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lakmir0

I'm considering whether to release my game engine for beginners...any thoughts?

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I've noticed that there is a lot of people who are interested in creating games nowadays who don't want to create engines from scratch. Many just want to make games in as easy of a fashion as possible. I saw that a lot of beginners use the RPG Maker to make games which I've checked out a bit. I am contemplating whether I should create a nice, user-friendly IDE and release my V3 RPG engine that I created to make my last game, Renaissance Princess. I am trying to find out, however, whether there is enough interest out there to warrant the effort. RPG Maker is pretty cool and I haven't personally made anything with it so I don't know how easy it is for people to use. However, a few differences with my V3 engine that might interest people are: - Fights are real time, not turn based. Characters actually move around in battle. - Animations are implemented wicked easy in my engine and there is not limit to how many animations can be onscreen at a time. - Engine supports DirectX compatible gamepads and vibration motors. I would really like any imput anyone has to offer as far as if another game engine is necessary or whether people are pretty much content with what's available. If you are curious as to what the capabilities of the V3 engine are, check out my demo for Renaissance Princess at: http://www.mpshareware.com/rpinfo.html Thanks

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It sure can't hurt; anything that helps people make games is a Good Thing™, IMO, even if it's "just" a game maker tool.

One thing I would suggest is having someone perform a code review on your engine prior to releasing it -- unless of course I'm misunderstanding your intentions. If all you want to do is distribute the tools (sans-source) then I can't see anything that should hold you back.

New tools are (almost) always a good thing - they force us to re-evaluate the tools we have, and that means making forward progress [smile]

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Hey man, I'm all about releasing everything that anyone may find of interest or to be a valuable resource for learning from. The middle-class of programmers are dying. We have total newbies, and professional career-programmers. People like us are few and far in-between.

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Original post by radioteeth
The middle-class of programmers are dying. We have total newbies, and professional career-programmers. People like us are few and far in-between.


I am curious to know where you obtained said information.



But back to the OP, it would be nice if you provided some screen shots. [smile]

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There are screenshots of the game I made with this engine on the site. But this is just one example of what you can do with it obviously. I'll state the specs as maybe this would explain things better:

The game engine currently utilizes 128x128 tiles. The res. of the engine is 1024x768 and will thus load 8x6 tiles on screen at once. The engine is set up to load one tileset file as a Direct3D texture that is 4096x4096, thus allowing 32x32 (1024) total tiles of said size. This was surprising more than enough for my gaming needs for this project but should still be a good amount for most people doing a tile based game.

Some would argue that it would be better to utilize 2056x2056 for older video cards and then also index the textures instead of one large texture. I disliked this idea because if your video card is that old to not support 4k textures, it's probably too old to render the graphics well in practice.

The engine supports 5 layers of tiles. These are: OPAQUE(GROUND), TRANSPARENT(OVERLAY), ANIMATION(references an anim. file number which then lookups the current frame number and animation delay time for given animation), OVERHEAD (these are like the transparent layer but actually overlap the chracter for things like arches, etc.), and COLLISION (not a simple solid or walkable layer but actually includes many options such as: walkable, solid, treasure chest present, dialog, hidden lair, eraseable obstacle [such as a tree you can burn], hidden treasure, locked door or gate, enemy present, etc.)

There are three supported level sizes. These are SMALL (single screen size for doing battle with an enemy), MEDIUM (16x12 tiles and scrolling techniques are used to obtain current viewport from that), and LARGE (32x18 tiles with scrolling as well.) Variations inbetween can be obtained by declaring a large level size and then using black tiles on the side borders and making your collision buffer bound the non-walkable areas.

As far as the compensation issue, I'm not particularly concerned with getting paid for the engine itself. However, if I'm going to go to great lengths to make the engine user friendly, it would be nice to get some level of compensation for that labor. I made my whole previous game on a crude, command line level editor that I made in an hour. It is not the kind of editor that is nearly as nice or friendly as RPG Maker, for instance. Technically, you could design the whole game with text files in Notepad if you learn to understand the specifications. This would be difficult as my whole engine works off of numeric variables that are loaded from files at runtime and numbers can toy with you after awhile trying to sort it all out.

I hope I didn't ramble on too long but this should further clarify about the engine. Any further questions are welcome. For what it's worth, it was programmed using Visual C++ 6.0 and DirectX 8.0.

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Original post by Sanctux
Quote:
Original post by radioteeth
The middle-class of programmers are dying. We have total newbies, and professional career-programmers. People like us are few and far in-between.


I am curious to know where you obtained said information.


Middle class died in 2009, when software ceased to exist and moved to an increasingly gated service.

In next two years, anything that can be realistically created by middle class will be available for free, from companies like Google, Facebook and similar. Look at office tools, graphics tools, APIs, etc... If it's not there, it will be. Various specialty tools will either die off due to becoming redundant, or become niche specialty. They too will be provided for free (think defragmenters, anti-virus software, etc...)

The actual CS and engineering talent will end up with some of key players (who only need a tiny fraction of easily replenishable top talent).


We have reached the point of where car or aviation industry is. On one hand, there is literally a handful of big players that control the market. The top jobs they provide are limited in numbers, and supply vastly (really vastly) exceeds the demand. The rest of the jobs are slowly being phased out. Consider that car mechanics only need to plug in the computer these days, or perform regular oil change once every 4 years, or that aviation safety is written to be followed by government regulations, and there is no more middle area.


The garage developer that hits it big or fills a missing area is extinct - the hard problems have been solved, the easy ones are either not worth solving, or solutions to them are freely and abundantly available. And the sheer complexity of what it takes to provide a competitive solution today vastly exceed capacities of even small companies.


Almost all territories have been claimed and secured via copyrights and patents preventing small player entry, and finding new problems today requires anything but technical or programming skills.


There will always be niches, but they will remain just that exactly because there is no real interest in them, or because existing tools do, and will continue to, serve their purpose until the environment they exist becomes deprecated altogether.

Quote:
As far as the compensation issue, I'm not particularly concerned with getting paid for the engine itself. However, if I'm going to go to great lengths to make the engine user friendly, it would be nice to get some level of compensation for that labor. I made my whole previous game on a crude, command line level editor that I made in an hour. It is not the kind of editor that is nearly as nice or friendly as RPG Maker, for instance.


If you have any realistic plans about it, there are exactly three venues that have any shred (and a currently just barely unfulfilled niche) of hope consider Flash, iPhone and Android as target platforms. Depending on level of customization or other requirements, writing those target clients and serving via micro transactions would be a much better business venue. Another way would be Facebook integration.

Realistically, unless you have some solid distribution channels (Steam, XBLA, ...) distributing client-side anything today is simply no longer possible. For one, Macs have taken off, Linux is seeing some use, and Windows is heavily fragmented between many versions. In addition, most of client-side computing today is done on light-weight platforms, or inside browser.

Just some food for thought.

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I will consider that, thanks.

I believe you bring up many good points but I disagree about your take on garage coders. That attitude was thought even 15 years ago but the current wave of big time companies started from garage coders. id Software, 3d Realms, Epic Megagames all were garage coders.

Also, there comes the issue of "success." Sure, garage coders aren't going to make millions generally. But they don't have to. Our overhead is much lower, in some cases almost nothing. I can speak for myself and a few others that can say that we make a living doing this, although it may not be the living you would like. There is always the potential for a niche-market and a niche is sometimes all you need to make it.

You just have to determine what you want in this industry...fame, fortune, or freedom? Fame can best be had by making awesome freeware which will always be popular because it's well...free. Fortune is probably best suited by getting on at a "suits" company at ground floor and spend your life working up. Freedom comes from being an indie who makes what they want to make and lives as good as they can from what they sell.

I have no problem living on a lesser income to have freedom. Some people I went to college with said they couldn't imagine working for less than $200k a year. More power to them but this wage will be at the expense of your happiness.

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Original post by Antheus
Middle class died in 2009, when software ceased to exist and moved to an increasingly gated service.


I'm going to have to disagree with you on that. You mentioned two examples of big industry, auto and aviation, and they cannot and will never have any relation to the software/computing industry. The reason I say that is because unlike those industries it takes next to nothing to get started in it. Not many people have the funds to build the next best plane or even prototype it, nor do they have enough to build the next best car or prototype. All you need in the computer industry is a computer, a text file, and a compiler and you could theoretically "make it big." (Some people do not have that as a goal too)

You say the markets are saturated with big companies' free software/api's. I agree that certain areas are saturated and you probably won't make any money from it, but the beautiful thing about computing is that it is ever increasing in potential for new markets.

For example, the new "cloud computing" market is still in its infancy. There is a huge potential for new ideas and technology based off of it. Gaming is also another area of computing that can never be "saturated" as people can and will come up with new ideas for games.

I'm starting to see that all these companies and big corporations who give away tools or api's for free are starting to really help developers in every field. We have more information and more technology now then we ever did before in human history and a new wave of developers will think up new and interesting ideas and use these free tools to build them off of.

Look at all of the recent game engines being given away for free to indie developers. It's an amazing and exciting time to be in this field and we don't know what sorts of new things will come in the future.

Edit: Also, if a person makes a software product, whatever it is, if it performs better, is more intuitive, or is just a better product than what the current market offers, I believe that it is possible to take on those big corporations and win. It may take a short span of time or it may take a long time, only how you market it will make the difference. There are a lot more venture capitalists and "angel investors" around these days that are willing to sink some major money into products or people that have potential.

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Original post by phear-
I'm starting to see that all these companies and big corporations who give away tools or api's for free are starting to really help developers in every field. We have more information and more technology now then we ever did before in human history and a new wave of developers will think up new and interesting ideas and use these free tools to build them off of.


People who use these tools are no longer programmers.

Quote:
Look at all of the recent game engines being given away for free to indie developers. It's an amazing and exciting time to be in this field and we don't know what sorts of new things will come in the future.


Programmers are no longer needed. Basic scripting skills are much easier acquired by artists than they advanced creative artistic skills by programmers.

So unless you have your budget banking on perfect state-of-the-art execution (7-8 digit figures) it is no longer required to have top notch technical talent - the state-of-the-art tools for people who add the sellable value.

Quote:
Edit: Also, if a person makes a software product, whatever it is, if it performs better, is more intuitive, or is just a better product than what the current market offers, I believe that it is possible to take on those big corporations and win.

If your product is in any even slightly remotely way even potentially perhaps interesting to any big player, then be prepared to have 8-digit backing, several filed patents and very good network to keep you from being simply ran over without blinking an eye. Example 1, Example 2. These are google-centric examples, but they happen daily with all companies (see Facebook related viral gaming scamming shakedown as well).

Second issue is the sheer scale. While a small team may create something unique, consider (on-topic) it goes face-to-face with thinkgs like Kodu. Now add that it comes with integrated distribution and social channels, with MS brand and associated brand, available for widely deployed platform, with (potentially in real product) support, as well as easily available art packs and sleek look...

This scope is what has made it next to impossible to compete. Neither of these is demanding or revolutionary, but while large companies can divert fragments of their resources to such experimental projects, starting around something like this on one's own budget is prohibitively - the skills and resources needed simply vastly outgrew capacities of what individuals can do as hobbysts.

Quote:
Not many people have the funds to build the next best plane or even prototype it, nor do they have enough to build the next best car or prototype. All you need in the computer industry is a computer, a text file, and a compiler and you could theoretically "make it big."


You don't need anything to compete in car industry either, you can buy engine, chassis, interior decoration, equipment, everything... You can make them yourself as well.

There exists a handful of handcrafters in both auto and aviation industry. They literally craft things on their own. But having perhaps a 1000 people worldwide engaged into such activity is far cry from ~10 million software developers.

But the most important part - these people are not some expert engineers (the CS equivalent), they tweak the stuff that matters. They are not optimizing the burn chambers, pico-second tuning spark ignitions... The do chassis jobs, decoration, customization, style, pimping, .... You don't need, or want, highly technical engineers for this. Same in software. You actually want inexperienced people who will mess things up, but also figure out new directions.

Consider the recent story of Etherpad sale to Google. Seems simple, the idea, the execution, it is so simple, several thousand lines of code.

What most will miss is that it was made by ex-Googlers (who knew exactly and precisely which itch to scratch), it was timed perfectly (riding the Wave), and above all - company filed crucial patents around the technology. If I had to take a venture, I'd say it was just a little staged experiment internal to some Google folk, or there was some other agenda - but I'm willing to bet almost anything that it was far from true breakthrough or technical achievement.

Software industry is no longer naive, inexperienced or wet behind the ears. The rules of anything long-term have been laid down and decisions and futures are made on a completely different level.

A typical high-tech hacker startup these days involves an MBA, a lawyer and a VC. Technical people are then scraped together as needed. It's possible to do without (recent success stories prove it), but it's rare.

But above all, it's next to impossible to bet onto anything to make a safe living. The rate at which things are changing, your tool that earned you a yearly wage, as well as its entire domain can become obsolete literally over night with no warning (see GPS maps, TomTom, Garming and recent Google shakeout).


My point was not about success in software industry being impossible - but about the increasing redundancy of programmers in the process.

[Edited by - Antheus on December 30, 2009 1:10:15 PM]

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Antheus, on one hand I want to agree with you...on the other, I just don't see what you describe in the real world...granted, I live in Greece and not US or UK. But in my last job, I worked in a company which sustained itself by writing run-of-the-mill database applications in...Delphi. Nothing revolutionary, nor challenging, just simple custom bookkeeping stuff that did things exactly how the (most times computer illiterate) client wanted to happen(or at least pretended to). Dozens of people employed, not beginners but certainly not experts either, just the middle-class programmer kind, who wrote the same repetitive Delphi code by the kilos to make extremely similar programs. Why use Delphi? Why not have a tool that automated most of the task, leaving us to script whatever shred of business logic was there? Why the client wanted a custom crappy app instead of a modified open source or commercial one? I don't know. But it happened.

Some years ago, I was contracted by the IT department of a multinational company(that is,people that, well, knew a thing or 2 about computers) to write an issue tracker. The first version was a pile of crap that used files for storing the data. The second version was another pile of crap that used freaking Access. The crazy thing is that yes, in this day and age of Bugzilla, FogBugz and all that, they still use it(!). Why the hell they wanted a 20-yrold programmer to write them a custom half-assed app instead of using tried solutions, I'll never know. But it happened. I can't explain it, but while definately nobody today would contract a small company or a freelancer to make them a replacement for Office or Google, they seem to keep asking for custom apps that are all painfully similar. It might be because businessmen just don't know what's out there, think their needs are unique and,well, a freelancer when approached to make a custom app, he won't direct the client to a tried solution, but grab the opportunity. Sometimes it actually aches me thinking how many tons of repetitive code is written for those apps without reason, but it happens. I just don't have an explanation for it.

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