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Mephs

Tech Demos

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Hey all, I'm going to ask something that has definitely been asked before, but perhaps in a new manner. I've been working on a level editor/terrain system for what seems like an eternity. I guess I'm somewhat of a perfectionist and I can't help but keep working at something until it is exactly the way I want it. I'm starting to realise more that I need to actually make some progression from my terrain engine/level editor and get it into something resembling a proper game if I'm ever to stand a good chance of using my work to get a job, which is what I'd like ideally! So I'd basically like to start progressing my engine, and I figure the best way to do this is to start coding some separate pieces of work to lay the foundations for other parts of the game (ie tech demos). This way, even if I never finish the entire project, I will have multiple demos that I can show off to a potential employer. Given that I am working on a RPG, I was wondering how others would go about advancing their projects, like what order you would choose to do things in and why? I figure that terrain and levels are a necessity to any game, so that is why I've chosen to start in this area. If I can create a level editing tool, the rest of the development will be so much faster because the tools to make the game will be in place. If I were to have started coding a battle simulation from the start, then chances are that all I would have now would be a few text based number crunchers, which wouldn't look too impressive. So I guess I'm asking what order others decide to do their projects in, and the reasons for doing so? I think that although my terrain engine/level editor isn't currently finished, I should at least have enough that I can now start looking at other areas. I think I could move onto coding a battle system and at least have a no frills terrain that they could do battle over. I just wonder if this is the best move though? Given that I have not yet fully created a character system, I don't have particles for special effects yet, and I haven't yet put in work on some other areas. If you were in this situation, would you rather work on those areas first, or would you consider the gameplay a priority and get stuck in with battle systems (or XP systems/spell systems/character customisation/whatever!!). Also I'm interested in peoples opinions on the whole tech demo approach, is it better to have several fully working tech demos, but little/no final project, or is it better to have a half finished final project and what are the reasons behind your choice? Thanks, Steve

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It's better to have one polished thing than many half-baked ones (at least for show and tell).

That said, when i started a similar project 2 years ago, i started with a random map generator as a way to learn C++. I had a lot of fun doing it too. I got a pretty significant portion of the game actualy completed, building off my simple map generator, but it took me over a year to do that much. i have since abandoned the project.

For my current 2D side-scolling project which i have been working on for 11 months now, i actually started with special effects first :-) I programmed a simple particle explosion system for fun. In order to run it though, i had to create an object processor of some kind to update and draw everything. The project has grown vastly since then, but i'm still using the core object processing technique i started with. I just keep adding things onto it, then going back to refine everything. I'm keeping it under control however. I did not go and do all the artwork for the whole game or something like that, because i knew the requirements for such things would ultimately change. I only have a few test objects that i keep re-using, but i put them all through torturous modifications all in the name of good engine design. So my approach has been to add significant engine pieces one at a time, as opposed to stubbing out everything in the beginning. I'm not recommending that process, but you asked :-)

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If you would like too try and sell your game too a company they usually want one "level" that shows what your engine is capable of and which uses the most vital features. Making a bunch of smaller tech-demos is one way too go but making it all togheter gives a better view of your work.

oh, and please don't forget too post links too your stuff here when you have it working! :-)

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I highly recommend releasing tech demos. Unless you want to keep your whole project a surprise, then I can't think of a single negative aspect of it.

- You get to keep your audience excited about your project
- You will get valuable input from your audience (free QA, to some extent)
- You will always have something that should work, to show to friends/employers

If your tech demos are large and you make frequent releases, people may not want to redownload/reinstall your demo over and over, so a patch system would be ideal.

With my biggest project, RCTGL, I have created 7 milestones, and released about 4 of em to the public. People even used my very first released milestone for their own fun (not just to try it out) and posted screenshots taken from it.

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