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Nairou

Game Programming vs. Game Design

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Almost all of us here are programmers, slowly writing our own games and engines. We have dreams of creating something beautiful, and load up our engines with features to accomodate the possibilities. But we are programmers, not designers. Without quality models and artwork, the best game engine in the world will look like the worst, and we will have no way to test our creations other than with the crude shapes we create ourselves. From what I can tell, good designers and artists are in short supply, and few people know one living next door. How then is the average developer to get their game off the ground? Most programmers are unable to go out and hire quality talent, and there is often little incentive for an artist to join one free project over another. For anyone who has tackled this problem, what worked for you? How did you get the actual game off the ground, and what did it take? What advice would you give to other developers wanting to take their project beyond the learning stage?

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Well, I tackle problems I can solve... As you plainly said it, the less models, the better for a programmer.

Right now I am working on a terrain engine. I have plans for a game which will require a minimal number of models (Altough I admit many variants of trees and plants would be nice)

I can model rocks quite easily... and the only thing that I will still need is animals.

Anyway, if you don''t request a whole original sci-fi arsenal, finding a few free models wouldn''t be too hard to come across.

The game has not gone gold and probably won''t tough, seeing as I focus on the engine. But I was just pointing out that procedural art (such as terrain) is your best bet if you don''t want to rely on modelers.

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but some game designers especially the hobbyists, are overly ambitious, with no idea of implementation. They want you to do this and that, oh and make it mmorpg,

i particularly hate those people

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Well, you can take my approach: for free, you can''t rely on anybody, so learn to do it all yourself!

I started a very ambitious project (which i did quite well on BTW) a couple years ago. I have an art/design background so i wanted some coders to help me. I did get some help, but not enough to make a game. So... Guess i''ll have to roll up my sleeves and learn to program C++ from scratch! Then my graphics programmer bailed out, so i had to learn to blit graphics. Now i''m a one-man army: Design, Art, Programming (the gaming trinity).

That might sound dumb, but really, no one is going to work on your big idea when they can be working on their own. Makes sense, right? So, if you have no artistic talent, get some (or gracefully steal). If you can''t program, go buy a book and start typing. If you can''t design... dang... your stuck on that one :-)

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I often see team projects dissed by gamedev board members. While it''s true that quite often those programming groups are not very motivated, overly ambitious, and sometimes don''t even know what they''re talking about, some can still succeed.

Nine months ago, I got in touch with INT13 Production, a handheld game development company, that was looking for coders. I''m not being paid anything: just like most projects you can see in the Help Wanted section, it''s a "get paid when it''s done" kind of thing. But the people working there are incredibly motivated and skillful. I''ve been working since then on a 2D Galaga-Clone scheduled for gold in the next few months, with the assistance of the company''s main programmer (who provides an engine for the other programmers to work with) and of a great artist that loves that kind of game as much as I do.

Darklaga is now 15000 lines of code long, features a whopping 500 different sprites and special effects, and were it not for the final exams I''m passing right now, it would have been done weeks ago. Like a decent number of other projects, I''d say it''s not going down the waste.

Victor Nicollet, INT13 game programmer

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I could never draw anything except for Don Martin (MAD) faces.

But I know a lot of people that go or went to art school or one of those interactive media schools. So I can always get a few friends to donate some art when needed. So my advice is : hang around art schools; or better yet, get yourself an art school girlfriend ;p .

shmoove

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You could make a simple game like the one I''m making at the moment, Rock Paper Scissors 3D. Simple design, by really cool graphics, loads of particles, making it into a tech demo really. Chubby yellow faces are not too hard to model, but the hand took me 25 hours!

I recommend highly MilkShape 3D (only $20 to register and you can download a shareware version). I found some good tutorials on modeling people with boxes and extruding loads.

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Some things are better not done than done awfully. So if you lack modeling/drawing skills, think up games that can still look cool with minimal art assets. If you develop at least a reasonable easthetical common sense you can produce some intriging visuals without being able to model people, animals and vehicles. Study some graphic design, layout theories, read some books on it. It's incredible what one can achieve with simple shapes, colors patterns and imaginative designs.

Ever heard about Rez? It has astounding visuals, yet most of the models are build upon simple geometric volumes and it rely a lot on wireframe effects.

People need to live with their own limitations. Do not release a game with cities, forests and lots of people walking around if it will look real ugly. The gameplay will be obuscated by the uglyness, and people will call it a POS way before they get to check the cool gameplay mechanics you worked hard to develop. Think up alternate ways of making cool graphics with your own skills, like making a stick-figure world, where all the textures were drawn on notebook paper with B2 pencils and scanned into the game, and make it have tons of humour.

Humour, when done right, can overcome the ugly graphics. Make a game with ugly graphics *on purpose*, and have the game mock itself, like having characters complaining about how low res their textures are. People will then see the ugly graphics with a different look, and accept them.


[edited by - M3d10n on May 28, 2004 9:40:21 AM]

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