Pearls of wisdom

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by princec, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. princec

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    Here's one which I can't stress how amazingly useful it is enough for all you newbies still struggling to finish that first title:

    Do the title screen and options and hiscores and menus etc first and completely finish them!!

    Don't even think about making a start on the game until they're totally finished.

    Cas :)
     
  2. Ryan Clark

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    Ok, I'll bite! Why?

    I've never done this before, so I'm honestly not sure what the advantage would be.
     
  3. soniCron

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    I'll venture a guess on his behalf: By the time the game itself is ironed out, plays well, and just a total bunch of fun, you're certainly not going to want to be working on the menus. I'm having this exact problem right now; my motivation is extremely low since all that's left is maintenance.
     
  4. princec

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    Spot on. I'm bored shitless of Titan Attacks now, thank Christ I've only got to put in a few more levels and sound effects and it's finished and I don't have to do all that crappy menu work. I can't think of anything more demotivating. Apart from, say, having to rewrite it in DirectX so I can get it on Xbox 360.

    Cas :)
     
  5. Ricardo Vladimiro

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    And if you are working with contracted artists?
     
  6. princec

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    Then get the buggers to do it first!

    Cas :)
     
  7. Dan MacDonald

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    Another reason is that it forces you to consider the features and style of your game. How are people going to enter your game, is there going to be multiplayer and singleplayer? When you think about saving or loading games do you allow the user to save anywhere, use a waypoint system... filling out these menus and options actually makes you think a lot about systems and their implication on the game that you wouldn't otherwise. Working on the menu's also helps you codify a look and feel and theme for the game that your happywith before ever adding a single in game asset.

    That's why right now i'm building an XML + Lua based gui system that allows me to easily nock out cook UI's without ever compiling a new exectuable. So far it's been a lot of fun to work with and work on.
     
  8. Sharpfish

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    I agree with this (though it does of course work better if it works for you). I would say do this AFTER a small gameplay prototype though. At least this is how I have developed the current game I'm working on. Not 100% done the menus etc as there was circulatory referencing going on between style in game and front end etc.

    However, it did mean I got all the "Mundane" stuff like polished fonts, Gui animations, save game profiles (and selection boxes) etc in as I built.. which means I spent far too long on them probably (tweaking and making look nice) but the upside is, as has been pointed out, I won't have to do them at the end when I could otherwise overlook that final polish and hinder the production of the very area the customer sees first. I think it's hard to stick 100% to just doing the front end because inevitably you will need to come back and do more (if your project is midly complicated and not a straight forward "clone" type).

    We are all motivated by different things though so what may work for one may not for another - though in my case I have stayed motivated knowing I have "saved" the best bit until last (the polishing of the gameplay/in game assets rather than the polish of the less interesting stuff)
     
  9. svero

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    Well what I dont get is.. why is the code not the same code as ultratron. I mean how many times do you have to code highscores, or options dialogs. That stuff is pretty much ported directly over to new games for us.. takes a day or two tops and thats only if we get fancy and add some special effects or something. Generally it can be done in a few hrs not including graphics.
     
  10. Reanimated

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    Thats quite an interesting path to go down. Ive always felt that leaving "trivial" things like menus and UI's would be something done relatively near the end as they can provide a boost in motivation since you dont have to really think much. So when your stuck for ages, you could just do some work on the menu system to clear your mind then head back to the main game. Well, that's what I think anyway :D
     
  11. zKing

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    I actually recommend exactly the opposite. Work on the most important stuff (i.e. core game play) first and make sure you are always putting the most effort there. Why?

    1) You want all your early enthusiasm to be put to the best use.

    2) It's extremely easy to wake up two months later and realize all you have to show for your "game" is pretty menus. This depressing realization has killed a great many solo/indie game projects. This is especially true as things become "hard" because now all the "easy" stuff is over.

    3) If you are working to a schedule, it's _much_ better when things get tight to triage out fluff from the menus than stuff from the main game.

    4) Say while you are putting the gameplay together you have a sudden lightbulb idea that causes big changes in style, it really sucks if suddenly your "near finished" menus all now need major re-work. (It's much less likely this aha moment will happen when you are playing with menus.)

    5) Do them later/last will reduce the tendancy to make menus too fancy... unlike at the beginning of project when you are high with excitement and want to experiment. A neato menu is cool for about the first 5 seconds that you see it... then its just an annoying slow obsticle to getting into the game.
     
  12. DangerCode

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    FWIW, I don't think this is a pearl of wisdom but rather a personal opinion. ;)

    And I disagree with it. :D
     
  13. soniCron

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    Well, at least tell us why! ;)
     
  14. Tom Gilleland

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    I've always heard the first thing you do is the T-Shirt. :)

    Tom
     
  15. gmcbay

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    The first thing I do is design the box cover for the special edition collectors DVD. The second thing I do is begin thinking about what will be in the sequel.
     
  16. Ricardo C

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    Way ahead of you. The first thing I do is plan how I'll spend those big fat profits.
     
  17. Fabio

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    The first thing I do is resurrecting, then dying, then I get my retirement, then I pay my taxes, then I get my big cheque and then, if I am not bored, I start developing the game. Perhaps one day I'll born, too.. before being conceived, that is. ;)
     
  18. princec

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    Now funny enough Steve, the code is identical... existing as it does in a jar file that both games share... I just thought I'd mention that because I did all that code ages ago for Ultratron I've basically not had to worry about it at all for Titan Attacks. Well, Chaz has, because he had to redo all the graphics.

    Cas :)
     
  19. Sharpfish

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    So looking at the argument and counter argument (And knowing I have done it different ways in the past myself) I think we have to realise that there is in fact no "hard rule" and the only rule is "get it done".

    I am sure you can do a bit of this and a bit of that until you scrape through if you really lack motivation/enthusiasm but if (and important to counter ZKings points) *IF* you feel motivated by the gameplay and KNOW you will put 100% into it, what you have acheived by doing mundane stuff first is hopefully a sheen/polish that greets the user rather than 2 hours (and out of demo time) down the line.

    Of course you can do it either way and polish everything, it's not impossible and many people do.. I know that the amount of time the gameplay is taking (and assets) for my game that had I put of making player profiles and all the intricacies of clicking in fields , animated guis and icon changes etc that I *may* have been more tempted to leave it out as unimportant - to "postpone" it just to ship the game. NOW I have no choice, all the stuff I wanted in the UI and Menus is in, I cut no corners because I had time and energy when I did it.

    If that means I will cut corners later on in the coregame I don't think it's true (maybe for some but not all) - you know the game itself is what makes the title, in my opinion you are less likely mentally to cut corners on core gameplay because you have done all this great art/menus/UI and it "looks" like a finished game from the front - THIS is what drives you forward to finish the game.

    If you start on the game (and I'm talking something midly complex not a straightforward 2D swapping clone) and get frustrated, burned out or whatever - every time you launch if you just see "TEST LEVEL" with a few variables on screen and a crappy looking front end (if any) then you see the task ahead as being an even bigger hill to climb.

    The disclaimer to this is that we are all different. Some people get off on doing gui work, some more on coding save games and some on collision detection, so whichever area you generally enjoy MOST I feel you should put off until LAST because your own desires will help drive you. This could mean game first - front end last or the opposite.

    And FWIW for my next game I will be flexible and adapt to whatever works that time. There should be more discipline, you would hardly get away with that in the retail industry with set plans to follow - but being able to motivate yourself with no boss or income is hard enough so stay flexible and open to "moving around" your project. Bit by bit it will all come together. :)
     
  20. Anthony Flack

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    I tend to leave them 'til fairly late, though not necessarily last.

    I don't want to have UI to load and navigate through when I'm hammering out the basic gameplay; and of course if the game isn't working out it would all be for nothing anyway.

    But I actually don't hate doing UI. In a way, I get a kick out of it - I decided a while back it was time to put all the UI into Cletus because the project needed a lift... and it worked. Now, instead of it feeling like a half-finished project in bits and pieces, it feels like a mostly-finished project with some level design and cleanup left to do. I enjoy doing the UI, just because it makes such a big difference to the project for comparatively little work.
     

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