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EyeScream

Some advice for a first time

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Ok I'll just start by introducing myself: I'm a 23 year old guy from a small city in Belgium and would like to get into 3D game development (not really as a profession but a passionate hobby).. Recently I have been contacted by a guy I've done a project with when I was 16 to remake my city (Ieper/Ypre) like it was in the 16th century. I loved the idea because it interests me and the sheer excitement of finally have a reason to start 3D "game" development.. there won't be any characters in it, just an interactive architectural visualistion.. so no AI, no complex collision detection, no projectiles, no physics, no particles,.. my only problem is that it's going to be MASSIVE (probably 500+ houses, 5 churches, a catherdral, a city hall (cloth hall), a wall around the city, ..) so I would like some advice before I start because I'm afraid when I run in head first I'm gonna hit a brick wall (literally) - what engine to use? I've done some research on free 3D engines and started messing around in Microsofts XNA engine but because it's relatively new I don't know what it can and can't do like LOD, normal mapping, unloading meshes that aren't visible to the camera, polycount 'till it goes boom.. other options would be an Indie license of Torque but don't have much experience with it or haven't seen much stuff created with it other than some small tankshoothing demo's.. or create a mod of an existing game (HF2, Unreal, ..) (I have some experience with modding BF1945) but then whoever want to check it out would have to get that game to) so please some advice - what's the normal polycount / texture size of a normal size building? What of a bigger building? Do you program the texture size to change depending on the distance of the building? (crisp up close, blurry further away) what's the polycount of a standard map for a game (well if you include the poly's used by weapons and characters) I have some experience in programming with Java, VB.net, asp.net, html, c++, c# and actionscript I have good knowledge of Photoshop (my profession) and have been working with 3Dsmax for 3 year and can create some nicelooking inorganic objects.. (yeah I know, didn't get to the real fun stuff yet).. I programmed some smaller 2D games (mostly in actionscript) and helped with some mods for Battlefield 1945) thanks for taking the time for reading all my whining and maybe even replying.. ps: this is my first post here and I'm realy excited for being here and I hope I can grow and develop as much as I can..

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Welcome!

I would recommend DirectX myself. It's what I used to break into game-making. VC++2005 Express is also a nice thing to have for starting a project (both of these are free.)

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DirectX/OpenGL is not really a game "engine". It is more of a way to get your graphics on the screen. Everything else, well, that is up to you. If you are interested in developing an engine + game, then C++/C# + DirectX/XNA will be perfect. Get a few books on game dev basics and away you go.

I would recommend the following depending on where you want to start your development experience:

Top Level: Torgue Game Engine (C++ version) or similar game engines.
- Less low level, more concentration on the game logic, flow, etc.

Mid Level: C++ and TrueVision3D (or similar) DX wrapper.
- Lets you concentrate on writing the engine and the game without the low level DX hurdles.

Low Level: C++ and DX native.
- You will be writing a lot of code to render a character and animating it and then writing the engine and then writing the game.

C# + XNA is very much like Low level because it helps you in certain areas (native strings vs std::string, few other items are easier, MUCH better support from compiler intellisence and debugging) but you are still left with the low level DX stuff.

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What is your role? Programmer? Artist? Both? The art will require the most amount of time if you want it to look decent. You could probably start out by using an off-the-shelf 3D engine, but you may have replace it, or augment it with a culling strategy and a system for loading geometry on-the-fly.

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I would suggest not using an existing game engine, since they are probably far more than you need. The biggest things I think you will need are 1) terrain rendering (you can probably use a simple height map based on historical topographical data) 2) 3D models/model rendering (I don't know how detailed the models need to be, you will have to choose a format depending on your needs and get/write a model reader for it) 3) A movable camera (depending on how much freedom it requires, this may be very simple or rather difficult).

There really isn't much of a point in using a game engine because of all the extra overhead you would have... mainly features you would have no use for.

In any case, it definitely sounds like an interesting project. Good Luck!

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