What would you say to first time game creators?

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SugarOwls
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What would you say to first time game creators?

#1 Post by SugarOwls » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:18 am

I'm curious.. To those who have completed one of their projects before (or even worked on one before), what advice for first time creators would you give, now that you can look back on your first project?

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#2 Post by PyTom » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:40 am

I think everyone pretty much gives the same advice, going back to the original Lemmasoft website:

Keep your first project as small as possible.

On your first project, you're very likely to make mistakes. What's more, those mistakes may not be be apparent immediately. Mistakes in writing an art may not be obvious until they're integrated into a playable game. Mistakes in coding may not show up until testers or players get at your game. A small project lets you make mistakes - and learn from those mistakes - a lot faster than a big project.

So even if you have an epic idea, it may make sense to put it aside and work on something smaller - a 2-week to 1-month project - so you don't wind up going down the wrong path with your great work.

EDIT: Link Lemma's advice.
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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#3 Post by tiya_nofurita » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:52 am

PyTom wrote:I think everyone pretty much gives the same advice, going back to Lemma's founding of the forum:

Keep your first project as small as possible.

On your first project, you're very likely to make mistakes. What's more, those mistakes may not be be apparent immediately. Mistakes in writing an art may not be obvious until they're integrated into a playable game. Mistakes in coding may not show up until testers or players get at your game. A small project lets you make mistakes - and learn from those mistakes - a lot faster than a big project.

So even if you have an epic idea, it may make sense to put it aside and work on something smaller - a 2-week to 1-month project - so you don't wind up going down the wrong path with your great work.
Hey thanks I'll consider your advice :D
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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#4 Post by Morhighan » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:13 am

For me, I followed the "Keep your first project as small as possible" rule and it worked out well.

Another thing to consider is planning. Plan for everything. Expect for the best, prepare for the worst.
Budget plan, plot plan, scheduling plan. If you need examples for those...
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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#5 Post by nebulaway » Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:56 pm

PyTom wrote:I think everyone pretty much gives the same advice, going back to the original Lemmasoft website:

Keep your first project as small as possible.

On your first project, you're very likely to make mistakes. What's more, those mistakes may not be be apparent immediately. Mistakes in writing an art may not be obvious until they're integrated into a playable game. Mistakes in coding may not show up until testers or players get at your game. A small project lets you make mistakes - and learn from those mistakes - a lot faster than a big project.

So even if you have an epic idea, it may make sense to put it aside and work on something smaller - a 2-week to 1-month project - so you don't wind up going down the wrong path with your great work.

EDIT: Link Lemma's advice.
this is something i need in my head. i love writing epic stories but i need to realize that i need to start small before i can do that. i mean, i already have some big plans in the future (that i definitely can't do right now due to not having art skills) but i need to start small.

so that's what i'm trying to do.

also, here's what auro (of cyanide tea) has to say. maybe it's not directly for first time developers but it's still good advice nonetheless!
magical girl tears

current projects:
[ nothing (yet?) ]
always looking for a project to join as a writer!
please pm me if you'd like to collaborate with me!

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#6 Post by Tyrantauranox » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:25 pm

Get your hands dirty early and often. In document form, a plan for a game can't truly depict the experience. Once you have something that's playable, you can mold and refine it into something good.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#7 Post by verysunshine » Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:59 pm

How small is small, in general? Obviously, a debut can't have 10 datable characters and 15 endings, but what could it have?

Build the basics first, then add all the fun bits.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#8 Post by Hijiri » Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:15 pm

verysunshine wrote:How small is small, in general? Obviously, a debut can't have 10 datable characters and 15 endings, but what could it have?
1 could be the minimum. Hell, start with a KN so you know the effort it take to finish a part of a large game.
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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#9 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:33 pm

verysunshine wrote:How small is small, in general? Obviously, a debut can't have 10 datable characters and 15 endings, but what could it have?
Keep reducing until you have the bare essentials of your game or genre, and then see if you can reduce some more.

I.e. for a VN it would be 1 datable character and 2 endings. You either end up with the character or you don't.

If you make a good, polished game like this, you'll learn a lot and it will be easy to come back in and add more in a future game.

In college, each year we had game making competitions between teams of students. The first two years, the teams I was on tried to do ambitious things: technologically impressive, some kind of unique mechanic, etc. We usually barely rated. The last two years, we enforced a "small and simple as possible" design mantra. Basically we sat around and cut things out until we couldn't cut away anymore. We stayed with our strengths: if we didn't have an amazing programmer, we didn't try and do amazing programming things.

The last year I was in school, our younger team members actually got upset with the two of us that were older when we insisted on chopping the game design down more and more. They thought what we ended up with as a road map for development was too simple and easy. (Keep in mind, most of these competitions had 6 weeks to do everything start to finish.) We finished our basic game with graphics and gameplay in-place early and proceeded to refine the experience with better balancing and better graphics. Our polish stole the show. It was the most simple game I've ever worked on, and it got the best response.

Feature creep is the mortal enemy of ALL developers, big and small, newbie and experienced. Even if you ignore all advice and go for your epic game out of the gate, I'd recommend making a list of the features your game absolutely needs to work and be playable, and knock those out and perfect them first. Then you can go back and add in other features if you have the time, but you'll still have a playable game.

I heard of one developer (one of the bigger guys), who rate features as either A, B, or C. 'A' features must be in the game. 'B' features are fun features that can be added if time allows. 'C' features are nice things they'd love to add in a perfect world, but will probably never make it into the finished game. If more time or money suddenly appears (hahahaha!) a few C features might make it, but they are essentially considered 'cut, but not forgotten'. These have a good chance of showing up in DLC or a sequel, but the game they are making right NOW has to do well or those things won't happen.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#10 Post by breadslam » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:41 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:Feature creep is the mortal enemy of ALL developers, big and small, newbie and experienced. Even if you ignore all advice and go for your epic game out of the gate, I'd recommend making a list of the features your game absolutely needs to work and be playable, and knock those out and perfect them first. Then you can go back and add in other features if you have the time, but you'll still have a playable game.

I heard of one developer (one of the bigger guys), who rate features as either A, B, or C. 'A' features must be in the game. 'B' features are fun features that can be added if time allows. 'C' features are nice things they'd love to add in a perfect world, but will probably never make it into the finished game. If more time or money suddenly appears (hahahaha!) a few C features might make it, but they are essentially considered 'cut, but not forgotten'.
As someone who's in a similar industry, this is a trap pretty much what everyone falls into at some point or another. If you can't do something simple well, don't do something complex poorly.

To quote my mother, "Jumping is for people who've got a leg to stand on."

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#11 Post by MaiMai » Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:44 pm

Something I would say to first time game creators:

You can make your Japanese anime high school romance VN if you want, but don't let that be the only idea in you have for your first VN since it'll get lost in the waves of mediocre Japanese anime high school romances.
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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#12 Post by Kensela » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:39 pm

Everyone has their 'baby' that one story in their head that they know all the characters and all the storylines and every single plot twist.
Do not start with your baby.
Do not start with your baby!

The reason being is that one you finish your first game you will have so much more experience from the mistakes you made from your first game. You want to make your dream game after you gain experience and know what you are doing.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#13 Post by Sailerius » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:45 pm

I'll take it a step further:

Your first ten games should not be more than an hour long. Ideally, they should not be more than 20 minutes long. You have no idea how much effort it takes to even make a game that long. You will make more mistakes than you can count. Make them on an easy project.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#14 Post by AshenEclipse » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:48 pm

Reading through this has made me realize that, perhaps, the dating sim I really want to do is better off put on hold for a bit while I work on something less complex. Particularly considering I have so many ideas and want to do them all! I know I can get discouraged easily, and I have the tendency to want to do everything perfect the first time. It makes for a not successful me.

So, off to think of something small - or many things small - to learn with.

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Re: What would you say to first time game creators?

#15 Post by Hazel-Bun » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:50 pm

I'd say join a game jam. All my released content (and soon to be released) is either a). Directly from a jam or b). expanded upon afterwards.

It might sound like strange advice to a newbie but, for me at least, they've forced me to do most of the above. I couldn't start with my baby (AtPF) right off the bat, I was forced many many times to start small and cut what I couldn't figure out, gave me lots of experience, had me think outside of the box and tropes I adore (aka Otome and the like), and the list goes on. My first script to ever hit 50k would come out of a NaNoRenO attempt... Actually, I joined these forums and stopped lurking to participate in that same event.

Even if you don't finish (heck I still have two unfinished NaNoRenO's among others), it'll give you a big morale boost and possible connect you to other people who share your interests :)

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