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  How to transition from tech demo to game??  (Read 3349 times)
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Offline CommanderKeith
« Posted 2008-04-30 13:00:02 »


I'm trying to make a role playing game game (top-down view, 2d, inventory, weapons, spells, etc), but I keep on getting bogged down.

I never want to start making content like levels, terrains or anything graphical at all because I think I'll probably re-do it later when I realise how bad it looks or when I change my ideas about how the gameplay will work. This results in all of my games turning out as colour-less vector-graphic minimalist tech demos.  Cry

What do you guys do to avoid this? Because once you start making content, isn't it like a big ball and chain around your neck because you can't change your ideas about the game since you'll then have to redo your content?


Offline malberts

Junior Devvie

« Reply #1 - Posted 2008-04-30 14:26:03 »

I don't think you should have all your content done before your game concept is done. Of course some changes will happen later and even budget and time cuts could force you to change things, but the content is only the way to materialize your concept.

If your concept is not done then you shouldn't really be worrying about sprites and levels.

If you need things to test the engine with then use "colorless vector-graphics" and simple maps. But once the engine is done you should only start implementing the game when you are sure of what the game is.

In space no-one can hear you System.out.println()
Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel

Medals: 57
Projects: 11

Monkey for a head

« Reply #2 - Posted 2008-04-30 15:42:35 »

Getting content done for a game (and deciding when to get content done) is one of the things I find trickiest these days. It's definitely possible to get trapped into using placeholder art all the time because you don't want to waste any time on content that'll get thrown out. However it's also pretty unhelpful - code will go through lots of iterations before it reaches something you're happy with for the final game, and content shouldn't be any different. Much like code you start with the basics, then throw things out that don't work and refine that which does. And often just the act of doing it wrong the first time will teach you a lot about how you need to do it properly the next time.

It's essential I think to do mock up image before starting on "proper" art. This worked really well for Snowman Village and Rescue Squad. It lets you get a lot of the basics down without spending a lot of time doing individual sprites. Focus on the colour palette, the relative sizes of objects, and the overal style (angular, vector, cartoony, pixelated, realistic, etc.). Maybe create a few variations and see which ones you like. It's also a good point to see what's practical and what isn't - simplify the bits which are too complicated to knock out consistently and you'll make your life much easier.

What I did with Snowman Village was stay entirely with a wireframe representation (basically just the collision bounds drawn in different colours) until I thought it was fun. Then I could actually start adding in art and proper graphics. After that point you can iterate your gameplay and content at the same time (adding new items/enemies/stuff with associated artwork as needed).


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Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder

Projects: 2

« Reply #3 - Posted 2008-04-30 17:48:30 »

Well, this question may be answered by: do you have enough time to develop a significant RPG? Sure it's cool but to me it's way to ambitious for amateur game dev. I'm not saying that you don't have the proper skills and resources. Do you want to make the game 2D or 3D? That is another question. Event 2D represent a lot of content creation. How about reuse great sprites and sounds and retouch them for your needs? For level creation, I suggest you to build your own level editor because it will save you a lot of time. There are good generic level editors but because they are generic you lose time with too many mouse manipulations and clicks...

Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 547
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Exp: 16 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #4 - Posted 2008-04-30 18:23:34 »

We just redo our content over and over, same as the code.

Cas Smiley

Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder

Projects: 2

« Reply #5 - Posted 2008-04-30 18:53:42 »

We just redo our content over and over, same as the code.
I'm happy to realize that I'm not alone doing that.  Smiley

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #6 - Posted 2008-05-01 01:16:54 »

Thanks for the help guys.

Then I'll keep on going with the vector graphics until the gameplay becomes more finalised, and I'll make more screen mock-ups in MS Paint to experiment with what looks good. Once I've got something that's fun, i'll start iterating the gameplay and content. What's funny is that I can't really tell what's fun because I'm kind of always having fun just watching simple things I make actually work.

I think I've got enough time to make a simple rpg. I plan to make it like pokemon, so the graphics will be quite simple. Until recently I thought I wanted to make it like Diablo where you click on enemies and run around but I think it'll be a lot harder than a pokemon-style game and the battling is a lot more strategic in pokemon. That's a great idea about re-touching sprites - I've got some pokemon spritesheets which I'll change slightly and re-use.

Offline malberts

Junior Devvie

« Reply #7 - Posted 2008-05-01 06:38:16 »

And get a good drawing program that allows you to use layers. In that way you can switch out parts of the image without redoing everything.

In space no-one can hear you System.out.println()
Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #8 - Posted 2008-05-01 07:45:59 »

Good idea, which do you use by the way? I've been trying and it seems ok.

Offline malberts

Junior Devvie

« Reply #9 - Posted 2008-05-01 08:08:06 »

Well Inkscape is a vector drawing program. You won't have a lot of direct pixel access in those programs. What you need is a raster drawing program. I'm using an old Paint Shop Pro but its not free. The Gimp ( is free.

In space no-one can hear you System.out.println()
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Offline tom
« Reply #10 - Posted 2008-05-01 11:54:45 »

I've been using

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #11 - Posted 2008-05-01 12:10:46 »

Thanks tom and malberts.

I've tried to download both before but they both have annoying dependencies which didn't install properly - requires .Net to be installed already and the gimp also required something weird (I think .NET as well). I'll try them again, hopefully they'll work this time.

Offline malberts

Junior Devvie

« Reply #12 - Posted 2008-05-01 13:06:21 »

GIMP requires the GTK toolkit, I'm not exactly sure where you'll find it but I got mine with the installer disc.

In space no-one can hear you System.out.println()
Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder

Projects: 2

« Reply #13 - Posted 2008-05-01 13:14:43 »

I use Photoshop CS 2 at home and the GIMP at work. Photoshop is THE tool to use. It's a bit hard to learn in the beginning but with a good book it helps a lot. Once you have learned some tricks it works like a charm, really. It's really the tool for professional artists and I think there's no real competition to Photoshop. The GIMP is great too but not on par with Photoshop.

Offline erikd

JGO Ninja

Medals: 16
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


« Reply #14 - Posted 2008-05-02 15:46:45 »

I've been using Paintshop Pro, which I found slightly more intuitive than Photoshop in some areas (but that's just personal taste I suppose) and it's roughly as feature rich.

About bringing up artwork to release worthy material, I guess getting an artist is the way to go if your own art skills are not getting beyond programmer art (like in my case  Smiley)
Then I guess it's about the same process as developing: Design, redesign, redesign again, tune until done

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #15 - Posted 2008-05-02 18:13:39 »

Thanks guys,

I'll try and get a copy of one of those adobe programs from a friend of mine who's at uni doing design - he says he can get it cheap.

Maybe he can be my artist too Smiley

Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder

Projects: 2

« Reply #16 - Posted 2008-05-02 18:37:24 »

Good move.

By the way, if you don't find your artist then I recommend reading the book Photoshop CS2 Bible:

The same book exist for CS 3 also.

Offline Abuse

JGO Knight

Medals: 27

falling into the abyss of reality

« Reply #17 - Posted 2008-05-02 19:14:24 »

Thanks guys,

I'll try and get a copy of one of those adobe programs from a friend of mine who's at uni doing design - he says he can get it cheap.

Maybe he can be my artist too Smiley

Yeah, it's always very easy to get software 'cheap' @ uni  Wink

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