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Anyone care to offer some friendly advice for my game project?

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I have decided to start a game project with my growing online community, though I do not know enough about programming at the current time to make an efficient decision on which directions to pursue. It will be a monster battling/raising/training/collecting game similar to Pokémon, though it will be aesthetically different in every way other than a few core mechanics. However, I still have not decided upon a platform and online functionalities. Here are my options:
  • Browser-based MMORPG supported by ads - MMORPG's seem to be the easiest to find developer volunteers for. Plus, Pokémon has never supported an MMORPG, so this would definitely garner many of the franchise's fans, both pre- and post-release. Because of this, we'll have more volunteers for the project, which I would think would speed up the development process drastically. However, I have heard many a time that MMORPGs are the most difficult kind of game to program, so I don't know if it would be worth it in the long run. Plus, a MMORPG would require maintained servers, which seems rather expensive and time-consuming. Also, I wouldn't want to bother going the MMORPG route unless I knew I could run it without fear of lag or crashing.
  • Offline RPG for the PC, iPhone/iPod, and Android - Seems simpler to develop overall, though it would likely not attract as much volunteerism, which may ultimately make this the more time-consuming route than a MMORPG project (possibly, I wouldn't know). However, we wouldn't have to mess with servers and it would allow for smooth gameplay.
  • Offline RPG with an online multiplayer mode - Similar to the directly previous, except we would still have to maintain a server(s).
    The next thing currently undecided about my future project is the graphics. If I decide to make the game 2D or 2.5D, it will feature a set bird's-eye-view camera angle similar to that in classic RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Pokémon (henceforth, "overworld"). For the battle system of the game, I am considering either battles taking place in the overworld, or battles taking place in seperate scenes as they did in Final Fantasy and still do in Pokémon. However, the only reason I'd want the battle system to separate itself from the overworld is if the battle system were to feature full 3D graphics; otherwise, I would just want the battle system to blend in with the rest of the game. Make sense? This summons a new set of options:
    • Full 2D with a battle system integrated into the overworld - This is probably easiest on the programming end (I wouldn't know, I'm not a programmer) and the in-game art would be the easiest to develop. This would also require the least amount of volunteered time. However, 2D is dying out, and I don't want my game to die with it! Especially if it's an MMORPG.
    • 2D overworld with a 3D battle system - This may be excessively difficult and time-consuming on the programming end, but if it's not, it would seem to me to be the best option. I could have a team of 2D artists focus on the overworld while a 3D modelling team develops monster models and battle environments. It doesn't seem that it would take any more time on the artists' end than going full 2D because the two departments would be working on their respective artwork simultaneously. The biggest problem I know of is that this would not be aesthetically pleasing unless the 3D models/environments were cel-shaded, to give it a parallel to the 2D overworld. Cel-shaded models take longer to make, from what I've heard.
    • Full 2.5D, battle system integrated into overworld - OR, instead of splitting the 2D and 3D artwork between overworld and the battle system, I could split them among the overworld to create a 2.5D effect. In other words, short objects such as signs, plants, monsters, and people would be given the 2D treatment, while landscapes such as waterfalls and taller objects such as trees and buildings are in 3D. To see an example of this, watch this video of the Pokémon HeartGold Version overworld: http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
    • Full 3D - This would definitely take the longest, but it would be the most aesthetically pleasing. In the video game world, 2D is dying out quickly; 3D would ensure that the game isn't obsolete before it's even completed. Plus, the Pokémon franchise has been dragging its feat in its main series's transition to 3D; therefore, going full 3D with my project, if executed quickly, would be a great way to grab the attention of the huge Pokémon fanbase.
      The next thing to consider is what engine to use. If I go the offline RPG route, I will almost undoubtedly use Unity3D so I can deploy the game to multiple platforms. However, if I choose to pursue a MMORPG project, the engine at hand is still up in the air:
      • Java-based engine - I know that Java is well known for web-based gaming. RuneScape is a huge example. This was my initial choice until I discovered Unity.
      • Unity3D - I love Unity because of its one-click deployment, but would that have the same effect on MMORPGs? The interface and controls in most MMORPGs are so specific to the platform that it seems deployment to iOS and Android would be a bad idea or impossible in this case. Also, I know that Unity is not an engine built for 2D games or MMORPGs. If I were to decide upon the 2D MMORPG, would development in Unity present programming obstacles so excessively that Java is the better option?
      • Other engine I haven't discovered yet - If you know of something better, please let me know!
        Please offer your input on which directions I should go with this game project. Thanks in advance!

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I have decided to start a game project with my growing online community, though I do not know enough about programming at the current time to make an efficient decision on which directions to pursue. It will be a monster battling/raising/training/collecting game similar to Pokémon, though it will be aesthetically different in every way other than a few core mechanics. However, I still have not decided upon a platform and online functionalities. Here are my options:
  • Browser-based MMORPG supported by ads - MMORPG's seem to be the easiest to find developer volunteers for. Plus, Pokémon has never supported an MMORPG, so this would definitely garner many of the franchise's fans, both pre- and post-release. Because of this, we'll have more volunteers for the project, which I would think would speed up the development process drastically. However, I have heard many a time that MMORPGs are the most difficult kind of game to program, so I don't know if it would be worth it in the long run. Plus, a MMORPG would require maintained servers, which seems rather expensive and time-consuming. Also, I wouldn't want to bother going the MMORPG route unless I knew I could run it without fear of lag or crashing.
  • Offline RPG for the PC, iPhone/iPod, and Android - Seems simpler to develop overall, though it would likely not attract as much volunteerism, which may ultimately make this the more time-consuming route than a MMORPG project (possibly, I wouldn't know). However, we wouldn't have to mess with servers and it would allow for smooth gameplay.
  • Offline RPG with an online multiplayer mode - Similar to the directly previous, except we would still have to maintain a server(s).
    The next thing currently undecided about my future project is the graphics. If I decide to make the game 2D or 2.5D, it will feature a set bird's-eye-view camera angle similar to that in classic RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Pokémon (henceforth, "overworld"). For the battle system of the game, I am considering either battles taking place in the overworld, or battles taking place in seperate scenes as they did in Final Fantasy and still do in Pokémon. However, the only reason I'd want the battle system to separate itself from the overworld is if the battle system were to feature full 3D graphics; otherwise, I would just want the battle system to blend in with the rest of the game. Make sense? This summons a new set of options:
    • Full 2D with a battle system integrated into the overworld - This is probably easiest on the programming end (I wouldn't know, I'm not a programmer) and the in-game art would be the easiest to develop. This would also require the least amount of volunteered time. However, 2D is dying out, and I don't want my game to die with it! Especially if it's an MMORPG.
    • 2D overworld with a 3D battle system - This may be excessively difficult and time-consuming on the programming end, but if it's not, it would seem to me to be the best option. I could have a team of 2D artists focus on the overworld while a 3D modelling team develops monster models and battle environments. It doesn't seem that it would take any more time on the artists' end than going full 2D because the two departments would be working on their respective artwork simultaneously. The biggest problem I know of is that this would not be aesthetically pleasing unless the 3D models/environments were cel-shaded, to give it a parallel to the 2D overworld. Cel-shaded models take longer to make, from what I've heard.
    • Full 2.5D, battle system integrated into overworld - OR, instead of splitting the 2D and 3D artwork between overworld and the battle system, I could split them among the overworld to create a 2.5D effect. In other words, short objects such as signs, plants, monsters, and people would be given the 2D treatment, while landscapes such as waterfalls and taller objects such as trees and buildings are in 3D. To see an example of this, watch this video of the Pokémon HeartGold Version overworld: http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
    • Full 3D - This would definitely take the longest, but it would be the most aesthetically pleasing. In the video game world, 2D is dying out quickly; 3D would ensure that the game isn't obsolete before it's even completed. Plus, the Pokémon franchise has been dragging its feat in its main series's transition to 3D; therefore, going full 3D with my project, if executed quickly, would be a great way to grab the attention of the huge Pokémon fanbase.
      The next thing to consider is what engine to use. If I go the offline RPG route, I will almost undoubtedly use Unity3D so I can deploy the game to multiple platforms. However, if I choose to pursue a MMORPG project, the engine at hand is still up in the air:
      • Java-based engine - I know that Java is well known for web-based gaming. RuneScape is a huge example. This was my initial choice until I discovered Unity.
      • Unity3D - I love Unity because of its one-click deployment, but would that have the same effect on MMORPGs? The interface and controls in most MMORPGs are so specific to the platform that it seems deployment to iOS and Android would be a bad idea or impossible in this case. Also, I know that Unity is not an engine built for 2D games or MMORPGs. If I were to decide upon the 2D MMORPG, would development in Unity present programming obstacles so excessively that Java is the better option?
      • Other engine I haven't discovered yet - If you know of something better, please let me know!
        Please offer your input on which directions I should go with this game project. Thanks in advance!


Some friendly advice from me, would be, if don't feel you know enough about programming, is to start as small and as simply as possible- because I'd say developing a fully fledged RPG is years of work for an individual, less so the more people you add. You'll get a lot of the fun out of building your own game, even for something relatively small scale.

So, consider using Unity3d and targetting PC & Mac - because that won't cost you anything to start with and you can always add multiplayer / larger ambitions later- it will scale well enough.

Look around for RPG engines and samples available on the net. I know that the guys on www.rpg-kit.com have a relatively well priced and growing toolkit for use in Unity.

Final note would be, I'd strongly advise tailoring your idea to the toolkits and artwork you can get your hand on. Going totally "custom" with your game mechanics off the bat, without considerable resources, you'll find is quite disheartening and you'll spend 99% of your time looking for the perfect bits. This is unless you already have some game dev experience.

I am building a 2d star fighting game in Unity3d and chose that genre as it seemed a relatively simple adaptation of the "asteroid" type game and it's relatively easy to find examples. The more you can adapt something that already exists, the quicker you can get up to speed with the necessary programming skills and get towards making the dream game you want.

Hope that helps,
Mike
@runonthespot

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Thank you very much for the kind advice. If you'll notice, I said this will be a community project. The only reason I called it "my project" in the title is because it's my community and I'm starting it. I wouldn't dare pursue something this big by myself. I'll be in charge of designing every aspect of the game, overseeing development, keeping the community up-to-date with the on-goings of the project, a little community relations, and advertising to keep volunteerism up-to-par, which shouldn't be too difficult considering it's basically a legal Pokémon fan-game (Pokémon has a massive cult-like fan base). Everything else, such as in-game art rendering, music composition, coding, etc will be done by capable members of the community.

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Chances are you will have to do everything yourself, or at least a big majoirty of it until you are successful enough to attract others. Just something to keep in mind and prepare for. It is difficult to get people to do things with offers of them being paid for their work up front (yeah I know this from experience) in a project that works already. So non-compensated work ("a community project") getting any other assistance other than pledges of help is a big hurdle.

But hey it doesn't mean you can't accomplish your goals, just that your motivation and perseverance will be put to the test before anyone elses will be.

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Not really, theres some hardcore pokemon fans out there that would like to make this game, just never had the motivation to get together and do it. Personally, if I had enough experience I would help you get started for free. HOWEVER, with little programming experience, you will not be a good designer or anything for that matter. You can get the community together and advertise but that would be it basically. Afterwards, nobody else would like working with you if you took a good part of the profits from the game causing the game to crash AFTER it's built. I have no doubt you can get people to make it, I just think nobody will actually continue to work on it after it's made.

But, to answer your questions...

STOP THIS PROJECT NOW. Learn c++ yourself. Like I said, YOU need to know how to program to oversee development process, designing a game requires programming experience.

Let's say you come up with a GREAT idea for the game, but nobody is going to implement it for you because it's extremely difficult.(or impossible) So you get mad at them and ask them again, eventually they'll end up leaving thanks to your stubborness.

This also applied to overseeing the development process. If somebody is creating a map editor for you (if thats the path you choose, to create your own rather then use somebody else) and it's not showing any visible improvements.. Then you're going to question them and they're going to explain it all and you won't understand.

Get some programming experience. Make a few games before jumping into this project.




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Thank you very much for the kind advice. If you'll notice, I said this will be a community project. The only reason I called it "my project" in the title is because it's my community and I'm starting it. I wouldn't dare pursue something this big by myself. I'll be in charge of designing every aspect of the game, overseeing development, keeping the community up-to-date with the on-goings of the project, a little community relations, and advertising to keep volunteerism up-to-par, which shouldn't be too difficult considering it's basically a legal Pokémon fan-game (Pokémon has a massive cult-like fan base). Everything else, such as in-game art rendering, music composition, coding, etc will be done by capable members of the community.



No probs. If you can get that happening, then go for it. I would also add at this point that it's difficult to lead so complex a project without having experience of how the parts work (ask anyone who has worked under a manager who doesn't understand the job they do). I'd echo the advice of the other guys in that it's worth learning how to code (Brenda Brathwaite, quite a famous designer recently wrote a post (http://bbrathwaite.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/built-on-a-foundation-of-code-game-edu-rant/ ) that she considers at least an understanding of coding to be fundamental to game design. Without that knowledge, you're not in a position to make the key design decisions that need to be made for an MMO.

Great that there's a community of interest Pokemon players to help- just again, really trying to be helpful, so don't take this as cynicism, but really, the kind of people you will need to help you are people who have already done this sort of thing before. Those who have will not likely be interested in working under someone who can't code or bring some other material skill to the table. The trouble with "Game Design" without skills like coding, is that it's almost impossible to judge if you have anything useful to add, or not.

The flipside of this is that if you DO invest the time to put together even the most rudimentary and simplistic game, you achieve 2 things. You give yourself an idea of what sort of hurdles (in the broadest sense) need to be overcome for game development, equipping you to coordinate the team required for a project of this size, and also you have far stronger likelihood of attracting the truly capable coders that you are going to need (by showing them that you have the persistence to take an idea from conception right through to execution).

Either way, we wish you the best of luck- and hold out hope that you'll succeed with your ambitious plan.

Mike

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