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About Plethora

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  1. Hey!  Thanks for the interest.   I was originally thinking of crafting the spells but decided not to go down that road (gotta scale back my scope somewhere, it was originally HUGE).  Instead I've opted for something vaguely like Magic: The Gathering or other CCG.  Basically you have different "colors" of energy and all spells will be preset (you'll start with just a couple, and can obtain more through various means).  As you level up, you will have the opportunity to focus on the colors you wish, thereby allowing you to cast more powerful spells more quickly in that color.   The balance aspect may be difficult, but the plan as it stands is to allow the player to cast as many spells on his/her turn as there is available energy to cast, so generating energy more quickly will give a huge advantage in combat.   The game is obviously far from done, but I'll but submitting a build for consideration to the Boston Festival of Indie Games in a couple weeks.  If you're interested I can pass along a test build to you as well.  :)
  2. Hello there, I'm posting this to announce a raffle I am running related to the game that I am making, called Spellbook Tactics.  I am fortunate enough to have a friend who hand makes plushies in a pretty cool way I've never seen before.  She made one for me based on a character from my game and now I am raffling it off as a way to promote both her work and my game.  The details for the raffle can be seen here:   http://infinityelephant.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/twitter-contest-awesome-prize-courtesy-of-artist-llama-details-inside/   To be entered, all you have to do is retweet this tweet: https://twitter.com/InfinityEleph/status/473922052987322369/photo/1   That's all there is to it!  :)
  3. There are people here on Gamedev that have been active for a very long time. I sometimes wish I could ask, or get reasonable data on, exactly how many posts have been put up in the "For Beginners" forum from people who want to make the next great MMORPG. Each one has a million and two big huge industry changing ideas and will not be deterred. They take all advice to start with something smaller generally politely (with some exception), but will not give it up. Each one believes they can do it, that its just a matter of perseverance, time, patience, etc. And after all, this idea is better than all the others, its so good that it is destined to succeed! I'm sure there are some people reading this and giggling to themselves, but I'm not hear to dump on newbies. We were all there once. That's why the majority of us are here now, as it happens. We all had and still have big dreams and big ideas about amazing games with great features that have never been done before. One of the big steps to learning how to make a game is simply coming to an understanding of the immense undertaking it is to create one from start to finish. One must learn about scope, and one must learn that a scope that is too big will often mean that your game never ever gets finished. Why am I writing about this, you may ask? Well, I'm struggling with scope myself, right now. The game I am making... its substantial. It's not an MMO or anything crazy like that... but its pretty close to full fledged 16 bit era RPG, and I am all alone. I had some people playtest my game recently, and allow me to quote from one of the more useful feedback emails I got: [size=8]YOUR SCOPE IS THIS BIG!!! So... am I giving up? Scaling back the project? Well... no, I'm not. Why not? Well... because I'm still having fun with what I'm doing, to be honest. My progress continues moving forward, and I'm to the point where I have created something that is almost playable as a game. It's nowhere near being "fun", but I spend a few hours of every day improving, and the iterative process is keeping me going. Every single day, the game is better than it was before, and most of the time its something noticeable. I have a scripted introductory battle (with plans for a brief tutorial). I have in game help menus, battles that can be successfully completed, experience that is distributed, perks that can be selected and added to characters. I'm proud of what I've done so far, and I'm proud of the things I have yet to accomplish but know that I will. What's the point, then? On the one hand I started this article admonishing newbies for having their head in the clouds, on the other I'm telling people how I ignored the advice of many of the people around me telling me to tone it back. Well, I think my point is that there is a balance point. There is a difference between an ambitious (but attainable) project, and one which is just pretty damned close to unattainable, which is what a beginner trying to make an MMO is. My point is that scope matters, and trying to run before you can walk will doom your project to failure... But maybe... just maybe, you can run immediately after you walk, no? Maybe you can get up on your feet, take a few steps and say and just start sprinting. I guess the key is that I'm enjoying myself. If that's true, then just freaking keeping doing what your doing people!
  4. Plethora

    Code samples?

    So let's say I have an interview and I am asked to bring some samples of code I have worked on. What sorts of code would be ideal for this? I figure ideally I would want to showcase something relatively concise but complex, perhaps an elegant solution to a fairly complex problem, but what of other considerations? If I am proficient in several languages, would it be advisable to bring samples of more than one, even if I would consider most of my best (most recent) work to be in one language? How big a sample is too big? Other considerations?
  5. Plethora

    Character Development in Video Games

    I'd like to critique your statement that no one likes grinding... This isn't necessarily true. I mean I for one count many games that most consider "too grindy" among my all time favorites, the Disgaea series comes to mind. And heck, whenever I play a Pokémon game, my Pokémon or always insanely over leveled because I'll just sit in every new grass area leveling up for ages. Of course I'm not saying this is what everyone likes, clearly it isn't. I merely wish to make the point that players experience a game in different ways, and that the truly great games are ones which allow a broad range of playstyles to be used effectively.
  6. Plethora

    Efficiency and You!

    I'm no professional, but I have a definite feeling that I've moved beyond the occasional dabbler in game development. Most of my journal is meant to illustrate different tricks, tips, methods, etc, that have helped me make progress. I'm glad to hear from people see value in them. :-)
  7. Hi there, fancy meeting you here! Well, today I want to talk about efficiency. This is not, however, about the technical aspects of writing efficient code. That is not my area of expertise. There are plenty of people on this very site and others that can talk at great length about that topic. No, I am here to talk about making the most effective use of limited time in one's life to achieve reasonable goals. That was a mouthful, so let me say it another way: I Don't Have All the Time in the World! There, I said it, I apologize for for breaking the illusion that I am a timeless being. I know you were thinking it, don't tell me you weren't. So how then do I make the most of the time I do have to actually make meaningful progress on a game that unfortunately is not my first priority right now? How do I use a spare half an hour to actually get something done? Well, as with many things it all comes down to planning and thinking. What I have made it a point to do in the recent past is to actually use a lot of the hidden minutes in my day productively. You will often find me making my 30 minute commute to work in silence. No radio, no podcasts, no music of any sort. I do this because I am then able to think. And rather than the wandering thoughts of showertime, I try my best to focus. I think about my game and what my most immediate goals are. I think about my code and what current problems I'm facing and think through various solutions until I find one I like. Want to know what else I do? I carry a little notepad, and I often scribble down thoughts in it. There is almost nothing worse in my mind than sitting down to write some code and remembering that I had an idea I had wanted to put in only to realize that I forgot what the idea actually was. It's infuriating, so I solved that problem. In fact, I have a number of other little habits (most of which would be fairly unique to me, so I won't bore you) that pretty much all come down to pre-planning my next few steps. It's amazing how little thinking I do when I actually sit down to work. Most of the thinking I do about my project has already taken place by the time I sit down to do it. Obviously, there are snags. There are eventualities that I didn't think of ahead of time, and these have to be dealt with. But all I'm talking about is a framework. I almost never sit down to work and find I don't know what I'm going to work on. And I'll tell you, my progress is much better as a result.
  8. Well, here we are. It's about 10 months since I last posted an entry in this journal, and that entry was all about sticking with it and not dropping things. Does this qualify as irony? What often happens in the world of non-professional game developers is this thing called "Life". Many of us hobbyist types have day jobs. We have families, sometimes children, and a boatload of other commitments. When time becomes stretched, the hobby project is usually the first thing to suffer. My own story is nothing special. Through a combination of real world crises, and a more general despair at a percieved lack of progress, I let myself lag and eventually stop working on my project altogether for a several month period. Old story, nothing new to see here. So why am I writing? Because, I've picked myself up, and I want to help you do the same! As many people have written before me, there is a cycle to this sort of thing. The more you work on a project (of any sort), the easier it is to continue working on it. At the same time, if you start to slack off, it becomes easier to continue the trend. There is a sort of inertia at work. Most if not all projects have plenty of positive momentum in the beginning. Everyone is full of great ideas, big dreams, and lofty goals... And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Those people who are more experienced in the world of game design are always quick to warn newbies to the craft to temper those goals with a dose of realism, and there is nothing wrong with that either. Dream big, but understand that the momentum you have at the start will not keep up throughout the process. So what's a fledgling developer to do? Well, how about a bullet point list of tips! Recognize that your time available for working on your project will vary. Keep a step or two ahead as best as you can and try to plan out when you will have time to work and schedule yourself mentally. Recognize that there is nothing wrong with lulls in progress for any reason. It happens, and its nothing to be ashamed of. I myself have been working on my project regularly since the fall, but I haven't updated my webpage or this journal because I felt some shame for letting myself fall off like I did. I regret this, but I submit to you that you need not do the same. When time is in short supply, work on the smallest of goals. I had about an hour of free time before work this morning, I used it to work out a particular bug that I've known about forever but hadn't gotten around to fixing until today. It was a simple, straightforward, and acheivable goal that could be taken care of in just an hour. Keep yourself involved in whatever community you've chosen to be a part of. It's amazing how much it can help just to have someone ask you about your project. Its amazing what a motivating factor it is to have someone care enough to mention it. If you never tell anyone about it, you can rest assured that no one will ask. Last but certainly not least... it is never, ever, EVER too late to go pick up your project again. You should never give in to that little voice that tells you its too late and you'll never remember what you were working on, or you should just start over. The hobbyist developer relies so much on the ability to motivate one's self. You absolutely must motivate yourself. So here I am... I'm quite happy with the progress on my own game. I would even say I'm a little bit proud of what I've accomplished so far, which, for whatever its worth, is kind of a rare occurance. So all you out there, get to work, don't worry about the small stuff, and let me know of any interesting ways you have found to motivate yourself!
  9. Plethora

    Put Yourself Out There!

      I firmly disagree with that view on things for a whole lot of reasons.  For one thing, a finished game is defined much much more by its implementation rather than any idea it was originally built around.  For another thing, getting outside input from as many sources as possible is far more beneficial to any project than the potential risk of having some concepts "stolen".   This article addresses this far better than I ever could:   http://www.lostgarden.com/2005/08/why-you-should-share-your-game-designs.html
  10. Plethora

  11. My starting point for this entry is this... I've been a hobbyist type developer for a number of years. I have, at various times, started a project (always on my own) worked on it for a few weeks, then dropped it. Most of the time I would move away from programming entirely in between projects. I never talked about my ideas, got input on my design, or anything like that. In some sense that's fine... until the more recent past I never viewed myself as a game developer, I was just a guy who messed around with code once in awhile. But that said, now that I really am making this a focus in my life, I realize the importance of putting myself out there. I've been keeping this journal here. This is Entry #4, so its not exactly a huge achievement, admittedly, but its one thing I'm doing. I have a small website with terrible looking screenshots, and I keep a more informal journal there as well. That journal details the game itself and the direction I'm moving in on that game. I've also started attending meetings of my local IGDA chapter, and if I am able to make the time I'd like to catch on with the indie developer community in Boston (the biggest city near me). The thing is, all these things help me in two ways... The first way is obvious... it puts my name out there, it helps me network, meet people, and it gives me additional resources when I'm doubting my design, or I'd like some individual guidance from someone who might have been in my position before. I had some business cards made, and I have a small collection of them from other people. The second and less obvious way it helps me is that is pushes me forward. See, when I kept everything to myself I had no real reason to push myself to finish anything. It was just a past-time, nothing more. Now, not only do I have a lot more desire to make progress on my project so that I can show it off, I've also gotten a great deal of encouragement from many different people. It's easy to look at the process of making a game and just despair at the enormity of it all. Having people around you that are going through the same thing is an amazing feeling. As I've tried to say on this journal before... I am not a professional developer. The game I'm working on is nothing special, and like many, I'm full of big ideas with little of substance to show for it. But I have more confidence in myself and my project now than I have ever had in anything before, and I owe so much of that to the fact that I have taken significant steps to join a community of people trying very hard to do the same.
  12. Well, terrain will definitely have some effect.  It's just likely that at least initially the effects will be limited to mobility and (likely but not for sure) certain skills and abilities that interact with terrain in some way.  There will also be ways to, at least, affect spacing, movement paths, choke points, etc. with the aid of barriers and objects on the map.  That, I think works as a kind of minimum requirement for terrain/map interaction in combat.
  13.   Heh, yes, While reading over the post I changed the numbers but mistakenly missed some, lol.     I couldn't agree more and believe me, I want to do fun things with terrain, its just a matter of time (ie I don't have enough of it).  Terrain effects (along with unit facings affecting combat) is near the top of the list for "phase two" of development.  I'm in step one of the iterative design process... I intend to release something playable in some fashion without those aspects of combat and evaluate where I'm at at that point.  From there its a matter of prioritizing what additions will make the most difference in "fun factor" to the game as a whole.  Thus, I'm trying not to extend massive amounts of thought energy on the topic.  Hopefully that makes sense.
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