On design improvements

“you know this can make a whole blog on its own”

-me trying to figure out what to write.

Unlike every other media out there, videogames have the verry unique posibility of being dynamicaly designed, that is that the plan can change allong the way, and that the complete product could be really diferent from the original idea. To call out an example “The Elder Scrolls” specially the first entry on the saga, “Arena”, was planned as a game where you fought against diferent enemys on a gladiator fashion, and only moved from town to town to get to diferent arenas, however at some point the developers realized that they enjoyed a lot more to explore and mess arround the world so they changed the focus on the game and ended up developing one of the most well known videogames sagas and worlds that just wouldn’t be as fun if they had stuck with the initial design.

However it is vital to note that this is verry diferent than not having an initial design in mind, wich is acording to almost every experienced designer I’ve heard of one of the worst things to do, think of it, how can something evolve if it doesnt exists? it can’t, and if well creating a concept is posible that would render almost certainly your whole previous work useless, perhaps an aset or 2 or an small script but that is all and im pretty sure those would be scrapted later on, anyway.

For the last week I have looked trought the design process of multiple games and media, and working on my own to make sure I can organize a full plan on how to make my dream game and realized just how bad it would have been if i had just went on with the process and figured out things on the go, and while it will change as I go the changes should be small each time and allow me to actually progress. so now i feel a lot more prepared to kick this right and, in a way, I’m almost happy I lost the previous data of my game.

Not long ago I discovered a YouTube channel called extra credits, and would like to recomend you their “Making your first videogame” videos, actually their whole channel, i sat in front of my computer with a notebook and a pencil in hand and watched every video ever made by them taking notes on every tip  that coud be usefull for my particular game, and from that alone i improved a great deal, of course i looked trought a lot of other pages but most of them agree on some points already made on that video:

  1. Keep your scope small, that is to say do something realistic, your first game is not going to be great or even good, it is going to be more of a learning experience, no matter if you are alone like me or have 100 friends helping you out, if it is the first game you make it should be a simple game with a focus on learning how making a game actually works.
  2. Design arround your skils, don’t be afroid of learning other parts, but focus on the things you are good at and enjoy doing, nobody does absolutly everything in a game project and understanding where is better to ask people for help.
  3. Look for help and tutorials on the things that you dont know how to do, if you dont know where to start search for help on the internet, somebody is bound to know exactly what you ask, just organize your thoughts and ask specific questions.
  4. Be consistent, if you do something every day or even every week you are bound to finish eventually, so keep at it and dont get yourself frutrated.
  5. Set small archivable milestones, things you think you can do in a short time, remember you are learning rather than doing, but try to set yourself some milestones just so you can see what you are actually capable of and improve from there, so doesn’t mather if you dont archive the milestones on time, this too is a learning excersise on its own, but can keep you on track.
  6. Get people to try your game, it can be hard when you know you didnt do something great, but once you do something you should get people to try it and embrace the feedback, that is key to do a good game someday, and don’t fear people stealing your ideas, anybody has ideas of their own and you are already closer to archive them than anybody else.
So what does all that mean for my own game? did i ditch the project for until I have the experience? hell no! all I did was change my focus, now the project is way clearer on its bases and can develop on a more realistic way, I intuited most of those things so in a way i had already started but now I am working from the real bases on smaller side projects that help me learn the bassics and latter implementing them I am working bit by bit as ofthen as I can and plan on develop a playable build soon and hopefully release it here it wont be fancy but will be playable, i still expect that it will take me 5 or so years and know it will be big and nicelly done.
There are various things to adjust and specifics to decide but since the main features are completly planned out I should be able to try stuff in no time and then develop the other things, the main isn’t  so simple but i should getting it working on week and a half if i devote myself to it, I wont publish it yet but soon, as for now id like my friends and close familly to try it first.
I guess that is all for now, I’ll see you next week.

An important lesson

“well it wasn’t so much you can do it again, right?”

*sobs*

-my current state

One of the (if not the) most important rules when working on a digital Project that is going to suck many hours of your life a week is BACK UP YOUR DATA! (im going to write it like that every time to show its importance, get used to it), sadly i learned the importance of BACKING UP YOUR DATA! the hard way: yep my pc broke and i, maybe have lost all and every single part of the game ihacreated so far.

From the still needing a lot of improvements meses of every single building, every carácter (yes both of them), every button, every line of code i had writen down, every feature everything, and everything just because i didn’t BACK UP MY DATA!

Now i say “maybe” because the hard drive could still hold the information but seems to be the case that a part of the information within it got corrupted and now im trying to recover the rest and see what is left of my game if anything. Althought this wouldnt be an isue if i had just BACKED UP MY DATA!

And of course, when i say BACKING UP YOUR DATA i dont mean just have another folder within the same PC,  it is recomended that you periodically plug in an external drive or use some online storage, there are some pretty good storage platforms such as Mega or even Google Drive, both free and offer a good amount of storage but dont trust yourself on online formats either, check periodically and make sure they are holding on your information properly.

However i still advise that if you have the chance you use a fisical device to BACK UP YOUR DATA! they are generally safer in my own personal opinión so dont quote me on that.

Now, i know what you are thinking “Its not a bad idea, but how likely is it that i loose m data, im super carefull when using my pc” but truth is it can happen to anyone, i was lucky all i lost was 2 weeks of my work but even the pros among the pros can have accidents, Toy Story 2 was almost completly erased once by accident (look it up), and any half decent studio wheather animation, videogames, music, programs, etc. BACKS UP THEIR DATA! is not wasted space, is not wasted time, is a safety measure so go ahead and BACK UP YUR DATA!

So yea, i think i made my point this is going to be a shorter post just wanted to share my situation and explain that I might take a bit longer to post again (no more tan 2 weeks i promise), i want to take this chance to rethink the design of the game again, improve a few details, re organize the fetures and focus my efforts on more relevant features for the inmediate, that stuff.

Thats all for now, Bye!

To start development

“Are you going serious about this”,

“Yes”

an inner conversation i had a week ago.

Greetings! i start with an intro on picking the first tool for game developing, if you want you can skip all the way down to the “code-name: lonely dancer report” to know about my game or alternatively just read the first part.

So if you followed my advice and actually started to learn how programming works you should at least know how a game should work, computers are really stupid, they wont understand basic instructions like “jump” or “show a cave” or “put an enemy over there”, all they can do is turn things on and off, is just that they think so fast that when provided with the right sequence of on and offs they are extremely efficient even to handle a vast world simulation.

the work of a programmer is to take human instructions and write them in a way a computer understands.

“Does that mean i have to break down every single part of my game to basic output instructions?”

Yes and no, you need to specify the instructions for them, but the most basic instructions on games (like drawing the polygons) are more often than not identical so you don’t really need to write those, you can simply get what they call a “game engine” which will save you a lot of troubles there are many out there for you to grab, perhaps too many, and you cant really start working on your game without one so, how do you choose one?

To be honest, its really a trivial question there is no perfect engine and any one should be enough to do anything you want if coded correctly, so there are just 2 factors to consider how comfortable is the designer with the engine, and  what game you plan to develop.

phoenix-wright-objection

“if any engine can do anything then the game should not matter!”

Let me explain before you condemn me, its true that in theory you can use any engine for any purpose, however they are indeed different in how they handle everything and thus are many times optimized in favor of one feature so its important that before you go and grab any engine you first nail down (even as a concept) the most important features of your game, you want a huge open world? beautiful graphics? complex storytelling? a lot of weapons with different stats? expressive characters? 3D? basically what will your game be about without telling the story, for example “The Legend of Zelda” is not about saving a princess, its about exploring the world solving puzzles and defeating enemies, “Mario” is about jumping and avoiding obstacles, “Call of duty” is about using different tactics/weapons to survive in the warfare and kill the bad guys, “counter strike” is about shooting and helping your team to get victory. try to fill the blanks of the next sentence “my game will be about *blank*, so i will also need to *blank*” try to make a list, try to be clear and look for an engine that can the fill those needs easier.

But don’t forget the other part, how comfortable are you on said engine. if you have never touched an engine you can get used to almost any but look for easy to use (intuitive) ones, i also recommend that you pick popular ones as more people using them means its easier to get help but that is up to you, also don’t get tricked by features you “might” need if it is not on your list, and you didn’t just forget to add it you wont be using it almost for sure. and last but not least pick one that fits your budget, there are many free ones, but you might want to pay a bit for a feature and remember to read the terms, some of them charge royalties once you’ve released the game.

a few i suggest you check out Unreal engine 4, Unity 5, Cryengine, Godot, Grit, torque 2D.

there are many more,but those grabbed my attention. so go ahead and download one (or search others) and mess around with it, see if you like it.

CODE-NAME: LONELY DANCER REPORT:

Now for my own game I picked unity, for various reasons, but one of the biggest was its community and the fact that it is free with no royalties, and for the past week i was messing around with it and managed to code a simple script to move the main character and camera the way i wanted (although using a prefabricated model, which will later switch for my own), currently I’ve also created bases of various environments and am currently working on the main menu, should be easy except i have in mind one particular feature I’m trying to figure out, but once i do the real very first part of my game would be ready.

i currently divide my “game developing time” (not to be confused with free time) between 3 parts:

  • learning C#: for scripting needed to make the elements of my game do what i want. (not that hard since i knew c++ already)
  • learning Unity specifics: buttons, capabilities, shortcuts, etc.(pretty intuitive for the most part)
  • learning modeling: to develop the aesthetics and the objects I’m going to have interacting with one another on screen (hardest part, it does not only requires a bunch of technical knowledge worth its own blog, it also requires a ton of talent and practice and even when the program is easy in a base (I’m using blender by the way) it has so many advanced features you need to memorize in order to use it to its max potential, but i like it).

anyway i believe that’s all i have to say for now it is actually more than what i expected to archive this week, so I’m happy with it, however i also expect to accelerate my development later on.

OK then, I’ll see ya next Tuesday!

The purpose of this blog

“Ok, how should i start this?” -Me, for a couple minutes before actually writing something.

Greetings, id like to introduce myself to you under the pseudonym “aimosom” a name that might sound stupid, however its the best fitting for what i intend.

Let me explain: ever since i was young(er) i always had this idea (call it dream) of making a video game, an idea I’ve pursued several times with different approaches, and yet for some reason never fulfilled. More often than not that reason was that i always found myself thinking too big and faced a lack of skills from my part to develop my vision the way i intended, and never really put on the effort to gather said skills… (until now).

Recently i have been developing certain skills that now allow me to (if not do) understand what is really necessary to make a game just as i want it. True, i still need to hone my skills and figure out a bunch of stuff that might be much more complex than i expect it, I’m ready for that, i know teams of skilled and experienced programmers with millionaire budgets can take years just to make a game (not even from scratch!), and i am in no way one of them. However I want to do this game with a passion and am willing to dedicate a couple (more) years of my life to fulfilling this project.

“What does that have to do with a name?” you ask.

Back in the day my younger self, attempted to motivate himself by creating a blog and went under the same name, I tried to post about every little feature of the game i developed, however i soon found myself “learning” rather than “doing”, and eventually abandoned the blog to other things (I think it’s still online…).

Today i intend to resurrect that dream with a twist, during the many research hours i spent i realized 2 things: there is a lot of information around many places over the web that can help you develop the game of your dreams, and it is really easy to get lost or overwhelmed if you are actually new, making it impossible to even know what information you are looking for; so i thought why don’t I share the knowledge i gather as soon as i gather it?

That way it stays as understandable to people of my level as it can be, and show how have I used it and what can they do with it. Now, I understand this sounds ridiculous “how can I teach something I don’t yet master?”. well remember when you where in school (if you aren’t still there) and you would ask your classmates for help? or when a kid would walk into the classroom and tell everybody he found a new easy way to solve a problem? that’s what I intend! not to be a teacher but to ease you the way to the right teachers with the right questions. And so i will always share the links to the places i found the info so you can check them for yourself.

By the way i should mention I’m not completely blind on the subject i already know C++, which gives me an overview on the basics of how a computer and games work, so i suggest you start learning any programming language, be it python, php, C#, lua, javascript or even visual basic, the idea is that you get an idea of the way the programming world works, none of the above languages is enough (or needs a hell-lot of work) to make a complete game and you might need to learn or relearn a language once you start working on the game itself, but it should work as a starting point, i left links to tutorials for each language, so pick your favorite (don’t ask which one is better they all have their strong and weak points)

“That’s cool, now, didn’t you say something about developing a game yourself?”

Yes i did! thanks for asking quotation mark voice, the main goal of the blog remains to keep you up to date with the progress (whatever it might be) i make on developing my own game, a game i hope gets a lot of people exited, and if I’m honest might be just too big even compared to the pros. however all i can tell you for now is that the original idea came from “Chrono Trigger” and the “Fable” series, however the concept evolved recently with 2 indie games of which you might have heard of: “(Lovesick:?) Yandere Simulator” and “Galatea“, not because of what they are exactly but because i have found great fun following their development and helped me clear my mind on what i really want for my own game (lets give it the code-name “Lonely Dancer” for now).

However i cant dedicate myself full-time to this project, I’m not particularly proud of this but i have a problem with eating, I need to do it every day to stay alive, so actually earning an income from somewhere is crucial at this point in my life, besides i am busy with other parts of my life, therefore the “Lonely Dancer project” should remain a second for now, i think actually devoting full time to this would be great and i can see myself launching a patreon or kickstarter in the future, but not until i have something done and people can at least experience an alpha to play with, hell! even then it might take a while for me to try to make an income on this… so lets forget about that for now.

Besides it’s easier for you to get what I’m doing and saying if I’m not the guy who spends his every minute on the game, and instead am more like an anybody… don’t you think?

I hope to share more info with you next Tuesday, until then dream big!