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WitchKiller
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on: February 10, 2009, 03:29:46 AM

Hail F13,

I'm twenty-six years old, just home from the Army, a full-time student (freshman), an Austin native, and I plan on working in the video-game industry.

In keeping with the same advice I've seen offered to others, I tried to make a game with the Adobe Flash 30 day trial.  Unfortunately I was not able to finish my game, but I did work hard and learn a great deal.  Anyway, in an effort to just do it, I wrote a brief design document on the game I tried to make and published it here  http://hyper-pandora.blogspot.com/

I know that I'm new here, but I would greatly appreciate any professional insight, criticism, or advice that members of this community could offer.  My life since last fall has been dedicated to learning about game design, I'm taking this undertaking seriously, and I assure you that I will act on advice.  I wish I was able to finish a prototype, but I think the design doc. adequately explains the game.

Thanks.


"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."  C.S. Lewis
Yoru
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Reply #1 on: February 10, 2009, 05:25:49 AM

Bad time to be trying to break into the industry in Austin, man.

Otherwise, the advice remains the same. Bust your ass to make a simple but kick-ass game on your own instead of just talking/writing about games on the internet. Schmooze like a motherfucker at conferences.

The industry is intensely nepotistic, so your best bet is to befriend some young folks who are in the industry, show them you're an awesome/smart guy, and hope they can get you a job somewhere. Failing that, set yourself apart by delivering the goods up-front.

You could also try to find an alternative job inside the company; QA is a popular route for those with essentially no other skillsets. If you're a programmer or artist, then head on in via those doors. Beware, everyone can smell the stench of "wannabe-designer" and it's not an attractive odor.
WitchKiller
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Reply #2 on: February 10, 2009, 07:55:18 AM

Thanks for the reply, Yoru.  I get the wannabe-developer-shit-smell thing.  I just got started really digging on game design work and I've seen tons of posts in just the new year about hot new $30M ideas that are so great they can't be revealed.  All I can say (and I know talk is cheap) is that I am willing to put in the money, time, and effort to become a working professional the right way, and with working, refined, and well realized indie-games on my resume.  No fraternal sneaky-sneaky, no snake-oil, and no smoke and mirrors.  I will work in offices cleaning your shit without pay if you will teach me how to make a squad move towards a mouse-click in Flash etc, and I publishing all of my ideas on my blog so that I can work with feedback from people who are where I want to get to.

I have decided to invest my college experience into becoming a competitive programmer, I'm buying Adobe during Spring Break, and getting right back to work on my game.  Hopefully I can get a prototype out and running before too long.

thanks again, Yoru.

EDIT: Anybody have any references to professional design docs?  Mine is pretty Frankensteined, and I couldn't find a clear way to include libraries and the like.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 07:59:26 AM by WitchKiller »

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."  C.S. Lewis
CadetUmfer
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Reply #3 on: February 10, 2009, 12:47:16 PM

GameDev.Net for anything and everything development related.  Gamasutra for industry news.

If you're not dead-set on Flash, there's lots of other (free) options.  If you're on Windows, Visual C# Express and XNA is a great way to get started.  The Starter Kits on the site are mostly-finished prototypes that can give you ideas on how to architect yours.

Your goals are to get something 1. Done 2. Polished and 3. Innovative (in that order).

Anthony Umfer
Developer, LiftOff Studios
WitchKiller
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Reply #4 on: February 10, 2009, 03:13:07 PM

Thanks for the advice, bro.  I'm pretty sure that I had 1 and 3 switched.

Anything cheaper (or free-er) than Flash would be great.  Practically, I'm becoming a programmer, but striving for a career in game design.

 I'll start scouring around trying to find some programming basics so I can start self-teaching.  I'm only barely familiar with XNA (Basically, I know that it exists), but I automatically assumed that it would cost somewhere in the thousands. 

Thanks for the links too.  Shoot me a reply If you happen to run across any articles for level 1 programmers.

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."  C.S. Lewis
Sauced
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Reply #5 on: February 10, 2009, 04:24:33 PM

Well, you have probably figured this out already, but your design is a little big for one person, not to mention a lot to tackle when you need to learn a lot of Basics before you can realize your vision.  I actually think the Kongregate Labs tutorials are a great place to start: http://www.kongregate.com/labs.

One of the keys to "getting something done" is to learn how to narrow your scope.  When you have as much to learn as anyone does when they start game programming, get the Learning steps out of the way early and often.  The most important skill you can learn is how to break specific functions (let's call those Stories, say) down into the individual, completable, Tasks.  Each Task can be tackled in its own right, and when all of the Tasks are done, the Story is done.

So you want to be working at the following level:

Story: "Move Player to the Spot I click on the Screen"
Task - Image representing Player is on the Screen
Task - Click on the Screen with the Mouse displays the Mouse Coordinates on the Screen
Task - Clicking on the Screen places the Player at the Mouse Coordinates
Task - Clicking on the Screen "animates" the Player to the Mouse Coordinates

And so on.  This will allow you create very reasonable objectives, and finishing each will bring about the sense of accomplishment needed to keep going.  Try breaking things down into some small slice of time, like 2 or 3 weeks, have a set of small objectives to complete.  You'll be able to track your progress and add or remove work from the next 2 week cycle.

As far as specifics go, I'd be happy to take a crack at any Actionscript 3 questions you have.  I can't recommend the O'Reilly Cookbook enough - it is designed to quickly answer questions like "How to I respond to mouse clicks", and does so in a very efficient manner.  Mine is jammed with book marks, and I still crack it open from time to time.

http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596526955/
IainC
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Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 03:13:45 AM

Thanks for the advice, bro.  I'm pretty sure that I had 1 and 3 switched.

Anything cheaper (or free-er) than Flash would be great.  Practically, I'm becoming a programmer, but striving for a career in game design.


I'm a games designer with absolutely zero programming skills. You can get games design experience without being able to programme. Designing board games, roleplaying systems, wargames, card games etc gives you a lot of insights into the mechanical aspects of games and has much lower barriers to entry. Good design is platform independant to a large degree.

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Salamok
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Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 09:54:48 AM

FlashDevelop & HaXe are open source tools for flash development and I am sure there are others.  If you are unable to afford flash at this time try a few of those out.

Personally I think flash game development has been ruined by all the raping and pillaging going on in the dev community.  Odds of your game getting stolen and improved upon before it gets popular seem to be much greater than the odds of you making a dime off it.  That said if you can't beat em and insist on joining em i highly suggest you get an SWF decompiler as it will be of great assistance when learning flash.
Sauced
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Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 12:29:18 PM

Personally I think flash game development has been ruined by all the raping and pillaging going on in the dev community.  Odds of your game getting stolen and improved upon before it gets popular seem to be much greater than the odds of you making a dime off it.  That said if you can't beat em and insist on joining em i highly suggest you learn how to rape and pillage as it will be of great assistance when learning flash.

Great advice.
WitchKiller
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Reply #9 on: February 11, 2009, 03:00:00 PM

Thanks for the guidance.

I finished an online basic HTML (I really am starting from scratch) course, and just got back from changing my major to CompSci.  I have some Visual Basic books coming in that I have to go pick up, but I'll get on top of FlashDevelop and HaXe later tonight when I have some time.  So I'm making some progress, but I don't have any CompSci classes until the fall.  If anyone comes up with anything that I should start getting familiar with now then let me know.


...You can get games design experience without being able to programme. Designing board games, roleplaying systems, wargames, card games etc gives you a lot of insights into the mechanical aspects of games and has much lower barriers to entry. Good design is platform independant to a large degree.

I made a pen & paper RPG when I was a kid that we played for a few years, but that's it.  Obviously I love video-games, but I'll try and keep my mind open to other mediums.

Thanks again.


"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."  C.S. Lewis
Tarami
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Reply #10 on: February 11, 2009, 03:17:05 PM

Boardgames are fun to design. Moreso than computer games, in my opinion. There's a superior elegance to a game that can't have more than five pages of rules (and that's really on the complex side of things), take more than 15 minutes to explain and can't possibly involve any math more sophisticated than two-term multiplication.

El Grande. Heart

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Yoru
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Reply #11 on: February 11, 2009, 03:41:23 PM

Boardgames are fun to design. Moreso than computer games, in my opinion. There's a superior elegance to a game that can't have more than five pages of rules (and that's really on the complex side of things), take more than 15 minutes to explain and can't possibly involve any math more sophisticated than two-term multiplication.

El Grande. Heart

Five pages? You and I clearly play different board games. I've seen games that store their rules within arcane tomes. Then again, saying some of my university buddies are "board game enthusiasts" is a bit of an understatement.
Tarami
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Reply #12 on: February 11, 2009, 04:46:55 PM

I don't qualify Advanced Third Reich, Advanced Squad Leader, Civilization or most of the Games Workshop line as boardgames. They're war games, or miniature games. Most modern games' rules do fit on five or so double-printed pages. There are exceptions, of course. If you're going the grognard route, they're barely games anymore, they're more like simulations.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 04:50:50 PM by Tarami »

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damijin
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Reply #13 on: February 12, 2009, 04:24:14 PM

I like the advice advocating learning the art of raping and pillaging.  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

Edit for actual advice:

In my opinion this is the best time for indie. I think the established method of entering the AAA world is still getting degrees, working on the ground floor in QA or something along those lines, and working your way up. Getting that ground floor position really helps if you know somebody already inside a company. Then you build experience and bounce around from office to office for the rest of your life.

I thought about doing that, but I didn't live in Austin, or anywhere else with a game company, so I was like... lets look into this indie thing! Turns out, indie has been growing tremendously after the last 3 years or so, and has gotten to the point where it's no longer fantasy to support an adult on indie games alone. It's not easy, but it's not impossible either.

It really helps to meet people to work with though. I've met a good chunk of the people I work with either here on F13 or in chat rooms on Kongregate or forums for various products. Like, I wanted to make a physics game. Box2d is a good free flash physics engine, they have a forum, so I went to that forum to look for a partner and sure enough it's crawling with programmers intimately familiar with the physics engine but who had never tried to make a game on their own.

There's all sorts of sources of information and platforms to develop for. Find a partner who excels at something that you don't, and work together to build things. It'll go easy from there.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 04:49:38 PM by damijin »
Xuri
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Reply #14 on: February 12, 2009, 05:22:34 PM

Just showing up at some company's doorstep and convince some random dude outside the entrance that you're newly hired could also do the trick to get a foot inside the industry. It certainly worked for me; no one suspects a thing.  awesome, for real

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Salamok
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Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 10:14:07 PM

There was some indy developer on the local news here in Austin that said his company netted almost 5mil last year.  looked like he was mostly developing phone based games (with the iPhone appstore being the primary focus).

I still think flash is rapidly moving out of the Indy realm as the larger flash game companies can afford better legal assistance to defend their rights to your IP.
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Reply #16 on: February 12, 2009, 10:27:19 PM

There was some indy developer on the local news here in Austin that said his company netted almost 5mil last year.

Do you remember who?
apocrypha
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Reply #17 on: February 13, 2009, 04:37:02 AM

I don't qualify Advanced Third Reich, Advanced Squad Leader, Civilization or most of the Games Workshop line as boardgames.

I always thought of Advanced Squad Leader as a boredgame. Hahahahaha.



I'm going now.

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Tarami
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Reply #18 on: February 13, 2009, 05:56:50 AM

I don't qualify Advanced Third Reich, Advanced Squad Leader, Civilization or most of the Games Workshop line as boardgames.
I always thought of Advanced Squad Leader as a boredgame. Hahahahaha.

I'm going now.
Rimshot

Actually I agree. I can spend entire weekends playing boardgames but ASL has never appealed to me. There's more fun to be had in less time with other games. IMO.

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Salamok
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Reply #19 on: February 13, 2009, 09:50:29 AM

There was some indy developer on the local news here in Austin that said his company netted almost 5mil last year.

Do you remember who?

no, all i remember was he lived out in stiener ranch and worked out of his house.  was on the news within the last 45 days or so (can't remember which news).
Cylus
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Reply #20 on: February 14, 2009, 02:34:24 AM

Thanks for the advice, bro.  I'm pretty sure that I had 1 and 3 switched.

Anything cheaper (or free-er) than Flash would be great.  Practically, I'm becoming a programmer, but striving for a career in game design.


I'm a games designer with absolutely zero programming skills. You can get games design experience without being able to programme. Designing board games, roleplaying systems, wargames, card games etc gives you a lot of insights into the mechanical aspects of games and has much lower barriers to entry. Good design is platform independant to a large degree.

On the other hand, there are design teams that are composed of 80-90%+ designers that have had previous training as programmers.  Point being, if you enjoy the ability of "losing yourself to logic," there definately is a spot out there for you. 
Cylus
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Reply #21 on: February 14, 2009, 02:38:12 AM

day-after edit: honestly have no idea what I was getting at so am going to pretend that it was a double post so the thread reads better
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 11:21:00 PM by Cylus »
Stephen Zepp
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Reply #22 on: February 14, 2009, 01:19:58 PM

Not going to /mole on this one, but Flash is definitely not your only option for Indie Game Development, and it is arguably your most expensive and least capable one in the bigger picture.

Rumors of War
Mrbloodworth
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Reply #23 on: February 14, 2009, 04:41:01 PM

Not going to /mole on this one, but Flash is definitely not your only option for Indie Game Development, and it is arguably your most expensive and least capable one in the bigger picture.

He has a point, however, its penetration in ...well.. All computers everywhere is what makes it shine.

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Venkman
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Reply #24 on: February 14, 2009, 06:45:34 PM

You can be the distributor of your own Flash app, trying to hit every single computer built to run Flash 9.x on forward. Or you could instead also learn development tools relevant to specific SDKs from particular aggregators and/or platforms and have a better shot.

For example, if the G1 does actually take off and they do actually launch a revenue-generating application store sometime soon, now would be a good time to get into it. Not as Flash(y) (heh), but you've proven three critical things:

1) You know how to learn new tools and environments. Critical because few stick with just off the shelf components.
2) You know how to properly scope a deliverable game.
3) You actually were capable of delivering a game (separate from #2 in the way Lead Design is often separate from Lead Producer).

Analog games (board, card, pen n paper) are good skills too because you can't hide behind anything. Your end user experience is laid bare for all to see, and your AI is, well, not A at all. It doesn't hurt to learn the skills of creating all the pretty half-assed games get to use to cover over derivative schlock too. But here again, you can design and iterate an analog game pretty quick. As long as you have skin thick enough to survive first contact with people  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?
Cylus
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Reply #25 on: February 14, 2009, 11:17:22 PM

If you're going the programming route, Flash experience could always help land you a position on a console game for the UI/HUD.
Margalis
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Reply #26 on: February 14, 2009, 11:34:37 PM

Now that Scaleform has become quite popular (Flash-based in-game UI middleware) that is certainly true, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to get hired as a UI guy if Flash is the only programming you know it could at least land some contract work.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Stephen Zepp
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Reply #27 on: February 15, 2009, 10:23:56 AM

Not going to /mole on this one, but Flash is definitely not your only option for Indie Game Development, and it is arguably your most expensive and least capable one in the bigger picture.

He has a point, however, its penetration in ...well.. All computers everywhere is what makes it shine.

Flash won't get you on to any consoles (although when you said "all computers everywhere" I realize you were actually meaning only PC/Mac/Linux computers that run an unrestricted browser).

Flash also won't get you onto the iPhone iirc, nor will it get you on to a few other platforms as well.

That being said, when Jeff Tunnell Left GG (he was a founder, and also founded Dynamix for those that don't recognize the name) he formed a new company that is currently focusing just about completely on Flash. He's become active again in his blog, and has a very apropos article to this topic: ...(Windows), OS X, and Linux is not enough.

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Mrbloodworth
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Reply #28 on: February 15, 2009, 10:34:08 AM

Adobie Air.

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Cylus
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Reply #29 on: February 15, 2009, 07:50:02 PM

We have one guy whom's time is 100% allocated (afaik) towards our title's Flash backend and another whom splits the duties on his plate between it and other things; a graphic designer turns it all into a good look-see.  I realize that none of them probably used Flash as their primary bargaining chip but that wasn't really my point.  Flash, like any other skill, can help open the door a fraction more, particularly if you're gunning for specific positions at studios, like ours, that use it.   On the other hand, positions like those may be few and far between; wouldn't know, haven't ever applied for anything like em.
damijin
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Reply #30 on: February 15, 2009, 09:38:47 PM

Not going to /mole on this one, but Flash is definitely not your only option for Indie Game Development, and it is arguably your most expensive and least capable one in the bigger picture.

He has a point, however, its penetration in ...well.. All computers everywhere is what makes it shine.

Flash won't get you on to any consoles (although when you said "all computers everywhere" I realize you were actually meaning only PC/Mac/Linux computers that run an unrestricted browser).

Flash also won't get you onto the iPhone iirc, nor will it get you on to a few other platforms as well.

That being said, when Jeff Tunnell Left GG (he was a founder, and also founded Dynamix for those that don't recognize the name) he formed a new company that is currently focusing just about completely on Flash. He's become active again in his blog, and has a very apropos article to this topic: ...(Windows), OS X, and Linux is not enough.

Flash will get you into an existing system of revenue that is very friendly to new faces, see www.flashgamelicense.com and the hundreds of sponsors looking to buy flash titles every day.

The problem with non-flash is how does the average guy *really* get a game onto Xbox Live Arcade or the Wii? How do you do it? Who do you talk to? I develop games and I have no fucking idea, so how could this guy?

With Flash, it's all very simple, and all the information you'd really need is right there on FGL. Put your game up for bids and wait.

This is why flash is superior in indie right now. It's a great starting point. Once you start learning your way around and figuring out how to actually develop for the iPhone, XBL, or the Wii, then you can branch out.
WitchKiller
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Reply #31 on: February 17, 2009, 03:04:02 PM

Thanks for all the replies about the broader scope of game development.  I'm still going the programmer's education route, but you guys have definitely been helpful and I really do appreciate it. 

Just a lot of looking and learning right now.  I plan on gathering all of the boardgame rules that I can find in order to isolate and positively identify the 'fun' in each.  This summer I have a JAVA and a general programming and logic course, and then visual BASIC, and intro C++ in the fall semester.  I'm pretty F'ing excited to be honest.  After the summer I'm going to try and get a primitive game designed and proto-typed.

Thanks for the links, Zepp and Damijin.

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies."  C.S. Lewis
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