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Philippe Vaillancourt

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  1. tldr: This is a community project to help aspiring solo game developers and designers, through small assignment projects, gain the knowledge and skills required to make a video game. If you are interested in contributing to the discussion, head to https://github.com/Neoflash1979/learn-gamedev/issues. The problem with tutorials With the number of great courses, tutorials and other learning resources found online, more and more people teach themselves programming. Many will do so with the intent of making video games. But there is much more to designing and making video games than mere programming. Animation, anthropology, architecture, brainstorming, business, cinematography, communication, creative writing, economics, engineering, games, history, management, mathematics, music, psychology, public speaking, sound design, technical writing, visual arts AND programming; knowledge and skills in these areas can be invaluable to a game designer/developer. Thankfully, there is an abundance of resources available online that can help one acquire knowledge and skills in each of these areas individually. But for the aspiring solo dev, it’s not just a matter of acquiring knowledge in these areas, it’s also important to understand how to use all of that together, for the express purpose of making a video game. There is a plethora of tutorials available online that will guide you from A to Z on how to make such or such a game. In the process you will acquire a certain amount of technical knowledge, and that’s great. But you won’t really learn about the process of designing and developing a video game. The same can be said about the numerous lists that tells you the type of games you should be making, and in what order, in order to learn gaming making; first you make a Breakout clone, then you make a Tetris clone, then you make a Mario clone, then you make Wolfenstein 3D clone, etc. Again, this kind of advice will help you progress in certain technical skills, but you won’t have learned all that much about the process of designing and developing a video game. Making a video game is about making decisions. When you follow tutorials, or clone an existing game, the decisions are largely already made for you. To really learn to design and develop video games, you have to build them, from scratch, on your own (or with a friend or two). All aspiring game dev/designer realizes this at some point and so sets out to build their first game. Their REAL first game. One where THEY have to decide, design and build EVERYTHING. And that’s where everything goes to sh*t. Making video games is hard You see, making a video game is hard. I mean, REALLY making a game, from scratch. It is a daunting task and it can be overwhelming. So naturally, you turn to Google, and you learn expressions like “scope”, “minimum viable product”, “rapid prototyping”, “find the fun” and “start small”. All those two minutes videos and articles are very enlightening but in the end, it’s still very hard to understand how to keep a small scope when you have never REALLY made a game and you are invariably imbued with grand game-making aspirations. How small is small? What aspects of game making should I focus on? How many hours should I invest in making that first game? Those are just a few of the questions that an aspiring game dev/designer might have. Despite all the great resources out there for learning all the bits and pieces involved in designing and making a game, there is a complete void in terms of helping aspiring dev learning to put it all together in a progressive, manageable, way. What we, aspiring self-taught devs, are missing is a guide. Something that will guide us, progressively, on our game making path. Something that will help us focus on the right things, at the right time, while we progress on our learning journey – “yeah, maybe you should leave researching the use of Octrees in collision avoidance AI for later and first focus on figuring out how to make that white ball go from point A to point B, Phil”. What we really need are assignments, with deadlines and requirements. Oddly enough, if your Google “game making assignments” you will find a few examples of exactly what we need, but only for board games, or children Phys Ed games. Here is an example: http://www.cobblearning.net/kentblog/files/2015/11/Project-27w5me1.pdf This is exactly what we need. Exercises that help us focus our creativity and give us a set of guidelines, requirements and constraints. Allowing us to make MOST or at least MANY of the creative and technical decisions that go into making a game, while at the same time ensuring that we keep the scope small and that we focus on a few new concepts/skills. Every assignment would, gradually, expose the learner to new and more advanced concepts/skills, expanding the scope a little, culminating in a final, 2 to 6-month-long assignment where the learner is really making a game he can be proud of and call his own. Alas, this resource does not exist. At least I have found it. So, let’s do something about it. I propose that we create an open-source project on Github and create a “Game development and design self-education” curriculum. Basically, a list of game making assignments that would guide an aspiring game dev through the process of learning the required skills, methods and processes required to put a game together. The onus would be on the aspiring game dev to find the resources needed to learn the creative and technical skills required to meet each assignment’s requirements. If you are interested in contributing to the discussion, head to https://github.com/Neoflash1979/learn-gamedev/issues.
  2. 3 months ago, at age 36, I decided I wanted to create something... anything. A book, a movie, a painting, a chair, a human being (wife said no)... I ended up choosing a video game. Trouble is, although I have had PCs and have been playing video games, since 1988, until 3 months ago, I had 0 knowledge of programing, computer graphics design and animation. So I started on a long journey to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to design and build a video game. I've been reading books, research papers, articles and tutorials on game design, programming, procedural content generation etc. I downloaded, installed and started fooling around with, notepad++, NetBeans, Construct 2, Unity 5, Unreal Engine, Inkscape, GIMP, Blender and more. So, on my journey to get from A to Z I'm now at A and half; I have a working knowledge of Javascript, can make a ball rolling "game" in Unity and know just about enough to open a new project in all the aforementioned programs. For fun, and to learn, I have designed and programmed a simple demographic simulation with javascript but it only outputs strings to the console. No graphics at all. I now have just enough knowledge to know that I don't even have near enough knowledge to get started on my game. I want to build a 3D simulation / strategy / management game. I'm getting a bit tired of doing random tutorials. Most of them are geared towards side-scrollers, shooters and RPGs. I find it very difficult to find beginner tutorials for sim games. For instance I have been reading some interesting stuff on procedurally generated cities but they all assume a working knowledge of concepts I do not yet understand or don't give quite enough details on the mechanics. I always find myself thinking "Wow this L-System stuff to generate a network of roads is really cool but how does the computer generate and store the road data so that it can actually be used by other game objects and not simply be a nice graphic representation of a road network" or "This way of generating buildings is really cool but how does the computer know to place it there and not on top of a road and is the building now an entity (object) that can be interacted with in the game world or is it just there for the looks?" I'm starting to realize that in order to keep it fun and interesting, I need to focus my efforts and actually start and complete intermediate projects before I gain enough knowledge to get started on my grand game idea. Ideally, I would like these projects to help me build skills and knowledge that will be relevant to my final project. I might be wrong but the set of skills, techniques and knowledge necessary to build a game like Civilization VI is probably quite different than what is required for Super Meat Boy, Battlefield or Dragon Age. So, here is where I'm hoping some of you can help me. What projects should I work on next? What should I learn in the process? In what order? What would be the logical progression to get from A (and half) to Z? I'm open to any ideas and suggestions, as long as it helps me build skills relevant to my ultimate game project.
  3. Philippe Vaillancourt

    Detailed Work Flow For Two Member Team.

    I've actually just finished your book. Very interesting read. Learned alot. I think what I need to do is try to get a better grasp of all the different kinds of work that goes into making a video game and how it all fits together. If I was to distill my view of video game development it would be: some people make pretty computer graphic objects and some other people program the behavior of said objects. But I'm guessing that there is alot more complexity into how both of these are done and how they fit together.   Maybe you could give me some general answers to the following question although I am sure there is many suitable answers. Let's say I'm developing a Sim City game, I'm in charge of programming and my partner is in charge of art. We have designed on paper most of the game mechanics and my partner has made sketches of the different buildings and various game objects. We are now ready to build our first prototype. What would be, in order, and in detail, the first 5 things that we should be working on. I'm especially interested in understanding, during early prototypes, what the artist can be doing while the programmer does it's thing. If I'm not mistaken, early prototypes are mainly to test game mechanics and use placeholder art or even square boxes. What does the artist do during that time?
  4. My wife and I decided to make a video game as a hobby. I know Javascript programming and she's pretty good at drawing stuff so I figured that we would come up with the game idea, mechanics and general design together but that for the actual production I would take care of scripting and implementing the mechanics and she would take care of the art. I'm learning Unity as we speak and she's fooling around with Blender and Inkscape. I have read alot about Scrum and Kanban and Scrumban and about game development workflow but everything I read was pretty high-level. I'm looking for a guide that's a bit more granular, a bit more detailed. If I'd compare what I've read to a recipe, it would go like this: take the raw food out of the fridge, cut the raw food, cook the food, eat the food. I'm looking for something more detailed, what ingredient should I prep first, what quantity, what tool should I be using, how big should I cut the pieces, in what bowl should I be putting it and in what order should I add the ingredients to the bowl, what temperature should I bring the oven to etc... because I'm wondering how we are going to make sure that we both have work to do at the same time and that we know what work depends on what once we are done with the original planing phase and we start iterating prototypes and then move on to full fledge production. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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