Author Topic: Prototypes and scratch projects  (Read 1033 times)

Offline winkio

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Prototypes and scratch projects
« on: September 22, 2015, 07:04:36 AM »
I think one of the problems with our community and the game dev community at large is the pressure to finish each project.  Partly, it is because it takes so much time to build a game, that it feels like a waste when you don't end up with a finished product.  It is this attitude that can both prevent us from improving our skills and deny us the motivation to continue.

Artists publish beautiful and detailed pieces, but day to day, they do a lot of quick sketches and low detail pieces to practice, improve, and have fun.
Composers publish tracks with layers and layers of sounds mixed and mastered to the best of their ability, but they also have a library of naked melodies and chord progressions written as inspiration strikes.

What are game developers supposed to do besides complete large projects?  Everything we do seems like it has to go into a finished game because of the amount of effort required.

It's something I have been thinking about as I have been working on ideas for my engine.  I would like to see more prototyping tools, where I can really quickly put together a beautiful particle system, an animated game menu, or a puzzle minigame, without having to implement base classes and polish the result.  I'm talking about completing a prototype from start to finish in a matter of minutes.  This opens up a number of possibilities when working:

When you get stuck on one part of a larger program, you can prototype a different part as a break.
If you wake up one morning with an awesome idea for a different game, you can make a few prototypes, and then get back to your current project.
You finally fixed that stupid bug, but it gave you an idea for a new mechanic to make in a prototype.
While you are working, you have this awesome library of prototypes that you can use for inspiration and reference.

I will acknowledge that most engines try to do something like this, but still fall far short.  Really though, this isn't about engines, but about a mindset that I want to challenge.

Offline ForeverZer0

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2015, 11:46:12 AM »
I agree, when I first started using rmxp, I had full intentions of creating a game, but as I delved into it, I realized what a giant and overwhelming task it was, at least to do correctly as I envisioned. I realized that I didn't even possess all the necessary skills to pull it off the way I wanted. I then just abandoned the whole idea, and focused on scripting, which is what I enjoyed most, and forgot about the other elements such as storyline, music, graphics, etc. But even as far as scripts go, I have a handful of scripts that I began but got burned out on, and never even completed after many hours of hard work.
I am done scripting for RMXP. I will likely not offer support for even my own scripts anymore, but feel free to ask on the forum, there are plenty of other talented scripters that can help you.

Offline winkio

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 03:26:43 AM »
Yeah, that brings up another point, which is the huge dependency on certain types of content, especially graphics.  Having a quick way to generate prototype-ready graphics would really go a long way in speeding up development times.

Offline R.A.V.S.O

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2015, 05:58:49 PM »
afaik, it's the lack of resources outside of your area of expertise that weight developers down the most.

from a newbie RPGMaker starter's point of view, making a game is a smooth transition from point A, to point B, or so it would seem
given how the maker gives you a good amount of prefabs and starting resources, to them they might say "well with all this content I just
don't seem to understand why people make this sound more complex than it is."

but here's the thing, the more a person begins to invest in the RPGMaker of their choice, soon they begin to realize that in order to make
a good playable game and to top it off make it so people actually would like to play it, it's going to take a lot more than just
cruising from point A to B, suddenly that smooth transition turns into a roller-coaster of resource demands that may or may not
(most of the time it does) end with the dev abandoning such project or (if the dev is determined) putting it on hold until more
resources are met.

at least on my case, at that point when I realized how many resources I'd have to hunt down in order to progress, I had to at least
mentally make an inventory of stuff I needed/had at hand, can I do mapping? check, eventing? check, scripting? well... damn I suck,

need scripts? time to hunt down user friendly scripts or if you know ruby make em, are those sprites too bland or unfitting for your taste?
better pop up that sprite generator etc etc... all in all, I do believe that the lack of desired resources and/or the lack of ability to
implement these in such a desired manner is what mainly demoralizes a developer into quitting or putting on hold their projects.

however I do also believe that once the developer surpasses that gigantic resource-issue barrier, they can finally begin the process
of actually making and shaping up their project into something that looks promising, after all, on this part it's all left to the dev's imagination
to make his/her world/story/game etc, as in-depth or bland as they can, Basically once you have all the resources you desire, you pretty
are free to do as you please with your project and IMO this is where most developers begin to have fun with their work.

...which brings me to the second barrier, TIME.

Rpg Maker, demands time, a newcomer who just stepped into this, might probably have a good amount of time to develop (heck the fact they
downloaded this and started playing with it meant they had a good chunk of time to spare), but as they begin to work and seek resources
time is being spent, it's spent on plot generation, resource hunting, mapping, scripting, eventing, playtesting etc... by the time that the developer
seems to have overcome the huge resource barrier, their precious time (and possibly enthusiasm) is all spent up.

tbh I do believe lack of time to be the secondary (primary for some) reason as to why projects are abandoned,

btw sorry for the long wall of text, but I kinda did have to contemplate a bit as to why is it that we leave some pretty good stuff
behind.
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Offline Blizzard

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2015, 10:58:19 PM »
I think winkio is aiming at general game dev, not just RM. In general game dev quick prototyping makes a lot of sense, especially when you are trying to get the game mechanics / controls right and trying to fine-tune them.
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Offline winkio

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2015, 01:03:52 AM »
I was actually aiming at both.  In RMXP there are some things such as single-map event systems that can be prototyped quite quickly, but the vast majority of scripts, maps, and graphics scripts that cannot be made in a reasonable amount of time.  I have vivid memories of spending hours working on the layering of trees in a forest map just to get it to look right.  I spent hours changing the layout numbers on an HUD script, then going in to test play, then changing the numbers again, then testing again.  These are instances where I had simple concepts of what to do, but the UI lacked the functionality to do it simply.

Now despite the ease of prototyping event systems in RMXP, most people don't do much of it, and my guess is it because the rest of the game requires so much effort.

But what if we had an engine where the creation of all parts (graphics, scripts, maps, etc.) could be just as easy?  If the only thing that took a long time was making and polishing a large game, but each of the components could be prototyped quickly, I think we would see more prototyping and a better development experience.

Offline ForeverZer0

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2015, 01:39:58 AM »
I think the main issue is that making a game is a much larger project than what a beginner of RPG Maker might think. There are many more components to it than is first realized, and if you want any type of originality, the default resources just aren't enough. On another note, most people tend to gravitate towards only a few aspects of the project. I myself am obviously scripting and I did enjoy mapping, but my skill for making graphics, music, and especially storyline are very limited, so I don't even attempt them. There are tons of great resources to be found, but my point is that all in all, making a game is very difficult to by oneself. It is most easily achieved with a team, where each member has their own skillset, and it is an equally enjoyable experience for everyone. Herein is another issue, assembling a team where every member has the time and commitment to invest in the project. On an amateur level, this is difficult. Since we are all mostly just doing this as a hobby, finding a team where each is equally invested is quite hard.
I am done scripting for RMXP. I will likely not offer support for even my own scripts anymore, but feel free to ask on the forum, there are plenty of other talented scripters that can help you.

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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2015, 07:12:40 AM »
F0 just explaibed the RM community in a nutshell.
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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2015, 01:25:20 PM »
Quote
I have vivid memories of spending hours working on the layering of trees in a forest map just to get it to look right.  I spent hours changing the layout numbers on an HUD script, then going in to test play, then changing the numbers again, then testing again

I think everyone who did UIs had this issue, it's such an easy task but it takes so long because the way it's done isn't productive. For instance having a tool that you could throw graphics and change its numbers in real time, and you could see the result, would make a task of 8 hours for instance into 15 minutes.

Most people can't think small, talking from personal experience because I can't do it, the only project I manage to complete to 100% was something to graduate from school. It was quite simple and could be achieved in a couple of hardworking days. But I felt that wasn't enough, I am not proud of that project, when I should, I just think I could do so much better but I knew if I went any further it would be too big to handle in that time. But then again big projects most likely don't get finished, people loose interest, get tired of working on it and not seeing any results, and as winkio said even simple tasks demand great effort and I think if there were better ways of doing this, if people stopped reinventing the wheel, if people concentrated their effort in tools to aid them in their game dev carrer, productivity would grow exponentially. It's not just making a game that matters, the way that you do it and how you do it matters aswell.
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Re: Prototypes and scratch projects
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2015, 08:16:56 PM »
It's not just making a game that matters, the way that you do it and how you do it matters as well.

This. That sums up really the biggest issue about making a game, and making it well. Another segway off this is that if you are making a game for profit, and have an idea, and possibly even a prototype, is keeping in mind the ever-important question of, is this something other people would pay to play? Sometimes game designers get too wrapped up in their design, and possibly too proud of their creation, to realize that few other people would play it, even though they themselves think it's great; I myself had an issue with his for a while, and is ultimately why I have only just started getting back to these forums.

Bottom line; take small steps, test things out before fully committing to them, and never turn down an idea because you don't like it, or think it may not work.
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