Game Design, my thoughts and what not.

I've wanted to make games since I was 8. Since the first time I sat down and kicked pixelated dos based ass as Jill of the Jungle, I knew I wanted to make games. My dad wanted me to be a coder, an engineer of somesort so I could be like him. I bounced from learning Visual Basic to C to Java to PHP to C++ to ladder language, and back again... I find it safe to say I am not a coder by nature.

Which brings me to the first problem of game design. A design is useless if you cannot prototype it. I've seen many designs of varying degrees of brilliance that will never see the light of day, and have created a fair number for whom that is equally true. I should probably start a compendium and write down the designs and their stubs, but honestly it may just be too depressing for me. Back to the topic though, the only way to get your design out there and really make it work is to get a prototype of it done. Collaborative prototyping works about as well as team shoe tieing and fails for much the same reasons. So at the end of the day, no ways around it, you have to create a prototype of your game, or at least an important feature of your game.

Of course, surfing around the internet you get to see a wide variety of desigeners, creators and contributors and the variety of motivations behind them. The real proffesionals are generally the ones making money to do it, they've got opinions and are happy to tell em to you. The smaller their budgets the more likely they are to be found bumping around IRC with other small teams, or at least so it seems to me. Perhaps the difference I find most striking is they're the ones out there beating down doors to find investors.

Contrarily you have the GNUligans who also display a greater sense of professionalism, but have activily removed any option of getting paid for their labor. One defining attitude of the GNUligans is "if you want it to do more, write it yourself". This isn't to say that they won't support their product, but rather that anything which doesn't rate highly on their priority list is better left to someone else who feels strongly enough about it to do it.

Further down the list are the modders and the hobbyists. So far of all the groups I've seen or been a part of, the most dangerous thing to projects at these levels is the process of collaboration. Get too many hands in the pot and rather than working on making a game that follows a design, they work on making the game that follows their individual design regardless of the consistency of the project. These have to have strong leadership, or else the whole thing falls apart. Now a large section of the one man wrecking crews fall into this category also, but their major problem is the sheer difficulty of any game project.

The last category I'd like to cover is the one I fall into, the hopefuls. A hopeful doesn't start every project expecting a pay-off, but they do expect all their projects to eventually lead to their getting paid to make games. Probably the biggest problem to face a hopeful is feature creep, we always want to make the next BIG splash, sometimes we forget to just try and make ripples first.

I've started at least a half-dozen projects lately, only one has any hope of my getting paid. But I intend to finish all of them one way or another. Still I think it's important to leave a word of advice to other hopefuls and hobbyists, something I've learned from a thousand metaphorical scars. Start with one. One room, one character, one gimmick, one button, doesn't matter, just start with only one. Work on that single item until it's damn near perfect, get it playtested, get it polished, make it shine until you can see yourself reflecting in it on a clear day. Then make another one, a different one, and go from there. After you've made enough ones, you'll finally have something big.

No comments:

Post a Comment