December 04, 2020, 05:15:54 PM

Author Topic: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations  (Read 797 times)

Online iWasAdam

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2020, 10:29:54 AM »
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To be honest I enjoy playing with graphics.
Then that's brilliant :) But don't keep crying about people not liking your games, no one downloads them, etc.

We can keep telling you what is wrong, what you can do, things to try, things to look at. But if YOU are happy then brilliant :)
But don't keep crying about people not liking your games, no one downloads them, etc.

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For example in Warlock I love cycling through rerolling characters just to see the different clothing combinations on the little avatars.
Then make a paper doll app - focus on making it the best looking and best paper doll app. But focus on the graphics - make you graphics look the best you can :)

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I can't do that as nicely with an ascii rogue.
Actually you can, but you would have to think about it (very hard - which you don't want to, or can't be bothered to). There is a skill to ascii and to UI's. If you can make a great looking ascii things, then you have the skills to make a great 2d and even 3d version. Currently you need to have the basic skills. Focus, Learn, try things.
...
But don't keep crying about people not liking your games, no one downloads them, etc. You are just shifting the blame to others. It's not our fault if your game plays bad and we don't like it - that's your fault <- brutal but true.

Put in the time and effort to work out why something doesn't work.

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I like the monsters exploding into chunks of themselves when the player deals too much damage to them, and watching the gibbets fly in parabolic arcs and bouncing on the dungeon floor.  Doesn't really make sense in an ascii rogue.
I'm starting to sound like a broken record here - YES IT CAN, but you will have to learn, YOU will have to develop your skills...

Here is (possibly the best) example of what ascii can do:


and another:


You go on about parabolic arcs - nice but irrelevent - Look at Cogmind. There is more complexity and brilliant stuff going on there than any of your warlock games. And there is complex stories and integrations and emergent behaviours, etc. He started with something simple and expanded on it. You could take that data and transfer it to 3d or isometric and it would look great.

But taking badly drawn 2d with poorly draw 'BOOM' as a kill doesn't give the user a good feeling... Learn what works and what doesn't.

I am trying (desperately) to tell you to go back to basics - find out what works. How would you make ascii do an explosion, etc. What is a character card/sheet/data and how do they all interact with each other.

Using something like ascii means you dont have anything flashy to distract you - just the code and the concept. Learn how to run with them first.

Unless all you want is a paper doll that can explode - thats fine too.

But don't keep crying about people not liking your games, no one downloads them, etc. Because you couldn't be bothered to make a good game first and then make it look good second!

# is a block of some kind. if it's green its a tree if it's grey its a wall

so your data is:
data[pos] = #
kind[pos] = green/grey

You don't need to draw trees or walls, or think about what they look like. You just have t decide what happen when you run into them... The actual game!!!


And to finish with something nice to think about. The guy who created Cogmind, first created RexPaint and then used it to create cogmind - And you say that ascii isn't as good as 2d/3d. It seems that 10's of thousands of people prefer ascii to your games...






Be inspired. Break what you consider your 'safe' way of working. do something completely different. at least try :)




Online Steve Elliott

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2020, 10:37:56 AM »
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To be honest I enjoy playing with graphics.

I do too, but gameplay should be nailed first, then graphics, then polished graphics.  And as far as improving pixel art skills for a game are concerned, I found it really helps by using a reduced colour palette (I'm using 32 colours for my game).  So task number 1, make a palette of colours that you like.  I would in the past use a ton of colours which would look nice, but there was no real detail or design underneath - the colour was masking that fact.  If you have a much reduced palette you then *have* to think about the design of each game object or it will look very plain, so it makes you work harder on form before you add colour and shading.

Pixel art is not easy, but I'm working to improve my skills.
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Offline Ashmoor

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2020, 01:22:57 PM »

Where can I see your games? I would assume there is something missing from the gameplay/polish. Not all programmers are game designers, game design shapes the experience and in many ways it makes or breaks the game.

Back in 2004 I worked on a game with a 2d mechanic somewhat similar to Rubick's cube. I enjoyed it, people thought it was clever and we tried (we were a team of 3 people) to sell it, we found a publisher and it reached the market. Needless to say, it didn't do too good but we had a few sales. We added more content and game modes and sales improved.  Then about a year later Popcap released Chuzzle. The game mechanic was similar to ours but so much more streamlined. It felt like our game was a stone tool compared to a laser. This is often the case I see hobby/amateur developers find themselves in. The game may have a cool idea but it's poorly expressed and takes too much brain power for basic handling and because they spent a good deal of time making it, they are fluent in it and don't even think about the basic mechanics anymore, but the learning curve is too steep or the game is a chore for new players.

The fact that you seem to be "unique" (only you like your games) on the market is a big advantage in my opinion, it means that you have some new game play ideas and in a sea full of copycats, that is a great thing to have. But it also means more work, you have to iterate and test and iterate again until your game play is smooth and rewarding.


Online Xerra

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2020, 11:37:26 PM »
Matt, I think you're not listening here. I don't mean to knock your confidence or piss on your parade but Adam is just right, right, right and right again.

You've made some games which are both what you really liked, and games you personally wanted to play. And you've tried to sell them and not had as much success as you've either felt you should have, or naively expected because any old muppet publisher has told you they can make it happen.

But it's the killer issue here that you've personally made games that you wanted to play and assumed a lot of other people will as well.

As pointed out there's a load of horse shit in a pile on the mobile games stores and every day more is dropping in. There's no payment to publish your games still on either Google Play or AppStore as far as I'm aware, so anything and everything will go on there as long as the code is accepted. There's a reason most games are either full of adds or micro-transactions to purchase in-game tokens etc. It's because there's hardly anyone buying full-priced complete games any more as you don't get demo's. The games people are making that they want to release in that kind of selling system will just add a full-unlock transaction as it's the way to technically give out a demo. So many games to play and so little time in modern lifestyles just means that there's very little that's going to go out there and get really great sales unless it goes viral somehow. And that's probably 0.0000001% of the games ever released.

If you're lucky then you could make a game that isn't great and just get lucky when someone famous maybe video's a play-through but you can't rely on that kind of business model. That flappy bird wank game from a couple of years back had that kind of luck but even that was already a few years old and the developer just got lucky. Ain't going to happen to you, me, or anyone else here under the law of averages, let's face it.

The proven way to get games out there and make some money is to stick to established formats that the portals like BFG, for example, and churn out hidden match-3 time trial mahjong jigsaw games that are probably not great but have seriously good artists on them and have every granny buying to play at the kitchen table when they're not out playing Bingo with Mavis.

You're selling your soul away but at least you'll get a few quid in your pocket to outweigh that and maybe just keep your vanity projects to do in your spare time when you're not creating endless levels of mediocrity.

Most game programmers pretty much do games for the love and to have the tools to create something that they want to do. Very few can ever expect to share this and get paid for it.

As for creating Ascii games, you should listen. Everything should be about gameplay above everything else. Funky graphics come later when you've got an experience that goes beyond just admiring the particle effects. It's how we coded on the Vic 20 when we had nothing else and some of those games looked like shit but were immense gaming experiences. You won't sell games like that now, unless you really hit a niche, but you can learn a shitload from going back to basics and relearning the stuff you've not done in 30 years.

Qube, I vote we try a competition with games just created using a plain ascii font, just so we can all remind ourselves that game is everything, and we wouldn't need to focus on anything else. Sure, not everyone would have a go, but it'd be a great challenge. And those who do have artistic skills would be stepping down to a level plate with the guys who just want to make a cool game.

Offline therevills

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2020, 02:44:04 AM »
Either make games for fun which you enjoy or make games for money. If you are very lucky you can do both.

Why do you think we always create solitaire games  :P

Offline GaborD

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2020, 08:59:32 AM »
The current market is harsh for sure. The golden days when making a semi decent B3D game meant Idigicon or someone else will pick it up and guarantee some return are long long gone. :)

My oldschool advice is to think of the games as designed products instead of fine art. Don't freely make whatever you want to and as a second separate step try to sell it, but rather design the product from the ground up for marketability. Don't think of yourself as a programmer, be a designer first.
The more oversaturated the market you enter is, the more the focus shifts towards being noticed at all. Putting effort into design and marketing is crucial.

You can have the best gameplay ever made with the most elaborate code ever written under the hood, if noone plays the game noone will ever know.
Make sure the game can grab attention instantly (an instant is all you get in storefronts) and it is unique enough to be remembered. If you target a non-oversaturated niche, all this shifts more in your favor.

What I found really useful over the years to lessen the inevitable lottery factor of gamedev is to do contract work in the interactive media and promo game space. Once you have a customer base it pays really well and reliably and you are constantly improving your gamedev related skillset doing it.

You could also look into game related grants. If you look at games funded by some of these programs, it's not just big games by established players, but also indie games made by small startups.
For government programs there will probably be a connected requirement like "educational" or such, but it's generally quite vague and shouldn't be an issue.
It can be a great boost, guaranteeing you a decent salary while you work on your own product.
 

Offline Derron

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2020, 09:20:52 AM »
There are enough competitors who want to have a piece of the "grant/fund" cake ...  and if some of them know someone in the "decision office" ... you do not have much chances.
But yeah ... trying to use these chances is not costing you too much.

Exception: they want you to be a legal identity / "company". So you cannot develope "in private", get funded/receive a grant, and then somewhen, before publishing, morph into a company. Being a "company" comes with issues: you might not be able to work in a "normal" job (employed). You might need to do more tax reports. Government might close down your company because you do not earn something (in Germany this is the case after 3-4 years, depending on the person checking your tax reports).

Grants might have to be returned in such case, dunno, depends on the terms of usage there...




Either find talented artists and create one of the "clones" - of course adding some extra twists here and there. You need to visually be on par with the "top games" in your genre. You are not allowed to have "distracting" changes in UI handling etc. People are "used" to certain stuff.

Or you find a niche which alllows you to do stuff more on your own ... niche in there graphics are just "OK", not "superb". Games in which they just are there to fullfill needs ... maybe military strategy games.
Yet even these games would not work with your "hand drawn and scaled down to avoid people identifying the lack of details in the original asset" images.

If you want to do stuff on your own: keep "assets" to a minimum, or something you could easily replicate in different shapes. So if you created a pink diamond in Photoshop which looks vibrant, shiny, cartoony, ... then it will be easy to create green smaragds, violet whatevers etc.
It is then way easier to create more variations ... easier than to create 100 NPCs for your RPG game ... 100 NPCs which lack details. They would have different shapes, positions, colours ... but they will look kind of "prototype" as you will not find the time to "polish" 100 of these assets (on original scale, not scaled down to hide stuff).

When reducing your assets to this - you will only have to concentrate on well looking backgrounds and the "GUI/HUD". It will cost you way way less time.


This is also why you hired an artist for your space game ... it just takes less time. For 3D you gain the benefit of having so much more "for free" (rotate, scale ... animate). But the costs are that it does not work for every game. a 3D-world-based Match 3 does loose a lot of its visual "smoothness". So it wont work there. Same for a solitaire game etc.

Yet I could assume that 3D-modelling might be somethin for you to try out .... have some pretty low poly characters and do texture painting on them. But for closeups you need to even have to do more on the textures ... so yay, better stay at some "simple" games.

Eg you could do an RPG-Solitaire game. This would limit you to only a "few" assets (which you could paint). Card deck + backgrounds + GUI.


And to repeat it again: you (matty) learned a lot during the last years when it comes to painting stuff - but as I also wrote, you still lack at a lot of stuff (human proportions, partial symmetry ...). So I still (after many months) would suggest to you to use your skills only for the rough sketching out of ideas. You are not (yet!) skilled enough to make game assets out of it. This is because you are not trained to do them in a "constant quality" - and more important: in a constant "point of view" (eg "isometric").

This is easy said - I cannot do this either, which is why I prefer to do stuff in 3D (even with handdrawn textures...). You can render stuff out from whatever perspective you want. Or keep stuff "top down" (match3 etc) which eases the pain too.

I do not really like to always "punch" you this way but yeah - I think it is valid for most of us here: our artistic skills are too limited to think of doing a comparable job to all these "AAA" indie games.
Better use your (matty) artistic skills to "sketch out" what you roughly expect from the artist you "hire" (if you try to do commercial games). But even this is something ... I would think about twice (as it costs you time to "paint" - instead of coding).

I assume you are a better coder than painter (in the sense of "game assets"). So better invest your time there than in assets. This means: if you do the assets on your own, and limit it to only a few assets, you can invest more of the time in coding (eg nice particle effects, more swooshy animations ...).



bye
Ron

Offline grindalf

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2020, 10:58:43 AM »
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To be honest I enjoy playing with graphics.
I do too, but gameplay should be nailed first, then graphics, then polished graphics. 

Im not sure I agree with that. The main thing that sells a game now a days seems to be flashy graphics and lots of particle effects.
You can have the best gameplay in the world but if its not flashy people wont even bother downloading it even if its free.
where as in contrast you can have pretty shitty gameplay but if the graphics are good you will still get that initial sale. I know its a disgusting mentality for selling games and I don't really endorse this as a strategy I'm just pointing out that a game needs some flashy screenshots or video before anybody even bothers with it.


Online Steve Elliott

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2020, 11:08:11 AM »
I didn't say exclusively good gameplay did I?  I said that's the way to go, gameplay, graphics, then POLISHED graphics.
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Offline GaborD

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2020, 11:11:07 AM »
Game design first, it will guide both gameplay and graphics. Problem avoided :)


Offline GfK

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2020, 11:26:39 AM »
While we're on about graphics vs gameplay - let's talk about Thomas Was Alone.

1. Crap graphics.
2. Barely comprehensible but much-trumpeted-about "narrative".
3. Repetitive gameplay.
4. Smash hit.

Somebody explain.  Because I'm buggered if I understand how some people get the breaks.
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Online Steve Elliott

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #26 on: August 09, 2020, 11:49:13 AM »
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let's talk about Thomas Was Alone...Crap graphics, Smash hit.

Still looks better than Braid, very minimalistic, nice palette, very simple yet effective particle effects and vibe.  Not played it though.
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Offline Derron

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2020, 12:26:30 PM »
Somebody explain.  Because I'm buggered if I understand how some people get the breaks.

Luck ... one out of (ten of) thousand games has the luck to become a hit even if the game itself might be crap or dull looking.
Think of flappy bird ...

It is a matter of time + reaching the right people (influence).


I assume most of us (including me) are living in a computer "developer" world of the past - and this makes it way harder for us to understand how stuff works today (it is like trying to understand todays teenagers, and tik tok, instagram, ...)


bye
Ron

Offline Matty

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #28 on: August 10, 2020, 04:44:17 AM »
I think I'll stick to making my games my way, going for no downloads then complaining about it - always seems to stir up some activity here hehehe ;-)

Offline Matty

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Re: Learning the hard way - and altering expectations
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2020, 05:57:59 AM »
Ps....here's a neat graph from my metrics.

This attached graph shows average playtime per user per day.  About every 4 days it gets a good work out by a player or two, other days in between it gets a brief look and that's it.  So there are users who enjoy enough to spend an hour or more at a time on it.

Y axis is minutes.
X axis is days ago.

 

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