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spaceJockey123

Question to hobbyists game developers...

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spaceJockey123    122
I'm doing a CS course and am having trouble (but enjoying) learning about how to make games. I used to want to pursue a career in games development but I'm no longer interested in it - I'd rather have complete control over game development (then I only have myself to blame!) What I'm wondering is how advanced can a game be if you're making something in your own time? Suppose you want to make a game like Crash Bandicoot (graphics, level design, gameplay) over a few months: - You have several hours each day - You've 1 or 2 years experience in coding (C++, Java, Haskell) - You have an open source game engine - You do your own artwork - You're good at sketching but are clueless on how to use 3DS Max, Maya, Blender etc. - You've already implemented certain feature in a Space Invaders game such as collision detection). Do you think it's realistic to make something as good as Crash Bandicoot or better? Even if it's just 1 level. I'm interested in making games as a hobby for my own satisfaction as well as making me look smart on my CV. It's disheartening when people say that you're not going to get very far working on your own.

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Cowboy Coder    365
Crash Bandicoot is a bit ambitious. Realistically there is no way you could do even one level in the way you describe. There is just too much code, artwork, animation and 3dness.

But there are lots of games that can quite easily be done by one person, and still make money: Casual games. You should start with something like that.

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SunDog    232
Building a game involves several different things - game design, writing, programming, artwork, sound, music, etc. And its tough to be good and efficient at all of those. I have been coding up a turn-based strategy game in the vein of the old SSI/Ubisoft Panzer general series (I am actually planning on being able to emulate any of the games from theat series). After about a month I have the basics down, including map and scenario editors, and most of the game engine framework (though no AI), but the artwork is still very primitive (no images- its all geometry and text) and there is no sound. I know its not something thats going to be sellable but it may impress niche wargamers who liked that series(there still a small core who still play it) and have been trying to get their hands on the source code to fix the bugs and add some new features (which, if I finish this right, won't be necessary!)

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spaceJockey123    122
I understand what you guys are saying but with a game engine wouldn't it be easier? I'm using one called SAGE (Simple Academic Game Engine), the tutorials are shorter than I thought they'd be but would take a while to sink in.

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Funkymunky    1413
maybe if you had more coding experience / game-making experience. Plus if you can't stick to your computer programming class then can you really stick to a long-term project like a game?

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OrangyTang    1298
If you remove the 3d gloss, IIRC Crash was a relatively simple platformer affair. A pc equivilent using a pre-built engine sounds possible for a single person (especially since you're not trying to fit it in a resource-limited console like the PS1).

If you're set on it being 3d then I'd find an artist to do the modeling and animation, but if you really must do it on your own then I'd consider doing it in 2d to make the art side of things easier and quicker to do. Although you're probably looking at about 6 months of part-time off and on work to get something playable to a decent quality.

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morx    176
spaceJockey123,

I admire you for being interested in pursuing development on your own. I'm only a hobbyist developer myself but enjoy working on games by myself--it gives me ultimate control over how the game will appear. My latest (finished) game is called Marble Tactics, and I completed it in about 3 months in my spare time. I consider myself lucky enough that my game is hosted on GarageGames's website:

http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/tgb/demos

A Crash Bandicoot style game may be a little ambitious, but if that's what you really want to do then I say go for it! However, just remember that the more effects, levels, and pretty graphics you want in your game, the longer it's going to take. So, for example, if you only want to spend a year making a game, I would try to make a game that would take a team of 2 or 3 people maybe 6 months. Since you are creating everything yourself, you'll need to take into consideration the extra time it will take.

Best of luck!

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spaceJockey123    122
@Funkymunky:
I'm still doing my computer programming class, I never quit it. I just have different ideas as to what I want to do after my degree.

@OrangyTang:
Thanks, I thought I was the only one that thought the AI and physics in Crash Bandicoot were quite simple. I think I'll give the 3d modelling thing a try as it's something I've always wanted to learn to do, though I'll probably make it as simple as possible and then take it from there.

@morx:
Once I have a better understanding of the kind of code that needs to be written and get some stuff on the screen I might convince people to work with me! Maybe one day my game will be on www.garagegames.com ...

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dashurc    236
I've been making games as a career for 2 years (and as a hobby for about 6), and I wouldn't be able to build Crash Bandicoot in a few months... Well... maybe. But only if I was able to steal all my art/animations/audio clips from someone.

I am by no means trying to persuade you from trying. All I'm saying is that you should try to have fun with it and not worry about how long it takes you. If you already have some engine, why not just get a character or some scenery (preexisting) loading, rendering, and then maybe animating. After that you could add code to move your character around (even if the world is a big flat coloured cube). If your engine has tutorials then use them as a sandbox and try all sorts of things. Then you can port these things to your game.

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jbadams    25713
The majority of hobbyist games are of a smaller scale than you're thinking of. Some of them are of spectacular quality but generally take longer. Occasionally someone (experienced) will pump out something of the quality you're thinking of in that amount of time.


My suggestion would be to simply try out what you want to do; as you've said, you're working for yourself rather than doing it as a job, so all you're really risking is that you may have to commit more of your time than originally planned.

If you're already a reasonably experienced coder, you've got some existing basecode and you're going to be smart about using existing solutions I think it's definitely possible for you to get it working in terms of writing the code - your problem is going to be producing the artwork, which takes skill and practice.

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oliii    2196
From a programmer point of view, the main problem in developing games all by yourself is the art side. That takes a LOT of time. Making animations, models, texturing them, designing and building a level, audio design, all the stuff that is basically not programming. That takes a lot of time (probably a lot more than just the code part), especially if you are not very good at those things (like me).

I'd look at the Torque Game engine to cut out a lot of the work.

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Rand    193
I reckon you should give it a go spacemonkey. Even though it is very ambitious, to the quality of crashbandicoot. You might see if you can resouce the art/animations from somewhere. Professional games have at least half a dozen programmers, and artists at least. Take a year to make, and thats fulltime. Thats also with an engine, probably from a previous game. Also with experienced programmers etc.

Given your a programmer though, making just 1 level requires 'nearly' all the programming to have been done anyway.

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spaceJockey123    122
Cool, yeah I see what you guys are saying about artwork.

I haven't done art since before GCSE's but I actually used to be a pretty good student. I also know someone who'd be willing (and very good at) doing some of the artwork (characters, textures, buildings) on paper or Paintshop Pro or something. Not too sure about his skills in using 3DS Max or those kind of packages but I'm willing to learn.

But overall it's quite a relief to hear that it's an art challenge as opposed to a programming challenge. It's the latter that scares me a bit, that's why at the moment I'm keeping away from games with advanced physics/AI.

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oliii    2196
It's from a personnal perspective. For me, a Crash Bandicoot (3D platformer) wouldn't be technically hard, I would have all the basics pretty much worked out, even networking (I'm not too savvy on advanced rendering and animation, but that's something relatively easy to learn or delegate to third party engines). If you asked me about designing a RTS, I would have a lot more problems comming up with a workable design on some technical aspects (mainly database, A.I., things like that), there are things I don't know, or I would have to research pretty thoroughly. Or stuff like a proper car/flight simulator (very advanced physics), or a chess game, a mmorpg (the whole server side and user management is scary).

It all depends on what you know you can do and can't do, but 3D platformers aren't that hard technically. If you know you got the main parts covered, then why not. Spec it out, give yourself a schedule and timeframe, and see where there would be risks. I suspect it would be more towards the art production and the assets. If there are sticky technical points, we're here :) And if you want more advanced physics than just basic platformer physics or advanced rendering, you can use a 3rd party engines.

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Century    122
Quote:
Original post by spaceJockey123
Cool, yeah I see what you guys are saying about artwork.

I haven't done art since before GCSE's but I actually used to be a pretty good student. I also know someone who'd be willing (and very good at) doing some of the artwork (characters, textures, buildings) on paper or Paintshop Pro or something. Not too sure about his skills in using 3DS Max or those kind of packages but I'm willing to learn.

But overall it's quite a relief to hear that it's an art challenge as opposed to a programming challenge. It's the latter that scares me a bit, that's why at the moment I'm keeping away from games with advanced physics/AI.


If you start off working on 2D graphics, even if you're pretty lame to begin with, you will get much better with practice. What is important is looking at what's already been done. Play games, take screenshots and look at them in immense detail, zoomed right in. How does everything come together?

Then copy or emulate. And practice. As far as 2D goes, I really think anybody can make some decent looking stuff after a while. 3D is a big step up from that, but don't get discouraged just because you're not great at it at the mo.

But yeh, getting someone else to do it is also an option XD

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by CenturyThen copy or emulate. And practice. As far as 2D goes, I really think anybody can make some decent looking stuff after a while. 3D is a big step up from that, but don't get discouraged just because you're not great at it at the mo.

I disagree. First of all, people who only learn through copying and emulating without developing their own skills from scratch never become really good artists. Of course if you're not looking to become a professional, that's not as important.

Second, you say 3D is a big step up, I don't think so. It might take a lot of time to set up a 3D model, but there are loads of things you don't need to worry about in comparison to 2D art, stuff like perspective, shading and highlights, camera angles, or drawing different character poses or animation frames (which in 3D is all taken care of by merely adjusting the skeleton).

In fact, *because* 2D is a lot more labor-intensive, and each frame is hand-drawn, IMO good 2D always looks a lot more alive than any 3D ever could. But that's a different discussion.

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Daaark    3553
Why are people so quick here to predict failure for people?

Your project sounds resonable if...

You use premade models for your characters (this will cutdown on your learning to model time, and you can plug in your own models later as you learn to make them. You can find tons of free models all over the web, and you can buy some too.)

You use a 3d engine. Like maybe Irrlicht or Panda3D. This will cut down all your 3d engine work, and you can focus on content foremost.

Use DeleD or Cartography Shop to build your levels quickly. It's not hard to get a nice level from Deled -> Irrlict

Then you just have to focus on how everything works together.

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Rand    193
Quote:
Original post by spaceJockey123
Do you think it's realistic to make something as good as Crash Bandicoot or better? Even if it's just 1 level.

The only reason i was warning SpaceJockey, was because crash bandicoot had a team of experienced artists and animators, and had an engine already. As i said before, 1 level requires most of the programming to be in place.

I guess, if you farmed in a 3d engine, you'd mainly need to work on your
*game loop with input/controller etc
*player control
*physics of player, and anyother rigid bodies
*player collision with world and enemies
*enemies collision with world
*enemy AI
*boss AI
*audio
*level editor
*level streaming

Not to be daunting but this is a brief list.

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Excors    715
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
Why are people so quick here to predict failure for people?
Experience? [smile]

But if your main goal is to learn and to enjoy yourself, rather than to make a completed or successful or popular game, it's very hard for any project to be a failure.

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Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by Excors
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
Why are people so quick here to predict failure for people?
Experience? [smile]
That's BS. People project their own too high standards onto everyone, and change the end result that was in the original post. OP said he was doing it for fun, not trying to make a professional game. But somehow it turns into him trying to put out a professional, polished release.

There is enough stuff out there to help him slap together a sloppy 1 level demo in no time. Than he can work on refining it as his skills improve.

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Rand    193
Its only because the OP said 'as good as crash bandicoot', he got all the remarks of how much work is required to get to that level. Say a third party engine was farmed in, and all the playability,graphics,audio,physics, control was matched to the level of crash bandicoot. Then i'd bet because it was a farmed in engine, the framerate would be a problem, 'if it were running the same platform as the original'.

This isn't to critise anyone trying to do a platform game, just to let them know what goes into making a professional quality product.

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Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
Quote:
Original post by Excors
Quote:
Original post by Vampyre_Dark
Why are people so quick here to predict failure for people?
Experience? [smile]
That's BS. People project their own too high standards onto everyone, and change the end result that was in the original post. OP said he was doing it for fun, not trying to make a professional game. But somehow it turns into him trying to put out a professional, polished release.

There is enough stuff out there to help him slap together a sloppy 1 level demo in no time. Than he can work on refining it as his skills improve.

Yay selective quoting! You say Excors is wrong, and then you restate exactly what he said in the part you didn't quote:
Quote:
Original post by Excors
But if your main goal is to learn and to enjoy yourself, rather than to make a completed or successful or popular game, it's very hard for any project to be a failure.

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Cowboy Coder    365
I depends on what you want: The original poster said
Quote:
I'm interested in making games as a hobby for my own satisfaction as well as making me look smart on my CV.


If someone came to me with an exact duplicate of Crash Bandicoot, level one, having done all the art and programming themselves in "a few months", then I'd hire them pretty much based on that alone.

More likely though, if they tried to do that, they would have a messy, buggy, ugly game with collision, control and camera problems. Sure, put it on your CV, just don't show it to anyone.

I hired someone once, greatly because of their demo game. It was just a simple 2D falling blocks game, but it was polished, bug free and all original code and graphics. It's a lot more impressive that "move a stock character around a world using Torque".

You'll get a lot more satisfaction from making an original game, even a super simple one, than from making a crappy copy of a ten year old Playstation game.

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