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Some general questions about how to start making a fighting game.

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Hey everyone. I had a few questions about game development and thought, what better place to turn than Gamedev!

  • Generally speaking how long would it take to make a 3d fighter, or any 3d game for that matter with an indie team? And what specific type of personnel would I need in making a indie game? And how many of each job position?
  • Which platform/s should I make my game for? I've heard PC would be the best choice for indie games, but what are the requirements to get on Xbox Live or Playstation Network? Is it difficult to get a game distributed for the aforementioned latter two platforms?
  • Have any of you ever built your own motion capture studio? I've seen videos where people use Microsoft Kinect's for mo cap work. Would this be a viable option or what options do I have?
  • Have any of you ever started an indie team, where you didn't pay the personnel working on your video game idea? Instead they treated it more like a hobby?
  • What recommendations would you give me as far as what game engine I should use to make a 3d fighting game? I was thinking something like either the Unreal Engine 3 or CryEngine 3 SDK's. Also, in the game I'd really like implement a feature of dynamic and progressively flowing blood on character models clothing and skin. Is there any engine that can make this possible?
    Thanks for the help and I'm all ears on any other advice you can give me.

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1) Generally speaking how long would it take to make a 3d fighter, or any 3d game for that matter with an indie team? And what specific type of personnel would I need in making a indie game? And how many of each job position?
2) Which platform/s should I make my game for? I've heard PC would be the best choice for indie games, but what are the requirements to get on Xbox Live or Playstation Network? Is it difficult to get a game distributed for the aforementioned latter two platforms?
3) Have any of you ever built your own motion capture studio? I've seen videos where people use Microsoft Kinect's for mo cap work. Would this be a viable option or what options do I have?
4) Have any of you ever started an indie team, where you didn't pay the personnel working on your video game idea? Instead they treated it more like a hobby?
5) What recommendations would you give me as far as what game engine I should use to make a 3d fighting game? I was thinking something like either the Unreal Engine 3 or CryEngine 3 SDK's. Also, in the game I'd really like implement a feature of dynamic and progressively flowing blood on character models clothing and skin.
1) There's no formula for this. One person with 10 times as much experience isn't equal to 10 people with little experience. One experienced person could do it alone, or 100 inexperienced people could fail.
2) Definitely PC. In simple terms, you simply can't get on XBLA or PSN -- it's very hard these days (even for real games companies), it involves your publisher making business deals with Sony/MS, which is out of your league right now. If you're set on console development, you can get on XBLIG for $100.
3) I've seen Kinnect mo-cap first hand -- it's definitely an option if you own a copy of MotionBuilder. However, as with all mo-cap, you still need animators to clean up the produced results and turn them into something usable. Mo-cap usually just provides a starting-point for an animator to work from, and this is especially true with cheap solutions, like the Kinnect.
4) Yes, and if you're going to do this, be sure treat it as a freeware project, not as a commercial venture.
5) Those engines will be fine, but I'd learn to walk (i.e. make some simple games) before getting hung up on specific fancy features, like blood simulations.

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Thanks for the reply. But why would I need to treat this as a freeware project? If and when I complete the game, wouldn't it benefit my team and I more, to release a demo version for free instead? And charge for the full version?

Also, why do I need to make simple games first? And the reason I ask about the blood effects is because I'm worried that if I start working within a specific engine, that I won't be able to implement that feature in the future due to some limitation in the engine.

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Thanks for the reply. But why would I need to treat this as a freeware project? If and when I complete the game, wouldn't it benefit my team and I more, to release a demo version for free instead? And charge for the full version?
[color="#ff0000"]I think he meant if you're going to have people working for free on your project, then the project will have to be freeware. The reason is, if you've got twenty people making your project for free and the project is being sold for money, then it's unfair to them, as they worked on it and got nothing out of it (even if it was just a hobby).

Also, why do I need to make simple games first? And the reason I ask about the blood effects is because I'm worried that if I start working within a specific engine, that I won't be able to implement that feature in the future due to some limitation in the engine.
[color="#ff0000"]It's because you should learn to walk (as Hodgman said) before you try to run. Making simple games first will give you experience that you might need to make a more complex game.



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@ApochPiQ, To that specific question, no. But game development won't put anybodies life in danger if mistakes are made. If your talking about the massive undertaking of work put into something like a triple-A game, then wouldn't that all depend on the skills of the team I recruit and the amount of people on it? As well as how much work they're actually willing to put in, no matter how long it takes?

@GHMP, So are you saying that I would have to release the project as freeware because my team wouldn't get any money out of it? Because they would, and part of the money they get would come from whatever earnings we make from the game. And possibly whatever I can pay them during the course of development, if they're open to that. Also can you define what in your mind a simple game is? Because I think everyone one has a different idea of what constitutes as one.

And does anyone have an answer to the question I made earlier about blood effects?

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@ApochPiQ, To that specific question, no. But game development won't put anybodies life in danger if mistakes are made. If your talking about the massive undertaking of work put into something like a triple-A game, then wouldn't that all depend on the skills of the team I recruit and the amount of people on it? As well as how much work they're actually willing to put in, no matter how long it takes?

@GHMP, So are you saying that I would have to release the project as freeware because my team wouldn't get any money out of it? Because they would, and part of the money they get would come from whatever earnings we make from the game. And possibly whatever I can pay them during the course of development, if they're open to that. Also can you define what in your mind a simple game is? Because I think everyone one has a different idea of what constitutes as one.

And does anyone have an answer to the question I made earlier about blood effects?


You could potentially implement flowing blood type stuff in most any 3D engine. An engine is not wholly mutable.

But but but!

Question for you. Do you play fighting games? If so, which ones and how do you play them? Are you an enthusiast, someone who just kind of likes them, or a tourney level player? What is your goal for this game?

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@ApochPiQ, To that specific question, no. But game development won't put anybodies life in danger if mistakes are made. If your talking about the massive undertaking of work put into something like a triple-A game, then wouldn't that all depend on the skills of the team I recruit and the amount of people on it? As well as how much work they're actually willing to put in, no matter how long it takes?


The question doesn't have anything to do with putting lives in danger or anything like that. Suppose nobody was ever going to cross your bridge, thereby rendering its safety moot. Would you still build a Golden Gate replica first?


The point is that you don't have the skills to make that bridge yet. You need to learn the fundamentals of engineering, of materials, of physics, of harmonics (c.f. the infamous Tacoma Narrows incident), of any number of managerial and practical tasks - you have to know a lot of stuff to build a bridge on that scale.

Your bridge won't even come close to existing if all you've ever built is a house of cards. Maybe you don't have all the prerequisite knowledge in materials, and the concrete shatters as it hardens. Maybe you don't know basic engineering, and the cables snap. Maybe you don't know physics, and the impact of a bird walking along one of the cables destabilizes the entire construct. Maybe you don't know harmonics, and a gentle breeze causes your bridge to oscillate at its natural resonant frequency and collapse. Maybe you don't know basic organizational skills and you can't actually get the crew of thousands of manual laborers needed to actually construct the thing. There are almost certainly many other aspects to building bridges that I don't know about, so I can't even suggest where things might go wrong.


As Hodgman already said, throwing more people (or time) at it isn't a magic solution. A thousand monkeys will never build the Golden Gate Bridge no matter how much time you give them. One brilliant architect will never build the bridge either. You have to hit a critical mass of skill, time, money, manpower, and dedication - for both bridges and games.

Realistically? You personally will not be able to recruit the people or skill sets you need to build your dream game unless you have huge amounts of money to command. Don't have a couple million dollars to commit to the project? Sorry, all the talent will go work for someone who can actually pay them. Even if you do have the cash, you'd have to be a managerial genius (or at least a very experienced businessman with good sense for delegation) to wrangle the team for the several years it would take to produce the game.


Nobody is trying to suggest that you can't reach that point eventually; obviously, people make great, huge games all the time. But they don't just wake up one day and go do it. There are prerequisites, and trying to ignore them will only lead to frustration and failure.

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[quote name='Swordmaster' timestamp='1316223623' post='4862658']
@ApochPiQ, To that specific question, no. But game development won't put anybodies life in danger if mistakes are made. If your talking about the massive undertaking of work put into something like a triple-A game, then wouldn't that all depend on the skills of the team I recruit and the amount of people on it? As well as how much work they're actually willing to put in, no matter how long it takes?

@GHMP, So are you saying that I would have to release the project as freeware because my team wouldn't get any money out of it? Because they would, and part of the money they get would come from whatever earnings we make from the game. And possibly whatever I can pay them during the course of development, if they're open to that. Also can you define what in your mind a simple game is? Because I think everyone one has a different idea of what constitutes as one.

And does anyone have an answer to the question I made earlier about blood effects?


You could potentially implement flowing blood type stuff in most any 3D engine. An engine is not wholly mutable.

But but but!

Question for you. Do you play fighting games? If so, which ones and how do you play them? Are you an enthusiast, someone who just kind of likes them, or a tourney level player? What is your goal for this game?
[/quote]

I understand the first sentence in your answer, but why do you go on to say "an engine is not wholly mutable?" Thanks by the way. I grew up playing fighters like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter and was really influenced by these types of games. Then I started playing Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur on the PS2, but I sold it. I know many fighters are incredibly well thought out when it comes to game play. I wanted to get back into Soul Calibur, so I can study it closely and implement similar mechanics from it into my project once I buy a new console. Either this or get someone else who knows more about fighting games than I do and have them work on designing the game play. I think I may be setting the bar too high though, as I don't know how long it would take me to learn these games in and out and become a high level player. Or if could even find someone to help me who knows about such things. Do you have any advice you can give me on the matter? But this is the reason I come asking you guys, because I don't have anyone to guide me in the right direction.


[quote name='Swordmaster' timestamp='1316223623' post='4862658']
@ApochPiQ, To that specific question, no. But game development won't put anybodies life in danger if mistakes are made. If your talking about the massive undertaking of work put into something like a triple-A game, then wouldn't that all depend on the skills of the team I recruit and the amount of people on it? As well as how much work they're actually willing to put in, no matter how long it takes?


The question doesn't have anything to do with putting lives in danger or anything like that. Suppose nobody was ever going to cross your bridge, thereby rendering its safety moot. Would you still build a Golden Gate replica first?


The point is that you don't have the skills to make that bridge yet. You need to learn the fundamentals of engineering, of materials, of physics, of harmonics (c.f. the infamous Tacoma Narrows incident), of any number of managerial and practical tasks - you have to know a lot of stuff to build a bridge on that scale.

Your bridge won't even come close to existing if all you've ever built is a house of cards. Maybe you don't have all the prerequisite knowledge in materials, and the concrete shatters as it hardens. Maybe you don't know basic engineering, and the cables snap. Maybe you don't know physics, and the impact of a bird walking along one of the cables destabilizes the entire construct. Maybe you don't know harmonics, and a gentle breeze causes your bridge to oscillate at its natural resonant frequency and collapse. Maybe you don't know basic organizational skills and you can't actually get the crew of thousands of manual laborers needed to actually construct the thing. There are almost certainly many other aspects to building bridges that I don't know about, so I can't even suggest where things might go wrong.


As Hodgman already said, throwing more people (or time) at it isn't a magic solution. A thousand monkeys will never build the Golden Gate Bridge no matter how much time you give them. One brilliant architect will never build the bridge either. You have to hit a critical mass of skill, time, money, manpower, and dedication - for both bridges and games.

Realistically? You personally will not be able to recruit the people or skill sets you need to build your dream game unless you have huge amounts of money to command. Don't have a couple million dollars to commit to the project? Sorry, all the talent will go work for someone who can actually pay them. Even if you do have the cash, you'd have to be a managerial genius (or at least a very experienced businessman with good sense for delegation) to wrangle the team for the several years it would take to produce the game.


Nobody is trying to suggest that you can't reach that point eventually; obviously, people make great, huge games all the time. But they don't just wake up one day and go do it. There are prerequisites, and trying to ignore them will only lead to frustration and failure.
[/quote]

I hear what you're saying and it makes sense. And so then, what would you suggest if I want to keep heading in the path of game development? Since I'm an aspiring 3d modeler, I've been learning a lot about how to model in 3d applications from tutorials on the web. Is my only recourse to try to make it into a large company? I mean, what are the chances that one day a publisher will green light an idea I have and would the game turn out anywhere close to how I'd like it to?

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That's up to you; if your true interest lies in modeling/artwork, then you'd be best served by collaborating with programmers and producers who can help you get your work into a playable game. Certainly working for a large company is one way to do that, but hardly the only option. You mentioned "indie" teams in your original post; while the term "indie" is pretty vaguely defined and can mean many things, the idea of working with a small group of hobbyists or other non-professionals looking for experience and practice certainly has merit. A lot of people get their initial skill sets refined by working in those kinds of environments.

What really matters though is your long term goal. If you want to work on games that lots of people play, you should probably be looking to maximize your chances of getting in with a major production team. If you just want to work on cool projects for the fun of it, then more casual teams are likely your best bet.

If you want to reach a point where someday you can go it alone and have someone invest in your ideas and help you make them come to life, then you need two things: extensive, proven experience in major industry settings, and either a really good producer contact or production/management skills of your own. Generally people don't invest in projects from unknown parties with no credentials, because that's just not a safe gamble with one's money; if you want to do something like run your own studio to produce your dream game(s), you need to have at least access to people who are proven to be good at finishing and shipping games. Programming and art are just two facets of producing a product, and probably represent less than half of the total effort that goes into running a full studio title from start to finish. There's legal and business stuff to consider as well on top of the management and production side; who does your accounting, for instance, is a major thing that a lot of people forget about when dreaming of starting their own shop.

One word of warning: if you do go the small-time route and focus on "indie" or hobby teams, be prepared to deal with a phenomenal amount of turnover. People generally don't invest a lot of dedication and time into something they're just doing for fun unless it's their own vision, and so you either need to be ready for people to come and go at a fantastic rate, or you need to make sure you find other people who share your goals very closely. A common reason for failure among hobby/indie projects is that people just stop caring and drift off to other interests. I don't mean to condemn that behavior; after all, life is short and there's no point sinking five years of your free time into something you don't really enjoy anymore.

For better or worse, one of the best ways to find a team that you can guarantee will stay with it until completion is to go the professional route - either joining or founding a full-fledged studio company. Again, if you want to start one, you either need to be really good yourself (to attract other talent) or piggyback on the accomplishments of your co-founders. Given the choice, most career professionals will opt to work for a proven team of great people over someone they've never heard of. This is a big obstacle that a lot of people overlook when trying to launch a business.


I hope this doesn't come across as bleak and hopeless; honestly that's far from the case. There's a huge amount of opportunity and potential for newcomers to do great things in the games world, especially with things like digital distribution becoming more popular, and major console manufacturers embracing the "indie" crowd. But it does still require a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Money doesn't hurt, either.

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@GHMP, So are you saying that I would have to release the project as freeware because my team wouldn't get any money out of it? Because they would, and part of the money they get would come from whatever earnings we make from the game. And possibly whatever I can pay them during the course of development, if they're open to that. Also can you define what in your mind a simple game is? Because I think everyone one has a different idea of what constitutes as one.



I meant to say if you're going to have a bunch of people work on something for free and then sell that something and keep all of the money yourself, it's just wrong. If those who were considering working on your project saw that you were going to sell it when it was finished, but you weren't offering them revenue or a salary for their work, it would ward them off because they won't be getting anything out of their work, but you would be.

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But why would I need to treat this as a freeware project? If and when I complete the game, wouldn't it benefit my team and I more, to release a demo version for free instead? And charge for the full version?
As soon as money comes into a project, a lot of extra complexity appears. Suddenly team-members and yourself have legally binding agreements, which means you both have to put a lot of trust in each other.
You can either:
* Business: Make legal agreements with people you know and trust. Invest a lot of your own money to cover business expenses (there will be some).
* Wannabe business: Do the above, but without getting lawyers/professionals involved from the start. Get a bunch of people to work on a project, try to fix up the legalities at the end and hope nothing goes wrong and no one gets screwed over. Be prepared to fail at worst and ruin friendships at best.
* Hobby: Make everyone who contributes agree to release their work for free. Make freeware.

At the top you need to be working with a fixed group people that you trust, at the bottom anyone on the internet can come and go making small contributions. In the middle it's the best and worst of both.

Also importantly, you've got to realise that your first attempts at game-dev are going to be flawed. You'll be learning cool stuff so they will be really f'ing cool to you, but they'll be flawed in many ways. In a few years you'll look back on them and realise how much you've improved. If this fighting game is your magnum opus, then think about putting it off until you're comfortable with your game-dev skills, or be prepared to make better games in the future anyway ;)
Also, why do I need to make simple games first?[/quote]Because without experience, it's not a question of "how many people are required", or "how much time do those people need"... it's "can I even do this at all without the house of cards crashing down half way through" or "do I even know how to do this yet".

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ApochPiQ, Thank you again. You answered all my questions. And given the information you just provided me, my only other question is what are the chances a publisher would green light a new fighting game specifically, by a company I start? If lets say in the future I do start a company and my team members and I are known to have good track records in delivering a shipped product. I ask because one doesn't really see any new fighting game IP's coming from large companies within the U.S. Do you by chance know why this is?

Also forgot to ask, can games in 3d space still be considered simple games? And if so, to what extent is this simplicity constrained to?

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.

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ApochPiQ, Thank you again. You answered all my questions. And given the information you just provided me, my only other question is what are the chances a publisher would green light a new fighting game specifically, by a company I start? If lets say in the future I do start a company and my team members and I are known to have good track records in delivering a shipped product. I ask because one doesn't really see any new fighting game IP's coming from large companies within the U.S. Do you by chance know why this is?

It depends on how good of a business case you can make for creating this fighting game of yours - if the profits aren't there or they are slim then there is no reason to go for it. If you can show there is a hole in the market waiting to be filled, and can prove that, then there is a much higher chance of someone putting down the cash and giving you the greenlight.


Also forgot to ask, can games in 3d space still be considered simple games? And if so, to what extent is this simplicity constrained to?

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.

3D games are generally considered more complex than 2D games. This is partly because of the increased compexity in mathematics when dealing with 3D space (a two dimensional space requires very little math beyond what a high schooler is capable of) and because of the leap of complexity in content creation (creating a sprite is simple as dirt; a 3D model, even a simple one, not so much).

Don't be mistaken, you can certainly create a fairly simple 3D game if you are determined and smart enough with a reasonable amount of time investment. But it will have to be a very simple concept or it'll get awefully complex dangerously fast (and excuse spelling mistakes, on crappy computer right now...).

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Thank you DarklyDreaming. Can you elaborate on what you mean by this: "Don't be mistaken, you can certainly create a fairly simple 3D game if you are determined and smart enough with a reasonable amount of time investment. But it will have to be a very simple concept or it'll get awefully complex dangerously fast" What is considered a very simple concept?

I think I might end up going the indie route though, even if mistakes are made. I was speaking to a friend and he said the creator of Mount & Blade, sought help online by posting his vision of what he wanted in the game to many forums, and many people contributed since they really liked his idea. Does anyone know the details about the development of this game? For example, did he pay the people who worked on his idea and did it start as a commercial venture? I can't find any of this info on the game.

Hodgman, I forgot to ask you, but when you said this, "Also importantly, you've got to realise that your first attempts at game-dev are going to be flawed." Okay, well what is it that makes someones attempt at game development flawed? Is it lack of knowledge? Because if so, can't someone just come to a forum such as this or go to school to learn about their respective practice? Is there something I'm missing here? I get that doing this as a hobby is potentially unstable, but can't other team members pick up where other team members who took leave on the project left off?

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Hodgman, I forgot to ask you, but when you said this, "Also importantly, you've got to realise that your first attempts at game-dev are going to be flawed." Okay, well what is it that makes someones attempt at game development flawed? Is it lack of knowledge? Because if so, can't someone just come to a forum such as this or go to school to learn about their respective practice? Is there something I'm missing here? I get that doing this as a hobby is potentially unstable, but can't other team members pick up where other team members who took leave on the project left off?
It's lack of experience. You can't gain experience, except through... experiences.

It's entirely possible to spend 5 years on a project, only to get to the end and realise that there are so many bugs in your game, and the causes of the bugs are so widespread that it's virtually impossible to fix them all -- leaving you with no option but to start again.
Yes, a good education and peer-group helps to avoid stupid mistakes, but it's not going to stop you from ever misunderstanding something, making a false assumption, or going ahead with a plan without understanding the full ramifications. If it's your first time doing something (anything), your chances of screwing it up are of course going to be much higher than someone with a decade of experience at doing that thing.

10 years ago, I thought that I was an expert-level C++ programmer, I was making awesome FPS games and felt I could make anything.
Every single year since then, I've looked back on some code that I wrote a year earlier, and noticed flaws in my technique, designs, and general vision. Even now in 2011, after writing games in C++ for over 10 years, I still look at code that I wrote in 2010 and shake my head at decisions that I made at the time.

This doesn't mean that all of my old code is bad, it's just that the further you go back, the more flawed it is.
My code from 2010 is slightly flawed in subtle ways, stemming from my vision/understanding of programming being slightly less developed than it is now.
My code from 2000 (when I felt like I could make any game that I wanted to) is actually extremely flawed, buggy, unmaintainable, unprofessional, etc...
At the time when these mistakes were made, I had no way of knowing how flawed my skills were, due to the fact that lacking a skill robs you of the ability to realise that the skill is lacking. Without experiencing something yet, you've no way of knowing what you're missing.

I don't want to discourage you though! This is a long winded way of saying your 3rd project will rock the socks off of your 1st, and they'll both suck compared to your 5th.

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Hello SwordMaster, I'm a long time reader first time poster here. I'd like to add my two cents on your original post.

In regards to which engine is right for a custom 3d fighting game, there are several things to consider. With Unreal Engine and CryEngine, you have complete and proven full featured game engines that have state of the art features and extremely complex systems already set up such as particle systems and animation systems. With something like XNA or some other "starter" engines there is almost nothing already done for you but the bare basics of 3d engines. If you went with UDK or CDK, you have access to some very good level building tools and features. If you chose to go XNA or some other starter engine you get a blank slate with the bare workings BUT this blank slate enables almost limitless extendability with any features you can think.

If you can find a programmer who is looking to expand their skill set and have fun not too worried about commissioned paying job, I would go with XNA. I say go with XNA because with a fighting game, the core of the game, the soul of the game is the fighting action, not so much these incredible realistic levels with all these things going on at once that will seriously suck some computing power. Can you make lower detailed levels in these engines, sure but that kind of defeats the purpose of using them.

Building a fighting game from the ground up may be the better choice because from the get go all your systems that the programmer will implement can be focused around character to character interaction whether that is one character fighting many at once or one on one or whatever. Also, your team will be doing a lot of prototyping, which can go pretty fast using something like XNA since it is Very well documented, has been used to develop some good commercial games and it will be far more simple because it is so basic to start with so you eliminate that complexity while being able to extend the engine feature by feature only including what you want.

So get a few people who are enthusiastic about fighting games, and start from the beginning, get an animated character into the engine and go from there. And keep in mind when your starting out these don't have to be custom made characters, download some characters that have been extracted from other games and use them in prototyping while your modeler is making your custom models that way your animators/riggers can go ahead and start working with the already made models.

Once your team can get animated characters inside the engine then they can start work on implementing your fighting engine, the part of your fighting game that governs how characters will interact with each other and the environment.

I am no expert, but you get like minded people together who are enthusiastic about the project and not concerned with getting payed right away, some great things can happen.

By the way I am a martial arts fanatic and want to play this fighting game so hurry up.

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