A question for the game makers

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musical74
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A question for the game makers

#1 Post by musical74 » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:16 am

I've been thinking about this for some time, and I've been wondering something...

What do you do when a project seems to have stalled? Is it because of something major (such as a hard drive crash :shock: ) or is it a bunch of little things that, all together, make it a pain?

Reason I ask this is because, as a game PLATER, I don't see all the decisions that go on when making a game, and therefore I don't know how hard it is to make a game. What's the biggest hurdle when you finish a game, and how do you overcome it?

Part of this is if I ever DO learn coding and programming I might want to try my hand at making a game myself, and need to know what to expect...:)
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#2 Post by monele » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:22 am

Haven't had a game killed by a hard disk crash and I hope it won't happen... To avoid this, I backup on a USB key and keep sending versions at work (errm :p).
On the other hand, I've had projects die, a lot... ^^;... It's usually a lack of motivation. Either when I realize it's not what I wanted to do or that it's going to take 30 years in the making. My project Kittease ended this way because I realized I wasn't any good at the contemporary setting.
Utsukushii Planet is also on hold for now because after spending many months on it to get a demo ready, I realize I'll have to spend days to translate everything to english. Translating isn't any fun and the amount of text to translate scares me. It doesn't mean the project will die, but right now, I can't bring myself to go on unless I translate first... and translating is something I don't feel like doing. Interlock situation @_@.

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#3 Post by Alessio » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:29 am

musical74: Nothing stalled so far really, I usually finish what I start. But things take time. VNs are just one of my many hobbies, so although I'm working on my project all the time on the side, it's much slower than if I'd do this for a living. But that also keeps me motivated, since the slower I write, the more ideas/inspiration I'm getting. :)

monele: Don't try doing everything at once! Concentrate on finishing UT in French, and then have other people translate it. There will be no lack of motivation to get a translation done if we know that the project is completed. ^_-

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#4 Post by monele » Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:34 am

Well since I've released the second demo in french, I'd rather have the english community opinion before going on (the opinions I got so far are pushing me towards a new direction, so I need more opinions to be sure of my choice). The problem, in any case, is finding someone to translate ô_o...

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#5 Post by dizzcity » Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:34 am

My main problem is getting distracted by one of the other projects I'm doing. I'm usually juggling about 5-10 different things going on at one time, so find it hard to concentrate on just one hobby. For instance, right now I'm running 3 websites, organising a game design competition, working as a freelance writer for a Public Relations organisation, taking 6 modules in my university, forming a team to convert one of my board games to a computer-based one, building another computer game from scratch, designing a magazine for print, signing up as a volunteer usher for conferences, etc.

So, if you ever want to get into VN development, I would make sure your other commitments are light enough not to drag you away from it first.

Or maybe it's just a personal thing. I'm easily-sidetracked. Once I get a new idea, I have a tendency to abandon working on old ones to pursue the new... which explains why I've got about three half-completed VN scripts. Sticking with one project and seeing it into completion means ignoring all the other ideas, no matter how attractive they might be. That's something I'm still trying to learn. :P I've heard that still trying to work on the same project, but just from a different angle (i.e. switching from coding to art, or art to music, or music to writing, etc.) may help.

In any case, self-discipline is the most important thing. Otherwise, you'll just end up...
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#6 Post by mikey » Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:51 am

dizzcity wrote:So, if you ever want to get into VN development, I would make sure your other commitments are light enough not to drag you away from it first.
I think that most usually, this is indeed the case.

It's never really about the skill, it's just the persistence - and motivation. Most of all, discipline. The worst thing you can do is start on something else. It really is, no matter what they all say. You can start a new project just to "ease off your mind", but that still costs you dev time in the old project.

My advice is, if you hit a wall, lose motivation, don' start something new, or experiment. Do something ENTIRELY different, like run a marathon or watch anime. Just don't something else in the same department (creating VNs)

And, most importantly, the ideas will always come. You spend what six months on a project and of course you'll have loads of ideas for another games - you can note them down, but don't go deeper - it has a terrible effect on your focus, even if it seems relaxing to do something else for a change. You can only do so much.

Finally, every idea is worthy, there's no such thing as something not being good enough. That's just an excuse not to work hard. And it's basically all about working. It's easy to paint the picture and create the game in your head, but ANYONE can do that. It's the ones who work that get things done.

So you also need to grow to like the WORK. Without it, you're a dreamer. Not a creator.

Was that harsh? It was supposed to be motivating ^_^

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#7 Post by DaFool » Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:08 pm

Uh, I don't think I can really call myself a game maker until I actually finish a full-size product.

When I don't work on my own project, I work on other (or other peoples') projects. The advantage is that those other projects are already more or less set in stone, so are not subject to one's own fickle-mindedness. I find it easier adapting to what I think other people want than finally ironing out what I want.

I often draw something and then the plot changes and the picture becomes useless. So I would want the writing to be 100% complete first. Well, the plot may be complete, but then I start typing the actual prose and the story just changes. So I end up with several versions of outlines, as well as several passages of text that violate those outlines.

My mind is often influenced by idea A which came from years ago plus idea B which just popped up on the bus on the way home from work yesterday... the problem is I want to have ideas A,B,C...Z all implemented...I can't bring myself to discard any of them. Ideally you would want to separate them so that the most compatible ideas go into one VN, while another group goes into a second VN, etc. But I have a greedy tendency to want to implement them all. My reasoning is it takes so much time to create one VN, if I leave an idea for another VN it might never see the light of day. This might be less of a problem if I can form a substantial team to delegate.... it'll be so much more convenient for me if my ideas were in the form of multiple VN virtual scripts -- I would just concentrating on completing the most current script or the one most people have an interest in and willing to participate in. But when the concept depends so heavily on artwork, and I want to do it myself, and I only have so much time...well you get the picture.[/i]

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#8 Post by mikey » Sat Oct 21, 2006 5:35 pm

DaFool wrote:My mind is often influenced by idea A which came from years ago plus idea B which just popped up on the bus on the way home from work yesterday... the problem is I want to have ideas A,B,C...Z all implemented...I can't bring myself to discard any of them. Ideally you would want to separate them so that the most compatible ideas go into one VN, while another group goes into a second VN, etc. But I have a greedy tendency to want to implement them all.
Well, the stories I could tell about this... in essence, every game I wrote has several ideas merged - often I didn't get the chance to implement some in one project and now they're either in the idea pool, or worked into a different project. Often a game is a merge of several ideas/gameprojects I thought I was going to do standalone.
DaFool wrote: My reasoning is it takes so much time to create one VN, if I leave an idea for another VN it might never see the light of day. This might be less of a problem if I can form a substantial team to delegate.... it'll be so much more convenient for me if my ideas were in the form of multiple VN virtual scripts --
Well, if it's any consolation, this is the problem that everyone is having. The ideas usually just keep on flowing and you need to decide which one to work on. It would be very nice (I'd really like the idea) just to write scripts or flesh out ideas - but again, 90% of the finished game is non-creative work. But I guess I've already stated that point. :P

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#9 Post by yummy » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:10 pm

musical74 wrote:Reason I ask this is because, as a game PLAYER, I don't see all the decisions that go on when making a game, and therefore I don't know how hard it is to make a game. What's the biggest hurdle when you finish a game, and how do you overcome it?
This is how I work.
I don't pretend it's the best way to create a game though.

Before even starting a VN, I imagine my target audience, because I like to tell stories to others and I don't feel like writing stories for me only (So I'm an entertainer, not really an artist [or are entertainers specialized artists?]).
What would be expected: a love story? a dating simulation? Does it have to include a historical context? a philosophical background?

I start describing the universe where I think the story will take place, thus defining the genre and place (it's nothing more than a short summary).

Then I start a fast sketch of the involved characters: background (likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, ideals), personnality, relationships.

For the next step, I imagine the evolution of relationships, according to the characters timetables.
And there, the planning is done! (at least for the main thing)

Then it's time to gets serious: BGs and CG modeling, character design, music composition, sfx browsing (I have a dedicated sfx database on my HD).

Personnally, there are only a few things I lack to complete my project:
- lack of motivation (because of a lot of things)
- lack of inspiration (dialogues are a hell to manage)
- lack of concentration (when you create, it's hard not to start playing and realise you didn't do a damn thing that day because you played)
- lack of programming skills (I'm really a newbie in python, so I don't get how to use the ui functions, plus I don't get how the styles are organised so I generally end in more than 3 hours of annoying tracebacking)


When I think my project isn't advancing, I really feel down. And I'm very fast when it comes to feeling down. I think about the CGs I can't draw because I'm damn too lazy, about the script that isn't completed even if I had already planned it since july, about the music that needs a lot of attention while I didn't manage to create a full theme yet...

Yet, there's a good remedy when I feel down like that: I play commercial japanese VNs (I finished 3 games the other day) :D

They are really helpful because I have lots of fun when I play them and at the same time they each have a unique storytelling. They can make me laugh real hard then the next moment, make me cry, and even make me litterally fall in love with a character. In other words, they help me gather my thoughts, organize short stories sequences. Sometimes, they have one of these nifty effects that I find so good that I try to annoy Pytom by asking irrelevant questions on how to code this or that. (sorry Pytom)

Sure, you could also watch TV, anime or movies, listen to music, read a book... To empty your overflowing head.

But it's hard to stay focused on your task when you know you can do something else...
mikey wrote:So you also need to grow to like the WORK. Without it, you're a dreamer. Not a creator.
I totally agree, although I haven't finished my game yet :oops:

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#10 Post by Kikered » Sat Oct 21, 2006 8:07 pm

For me, the biggest bottleneck in game making by far is writing the script. It took me a bit more than half a year of writing on and off to get the relatively bad script of "Quine" together, and I've recently been working for a few months now on a portion of script that only covers one day.

To make some semblance of progress, I usually do distracting activities while working on the script. If I could write a new line of good text or make some "significant" edits on previous work, then I could reward myself with a 40-second game of Downstack on Tetrinet 2. :P
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#11 Post by musical74 » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:59 am

Thank you, everyone that responded!

monele: Translation your main hurdle, eh? That would be a MAJOR hurdle for me, because I don't know any language fluently besides English. I know some Spanish (took 3 years of it in high school) and a little Japanese (just things I picked up) but I can't REALLY translate a Spanish-to-English game because I don't remember much spanish anymore. :? Kudos for being able to translate at all!

Alessio: Sometimes taking it slowly works the best...:) All the games I've played by you, I can tell you put a lot of thought into them, and it's very well done :)

Dizzcity: YIKES do you have a full load!! How do you find time for all of this? I think I would feel overloaded with about half of the things you are doing...you overachiver you! :) Switching from one aspect to another may help with feel overwhlemed, hmmmm...have to think about this one.

mikey: I don't think it was harsh...just some very good ideas! You bring up a very good point - I think the same way, in that if I am frustrated or hit a brick wall (and those brick walls HURT) I step away for a little bit, and then the ideas come to me on how to solve a problem or how to make something work. And, sometimes, it's a DUH! momment, because it seemed so obvious...but not when I was frustrated!

DaFool: It does seem to be easier do work on someone else's project, because then you just do what they want you to do... Regarding the ideas...I'm going to be the first one to admit this is partially why the game a friend and I were wanting to make in high school fell flat: we didn't want to discard ANY ideas. All of the ideas seemed great, and we wanted to include as many as them as we could...IMPLEMENTING them was another matter, and the game went to the wayside, never to see the light of day :? That's GOT to be difficult, ironing out which ideas fit best for which VN...something to consider.

yummy: Can I join you in the lack of programming skills? Personally, I think it's a good idea to have an idea who your target audience is beforehand. The best games out there seem to be ones where the authors thought about who their target audience is and what they want. Hmmmm have to think about the lack of inspiration....what makes the dialouges so hard? Is it because you don't want the dialouge to sound too cheesy? Too *static* (meaning too formal)?

Kikered: I wouldn't have thought the writing of the script as the biggest bottleneck...although I envisioned doing rewrites a lot, so I guess that falls into writing the script. That's a good idea, to distract yourself a little bit...get your mind off it more a few minutes (or 40 seconds) and something relating to the script might suddenly make sense...:)

Seems that the biggest problem you all share in some degree is writing. Writing the script (Kikered) dialogue (yummy) implementing ideas in the script (DaFool) or translation (monele)...hmmmm maybe I should take some writing classes? For mikey, Dizzcity, and Alessio it seemed to a motivation thing...also something very important.

Honestly, I expected someone to say problems with writing, motivation...and artwork. Is artwork not that big a problem when making a VN? Or is it overshadowed by the writing and motivation?
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#12 Post by bookie » Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:37 pm

Artwork is my problem *raises hand*

I haven't found any artists willing to do the art for my game, and although I'm trying to do it myself, I'm a perfectionist, and I made the graphics a bit to compilicated to do myself without actually getting better at drawing first.

This is a problem because I have absolutely no time at the moment. My first priority is my schoolwork. Writing and coding was no problem (though the coding and debugging was time consuming and I'm still not sure I caught everything) but art requires a lot of work, not only in just plain old drawing it, but scanning it, arranging it, making sure the images show up right everywhere, and so on. And there are the cosmetic touches to think of like the main menu and such too.

That's the point where I can't seem to continue, so my game has been on hold for a good while now.

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#13 Post by monele » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:00 pm

Kinda offtopic but I've noticed (tell me if I'm wrong) that, so far, the only team work that went through to the end started with a script and then added graphists and musicians.
Has there been people offering sets of graphics with ideas to be turned into full stories ? Or maybe people giving music and have little stories based on them ?
I realize it sounds very much like what mikey talked about ^^;...
It also seems that there's still a big problem when it comes to coding. Not that I think it's needed for most games (which are just VNs, and even kinetic novels!) but we certainly have more writers and graphists than coders and musicians ^^; (not surprised, just sad).
Also, what about concepts ? I'm sure some writers might just need a good idea to start off, but lack the spark to start. Of course, it doesn't have to be just a story idea... it could also be a gameplay concept (time loops, multiple point of views, etc...).

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#14 Post by papillon » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:16 pm

Artwork drives me nuts because I feel I'm *almost* good enough for my own needs but not quite - so I waste time trying to get things right and then either settle for my own inferior work and suffer for it in the feedback or go ahead and get it elsewhere, having used up tons of time I could have spent more productively. Le sigh.

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#15 Post by dizzcity » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:16 pm

monele wrote: Has there been people offering sets of graphics with ideas to be turned into full stories ? Or maybe people giving music and have little stories based on them ?
I'm working on it. ^_^ One of my half-completed VN scripts was actually started when I found this little treasure-trove of graphics offered for free use by BCS. Now I'm trying to write a story around them. Mixing in the ALICE dolls, too. So far so good, but I'm barely at the end of narrating just the first day. Music, well... I wrote Lakeside Sunset around a piece of music. But haven't come across any pieces of music being offered here so far.
Also, what about concepts ? I'm sure some writers might just need a good idea to start off, but lack the spark to start. Of course, it doesn't have to be just a story idea... it could also be a gameplay concept (time loops, multiple point of views, etc...).
If, for some strange reason, anybody ever wants a gameplay idea or writing topic, just ask me. :) I regularly get about 5-10 buzzing through my head every single day, but never have the opportunity to capture them all. :?

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