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  programmer's dedication (or lack there of)  (Read 3982 times)
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Offline Seekely

Senior Newbie




I am java


« Posted 2004-04-20 15:42:33 »

After viewing the remains of yet another false start on a project  (the RTS topic in the Volunteer Projects), I was curious to know why so many projects never are fully realized.  

Yes I understand that they are all hobbyist projects so there is no real incentive to finish other than the programmer's own satisifcation, but I still sense a trend that I see in most programmers....a lack of dedication.  So many times I see projects that get started, build fancy webpages, advertise to get attention, and some even look promising, but after a month or so the project looked like it has just disappered with nothing but an outdated news section.  

While I do not claim to be one that has always finished started projects, I try to finish nearly everything I start.  I am not trying to sound "better than thou", but for me personally, not finishing leaves a big empty hole.  What are your guys opinions on "false proejcts", and if you have been a culprit to them numersou times, why do you think you see them continously happening?


http://www.untoldevils.com  
An RPG like every other, except this one is made by me
Offline kevglass

JGO Kernel


Medals: 122
Projects: 23
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:02:50 »

I'm a severe culprit of this, you might want to read this:

http://www.java-gaming.org/cgi-bin/JGNetForums/YaBB.cgi?board=polls;action=display;num=1080851516

To summarise my personal view, what little time I get I want to use effectively. If that means that my learning is maximised by starting 10 projects that I never finish, so be it.

However, this is why I also shy away from collaborating with other people on projects. The only time I've done this was after a bit of persuading. This way, the project finishes and hopefully doesn't effect anyone else.

Incidently, dedication in my case is to an idea, not to a particular piece of code. There are a few games in my mind that I'm dedicated to and they keep coming up in different incarnations.

Kev 'apparantly lacking dedication' Glass

Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Member




ooh ooh eee eeee


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:09:02 »

I'd have to say it's like anything else in the world, it's in no way limited to programming. That novel you started, those Spanish lessons you began, the guitar lessons you never went back to, the hundreds of dollars you spent on scuba equipment.

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:14:17 »

The problem with programmers is that they're essentially magpies: they crave shiny things, and get bored easily.

Many projects falter because when you start design and prototyping everything is new and interesting, but once you get to the point that you know where you're going, interest is lost - what's left is "merely" implementation.  Other projects fail just because things take time - once you're finally getting somewhere with a project, new technologies and techniques have arrived, and there's a great temptation to go play with them instead.

I don't know what killed josrts, but from what I gathered at the time, exciting ideas were thrown about, they voted and settled on a final design, then everyone left.  Once it got down to the coding part, I suspect a number of people decided it was just too much work and lost their motivation.  The ones who were left just couldn't carry on alone.

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
Offline javawillie

Junior Member




Hola, Paco.


« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:20:49 »

Heheh, that's funny what MojoMonkey said.  I'll bet a lot of people can relate to that.  (Though I still mess around on the guitar every now and then.)

I think that personality comes into it a bit.  At least with me it does.  The kind of person that would want to start a game project in the first place is going to be a highly creative person who loves new ideas and who loves pursuing them.  Like Kev said they value the pursuit of the idea more than completing a project.  I'll bet in most of the cases, when one project is abandoned, it is so the person can pursue another project.

I've done this kind of thing my entire life.  For me the only way I finish something is if it's not just a hobby for fun.  Because otherwise, it's too easy to find other things you want to do for fun.  For example, I finished college and grad school.  I'm doing a game project right now, but I'm not thinking of it as a hobby--I want to start a company.

I think pacing has a lot to do with it too.  I suspect one is much more likely to finish a project if one allows yourself only a certain amount of time per day or week to work on it.  Then you retain an excitement to work on it each day.  I work two hours per weekday on my game and five hours each on Sat and Sun.  :-)

Willie
Offline Seekely

Senior Newbie




I am java


« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:31:58 »

Quote
I'd have to say it's like anything else in the world, it's in no way limited to programming. That novel you started, those Spanish lessons you began, the guitar lessons you never went back to, the hundreds of dollars you spent on scuba equipment.


I can definitly agree with that,  especially in the area of health.  I can't count the number of times I have had a friend or significant other say "I am really going to do it this time, I am going to work out 20x a day and lose a bazillion pounds" etc...and then stop one week later.

But the trend seems more obvious and apparent in hobbyist programming.  Maybe the majority of programmers who start tons of not-to-be finished projects are really creative 'artists" at heart and just happened to be stuck with writing millions of  lines of code as their biggest talent :-)

http://www.untoldevils.com  
An RPG like every other, except this one is made by me
Offline nonnus29

Senior Member




Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco


« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:36:50 »

I don't think I have alot of failed or abandoned projects; I have alot of test projects on my hard drive that I've learned alot from; and I have some more test projects to come (networking for one).

I'm like Kev, I have an overall game I want to do and thats what I've been working toward for a couple of years.  I think it could even make a viable commercial venture.  But all the time I've spent learning, the bar on gfx quality, sound, and content has been sliding steadily upward to the point its very daunting to consider going indie.

One other goal I have is to put together a web page of "origional" (clones of classic style games rather) applet games and call it the java arcade or something.

I think its wrong to say that programmers that have been doing this for *years* lack dedication  Wink
Offline Seekely

Senior Newbie




I am java


« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-04-20 16:50:45 »

Quote

I think its wrong to say that programmers that have been doing this for *years* lack dedication  Wink


Oh and I do not mean to imply that in the slightest.  And their is a difference I think in projects that were started with no intentions ever to be completed or be for public use/viewing maybe serving primarily as a learning experience instead.    I do those kinds of "projects" all the time.

The ones that shock me are the ones that at the begining had every intention of being completed, showed tons of effort and investment in the proejct, made the project very public, and then just left it cold (much like the JORTS)

http://www.untoldevils.com  
An RPG like every other, except this one is made by me
Offline SpuTTer

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Lazy Middle Class Intellectual


« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-04-20 17:04:29 »

I think a lot of those projects are also created in haste by someone who really didnt think hard abot it. Inadequate planning, programming begins, everything is great until they hit some bumbs, a developer leaves, and the whole thing is in shambles.

Like they said also, people get bored. Im pretty good about doing that too. You work hard on your game, and you fix your showstoppers, game is almost finished, just need to do the busywork stuff. however, that part of the project isnt as complelling, so you scrap it and start over new so you have new problems to solve.

Sacramento Volleyball
"Whitty phrase goes here."
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-04-20 17:07:02 »

This is why game-ideas are worthless, and everyone in the industry would just laugh at you if you tried to act like your game idea was itself precious.

There's no shortage of creativity; the "difficult part" is actually two things:
- making it into a game *which you finish*
- not ending up with a boring game (and lots of people only manage the first by also achieving the second Wink - anyone can cut most of their features and thence ship on time, but not everyone can do that and yet STILL end up with a good game)

(plus no disrespect to all the other difficult parts; but these are the biggies).

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
kul_th_las
Guest
« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-04-22 03:00:50 »

A bit of a side comment, but I think part of the reason there seem to be quite a number of failed, "public" projects is due to the false notion that simply writing a development diary, or creating a website so that people can look in on you will "keep you motivated". As if public failure is any more disappointing than private failure (well, perhaps it is).

But it just doesn't work. I think the only thing that is accomplished by writing diaries or web pages (at least, pre-beta stage) is the creation of more work that doesn't futher the progress of you game.

On this note, I've tried to follow a pattern I've seen from the commercial games world, and that is, don't talk about your game until you've got something to talk about. In other words, I think you should have a beta, with most (if not all) major gameplay elements already implemented, and most of the art and such in place. How many games have we seen that are like, "hey, check out my game. The controls are last-minute-thrown-together, the art sucks, there's no music, you can't go anywhere except around the (small) demo level, and the network code isn't even started yet...but stay tuned!"

Sounds exciting!  Grin  <kul awaits the moment that someone points out that he has yet to release anything of note via these boards>

By the way, my comments are not meant to apply to "research" projects or pure demos.
Offline SpuTTer

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Lazy Middle Class Intellectual


« Reply #11 - Posted 2004-04-22 05:07:56 »

Yes, I agree with you! A lot of the "hyped" games you see like the RTS game that spawned this post seem like they have a lot of other stuff sidetracking them, like the cool webpage and tons of "whoa check this out" stuff. Like you said, all that 'cool' wizbang stuff detracts from the time spent on the game, and may actually do the opposite of what they intended.

So what can we do about it? Are there solutions to these problems that we notice as trends?

Sacramento Volleyball
"Whitty phrase goes here."
Offline javawillie

Junior Member




Hola, Paco.


« Reply #12 - Posted 2004-04-22 05:16:11 »

I think that is an interesting question SpuTTer.  I doubt there is a way to fix the "problem" in general, if it's really a problem at all.  It's just human nature.  People get excited about stuff and then get bored of it after a while if it takes any real effort to do.  I imagine that making good games will always take a nontrivial amount of effort, so the secret to completing a game would seem to be that one has to be motivated enough to actually invest the effort.

That motivation can come from any number of places I suppose.  For me, I'm tired of working for other people and this is my way to have a shot at working for myself.  That's been pretty motivating so far--we'll see how I feel a year from now.

Willie
Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 343
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #13 - Posted 2004-04-22 09:15:33 »

Also see this thread on Dexterity about 2-week game development: it's one solution to the problem. Plan a game that only takes two weeks to write! Like the very excellent Zog's Rocking Trouble, or vredungman's latest mazey applet thing. (Although I'm amazed it only takes t'bugger 2 weeks to write an applet that good)

Cas Smiley

Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #14 - Posted 2004-04-22 12:10:20 »

Quote
So what can we do about it? Are there solutions to these problems that we notice as trends?


I'd like to work out some way of handling the development process via JGF that minimizes these problems.

e.g. one idea is to define discrete "stages" in a game's development, and have the game-page (and features provided by JGF) fundamentally different from stage-to-stage. This has several effects: one is to provide a strong positive feedback to progress (like levelling-up in an RPG: you get a real sense of progress on your project, which can help keep you going). Another is that some people would get annoyed at being stuck in a particular status, and push themselves harder to get to the next stage (I'm not intentially phrasing this all in terms of game-playing psych, but it works Wink).

It would also make it much easier for players to understand where a game is at in it's dev cycle, and to offer appropriate feedback.

Another possible way forward is to have a very active team of reviewers. A lot of people respond strongly to having the problems with their game laid bare in a review (by fixing things they've been "meaning to do for ages but never got around to" etc). This also has the benefit that the "new perspective" often helps devs see what the most important features are (often NOT the hardest to implement, but it's not necessarily easy to see that when mired in code); in many cases,  a reviewer can see that a game just needs a few small tweaks to make it "great" (even if unfinished!), but the dev can't see that and starts to give up.

I'm not suggesting these are solutions; they are just ideas that have come up for dealing with the problem. It would be great if someone comes up with better ideas, and then we can try it out on JGF and hopefully help more games come to fruition.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline nonnus29

Senior Member




Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco


« Reply #15 - Posted 2004-04-22 12:33:06 »

There seems to a principal of relativety there too.  Sure you see alot of failed rts', mmorpgs, etc...  But then look at the plentiful tetri, pong, shooter, and arkanoid clones.  So easy games are just that; easy to make and hard games, well we all know about these.  This fact highlights something I've heard in the past, gfx are only about 25% of making a game.  Hence the walkaround demos that never go beyond that.
Offline oNyx

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


pixels! :x


« Reply #16 - Posted 2004-04-22 13:17:47 »

>gfx are only about 25% of making a game

*ahem*

A point'n'click adventure made with AGS would be something like 30-70% gfx (depends on how much time you put into em... hand pixelaged > rendered > photo based).

It always depends on how much graphics you'll need at least and how good it should look. There are some really good games wich have a surprisingly small amout of graphics. For example the whole graphic set of Rick Dangerous fits easily into 7 320x240 (4bit) sheets. Amazing huh? Smiley

And there are games like Metal Slug 3, wich have a whopping 60+mb of (compressed) hand pixelated graphics data.

Hand pixelated graphics are really cute, but it would take me about one year to pixelate the amount of stuff used in games like Super Mario... and it wouldn't look nearly that good. So the best trade-off between time and looking ok-ish is rendered graphics, but even then it usually won't come down to your 25% figure (in most cases)... I guess it could work for puzzle games or other games wich have rather low graphic requirements.

弾幕 ☆ @mahonnaiseblog
Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 343
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #17 - Posted 2004-04-22 13:32:06 »

I'm going to have a crack at this "2 week" malarkey and see if I can pull it off. If Chaz gets 2 weeks to do the graphics that should work out nicely as 50/50 Smiley

Cas Smiley

Offline oNyx

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


pixels! :x


« Reply #18 - Posted 2004-04-22 14:11:51 »

Hehe. Yea Smiley

Spend the last two hours thinking about the possibilities and the eventually required trade-offs... the graphics I would need... the things I would have eventually to learn... what's missing in my toolbox and so on.

There is one game, I really liked (oh oh... a clone Lips Sealed)... and it (or a similar game) isn't available for pc/mac/linux. The amout of graphics is rather minimalistic but there is alot of room for polishing. There would be also a bunch of nice things, wich I could add to my toolbox on the way.

Hmm... well, I'll see Smiley

弾幕 ☆ @mahonnaiseblog
Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 343
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #19 - Posted 2004-04-22 14:53:33 »

A quick think about what things can be chucked out of a 2-week commercial game yields the following list (versus, say, what I had in AF):

1. Music (never listen to it anyway)
2. Animated title screen (who cares?)
3. Hiscore table (design a game that doesn't need one)
4. Game backgrounds (plain black used to work after all)
5. Instruction pages (plonk a bitmap up on the first level at the bottom explaining everything)
6. Options (95% of people don't need to configure anything anyway)
7. Redefined keys (don't use any keys Tongue)
8. Online logging (handy but can be added at a later date)
9. Bosses (my own stats show that 99.9% of players never see even one boss, let alone all of them)
10. Tons of animation (4 frames or less per sprite should be fine)

Any more ideas?

Cas Smiley

Offline kevglass

JGO Kernel


Medals: 122
Projects: 23
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #20 - Posted 2004-04-22 15:06:35 »

Sounds like Mini Adventure Wink

Kev

Offline nonnus29

Senior Member




Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco


« Reply #21 - Posted 2004-04-22 15:47:21 »

Yeah, but MiniAd has take considerably longer than two weeks....

>gfx are only about 25% of making a game

Well, to me it meant 25% of the programming effort/time is toward gfx; not 25% of storage used or 25% amount of developement time.

Whats AGS?

Sounds like a 2 WEEK GAME CHALLENGE is afoot...

Who's going to throwdown?
Offline oNyx

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


pixels! :x


« Reply #22 - Posted 2004-04-22 15:57:37 »

> 3. Hiscore table (design a game that doesn't need one)

That won't work in the game I thought about, but it isn't much code anyways (usually you can do that in a rather minimalistic way and no one would care about)

> 10. Tons of animation (4 frames or less per sprite should be fine)

The Rick Dangerous animations


See how economicly they are? Smiley

6 walking (+mirror)
2 crouching (+mirror)
1 jump (+mirror)
1 shoot (+mirror)
1 stab (+mirror)
2 climb
2 dead
(small ones are for cut scenes)

and that's it! Smiley

---

Let's see...

  • Try to find a game with only one or two spots wich needs carefull thinking. Easy = no problems and no problems = no delay.
  • Ask yourself what you can do with the stuff you already have (your toolbox, your knowledge AND the bunch of useful libs wich are floating around here)
  • Skip the story part - no one cares about anyways.
  • Simple game mechanics. You won't need a tutorial. If you can explain everything in 1-3 sentences, go for it!
  • Don't waste time thinking about a name yet. You can do then when you eat, take a shower, sitting on the toilet etc. If you need a name for that directory give it the name of the next cute girl wich pops into you mind, your favorite food, the track you are listening or the current date. (dramatisation haha)
  • Think about what you need. Write it down. Write down the modules wich you'll need and what they are supposed to do, the kind of graphics, sound effects. More than one page? Hum... goto the next idea, but keep that piece of paper if you decide one day to do it anyways.
  • Try to go for a game wich needs a small amout of code (less bugs), some graphics and the majority of that what the game is would be level data then (eg Breakout would be one of those games, but there are already more then enough of those).
  • Set yourself into competition mood - whatever that means for you. Be motivated and you'll be surprised how fast you can actually work.


/me grabs pen&paper and starts sketching Wink

弾幕 ☆ @mahonnaiseblog
Offline oNyx

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


pixels! :x


« Reply #23 - Posted 2004-04-22 16:06:21 »

> Whats AGS?

Adventure Game Studio. The best fitting one sentence explaination would be: (completly free) feature complete RAD toolkit for point'n'click games.

Basically everything wich is left to do is graphics, story and some scripting. It's really an impressive piece of software and there are alot nice games wich are using it.

弾幕 ☆ @mahonnaiseblog
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #24 - Posted 2004-04-22 16:35:26 »

I think any limiting of time will encourage a project to be completed.  Kev, was it you who wrote several 40-hour games?  The URL is here, but I can't access it anymore...

As I was intending to be at my computer for most of last weekend anyway, I decided to keep an IRC session open monitoring the Ludum Dare compo.  Fantastic stuff!  Some really good work came out of those two days.  Really polished stuff, too - not only 2D but 3D as well, some with background music, sound effects, 3D worlds, basic AI...

And that lot restrict themselves too - you're only allowed to use what comes with your compiler, and certain categories of free or Open Source libraries.  No sprite libraries, no sound samples, no stock models, nothing.  Many people were using MS Paint for graphics, Notepad for coding, a free C++ compiler, and a microphone for sound effects (as in bang it on various surfaces and see what comes out).

Really impressive what a dedicated and talented group of people can do when they put their minds to it.

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
Offline SpuTTer

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Lazy Middle Class Intellectual


« Reply #25 - Posted 2004-04-22 17:33:38 »

Yeah, Kev did the 40 hour series. It's still online:

http://www.newdawnsoftware.com/40hrweb/

He has the source up now as well.

Sacramento Volleyball
"Whitty phrase goes here."
Offline javawillie

Junior Member




Hola, Paco.


« Reply #26 - Posted 2004-04-22 20:51:17 »

It is funny and ironic that this thread might have spawned a bunch of new projects.   Grin
Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Member




ooh ooh eee eeee


« Reply #27 - Posted 2004-04-22 20:52:27 »

Quote
It is funny and ironic that this thread might have spawned a bunch of new projects.  


I've already quit mine.

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #28 - Posted 2004-04-22 21:19:10 »

http://www.java-gaming.org/JGNetForumImages/laugh.gif

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
Offline Seekely

Senior Newbie




I am java


« Reply #29 - Posted 2004-04-22 21:19:23 »

Quote


I've already quit mine.


I've already started and quit five.  

On a serious note, while creating a smaller development cycle  of say "40 hours" will indeed encourage completion of a game, the problem to me is ....well...then you end up with a bunch of "40 hour" games.  Not that you certainly can't create some awesome games in such a short development cycle, but then again, even the best couldn't create anything but a small addictive arcade/strategy/puzzle game.  

Maybe after a few shorter games, a person could build up the patience and codebase to create something more grand.  That would be the ideal situation I think, but people always are dreaming up ideas far past their capabilities/talent at the time. There is probably no way of stopping that.  

As for a previous comment, sometimes I think its ok to post a "demo" for a game even if their isn't much there yet.  I know it keeps me encouraged, even if the feedback isn't ideal.  

http://www.untoldevils.com  
An RPG like every other, except this one is made by me
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