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Woes of trying to get started with game development

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I am a programmer with reasonably good basics with several programming languages and hopes to make games with them. Apart from general reading from the web, books and other sources for game development articles, that vast knowledge has taught me that game development isn't a simple task for a lone ranger. I would like to share with folks in the community my problems, not exactly problems but psychological barriers that have been deterring me from getting started. And oh, I do this for leisure, a hobby :D Small versus Big game ideas/plans If I were to get started with a game development, I would love to do something big. I read somewhere before that you'd have to dream about your idea, write it down, plan and design it before you actually code it. Ideas spawned from this kind of thought process is usually huge and ambitious, of course, too much for a lone ranger who wants to do it all by himself. And what most experts or specialists advice is to start small and see that it finishes right to the end, otherwise you can't claimed that you have made a full game by yourself. While I acknowledge the importance of this advice, however, starting small somehow irks me. I might not be interested in doing a small game such as casual games like Tetris, Tic-Tac-Toe, and the likes. This means I'd lose motivation trying to do something I do not like. Such games aren't the type of games I love that got me interested in games development to begin with. It is exactly those huge, triple-A titles that have intrigued me that I wanted to do games just like those. I understand starting small is a necessary stepping stone and this really bothers me a lot. Programmer who can't draw I can't draw, I lack artsy fartsy creativity. Can't draw 2D nor 3D models at all. Even if it's something to be drawn simple, it's usually out-of- shape, not even close to the form of what I originally had in mind. And so, I tend to tell myself, I'm not a graphics designer, and don't try to be one. I just focus on programming, my forte. Having this mindset now, I lost another motivation in game development. Nothing eye-candy, nothing fanciful on the project eats away my interest. I used to think that just replacing graphics with primitives like a circle, square, triangles, and so on, as placeholders of actual graphics that will be filled in later in the development. Ha! This is of course a pragmatic way of doing things, but it's so damn uninteresting every time you run a debug trial just looking at it makes it distasteful. Bleh! Finding help from who? I don't have close friends or casual friends in my home country that can help me with game development. Yeah, I'm from Singapore, generally Singaporeans lack creativity like myself. A lot of them like me might be interested to make games but not motivated enough to get started, let alone finish it. I'm not stereotyping all of my own people, there bound to me some of them who are skilled, willing and motivated, but I haven't met the right people yet, maybe I won't meet them ever? My country is only interested in making more money, that is probably true to most people out there. Of course making money is important, that's obvious crap. Aside from my home country, there's the Internet of course, forums just like this would have lots of opportunity making friends and getting involved with other keen game developers / graphics artists. Well, this may be true, however, there are risks involved. There's no telling from the Internet, people's conviction when it comes to games development. Whether they are absolutely serious or not, or just some half-assed dream/resolution waiting for something to happen if they partake in a team of game developers. Well this is life, why am I complaining about this anyway? Another problem would be time commitment. You can't just expect everyone else to have the same level of time commitment as you. Maybe I'm at most willing to spent a few hours of certain days of the week to look into game development and someone else might want to do it everyday? Living in different timezones can cause problems even with tools like emails, collaboration services and so on? Well the point is, to be able to do it at your own leisure. I didn't plan to make a big fuss over this, I'm a hobbyist developer, but really hopes to accomplish something for a game. And there is my whiny story of not being able to get started properly with game development. There are lot more issues to touch on I believe, but I really typed this out at work in a hurry. I hope someone here can enlighten me, maybe I ought to be looking at a different perspective, or try a different approach. I'm most willing to listen and learn. Thanks.

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I think if you try and think of a small game you'll end up getting very attached to it. Small games can have cool stuff in them as well, for example I have an image of an army of robots with lasers tearing down a city in my head when I work on my small RTS. You can scale down a larger genre, like I have done with my 30 minute RTS.

Your next issue then. You're idea of just using boxes is one I'm using right now. It isn't so bad, I like it infact. A lot of games look good with simple graphics. Let me name a few, Geometry Wars, AudioSurf, Darwinia, and my own game :) among others.

You can complete a small game by yourself, all the resources you need are online and in books. If you keep making progress on your game after work, you will be able to get something created given enough time.

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My first game was an arena shooter with no shooting. I hated the idea of spending a lot of time on doing a game I'd hate, like a Tetris clone, so I came up with my own original idea. I'm no artist either, so all of my sprites were simple circles. I'm not very experienced, so I restricted the game to one mode, one screen, and simple physics based mechanics.

By taking such simple design choices, I was able to make something without overwhelming myself, and it turned out fun and original (although Nintendo stole my name before I finished XD).

You really can have a lot of fun with a small and simple game if you have a simple idea. Large games, in fact, are often bogged by their own complexities. They're more fun to think of, but the more fun to think of they are, the more complicated they are, the more they risk burdening the player. (On the other hand, a large game requires a certain amount of complexity to not bore the player.)

"Finding help from who?"

Sounds like there aren't many game makers there. Computer science?

I don't really have anyone to talk about making games with either, but I took some C++ last semester and got a contact with A CS group. It's an incredibly helpful experience to be around computer science people, even if they aren't making games.

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Regarding graphics, I also suck terribly at drawing anything, but I've occasionally managed to make some decent 3D models. The trick is to approach modeling like an engineering task. This works especially well for modeling mechanical things. Try to think of what you're modeling in terms of how you'd actually build the thing if it were real. What parts are needed and what's their purpose, what are the dimensions of those individual bits? Keep adding more and more detail.

Painting textures is something that I'm terrible at, so I don't really do that. Instead I create a highly detailed model and then bake that onto a texture that I use on a low-poly model. Since that can be used to do normal maps too, the results can be quite nice with minimal artistic skills.

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I have a little bit of artsy skill but I'm just more of a fan of stylized graphics then realistic. Looking cool and unique is more important to me then looking realistic. If you want to be able to design your games art then you should get a drawing book, a pencil and an eraser and spend about 20 minutes a day drawing, or, even better if you go to school or university; doodle during class. Doodling is great for creativity because it frees the mind and promotes drawing what you see in your minds eye rather then based on an external scene. And plus, it doesn't matter if you suck at drawing.
If you do this for a month or two you will really see an improvement in your artistic creativity.

Finding people to work with is hard if you aren't already in a computer type industry. But remember that anyone you have the chance to meet throughout the day could be a musician, graphic artist,computing guy, or just be plain creative. Go to places where you might find other people with skills you need. For example you could sign up to some sort of computing class. If none of the other students there are into game development the teacher might know how to find some like minded people.

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Im in the same boat and its a very leaky one

This is my solution

Built the game step by step, choose the first simplest element and add that, then another and keep working on it, try and do that, do it for a month, and see what the result is.

Im giving it a try at least

Im not looking to be a professional, just to build something myself and others would enjoy.

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Quote:
Original post by Zerox Millienium
And what most experts or specialists advice is to start small and see that it finishes right to the end, otherwise you can't claimed that you have made a full game by yourself.


The importance of starting small isn't necessarily to claim you have finished a game, but instead it is to make you learn what it involves to create something basic. Also, it gives you better insight of what it would take to create a more advanced game. (pacman vs rts for example)

Quote:
Original post by Zerox Millienium
While I acknowledge the importance of this advice, however, starting small somehow irks me. I might not be interested in doing a small game such as casual games like Tetris, Tic-Tac-Toe, and the likes. This means I'd lose motivation trying to do something I do not like.


Just think about Tetris for a few moments. Now answer this question: could you create Tetris without any help from a tutorial which has all tricks are already explained? And what about Pacman, with the maps, the AI for the ghosts?

Really, you dont have to make a complete game out of it. Just get to the core of it and then after a day or two when you do start to loose interest, move on to something else, taking the things you've learned with you. Repeat this until you know you're ready for "your" game.

Quote:
Original post by Zerox Millienium
I understand starting small is a necessary stepping stone and this
really bothers me a lot.


That's what life is about. And to be honest I'm very pleased it works that way, because if it wouldn't we'd all be perfect. How boring would that be?


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