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999255 Posts in 39205 Topics- by 30615 Members - Latest Member: AlecKelley

April 22, 2014, 11:39:21 PM
TIGSource ForumsPlayerGamesBREAKING NEWS! Turning this into something productive/positive
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Author Topic: BREAKING NEWS! Turning this into something productive/positive  (Read 10692 times)
mewse
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« Reply #90 on: July 28, 2009, 09:14:38 PM »

That said, you know these fuckers will get you your art on time and not blank out on you.  But you'll get boring art.  So I agree, a unique artist who acts professionally is the way to go.  There must be a good way to vet someone for those qualities.

I once worked with a team of four artists.  All of them were fantastic (and I'd very much love to work with any of them again, but over the past few years each of them has left the games industry and gone into film special effects), but of that team, one in particular was stunning in terms of his animation style and the speed with which he could work, though he was lacking in organisation and technique with the software.  So when we had stuff that really mattered, the team of artists basically reconfigured itself so that that one artist would blaze his way through all of the art which needed to be created, and the other three would spend all their time cleaning up after him and making sure that everything was in a form such that it could actually be used.

It was really effective and got us great results.. but I can't imagine that it would have been a very creatively satisfying job for those three artists on "clean-up" duty.
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« Reply #91 on: July 28, 2009, 09:29:58 PM »

I think generally its good to have a 'living' outline - one that is loose and open to evolving.

Not every detail has to be laid out, because its likely to not work or end up changing. (as long as you can visualize how it will work in your head)

The projects I've worked on that have become successes are the ones with the least design documentation.

I'm curious how you applied that style to Aquaria? I mean, the gameworld is huge and the gameplay isn't "basic". How did you do with just a small design spec and flexible overall outline? I mean this question seriously - i'm interested in how you did this that way.

Quote
In terms of collaboration, I like leaving things open enough so that the partner can add their own creativity into the mix. In my current case I have a project that is very personally important to me, and I have a very clear idea of how I want it to feel - but it could be put across in a number of different visual styles that would all work well. So I'm open to considering a lot of different options.
Agreed. Details like specific art-style, items, control, etc. shouldn't be nailed in place early on. The overall concenpt, "feel" and "message" is what may be determined beforehand - how in detail that message is communicated, can be adjusted en-route.

Hmm, bonus question: What are your preferences regarding prototyping? Do you tend to prototype all along the way, or prefer to pull as much of the prototyping as possible to the beginning? (I prefer the second approach, because near the beginning, sweeping changes to the concept are easy to do).

---

Maybe some practical examples are more useful than discussing on a purely abstract level. About a year ago, i for fun started to think how i'd like to do a paradroid successor. I never really had the intention to collaborate with others for doing it, because with a new programming language, web community, bookseries and an IF backburner project in the pipeline, i'd overstress my abilities if i'd start another project. Still, i conceptually sketched away anyways because this specific "what-if" scenario was fun to me.

Anyways, i quite early decided, that i'd want to keep the core gameplay and arcade-feel of paradroid 90, but would like to escalate what one does in paradroid more (being a covert intruder in a droid-collective, and basically working like a parasite). I especially wanted to make the player feel being that much more (atmosphere, immersion). So i scetched basic gameplay elements, like that the other droids would be on the lookout for the player (they'd regularily scan each other, like police checking peoples ID), that sensor ranges should matter (but not too complicated), that the player could go into "sleep mode" in which he'd be unprobable to be detected (with the visuals and sounds reienforcing the impression of sleeping, yet being in enemy territory), and borrowing some ideas from other games (security alarms (SS2), searching for datafragments (Impossible Mission), station self-destruct countdown (Alien Breed) and there being droid factories which's production one can reduce by sabotaging generators (Raid On Bungeling Bay)).

So in total, a generic idea about the "feel" of the game, and a handful of ideas how to create that feel... but without details being nailed down. Thats how i tend to do first overall concept drafts - and then some quick'n dirty prototypes (if i'd do the paradroid thing with others, it would be a simple one-screen tiled map, with placeholder graphics and some basic gameplay concepts in place to get a first impression).
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Derek
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« Reply #92 on: July 28, 2009, 10:35:12 PM »

Derek, you really think this is boring?

Hey, Craig-

First off, what Adam said, of course.  There are artists that work for Massive Black that I like, and they're definitely all uber-talented, with technique up the butt that I'd love to have.  I kinda feel like a dick now for singling them out, but it was the first example I could think of.  Some of the pieces in their portfolio are rad, too.

Regarding that picture, actually, I think it's just okay.  Thematically, it's hot chick + biomechanical horror, which, again, I have to emphasize is a theme that I enjoy, but still... then I'd like to see it rendered in a more interesting way.  The composition is kinda boring, in my opinion - it's basically side-view and there's not much depth or value to the piece.  The colors are too muted.

When I see that piece...



It gets lumped in with these:









I see a lot of stuff these days that looks like amorphous gray/brown blobs of flesh+metal to me, when there are all these other ways games could be influenced by art:




(Moebius was actually a big inspiration for Panzer Dragoon.)











etc. etc.

Even if you're going for a typical tits/monsters/fantasy/sci-fi thing you can put some pizzazz into it:



Gears of War could have easily looked like a Simon Bisley painting - it's got all the beefy attitude and everything.  But sadly, it doesn't.  The most creative monster they could come up with was like a gray fleshborg with sharp teeth and spider legs.  (And I had fun with this game, by the way.)

Anyway, end rant.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 10:42:27 PM by Derek » Logged
Alec
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« Reply #93 on: July 28, 2009, 11:54:36 PM »

I think generally its good to have a 'living' outline - one that is loose and open to evolving.

Not every detail has to be laid out, because its likely to not work or end up changing. (as long as you can visualize how it will work in your head)

The projects I've worked on that have become successes are the ones with the least design documentation.

I'm curious how you applied that style to Aquaria? I mean, the gameworld is huge and the gameplay isn't "basic". How did you do with just a small design spec and flexible overall outline? I mean this question seriously - i'm interested in how you did this that way.

We just had very basic outlines that we kept changing. (we changed direction a few times) Basically the world grew from a basic outline (we'd map out the levels as just empty spaces to start, to see if they were about the right size) and then adding more details and making connections.

Quote
Quote
In terms of collaboration, I like leaving things open enough so that the partner can add their own creativity into the mix. In my current case I have a project that is very personally important to me, and I have a very clear idea of how I want it to feel - but it could be put across in a number of different visual styles that would all work well. So I'm open to considering a lot of different options.
Agreed. Details like specific art-style, items, control, etc. shouldn't be nailed in place early on. The overall concenpt, "feel" and "message" is what may be determined beforehand - how in detail that message is communicated, can be adjusted en-route.

Hmm, bonus question: What are your preferences regarding prototyping? Do you tend to prototype all along the way, or prefer to pull as much of the prototyping as possible to the beginning? (I prefer the second approach, because near the beginning, sweeping changes to the concept are easy to do)

For Aquaria we just jumped in and started making what we thought would be "the game" but it turned out that it was just a prototype. Smiley

So now I would lean towards doing more prototyping up front... but I'm still wary of having a completely separate prototyping phase for some reason. Maybe because it can make things too simplified or "sterile"? I prefer games that feel more organic...

I also am really interested in the way that visuals, audio and interaction collide and mix together - so I feel weird doing prototypes with just boxes and no atmosphere. I don't think games are, at their core, just about collision shapes moving around in different ways.
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Lyx
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« Reply #94 on: July 29, 2009, 10:07:09 AM »

We just had very basic outlines that we kept changing. (we changed direction a few times) Basically the world grew from a basic outline (we'd map out the levels as just empty spaces to start, to see if they were about the right size) and then adding more details and making connections.
This is interesting, because it sounds more like an artist approach (first doing the overall sketches and outlines of the image - literarily - and then adding detail).

Quote
For Aquaria we just jumped in and started making what we thought would be "the game" but it turned out that it was just a prototype. Smiley

So now I would lean towards doing more prototyping up front... but I'm still wary of having a completely separate prototyping phase for some reason. Maybe because it can make things too simplified or "sterile"? I prefer games that feel more organic...
Hmm, perhaps for early prototypes a "testbed sandbox" would work? I mean something like first creating just a small area to first test things small scale - and then after one got an idea how to approach the rest, extrapolating that stuff to a full gameworld? That wouldn't limit you to "sterile" testing of unconnected "atoms". Downside of course is that this way, you cannot test mechanics which span larger areas, or traveling between areas.

Quote
I also am really interested in the way that visuals, audio and interaction collide and mix together - so I feel weird doing prototypes with just boxes and no atmosphere. I don't think games are, at their core, just about collision shapes moving around in different ways.
Definatelly, yes. However, a full simulation would mean spending a lot of effort on content, at a time, when it is very probable that things get discarded often, no? The compromise which i use, is that i dont look at such "placeholders" as what they are, but just use them as cues to imagine the rest ("assisted imagination" or smth like that ;- ). I guess this also depends on personal thoughtstyle - for example, i rarely think purely "abstractly", even if from my posts, it may seem that way - i typically also imagine what i think (not just entities, but especially how things are connected).

To me, it seems that simplistic early prototypes are okay, if: 1. You do not just see "boxes" but in your head add the rest / 2. It isn't black/white "Early prototype -> Full Implementation" but instead one or more steps in-between, so that a transition can happen. Or do you think that there is an alternative to simplistic early prototypes, which doesn't require a lot of effort?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 10:28:18 AM by Lyx » Logged
aeiowu
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« Reply #95 on: July 29, 2009, 10:31:16 AM »

A few things i learned early on considering the creative process. In this case it was for fine art (learning to draw)

General to Specific. Get your structure laid out on the page (screen) first, if you're not amazing and haven't been doing this for decades this will be a struggle. But it will be worth it.

At some point you have to stop looking at the still-life (plan) and start responding to the drawing (game) itself.

I think both of those speak to Alec's process. They are certainly true for ours. For our current project Liferaft we had one idea. Basically a world seen from one persons perspective. It grows from there. I've redone the art about three times now and that's not unusual. I think we redid the art for dinowaurs (at least the menu system) about 7 times. For a collab I'm working on now, Protonaut, I've scrapped the art three times over a span of a few months.

I don't know what I'm doing 100%. And I'm not going to let some almighty preconceived plan or previous iteration get in the way of both the learning and making the game way better. That's what they mean when they say "Kill your darlings".
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Lyx
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« Reply #96 on: July 29, 2009, 12:13:04 PM »

I don't know what I'm doing 100%. And I'm not going to let some almighty preconceived plan or previous iteration get in the way of both the learning and making the game way better. That's what they mean when they say "Kill your darlings".
Try doing that with a large project.

Info: There is something beyond "total control" and "total chaos"... has something to do with "guidance" i think.
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AdamAtomic
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« Reply #97 on: July 29, 2009, 12:16:55 PM »

Try doing that with a large project.

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but I am really tired of your condescending rejections of sound advice from experienced devs
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« Reply #98 on: July 29, 2009, 12:24:59 PM »

Well, since this is your thread, i will accept your rejection by not continueing to participate in the thread. Though, i would like to remark that your rating regarding "condescending" by itself is only morally relevant, but *by itself alone* logically irrelevant (it does i.e. not say anything about truthfulness). Also, i'd like to thank Alec for some of his descriptions, because those already spawned an interesting and practically useful discussion between me and someone else.

Have a nice day.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 12:29:27 PM by Lyx » Logged
AdamAtomic
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« Reply #99 on: July 29, 2009, 12:32:56 PM »

It is not my thread, but you talk a lot of crap:

Quote
Though, i would like to remark that your rating regarding "condescending" by itself is only morally relevant, but *by itself alone* logically irrelevant (it does i.e. not say anything about truthfulness)

what does that even mean??  No matter how you slice it, laying this out there:

Quote
Try doing that with a large project.

is a really condescending thing to say to someone who has been developing games publicly for a few years now, especially when you yourself have no game dev experience.

I like the discussion that is happening here, but replying with longer and longer brute force explanations of why everyone is wrong without backing it up (and when the majority of both small and large scale indie dev serves as direct evidence against your claims) is not furthering the discussion of work habits/design docs/project planning.
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« Reply #100 on: July 29, 2009, 01:54:40 PM »

My only real point was like... yeah, some box prototypes might work for some developers, that's cool if it does. But for me it usually doesn't. (depends a lot on the type of game, really)

I prefer to have -some- kind of art in there, so the art has a chance to evolve along with the gameplay. I also put in music and as much other stuff as I can to get more of a feel for things. The music influences the gameplay, the gameplay influences the story, and vice-versa. Essentially, for me, all elements of a concept are interconnected and I feel weird separating them.

Now, in some cases, its necessary to look at one piece at a time, and that's fine. But in my mind its still interconnected.

I know some other devs are cool with prototyping game play by itself and finding a musician to write music for it later as a completely separate process, etc. That's totally valid, its just not my approach. You end up with a different type of final result. I'm not saying its better or worse, its just kinda different!

 Gentleman
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Derek
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« Reply #101 on: July 29, 2009, 03:41:12 PM »

Yeah, what I was trying to get at before was that there's a big difference between a game and a "non-game-related software project."  I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt, but...

This is interesting, because it sounds more like an artist approach (first doing the overall sketches and outlines of the image - literarily - and then adding detail).

Yeah, exactly.  Games are like movies, books, comic books, paintings... they're creative arts and oftentimes have to be made as such.  Stephen King doesn't plan out his books before he starts writing.  Werner Herzog doesn't ever do storyboards, apparently.  (To name a few examples in other mediums.)  A lot of game developers likewise improvise, and let the creative process lead them.  It can make for good games.

Lyx, you strike me the consummate engineer personality type, where logic rules above all else... your last reply to Adam kind of clinches it for me.  Anyway, it's not a bad thing, but yeah, he was right to call you out imo.  I don't think you meant to be rude to Greg, but you were.
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Anthony Flack
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« Reply #102 on: July 29, 2009, 06:13:26 PM »

I wish this forum had a "thanks" button so I could thank Derek for his little art rant. Instead I will have to settle for: WORD.

As far as the planning thing goes, ideally I prefer to just hammer things out until they feel right. Which works great when you're working alone. But if you are, say, working on a 360 game, then you have some problems. Like, Microsoft wants to know exactly what you're going to do before you do it. They also want to know exactly when it's going to be finished, before you start, so they can work you into their release schedule.

Eeek.

So here's me. I have a first version of my game to act as a prototype. That helps. But a lot of the design is going to change; it has to support 2 players for a start, which changes EVERYTHING. Huge question marks are hanging over large areas. But I have to write a design document that describes the whole game from start to finish and everything in it. So I make a whole bunch of stuff up. We schedule it all in. Everybody gets to work. I hope like hell the design is solid.

Inevitably, it kind of is, but also it kind of isn't. Ok, here is the challenging part. Dropping the project is not an option. Radical redesign is not an option. Time is extremely limited. We've got no money left and some of the people working on the game are being paid a salary.

So the design is kind of working, it's not bad but it will never be perfection. It can't be that perfectly crafted, ideal object that we all hope we'll be able to make one day. I just can't afford it. But it maybe still can be pretty good, if I'm smart. Small changes can be made and things can be shifted around a bit.

Did I mention eeek?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 06:16:27 PM by Anthony Flack » Logged

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« Reply #103 on: July 29, 2009, 07:34:06 PM »

There is definitely a "point of no return" element to every project. At some point the game has to be finished and the lingering "problems" can't be fixed.

Such is life though, we're only alive for a limited time. Smiley
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« Reply #104 on: July 29, 2009, 07:42:13 PM »

I don't know what I'm doing 100%. And I'm not going to let some almighty preconceived plan or previous iteration get in the way of both the learning and making the game way better. That's what they mean when they say "Kill your darlings".
Try doing that with a large project.

Alright, I wasn't sure you were gonna make it, but Congratulations!  Beer!

You've successfully passed the trial and refused help from some of the most experienced devs in independent gaming!  You are awesome Smiley

Now go do exactly what you were already doing because you're way beyond these lame-oh's, honestly they couldn't art their way out of a paper bag if they had knives for fingers or a machete or something else cool and sharp.

Keep on being you!
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