Citizen86's I Want to Make a Video Game thread

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Update again! Jan/08/2010

So everyone knows, we basically have a team sorted out, people have roles, we have decided to use the UDK, or the Unreal 3 engine as a base for the game. Many of the game mechanics have been discussed and sorted out, and work has begun. There is already quite a good amount of concept art that has been drawn up for the game in it's section.

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Update!
We now have forums and a wiki. This has turned into a rather large group project, so if you want to contribute, feel free.

Wiki
Forums

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So here's the thing, I feel like I want to create a video game. I want it to be fun, I want everyone to play it, and I want to get some experience out of it. For the moment, I think I am going to use the Unity engine. It's free, easy to use, and pretty lightweight. The UDK is great, but it's too complicated IMO for me to learn everything, the Unity engine seems much easier to pick up and use.

My idea that I've come up with, after mulling over quite a few ideas in my head, is a sort of Arena-style Borderlands game. 1-4 players will be placed in an arena, perhaps different types, against progressive rushes of enemies, be they aliens or humans or monsters, not sure yet. Depending on how well I can get the scripting sorted out, there could be random weapons and armors dropped, and your character would level up. Obviously the main focus is going to be loot and general fun-ness of blowing stuff up. All condensed into a fun little area.

One of the draws of the Unity engine I think is the ability to export the game not only as a Windows or Mac executable file, and bundle it up for download, but you can have the game streamed through your browser! You can play the game online and have it loaded via any Internet browser. For some real nice examples, see the Cartoon Networks MMO Fusionfall, and the Lego Star Wars game Quest for R2-D2. All you need is the Unity webplayer and you are good to go. Personally I think it's awesome, and really opens the way for casual games online. Along with the Unity Indie version having gone free, we may very well start to see more quality games available to a wide range of people.

I guess I will keep this thread updated with progress I make. It's going to be a slow process since I still have to learn to use Unity, but if someone that is in my relatively same position over at Rock Paper Shotgun can get it working within two weeks, hopefully I can keep the idea going as well.

By the way, what is everyones feelings on cell-shaded games? I personally really like the look of it, it's kind of hip but has that classy cartoon look as well... seems to be getting used more and more though, so it may become a fad that everyone starts to hate, like Comic Sans and Papyrus fonts... so I'm not sure about it.

Citizen86 wrote:

So here's the thing, I feel like I want to create a video game. I want it to be fun, I want everyone to play it, and I want to get some experience out of it. For the moment, I think I am going to use the Unity engine. It's free, easy to use, and pretty lightweight.

Sounds great, find the tool that does the task you want to do in the most comfortable way and get cracking.

The UDK is great, but it's too complicated IMO for me to learn everything, the Unity engine seems much easier to pick up and use.

Sounds like you need a team. If you can get likeminded developers, one person doesn't need to know everything. As long as you have the developers to make the code and content you need.

My idea that I've come up with, after mulling over quite a few ideas in my head, is a sort of Arena-style Borderlands game. 1-4 players will be placed in an arena, perhaps different types, against progressive rushes of enemies, be they aliens or humans or monsters, not sure yet. Depending on how well I can get the scripting sorted out, there could be random weapons and armors dropped, and your character would level up. Obviously the main focus is going to be loot and general fun-ness of blowing stuff up. All condensed into a fun little area.

Instead of starting from scratch, consider taking something that is close to what you want to do and modifying it to test out your ideas and get a prototype running fast. Unless your idea is really simple this is much faster, you're starting from a proven base with a load of resources. It doesn't matter what it's in, unreal, source, flash, ASCII text in the console just to get an idea of what it will play like. For the idea you've listed, take a look at at UT2004 (if you have a copy) with the invasion game mode and the UT RPG mutator (not in the base game), that should give a good start and you should be able to look at the code and further modify it.

One of the draws of the Unity engine I think is the ability to export the game not only as a Windows or Mac executable file, and bundle it up for download, but you can have the game streamed through your browser! You can play the game online and have it loaded via any Internet browser. For some real nice examples, see the Cartoon Networks MMO Fusionfall, and the Lego Star Wars game Quest for R2-D2. All you need is the Unity webplayer and you are good to go. Personally I think it's awesome, and really opens the way for casual games online. Along with the Unity Indie version having gone free, we may very well start to see more quality games available to a wide range of people.

Be very careful with what you specify for your project, I'm pretty wary of 'magic bullets'. Make sure what you do is really what you want for your project. Do little prototypes to see if your game in a web browser (remember that it will need hosting) works the way you want, if not you've learned something with minimal work instead of throwing a ton of effort behind a solution that is not ideal for the project.

I guess I will keep this thread updated with progress I make. It's going to be a slow process since I still have to learn to use Unity, but if someone that is in my relatively same position over at Rock Paper Shotgun can get it working within two weeks, hopefully I can keep the idea going as well.

Check exactly what they're doing, what the scale of the task is for their skills.

By the way, what is everyones feelings on cell-shaded games? I personally really like the look of it, it's kind of hip but has that classy cartoon look as well... seems to be getting used more and more though, so it may become a fad that everyone starts to hate, like Comic Sans and Papyrus fonts... so I'm not sure about it.

Cel-shaded is actually more work than regular rendering, with the object to be drawn in several more stages. As long as it fits within the art style I don't see why any particular style won't work, but just adding it to any old game will probably look weird. It worked great in XIII but would look strange in Crysis.

Games are a lot of work, take a look at the credits list for a game made in the last decade, and multiply that by the development time for an idea. There's lots of guides out there for how to create a game and actually getting through it, http://developer.valvesoftware.com/w... gives an example.

Wait... there's a browser based Lego StarWars game?!
*head explodes*

I'm in the same boat, Citizen86. I want to try despite no prior knowledge.

Citizen86 wrote:

My idea that I've come up with, after mulling over quite a few ideas in my head, is a sort of Arena-style Borderlands game. 1-4 players will be placed in an arena, perhaps different types, against progressive rushes of enemies, be they aliens or humans or monsters, not sure yet. Depending on how well I can get the scripting sorted out, there could be random weapons and armors dropped, and your character would level up. Obviously the main focus is going to be loot and general fun-ness of blowing stuff up. All condensed into a fun little area.

We're obviously not the only ones with this idea. I've had a near similar one since Left 4 Dead came out. My design was more focused monsters of lore with the game having a good rpg aspect, and an important community structure.

Did you make this thread as a blog for your process, to get help and support? Are you set on this being a solo project, what do you think of a group affair?

First off, thanks for the reply Scratched. I definitely realize all the work that goes into making a game. Right now it is just an idea, today I've been going through Unity tutorials. Like I said though, I like the Unity engine so far just because it seems so diverse, and with a click you can pack up your game as an executable or as a browser based game. So when I really get to working on it, I can test one or the other, or both, and see which direction I want it to go. By that time I'll probably have a better idea anyways. It's nice to have the options though, which is why I was pointing it out.

cyrax wrote:
I'm in the same boat, Citizen86. I want to try despite no prior knowledge.

We're obviously not the only ones with this idea. I've had a near similar one since Left 4 Dead came out. My design was more focused monsters of lore with the game having a good rpg aspect, and an important community structure.

Did you make this thread as a blog for your process, to get help and support? Are you set on this being a solo project, what do you think of a group affair?

I was actually thinking of making a blog when the project gets going, but for now I just wanted to run some ideas by some forum members, get some others thoughts. I'm definitely not opposed to having some support on a project if others are interested. Even one person could cut the workload in half if we are both willing to put in at least some time a week/month towards it. I saw you were posting on the UDK thread as well, have you had a chance to look at both engines yet?

FedoraMcQuaid wrote:
Wait... there's a browser based Lego StarWars game?!
*head explodes*

Thanks for the lol, I had to explain to my wife why I got a big dumb grin in the middle of something she was saying.

As someone who's never really made anything, my advice would be to just get your hands dirty and try stuff. Get something setup that you can experiment on, change some numbers or alter some code and see what happens, get it compiling so you can test it. Bonus points if you can plan a change and then work out how to implement it. I don't think what engine you're using really matters so long as it does what you want without reinventing the wheel. I've played around with unity a tiny bit, but only really to mess around with editing the supplied island example level.

They have a rather large demo/tutorial that I'm doing, it's actually teaching me a lot, very helpful:

http://unity3d.com/support/resources...

Hello. I volunteer. As you may know, I am a coder. At Ninja Theory. Games code is what I do. As I've expressed in the other thread, I've been wanting to have a pet project for some time, but I suck at one-man jobs. Being part of a team will keep me motivated.

If you're serious about getting a team (i.e. any more than one, and probably any more than zero) working on the same project, you'll need to set up a version control system. And preferably a wiki. And an IRC channel, or a Google Waves thread, or some kind of open documentation / communication system.

Let me know if you're looking / need a hand / tips.

Floomi, that'd be awesome, because, well, I don't code. I can texture and do level design. Have you looked at Unity before? It's pretty flexible, as you can code in Javascript, C#, or Boo.

Citizen86 wrote:
Floomi, that'd be awesome, because, well, I don't code. I can texture and do level design. Have you looked at Unity before? It's pretty flexible, as you can code in Javascript, C#, or Boo.
Yeah, I gave it a brief fiddle; the editor is really nice, and being able to write in C# is a bonus, despite the fact it's a language I'm not intimately familiar with (although it's still C-family, so I'll be fine). And from what I can tell, they do a good job of exposing stuff for you to work with (unlike UDK, where the split seems pretty arbitrary in places).

Just wanted to offer some of the best advice I can... set REALISTIC mini-goals and deadlines, keep working towards them every moment you can, and embrace failures and make them positive experiences. You need to have some sort of mechanism pushing you. I'm not trying to be a buzzkill or a douchebag but I'm in a similar position right now.

In April I sort of became fed up with my current job and the daily tedium involved. At my previous job at a startup I got to work on VoIP tech for the game development, got to work in the industry & meet some people and it was almost a dream come true for me. Now though, I'm working on insurance software. Not so glamorous. I had some experience with Flash and decided to jump head first into Actionscript development and even went to classes on starting your own business. The first few months I was fired up, getting all the prep work done, reading books on Actionscript, working on prototypes and writing up game design docs. Then the summer hit and my productivity started sagging and since then I haven't quite been able to put the time to it that I envisioned. I'm sitting on a domain name and a alpha hex-based boardgame engine right now but I'm nowhere near where I expected to be because I let my productivity slip a few times. The other thing is that I've rewritten the engine from the ground up eight times already. Why? Because it wasn't good enough. The first version of the engine hogged up 1.5 GIGS of Ram rendering a playfield of 36 hexes by 24 hexes and ran at 2 frames per second. I learned and relearned Actionscript and tricks on memory management, went to a couple user group meetings on it, made a few more industry contacts, did research on the right way to code Flash versus the sloppy ways I learned originally and it's made a huge difference. I can push my engine now to 512 hexes by 512 hexes at 60 fps and using just 22 Megs of Ram. It's a screamer now, but it's taken me 8 months and A LOT of time and work to just get to here.

Also, not sure if you're in the Cleveland, Ohio area but there is someone giving a presentation on developing games with Unity this Tuesday at the Cleveland Game Developers meetup. Maybe look to see if there's a Unity or other game development community near you that you could learn from.

Just pace yourself and have fun.

LockAndLoad wrote:
Just wanted to offer some of the best advice I can... set REALISTIC mini-goals and deadlines, keep working towards them every moment you can, and embrace failures and make them positive experiences. You need to have some sort of mechanism pushing you. I'm not trying to be a buzzkill or a douchebag but I'm in a similar position right now.
Totally agree. Good prep work and clear project management is the cornerstone of a successful project. Start with little things and work up; before you commit to an idea, make sure it's possible first! If you decide your game is going to be based around the concept of terrain deformation, and get halfway through making a bucketload of content and code before realising your engine won't support it, then you've wasted a lot of time making a silly mistake.

I don't mean to say that iteration is a bad thing, but having a clear understanding of what you're going to do next and why, and knowing that it's actually useful to the project...well, it all sounds obvious but there are plenty of mod/dev teams floating around without any sense of direction at all, hoping that something magical will happen.

LockandLoad, thanks for the post. Pretty impressive you went from 1.5 gigs of ram being used to 22 megs, haha. That's part of the reason I am even considering making my own game right now, because the tools are becoming more and more accessible. We don't have to build an engine from the ground up and rewrite it when things like Unity and the UDK are available for us to use.

I wish I was in the Ohio area, but I definitely am not. Currently living in Mexico

And yeah, the whole idea of this is to have fun and see what I (might be we now) can do in our spare time. I have a rather busy schedule so most likely any time I put towards this project is going to be taking away from video game time, but hey, it's for enjoyment so it's all the same thing.

I love community.

Citizen86 wrote:
I saw you were posting on the UDK thread as well, have you had a chance to look at both engines yet?

Sad to say I'm a bastard procrastinator. Downloaded them when they became free and the most I've committed is watching a couple Unity tutuorial videos. I do declared it my mission to be a sponge for Unity!

Tomorrow.

Floomi wrote:
If you're serious about getting a team (i.e. any more than one, and probably any more than zero) working on the same project, you'll need to set up a version control system. And preferably a wiki. And an IRC channel, or a Google Waves thread, or some kind of open documentation / communication system.

Let me know if you're looking / need a hand / tips.


Like mind.

Citizen86 wrote:
I wish I was in the Ohio area, but I definitely am not. Currently living in Mexico ;)

Huh. You were killing me good tonight.

Sounds interesting. I'll be watching and waiting to see what comes of this.

I'm actually a bit in the same boat the moment, although I have made a few games in the past. All of them were pretty terrible (although a few of them turned out to be pretty fun in spite of themselves) and I don't even have them around any more, but they were more about the process than the end result. I learned and I moved on. Now I'm looking to do something I'd be willing to show off to people, and have put a bit of work into a little experimental 2D Flash game. Probably not going to have that finished for a little while, though.

Probably don't need it, but if you want a 3D modeler/animator with a little bit of personal and professional experience, I would actually jump at the chance to do a few things for you. I like having someone counting on me, as I tend to procrastinate much less if there's a chance of letting someone down. My schedule is pretty wide open right now, too, although it's possible that won't be the case by the time you may need what I could offer. Still, the offer is out there now, and even if it turns out I wouldn't be able to dedicate any time to creating anything for the project, if there was something you needed that I already happened to have you'd be more than welcome to it. And if the project gets abandoned midway through (not saying it will but it's always a possibility) at least it will have been a fun learning experience. No work put into a game is ever truly wasted effort, even if the game never sees the light of day.

Only problem is I recently threw out almost my entire portfolio and started from scratch, save for one piece that I don't even have the original model for any more. Everything I have now is work-in-progress, and I tend not to like to show off unfinished work all over the place if I can avoid it. That's not to say I wouldn't be willing to show it to you to show you a bit of what I'm capable of, just that I'd rather do it in private rather than right here in the open. You know, if you're interested. If not, that's cool, too. Won't hurt my feelings.

I also like talking game design, so regardless, I'd always be up for bouncing ideas of any size around. Again, if not, that's cool.

As for cel-shading, I like it. It's less widely used now than it was last console generation, too. Only problem is that, while good cel-shading looks absolutely beautiful, bad cel-shading looks horrendous as all hell.

Given the surge of interest in this thread, I'd like to see a wiki appear ASAP. Does anyone have the ability to host one, or know of a good place? *cough*free*cough*

Also, it's just occured to me that UDK would be perfect for this. It has pretty much everything we'll need. Any objections to using UDK over Unity?

Floomi wrote:
Also, it's just occured to me that UDK would be perfect for this. It has pretty much everything we'll need. Any objections to using UDK over Unity?

You're the professional, and most likely our will be backbone, so if you say jump...

Could you explain your reasoning?

As Citizen86 mentioned the word 'shooter' in the OP, I would imagine using a (primarily) shooter engine for it would make sense.

Scratched wrote:
As Citizen86 mentioned the word 'shooter' in the OP, I would imagine using a (primarily) shooter engine for it would make sense.

I was asking about things I wouldn't know, not common sense.

Ah, to dream...

It's a fun idea really.

My only choice for the Unity engine was the simplicity of it, probably easier to pick it up faster compared to the relatively complex UDK, at least as far as I can tell; along with the relatively less system requirements, which would make for potentially easier texturing/modeling/graphics etc. Both can be used for FPS relatively easy as well.

I'm not against the idea, I was simply looking to ease the process for myself of making a game.

So I'm not saying I'm against the UDK though, it definitely would make a much prettier game

cyrax wrote:
You're the professional, and most likely our will be backbone, so if you say jump...

Could you explain your reasoning?

Having talked to C86 briefly about it, it seems like the aim is to recreate UT2004's Invasion mode, and adding some kind of levelling up / XP system to it.

It follows that we need:

  • The ability to point guns at people and shoot them - which Unreal does
  • The ability to have waves of enemies attacking you - Unreal has inbuilt waypoint / navmesh support, and a few bits and bobs that are useful for AI. Unity has neither of these things - we'd have to hand-roll them.
  • Some kind of XP management system and a 'shop' to spend it in. This is mostly just futzing around with data; Unreal's UI Editor should be more than sufficient to make a menu system that allows you to purchase new weapons / upgrades.

There's also the fact that two of us have said we have prior experience of Unreal, which is a skill base we would be foolish to pass up the opportunity of using.

For a wiki, this looks like a decent free one: http://www.wikidot.com/

A friend of mine is setting up a DocuWiki on his server. Watch this space!

My plan is to sit down with UDK along with Yellow5 (and anyone else who has Unreal experience) and flesh out a prototype using the provided Unreal assets, just to see if it's possible / what works. I'm worrying about networked multiplayer and AI, but I'm told that the included UTGame supports both out of the box, so all should be well.

Before I start that, however, I'll set up a few starter pages on the Wiki so you guys can knock ideas around and talk about whatever fluffy art and game design stuff you want. While the rest of us do the real work

Ok, this thread just blew me away!! As I posted in the UDK thread, I have no experience of any kind, but my time and commitment are yours.

I'd hate to actually drag the team down by not knowing anything game-making related, but point me in the right direction and I'll give it my hours.

Are there any youtube videos of "annihilator mode" or "rpgmode" UT2k4 gameplay? It would probably be more accessible than trying to grab a copy of or reinstall UT2k4 to get everyone up to speed on the concept. Or perhaps if someone who wants to contribute gameplay footage that still has it installed and is experienced with those modes ins and outs.

If we find some good ones, we can add links to the wiki.

I'm worrying about networked multiplayer and AI, but I'm told that the included UTGame supports both out of the box, so all should be well.

Once you get it up and running, don't stress over performance as much. I've always felt that UT assets have a bit bloated polycounts to make pretty screenshots and to distinguish itself from the prior version. (5000-6000 polys for a weapon is extreme!) The polycounts are going to have to be reduced quite a bit already to cram more on the screen. And that's my specialty, reducing polycounts while retaining visual fidelity.

This is something I would love to try but sadly I don't have the time, knowledge (though it would be a fun leaning experience), or hardware necessary...

This could actually be useful for me. I've been playing around with the UDK a bit because I think I'm going to be using it for the level design tutorial that myself and a group of others are conducting at GDC. Unfortunately, all the cool case studies I have right now are deep in NDA territory, so I was playing around looking for examples, and assumed I'd just need to build some totally fake whiterooms. Developing a working prototype is exactly the sort of thing that would be extremely useful to use as a basis for instruction. Of course, I'd only use anything produced if it was OK with Citizen86, Floomi, and anyone else that's working on it. I'm really not interested in hijacking the project for my own ends or taking on any large amount of responsibility.

Perhaps Citizen86 could start in on a game design doc as a basis for what he had in mind, once the wiki is live.

I'm interested. I messaged Floomi from the earlier thread. I have industry experience with level design, scripting, animation and modeling. Texturing too but focused on creating UV's and baking things like Ambient Occlusion.

Cartoon shader has its benefits in that if its used properly it has broad appeal potential. There may be an influx of toon shaded games but there are far more and more derivative games that blow their art budget on normal maps. And if left unchecked, unnecessarily large and numerous normal maps causes Crysisitis.

You can do what's been done before if you apply a fresh style to it. Style, depth and performance go a long way to overcome lacking a unique concept.

The good think with Unity and UDK is that the core concept and controls are proven and proven to be fun. You can easily tweak them to be unfun, but its easier to start with basic fun controls than making them from scratch.

The key large goals to focus on are enemy "style" and "personality", weapon "feel" and "reaction", and difficulty progression.

Another talented artist on the forums who would probably be interested is Wipeout!

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