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Re: Poll ideas?

Christian Reiniger wrote:
> Erik wrote:
> >Artists are definitly a group we want to attract and support, based on the last
> >poll. Possibly the poll could be oriented towards art people? Like a "prefered
> >art: 1) hand drawn/cartoon like  2) 3d photorealistic rendered 3) whatever I
> >can download for free" type poll? (mebbe coerce a gimp guru into writing
> >articles on using gimp for games, or blender, or ...)

That would be interesting - but without the presence of artistically inclined
people who want to work for zilch - this doesn't really get us anywhere.  I'm
VERY familiar with GIMP - but I can't draw cute cartoon animals to save my life.

That's why Tux is the main character in my games - he was designed by a skilled
artist (using GIMP as it happens) - and it shows.  I pray for someone to show
up on my mailing list who could make characters as interesting as those in (say)
the 'Crash Bandicoot' series of Playstation games.   If someone could make them,
I could bring them to life with comparative ease.

> >My personal opinion on the state of linux games is that we have the programming
> >ability, the game design ability, and the desire. We lack the other peices that
> >go into games, so we should encourage the people who fulfill these other
> >peices. Most programmers probably have a mentality that these other components
> >are less worthy of respect than laying code, but that kind of attitude is not
> >helping good games get out the door..

I don't exactly agree about the "game design ability" - I don't think there
are enough *experienced* games designers out there.  There are a lot of
non-programmers who'd like to see their ideas implemented for little
effort on their behalf - but that's certainly not the same thing.

IMHO we have gone about as far as we can with the abilities of programmers
alone.  I can't think of a single genre of game - or a single support library
that hasn't been written for Linux - several times in most cases.  However,
they all suffer from a general lack of Artistic design - level design (both
quality and quantity) - depth of game-play.

The programming gets done - and done pretty well IMHO - but the other things

I cite the twenty-odd versions of Tetris...that's a game you can make
with simple coloured blocks and virtually no artistic abilities.  You make
more levels by making the game come at you faster - you don't need more
cute characters - scenery - anything.  That makes it a perfect target for
a lone programmer - which is why so many people implement it.

Now look at FPS games like Quake or 3D platform games like Mario'64 and there
are virtually none of them out there.  I wrote Tux_AQFH to try to plug
that gap - but without game designers and artists - I'm stuck with the
relatively lame levels and models I can think up and build myself.

Most 3D games for Linux are racing games (Torc, TuxRacer, XRacer, glTron,
etc) - which have pretty much automatically generated (and very same-ish
looking) tracks (or often, just a single track) simply because the programmer
had nobody to build cool-looking stuff to make the track look more interesting.
My next game (TuxKart) is a racing game for that exact reason...I'll try to make
it more exciting with powerups, etc - as an attempt to put back some of what
I know is missing from the artwork.  Without a competent game designer
to guide me through that, it's unlikely that even those powerups will have
all the imagination and game-strategy effects that I'd like them to have.

What identifies most Linux freeware games is that the programmers had to
think of things to write that don't need huge artistic abilities.
Most programmers are opposite-brained to most artists - they generally don't
have the skills to do that...I know I don't.

Don't take my word for it - look at the survey on HappyPenguin:

  Typical Open Source games most need better:

    Graphic Design                                 (47%) 295 votes
    Gameplay (strategy, depth, plot)               (27%) 167 votes
    Flexibility (screen size/depth, input devices)  (5%)  35 votes
    Promotion (advertising)                         (5%)  35 votes
    Connectivity (network play)                     (4%)  27 votes
    Sound                                           (3%)  23 votes
    Documentation                                   (3%)  19 votes
    Portability (to nonUnix, ie Windows, Mac, OS/2) (2%)  14 votes

See - Graphic Design and Gameplay take up 74% of people's complaints...and
that's simply because we lack the support of artists and games designers.

The problems you can solve with sheer programming effort alone (Sound,
Documentation, Flexibility, Portability and Connectivity) hardly make a
blip on the graph.

That sound didn't get more votes suprises me - musicians and sound
effects experts are just as hard to find as graphic artists.

Perhaps the people who are upset about poor sound are *more* upset
about poor graphic design - and you only got one vote.  Also, there
are gazillions of simple sound effects out there on the web that you
can steal when making a game - so the lack of a sound expert may not
be that much of a limitation to a programmer.  "Lack of good music"
wasn't an option in the survey.

Steve Baker                  http://web2.airmail.net/sjbaker1
sjbaker1@airmail.net (home)  http://www.woodsoup.org/~sbaker
sjbaker@hti.com      (work)

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