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  Can a Single Developer Create a Big Game?  (Read 5299 times)
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Offline Rayexar
« Posted 2014-09-07 09:52:37 »

I've just finished a few small projects I've been working on, and I'm happy with the results. Now I'm considering starting a bigger project. I've tried "big" projects in the past but they never end up being complete, either due to me getting bored or overwhelmed, or a lack of resources (artwork, game development knowledge).

I'd just like to hear the opinions of my fellow game developers here about whether a single person should endeavour to complete a big game project. My definition of a "big" game would be game with a large world, lots of unique, varying content, takes a long time to explore all the content/world, and can be played for many hours without becoming repetitive. I had Runescape, Terraria and the Elder Scrolls in mind when typing this, although I only meant to include the gameplay elements, and not things like graphics and voice acting in the definition of big.

Offline Mac70
« Reply #1 - Posted 2014-09-07 10:24:36 »

There was MMORPG Shores of Hazeron which was developed by one person - veeery huge and complex game, but sadly it was closed last month.
Offline nsigma
« Reply #2 - Posted 2014-09-07 11:28:11 »

Minecraft?  Wink

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Offline LostWarrior

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2014-09-07 11:28:35 »

If that single developer has the right skillset, a good amount of resources and a good motivation to complete his project, then certainly. But in my experience, this almost never the case. But that shouldn't be the reason why you stop making games. If you find it fun to make games, then just make them. With every project I start I have this big "I'm not an artist so I can't make graphics" wall in front of me. And how do I get past it, you might ask. Well, I just step back and write as much logic code as possible, and worry about showing things on screen later. I don't like to put things on screen, I like writing logic. So that's what I do, I write the logic first. That way I'm not doing things I don't like to do, so I don't ruin my motivation. This is just my way of dealing with this problem, but it may be worth knowing.

Cows aren't sheep, because pigs already are.
Offline gouessej
« Reply #4 - Posted 2014-09-07 13:06:57 »


Starting by working on small projects first is a good idea. It allows you not to get discouraged because of you planned to do something too ambitious and you realize that you cannot succeed. It's a way of splitting a big problem into smaller ones easier to solve Smiley You learn step by step.

Actually, you're talking about several aspects in game creation, not only game programming and you're insisting on game contents and gameplay. I think that it's hardly doable alone, there are a very few people with a very large skillset. You can focus on programming a big game alone if and only if you already have enough experience and ask some help for computer graphics, it's a lot more viable. Personally, I have been working on Truly Unusual Experience of Revolution® since 2006, it is very time consuming, I can just be a "customer" of APIs, I have to contribute to get the job done even though they are already very good. If I were you, I would slowly increase the difficulty and then I wouldn't have a impression of preparing something big, I would just know that I'm going to do something a little bit bigger than my previous project. If you feel that the step is big, maybe you should use several smaller steps to reach your aim(s).

Julien Gouesse | Personal blog | Website | Jogamp
Offline Rayexar
« Reply #5 - Posted 2014-09-07 14:23:11 »

Great idea, I'm definitely going to try that.

What seems to stop me from making big games is creating the game content, rather than all the programming needed. I always imagine these big, detailed game worlds but when it comes to the stage where I have to actually create it, it gets boring. It's not due to a lack of skill (artistically etc), but it seems to be getting bored.

I think it helps to focus on the small steps rather than constantly daydreaming about the future final product.
Offline Cero
« Reply #6 - Posted 2014-09-07 14:44:00 »

if making maps and content bores you, you just seem like your role is very fixed on programming.
I'm the opposite.
My dream is to say "don't need to code anymore, just make content"

Offline richierich
« Reply #7 - Posted 2014-09-07 18:26:17 »

I think it helps to focus on the small steps rather than constantly daydreaming about the future final product.

For me it's the other way round. The first time doing something I enjoy the small steps because I'm learning - maybe the novelty I don't know - but not after the first time. I've never been able to find joy practising and getting really good at skills like some people can Clueless On the other hand I always enjoy dreaming about the future final products, and I use that to keep me ticking along through the boring bits! Definitely something where you have to work the way that suits you best.

As for games I'll leave the big games to the big teams and stick to little ones! I prefer playing little games anyway, ideally with randomly-generated levels - which makes them seem bigger and longer lasting.
Offline BlackHamm3rJack

Senior Newbie

Exp: 5 years

« Reply #8 - Posted 2014-09-08 20:46:22 »

Take as an example the game Banished, it's developed (AFAIK) by a single person. I think that you should get used to make games, starting with some little projects and growing as you learn or develop.

I don't like things with included batteries
Offline KevinWorkman

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2014-09-09 14:45:48 »

Can a single developer create a large game? Absolutely.

That's not really your question though. Your question is: "Can *I* create a large game?" And we don't have the answer to that.

It takes a LONG TIME to acquire the skills necessary to handle a big project by yourself. It's not like Minecraft was Notch's first game. You said you've done a few small projects. How many is a few?

If *the process* of acquiring those skills sounds tedious or boring to you, then the answer is that you probably won't ever be able to take on a big project. But if the process itself sounds fun to you (learning new things, experimenting with stuff you've never used before, incrementally increasing the scope of your projects, etc), then there might be hope.

You won't acquire those skills by asking other people if it's possible, though. Get to work! - Coding Tutorials!
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Offline Rayvolution

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« Reply #10 - Posted 2014-09-09 18:37:35 »

Ask me when Retro-Pixel Castles is completed! Cheesy

In all seriousness though; I think it can be done. Banished was a one-man show and that's a pretty large scale game, so why not? You just have to have the mental capacity, be capable of and willing to learning new skills on the fly. To be a one-man-show you have to know how to do art, programming and sound effects and know how to balance the workload so you don't go insane in the process.

Now, can one person make a huge multimillion dollar AAA title like The Last of Us, Skyrim, Wolfenstein: New Order, Grand Thief Auto 5? Technically yes, although if you had all the required skills it would still take you so long to develop it would be obsolete before you ever get it out the door. No amount of skill will makeup for needing to do 500,000 labor hours of work, and one human can only work so fast. Some things are just unrealistic to do alone, but can they be? sure.

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Offline 20thCenturyBoy

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« Reply #11 - Posted 2014-09-10 01:31:48 »

I had Runescape, Terraria and the Elder Scrolls in mind when typing this, although I only meant to include the gameplay elements, and not things like graphics and voice acting in the definition of big.

So you're describing the engine, rather than the content. The content is what takes longest to create these days, by far. Literally years for a team of people in the case of Elder Scrolls. Notch showed the way by proving that content does not need to be photo realistic to be popular. Also check out Cube World by Wollay. So I would say, yes, it is possible for a single person to create a big game, but not a "hi-res super duper graphics" big game :-)

Even then, it's a hell of a lot of work.

"I have never done unit testing and I don’t find it a very useful concept" - Jonathan Blow
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