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Tutorial Doctor

Games are Easy to make, So why is making Video games so hard?

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When I was a kid, we could make up a game on the spot. We create the rules, and over time we adjusted the rules when someone found a way to bend the rules to make the game unfair.

For instance, here is a game I will create right here on the spot:

Game 1:
One person has to hide an object somewhere in the house. Then the player has to write clues for how to find the object. All of the other players have to search for the object based on the clues. The first person to find the object wins the game.
End Game 1

Bam! One game down. Now, this game can be expanded to be more interesting and fun. I already see some ways it can be made more interesting. The point is, I made that game right on the spot. It didn't take much logic or pre-planning to make it, and it is playable right now. Wrap it in a box, put it on a shelf, and someone will buy it.

So, why is making video games so hard? Why does it require so many logical conditions and such?

There must be a better way. Currently I am big on the node-based programming thing, but perhaps I have thought of a new idea. What about a rule-based programming? Anyone heard of such a thing?

I am a firm believer of the idea that great graphics are not what make the design of a game good. Sure, the design of the graphics are good, but without good mechanics, it can't be much of a fun game.

What do you think? Why is making video games so hard?

 

Update:

I just found that there is such a thing as Rule-based-programming. And I found a very interesting lecture on youtube talking about Rule Based Systems. 

 

 

It is crazy how all my topics lead into one another. This is the stuff I was looking for without looking for it really. Just going with the ideas that cross my mind. 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

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For instance, here is a game I will create right here on the spot:

Game 1:
One person has to hide an object somewhere in the house. Then the player has to write clues for how to find the object. All of the other players have to search for the object based on the clues. The first person to find the object wins the game.
End Game 1

Bam! One game down.

 

That's not a game. It's an idea for a game.  There are a lot of details you haven't worked out in this description.  It's always harder to execute on an idea than it is to have the idea. 

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Well, it is a game, albeit not a video game, but it would certainly be a game. It is more of a childhood game, but it is complete. It has rules and a victory condition. 

 

I have started to think in terms of games, and not in terms of computer generated games. When thinking in terms of "computer game" it is only an idea for a game, but I can play this game right now. Hide and Seek is a game too. The rules are just as basic, one person hides, and the other tries to find them. End of the game. Basic but complete. 

 

Of course, there is more I could do to make the old game of Hide and Seek more interesting, and from observation, people are making a bunch of money off of refactored old video game concepts (angry birds is just catapult with a catchy theme). 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

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There are several things here to note. First off - as you said it your self, as a kid you think up of a game and adjust it's flaws on the fly. With games you can't do that for several reasons - you are charging people money for your product, you are paying devs, artists and so on to make the changes, so off goes the budget, the player already has a bad taste in his mouth for an under thought mechanic so he might not even download your patch.  Another thing is the artistic side. As a kid, you have a wild imagination, however it is your own. If you are playing a cops vs. robbers game, you are imagining something totally different to what your friends are, despite the similar rules. In a game you have a physical representation of those rules and the imagination of one to several people and you go in the realm of visual arts. If you don't have a clean, detailed and full blown idea of exactly what has to happen in your game, the art is going to go in all sorts of unimmersive and weird directions. To build off of that, you have the technical side. Every single little mechanic in your game is turned into a technical feature. Every one. And it is a separate feature, especially if you are going for behavior driven development. Now, let's say you are not in the clear right away on what you want to have ... then you bust out several features that end up being flawed and buggy, be it as a logical error or just flawed in generally. And let's not forget how many games went down the path of obscurity by employing huge game changer updates. This is not something you want to do once you go live.

For "sandboxing" your ideas, how a child would, you have your alpha and beta stages, respectively. This is the time to experiment, remaster, rework, remove or add, develop, bold up and further features and mechanics.

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Making video games is hard because writing software is hard. Logical conditions are required because logic is the nature of computing and programming. Your aforementioned game is easy to create in the real world, because you borrow everything that already exists: The universe, the laws of physics, the communication to convey the rules and the state of the game, and etc... You can turn it into a video game, too, if you knew the lua programming language and you're okay with using Garry's Mod. While it's not rule-based programming, it's certainly the fastest way to get your game fleshed out, otherwise you'd have to create everything from scratch: The universe, the laws of physics, the network communication, the objects, and etc...

Sure, Angry Birds is "just" a catapult with a catchy theme, but it is the execution is what made the creators a lot of money.

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Thinking of a game, and thinking of a game programmatically are 2 totally different  beasts.

 

With the addition of programming language, you must force your brain to adjust to the "logic" of computers, and ignore human "intuition" .

 

Example:

Tic-Tac-Toe

 

 As a human you can easily infer where you wish to place your mark that may give you the best position.

 As a programmer you must make very specific mathematical and/or boolean rules on turns, were marks can be placed, how to strategically place marks ( AI ), and what are the rules for game over. Than you must make some sort of visual representation of the game board and what state it is in.

 As a human this can take less than 5 seconds to set up. As a programmer, this can take up to 4 hours to code ( without graphics ).

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I have started to think in terms of games, and not in terms of computer generated games. When thinking in terms of "computer game" it is only an idea for a game, but I can play this game right now. Hide and Seek is a game too. The rules are just as basic, one person hides, and the other tries to find them. End of the game. Basic but complete.
It's not complete, it has many assumptions (fine for a reasonable kid, but not for an alien or a computer probram or a non behaving player).

- is it allowed to fly to another continent to hide?

- is it allowed to kill the seeker so you can't be found (one of the best tactics)?

- is it allowed to coerce your parent to deny the access to the room where you are hiding?

- define "hide", is avoiding being found for 2 years a victory condition for the hidden player?

 

Try hide and seek with adults and make the stakes high enough (like an office game "who will get fired this month"), you will see much more creativity and rule bending :D

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I am big on the node based programming thing . . .
. . . it is crazy how all my topics lead to one another

I thought i was the only one.
I really like the idea of intentional, visual, declarative programming . . . and speech.

Making video games is hard because writing software is hard . . .

and because you can't just type:
create 3d world, 10km*10km using directx11 graphics, with 2000 npc's and 1pc, with the following rules:
If user tries to cheat, end game.
If user tries to go to end without passing through the right path, end game (racing) etc.
and the following missions:
Bank robbery.
Hostage rescue etc.
and with the following attributes:
Learning AI.
Real world physics.
Daytime cycle.
Real world weather conditions etc.

We can't do this sort of declarative and intentional programming, yet :).

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Physical entertainment versus virtual entertainment is where you have made your mistake.

Childhood games are physical entertainment.

Video games are virtual entertainment.

 

Then to separate even further, adult (including teens) entertainment (not that type of entertainment) versus child entertainment.

A child's entertainment is short and simple.

An adult's entertainment is long and complicated.

 

physical entertainment built for adult entertainment is time consuming.

physical entertainment built for child entertainment is not time consuming.

virtual entertainment built for adult entertainment is time consuming.

virtual entertainment built for child entertainment is time consuming.

 

that is where the problem starts, and ends. Creating entertainment on a virtual level will always be harder and more time consuming then simple games a child makes up. Even if all the programming dissapears, if graphics magically create themselves, and ideas are designed and fleshed out on the spot, it won't change a thing. You'll still need the time to implement and polish the video game.

 

Which isn't a bad thing, do you know how underwhelming the industry would become if games could be made instantly. It'd overload. There would be too many games at once, too many games at once means only a few really ever get played out of the thousands created. Since, say, 10/100 are played the other 90 games produce no money and the people who made them go bankrupt. Eventually, the the industry would collapse in on itself and you'd see only money making games coming out at any point in time.

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