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      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.


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  1. Take a moment and think of games like Legend of Zelda or a good metroidvania. Games where the player is given a single connected world to explore. I love those kinds of games, and I love to explore large maps like that, and unlock new areas to explore more. But as I've been thinking about trying to design such a map myself, it quickly dawns on me that such designs are deceptively complicated, and I bet they could be a massive downfall to developers who jump in with such a goal but without some proper preparation. The big issue (as far as I can see) is when the map needs to be changed. This is basically guaranteed in development at some point or another to some degree or another, especially if the dev team is trying something they haven't done before. Lots of things can bring about changes in a game's design, and changes in a game's design bring about changes in the level design, which in this case is the world map. In games with world maps like Elder Scrolls, where there is vast amounts of terrain and the player has virtually unlimited freedom, this is less of an issue. Maps like that have a lot of "empty space" with little distinct content, because part of the experience is travelling through such "untamed wilderness" without borders, barriers, and ultimately little designed content. In such a design, if key spots with distinct content need to changed, there is plenty of breathing room for such changes to be made. Games that have a linear design, even if they are still connected as one world, (such as the first three Metal Gear Solid games,) also have breathing room where one area could be expanded or re-directed if needed, and have little consequence on the other areas of the game. But in a game with a world design like Legend of Zelda, this is not the case. If a portion of the map is designated to be, say, a swamp, and then after developing the swamp a bit it is decided that the swamp needs to be bigger, well, making the swamp bigger is going to take away from the land nearby, which may cause that adjacent area to be redesigned, and this ultimately can cascade across the whole world map. Or in a Metroidvania, there may seem to be room to expand or contact an area as there is likely "unused space" on the map, but resizing an area still has the same cascade effect because of pieces that don't fit together anymore, and there still needs to be areas that contract or expand to properly connect to each other. These types of games rely on there constantly being content in each area. Long empty corridors and bland fields kill the appeal of such games. Each room, each screen, needs to have some sort of content that to some extent makes the player feel rewarded for reaching or passing through that area. It's an issue that requires careful planning. But let's be honest, "careful planning" is something of a buzzword. It really doesn't mean anything without some real meat behind it. There are a lot of things that need to be planned. Some specific guidelines, details, and points to remember can go a long way to make sure that the "careful planning" is going to succeed. I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience or thoughts on how someone ought to go about designing maps for a whole explorable world in their game. Or has anyone put together an article on the subject? (I'd be interested in writing such an article myself once I have some more personal experience under my belt.)
  2. Thank you all for providing so much with these replies!  This was all very helpful. Whathe WHAAAA?!?!   OMG You sound like you are even older than me!  (Mad respect though.)     For what it’s worth…  My “dream” code/engine wouldn’t be something comparable to Unreal Engine, that is, it wouldn’t be comparable to modern Unreal.  But… Maybe Unreal Engine 1 or 2?  (Or maybe just an editor like that.)   What I’ve been inspired by is this video where a guy creates an old sector-based engine from scratch, right before our eyes.  I can’t stop thinking about that.  He built that renderer with only a few days worth of work.  I want to do that.  And while yes I know that there is a big difference between how fast a veteran who knows his game can work versus someone like me, but even so it inspires me to think that it is possible for someone like me to do the same thing, even if it takes a lot more time. And I love how he wrote it to render off of software (as far as I can tell) instead of relying on OpenGL or Direct3D.  I’d love to do the same!  â€¦But I suspect I’ll change my mind once my toes get wet and let the hardware do the heavy lifting.  I’m also a bit inspired by reading this article about the Quake 2 engine (and other articles on that site about other engines) that make me want to play around with controlling and fine-tuning a base renderer. For the last 20 years of my life I’ve had wild dreams about doing this kind of stuff, but I’ve always believed that it was so far out of my reach that it wasn’t worth trying.  Suddenly I’m getting glimpses that this stuff might be something I can actually understand.  And I want to try.  I need to see what I can do.   … What I have been thinking about for the engine is a sector-based engine that would actually work in true 3D, combining the ease of creation of a sector-based engine like Build or Doom, but with the versatility of a fully 3D BSP engine like Quake and Unreal.  It’s quite simple, really.  At its core it would render in the same was as the Build Engine but with key changes to the editor. Of course, it wouldn't be practical for modern ultra-high-poly games, but if I wanted that I would just use UE4.  
  3. So I have been thinking about trying to build my own game from scratch (I don't know how far I will go but I want to at least try) and the first issue i have to figure out is what language I should code it in. Now back in the day I recall being told that for making a video game C++ was really the way to go, and while C# may be easier to approach, it doesn't have the same power that would be necessary if you were trying to get the most out of your game. And while whoever told me that probably wasn't a programmer, I basically just took that as it is.  After all, video games are pretty much the most complicated things that programming is ever used for; we're trying to create an entire virtual world that needs to play out in real time and update 60 times a second, it gets pretty complicated.  So it wouldn't surprise me if the wrong choice of language might cost a game a few extra frames at a critical moment, or push the memory requirements just enough to cause noticeable problems. But now it is a few years later, and while I still am pretty amateur when it comes to programming, I understand some things a lot better than I used to.  And now as I look at the situation, I honestly question what I was told before.  How much does it really matter what language we program a game in?  I mean for the most part "what language it is in" doesn't even exist once the code is compiled, and how efficiently a program runs is going to come down far more to how it was written more than anything else.  A few bad practices in the writing can tank the experience far more than a language choice ever could. And on top of that, there are some noticeable examples of games that were written in other languages.  Minecraft was written in Java, for Pete's sake, and while the visuals may seem outdated, it still is an engine that has to track an immense and dynamic world.  And sure, something like Unreal Engine is written in C++, but that engine holds ties back to before C# was created. So I'm honestly wondering - not only if it really makes a difference if you create a game/engine in C++ versus C# - but how it would make a difference, why C++ would be a better choice than C#.  What kind of differences could someone really expect to see? I've been learning how to write in C# and so it has become comfortable to me.  I look at samples of C++ and it looks like I'd have to do more than just get used to a few nuances.  So I find myself leaning toward wanting to write my code in C# just to make it easier on me. And since "What kind of game are you making" is sure to come up (and probably be reasonably relevant) I guess I'll say, well, on the far end of the spectrum I would like to build a functional 3D engine along with some editing tools.  Realistically I'd have something that intentionally is designed to look like an older game, but I still want something that runs efficiently.  I hate the idea of having a simple game that takes up more resources than it should.  If I were to style a game to look like something from an old era, I'd like my game to be able to run on an old computer.  (Even if not "period accurate" I'd still want something that was close.)
  4. Was toying around with some subtle changes to the fuselage, and then made a couple tweaks that I thought worked with the subtle changes. Now I'm looking at three different variations. Still think I might curve the back edge of A like with C.
  5. Yeah, that first ship really did come out way more cartoony than I had intended. I was trying to look more "sleek" but it just didn't come out that way. I am more pleased with this second design, and I think I'm going to work on it some more, but I feel like there's something a bit off with the various details that I'm just not sure how to correct. I guess I'll just experiment.
  6. I started over with a different design. The details aren't in yet, and I feel I need a little something more for the very back, but I appreciate any comments, especially about the genreal design, proportions, etc.
  7. I tried taking the same design and tweaking things a bit here and there. Also I completely removed the wing and added a new one. It isn't actually attached to the model yet, I just wanted to try a different design.
  8. @Hamsta The front "nosecone" is supposed to be the cockpit. Something like this:
  9. I'm trying to design a space ship, a fighter-sized ship for a game I'm thinking of. This is just the early concept stuff here. This particular design was mostly made just free-form. I appreciate any feedback or thoughts; what you like, what doesn't work, etc.
  10. Okay, be open and honest here, point out even the smallest of flaw. I want to consider this sprite to be "Final quality."
  11. Well, if it is appropriate to post such pictures here, I might as well. These are some shots of some various environments. For the most part they represent the visual style for the environments. I don't have a lot of the enemy art ready to go, other than the snake which you have already seen. Be openly critical if you want to say anything about them. The player characters and HUD elements are prototypes; ignore them. [attachment=34682:Sample2.png] [attachment=34683:Sample3.png] [attachment=34684:Sample4.png] [attachment=34685:Sample5.png] [attachment=34686:Summer 2015-B.png] [attachment=34687:Summer2015-A.png]
  12. Of course, "big head" isn't just a binary thing. It's a range, so the question is less about "big head or not," but rather, how big of a head. I was digging through some old files and I found something I put together several years back trying to analyze character heights. I re-arranged the order a bit to try to reflect body proportions. I thought I might share it in case someone else is struggling with this issue. [attachment=34645:Composite.png] Looking at it here, I am seeing so many different metrics that one could analyze beyond just their proportions. And since you requested it, this is one of my early samples of trying to asses my game's art style. I've added two rough figures with two slight variations on head size that are the two I am debating between. While I do appreciate thoughts on this, really I want to understand "for myself" what would be the better style. Hence why i really was just asking for thoughts on the subject, rather than specific opinions on my own style. Plus I figure the latter isn't really something fitting for this forum.)
  13. So, I'm trying to move forward with my project; with this game I'm creating.   One of the problems I have had with previous projects that never quite got off the ground was that I had a rather inconsistent visual style.  Looking back, I basically tried a little bit of everything, and some things looked good and some things did not, and it didn't exactly all look good together.   I've been going through a lot of iterations and efforts to understand what I am really capable of.  I have been getting closer and closer to understanding what my game needs to look like, and I'm at the point now where I need to finalize some designs and move forward.   ...But I feel like I am missing something. I feel like there is something I do not understand or possibly haven't considered.   There's a lot of things that may seem small, but have a big impact. I'm developing a 2D side-scrolling platformer.  I feel satisfied with what I have set for the size of the player, but not I'm trying to finalize the proportions of the character.  This is going to have a significant impact on the style for the rest of the game.  I thought I knew what I wanted, but...  When I'm putting in these final tweaks I'm just not sure. I want an overall cartoony design, but there is the matter of *how* cartoony do I want it.  How big do I really want the player's head to be?   I feel like there are implications with this subtle choice that I have not considered. If anyone has any thoughts about the implications of how the player is proportioned, I would like to hear them.
  14. Oh. Well in that case, yeah, Unity doesn't give you access to the source code. You get to write scripts in C#, but you don't have full source control. That being said, I never felt like I needed full source control; I have no need to re-write how the engine handles libraries or rendering control. I had to learn a few Unity-specific functions that I call within my scripts, but I never felt like there was anything I wanted to do that I couldn't in Unity. Except for creating custom shaders, which I could have but I would have had to learn a whole new language for that. Oh yeah, and I believe you can write new dll's for the engine to use, I started to look into that while back but didn't get very far. With that in mind, Unity and Unreal really give you the same experience. It's just that Unreal gives you an option for more control if you need it. When describing the differences between Unity and Unreal to a layman, I said that if you are create a small and simple game, like most mobile games these days, it is easier in Unity, but you want something with a lot of content, it is easier in Unreal. Unreal 4 give you two significant options for adjusting your code. One, if you have only made simple changes (like no new variables I think) you can actually recompile the code while the game runs, and it will begin executing the new code as soon as it finishes. The game never drops or stops, it just recompiles in the background. The other option they give you is to be able to adjust variables via console commands; you have make some functions be able to be called via console commands so you can easily set up your code to have certain functions run different versions or tweak variables on the fly. (Actually I have personally never used this in UE4 yet, but I assume it is still there.) By contrast, in Unity any public variable in your script can have its value changed within the editor while the game is running (or before the game runs.)
  15. Honestly, I can't claim that I've used a variety of engines, especially when you get in-depth enough to know how well they work out for a full and complete project.  But that being said, I've pretty much only worked solo, so I can make some comments about that. Using UE4 is, I think, completely viable for a one-man operation.  First off, you don't *have* pursue a AAA visual design.  As a solo developer myself, I have to honestly look at what I can produce by myself.  What kind of code can I write?  What kind of of art can I produce?  Levels, sound, and so on down the line. And while I don't have the art skill to make something that looks photo-realistic, I can still create something that looks stylized to a uniform direction.  And while I can't make extensive ground-breaking changes in my code, I can follow examples and make relatively simple games. And you know what?  I can do both of those with UE4.  Their material system makes it MUCH easier to build something to a cartoony style or a painted style or etc, as opposed to having to actually write shaders myself.  And their blueprints system makes it easier to create basic programming changes; I can do a lot without having to actually compile code.  And beyond that, I have a large community that I can turn to when I get stuck and get help on their forums. Epic does these showcases every so often, and they include a number of projects that don't look like some AAA team of 30-40 people, but just talented hobbyists doing stuff at home.  They don't get as much attention, but they are still there. But I'm a bit confused as to why you would reject Unity for being a "toolset orientated engine" but not Unreal for the same reason.  Perhaps I'm just not sure as to what you mean with that term, but they both come with their own interface and their own set of tools that you have to use to produce anything.  And honestly, I'm not sure why you would want to avoid that.  All development requires tools.  All games are going to require you to use a variety of tools to create the game.  And personally I would much rather be using Unity to get a significant starting point in what I'm doing plus have my code easy to write and implement.  Being able to tweak variables in the game and instantly see the changed result without spending hours recompiling is a godsend.