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Re: Anyone on this list?

Gianfranco Berardi wrote:
>>> Lots of words are spent about the `technologies` to use, but linux 
>>> games have
>>> still the appeal of  commodore64 games...
>> Cruel but often true.  :D  Still that's not necessarily bad.  Lots of
>> casual Linux gamers (amongst whom I am not) are quite happy with the
>> sort of game that you can fire up for 15 minutes and enjoy the raw
>> fun gameplay mechanics of eighties-style games, rather than the depth,
>> length and variety that's promised (and sometimes even delivered ;))
>> by modern commercial games.
>> --Adam
> Again, I think this is more a side effect of the fact that it is indie 
> developers learning how to make games rather than actually making them.
> That is why there are so many Tetris clones and graphic demos.
> And I liked Circus Atari, and Circus Linux was just that much more fun 
> when I discovered it. Old school games Linux has got a plenty! B-)
> As far as new stuff, I think part of it is the lack of tools and part of 
> it is the desire to rebuild the wheel that only seems to come about in 
> game development.
> If I were to make a word processor, I would use code from 
> Abiword/Kword/etc to make it. In fact, I might just add whatever feature 
> I wanted to make into one of the existing projects rather than make a 
> new one in the first place.
> If I were to make a 3D Real Time Strategy game or RPG, there aren't 
> readily any game engines available to work with. Most likely I will wind 
> up trying to make the entire engine (let alone the game) myself or with 
> a team. Again, the lack of existing code will make the team disappear 
> quicker than you can say foo. Interest fades quickly when working on 
> this menial task of getting a base framework like a game engine in place.

Sounds what I'm currently experiencing: Over a year ago I've started to 
write the game engine we needed for a project an artist suggested to me. 
It took me a very long time to get the engine to a state where arbitrary 
geometry could be imported as a level and be displayed (ok, we've had 
conceptual changes leading to rewrites and I had to learn/prototype/test 
a few things before - and all by the way I've pioneered importing data 
from raw blender data files ;). Only during the last two months the 
engine reached this state.

Unfortunately I made the decision to request work on music and artwork 
to be delayed until the base engine is up so that the creative work 
won't be artificially crippled by technical requirements. But now it 
turns out that any creative person (artists and musicians) on the team 
has turned away because of lack of time (at least that's what they keep 
telling me).

Now it turns out that it is quite hard to fill that gap: the original 
team members, which still are motivated, are hindered - in other words: 
gone. To gain other people as a replacement is so hard mainly because 
they need to be motivated *first*. In that way they differ from those 
team members which were there from the first hour. They never felt the 
exicement of the new. They were never part of the initial game design. 
What they see is a fully-shaped project they must adopt themselves to.

And this is not trivial. Artwork must blend seemlessly with all those 
parts already made. The music shouldn't sound to different from what is 
already played ingame. The list could go on here. However, every 
creative person has his own unique handwriting which can't be copied, 
but only approximated to some degree, which is only possible by raw 
effort without fun. So it is hard for new people to join an already 
existing project. It's much harder for non-programmers than it is for 

> I believe Garage Games has a really great game development engine in 
> their Torque Engine. (http://garagegames.com if you're wondering) It is 
> supported for Linux I believe. For $100 per license per programmer, it 
> is a high end engine for a low end price B-)
> Things like that need to exist in the Free world as well. On that note, 
> no one will want to develop on an engine that is a reinvention of the 
> wheel and prevents them from selling commercial games they way they 
> usually would, so it would probably be best to release it under some 
> lesser than General Public License. Unless it would provide some amazing 
> feature that no other engine has...
> But them, it seems there are some game engine projects on Sourceforge. 
> Crystal Space (I believe) seems pretty promising. I haven't heard about 
> more than one project using it though.

I just want to take CS as an example for now: It is a *very* active 
project by now, has become a fully featured graphics engine one or two 
years ago already and is still increasing in quality. When version 1.0 
will be released I'm sure it'll be among the best commecial engines you 
can get - but only for graphics and maybe sound. No networking, no 
multithreading. But it's the best LGPL'ed candidate out there.

But it's quite hard to get going. CS has a *huge* and (i'm afraid) 
poorly documented feature set. Nonetheless, it has been used in a lot of 
real world projects, most of them closed source as it seems. I know only 
one promising free CS based game.

I think this example shows that even if the best (maybe I'm exagerating 
;) platform is available for anybody to work with this does not push the 
chance that a certain project succeeds, even if the biggest part of the 
coding effort is gone.

So it's really not about coding. It's about game design, artwork, music 
and sound, actually. It is the *nontechnical* creative side to every 
game project which is missing. I assume that everybody on this list 
could write a nifty 3D engine if he/she put enough effort in it. But 
what about models, textures, sounds? Do you claim yourself to be a good 
artist or musician as well? Certainly not ;). As long as this is the 
case games will continue to have the charme of the good old C64 on them.

My reasoning is simple: Only with programming skills can a game idea be 
implemented. Once somebody starts coding a game his main focus will be 
the code all over the remaining project, not the artwork or sound. So 
this person will become the programmer on this project, no matter what 
he set out to be (exception: another programmer joins in). Other people 
than the programmer must care for sound (music) to look (sound) good. 
They need a completely different view of the project. Really. When the 
artist starts to look at the code and wonders why this animation doesn't 
work out correctly he has lost because he's starting to convert to a 
programmer. And what about the game design? Well, ask the one who 
started this project ;). And guess what his job is...

Just my $0,02

> Gianfranco