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  Feeling aimless ...  (Read 1057 times)
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Offline Varkas
« Posted 2013-11-28 13:51:18 »

After digging out Diablo II and playing it for a while again, I felt inspired to try something in that vein on my own. I've got some experience with multiplayer implementations, roguelike map creation and all that, but beyond feeling inspired I also know such huge projects usually run out of enthusiasm before they get somewhere.

Still, I felt inspired to make at least something ... so I made a OpenGL based isometric map display, and a map data structure for it. Also some graphics.



Now I feel aimless how to go on. Try to gather a team and actually go making an action RPG? I'm bad at working with other people, also my graphics skills are limited, much more my game design skills.

Make a small dungeon and exploration based game? Well this is what I'm currently doing, but it's more a playground for map design, some graphical practise, and if it will happen, some game design as well.

Why am I posting? I'm not really sure about that either, but I wanted to talk a bit about the project to be and the ideas around it.

I can't make animated monsters or such, so if I make this into a game by myself it will be limited by that. Architecture and furniture I can make. I have a faint idea to make a puzzle solving dungeon crawling game, with the objective to find and collect gems.

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
Offline Varkas
« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-12-02 11:38:43 »

I've still got no real idea what to do with it ... I've added simple light effects, and worked on better wall and ground textures.



OpenGl is a nice toy, but there are some pitfalls if one wants pixel-precise rendering.

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
Offline ClickerMonkey

JGO Coder


Medals: 20


Game Engineer


« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-12-02 13:49:09 »

I like to gather reasons why I want to make a game... and if those reasons aren't ones that are going to last... then you're going to not be successful.

You need motivation to keep your aim true... I use the idea of working for myself (hopefully making games) coupled with the fact that my wife is pregnant and I have a child I want to raise myself (which requires me to be self-employed working at home).

Find your aim fool!

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Offline Varkas
« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-12-02 14:42:11 »

I'm bad at developing ideas for games. I can copy ideas, and expand on them, but usually I have really a hard time to come up with my own. I had hope that a discussion here would bring up some ideas, which I could use.

I'm used to the fact that my projects get nowhere. So if this project gets nowhere again, it's not a big problem. The core goals to see if OpenGL can be used to display 2D sprites efficiently was already reached, and the other goals, like having a map structure to keep items in a fine sub-grid per tile, also succeeded.  I can quit now and say "I now know how to do such", or try to go a bit farther and make a little demo or even game out of it.

I'm just a coder and somewhat mediocre graphics artist, no game designer ...

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
Offline ClickerMonkey

JGO Coder


Medals: 20


Game Engineer


« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-12-02 16:35:12 »

That's actually a pretty cool approach if your aim is to build a nice resume with things you have experience in. It enables you to get a broad knowledge of game programming and easily demo and show it off.

Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 99
Projects: 1
Exp: 7 years


Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #5 - Posted 2013-12-03 01:19:09 »

You know, that might be a decent game base for a dungeon crawler based snake game. (Man, that sounds ridiculous.)

You might want to consider to either keep stockpiling your toolset, or try joining with other developers so you can focus your vision into creating something. Sometimes when you are working for someone else, it actually motivates a lot more than working for yourself. Many a projects I've started don't get done unless I actually focus on it. Create a goal and try to complete it. It is the only way to get games done.

Offline Varkas
« Reply #6 - Posted 2013-12-03 11:10:18 »

[...] or try joining with other developers so you can focus your vision into creating something.

<rant>

Often I'd like to work with someone else, but there are some problems. Once, my working habits. I use to work on some project for some weeks, then switch to another project, and work on that a while, and eventually come back, sometimes even after a break of some years. Working together with someone would force me to continuously work on one project, which I don't want to. I want to be free to work on whatever I feel like at the moment. At the moment this is purely a hobby for me.

Second, I recently was kicked out from my old and biggest project. Well, it's a long story, but briefly said, when I tried to come back after a long break, and influence things, the person who'd been leading the project in the meantime decided that I'm too annoying, and kicked me out. I'm now working on my own fork of the project, but had to do so under a new name. I don't want to see this happening again, and given the fact that there are such long breaks in my activity with a project, the only "safe" way seems to be to work alone.

This also biased me a bit against open source, because of the lack of control what will happen with the things that I've created. I have no probelm if my work is used by friendly people, but I don't like if it's used by people who were mean to me. So I decided not to publish anything open source anymore - just saying in advance, before someone asks.

Third, I've got problems at working together with other people. It's a mix of being hurt easily, being very ambitious at times, being impatient, and having troubles to keep faith in other people.

It's sad, since at times I sit and think "I wish I had a teammate who could fill the gaps in my skills with his - togetehr we could make something great." But then I remember all the problems and don't even try to find someone. Maybe the above mentioned "lack of faith" is the biggest reason why I don't try. But I assume the next while I'll stay a lone wolf developer, and must tailor my plans to fit my skills.

Motivation in a project is very much linked to the feeback I get. Not so much the fact if it is positive or negative feedback, but the amount. If I work a while on something, an no one seems to be interested, I use to lose motivation and turn to something else. I know there are people who are happy just by creating something and knowing it's good - I need a bit of public interest, too, to feel well with a project.

With a team, I'm somewhat certain that I could make a small Diablo 2 or Torchlight -alike, at least technically I have all the skills and knowledge. But at the moment I'm afraid of being successful, taking a break and then losing the project to someone else, like in the story above. But alone, I can't do it, at least not in a reasonable frame of time.

</rant>

tl;dr - Weird me can't work with other people.

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
Offline Varkas
« Reply #7 - Posted 2013-12-03 11:32:30 »

As I think about it, my recommendation would be to ponder and then jot down those elements of game-play which you find the most compelling: whether one time, or especially, many times.

- building up a god set of equipement.
- if the game allows, modify or craft items to build an even better set of equipment

To a lesser extend, find a very well working skill combo for my characters. But the idea is the same as for equipment - assemble parts to create a well working whole, within the limites of the game.

Without knowing anything else about the context of your initial program (and I do enjoy Diablo having played it extensively with all character types), a brainstorm for next experiments--that respect your stated current self-assessment (e.g. "I can't make animated monsters or such, so if I make this into a game by myself it will be limited by that. Architecture and furniture I can make. I have a faint idea to make a puzzle solving dungeon crawling game, with the objective to find and collect gems.")

To practise my graphics skills, I'm currently thinking about making a fairly standard and generic hack-n-slash action RPG, with a town/camp site, some wilderness and a few dungeons to find said gems in. For the monsters I'll use simple placeholders, but I want to practise item, furniture ("props") and architecture graphics. Some day I want to move away from being a coder towards being a graphics artist, and maybe this can become a training ground for me.

Thanks for your suggestions Smiley

An idea with colors that I had long ago was to fight the "greyness", which steals the colors of the world, and each time the player "frees" a part of the world, it will get it's colors back, the "possessed" parts of the world will be display in graysacale. Now having OpenGL as fairly pwerful display frontend, and a lot of memeory in even small machines, it should be doable.

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 99
Projects: 1
Exp: 7 years


Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #8 - Posted 2013-12-03 11:35:02 »

I absolutely know how you feel. When I first started programming for a group, no one really took me or my skills as a programmer seriously. I wrote plenty of code... Wasted code, on people who did not care about using it at all. As a programmer, this was very discouraging for me and my esteem. It seemed to me that no one understood what I could do. It seemed like the people I worked with were useless. It made me want to quit and just work alone.

However, how would we make better choices if we don't fail.

I guess I'm just stubborn, but I used that time as a reminder that sometimes it is not just working with anyone. Instead, it is finding the right person to work with. So I started hanging out on forums where people who had the same interests as I did. I'm not going to say it is surefire, but I was lucky enough to find someone willing to work on a project that had the same goals that I had.

IMHO, we do a lot of harm to ourselves by giving up on anything. Taking a risk can sometimes lead to triumph. Working by yourself is great for small projects, but sometimes you want to etch that legacy project. When your skills reach the point where small isn't enough, sometimes you need the challenge. Finding the right person to work with is a challenge in itself, but hey... Aren't programmers all about solving the tough problems.

Offline Damocles
« Reply #9 - Posted 2013-12-03 11:51:33 »

Switching projects to play around with new ideas, methods, styles or algorythms is normal.
I think you worry that you cant motivate yourself to stick (and finish) a project.

There are many pittfalls to a bigger project. The biggest beeing:
-feature creep
-loss of motivation

Of course in the beginning of a project you see the most cool stuff arising, that is motivating,
but the more the game or engine develops, the less positive feetback you get from new stuff,
and the more (demotivating) groundwork has to be done. (diminishing return of programming satisfaction)

Also, the more ideas you have and want to implement, the longer it takes, thus even more demotivating.

I suggest to create a game that is early in a playable state BUT still easily extandable.
A classic RPG might not be a good choice, as it requires an amount of artwork, levels, story and other content
to be working as such.

Thats why open world games are a nice pick for the sole developer: they are playable in an early state, and allow to add more and more
content to them. And more and more technical tricks.
They dont have such a high "minimal content" requirement as an RPG would have.

A procedurally created world or very convenient leveleditor also saves you the frustration of
unrewarding long weeks of leveldesign.

When you define wour artwork-style, definitely choose a style that you can create content in a fast pace.
The simpler the style is, the more reusable its element,  the more you can create to fill your game.
I see sometime people creating a highly detailed 3D character that takes them weeks to make.
This is of not much use if you need 30 other characters in that style, (and dont get payed for that).
So a more abstract or lower detailed style give you actually the ability to create enough content for your game.

---

(Realtime) Multiplayer games also have another problem: they work only when there are player playing them .. at the same time.
This can also be hugely demotivating. You might never reach enough people who are interested in them,
simply because noone else is playing them when they want to try it out.

So if you want some multiplayer functionality, I would rather implement a gameplay mechanic / world that does not require everyone to be online for the game to be playable.
Look at the many browsergames (and again open world games), they have
gamemechanics that let you do actions (building things, attacking bases)
without others having to be online at the same time.

Still, when others log onto them, they can see your actions, and react to them.
I would call them "non syncronous multiuser games".

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline Varkas
« Reply #10 - Posted 2013-12-03 14:33:42 »

I think you worry that you cant motivate yourself to stick (and finish) a project.

'tis hard to tell, since I never really finished a project. I mean, all of them still can be expanded if I feel like doing so, but some I'd call abandoned right now. Many are playable or usable, though. Longest time I stuck to one project was 7 years, and I don't want to do that again, this was way too long. Second longest was 4 years and still too long. Another has reached a total age of 15 years, but with breaks of many years in between, still it's one of the project which I'm occasionally working on. Really hard to say if I can motivate myself to finish a project ... but if I think it's worth it I can stick with something for a really long time.

But after the time with the long running projects, I really don't want to have such long running projects anymore. At least more switches and more diversity in my hobby time.

I suggest to create a game that is early in a playable state BUT still easily extandable.
A classic RPG might not be a good choice, as it requires an amount of artwork, levels, story and other content
to be working as such.

Yes, RPGS are usually too big projects. If I look at D2 for example, the time just to implement all the character skills and graphical effects for those skills is some months value of work.

A procedurally created world or very convenient leveleditor also saves you the frustration of
unrewarding long weeks of leveldesign.

I'm a big fan of procedurally created content, and sure will make use of it, if I see an option. If I stick with the dungeons idea, the dungeons will be procedurally generated. I already have code for that ready to use (from older projects).

When you define wour artwork-style, definitely choose a style that you can create content in a fast pace.
The simpler the style is, the more reusable its element,  the more you can create to fill your game.
I see sometime people creating a highly detailed 3D character that takes them weeks to make.
This is of not much use if you need 30 other characters in that style, (and dont get payed for that).
So a more abstract or lower detailed style give you actually the ability to create enough content for your game.

A bit reluctantly I say "yes", but it isn't the magic key. In a former try to make something RPGish I had reduced the graphics to pure lineart (outlined colored shapes), and the problem definitely wasn't the time needed for the graphics. But I agree, spending too much time on the graphics will slow down the project. Luckily I can borrow some content from former projects of mine.

The "reduced to lineart" was the project when I relaized that my projects don't fail because of coding or graphics problems, but because I lack ideas to make fun games ... before that I thought my lack of graphics skills is the reason.

(Realtime) Multiplayer games also have another problem: they work only when there are player playing them ..

Also, I don't want to babysit a game server, and even less solve social problems between rivalling player clans or such. I'll focus on single player. The idea of an auction house, marketplace or other meta-game level interaction between players is intriguing though.

Meanwhile I've started to work on a very simple level editor, since there will also be places which are not procedurally generated:



Thanks for the feedback, it's good to know where the pitfalls are Smiley

if (error) throw new Brick(); // Blog (german): http://gedankenweber.wordpress.com
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