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Ballistix

Being realistic...

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Hey guys,

 

So, I will get straight to the point. I have a few projects that I would like to make a reality, and of course I picked the simplest (at least in my mind) of them all. 

 

The main problem is, I'm not a programmer, nor am I a 3D artist. I could do simple low poly assets with my limited Maya skills, but that's about it.

My area is the game design. I have a bunch of flowcharts which expanded like no tomorrow as well as a lot of drawings and reference art. I have game mechanics all written out as well as every damn aspect of the game.

 

I am trying to get ready for the 1st step of making the very basic, yet functional prototype of my game, just to see if the most basic aspects of it are engaging as they are in my mind at this point. 

 

The hard facts - I have never designed a game before, and I will have to hire a programmer and a 3D artist. I am really aiming for low poly yet artistic approach with nice color pallets. 

 

The question is, is it even worth it for me to go with this, only being a game designer and having to hire everyone else to do their part?

 

I can probably spend about $10k just to get a demo up and running. We are talking about an RTS game, so really I just need to get simple map setup, with no major details, a few structures, vehicles and resources and of course have to have it all programmed so it's functional. 

 

It's just so hard to try and estimate the cost of such project. As to complexity, well... I think game such Prizon architect and maybe Offworld trading company would be comparable. Do you think it is not worth pursuing such project, or any project for that matter if I am only a game designer and not a programmer nor artist?

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Thanks a lot!

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Have you looked in the asset stores of Unity or Unreal to see if the assets are available for what you want to do?  It might be a good fit for you.

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Hi there.

RTS you say. I have a engine for RTS game plus multi player only good for windows. Its not quite complete, it would be good for demos plus a bit more.

 

It has a build menu working, has spell buttons,drop ships can attach to objects or carry them inside, Units , vehicles planes, towers, buildings , plants,  are the base types with them you can create as many different types you have assets for.  Has a very crude map editor menu creator and asset library editor.

the Library is where you define all your objects for any one game type.

May not work on newer OS only windows a port would not be doable. this is what its at now.

 

you could try down loading the demo you need the folder ShipRTS and the folder UpDatedFullscreenRTS it ships with the run time for VC10 and DX10. the server is down so it will not connect but if it loads and starts the menu system the engine would work on your windows OS.

The links seem not to work on my iphone not sure.

 

As for time well you would need to work out what format to hold you graphic objects in, how you load and create them, you probably need to write or have written some form of

helper apps like asset creator, map editor, Unit testing apps, work on sound the demo needs sound.

 

it's going to take a lot of time, but the more modular the program is the less of a pain implementing new object into the system will be.

 

P.S.

I may not be able to help I feel burnt out or no longer get a kick out of programming this RTS engine(may post the lot on hosting site). I've taken 4 month of so far no programming.

Edited by ankhd

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1. You don't need to be the most competent programmer nor the best 3D artist to produce a workable prototype of your idea... as long as you can live with compromises. Your game will probably be filled with placeholder art (colored cubes and sphere worst case, lower poly and simpler versions of the target art assets best case), and you will have to make do with 3rd party, copy-pasta and simplified code, and maybe probably worse than expected performance.

 

But you will be able to test your game idea, and continue refining the game design this way, which is also extremly important. What you have now most probably is not fun at all when implemented into a game... you will need to create a prototype and iterate unto until what sounds like a good idea to you now actually turns into a fun game.

 

2. You could go for stock art and already existing code, like what the guys before me have already written. It is a good way to hack together a somewhat better prototype, and save some time at some point in exchange for more money spent.

Just make sure you don't expect to be able to build the game you think of with stock art and third party code. You might get close, but stock never is exactly what you need/want, third party code will never be the most efficient way of solving your coding problems, and in the end you will have to either hire someone to touch up the art and code (provided you have bought the correct license) or need the skills to do it yourself.

 

Frankly, I never bought any stock art and never used any thirdparty code that I didn't want to tweak in the end. I most of the time had the necessary skills, and it did save some time in some cases (like having a base heightmap to work with that I just need to enhance with more details, or just tweaking the colors of a color texture instead of having to create my own from scratch), but if you don't want your game to look like a rag-tag assortment of textures and models from different sources, you will need to be able to tweak what you buy.

Same with code. Often it was brilliant code, with just a feature missing. Sometimes I had a friendly dev of the thirdparty code that implemented the feature for me. Sometimes the idea behind the code was good, but when I pulled it apart the code itself was crap (thankfully in case of Unity most thirdparty assets give you access to the code as the C# scripts come uncompiled), and at least in one case the code was crap AND I had to reengineer it because my use case was much more complex than what the code was designed to handle.

 

Of course, YMMV. I know many have built good games that they were able to sell with stock art, and many games (like the myriad of RPGMaker "clones" (though I heard some of these actually are very decent RPGs)) use the same third party code to produce marketable games.

Depends extremly on your expectations, and needs. If you don't expect too high quality, the mishmash of styles that results from using stock art from multiple sources might be okay. If you don't need too much assets, a single stock art source might provide you with all you need, leading to a more consistent style. For some assets, the fact that they look rather generic doesn't matter (a tree should look like any other tree in 95% of cases, while your main character should look more unique).

 

Still, you shouldn't trust stock art and third party code to do all the legwork for your game. Having access to custom art and code, either done yourself or by freelancers, will do a lot to raise the quality of your game.

 

3. Your plan being realistic or not depends entirely on your expectations, especially when it comes to time. Can a lone wolf create an RTS with decent graphic, a decent singleplayer campaign, good gameplay mechanics and enough unit variety? Yes of course... if the lone wolf brings the skills needed and is ready to invest many years of his life into developing the game.

 

You can cut down on the amount of skill and time needed by investing money, but with the budget you have I would be hesitant to spend too much, besides for licenses for 3D tools or hardware needed. You don't want to work with freelancers before you have a very good understanding of what you want and CAN build, in what timeframe.

AND you need to be aware that RoI is not guaranteed at all. Investing into game development is like the lottery. As long as you don't have years of expierience and the brand and resources to play in the big AAA leagues, at least.

For the small time Indie, your first few games will be an extreme gamble. Will you be able to get enough visibility to sell any copy? Will your marketing plan be the right one? Is the game you build of enough quality, coming out at the right time, will you find a community?

 

If I would have to advise people on sane investments, investing in games would be on the bottom of the list. Especially when it comes to Indie games.

 

Now, with that out of the way, what can you do? How realistic is your idea?

 

3a. Get the skills needed to at least produce working prototypes. Really, you will not be able to a) finance the game you want to build, or any other game worth building (you might be able to pay for the art and code of a flappy bird clone, and if you come up with a better plan than "yet another clone", you might actually produce quite a good mobile game with that, so take "not worth building" with a grain of salt), and b) assemble and keep together a team of volunteers that will help you build your game (you will need a lot of expierience and a good project that goes according to plan to have a chance of this succeeding).

As long as you are a no-name, with a non-existant budget, no expierience, your best bet is to learn as many different skills as you can and try to come up with good prototypes. IF these prototypes really rock (you know, the art might be not the best, and the code might be laggy at times, but BOY is that a great game mechanic!), you might find it MUCH easier to get help or money in the future when you show that prototype. Not the least because you have shown you yourself believe enough into your own project to go through the hassle and invest the time to learn basic game dev skills and actually build a prototype.

 

Showing dedication is never a bad sign. And the prototype will certainly help in communicating your vision

 

 

3b. It is realistic, if you can stomach the long time needed to make it a reality.

We are talking years to become a competent 3D modeller or a good programmer... even becoming halfway decent in BOTH professions will take you 1-2 years at least, depending on how much time you can spend on it.

Then, building the prototype most probably will also take years... might be months, if you have come up with a good way to speed up the 3D modelling process for the proxy art, and find good third party code or an engine that can do some low level plumbing for you.

 

Then you will have to market your prototpye, find money, volunteers, or both to help you build the actual product. And then build it. Depending on how good your idea is, and how much people like it, that might take more or less time. Lets say 2-3 years at least.

 

 

 

But really, before you can even start talking about creating a 3D RTS, you need expierience, in all fields involved. Even if you would like to be the game designer, you will need expierience in the other disciplines (because you are kind of the project lead, and your discpline influences all the other disciplines)...

And even more so if you are a small Indie shop, even without being a lone wolf.

 

So really, start learning today and create small games. Learn about game engines and how to use them. Learn 3D modelling basics, some coding, get a feeling for what is needed to create a game and the time needed.

 

Then, in maybe 2 years, you are ready to work on your prototype.

 

 

Is it worth it? Depends on you. Do you really want to make that game a reality? Or do your really want to be a game dev? Are your ready to invest most of your free time for years in order to be able to say "I created a game, and you can download it on Steam"? If you always dreamed of creating your own game, and you don't care about the cost in skill, time or money, then wait no longer and "just do it"!

 

If that is not worth it for you, if you are looking for money, fame, or something less time consuming, game development might not be the right thing for you. There are much easier ways to get money or fame, and while building smaller, less complex games might be less time consuming, they also use up way more development time than people would think.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Personally I think you should not spend any money on your first game. It will be a learning experience....and the likelihood is that you will mostly learn that managing third parties is hard, expensive, risky and you won't be any closer to being able to create your own prototypes.


This. Ballistix, you need to step back and consider what it is you're trying to accomplish, big-picture-wise. Right now you're focused on one tree (your game idea), and you're not considering the forest (what you'll do once you've finished that one game). First, what you'll do with your finished game - is it to earn money, is it to start a portfolio to kick off a career in games, is it to impress people and gain fame. Second, how that game fits into the mosaic of the rest of your life - are you looking to start a career as an indie game developer, are you shooting for a job at a game company, is this just a side hobby project.

Once you see the big picture a bit clearer, your perspective on your project will change and so will your questions.

It's entirely realistic to make a game.
It's very realistic to pay people to do stuff you can't do yourself. But is it the best way to go? It depends on the big picture.

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Personally I think you should not spend any money on your first game. It will be a learning experience....and the likelihood is that you will mostly learn that managing third parties is hard, expensive, risky and you won't be any closer to being able to create your own prototypes.


This. Ballistix, you need to step back and consider what it is you're trying to accomplish, big-picture-wise. Right now you're focused on one tree (your game idea), and you're not considering the forest (what you'll do once you've finished that one game). First, what you'll do with your finished game - is it to earn money, is it to start a portfolio to kick off a career in games, is it to impress people and gain fame. Second, how that game fits into the mosaic of the rest of your life - are you looking to start a career as an indie game developer, are you shooting for a job at a game company, is this just a side hobby project.

Once you see the big picture a bit clearer, your perspective on your project will change and so will your questions.

It's entirely realistic to make a game.
It's very realistic to pay people to do stuff you can't do yourself. But is it the best way to go? It depends on the big picture.

 

 

I definitely answered these questions to myself already, as it has been far too long and I still don’t see myself doing anything else but create games. I’m 33 years old and I’ve been into games since I was a kid. I remember when I was about 12 years old (1996) when the C&C Red Alert came out. Back then, some of the .ini files were not protected as to modifications. I was able to dig into these files, not knowing a damn thing about it (youtube or google was not around back then) and started finding values in the script which kind of made sense to me and started changing things around. As a result, I was able to have a whole bunch of units with different stats such hp, speed as well as weapon types. Basically, a moded C&C Red Alert. Ever since I was a kid, I ALWAYS wanted to create games, or improve ones I played, because I always felt they could have been made better. I used to make maps in the editor for red alert as well. It actually brought me just as much (if not more) joy than actually playing the game. Just about every game I played that had some type of editor included, I would use it to make things. I also used to make complete maps for Unreal Tournament (1999) and I learned the entire editor from watching tutorials and experimenting. As some of you may know, the original UT editor is quite challenging to learn, at least it was for me back then. I also tried playing around with 3D Maya.

 

One of the things I like to do in my free time, is to actually go on websites such DeviantArt and just browse through all the concept art and 3D models of anything that fits into any of my projects. I say projects, because every time I come up with a solid idea, I pull out a new note book and start writing as well as drawing things out. I must have about 15-20 of them. I sometimes put them away for a while and comeback to read it again, to see if it still brings the same amount of excitement as it did the day I thought of it. If it doesn’t, I simply throw it away. If it does, I keep expanding it. I could spend hours doing it if I didn’t check the clock. As to Deviant Art website, all I see there is an extreme amount of potential and I just feel like I want to bring these things to life.

 

I still play games, of course, and I’ve played ALL types of genres. Now days, as it has been happening for a while, I find myself buying certain titles and playing them ONLY to analyze the mechanics and other aspects about the game that I find interesting.

Currently I work at one of the best medical centers in the US and I make right about 80-90k year. I know it is not a fortune, but I live comfortably. Why am I not happy with it? Because this is not my dream. My dream is and always was to be a leader of a great development team which makes the best games ever made. I’m sorry, but at least 95% of today’s games are pathetic, especially in cases when we see massive budgets and teams behind them. Truly laughable.

 

Trust me, I’ve had enough time to figure out what the big picture is, but I feel stranded because I simply don’t have the skill to make it happen. When I tried modeling in Maya and realized how much time it took me to create a basic models, and then compared them to some of the creations of people who have been doing it for a while, I felt like I am wasting my time. I might never even get to that point.

 

If I had to pick one thing to learn, it would be programming, simply because it would give me a total control over my project. But, not knowing how… besides the damn “Hello World”, who knows how many years it will take me to learn to actually create something of quality.

 

It may simply be too late for me, but… if you asked what I would pick if I had one wish, my answer would still be the same – I want to be a lead designer of a great development team which makes the best games ever made.

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But really, before you can even start talking about creating a 3D RTS, you need expierience, in all fields involved. Even if you would like to be the game designer, you will need expierience in the other disciplines (because you are kind of the project lead, and your discpline influences all the other disciplines)...

And even more so if you are a small Indie shop, even without being a lone wolf.

 

So really, start learning today and create small games. Learn about game engines and how to use them. Learn 3D modelling basics, some coding, get a feeling for what is needed to create a game and the time needed.

 

Then, in maybe 2 years, you are ready to work on your prototype.

 

 

Is it worth it? Depends on you. Do you really want to make that game a reality? Or do your really want to be a game dev? Are your ready to invest most of your free time for years in order to be able to say "I created a game, and you can download it on Steam"? If you always dreamed of creating your own game, and you don't care about the cost in skill, time or money, then wait no longer and "just do it"!

 

If that is not worth it for you, if you are looking for money, fame, or something less time consuming, game development might not be the right thing for you. There are much easier ways to get money or fame, and while building smaller, less complex games might be less time consuming, they also use up way more development time than people would think.

 

I really appreciate your time and writing this. I read it twice, just to be sure I understood everything as it was intended.

 

I was hoping not to see some (if not most) of the things your wrote, but I guess I knew it was coming. Being realistic is a hard thing to do, and so painful, too!

Edited by Ballistix

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I want to be a lead designer of a [snip] development team [snip]


It all boils down to this, does it not? I boiled the rest of the words away into vapor.
If you want to be on a development team, you can do that.
If you want to be a designer on a development team, you can do that.
If you want to be a lead designer, you can do that.

But you've been going about it all wrong, trying to do everything yourself, and trying to buy a team you can force into letting you lead them.
Being a lead designer is not about being the boss.
Being a lead designer is about being a team player.

Some of your words that I snipped were that you want to be part of "a great development team which makes the best games ever made." There are 2 ways of doing that - indie, and "job." Is it fair to assume that you're shooting for the former, and not the latter?

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