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Time - the most important factor.

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In my head, i'm trying to figure something. I've seen that Stardew Valley has been sold for more than 1 million copies on steam. It was a game, which was developed by a single guy. That guy, according to Wikipedia, had a major in computer science. That already means he had a strong knowledge about software development in general, unlike us code monkeys who stay on gamedev and stackoverflow, and ask a million questions, just to get a million questions more.  Stardew valley is a 2D game, which was developed in 4 years. I've seen the game, and i'm trying to figure, what has took him THAT long? I mean, seriously, the game has a few base game mechanics. The game is 2D pixel art. The code might be thousands of files. What takes 4 years just to develop a 2D game? Answer the most noobish question please. 

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Take a look at your computer's mouse. It has a few base mechanics: you move the mouse and that moves the cursor on your screen, you can click, sometimes they have a scroll wheel, but overall seem to do pretty basic things. And they've been around for a while now. What could be simpler? What if I told you this simple-looking item actually took months of work to research, develop, prototype and manufacture, to design both the hardware inside it that you don't see, and also the external interface, for ergonomy and so on, as well as all the branding and marketing which allowed you actually find and buy it? It probably took years worth of man-hours to bring this simple little item to your desk.

 

What this analogy is meant to illustrate is that just because something is simple to use, doesn't mean it was simple to make.

I mean, people on video tutorials make simple 2D games. Or udemy courses, that feature professionals. They make a course, which by the end has a fully developed 2D game, ofc not at the scale of stardew valley, that would take a lot more, but 4 years? If you have a problem, you firstly solve it on paper and using math and only then implement it in the process of coding. Did I completely misunderstood it?

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This is a question you could probably answer for yourself if you wanted. Try making a clone of SV and then factor in time for asset creation, design, redesign, etc.

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Don't underestimate how long asset creation can take. Graphics take time to draw - even if it's "just 2D pixel art" - to say nothing of the fact that the developer also wrote all the music himself, which also takes time.

 

4 years seems an appropriate dev time for a game of that scale made by a sole developer; for comparison, Axiom Verge, which was also made entirely by a single developer, took 5 years to make.

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Most of the tutorial games use off the shelf assets and don't spend time creating them.

Creating art and music takes time. I like to think I'm a competent software developer but I can't draw, I can't model and I can't make music.

For these parts of a game I have to rely on off the shelf assets too or hope to find someone to help me out.

If I buy off the shelf assets possibly man months or even man years went into some of the assets I've paid for. Other times I've had someone help me out and draw pixel art. It took him weeks and he's a professional. I simply would have taken years to develop anywhere near that skill level if I even was able.

As or others have said art takes time and games are maybe 70% art...

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I agree with the posters above, but it's also a huge pain to debug software, make sure that a game is balanced, and ensure that it runs properly on different platforms. Even when a game is feature-complete it may not be ready for release. I've never made anything nearly as large, complex, or good as Stardew Valley. Because of that, and my observations between beginning programming and today, I accept that it took more work to create such a project than I am prepared to understand just by thinking of it.

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What takes 4 years just to develop a 2D game?

Complexity.

 

You want to make a simple brilliant game. Can't be hard, right? It's a simple game after all. How long can it take?

 

 

If you try, you'll soon find out it's not a simple problem, it's a very, very hard problem.

The core of why it's so hard, is the combination of "brilliant" and "simple". That combination is extremely rare, and can take a long time to find.

 

For example, the game 2048. If I would give you a specification of that game, you can write it in a few days. However, if you have never heard of 2048, is it something you'd think of when trying to come up with a good game? I don't think so. Getting the idea of 2048 is close to 95% of the problem that you're solving.

 

The result can be simple, but finding is difficult, since the answer is hiding in the entire field of "games you can make", which is a lot of games, to say the least.

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