Tag Archive: game development

How to make a game: What game genre and style to choose?

When it comes to bigger projects in game development industry (mostly not mobile games), many beginner devs struggle with the choice of genre and the complexity of the game they want to make. It is certainly very important decision. Some genres take thousands hours to make, some are much easier. How a group of awesome folks that decided to create an Indie Studio should make a choice of their first game genre? How we approached Sapu? How to assess the complexity?

Big AAA companies route

It is important to stress out that choosing game genre highly correlates with the innovation factor that we have to take into account. First of all, we can choose big AAA companies route. It is a route controlled by marketing departments that do tons of research of a market. They analyze what sells today, and what will sell tomorrow. Here, take a look at these awesome charts from Entertainment Software Association on which genres sell best:

Best selling genres in US Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Best selling genres in US
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

There are so many variables and statistics that we could benefit from in order to make the right choice. Based on the platform where we want to sell our games, we can make very reasonable selection of the key features and content. Isn’t it great? Yes it is… partly. Yes, we could also do the researches and analyze many things, but is it really important for us, Indie developers?

In my opinion the difference between us Indies, and big AAA companies is that they certainly look at such surveys but we should not take it so serious. Don’t get me wrong, it is very reasonable approach that gets them a lot of money, but we can’t compete with them on their rules on this competitive and challenging market.

Experimental route

Fortunately I feel like players, especially a little bit older ones, are not satisfied with such business approach presented by AAA companies. Their games are pretty much non-innovative and do not bring anything new to the table. Other than amazing graphics and fascinating stories, the gameplay doesn’t change much and repetitiveness from game to another is being felt.

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4 Source  http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

Same maps setup Farcry Primal vs Farcry 4
Source http://kotaku.com/turns-out-ubisoft-used-far-cry-4s-map-to-make-far-cry-p-1762497550

And that’s why some Indie Devs have been so successful. They brought that new, unexpected content to the market. They brought something extraordinary that no one ever saw. They brought unexplored experiences that many gamers looked for. That’s Indie chance, do something different. It is our gateway to stand out on the market and potentially be successful.

But why don’t big companies create such innovative games? Because such approach brings risk. You can hit the spot and be successful, but you can also develop a game that will be too weird for customers causing them not buying it at all. Current trend is that AAA companies hire small studios to create “indie”, innovative games. That lowers their costs and therefore is not that risky as it could be, if the whole big studio would go for such game.

Easy route

Other than being innovative or not, our folks main issue is the complexity of their first game. We can find many voices from other developers that suggest starting making games that are easy to develop i.e. platformers where you run to the right, jump and at best… shoot something. If you love this kind of games (or plan to just simply learn programming/game development processes) than I’d say go for it!

Factors indicating gamers decision Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

Factors indicating gamers decision
Source: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf

From the chart above we can tell that cheap game with exceptional graphic and drawing attention story has very high chance to be successful. Unfortunately not many Indies have a luxury of having amazing graphics and storytelling 6th sense. Also, some devs just don’t want to do such stuff.

But I would consider it twice if the only reason why you choose certain game genre is because it’s easier to develop. Such decision needs to be carefully thought-out, cause it might be non-rewarding journey.

Balance is the key

As almost everything in our lives, balance is the key. You don’t want to be too conservative with the game and go with the easy route. Why? Because you won’t sell it. Simply, it won’t distinguish itself on market and won’t be that attractive for potential customers. But also you don’t want to overdo it and with too optimistic and too ambitious plans that will take forever to finish the game you dreamed of. I have to say that our initial plans were too optimistic and that’s why we decided to cut out some of the features. Of course, we won’t create a game that even us wouldn’t buy, but we need to be aware of our limitations.

Even such balanced decision causes many hours of work. Therefore I would strongly recommend to go with the prototype/ MVP route as it not only will ease the whole process of development (cause you focus on much smaller project) but also accelerates it.

Do what you love

Ultimately, the main factor that should help you choose whether to create RTS, RPG, Shooter or any other game and determine the complexity of the game should be the question: Do you love what you’re doing? We do.

Monthly Report #4 – April 2016

Hi everyone it’s been a long time since our latest post. April’s been such insane month for me privately, that I couldn’t even find any time to post our progress. Fortunately different real-life things that kept me offline straightened out and I can finally focus more on Sapu and this blog.

As you may know we expected to create a prototype level at the end of April but unfortunately we couldn’t manage to get it as smoothly as we wanted to. Our inexperience in some of the game-related development processes showed off, and of course in such situations Murphy ’s Law makes its presence felt. As we are still focused on this level, in this report I will share more information about how are things going right now and how far we are until first tester will get to play Sapu.

Why so long?

AI/Pathfinding system

Ok guys, pathfinding works just fine.

As I mentioned earlier our inexperience showed off. First of all, the whole pathfinding system is pretty complex monster. For example, just look of what various enemies need to be aware of in order to smartly chase player during game time e.g.:

● Their size, speed and position
● Other enemies’ size, speed and position
● Other objects’ size and position
● And of course… Player’s position

Enemies aware of their size.

Add to it all this algorithmic shit for 20+ enemies… Besides, other than my (and eventually players) requirements as for how the AI behavior should look like, Sarseth wants the system to be as much optimized as possible for now, so it won’t catch us later as very complex problem. I predicted that we will need a full month (part time of course) to implement a solid pathfinding system, but I guess I underestimated this monster. The task still goes on and fortunately it is starting to shape up.

Player movement changes (WASD -> Mouse)

Yep, movement again… We decided that it is going to be controlled only with mouse (LoL alike). Earlier we thought that it will be so cool to cast different spells in one direction and run in other at the same time… and then it failed our “fun test” and caused “legs problem” (changing Sapu’s animation based on cursor’s location was too much for us :D) as well. Therefore from now on, Sapu will have to stop for a second (or less) and turn into desired direction in order to cast a spell. Such setup not only eliminates “legs problem” because it will be the same animation, but also provides risk-management opportunity where player needs to decide whether in this particular situation it’s better to run or to fight… or to use specific spell that allows for both 😀.

Transition from 2D sprite enemies to 3D models

I think I mentioned about this transition in previous report, we considered 3D modeling learning curve as to be time consuming in order to create solid, nice looking models, animations and textures. But I’m sure that as Qra’s skills increase, it should be more and more efficient work and finally will accelerate production over animating 2D sprites.

Scheduling while working part time

Sometimes you work 20, sometimes 30… and sometimes 4 hours a week. I’ll put it this way – it sucks.

What’s done?

● Sapu model (and all his animations + texture)
● In-game GUI
● Spider model (+ all animations and spells for “Boss”)
● Sapu movement on mouse
● Majority of sound effect and Sound management system which allows me to customize different options (but it will be improved after finishing prototype version)
● Combat music (epic style – we’ll share it on soundcloud soon!)

What’s next?

Other than finishing pathfinding system:

● Implementation of Sapu model (and all his animations)
● In-game GUI implementation
● Level’s design (finishing it, testing and adjusting its difficulty correctly)
● Simplistic main menu + game instructions.
● (optional) If Qra will have time – creating better model for ranged enemy (earthworm alike)
● Sound effects for unimplemented stuff

I’d like to finish those tasks within this month so we can hand it to playtesters next month. Also We plan to show this prototype on some indie game conventions in July/September so it is important to have it as polished as possible.

Followers

In April we were pretty much non-active at all on Social Media. As I mentioned, April was too much for me. As for guys… well they had their hands full with their tasks as we really wanted to finish prototype at expected time. But lets be honest, do You think Sapu will be a great success and will generate satisfying amount of players around with such marketing? Me neither… Thus We won’t fail so much in this department anymore.

Website

Google Analytics stats:
Website - April stats

Social Media

April stats
Some materials from March gave us little boost in SM followers. For many, these are non-existing numbers. For us – its 50% more on Twitter! 😀

PS: Sarseth works with such music as in above videos on a daily basis… 😀

Monthly Report #3 – February 2016

Hello everyone what’s up? We didn’t write anything for a long time, but we are coming back with another Monthly Report – this time we’ll summarize February and provide some information about our plans for this month.

First of all, as you may noticed on our Facebook page, we all agreed upon deadline of our major goal, which is to create a prototype (about 10-15 minutes gameplay long) by the end of April! I am happy with the progress we’ve got on the gameplay side and the fact that we’re getting closer to finally show the game to first playtesters!

Secondly, it is important to mention that we met earlier this month and decided to remove some features (mana and items) from our game in order to not overdo it with the amount of work ahead of us and limited man-power. Eventually, we want to bring this game to the market, so it was very difficult but reasonable decision. However, we also decided that we will create 3D models for every character/enemies as it (after initial slow-down for learning purposes) should be easier to create animations and match their quality to beautiful environment.

So yeah… On to the development process:

Main tasks

Improve gameplay experience

● Created the demo Scene, but it’s not 100% finished yet – we’ll be iterating and improving it as the gameplay will look better
● Finished Sapu movement mechanic (accelerations etc.) in order to “feel” the movement more natural
● Implemented a feature that pauses entire game for a tiny moment after hitting/killing an enemy (it is a nice feature for spells with more damage)
● Improved ranged enemy behavior (now they predict player’s position and aim more naturally with projectile spells + added some randomization)
● Created dark ambience like environment sound for prototype scene
● Based on some concept arts of how Sapu will look like, we agreed on “a boy with a hood” as a final (pre-prototype at least 🙂 ) Sapu appearance

Other tasks

Other than pure functions to improve gameplay we did some additional work including:
● Created 9 minutes of post-rock style music for calm scenes/menus etc. in collaboration with talented guitarist Damian-pok! Parts of this song have been used for our music so check it out!
● Created sound system that enables to easily add sounds with basic parameters
● Added some functions that accelerate level design

Followers

Well this was not a good month of marketing from my part. I had less time overall and even when had it, I wanted to focus more on the game content rather than strict marketing. Additionally, I think that the most effective marketing is to show screens, gifs and other content from the game so in my opinion it was a good decision.

Anyways, let’s dig into some numbers!

Website

As a positive part – bots are not bothering us! Atleast for now…
FebruaryWebsiteStats

Social Media

SocialStats-february
Twitter’s follow-for-follow methodology caused us to even loose some followers (it was 22 at highest) but it is not our policy as we want to gather true followers that will support us in our gamedev path!

Main tasks for next month

This month we’re continuing our road to create first prototype. The main tasks for March include:

● Improve AI of enemies (mainly pathfinding)

● Add the feature that slows down Sapu after getting hit

● Add missing spells that have influence on the movement of Sapu which should improve “gameplay fun” tremendously

● End all the gameplay sounds

● Create entire spider enemy (model and textures)

● Create early model for Sapu (it will be improved in April most probably)

● Finish the prototype scene (environment etc.)

That’s it. I am mostly concern on our art/SFX/3D-modelling part for this month as we don’t have much experience in it. Well, wish us good luck and stay tuned for another monthly report. Also, don’t miss this week’s #screenshotsaturday as we’ll show our first gif of prototyped scene!

Monthly Report #2 – January 2016

Hello everyone! How are things going? It’s time for another Monthly Report! Within this month we focused on two main topics: improving gameplay experience and finally show some in-game screenshots for the public. What do you think about them?

Even though improving gameplay was (and still is) our main goal, we like to automate processes that are repetitive. That’s why we did some things that are not particularly impressive from a player point of view, but accelerates our development processes.

Without further ado, let’s dig into report!

Main tasks

Improve Website’s design and create nice landing page

We wanted our website to be more attractive to the visitor and thus we focused on creating landing page that displays in-game images from Sapu as well as lists some major features of the game. How do you like it now?

We plan to improve it much more in a future, but for now we want to focus more on the game itself.

Improve gameplay experience

For pretty complex mechanics that we wan’t to achieve, we know that it will take a little more time. Here is the list what we did in January in that department:

Added lightning system, well not in 100%. This was a pain in the ass to be honest. Although Unity has pretty nice lighting/shader system implemented already, it is applicable more for 3D games. Fortunately, we managed to implement a basic, yet satisfying system and the lights are looking pretty great. However we want to enhance this system to display multiple lights at the same time. But it is not that important at the current state and the task will be continued later. We have also experimented with the option to correlate the range of light with mana/energy, but it didn’t pass our “enjoyment test” : )

● Improved player movement, also not in 100%. We’re still making tweaks here and there to balance the line between action and “immersion”. In other words, we want to create really fun to play action, but not in an arcade style with no realistic movement.

Complete environment for 3 scenes

Scenes are not 100% completed, but we are happy with the available assets that we got for them. Creating levels/scenes is much faster than creating those assets.

Other tasks

As I highlighted earlier, we did some things that will accelerate our development. Here are some “less important” tasks that we did in January:

● Majority of functionalities of a very well-constructed “PathWalking system” implemented. This script allows us to navigate objects (NPCs, mobs) along required path. It is such a nice system that (some day : ) ) Sarseth will present a sort of tutorial how to do that.

● Quick system that adds new entities with all required settings implemented

● 2 sounds files added including a whole 3 minutes long environment sound

● 2 “environmental NPCs” added

● An easy way to do in-game screenshots implemented

Followers

Website

I’m not sure if that is interesting screen, but we have some issues with those f***ing bots that generate fake traffic into our website and thus distorts traffic stats. I have included some filters to it so we can still analyze our website’s traffic, but please note that the ORANGE line is correct. The blue line adds all these scumbag bots traffic. Summarizing: 255 Sessions and 445 Pageviews. Also, an average of session increased by almost 30 seconds (since last month) which is a pretty good sign! Thank you!
January Website

Social Media

January Social Media

Main tasks for next month

Improving gameplay experience and build foundations for demo

● Create environment for demo level (which will be also in a full version game as a scene)

● Finish Sapu movement

● Experiment with a feature that pauses the game for a tiny moment after killing an enemy (this is super interesting, I wonder how it will look/feel like)

● Start improving AI of enemies
o Ranged enemy behavior
o Pathfinding

● Choose a final look of Sapu based on concept arts

● Start creating nice animations of Sapu (this may be delayed for march –we’ll see)

● Create music which will be also used for demo scene (at least 10 minutes of well-polished material)

I expect that within this month we’ll create a huge foundation for the much-awaited, fun to play demo. Wish us good luck!