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SoCoder -> Blogs Home -> Blogs

Created : 21 June 2007

About GameDeveloping - No.1

Ok guys,
a few weeks ago I promised that I would post a small list of useful software for the indie dev crowd.
I now decided to do a little bit more so here is the first part of my "guide".

Let's start with the 3 most important rules of indie game developing. At least they are my 3 most important rules.

1. Gameplay is everything!
That covers not only the game design in general but also the playability. So make sure the controlls are perfect! You can make a lot of compromises with your game in terms of graphic quality, number of levels, etc. but if you make any compromises in terms of controlls then just save your game to a disk, delete it from your hard drive and take the disk to the bin. It's important that the player can just pick up your game without a learning curve, have a good time and then pick it up another time when he/she want's to. The moment you say "one might will have to get a little used to..." something is wrong.

2. Compatibility is important!
Until recently I thought that this means DirectX 7 is a must. But having seen how bad the performance under Vista can be and how not supported DX7 by some of the integrated graphic chips is I must say: DX9 or OpenGL is a must! If you take a look at the Steam survey you will see that most of the users have a graphics card that is capable of SM 3.0. That means it's a DX9 chip. But what should you take, DX9 or OpenGL? While OpenGL can be a problem on PCs with older drivers (that problem can be fixed) it has the advantage of being platform independent (in terms of not being bound to Windows). So if you plan to release a Linux or Mac version of your game then OpenGL is a must. XNA might become an alternative in the next 6 to 12 months and has the advantage of XBox 360 support.

3. Warezing is a no go!
There is enough free or low cost software for nearly everything you will need. So there is no excuse for downloading Maya, Max, etc. and using them as your modeling application. In the next part of this "guide" you will see that for every problem there is a solution.

You should always keep those 3 rules in your mind when making games. They could protect you from bad karma



Thursday, 21 June 2007, 09:35
I absolutely agree with #1.
Which is odd, given that in JNKPlat, "one might will have to get a little used to..." the two buttons jump.
It's such an odd control system, but if you try it, and then switch to the one button jump, it becomes blindingly obvious why it's there.

The compatibility is also important, which is pretty much the sole reason I'm still using Blitz. It really does seem to be the most compatible language out there. (Assuming you're sticking to just Windows)

And, although I agree with #3, I think it's more a common sense rule than a "Best ways to build a better game" thing.

I'm sure there's more than those rules, though. Like, "Motivation is Everything", "Allowing for User Additions means the players can build on your game, thus keeping the game in circulation that little bit longer" and of course, "You don't have to buy crates, they're just cubes, you can make them yourself." But that last one's just blindingly obvious, and never really needs to be stated..

I used to have a file on my desktop (since lost to numerous HD formats), which was a list of about 20 or so rules. Most of them I agreed with, but one of them was "Stick to your original plan." I don't know if I agree with that. Most Indie games tend to go with the flow, and a lot of the more enjoyable gameplay elements that I've seen have come through accidental Engine tweaking, and things like that.

If I find that list again, I'll post it.
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 10:04
Hi Jayenkai. As for #3 I think most indie developers just want to be like "the big boys" and therefore use tools like Max. But everyone should ask themselfes: "If I just run into a market and steal an expensive penicel, will that make me writing better poems?"

And of course there are more rules but that are my top 3. If you find your list then it'd be nice if you post it =)
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 13:36
power mousey
hey f4ktor,

talk about compatibility and system requirements too...

you should see the system requirements for
the new ShadowRun game. Windows Vista, Intel Duo Core,
2 Gb system memory....sheesh!!

And I really like ShadowRun....used to play
both versions of this game on the Super Nes and the Sega.

um....I guess, I'll be getting a Playstation 2.
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 14:06
I've got Shadowrun running on my PC But it ruins my aiming. I'm going to pause Shadowrun for playing more Counterstrike: Source again.

But Shadowrun is not a Indie title. It's a big game product financed by Microsoft.
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 20:09
power mousey
exactly and my main point.
you need Vista, Intel Duo core and DirectX10
for it to run properly and efficiently.

I'd rather pick up a Dreamcast or better
a Playstation 2...and buy and play some games.
Like Resident Evil 4....or even the whole series.

yet, and for the indie market and niche....
I wonder how many people still have and run
Windows XP....or even Windows 98??

there needs to be a new and better R E V O L U T I O N
in both the computer and console gaming markets.
Thats what I say and think...

power mousey
Friday, 22 June 2007, 06:04
I think the Steam survey is misleading to be honest...

It is a survey of people who mainly play HL2 and Counterstrike so they are going to have a higher than average spec in my opinion.

DX7 is definitely on the way out though, and B3D seems to be falling apart at the seams on newer machines or newest versions, with FMOD problems that never got fixed, and the ImageCollide functions randomly breaking.
Friday, 22 June 2007, 08:45
@caffeinekid: if you take a look at the games available with Steam you will see that there are lots of Indie titles.
Friday, 22 June 2007, 10:07
If I just run into a market and steal an expensive pencil, will that make me writing better poems?

I certainly don't condone warezing, but that is a terrible comparison.
Friday, 22 June 2007, 16:58
Steam certainly contains other titles but they were not the primary motivation of the people at Valve, or for I would guess at least 90% of the people who have Steam installed.

If you asked for a show of hands of Steam users that haven't got Half Life 2 I don't think it would take long to count them.

All I'm saying is the data might be skewed towards a higher spec.
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 12:04
The vast majority of people who use Steam for multiplayer gaming, play the original Counter-Strike. A game with very low requirements, so it's not that misleading.

On the other hand, the vast majority of PC gamers try to keep their PC (relatively) up to date. For example the GeForce FX series, which is 4 years old, supports DirectX 9.0b. I only know one person who uses a graphics card that old, my brother (it's actually my card which I bought for my old pc). He doesn't use it for playing games.

F4ktor, they are some nice points on game development, and I agree with most of them. Partly with the warez as I don't think there are any paid for languages which are as good as certain free ones. However there are many pieces of software you simply cannot use unless you download them illegally. If you apply the mentality that 'if or when I could buy it I genuinely would buy it' (note: emphasis on 'genuinely'), is it so wrong?

Many high end pieces of software, although they won't make your game (or more the components for your game) for you, they are the best for a reason.

But there are plenty of free alternatives, and they are often simpler too, which is the primary reason I see for beginners to use them instead of legal/illegal paid alternatives. I would have no idea on how to use Maya if I got it, but I can easily use Wings.

However (note: this is a big however on the whole Game Development not on my points above on piracy), I don't see this as that useful for game development. For example in the back of Object First with Java there is a chapter on how to design and develop a project before the programming phase. A blog on subject matter such as that, points and ideas people can follow and try out, would be more useful.

Another criticism, you say gameplay is the most important element, but you don't try to make any definition of what gameplay consists of? What should people be prioritising on? Ideas on how gameplay should work, perhaps with examples of good and bad gameplay in relation to your ideas?

You say it's important in relation to playability, but you don't look at any aspects of this. Such as a game being linear or non-linear? If they are open-ended? Some highly playable games are so because they are fast paced, others because they are slow. There are games with great gameplay that are linear, and other terrible games described as 'too linear'.

For example, I could say 'graphics is the most important aspect'. Then I could break graphics down into covering different aspects with examples, from the aesthetic qualities of the beautiful Zelda: Ocarina of Time, stylistic such as Killer 7, or of pure quality (polygon counts and pixel-pushers) such as the upcoming (willy-waving) Crysis. Even then I should show why those points are important to those examples, and why they work or don't work. I just found it a little too generic, and it could have gone deeper. That would have been nice.

Still, I don't want to end my criticism on a low. It was a nice read.