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Tips for a beginner

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Hey all.

So, like many people I've been a RP gamer for a while, done a few betas and run roughly a couple hundred pen and paper RPG games (and been a player in about half as many). Like a lot of said people, I get ideas for games and plots all the time and while usually I use these for my tabletop games, sometimes I can see the difference between what would make for a good group game, and what would be more enjoyable as a PC game. With my work as a historian dying down, recently I've been feeling the need to explore the modding community and, if possible, use this as a stepping stone to learn the tricks of the trade in order to get into game design (and with any luck my future income through running archaeological digs in Romania will fund a more certified approach).

 

So, as someone who's version of modding is thus far limitted to altering starting stats and unit distribution in the game Rome: Total War, can anyone recommend me good starting points through which I can learn how to implement some of these ideas, maybe create a small portfolio of game ideas out of modded games to take as a 'proof of concept' to larger businesses?

 

Many thanks.

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I suggest picking a game with a good editor and modding community. That way you can play around with the editor until you have an idea, and then you can share it with people easily.

 

Off the top of my mind there is the last Fallout games, Elder Scrolls and Neverwinters 1 and 2 to try.

 

Have a look at www.nexusmods.com it's a great site for modding in general.

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Agreed. Good modding tools will mean that your level of technical expertise will not need to be as high, and a stronger support community for information and so forth to help you learn.

 

Are you hoping to create the game idea portfolio to join a game development studio, or to sell the game ideas as proof of concepts? I just ask because the former will be much easier to do than the latter.

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Start with small engines like Ren'Py, RPG Maker, Construct, GameStudio. Get a feel for it. As you grow, don't be afraid to rely on others for help.

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Work on hard skills such as learning scripting/programming and start learning about game engines. Moreover you'll probably need soft skills more than other jobs since successfully pitching a game idea is mostly interpersonal skills. 
Plus knowing a bit of business couldn't hurt.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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Start with small engines like Ren'Py, RPG Maker, Construct, GameStudio. Get a feel for it. As you grow, don't be afraid to rely on others for help.

 

Actually, I'd say go straight for Unity. It's simple (comparatively) and a lot of independent studios have started using it.

 

I do agree with Orogun up here, get some hard skills. Pure game designers are sorely underappreciated because for every good game designer you have ten morons who can't tell the difference between a game concept and a story concept - it's almost always easier to get somewhere with a hard skill and then move on to game design from there.

Edited by TrueNeutral

The sky had never seemed so sky, the world had never seemed so world.

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No programming skills:

 

Go with the more simple ones like RPG Maker, etc. You can actually learn a bit from that as well as making levels/scenarios in something like the Starcraft 1 Map editor. Getting used to the idea of variables, triggers, and logic are a good start to get an idea of basic game design implementation. The hard part about being a beginner or doing something solo is getting a hold of decent art and assets to use. Things like map editors and RPG Maker should give you enough of a framework and existing assets to play around with.

 

Have some programming skills (C++, C#, Javascript):

 

Go with Unity. It's pretty slick and you get things going pretty quick. Again, the main issue will just be finding art/models/etc. to use to make anything. That and you will need to program a good chunk of the gameplay to get anything meaningful. So, only go this route if you are capable of writing some code.

 

Good luck!

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Twitter: @robyatadero

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I'd say find a game with good modding tools and learn some basic game logic programming/design, then go for something like Unity.

As mentioned previously (by everyone, I believe) the pros are that you don't have to create any art/sound assets and can concentrate on learning game logic and scripting. If it's a good modding tool, you can start out with just fiddling with game logic design then scaling up to scripting when you feel you're ready.

 

If you're interested in game logic and you already own OFP/ARMA1-3 I'd actually suggest trying that editor out as you basically only deal with game logic and in a very basic and simple way. Or, hey, Neverwinter Nights. :p

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^ So many good mods have come out from Neverwinter Nights.

That's because the Neverwinter Nights toolset is easy enough to learn. Anytime someone asks me what game they should mod to get some experience my response is always Neverwinter or New Vegas (or FO3 / Elders scroll 3-5). 

 

I hear a ton of professionals recommending people learn Unreal right off the bat. While I can't argue with the logic behind it, there's a major flaw with starting with something this ambitious. It's extremely difficult to stay motivated if you're not able to see any tangible results for a long duration of time. This is especially true if you've never made or modded a game before. For some people, being able to jump into an editor and see some sort of results within a few hours is enough to keep them motivated in a project. 

 

If you're new to game development and are not keen on the idea of modding to start, then something like RPG maker or unity is probably your best bet.

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https://twitter.com/IridiumGameDev

Ex-Obsidian Senior Programmer

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It doesn't help that UDK is bugged up to the wazoo and unless you have a good programmer you're going to be hard pressed to get something that works out of it. At least when I tried it a few years ago.

Edited by TrueNeutral

The sky had never seemed so sky, the world had never seemed so world.

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It doesn't help that UDK is bugged up to the wazoo and unless you have a good programmer you're going to be hard pressed to get something that works out of it. At least when I tried it a few years ago.

They are getting rid of their script language in favor of C++ so that may sort some issues, although I still think that it's going to take them 20 iterations to figure out how ladders work.


I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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^ So many good mods have come out from Neverwinter Nights.

That's because the Neverwinter Nights toolset is easy enough to learn. Anytime someone asks me what game they should mod to get some experience my response is always Neverwinter or New Vegas (or FO3 / Elders scroll 3-5). 

 

I hear a ton of professionals recommending people learn Unreal right off the bat. While I can't argue with the logic behind it, there's a major flaw with starting with something this ambitious. It's extremely difficult to stay motivated if you're not able to see any tangible results for a long duration of time. This is especially true if you've never made or modded a game before. For some people, being able to jump into an editor and see some sort of results within a few hours is enough to keep them motivated in a project. 

 

If you're new to game development and are not keen on the idea of modding to start, then something like RPG maker or unity is probably your best bet.

 

I never liked the idea of using the Unreal Engine right off the bat, main reason being it uses a proprietary scripting language not to mention most developers ask for experience with C/C++ (though from what I've talked with professional programmers the most popular language isn't always the best [Not to mention managing memory might be a bit too much for beginners]). For people who want to get into 3D game development I think it would be better for them to use Unity just because of the wide range of scripting languages it supports.

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^ So many good mods have come out from Neverwinter Nights.

That's because the Neverwinter Nights toolset is easy enough to learn. Anytime someone asks me what game they should mod to get some experience my response is always Neverwinter or New Vegas (or FO3 / Elders scroll 3-5). 

 

I hear a ton of professionals recommending people learn Unreal right off the bat. While I can't argue with the logic behind it, there's a major flaw with starting with something this ambitious. It's extremely difficult to stay motivated if you're not able to see any tangible results for a long duration of time. This is especially true if you've never made or modded a game before. For some people, being able to jump into an editor and see some sort of results within a few hours is enough to keep them motivated in a project. 

 

If you're new to game development and are not keen on the idea of modding to start, then something like RPG maker or unity is probably your best bet.

 

I don't always make games with eyelashes that pop out of people's skin, but when I do, I use Unreal.

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Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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Note that OpenGL is a C library, but you can get language wrappers for Python, EMCAScript, Lua, etc. If you go with Python you can use get good performance out of something like PyPy that has a highly efficient just-in-time compiler. Or, something like Cython that will convert your Python code directly into C and compile it directly on GCC, LLVM, Mcc, etc.

 

Don't be scoffing at Python, Eve Online runs on it. :p


Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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I don't know why but a lot of the new programmers are fans of Python.


I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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I don't know why but a lot of the new programmers are fans of Python.

 

I wouldn't call myself a "new" programmer, since I got my start writing assembly on the 6502 when I was about 12 years old. There was lots of peek(a)ing and poke(b)ing until I called Commodore and they mailed me an assebler on a 5.25" floppy. :biggrin:

 

...and still I use python. It's got one of the largest tool libraries around, it's easy to write, very readable and allows you to iterate code changes quickly. When you're ready to release there are 8,000 ways to turn it into compiled C.

 

http://cython.org/

Edited by Luridis

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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My contribution to the developers here at Obsidian...

 

http://youtu.be/csyL9EC0S0c?t=12m41s


Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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I don't know why but a lot of the new programmers are fans of Python.

As a guy that made his first game in Python:

 

Why?

 

Yes, it is incredibly easy to visualize, but it is such a petty language.

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My contribution to the developers here at Obsidian...

 

http://youtu.be/csyL9EC0S0c?t=12m41s

I really thought the Waterfall development methodology was funny, and I was surprised he mentioned it.

 

Regarding on Python as a language and cross compiling to C, my only concern for that would be how the memory is set upon compile time, considering C/C++ you have to manually manage your own memory while Python, C#, Perl, Ruby it automatically manages it for you and that is one thing I don't like about a programming language like Python.

 

Speaking as a former Embedded Systems developer, I would hate to depend on the compiler itself to structure my memory for me, since you need to take considerations for private addresses that is interacting with the hardware.

 

My question for you regarding the language itself is for making a game how would you go about optimizing your game so lower end machines can run it? Or should I say make it so it doesn't use a lot of RAM?

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