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Game development components

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Basic questions about game development. I have the time and background now to build the game I always dreamed of. I'd like to build a multiplayer 3D online game that is nonviolent and aimed towards families. I have training in C++, already own a corporation, am an amateur artist and have a basic plan for the game. My biggest questions concern what components would be needed to build a game like this. Is a game engine necessary? Will 3D graphics software like Maya, 3DSMax or Softimage be enough to also build an open landscape or do you also need a world building software? I know the previous software will build characters and other single objects like buildings, machines, etc and I think it can also be used to do the general landscaping and topography. Do you need separate software to do the programming to coordinate the different graphics of your avatar, responses, etc like Visual C++ (since that is the language I am most familiar with)? Thanks! PS: I hope this is the right area to post questions like this.

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Hmm, I'll try to ask again. And yes, I did read the FAQ, but not every single link. It talks about different components but not how they are integrated together?

I've read what a game engine is (also called middleware) but then I found online that WoW wrote it's own game engine. It's a pertinent question because of cost, although there are free game engines. But you usually get what you pay for. Does the game engine take the place of some of the more detailed programming? Does it coordinate the aspects of the topography in relation to where the avatar is?

From the description of Maya it would seem that you also use that software to design and layout the landscape.

For the programming can you use something like Visual C++ to coordinate the graphics, responses which makes me wonder if a game engine makes some of that pure coding unneeded.

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Visual C++ is an IDE, a tool that you use to write and compile C++ code.

Code, in languages like C++, determines where things are in the world, how they are drawn, loads files from the disk, coordinates the audio, etc, etc.

A game-engine is just a collection of code - i.e. half a game, waiting for the game-specific features to be added on top.

If you don't use a pre-made engine, then by the time you're finished, you will have a new engine -- not all the code that you've written will be specific to your game, the reusable parts could be called your "engine".

As well as code libraries, an engine usually comes with a large set of tools, for exporting data from programs like Maya into game-specific formats. Some use external "world builder" tools, while others use Max/Maya as a world builder.

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Thank you for that explanation. That was what I thought I was reading. So it is possible to use Max/Maya as a world builder and component maker and use C++ to control the aspects of that world and actions and reactions.

From what I read if you wanted to decide between Max/Maya (they're both about the same cost), then Max is made more for games while Maya is more for television and movies. The cost is high of course and it looks like you have to be ready to annually renew a subscription and/or buy an upgrade.

Another question...do most game companies buy an engine or do the larger ones like WoW just build their own like I read about WoW? It would almost seem that you end up writing the engine yourself, but that an engine gives you a jump start, an easier tool to coordinate things rather than doing the detailed coding yourself. My guess is that you might find an engine too limiting after awhile and go ahead and write code to do things you'd like that the engine doesn't handle.

I saw that Ready at Dawn is coordinating directly with Maya now but I assume that it is prohibitively expensive and geared more for TV and movie production since it works especially with Maya.

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Quote:
Original post by Ariella
From what I read if you wanted to decide between Max/Maya (they're both about the same cost), then Max is made more for games while Maya is more for television and movies.
At work we use Max, Maya and XSI -- different artists have different preferences. Maya is probably more popular (for us) at the moment, but it changes from project to project (which one is the preferred tool)...
Just as good experienced programmers should know multiple languages, good experienced artists should know how to use both Max and Maya.
There's also free alternatives, like Blender.
Quote:
Another question...do most game companies buy an engine or do the larger ones like WoW just build their own like I read about WoW? It would almost seem that you end up writing the engine yourself, but that an engine gives you a jump start, an easier tool to coordinate things rather than doing the detailed coding yourself. My guess is that you might find an engine too limiting after awhile and go ahead and write code to do things you'd like that the engine doesn't handle.
It's hard to say without doing a detailed survey, but I would guess that most games would use an off-the-shelf engine. The majority of the remaining games would re-use a previously developed in-house engine, and a small percentage would make a new engine from entirely from scratch.
Most "big" engines that companies buy (e.g. unreal, gamebryo) come with the full C++ source code to the engine, so if you feel limited, you're free to extend/modify it.

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If you are serious about learning then I would suggest buying a good book that will explain the whole process. I recommend "Game Coding Complete", they have recently released the third edition which inlcudes some very recent information and is well written and easy to understand.

[img]http://www.toymaker.info/assets/images/51Gakoj6DSL._SS500_.jpg[/img]

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