Game development is hard, this is why

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Hello there, my name is Tyler Rogers, head game designer for an upcoming indie game I’m working on with your very own David Colson. The game is unnamed at the moment, but is addressed unofficially as “Boxman”. Through these last couple of months, my dream of being in charge of a video game that people everywhere can enjoy is starting to take shape. It has already been an incredible success and I am excited for even more progress in the months ahead. Before I launch into my experiences of game development and things I have already learned from it I would like to thank David for letting me guest write on the site. It is a incredible site and I am grateful for the opportunity, and for your presence in the game development community.

Onto the story, so ever since I was a kid, I was always enthralled by video games. They kept me entertained for hours on end. As I grew up, video games could no longer be just anything that moved to a mouse click, or a simple puzzle. I began finding games I truly enjoyed such as The Hobbit, and many others. It was roughly at this point when I decided I wanted to make a video game. The first one I ever planned out was inspired by World of Warcraft, a popular online multiplayer game. This was when I was very young, maybe 10 or 12. So naturally with no experience or knowledge of programming or anything computer related, I never could make the game a reality, and I lost the notebook. This didn’t stop me, I continued drawing levels for 2D platformers, online games like Club Penguin, and many others.

The trend continued where I never actually made any progress in game development. Eventually this stopped, but I knew that I would make a game if I got the chance. I got into some new programs like After Effects, Photoshop, and Flash. After being sidetracked with video creation I stumbled on a YouTube video of 3DS Max creations. I was amazed and quickly found the free student edition of the software, downloaded it and began playing around with it. After a few months I stumbled onto a job 3D modeling for an MMO, I was beyond excited. I would get really jumpy before team meetings and very inspired by the end. As the team consisted of only a few guys, progress was slow, and I still didn’t really know what I was doing in this game development world. This was everyone’s first game like me, but they didn’t seem enthusiastic about making anything new. The story they proposed was very bland and unexciting. The gameplay they planned on was entirely based on an outdated engine called Bigworld. Bigworld was nothing short of a pain. I had to downgrade from 3Ds Max 2013 64 bit to 2012 32 bit. Importing objects was terrible, we had no programmer, and the story author who had an amazing story went missing.

I slowly realized that no real progress was made at all. I had made a ton of models for a game I didn’t believe in and that I didn’t even want to play. I explained this fact to the main guy of the team, Chris. I told him I didn’t really see the game going anywhere; We didn’t have any programmers, he hired many irritating incompetent people and even he took hours to get a point across that should have taken only minutes. I told him that it really wasn’t working for me, and that I was leaving, he quickly replied “no you’re not, you’re fired” and hung up the Skype call. Even though I quit before that, it still felt terrible. I quickly reassured myself that nothing would have come from staying, and I was proven correct when I heard from a later ex-member, the entire project was shut down. I do however have to thank Chris for teaching me the importance of efficiency and the enthusiasm for making games, neither of which he displayed. This game development thing is clearly very hard.

Afterwards, I realized that with the correct guidance that the last team lacked, a great game can be made with little to no money. I began my search for workers for MY game. People willing to work for free until the game got on its feet. I searched forums far and wide, YouTube as well. That proved useful as I found many impressive game development projects in UDK, the engine I decided to use. After a few unsuccessful attempts at programmers, I still stayed optimistic. Then I found the one and only David Colson, head of what was then Peripheral Games. I heard him talking about coding his own engine and was impressed. I contacted him, and that kicked things off. We have been working on the project for a few months now, with some slow months due to both of our educations getting in the way of game development work.

Finally being behind a game project was, and still is, very daunting, especially with such an ambitious project. I have already learned many things from these past months. When working on animations you can’t take any shortcuts, set your future self up for less work. Doing it right the first time saves countless hours in later development. Another thing that I still find important is good contact with the team. Right now it is just me and David, potentially more on the way later in development. By contact I mean a few meetings every week or couple of weeks. This keeps everyone in the loop on what’s going on and results in quick turn around. Another thing I got a bit lucky with was the knowledge David had going into this; he knew what was to be done first. We began with basic character importing and animation trees. With that in, we moved on to basic mechanics. Thanks do David, we also use a website called Bitbucket. This allows us to update the games build online and merge our changes together. This is essential because David lives in Ireland and I live in America.

So far we are still in pre-production and this is one of the most important steps of the game. This lays down the foundation for the rest of the game. With sloppy mechanics, the best story can still suck as a game. Ideally when you finish the game, it is what you WANT to play. Even after working on it for months and months. As an indie developer, I don’t really feel any pressure. Nobody knows about this game, with the exception of a few people. No expectation means no final deadline. We still want to finish the game, but this removes the threat of us pushing out something we aren’t proud of. For the necessary funding, we will be doing a Kickstarter page. The number comes out to around $10,000 to pay for all licenses and required software. With the correct marketing, I feel like it can do pretty well. Overall this is a very exciting process that has quite some time before it is complete. I cannot wait to publish and hear about people enjoying the game for themselves. I will continue to keep my mind open to suggestions and change, and I will to be sure to remember that everything in this is a learning experience. Please feel free to ask any questions within reason, and non game specific related and I will try my best to answer each one.

For all of you interested in game development, now is the time. With Unreal Engine 3, anyone can make a successful game. Even If you aren’t a master of a program, you can still pursue your dream, put together a team, and create the game you have been waiting to play.

That’s all I got. If you have any other game development stories please post them below in the comments, I would very much like to hear them!

  • Onur

    I don’t know if i can do this it’s so much eeh.. i just started game development study and am not sure if this is something for me. i also love playing games and i still do but i didn’t make anything of a game sort of thing and am not good with connections.. pfft i pretty much fucked on live.

  • Denis Pawszok

    I pity you. All you need to get success in game development is amazing imagination, be born with a talent to do something in game development. And that’s it’s.

    You say “you didn’t see the project going anywhere”, but you never actually worked hard enough on it, and that’s why. I remember always dreaming of making amazing games, that millions of people would want to play. And when I settled down on my computer, and started making it. Soon after receiving little help from multiple communities, I just gave up. Because I couldn’t be bothered working hard and learning other aspects of game development or paying professionals to do other aspects for me. And that’s exactly what you’re doing.

    It took me around 50 (not kidding) failed game idea attempts, to realize I won’t get anything done without spending a lot of time on it, and without any hard work. Currently I’ve been single-handedly working on a simple game with a clever concept, but since I don’t know programming, I’m asking people on the community websites for help, and paying some of them. So far I’ve been waiting 3 months for a single person to reply to a certain coding problem I’m having. And I’m still not giving up, I’ll just wait some more, and eventually I’ll contact them and reach out to other people for help. Meanwhile I’ve found hobbies that can keep me as entertained and pay as well as game development if I become as successful in them. And those are painting and writing fiction novels. It’s not at all different from making games, you get an idea, and you make it a reality, whether it’s an image, a game, or a book. It gives me the same effect, and every month or so I keep progressing on my game.

    • Tyler Rogers

      Hey Denis, Tyler here! Sorry for such a late response on your post.

      I see where you are coming from and totally agree, hard work is a must. The issue I had with the game team I was on is that it was poorly led, and felt like we had nothing new to bring to games. That didn’t dissuade me from making games at all, just their game. That is a large role in why I am making my own game!

      Thanks for the comment,

      Tyler

    • Guido Tarsia

      “I pity you”? How polite of you to start an anonymous comment like that. Obviously such civil start deserves a full comment read. Or total disregard.