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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperTechnical (Moderator: ThemsAllTook)Trying to pick the right software and return to game design
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Author Topic: Trying to pick the right software and return to game design  (Read 636 times)
PKKim
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« on: November 08, 2020, 07:37:53 PM »

Hey everybody

I recently decided to try to get back into video-game design after coming up with some concepts I want to try out. I've been "retired" for a decade but I used to use Game Maker back in 2010 and felt pretty comfortable with the visual drag-and-drop coding system. I have information processing issues and dyslexia so I've mostly avoided text-based coding for my whole life (other than rudimentary html) even though I can understand the logic pretty easily.

I want to be able to publish my games to both desktop (steam, direct download, etc) AND mobile, in order for them to accessible to a wider audience. (I don't even own a smart phone and have no idea how app distribution works but I want my friends to be able to play my stuff easily) I feel confident that I'd be able to pick Game Maker back up and figure out how to make these, but the licesnes (especially the mobile) are too expensive for me. Is there a better system for me to easily jump back into game design and publish to mobile and desktop without having to learn a dense coding language from scratch? Or is the familiar GM my best bet and I should just give up my dream of mobile?

If anyone has any advice I'd love to hear it! I'm set on illustration, animation, music, sound, etc. I'm just far less experienced on actual programming.

If it helps, here's some info about the projects I'm working on:

- Both are 2D and pretty low-stakes and simple and designed to be accessible even to people who have never played video-games. they definitely lean more towards interactive art than "games" in the traditional sense

- One is a large open world top-down 2.5D exploration game with 0 fighting, skill or timing based actions. No way to lose or win. Literally just roaming around, talking to interesting NPCS, and discovering new areas. Probably some sort of fetch quest / trading sequence / unlockable areas mechanics [I've joking referred to it as a "chilltroidvania"] and probably a lot of collectibles and secrets. The world map would all be hand-drawn by me instead of tile-based, and then I want to just be able to block out the collision invisibly under the map graphic.

- The other is kind of hard to describe but it's basically a mini-game / music toy thing with casual worldbuilding elements in between rounds and "unimportant rpg elements".  The main programming hurdle is that it will involve a LOT of randomly generated content, so that every time you play it, it's a randomized new experience. (If anyone has any advice specifically about building randomization generators that'd be super appreciated.)
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InfiniteStateMachine
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2020, 11:48:10 AM »

If money is an issue then maybe Godot?

https://godotengine.org/
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droqen
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2020, 01:59:32 PM »

I like Godot a lot, but imo there's a pretty heavy focus on text-based coding.
You can snap nodes together to do powerful stuff, but... you need to be able to code to make new nodes/expand existing ones, and there's no way you're making game logic without doing at least a bit of that.
Although I have never released a game on mobile, I have got it working through Godot, so I know it works.

On the other hand: I've heard very good things about Unreal's drag-n-drop, but that engine might be overkill for what you're describing. I don't know what its pipeline for mobile app distribution is like. It's probably fine though! And, afaik you don't have to pay anything upfront.

edit -- also: time is money! if you're dead-set on making a mobile game and you're familiar with GM, you might waste tens or hundreds of hours trying to familiarize yourself with a different engine only to return to GM anyway, or otherwise wish you could. it sounds like you like GM and are familiar with it. if you suspect you might like one of these other engines give them a try, but... don't sacrifice your happiness just so you can release on mobile for free. (source: i tried Unity for many years before realizing i hated it! whoops!)

also: I've heard good things about Construct 2. It also has a visual coding system thing, like Game Maker.
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InfiniteStateMachine
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 05:53:13 PM »

I like Godot a lot, but imo there's a pretty heavy focus on text-based coding.
You can snap nodes together to do powerful stuff, but... you need to be able to code to make new nodes/expand existing ones, and there's no way you're making game logic without doing at least a bit of that.
Although I have never released a game on mobile, I have got it working through Godot, so I know it works.

On the other hand: I've heard very good things about Unreal's drag-n-drop, but that engine might be overkill for what you're describing. I don't know what its pipeline for mobile app distribution is like. It's probably fine though! And, afaik you don't have to pay anything upfront.

edit -- also: time is money! if you're dead-set on making a mobile game and you're familiar with GM, you might waste tens or hundreds of hours trying to familiarize yourself with a different engine only to return to GM anyway, or otherwise wish you could. it sounds like you like GM and are familiar with it. if you suspect you might like one of these other engines give them a try, but... don't sacrifice your happiness just so you can release on mobile for free. (source: i tried Unity for many years before realizing i hated it! whoops!)

also: I've heard good things about Construct 2. It also has a visual coding system thing, like Game Maker.

Ah that's a good point. I've used unreal extensively. Blueprints are probably fine to use entirely, especially if you are solo or in a small team. I've seen it been done before.

Unity also has BOLT (I have no experience with it and I think it's quite new).
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PKKim
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2020, 11:37:59 AM »

Thanks everyone for your responses! I'm back with an update:

I casually looked into Unity, Godot, and Construct. I like Construct's simplicity but it felt like maybe it isn't equipped to handle what I want to do with it? I decided to focus on Unity since I feel like Unity and Godot have sort of similar vibes from my perspective (I know I'm probably wrong about that?) and Unity has more of a history/community/etc.

-

However, I feel super lost watching some of these Unity tutorials (mostly Brackeys but other stuff too). I'm taking a lot of notes and every time I feel like I understand the syntax there's suddenly a bunch of new weird things that operate totally differently. I got a basic prototype working of a top-down walking-around situation, but only by copying line-for-line what the tutorial did. I could probably make the bulk of one of my game projects in Unity just using copied tutorials/templates but I'm worried that if something breaks or I want to implement a mechanic that I can't find a tutorial for... I'm going to be 100% lost.

Examples: I tried to watch Brackeys' video about audio implementation and was shocked at how convoluted of a thing he put together just to get sound to work when itd take me all of 2 seconds to implement basic sound in GM DnD. Another huge thing that's screwing up my head is having to define variables for other objects and scripts, rather than just calling them directly? I'm sure there's important structural reasons for doing this but it just means my brain has to hold a whole second set of redundant names and I can't tell in these videos if a name is for a function, a variable, or an asset.

-

So my current plan is to put down Unity briefly and look back into Godot, which I also felt lost and confused by. Do y'alls think I'll have less issues comprehending Godot/Pyhton than I did with Unity/C#?

-

What sucks is - in the time it took me to get Unity to stop breaking and actually load (I needed to turn off NordVPN??), I managed to make a fully working (albeit inefficient) prototype in Game Maker Studio 2 of a key mechanic I wanted to start with. All my ancient GM DnD knowledge came back pretty quickly. The only issue I ran into with using GMS2 was learning how to navigate its god-awful UI. But I really just don't have $300+ to chuck at Yoyo to let me use their program that I learned how to use when it was still free. It's so frustrating and weird that the easy-to-use simple programs cost money (GM, Construct) while the harder-to-use more robust programs are free (Unity, Godot). And if I AM going to spend money to make a game, I'm I'd rather just pay a programmer to do all this stuff for me.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 11:43:55 AM by PKKim » Logged
droqen
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2020, 08:05:35 AM »

Do y'alls think I'll have less issues comprehending Godot/Pyhton than I did with Unity/C#?

Does this code snippet appear hard to comprehend?

Code:
func _process(delta):
    var velocity = Vector2()  # The player's movement vector.
    if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_right"):
        velocity.x += 1
    if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_left"):
        velocity.x -= 1
    if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_down"):
        velocity.y += 1
    if Input.is_action_pressed("ui_up"):
        velocity.y -= 1
    if velocity.length() > 0:
        velocity = velocity.normalized() * speed
        $AnimatedSprite.play()
    else:
        $AnimatedSprite.stop()

You can check it out in context in this tutorial:

https://docs.godotengine.org/en/stable/getting_started/step_by_step/your_first_game.html

I find it a lot easier to navigate Godot's codebase and features, but that's just me.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2020, 08:13:26 AM by droqen » Logged

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PKKim
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2020, 03:20:59 PM »

So I started using Godot, (following

)
and wow it's SO much easier to use than Unity in my opinion. Holy moly. I felt like I actually understood the things I was being taught in the tutorials, and I already have a working prototype going. I even had an issue where I needed to figure out how to change something from the basic tutorial template. It took a bit of tinkering, but the coding language and engine features made enough sense that I knew exactly how to go about implementing the change once I figured it out. I'm definitely going to use Godot moving forward with the easier project. As I work on this one, I'm going to see if I can figure out the more complex things I'd need for my other project. So, we'll see. But as for now it looks like I can start getting my one project off the ground!

Thank you both so much for your help! I would have never known about this engine otherwise! I might post in the dev log section here with my progress once I get the ball rolling
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droqen
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2020, 09:17:03 PM »

Hey, I'm really happy to hear that Smiley

If you post a devlog, make sure to link it in this thread so I see it cuz I'd like to check it out!
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