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Josh 'Djentleman' Klazinga

What is really necessary for independent game development?

7 posts in this topic

[i]The following discussion pertains mainly to people interested in independent game development and, by extension, many aspects of game development as opposed to specific fields.[/i]

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[b]What is really necessary?[/b]

We've all heard or seen this question asked before. "I just want to make games but have no experience in programming or designing graphics or anything. Can you help me find a good game-making engine?" This usually leads to collective groans and sometimes half-hearted attempts to help, linking to programs such as (shudder) RPG Maker XP, Game Maker, Eclipse and the like.

Most of us here know the reality already; it is extremely unlikely that one can ever make a good, original game using nothing but third-party tools similar to those mentioned above. At the very least, some degree of programming knowledge is necessary, and if you ever want to publish a game, you will most likely need original graphics.

But what is really needed to start off a serious career in game development? Should one sit a degree in a related field before even considering it? Or are internet tutorials and books like O'Reilly's "Learning XNA 4.0" going to be enough to get one seriously started? Is a decent understanding of many facets of game design recommended before starting a game in earnest? Or should one solve problems in those areas when they are encountered in development, not before?

Many of us know the stories of people like Tommy Refenes (programmer for Super Meat Boy) who have been hugely successful in the indie industry after dropping out of university, even going so far as to tell others to avoid such institutions. But then there are stories of people graduating from places such as DigiPen and Full Sail with impressive portfolios, going on to become successful game developers.

Personally, I'm studying towards a degree in ICT with programming as my major, doing game development as a hobby. It has been something that I have thought about doing seriously for a while, and I know that given my experience in programming and my contacts who do graphic work at my university, it wouldn't be as difficult for me as it would be for many others to break into the industry - although given the competitive nature it would certainly not be easy, I'm under no delusions there.

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[b]On to the questions![/b]

What convinced you that getting into game development was something you wanted to do, and what do you believe is really necessary for such a journey?

Have you found it easier to study first and get into games later, as I'm doing? Or maybe you would recommend studying game development at universities formed for such a purpose? Or perhaps you are like Tommy Refenes and reject the value of universities for such purposes, preferring instead to jump into it and learn by doing?

And whatever your story and preference is, what words of advice do you have for those newly venturing into game development?
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You didn't bother to find out what the Breaking In forum is about before posting this there.
Since what you're posting is essentially a survey, I'm moving it to the Lounge.
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I did actually try to find out what it was about and I believed it fit nicely into the subject matter there, but I guess my topic was too far-reaching and non-specific or something. Apologies for that, and I'm grateful to you for moving it to a more appropriate area. There's no need to be hostile and to accuse me of not bothering. Edited by Ex.Alto
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There is only one real requirement needed to make an original video game: Programming. Every other skills set out there whether sound, graphics, story, business/legal aspects etc are simply fields by which skilled specialists in those areas can provide a higher level of quality product/service (usually) to the game or protection/marketing of the game.
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[quote name='Ex.Alto' timestamp='1342828019' post='4961519']
programs such as (shudder) RPG Maker XP, Game Maker, Eclipse and the like.

Most of us here know the reality already; it is extremely unlikely that one can ever make a good, original game using nothing but third-party tools similar to those mentioned above.
[/quote]
Disagree.
[url="http://store.steampowered.com/app/201480/"]Serious Sam: The Random Encounter[/url] and [url="http://store.steampowered.com/app/109200/"]Legend of Fae[/url] were both made with Game Maker, and both are available via Steam.
[url="http://store.steampowered.com/app/48900/"]Saira[/url] was apparently made with Multimedia Fusion, and is available on Steam.
[url="http://store.steampowered.com/app/113200/"]The Binding of Isaac[/url] is a Flash game available on Steam, but it could just as easily have been made with Game Maker.

There is absolutely no technical reason these sort of tools can't be used to produce high quality indie games which can then be sold via steam or other platforms, and it is only the fact that the overwhelming majority of people fail to master these tools or push themselves to actually produce high quality games that gets in the way of more people being successful with them.


[b]What's [i]really[/i] necessary for (successful) independent game development?[/b]
A lot of dedication, a good idea, and absolutely any method that will allow you to turn that idea into an actual playable product. It'll also usually take a reasonable amount of experience to get things right and produce a high-quality product. Everything else is optional. If someone isn't able to be successful with a product like Game Maker, that's [i]their fault[/i], not a deficiency of the product.

[img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/cool.png[/img]
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[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1342884472' post='4961678']
If someone isn't able to be successful with a product like Game Maker, that's their fault, not a deficiency of the product.
[/quote]
In the sense you mean the above, it's a true statement, but I think is misleading. The main reason that someone who tries seriously to make something with a tool like GameMaker fails is because it's not possible to make the game they want to make with that tool.

The OP of this thread asks what is really necessary for independent game development; there is no answer to that question because it is heavily dependent on the game that is hypothetically going to get independently developed. A lot of the posters in the Beginners forum seem to want to make games like triple-A console titles -- that's like posting in a film hobbyist forum, [i]How do I make a movie like Avatar? What do I need? [/i]etc.

The most important thing to actually succeed at independent software development (game or otherwise), besides the obvious, is being experienced enough to know what is practical, how long it is likely to take, and having the time to do it. Making these sorts of judgments accurately only come with experience, I guess.
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I think what it takes is understanding that it is not easy and it is going to require a lot of work. Just like any other activity in life, there is no real short cut. You don't learn guitar in 1 year (well, Nirvana guitar yes, Petrucci guitar no), you don't learn tennis in one year and so on... things like these can take years, or forever, and lot lot lot of sacrifices and work. You need individuals that can face defeat. I find most people rather choose not to try because that's the only way not to fail, of course, they don't go anywhere.

It is a long road and what I see in forums is that 99% of the guys starting with "what should I do for.. ?", "where should I start.. ?" just disappear and move to something else when they realise how steep and long the climb is. Also starting asking help, is starting with the wrong foot in something like programming. The ability to identify the problem ahead, breaking it down in small manageable pieces and go around looking for the info you need to complete your next small piece is what programming is all about at the end.
I won't even get into covering the "idea guys" because they are just delusional and are in for a hard wake up call.

School or no school is a subject also covered a lot, my personal opinion is that school won't hurt, but won't make you a great coder. If you are the kind of individual that can accomplish the process I exposes above, school can be something that distracts you from your intended path... people like myself found that unbearable and dropped out after few weeks of uni, other people are able to combine school, personal interests and coding time and come out better "all round" programmers than drop outs.
Surely those guys thinking "I am going to to this school and after X years I will be able to be a game programmer" are going to be disappointed in the end.. because that isn't going to happen. but still, a paper will open you doors in the IT world or even, with a bit of luck, in a game studio and you'll be fine eventually.

It's all about passion at the end, you need to love what you do to become good at it, it's not about loving games, it's about loving coding games, which is a totally different beast, and you need to love every aspect of it.
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[quote name='Ex.Alto' timestamp='1342828019' post='4961519']
What convinced you that getting into game development was something you wanted to do, and what do you believe is really necessary for such a journey?
[/quote]
The simple fact that I wanted to change how the games were made. I wanted to change the look and the game play etc. I find passion and stubbornness as well as the ability to analyze to be what is needed(as well as the skill to make games). And of course one should be able to learn new tools whenever needed.

[quote name='Ex.Alto' timestamp='1342828019' post='4961519']
Have you found it easier to study first and get into games later, as I'm doing? Or maybe you would recommend studying game development at universities formed for such a purpose? Or perhaps you are like Tommy Refenes and reject the value of universities for such purposes, preferring instead to jump into it and learn by doing?
[/quote]
I honestly believed that studying CS would make me a great game programmer... I was wrong. I found that the CS program is giving me the ability to analyze stuff and a great overview of how things interact. For making games I had to read many(i mean many books) and program a lot in my spare time. Also the University emphasizes science and I mean real science and less on practical stuff((80-90 percent report writing and 10-20 percent software development). I would recommend you to do what you prefer [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img]
[quote name='Ex.Alto' timestamp='1342828019' post='4961519']
And whatever your story and preference is, what words of advice do you have for those newly venturing into game development?
[/quote]

Be stubborn and never let your passion die. Do not expect to be rich doing this. Do it because you love it [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/rolleyes.gif[/img] Oh and do not be a shame to use third part software in order to cut down the time to develop stuff(read the license well before using it).

Yaa that is pretty much that [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] Edited by Dwarf King
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