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sunandshadow

Idea for a weekly series of discussion topics

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I was thinking that it might be helpful if we had thread once a week where we asked the community "How would you tackle the problem of developing a clone of X game? (replacing all the copyrighted stuff)" Specifically the community would be asked which pieces of software they would use to create the clone and its assets, and how they would analyze or reverse engineer the game to make a detailed development plan, etc. It would be optional to suggest improvements to the design, but not the main point of the exercise; the main focus would be the HOW of game development, which seems to be where a lot of newbies feel lost. And we could collect suggestions for which particular games should go in the queue of what would be the target to clone each week. Ideally the suggestions would either be smaller games or would focus on one part of a larger game (e.g. How would you clone one particular puzzle out of an adventure game, or the combat system out of an RPG, or the avatar customization system out of an MMO.)

Is this interesting, or not interesting? How many people would actually respond with a detailed development plan, because if everyone wants to read the responses but no one actually responds, it won't go anywhere. Also, this is more a question for other mods/staff, but which subforum do you think is the most appropriate for such discussions to happen in?

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Sounds interesting.

But limit it to design part only. How to develop a certain game type would be boring and repetitive (you need a language, an engine, libraries, etc; you almost always need the same set of these no matter what game you are making). It would degeneratate into a flamewar about which language is better.

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We could talk about specific issues like:

1. Why is it hard to make an MMORPG.
2. Why is it hard to make an FPS.
3. Roles in a game development team (and why there are no "ideas guy" in them).
4. How small, realistic projects can grow and make it big.

Look at actual examples, actual figures (costs, time taken etc). Sticky all these discussions.

I thought these might be useful since people come here all the time trying to design MMORPGs or FPSes or form teams as an "ideas guy". Or they simply want to make games but are unwilling to start small.

I am relatively new to game development myself. So in the process of talking about these, I might learn something myself.

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I think this would be a great, educational, and interesting thing to see happen. Count me in.

As an aside, what is with the stigma attached to the "idea guy"? I can understand the need for everyone to have contribute to a project, but sometimes there is one person who has the vision of what the game will be, and it's with that "idea guy" showing the team his vision that they reach their goal. Has their been a history of "idea guys" who ripped the team off, or claimed the title only to do no work? Or are people just upset that someone is going to get titled as the "idea guy"?

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[quote name='HybridWave' timestamp='1335852719' post='4936333']
As an aside, what is with the stigma attached to the "idea guy"?
[/quote]
Almost [i]everyone[/i] has a [i]multitude[/i] of ideas, so an "idea guy" is essentially useless. A [i]designer[/i] is useful, but an "idea guy" serves no purpose unless they can also contribute to the project in some other way. If all you need is an idea you can just ask any of your programmers or artists and you'll almost certainly find they have a pet project they would love for the team to work on; you simply don't need another person taking a share of the profits but not contributing usefully.

When you see people mention "idea guys" they're singling out people who [i]just have an idea[/i], as opposed to an actual designer who will contribute meaningfully to the team, or someone who has technical and/or artistic skills in addition to ideas. An "idea guy" therefore [i]by definition[/i] does no ([i]useful[/i]) work, and this is the reason for the stigma.

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Yeah I would argue that the success of a game depends not just on one person's idea of a game, but everyone's in the design team. Plus 90% of the original idea is likely changed throughout the course of the development anyways, so one gotta ask where those new ideas and improvements came from.

[b]On topic:[/b]
I think this is a great idea, as long as people's shortcomings are accepted and they can still share their ideas without moderation. I have very little knowledge of the specific tools myself (I'm learning as we speak), but I've researched a lot into game design (outside of the programming) and most top developers agree that the limits don't lie in technology (provided you're updated on what tools you can use), but in execution. As such, I think it's just as interesting to hear what people would do in either area - story-telling, control schemes, visual presentation, sound design and more. Not just in terms of code or which APIs/libraries/engine/etc that you'd use.

But I mean, if the point was to ask for technical methodology, then fair enough. So maybe I'm being a bit redundant here. Edited by DrMadolite

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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1335828566' post='4936217']
I thought these might be useful since people come here all the time trying to design MMORPGs or FPSes or form teams as an "ideas guy". Or they simply want to make games but are unwilling to start small.[/quote]Please, let us not go for the lowest common denominator. 99% of people want to "make something like WoW but 100 times better even though they never did even a TicTacToe game" or "make a game with huge world where you can do everything you can do in real life", let them be, let them learn the hard way. There is no point explaining this yet one more time. This has been covered like 10,000 times already, if they have not found out it yet it means they are simply lazy, not serious and didn't do any research. Just an entry in FAQ is enough for such things.

Let's make it so it's useful to people that have at least some tiny minimal chance to actually complete a game, OK?

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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1335869369' post='4936374']
[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1335828566' post='4936217']
I thought these might be useful since people come here all the time trying to design MMORPGs or FPSes or form teams as an "ideas guy". Or they simply want to make games but are unwilling to start small.[/quote]Please, let us not go for the lowest common denominator. 99% of people want to "make something like WoW but 100 times better even though they never did even a TicTacToe game" or "make a game with huge world where you can do everything you can do in real life", let them be, let them learn the hard way. There is no point explaining this yet one more time. This has been covered like 10,000 times already, if they have not found out it yet it means they are simply lazy, not serious and didn't do any research. Just an entry in FAQ is enough for such things.

Let's make it so it's useful to people that have at least some tiny minimal chance to actually complete a game, OK?
[/quote]

I have to agree. Even though I've only been at this for six months, it seems pretty clear that there's the wheat, and there's the chaff. Let's grow some wheat, or without anology, some serious devs. A lot of people say they want to make a game but don't mean it; they're just daydreaming gluing different chunks of their favorite games together like a LEGO set. Or they just want to remake the same thing they're playing RIGHT NOW, but with all their little personal peeves ironed out and somehow "more". Not what I want to do. I want to create something that has resonance and substance, and understand that I must commit some discipline to learn this craft in order to make something worthy of people's time. Let the weak ones flounder.

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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1335867823' post='4936370']
But I mean, if the point was to ask for technical methodology, then fair enough. So maybe I'm being a bit redundant here.
[/quote]
Although I personally want to hear about technical methodology and why someone familiar with, say, 3 game engines, would choose engine A for game X but engine B for game Y, if others are more interested in discussing design I think there's room to discuss both.

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Maybe Game Design is not the best place then... a clone has a lot of the design already done, but needs the technical stuff most. Thoughts?

I would find it potentially useful as I have a lot of the theoretical knowledge but not much practical. For example, I'd love to do a 3D FPS or RPG, but have had huge logistical issues wrestling with getting the appropriate resources cheaply, e.g. 3D resources, animation, sound effects, level editor, locomotion system, navmesh/A* generation, etc. They are largely long-solved problems, but rarely available free or cheap. If you don't have the right toolset and pipeline, getting the (theoretically easy) basics done can be exhausting. I find it much easier to do little tricks and effects as they are standalone and only require one skillset: programming. But that's not enough to make a game. Well.... *that* kind of game. ;)

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1335912757' post='4936578']
[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1335867823' post='4936370']
But I mean, if the point was to ask for technical methodology, then fair enough. So maybe I'm being a bit redundant here.
[/quote]
Although I personally want to hear about technical methodology and why someone familiar with, say, 3 game engines, would choose engine A for game X but engine B for game Y, if others are more interested in discussing design I think there's room to discuss both.
[/quote]You are not a programmer, right? :D No one is familiar with 3 engines, it would be time prohibitive. Everyone selects their favourite one and stick to it whatever game they are making. It's simply impractical for the same programmer to make game A with engine X and game B with engine Y. They would get confused quickly and could not reuse their code (and programmers reuse way, way more code designers would expect). Plus you would be getting a lot of "custom built engine" answers.
In short starting a topic asking what would you use if you make game X and what would you use making game Y would give you similar results. Also the answers not necessarily would be optimal, you would be getting a lot of personal taste based answers. It would not make sense to make a series of topics about this, the answers each time would be very similar.

What you are asking for is a topic "which engine is best" which is constantly covered on the programmers subboards (there is even a sticky topic for this).

It would make sense if you were asking about platform instead of game type, then yes, there is a set of technologies that are objectively better depending on platform (for Windows only you can use DirectX or OpenGL, for everything else only OpenGL, for mobiles OpenGL ES; then based on these you can eliminate certain groups of engines).

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1335783413' post='4936040']
I was thinking that it might be helpful if we had thread once a week where we asked the community "How would you tackle the problem of developing a clone of X game? (replacing all the copyrighted stuff)" Specifically the community would be asked which pieces of software they would use to create the clone and its assets, and how they would analyze or reverse engineer the game to make a detailed development plan, etc. [/quote]

This sounds potentially more like a For Beginners exercise than a Game Design one. Certainly from a Game Design perspective, decisions regarding tools and engines and so on are not really design decisions. They may be somewhat affected by the game design, but they are not really decisions that are made by the designer.

From a more general perspective, I am not entirely sure how useful or interesting those decisions actually are in a vacuum. Perhaps they might make people aware of tools and languages that they hadn't previously considered, and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately though, I suspect most will tend to prefer the tools they are most familiar with, and those choices are unlikely to change much on a weekly basis. Even developers with a very broad skillset will likely end up with similar answers on a weekly basis unless the project choices just happen to favour some specific technologies. I'd also have some concerns that the proposed format would result in something like a 'Post Your Favourite' thread where many people post but nobody reads or actually cares about anyone else's answers.

I think a workshop or a challenge format might work better for a regular topic. Another thing that might work (specifically for Game Design) would be a critique - pick a game/some aspect of a game and critique it's implementation, discuss ways of improving it.

All that said, you could always give it a trial run.

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As far as Game Design goes, critiquing a well-known game type makes sense. I also think a For Beginners about the technical sides would be nice. It doesn't have to be a "language/SDK X is better" flamewar. Perhaps more "I used this set of tools to make a platformer and these are the pros/cons". Remember that the development is only a small part. Where did you get the art assets, or what tools did you use to make them? Were there any problems importing them for use in your game? How did you rig your models for animation? Did yo have to blend different animations and if so how? Were there collision problems specific to the game type, e.g. due to fast movement or oddly shaped objects?

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