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Tutorial Doctor

Low Budget Games more Creative?

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I am sort of old fashioned, and I love watching a good TCM movie (Turner Classic movies). And boy do I chuckle at a good Buster Keaton film. 

 

In the days of film and limited technology, it seems directors had to be a lot more creative. Whereas today you can do cool effects with the press of a button, then you had to hack and create new ways of doing things. 

 

I am sure Spielberg has done his share of hacking. Let's not forget George Lucas.

 

As game developers (at least in my case of being a sole developer) we sort of become like a director. We have this awesome idea for a movie, and we have to collect assets and such and direct them in such a way to convey a story we would like to tell, or to provide an experience we would like others to explore. 

 

Things like special effects, or environment changes were all hacked on film. And it seems to me that such hacks still exist in the world of game design. I actually made a post on that before. 

 

I don't have a lot of money or knowledge in this area, so I find myself hacking things that others use complex software to do for them. I am Paul Bunyan in a sense. But I think one thing I am not deprived of is creativity. 

 

I have painted with mud before I could afford a dollar tree paintbrush set. 

I made a dozen roses out of scraps of old clothing. 

I made a 4' geodesic dome from copy paper and metal fasteners. 

I made a pyramid from cardboard and dry grits. 

My favorite product is polycaprolactone (figure out why). 

 

When you have little, sometimes you have to "make it stretch."

 

So, do you think that having a low budget naturally causes you to be more creative when creating a game? 

Do you think the same of having limited information?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't think that's necessarily true. I have seen lots of low budget movies and low budget games that were terrible. Really really terrible. Now, There is something to be said about independent games and movies being more free to explore and open up to creativity. When you are not spending millions of dollars making something, you don't have to dumb it down for the masses to get the largest audience and make your money back. But that doesn't mean the people working on the project are more creative, just that they are free of the constraints placed on higher budget titles.

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Good point HighTreason. Let's look at a scenario:

 

One movie, two different production companies. 

 

One company uses state-of-the-art technology while the other uses not-so-state-of-the-art-technology. 

 

Both companies finish the film and follow the directions on how to direct the film. 

 

Now the only thing left to compare is exactly how they went about portraying the film in the way it was intended to be portrayed. 

 

So we know lighting conveys a lot about mood. Of course, you need good acting too. Camera work has to make sense. The flow of the movie has to make sense. etc. 

 

It seems that nowadays a Hollywood film can have sub-par acting with major effects to cover up the bad acting. A few explosions and a nice music score.... 

 

I used to act myself, and on stage you couldn't hide anything, especially when that high beam was right on you, and you had a monologue. We had to be creative in how we created our sets because we weren't funded like the sports programs. Musical score? My theatre teacher played the ol' grand piano that was collecting dust behind the curtains.  

 

If you turn a bright light on and off at the right time increments, it could achieve a lightning effect (hmm, good idea for my game environment hehe). 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

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I don't believe there is any "low budget => more creative" correlation. And as HighTreason  says: lots of low budget stuff is terrible.

 

What I do believe is that too few investors put money in experimental stuff. I understand them, they are in it for the money, and let's face it the most secure investments are the once that have already been proved.

 

 


In the days of film and limited technology, it seems directors had to be a lot more creative. Whereas today you can do cool effects with the press of a button, then you had to hack and create new ways of doing things. 

I would not agree to that. Yes you can make more today, but creating fancy effects is still extremely pricey. Where things might have changed is that companies tend to outsource more of the production than before. This might decouple the director from parts of the production.

Edited by VildNinja

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So, do you think that having a low budget naturally causes you to be more creative when creating a game? 

 

it forces one to be more resourceful, which can sometimes lead to more creative solutions for a particular problem.

 

but mostly it forces one to do it all themselves.  don't have $10K for a cloud library?  time to do research and roll your own.   don't have 10K for a water effects library?  same scene.  insert almost any middleware or turnkey solution into "dont have X dollars for <whatever> ? time to roll your own." 

 

the budget for Caveman consists of one baseline PC (about $400), and internet access ($50/month). thats it. everything else is done with free tools etc, or roll your own from scratch.

 

in the end, all you need is a PC and a compiler. everything else you can write yourself - even the artwork tools. the only problem is, the more you do yourself, the longer it takes.

 


Do you think the same of having limited information?

 

limited info introduces the possibility of sub-standard results, due to ignorance of the best methods available to choose from for a particular task.

 

just because you cant afford a wheel and have to roll your own, doesn't mean you have to re-invent the wheel from scratch. all you have to do is learn how wheels are made, then choose the best method for your situation.

 

if you have dollars to throw at middleware, content, etc, it somewhat safe to be ignorant of their inner workings and what else is out there, after all thats what you pay them to worry about, right?

 

but if you can't pay someone else to figure out the best way and implement it for you, you have to do so yourself. if you don't, and just do whatever (creative or otherwise) and just muddle though, odds are you'll get "less than best possible" results.

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Limits invite creative solutions, but they certainly don't conjure them out of thin air, nor is a creative solution born of necessity always a good thing.

 

I do find that having technical limitations can have a freeing effect on one's productivity though -- When you have no significant limits, the sky is the limit and you can always do more, do better, do different, and never actually move on, but when you do face hard limitations those creative solutions are basically final, an epiphany that would be difficult or impossible to best, so you just implement it and move onto the next problem. In that way, I actually find working against practical limitations rewarding, because you spend more time coming up with more creative solutions, and far less time implementing various approaches in an attempt to optimize.

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Creative people will be creative because they want to be creative and come up with ways to produce their vision, whether that be the most expensive films ever made or the cheapest. 

 

Sure, you can argue that to do the same something with more limitations is more creative, but really it is more often that is determined not by creativity, but the limits to which the creator is willing to work and accept imperfection of their vision.

 

There are limits to what you can do and with those limits come imperfections. The fewer the limits the fewer the imperfections.

 

so when you see a AAA title that's compared to an indie title... if they are equal in creativity or one is greater than the other it is simply the result of the failure of greater vision and/or the willingness to accept fidelity failure.

 

Of course, that is all a worthless conversation since you seem to think creativity in a certain area is what makes a good product and yet I do not believe that is the case and I've never seen a real argument to support it.

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Of course, that is all a worthless conversation since you seem to think creativity in a certain area is what makes a good product and yet I do not believe that is the case and I've never seen a real argument to support it.

 

Hmm, that is actually a hard one for me to answer. I default to saying that a more creative product doesn't necessarily mean a better product.

 

I can create new ways to open a door, like tying one end of a string to my leg and the other to the door handle and yanking it open with my leg. Creative, but is it better? I guess the goal matters in this case. If the goal is solely finding the most creative method for opening a door, then the leg thing would be better.

 

On the same note, I know that having more technology yields it's benefits. Sometimes the least creative methods are the most efficient methods.

 

Mainly the reason I put the option for "it depends" in the poll.   

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t forces one to be more resourceful, which can sometimes lead to more creative solutions for a particular problem.

 

Good word. Resourceful. I am mainly looking at "tendencies" towards creativity in low budget things. 

 

Perhaps the product is poor in quality, but it could still be creative in some parts. 

 

I think in terms of kindergarten drawings. Some kids convey things as they see them using a mixture of colors to do skin tones, and even using correct colors too. Then there are the more creative drawings. Blue for the skin, green for the eyes, pink for the hair. 

 

Even in art today, you can make a whole image out of three colors, whereas if you used the whole color spectrum you could add more detail. It seems that with fewer colors, you have to be more creative in how you use those colors. I guess the word would be resourceful though. 

 

One prime example I can see in game design is pixel art. Using basic blocks to convey a specific form. Another case in 3d games would be modular design

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

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A lot of AAA games these days are sequels, or franchise works. Their creative options are limited by the requirement to be faithful to existing IP. A recent Gamasutra article about Sonic The Hedgehog is a case in point: in making a new game the design had to be reined in where it diverged too much from existing 'canon' features.

Now I'm not saying that's the case for all big budget games, but there's a correlation that needs to be factored out. Big budget often means big IP, and hence big boots to fill.

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