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Advice for a Game Idea

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Hi, im sorry if this is a bit long.

I am a new programmer who's just getting his feet wet. I've had some killer ideas for games for honestly my whole life and now I'm at the point where I want to start making these ideas a reality. Because I'm just starting I know what I'm trying to do will take many years to accomplish and I'm prepared! I just want to see if anyone can help nudge me along.

Recently, the Space-Sim genre has been picking up speed with titles like Star Citizen, No Man's Sky, and Elite Dangerous growing ever so popular. Those games are great and all but I'm the kind of guy who always thinks he can do better, and I know I can. When I'm playing new games, I'm constantly thinking of ways I would improve it. It's killing me to have such a passion for something but can't act on it! The only thing holding me back is the lack of skills to accomplish it. These games always seem to lack SOMETHING, whether it's a small feature such as ship-naming to bigger, more complex features like FPS/3rd Person exploration. So I figured, the best way to get all the features I want into one game is to make it myself!

To put what I'm aiming for into perspective, imagine the better parts of Star Citizen+Civilization+Grand Theft Auto+Halo. I want the game itself to look like Halo 2 Anniversary cutscenes. As crazy as that sounds, the way it looks in my head is breathtaking and once a reality I promise it will redefine how games are made!

I know a project of this magnitude goes far beyond simply learning programming languages, I need to master some advanced concepts (perhaps even develop some myself). What methods do you recommend for learning these? What games should I work at building first that would teach me the concepts needed to make my game a reality? Furthermore, What books should I study that I can always refer to as I progress toward my goal? What resources could I employ to help me learn?

Any and all comments are welcome and I mean ANY. Even if it's simply your reason why you think this game is impossible.

Thanks.

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Even if it's simply your reason why you think this game is impossible.

Look at the credits lists for Star Citizen, Civilization, Grand Theft Auto and Halo.

 

Unless you have many many millions (potentially billions) of dollars to spend in order to hire many thousands of people and employ them for several years, your game will not be made.

 

This is not a question of what you need to learn, or what you can do with a group of friends.

 

That said, if you're wanting to create games on your own, the things to start with is making games like Pong, Snake, Breakout and Mario clones.

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Even if it's simply your reason why you think this game is impossible.

Look at the credits lists for Star Citizen, Civilization, Grand Theft Auto and Halo.

Unless you have many many millions (potentially billions) of dollars to spend in order to hire many thousands of people and employ them for several years, your game will not be made.

This is not a question of what you need to learn, or what you can do with a group of friends.

That said, if you're wanting to create games on your own, the things to start with is making games like Pong, Snake, Breakout and Mario clones.
Thanks for the response! Tell me, is there any other reason to have a big team other than time constraints? I did some research and most AAA games are finished in around 3 years. Most of those gargantuan budgets go toward paying the Dev-team and marketing as well as hiring professional actors for voice acting, game engine licensing and hardware. I also saw other costs such as rent and office space and desks etc, but these aren't game related.

So, in theory, if I had a small talented team of friends and money to get the basic things such as a game engine, hardware and basic marketing, not factoring in the time it would take to do this, do you think it's possible without a multi million dollar budget and a team of 500 people?

Crowd Funding is also an option albeit one that I wanted to avoid in order to avoid people losing interest over time. No Man's Sky's team wasn't very big, although their game isn't as big as the one in envisioning.

Or perhaps my conception about game development and the costs involved are completely wrong. What do you think?

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"Other than time constraints", like that isn't enough of a reason?

 

Let's be generous and accept your values at face value.

 

With your numbers, that means roughly 1500 years worth of dev time, most of which is done by veteran experience in their specific fields. People with potentially several decades of experience, studios with game engines, assets and prior work to use from many many earlier games, across a multitude of disciplines.

 

The people making these things are usually not the worst of the worst. They will outperform you in probably every single task you do for the next 5-10 years at least, and that's if you dedicate yourself, due to the already mentioned experience. This means that even in the scenario where they might end up with about 1500 years worth of dev time, for a single person to accomplish the same would take much much longer.

 

How long do you think it will take you to become a top-notch graphics programmer? Or to learn how to create awesome 3D models, or to animate them in the gorgeous way you're imagining? To create and populate the worlds you're imagining?

 

On your own, making something on this scale would take many thousands years.

 

AAA studios are big for a reason. AAA games need to sell a lot of games for a reason -- to recoup the dev and marketing costs associated with these huge projects. We're talking about games which can sell millions of copies, and still not be profitable.

Edited by Lactose

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Put differently...

 

If it were possible for small studios to make games of the quality and content level you're talking about without costing millions or billions of dollars... if they could hire a group of friends and tell them to make this awesome game for a few million dollars.

Why aren't the AAA studios all doing it?

 

 

As a side-note: factoring out costs you don't like (offices, desks, hardware, etc.) isn't something you can do in any fair way -- unless you are planning on making games without any desks, offices or hardware.

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There is a huge difference between making a game better because of something lacking (Modding) and making a game from scratch.

 

I think its great that you are ambitious and you want to do amazing things in the gaming industry, we need more people with that level of energy.  However, judging from the obvious lack of game development experience, I don't think you should put yourself in a position where you will come out of this hating everything about game development.  This is typical of the new years resolutions people make, where they say they're going to hit the gym and be the next Arnold and then they end up hating it.

 

The best thing you can do for yourself is to put yourself in an environment where you are producing something that can be played with, and re-iterated upon, that keeps your motivation and energy levels high, and keeps you learning new things.

 

One thing to think about, if you cannot make a game like Tic-Tac-Toe or Pong, then going after something potentially n! times as complex is really not the best of choices.

 

Also, just because something sounds cool to implement, doesn't necessarily mean it is fun, or even possible for that matter given many other constraints.  As you gain experience and you start to learn more about yourself and your own talents and the amount of time you can dedicate to game development, you will make S.M.A.R.T decisions that will actually get things done.

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I did some research and most AAA games are finished in around 3 years. Most of those gargantuan budgets go toward paying the Dev-team and marketing as well as hiring professional actors for voice acting, game engine licensing and hardware.

 

Most of this information is not actually made public, so your research is likely based on flawed information. Some of it may be real data, but that will account for a statistically insignificant amount of the data. The rest of it is likely made-up, guessed-at, or just plain incorrect, I'm afraid

 

I also saw other costs such as rent and office space and desks etc, but these aren't game related.

Yes, actually, they are. They are not game specific, but they are absolutely costs that must be factored into the business of developing a game. Even a single developer working on his or her own, if he or she is a smart single developer, accounts for this.

 

So, in theory, if I had a small talented team of friends and money to get the basic things such as a game engine, hardware and basic marketing, not factoring in the time it would take to do this, do you think it's possible without a multi million dollar budget and a team of 500 people?

 

 

It's completely pointless for you to go down the road of thinking "not factoring in <some aspect of reality>" here, if you're serious about this and not just theorycrafting for the fun of it. I'm the richest man in the world, did you know that? Ignoring the fact that I'm not, I mean.

 

So no. I don't think this is possible. I do think it's possible for you to start on a path of learning about what real game development is like by building smaller projects and learning about scope and about the concrete effort that is required to product even a small game, and that will eventually help to shape you into a professional who may one day be in a position to leverage a development team into working on a game similar to the one you're envisioning now... but you're going to have to walk before you can run.

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I did some research and most AAA games are finished in around 3 years

 

 

That's three years with a large team of experienced developers, and more than likely a substantial database of assets to pull from.

 

 

basic things such as a game engine, hardware and basic marketing

 

Trouble is none of these things are basic. A game engine itself (if you choose to build your own) is a huge undertaking, and even if you go with existing tech (such as Unreal) it takes a significant amount of experience before you can use it effectively. 

 

As is often said on gamedev.net, start small! If you try and build your magnum opus without a solid foundation you're more than likely to burn yourself out.

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I really appreciate the comments. Perhaps my youth and naïveté are clouding my judgement, but honestly wasn't landing on the moon considered impossible? Even flying, or driving a hyper car at 200+ was impossible just a short time ago. I won't know if this idea is possible or not until I try it and find out.

I intend to not just learn, but master any aspect of game development I can and if I can't, then I'll find someone who has mastered it.

I've had this passion for too long to be discouraged by the word "impossible".

I'm sure I can figure out how to do what I need to do without a multi-million dollar budget. Even if that means slowly iterating on one part of the game at a time over the years until it's finished (which I fully planned to do) with help from others along the way.

Costs aside, what resources (books, other great sites like this one, and others) would put me on a path to being a master game designer. I know experience is really what's needed, but I figured I'll start with actually learning the skills first. What got you all started?

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Getting to the moon is a different class of problem. That was a never-before-accomplished task, the process for which was wholly unknown. It was also accomplished by a large team over several years.

Making the kind of game you're dreaming of is a well-known, accomplished-pretty-often class of problem. Within a certain relevant order of magnitude we know what it costs and how to scale that cost, and thus it is reasonable for us to assert that your dream is impossible.

Strictly of corse it is possible, but the monumental effort involved makes it impractical to the point of effective impossibility. You won't be flying to the moon yourself any time soon either.

I'd suggest you pick up something like Unity or Unreal and start trying to build a simple game with them. There's a ton of useful reference material online and it will give you a reasonable balance of reading and practical applications. You can't just read a bunch of books and expect that to help you much: the diminishing returns set in too quickly. You need practical exposure to the actual task to continually augment and exercise your reading or you won't actually build the relevant skills.

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