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mekk_pilot

Embarking on the big one.

43 posts in this topic

So I'm just a lowly wanna-be designer/writer, and I'm looking for advice on viable ways to actually get a game made.

My first instinct is to write some kind of 200+ page design doc covering the main elements of the design and the story(s), then use parts of that (or just email the whole thing to whoever is interested) to attract programmers and artists.

I know this probably comes up here a lot, but what IS the best way for a person with little technical skill to get into a design position on a game?

I'm not saying this is going to be triple A, but I would like it to turn a profit.
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342161118' post='4958667']
My first instinct is to write some kind of 200+ page design doc covering the main elements of the design and the story(s), then use parts of that (or just email the whole thing to whoever is interested) to attract programmers and artists.
[/quote]
In short: epic fail

Noone, really no one, will read a 200+ design doc without being paid for doing it. Yes, this topic has been discussed very often. The consent which I remembered so far is:
1. Either pay someone who develop your game...
2. ...or learn a skill which contribute to the implementation of your idea (artist,coder etc.).

Else you will have a very hard time to find someone who want to help you out, sorry, but game designer in the hobby/indie community (aka idea guy) is more of a team role than a individual role.
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Make a phone app? Try GameMaker?

Depends on the game. If you wanna make a 3D RTS or RPG, if you have no technical skills its gonna make the opposite of a profit.

The commonly suggested route might be to get technical skills. Learn Python or something and then make a game.
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[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1342162409' post='4958672']
Make a phone app?
[/quote]

I have designed a card game and have a friend who might make it for me. We haven't talked about it much lately.

[quote]
Depends on the game. If you wanna make a 3D RTS or RPG, if you have no technical skills its gonna make the opposite of a profit.
[/quote]

I was thinking a TRPG, with 3d terrain (tough to do height in 2d) and sprite-based characters. Edited by mekk_pilot
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At the very least: read [url="http://www.sloperama.com/advice/specs.htm"]Sloperama's advices on writing a GDD[/url].
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342161118' post='4958667']
I know this probably comes up here a lot, but what IS the best way for a person with little technical skill to get into a design position on a game?
[/quote]

Create a board game or a card game.
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The other problem is - without having some kind of contract / NDA, if your idea is 'great' someone else may run off with your millions. :)
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342161118' post='4958667']
My first instinct is to write some kind of 200+ page design doc covering the main elements of the design and the story(s), then use parts of that (or just email the whole thing to whoever is interested) to attract programmers and artists.
[/quote]

Just curious, why do you think this will work? Have you come across people who did this and succeeded in attracting programmers/artists or getting people to read 200+ pages?

[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342161118' post='4958667']
what IS the best way for a person with little technical skill to get into a design position on a game?
[/quote]

I think you answered your own question: you understood that having little technical skill is a major stumbling block. So, the best way is to improve that situation.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I am not one of those people who keep saying that you need 10+ years of programming skills or have a degree in computer programming to make a game. In fact, I believe that programming games is very easy nowadays, even without any prior experience. Tools like Adobe Flash, Game Maker etc makes it very easy for one man to produce a decent game from scratch in days or weeks.

A lot of beginners don't want to start on simpler projects for fear of "wasting time". They want to only spend time working on their big project. And so, they never get started and never pick up the technical skills to proceed. Its like someone who only wants to work on painting Mona Lisa quality painting, and refuse to learn how to use a pencil to draw simple shapes first. Programming skills are very transferable across languages and you will probably go through a few so don't worry about "wasting time".

And don't expect to get others to do all the tough stuff for you either. Its quite similar to painting: you can't produce a 200 pages design document for a painting and try to attract painters to work on it for you. You actually need work on the painting yourself. Painters do hire help to help them work on their masterpiece but its not possible to get others to do everything for you.

[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342161118' post='4958667']
I'm not saying this is going to be triple A, but I would like it to turn a profit.
[/quote]

I am too moving towards the "turn a profit" goal. Perhaps it might be informative to look at what/how other independent game developers do it and pick an approach you're comfortable with. From my own survey, modest independent games made by one developer, if well made, might turn a small profit after 1+ year of constant improvement. Edited by Legendre
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Okay then, if I'm going to have to do it myself, where should this total noob at art and programming start, if he wants to design a TRPG with randomly generated 3d terrain and sprites on top of that as characters?

BTW, like I said, I designed a card game(a way to simulate american footbal using a standard deck, A-9, and Kings to represent defensive plays), and if you check my first posts here, I've designed a table-top RPG. And I ran some rudimentary stats on those games for the sake of balancing. So I'm not just a guy who is coming in here with some half-baked idea and wants everyone to do all the hard work. I mean, design is work, I know because I've done it.

Edit: After walking around a bit, I think one possible answer to my question presents itself: I should take the card game I've designed and make it into a phone app. My friend was supposedly going to work on it, but we haven't talked about it in a long time, and I think he'd rather take a mentor role than get his hands dirty.

OK, so, given that I want to turn an already designed and tested card game into a phone app, where should I start?
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342203026' post='4958851']
Okay then, if I'm going to have to do it myself, where should this total noob at art and programming start
[/quote]

Please hear me out, and don't take this the wrong way. There is a difference between A) saying you're a total noob, and B) knowing that you're a total noob.

Many before you have come to this forum saying the exact same things as you. The problem is, they don't KNOW they are a total noob. They say they are noobs but they reject advice from others because they think they know better ways.

If you are ready to listen to good advice, I suggest reading this: [url="http://www.sloperama.com/advice/idea.htm"]http://www.sloperama.com/advice/idea.htm[/url]. Tom Sloper has more than 30 years of industry experience. You might not agree with everything he says, but you should at least consider his advice.

[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342203026' post='4958851']
So I'm not just a guy who is coming in here with some half-baked idea and wants everyone to do all the hard work. I mean, design is work, I know because I've done it.
[/quote]

Design is actually the easy part of game development. And I think deep down you know that. If the programming and art were easier than design, you would already be doing it.

[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342203026' post='4958851']
My friend was supposedly going to work on it, but we haven't talked about it in a long time, and I think he'd rather take a mentor role than get his hands dirty.
[/quote]

Question: Are YOU ready to get your hands dirty? Remember this is YOUR project. No one is going to get their hands dirty for you.


[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342203026' post='4958851']
OK, so, given that I want to turn an already designed and tested card game into a phone app, where should I start?
[/quote]

There are many possibilities. My suggestion would be to pick out some of the simplest elements and make a Flash game out of it. (Adobe Flex is free) Then, upload it to a Flash portal. After this process, I am confident that you will know where to go next.

A lot of beginners refuse to start small and gain experience. Think about this: if you go to college to do a degree, you are not going to be able to study PhD level courses and do actual research. You start with the basic undergraduate level courses, and you work on toy homework problems set by your teachers. Why would it be any difference in game development??

This is a hard and long process. You will feel like giving up multiple times. I am going through it myself**. If you need to talk to someone who is in a similar situation, please feel free to message me. ^__^

[i]** As a hobby. Although I will put up a paypal donate button in my game, I have a day job and have no interest in getting into the game industry.[/i]
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1342267474' post='4959053']


[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342203026' post='4958851']
So I'm not just a guy who is coming in here with some half-baked idea and wants everyone to do all the hard work. I mean, design is work, I know because I've done it.
[/quote]

Design is actually the easy part of game development. And I think deep down you know that. If the programming and art were easier than design, you would already be doing it.
[/quote]

I think it's more because I'm not really talented at art (although I have a good eye and have won prizes for photographs), and I didn't take comp sci in college, therefore programming would be something totally elective.

I submit this to you: if design was easy, why do most games suck? Maybe programmers are a little arrogant thinking they can do it all? I know everyone wants to design. But actually doing it takes skill and iteration. Yeah, I know I'M a little arrogant, but I've probably spent a couple of hundred hours designing and testing what I've finished. 90% of the ideas I see on this site are crap, totally derivative or just foolish. There's a reason Game Designers are the rock stars of the actual industry, because they're the ones probably most responsible for a game being fun or not.

Great Design can redeem a game even if the gameplay is buggy or the graphics look 5 years old. Poor design will damn a game that looks good and is bug-free.

Design IS the game. Edited by mekk_pilot
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[quote][color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][size=3][left][background=rgb(247, 247, 247)]Design is actually the easy part of game development. And I think deep down you know that. If the programming and art were easier than design, you would already be doing it.[/background][/left][/size][/font][/color][/quote]

Care to explain how you came to this conclusion? Not only is it terribly false, but no matter how good your programmers and artists, a crappy game design will land your game in the waste bin. A classic example of good game design is Starcraft. It's been around for over a decade, yet so many games have utterly failed to emulate it. You think designing that was easy? Just make the classic 3-race structure, give them some unique units, make it flashy and you're good to go? Even after the game's release, it took them 2-3 years to flesh out the balance of the game. Their job was not easy. There is a reason Blizzard is famous for its games.

OP: My advice to you is to play Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP. It's a very simple, yet enjoyable game that shows you how far game design can go. The programming for that sort of thing is absolute cake, and finding an artist willing to boost his resume (aka: willing to work for cheap or free) should not be difficult. Obviously, the game didn't make the creators into millionaires, but it did get played by over 400,000 people. I'd call that a success.
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He said design is easy, he didn't say good design is easy. In a sense programming is not the hard part. Assuming you don't want AAA speed optimizations.

However programming is the tedious part. You have a big complex game with lots of interconnecting parts and that is why you spend months weeding out tiny little logic errors that make your game totally unplayable.

The reason design is easy is that its FUN. Game design, especially when you discuss it with other like minded people, is just fun. Not balancing, which is arguably not game design, but deciding on features and mechanics. Just like the idea for a novel is fun, but do you think actually writing a novel is fun? No. No one will ever, ever, ever write your novel unless you pay them a lot of money, even if your idea appears to be really good. Unless you are James Patterson. Can't remember the last time he wrote his own novels.

Do a thought experiment:
If you could just type your idea into a text document and have a computer make it, would you?
If you could just drop a list of objects and a theme and mood and get a fabulous art library, would you?
If you could click a button that is called make up an idea, and then you had to program and model to make that idea a reality, would you?

That's why game design is the easy part. You do game design because its fun, you do programming and modeling because you have to to make a game.
Sure I really enjoy certain aspects of programming. I like writing some C++ and seeing something happen on a screen. But a lot of the time its just tedious typing, even if I know what I want to write in C++, the actual typing of it is not fun.

A billion people have game ideas. How many of them make a game? Someone who has a CS degree has probably made some pretty serious software.
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[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1342301668' post='4959137']

However programming is the tedious part. You have a big complex game with lots of interconnecting parts and that is why you spend months weeding out tiny little logic errors that make your game totally unplayable.


[/quote]

I will grant you that, and in fairness to the poster I semi- went off on, that's probably what he meant.

All I meant to say was that I've done the table-top thing, I've done the card game design, and balancing that shit was WORK. I'm not saying I didn't have a little fun doing it, but having fun and doing something productive aren't mutually exclusive.
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Well I did forget one thing. Ideas are more common than programming skills, but one needs more than one programmer per designer and furthermore up to a point increasing programmers is beneficial to design and thus finances, whereas more designers is not a beneficial addition.

This is similar for artists. There are simply more designers than programmers, even if you look at a 1:1 ratio, which is not at all reasonable.

You may need 10-100 programmers in a game, you do not need more than 1-5 designers.
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[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1342336286' post='4959206']
Well I did forget one thing. Ideas are more common than programming skills, but one needs more than one programmer per designer and furthermore up to a point increasing programmers is beneficial to design and thus finances, whereas more designers is not a beneficial addition.

This is similar for artists. There are simply more designers than programmers, even if you look at a 1:1 ratio, which is not at all reasonable.

You may need 10-100 programmers in a game, you do not need more than 1-5 designers.
[/quote]

I've always liked the long odds. =)
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342338901' post='4959212']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1342336286' post='4959206']
Well I did forget one thing. Ideas are more common than programming skills, but one needs more than one programmer per designer and furthermore up to a point increasing programmers is beneficial to design and thus finances, whereas more designers is not a beneficial addition.

This is similar for artists. There are simply more designers than programmers, even if you look at a 1:1 ratio, which is not at all reasonable.

You may need 10-100 programmers in a game, you do not need more than 1-5 designers.
[/quote]

I've always liked the long odds. =)
[/quote]

Well this wasn't about it being impossible. I am just explaining why designers who cannot program or do art have little chance to get help in making their games. Also of course for everything you designed, the code is even more complex. For card and table top games physics and your brain take care of what programming normally does.

For instance you just set the hp and damage of a Magic card and then the player applies it. But for a computer game you have to write code to do that. You need graphics and physics and math and priority libraries.

That was a response to wootforwoot about legendre, not saying you cannot make a game design.
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I say go for it, even if you fail (as many of us have - by never completing a game), you will earn alot along the way.

I am in the process of writing a mario-style platformer. Initially it was a complex 3D thing. Worked on it for months and realised I couldn't pull it off (yet). So, now I am working solely with sprites in 2D and so far the results are exactly what I am after. :)

So, in short, give it a crack! :)
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With my card game and my programmer friend, I'm just like "Look, there might not even be a market for phone apps in the 2 years it's going to take me to learn to program and sprite this fucking thing. Just take this completed, tested design and make it and give me 25%"

Does that sound so unreasonable?

Admittedly, my "big one" isn't a completed tested design, but what I guess I'm really asking is, how can a designer get programmers and artists on board?

I'm beyond what I can do with a standard deck of cards and PnP and dice. Edited by mekk_pilot
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Well at least you didn't ask to split 50/50 like most newbie designers. Whether 25/75 is okay with your friend is up to him.
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[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342345662' post='4959223']
With my card game and my programmer friend, I'm just like "Look, there might not even be a market for phone apps in the 2 years it's going to take me to learn to program and sprite this fucking thing. Just take this completed, tested design and make it and give me 25%"

Does that sound so unreasonable?
[/quote]
Yes, it does sound unreasonable. Your use of the word "just" when talking about what you want him to do is unreasonable. You'll lose a friend with this attitude.
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[quote name='Wiggin' timestamp='1342352200' post='4959238']
[quote name='mekk_pilot' timestamp='1342345662' post='4959223']
With my card game and my programmer friend, I'm just like "Look, there might not even be a market for phone apps in the 2 years it's going to take me to learn to program and sprite this fucking thing. Just take this completed, tested design and make it and give me 25%"

Does that sound so unreasonable?
[/quote]
Yes, it does sound unreasonable. Your use of the word "just" when talking about what you want him to do is unreasonable. You'll lose a friend with this attitude.
[/quote]

You know nothing of our relationship. We're constantly making reasonable demands of each other.
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I do not know your relationship as I said earlier, but I am also not sure you realize how long it would take to program your game and also that it would likely not make any money. Most games don't.
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[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1342357222' post='4959248']
I do not know your relationship as I said earlier, but I am also not sure you realize how long it would take to program your game and also that it would likely not make any money. Most games don't.
[/quote]

How long could it possibly take to code a card game that's less complicated than bridge? As far as making money, American football is pretty popular. And I should mention that all the testing I did on this game, probably over a hundred hours through all the iterations, I didn't have to twist anyone's arm to play it with me. They came to *me* after they got a taste of this dope. It's mad addictive, if you like and understand American football, that is.
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