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December 20, 2014, 08:30:24 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessStarting a Company - 2D or 3D beginnings
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AlexVsCoding
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« on: December 30, 2012, 07:35:59 AM »

Hello Everybody!

I've been looking through a lot of recently launched indie developers, and noticed that the first game they produce is a 3D title.

So far I've been plodding on with development whilst doing my course, plopping out prototypes from time to time. An opportunity has risen to work with a programmer on the course who is building his own engine part time. After agreeing on a 3D project to focus his engine towards, we discussed our plans with the dev's I meet up with every month what their thoughts about whether the route we were taking was wise.

Knowing my primary game production thus far being in 2D products, one of the main contributors of feedback suggested building one of my 2D games to test our functionality as a team first then diving into a larger project once we had gone through a full development cycle and learnt our initial lessons. It would also be wise to mention that I love making 2D games but we share the enthusiasm towards this particular 3D project. It's one of those games we would love to make but need the background knowledge first to avoid it biting the dust like so many other indie projects.

For the other developers in 3D (or with plans to move from 2D to 3D) - did you start your journey on a large 3D project and regret not starting on a smaller project when discovering the lumps and bumps along the way or did you start with a small 2D project and expand into the 3D realms from there? Thanks!

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rivon
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 08:45:17 AM »

Most devs start with 2D projects and it's definitely a good idea. Almost everything is generally harder in 3D. If you haven't completed a game yet then you should not try making a 3D game.
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Muz
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 08:50:49 PM »

Depends. Unity works very well with 3D and is currently the best game developing tool out there. 2D is easier for people who want to do everything by themselves. Something like 3D is a lot easier for multiple animators. Stuff like trigonometry is way more difficult in 3D, but there are engines for that.

Personally, never really got off the ground with 3D, but I started before the Unity era.
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Gregg Williams
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 03:13:11 AM »

Regardless of 2D or 3D, if its a new team, I'd recommend something small. You should see how you work together (if at all), and figure out a workflow that works for you all, before jumping into some large project imo.
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djdolber
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 12:24:40 PM »

If your long term goal is 3D then i would suggest go with 3D from the start but start with something small, that way you will learn more about how the team work together and you can improve the asset pipeline etc based on what you learn.. 3D has a lot of specific stuff that can go wrong with stuff such as importing models, animations etc into your game.
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Virion
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 01:10:46 AM »

It depends on your strength and interest. Some people do better artwork in 2D and some prefer 3D. Thou shalt choose what you like.  Hand Metal Right
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Archibald
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 02:14:15 AM »

For the other developers in 3D (or with plans to move from 2D to 3D) - did you start your journey on a large 3D project and regret not starting on a smaller project when discovering the lumps and bumps along the way or did you start with a small 2D project and expand into the 3D realms from there? Thanks!
Actually, I did the opposite. Downgraded from 3D to 2D Smiley Doing 3D earlier is nice and there are many exceptions when it can work and it can be later useful as subsystems for your 2D projects. But unless you are making something like Minecraft (totally unique and trivial to make and that can work in 3D only) there is not that much of a benefit for choosing 3D for an indie. 3D niche is occupied by AAA titles, how can you 2 guys make a game much better than those AAA titles (because making it equal quality to those AAA titles is pointless, they have a bigger marketing budget so they will win if the quality is equal)? Sometimes you can (again, Minecraft), so if you have a trick upon your sleeve go for 3D.
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2013, 03:19:27 AM »

Thank you all for your fantastic advice and experience! Wasn't expecting so many replies!

Me and James both have the same belief that 3D games should prioritise gameplay first, then graphics, rather than the other way around (90% of AAA titles), so the 3D games we wanted to build would be simplistic low poly models but rich gameplay experiences. David O' Riley has a fantastic read about how consistently low detail with models is beautiful (in the same way that a colour film has the same quality of acting and cinematography of a black and white film) http://davidoreilly.com (Warning for epilepsy sufferers, his site has lots of flashing images). For the first 3D game we started work on, all of the assets required were built in a week. This is so we can rapidly get the factor of how a game looks out of the way and get to how the game plays.

The main problem that we have is to test whether the mechanics work, an engine to prototype in is required, so could potentially build an entire engine to find out that the mechanics are horrible having spent several years building an engine. James spent several weeks looking into already existent engines, but either they were limited in the physics department or cost far too much. In the meantime, I am building prototypes to test the gameplay mechanics on a simpler level with 2D prototypes to try and get an understanding of what elements to hack out and what to keep, but making decisions on mechanics excluding an entire dimension of view is risky (as mentioned by Archibald, certain mechanics work best in 3D).

Heres a situation of our timescales:
The Present: I'm at University in final year and James is on placement but is still based in the University so he has free time off work (hours are standard 9 to 5 monday to friday) and I'm currently burrowing through mountains of University work. James is focusing on building an engine for us to work with over the next 6 to 8 months (and has been for the last 6 months) whilst in the time spare I've been accumulating a pile o' prototypes and game ideas in advance of him constructing the engine.
Next year: I'll be (hopefully) Graduated from University so out in the big wide world with a lot of time on my hands so at this point James aims to have a functioning version the engine (with the ability to create 2D games by locking the axis in a 3D environment but also having the base to construct further 3D games from). I will then use the tools that he has created to develop games and putting the engine through its paces whilst he is busy finishing his final year of University.
Year after: Me and James refine the games that I have put together over the year to test our ability to work together and start publishing games from there whilst he keeps adding onto the engine to give us the 3D capability we need to start making our 3D babies.

Another question would be have any of you tried working on 2D games in a 3D engine and what issues arose? Thanks again for your time!
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 04:29:32 PM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

Nathan Cash
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 05:56:38 PM »

Disclaimer: Nathan Cash will not be held responsible if you take his advice and it turns out horribly. In fact, it may be best not to take his advice as he is only 15.

With that out of the way here is what I am suggesting. Use unity. Although it is not what you are looking for long term, it is best to prototype in to avoid having to make an engine from scratch. Be careful when doing anything 3d as Indie Devs get torn apart for 3d games (mainly because of graphics.) Anyways good luck and I hope everything works out well!
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djdolber
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2013, 02:56:36 AM »

About your question on engine choice, i would say Unity is the obvious choice for you. I'm currently working on a 2D game in Unity and i had no issues at all, rather i would say i only benefited from all the great stuff that unity provides, you can see my full devblog here: steveolofsson.tumblr.com, before this game i made 3D games professionaly in Unity. Before Unity i have been working with Flash, XNA and BlitzMax, i have never been more productive than now.
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Chris Bischoff
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2013, 08:16:52 AM »

Honestly, it should come down to where you are strongest, and what the game needs. I know its a bit obvious, and you are in a catch 22, with the Strongest being 2D, and the game being 3D, but what will be easier for you TO COMPLETE.

Personally, I'm a 2D guy, because I think that you actually get a better looking product with 2D than some AAA 3D game titles, but mainly in the area of games that I'm interested in creating (Adventure and RPGs).

In a market that it SO saturated, your game does need to look good. I know the whole 'game play over graphics' thing, but if you are trying to go commercial, you are going to want to give yourself every edge possible, and one of the big ones is beautiful visuals. If you can figure out a style of 3D that will make your game stand out, and get people interested in the gameplay, then really go for it! Bear in mind that I don't mean 'photo real'. I find games like SUBVERSION (RIP) to be absolutely beautiful.

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BronzeBeard
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 01:39:45 PM »

Personally I don't see much work difference between 2d and 3d. (Assuming you're using something like sdl and ogre3d and not any point and click gamemakers.) The key to finishing ANY indie game is to keep expectations reasonable. Far to often I see college kids running off making a procedurally generated voxel mmos and producing nothing but vaperware and a waste of time.

So if I were in your shoes I would think about what I want to do, and most importantly what CAN I do within 2 years. Then you go with what works best for your goals.

For me, I chose 3d, it fit my goals best and my goals were done in a reasonable amount of time.

From reading your post, if it's taking you "spent several years building an engine" you're doing something wrong and should go back to what I said at the start of this post.


As for 2d inside a 3d engine. I do this for about half my game where I don't need 3d graphics. (Mainly backgrounds with transparent meshes over top for click-able items.) As for moving them around like sprites in a 2d engine... I think you'd be wasting time...

My 2bits,
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2013, 04:26:04 PM »

Once again guys, thanks again for your experiences in the matter, getting a decent trend of people pointing out the same factors, will be talking to James when I return to Uni later this week along with seeing how far he's got with the engine.

Hello Nathan and djdobler! Out of the engines suggested by the lovely people above, Unity definitely seems to be a shining option out of what has been discussed, although when I talk to programmers at University about it they always seem to revile it - is that just them or is there something particularly unappealing about it to programmers? (I assumed it was down to them preferring to build their own engines, rather than the constraints of using other programmer's engines).

Hello BronzeBeard! On the previously mentioned subject of engine building, the plan described is a rough estimate - (recounting the months its been about 4 months thus far) I have no idea how long it takes to build an engine - the estimates are more based around the things happening in our lives e.g. my input at the moment into the engine is near zero since I'm swarmed with final year christmas deadline work whilst James has plenty of time available to put work in (since outside of his job he has minimal home work to do though he has to get early nights due to early starts). By the end of this academic year James will be in the scenario I am now with little time available to work on the engine since he'll have final year to tend to, so the aim for him is to have as much inputted into the engine by that point. I will be over the moon if he gets the engine all done by the end of this academic year but since this is only the second project I've worked with James on I'm yet to really scope what his capabilities are. Seeing what progress has been made over Christmas should be a good indicator to determine where we are with the project.

Hello Chris! What we'd be aiming for with the projects would be low detail with high aesthetic quality such as the eye-meltingly beautiful game Zineth. Am doing a 3D animated romance about the subject or low and high fidelity models at the moment with my studies - is called Poly.

Thankyou all for your wise contributions ^^
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djdolber
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2013, 04:15:36 AM »

To answer your question, I would say, Unity is probably unappealing to some people who like to keep stuff low level like C++ programmers who think rolling your own engine is the best option. Also, i think some may have a misunderstanding that Unity is a point and click kind of tool, or for people who cannot write code, its actually a very advanced tool and its not for people who cannot code. Im the kind of developer that loves to work on the actual game and hate to write low level code that often comes down to reinventing the wheel yet another time. So it probably depends a lot on who you ask, best choice is to form your own opinion by trying it out and learning the work flow.
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2013, 04:04:59 PM »

James does primarily code in C++ so think you may be onto something there. I'll have a look at Unity when I get spare time and nosey around its features then try and coax James over to it dependant on his progress over Christmas. Thanks again, will more than likely have more questions to ask in this article since you've supplied me with plenty o help. If there is any games that you guys want testing/feedback in return for your collective knowledge, drop me a message and I'll help as much as I can ^^
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AlexVsCoding
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2013, 04:39:00 PM »

Hello!

Update on this post, talked to James about using Unity; looking over the prices I didn't realise how high the upfront costs for Unity and the add on costs for IOS and Android. This for a starting company is a big investment ($1500), especially since only one of us will be able to have the license (if we both pay equal, who gets the license?)

The alternative suggested by James is using Marmalade to allow portability to Android and i0S. This has a cheaper community alternative of $150 a year (so we could theoretically use it for 10 years for the costs of the Unity License) and James could build his engine from that, using the time in which I'll be abroad to get the engine and a designer interface ready for me to use upon returning. Neither of us at this current time have to worry about wages and earning money since we're both students so taking the time and effort to create the engine isn't having any financial impacts.

Do any of you have previous experience with Marmalade and what experiences did you have whilst or currently have using it? Also, if you invested in a Unity license, does the programme compensate by allowing you to iterate and get your games out there faster and how soon was the pay back for the software?

As mentioned before, as a designer my experience and understanding of the construction of engines is minimal, but James is taking the time this thursday to explain the process of creating an engine and what length of time he predicts the construction to take (he has till September to get it as polished as possible), so should hopefully have a better understanding later this week if there's any technical answers.

Update! Having looked at the progress of James, the engine should be at a functioning state within a month, which is a lot quicker than I anticipated! We're going to wait until the Marmalade trial runs out at the end of the month then purchase a copy.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 03:25:59 PM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

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