiculous to me that as the cost of producing other forms of entertainment has gone down, the cost of producing games has risen dramatically. as it stands, commercial game development requires a team of professionals, programmers and artists, which drives prices up and keeps novice developers out. this isn''t the case in other industries, like the film and music industries. while the price of making a huge hollywood movie has risen, the ameteur filmmaker can purchase the tools necessary to make a movie for under $1000. digital video camcorders continue to drop in price, and pretty soon the only way to tell a hollywood movie from a non-hollywood movie will be the amount of special effects that they slather on the screen (and the price of effects software is dropping too). likewise with music, where anyone with a couple thousand dollars to spend could get a copy of protools and make a song out of thin air. but, if the average gamer wanted to make a game, he would have to drop everything, enroll in university, attend for up to 4 years, and then get an entry-level position that allows him little control over the finished product. but all the gamer wants is a better game. i have a solution to this problem: game-making software. now, i know that there are small "rpg-makers" out there, which usually work with sprites, and aren''t quite relevant today. what i want to see is a program that allows the user to create his/her own 3D models and then to place these modules into a game setting. the user could dictate the rules of the game, getting as in depth as possible. such a program would not only reduce the cost and burden of game development, but would also help to insure quality products from an industry that now has to compete with a bunch of ameteurs who know what they like and what they don''t. of course, this would be a complicated, multi-tiered program, and would take a team of programmers and artists to assemble itself, and it would still take one user a long time to create a worthwhile game, but at least it breaks the monopoly over game design. any thoughts...?

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I think the coolest thing about game development is that it is very difficult to get in this bussiness. That''s what makes it challenging and worthy of the effort.

Anyway this is totally IMVHO.

Now, about your idea, i think it would be very difficult to make a tool that doesn''t produce a set of games that are almost identical, as it happens with current rpg-makers.

Well, that''s all, now i will continue to work hard to get myself into real game developemment.

(sorry about my english)

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Ultimetly your bound by whatever restrictions the game making program has, sure you can make lots diffrent games, but they all have conform to the same basic rules.

Maybe if there where more free game engines availble the indpendent developer could do more but at present thats not the case. Afterall couter strike was done using the halflife engine is very popular. If there more options like that we could have more and possible better games, for instance if there was an RTS engine would see a lot more RTS games out there I''m sure.

But your comment on how the programmer has to go to university first and get traing. That is natural and its the same in all field, you have to gain the skill, experince and knowledge nessary to do a task before you can start. Afterall you can become a musican with out learning an instrumet.


-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
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Chaos Factor Design Document

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Game development can be very inexpensive, but it takes a lot of sacrifice and effort to get into. Having just gotten my first game published without a degree and without spendings hundreds of thousands of dollars I can tell you it is possible. On the total, aside from sweat equity, my team and I invested about $11,000 and one year of our time (full time) to get into the industry. Don''t worry, it''s possible but it takes a lot of time and effort.

Charles Galyon
www.neopong.com

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syn_apse, your take on the film industry is far over simplified and way off point. You''ve obviously never attempted to film a short.

For an example, one of the more successful low budget films to date is El Mariachi, which Robert Rodriguez made for just over $7000. And even at $7000 he borrowed the camera to shoot it on, he got all the guns on loan from the local police (free), all the actors worked for free, all the locations were in a small town in Mexico where the actor of the main character knew everyone (free), and Rodriguez was the only crew member (no room/board/food for other crew).

And basically 3D is to computer games what "special effects" are to "Hollywood" movies.

Honestly, I suggest you go rent El Mariachi and Desperado DVDs, and listen to the directors commentary. Its interesting, and in a weird way applicable to all Indy creations.

There arent any shortcuts or tools that will make up for lack sheer creativity and talent. And if you have creativity and talent you can make something good with almost anything you are given.

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yeh, i know there are a few of them out there, but they would all, like many of you have mentioned, make similar games. this isn''t what i want. i see no reason why it wouldn''t be possible to make a program that is capable of creating very different types of games; a maya or protools level program, with different modules for different types of gameplay experiences; rpg, rts, fps, combat.

quote:
Original post by kryat
syn_apse, your take on the film industry is far over simplified and way off point. You''ve obviously never attempted to film a short.

For an example, one of the more successful low budget films to date is El Mariachi, which Robert Rodriguez made for just over $7000. And even at $7000 he borrowed the camera to shoot it on, he got all the guns on loan from the local police (free), all the actors worked for free, all the locations were in a small town in Mexico where the actor of the main character knew everyone (free), and Rodriguez was the only crew member (no room/board/food for other crew).

And basically 3D is to computer games what "special effects" are to "Hollywood" movies.

Honestly, I suggest you go rent El Mariachi and Desperado DVDs, and listen to the directors commentary. Its interesting, and in a weird way applicable to all Indy creations.

There arent any shortcuts or tools that will make up for lack sheer creativity and talent. And if you have creativity and talent you can make something good with almost anything you are given.


please shut up. you obviously have no idea what you''re talking about. first of all, el mariachi is 11 years old. the point of my post was that the costs of ameteur film production were coming down, not going up in the past decade. the key word here is ameture. secondly, the vast majority of a film''s production budget goes towards creating a visual atmosphere, buying props and securing locations to film. with a game, you don''t have to worry about all that. a self-contained game making program would provide you with the tools needed to create all of the visuals needed for the game, without any need to borrow guns from the police department. third, please don''t compare 3D models in games with special effects in films. they aren''t even close. 3D is to special effects as a bomb is to the explosion that it creates.

and last but not least, i resent the implication that because i would enjoy such a product that i haven''t the creativity or talent to make a good game. i guess it''s all of the creativity and talent that keeps pumping out the same half-baked video games year after year after year. bullshit. there is absolutely no connection between learning a programming language and knowing what makes a good game. thats like saying that if you know how to use a camera, you also know what makes a good movie.

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Part of the reason the cost of other mediums has gone down is because they are more mature mediums, and the pressure to lower costs has been around for a long time, in addition to the technology advancements necessary for allowing that.

Game design, however, is still a maturing medium, and frankly, I doubt anybody knows where this business will be in five years or the what the products will look like. Those of us who think we do are keeping our cards closer to our chest, especially with recent developments.

Plus, it''s more cost intenstive to make games. Film, dance, painting, music, they require very little programming, modeling and animation if at all. Those skills have to be paid for, and, the bar for those skills is being raised all the time by the level of competition.

I don''t think the average gamer has to drop everything and start the long haul, I think if that is a choice one feels one is forced into instead of makes freely as a choice, perhaps this is not the business for one to be in. I do it out of real passion, like I do all my creative products. That way I know at least they will get done and they will get done as well as I can do them. Sometimes an artist has to forget about the commercial aspects in some parts of the creative process.

Game making software would be great, and aren''t there a ton of people out there trying really hard to make it. Uhfgood told me about this product on dead-code.org that seems to have a pretty good product, and it is free.

I look at is as a demo making tool and design tool, because a lot of it is rudimentary, but the point is, people are out there trying to make the game making software you want, it, just like the rest of this business is maturing slowly.

I think things will be going that way, and game making software will be around soon, but I also have to say that each game is unique, and a general toolset might not be exactly what everyone needs every time.

Addy

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by syn_apse
yeh, i know there are a few of them out there, but they would all, like many of you have mentioned, make similar games. this isn''t what i want. i see no reason why it wouldn''t be possible to make a program that is capable of creating very different types of games; a maya or protools level program, with different modules for different types of gameplay experiences; rpg, rts, fps, combat.

quote:
Original post by kryat
syn_apse, your take on the film industry is far over simplified and way off point. You''ve obviously never attempted to film a short.

For an example, one of the more successful low budget films to date is El Mariachi, which Robert Rodriguez made for just over $7000. And even at $7000 he borrowed the camera to shoot it on, he got all the guns on loan from the local police (free), all the actors worked for free, all the locations were in a small town in Mexico where the actor of the main character knew everyone (free), and Rodriguez was the only crew member (no room/board/food for other crew).

And basically 3D is to computer games what "special effects" are to "Hollywood" movies.

Honestly, I suggest you go rent El Mariachi and Desperado DVDs, and listen to the directors commentary. Its interesting, and in a weird way applicable to all Indy creations.

There arent any shortcuts or tools that will make up for lack sheer creativity and talent. And if you have creativity and talent you can make something good with almost anything you are given.


please shut up. you obviously have no idea what you''re talking about. first of all, el mariachi is 11 years old. the point of my post was that the costs of ameteur film production were coming down, not going up in the past decade. the key word here is ameture. secondly, the vast majority of a film''s production budget goes towards creating a visual atmosphere, buying props and securing locations to film. with a game, you don''t have to worry about all that. a self-contained game making program would provide you with the tools needed to create all of the visuals needed for the game, without any need to borrow guns from the police department. third, please don''t compare 3D models in games with special effects in films. they aren''t even close. 3D is to special effects as a bomb is to the explosion that it creates.

and last but not least, i resent the implication that because i would enjoy such a product that i haven''t the creativity or talent to make a good game. i guess it''s all of the creativity and talent that keeps pumping out the same half-baked video games year after year after year. bullshit. there is absolutely no connection between learning a programming language and knowing what makes a good game. thats like saying that if you know how to use a camera, you also know what makes a good movie.



You by and far missed his point. Nor did he imply (sorry I''m assuming kryat is a he) that you have no creativity. He simply stated that if you are creative and talented, individuals can still produce great works no matter what they have, or haven''t got to work with.

A poor workman blames his tools.

I agree that a game making tool would be a good idea. Many people have or have had this idea at one point or another. The problem is it''s very complex and far far too difficult to meet everyones expectations and to implement multiple genres. What I would consider better would be a Java-esk cross-platform specified game programming language. Customizible as you get and abstracted from hardware.

Back to film. Your analogy is flawed. Creating a film is somewhat similar (in that they are both arts) to creating a game. But, creating a film has not got any cheaper for indies. It is still expensive and time consuming. Just because the price of cameras are comming down does not mean the price of production is comming down. 2 Years ago I created a short with a couple of friends. It cost $2500, nobody got paid. It took 3 days to shoot, it was 10 minutes long, and took one day to edit and an immessurable amount of time, discussing, writting and editing the script. We had no lighting and we where the prop department. Licensing music is also expensive.

That being said, it won an award (Which recooped our costs) Because it was well written. We were limited by many things, but I was very impressed with the results.

If you have a professional attitue, it will not matter if you get paid or not. You will be a professonal.


"3D is to special effects as a bomb is to the explosion that it creates."

What?

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
"3D is to special effects as a bomb is to the explosion that it creates."

What?


he made a comment that 3D is to games as special effects are to films. but modeling something and assigning IKs is much different from making it come alive in such a way as to be believable in a motion picture. in a game, no one expects absolute realism, like they do in a film.

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About using 3d: besides making it incredibly difficult to create a game that is looking even remotely as a finished product, it also severely limits the number of computers the game can run on. Also, chances are the user interface becomes so complicated half the potential clients run away before even trying the game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You can get any thing on the net

your engine
your 3D art
your 2D art
your sound

all you have to do is look!

http://www.garagegames.com/index.php?sec=mg&mod=resource&page=home

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i would think game development is alto cheaper than any other form of entertainment. there''s plenty of free tools out there. just being resourceful and dedicated enough is what you need.

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quote:
Original post by syn_apse
in a game, no one expects absolute realism, like they do in a film.


And why the hell shouldn't they? Can you link us to some piece of market research which says that the more realistic-looking games (like HL2 or Doom3) *aren't* expected to sell better than the less-realistic ones? (BTW, that excludes stylistically less-realistic games like cel-shaded ones).

I have a better word for your 'game-maker software' - licensable game engines. You can license the Torque or Auran Jet engines for $100 per user; if you can't afford that, then you probably couldn't afford MSVC or 3D Studio Max to work with it anyway.

I've seen a few 'game-makers' which do more or less exactly what you describe - the problem is, they're limited by their core implementation. One specific example that comes to mind was a kit for making FPS games - it worked with BSP files, could load and animate models, and could handle the physics of shooting stuff. However, if you wanted to do anything particularly special - like, say, have laser beams instead of bullets - then it couldn't handle it. It would have required changes to the program's own internal 'game engine.'

Ultimately what such a game-maker is, then, is a game engine with its own IDE. Personally, I'd rather use the full functionality afforded to me by a program designed to specialise in 3d modelling, like Max or Maya, than be stuck with a small subset of it in a game IDE 'modelling mode.'

Still, it's an interesting thing to play with. Valve were talking about getting a 'lite' version of Softimage out to modders for HL2, and given that they say Worldcraft (sorry, 'Hammer') is an 'IDE for Half-Life 2,' it's possible that they plan to integrate the Softimage package with it.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he's not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4
ry. .ibu cy. .abu ry. dy. "sy. .ubu py. .ebu ry. py. .ibu gy." fy. .ibu ny. .ebu

[edited by - Superpig on October 12, 2003 5:54:12 PM]

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the equation is > create content=time=cost
low cost=minimalism and do with what is around you (already create content) > lead to creativity because of constrain which mean raise the efficienty of the use of everything

high cost= detail and create content that doesnot exist around you > you can do what you want if you can pay the cost but constrain is avoid and then you may don''t mind about efficienty (then lack of creativity because you don''t have to find new way to the a problem that cost resolve)

well you need talent

for gamemaker, the principal matter is ergonomy and cultural "virus" (mean narrow mind and narrow gaming)
with the ascii''s rpgmaker, i have seen a street of fighter like, a bomber man like, a tetris, a rts, a lite 3D sprite racing game
it''s not because the program is about rpg that you can''t do something else, because most of game use the same abstract principle (collision test, variable test, fork condition), and this from a programmation point of view is not far different (i use the same custom engine for platform, rpg, shooter, rts and fighting game)
but since the logiciel has endless possibility, most of people want to make the same rpg clone they play and enjoy before

the most ergonomic is a program/method (flash against traditional animation cell), the more you can focus on content and detail that content, but that not mean that you would have more quality which is about talent

and talent is about experiment, learning, practice, and thinking and take times and effort (i''m in a art school, i can say because i see people evolve around me)

create a content take effort and this effort is time consumming
ex: matrix2 need a whole specific highway to have efficienty> maximum cost
peanut need only a paper and line to be efficient, can be done whith a pen > minimum cost
both are great work
remember the recent last kick ass best selling game > pokemon
while most game was 16M color and many CD a single 4 color an not even 4Mo game
older example is tetris

one thing which can cut price is the time and effort to create content
then what we need is less time to program (gamemaker soft)
less time to create great sound (learning and practice)
less time to create great graphic (learning and practice)
less time to create great design (learning and practice)
but learning and practice take time=cost

what we need is to share knowledge and experiment a lot new way to cut cost (3D against modelling for ex)

building a talent (which require technique, innovation and creativity) is about cutting cost

could you make matrix with your own home equipment
actually the answer is yes in a not far future
actually a lot of amateur have find method to emulate some effect with less things but the technique has to master yet
another things is the lot of 3D content which is handsome to create with this level of detail and to be animate
well take a look at teddy > http://www-ui.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~takeo/teddy/teddy.htm
and now technique like flocking, fractal, graftal, morphing can create fast but highdetail content
and in design new thought like emergence is tool to create deep content with a few element to implement

these has still to be master
who will master these new tool in a correct way??

actually i''m working on experimental game which are self content create (using new way of thinking content, mostly from biologic process and idea from science of complexity)



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
be good
be evil
but do it WELL
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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I don''t really see a way to cut costs on making a game unless you deliberately avoid making a AAA(or even a B) title. A team will inevitably end up having to create the game''s content, which has steadily increased over time, regardless of what their tools are. You can save a little money by carefully selecting your 3d packages and possibly also save some development time if you pick up one of the various low or no-cost engines floating around, but there''s no getting around the fact that building the art, the sound, and the levels is a necessary time-sink. To do otherwise requires either a non-standard design or a game that will look and sound(and possibly play in the case of levels) really lame when compared with the ones that made that investment.

To some extent, technology helps this problem; for example, we don''t have to cut down our polycounts as much as we used to, saving on optimization time. But along with the possibility of more "laziness" in our development comes that of more features fitting into that space instead. So far, I''d say improved game technology has mostly resulted in job opportunities, not the reverse

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