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Some advice from a lurker

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Limdallion
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Some advice from a lurker

Post by Limdallion » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:29 pm

Hello Roots and company. I've decided to finally sign up for this forum and share my thoughts on a few things.

Roots, I've seen you around on both gamingworld and gamedev.net and we've talked a little on both sites. I've been keeping my eye on this project for a long time and am impressed with the progress of this project.

Now, part of my interest comes from the fact that I will be attempting a similar project in the near future. Like Hero of Allocrost, it's a traditional turn-based RPG, but with a few twists. I don't mean to reveal anything about that at this time.

But I was surprised to read your latest news update because you're considering moving in a direction that I have planned for my project. I'm talking about your idea to use 2D graphics generated from 3D models, as well as using the same sprites in and outside of battles.

I've put a lot of thought and experimentation into the arguments for both of these ideas and maybe I have something useful to say about it. This technique of generating 2D sprites from 3D models was called Advanced Computer Modeling by Nintendo who used it in games like Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct. Frankly, I feel it is an underused technique and that's why I hope to use it. There are many advantages in addition to not having to create so many 2D sprites by hand.

This post is simply to finally introduce myself. I think that in the future we can perhaps help each other, but I am not sure in what capacity. For now, I would simply like to break the ice of communication with you and express my encouragement.
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Roots
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Post by Roots » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:36 pm

Thanks for the comments. Please post on here about your project when you're ready to reveal it. I'll particularly be interested in how your 3D->2D artwork creation goes, because it looks like we're not going to be able to pursue that route (the reason being simply that we could not find any modelers/animators who were seriously committed to the task). Thanks for saying hi :)
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Post by Limdallion » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:58 pm

I'm also worried that when it comes time to recruit I won't be able to find the right people and I'll just be stuck with a massive GDD and no way to make the game.

I'm surprised you had more luck finding sprite artists than modelers as it seems modelers are more prominent around game dev sites. But I think that sticking with sprites keeps with the old-skool theme you are trying to keep with the game.
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Re: Some advice from a lurker

Post by Jetryl » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:14 pm

Limdallion wrote:Now, part of my interest comes from the fact that I will be attempting a similar project in the near future. Like Hero of Allocrost, it's a traditional turn-based RPG, but with a few twists. I don't mean to reveal anything about that at this time.
A couple of suggestions:
1] Use a GPL (or otherwise open-source) License for your code. You're not doing something astonishingly cutting edge, you're not making the next version of starcraft or the quake engine. There's no advantage to being closed source, for an indie-level game like yours or ours, and there are tons of advantages to being open. If you're open, and if you're accomplishing significant things on your own, you very likely may attract another coder or two who would contribute in an equal amount as yourself. Many of these coders would never touch your project if it were closed source. There's not a lot of advantage to keeping the code a state secret, and frankly, you'll just be all alone, working on a big project, with no one to bounce low-level questions off of. It's a lot more fun to make it open, and attract a team.

A HUGE benefit of this is that this makes it very easy for your game to get ported to practically any platform, and translated to practically every significant language out there. People will show up out of the blue to do this for you, if your game is even remotely good. This opens up huge audiences to you.

Also, remember that you can charge for many OSS licenses, including GPL. You can't realistically copy-protect GPL games, but if you've got a good community going, you're likely to have good sales in spite of this if you have fairly open communication with the community. It's especially true if you have a front-page blog, like many webcomics do. If there's a direct link to the person writing the game, people are suddenly far more willing to give cash to you, than to give cash to a faceless corporation. Likewise, people are significantly less-at-ease with ripping you off, since they know you as a person.


2] Pick a goal that you are confident you can accomplish all on your own. Don't go into something expecting other people to magically show up and help - they may not. If you have bad luck in this way, and have bitten off more than you can chew, you may be in for a big disappointment; and to make things worse, if you push on despite being in over your head, your project may get caught in a destructive cycle of discouragement and resulting procrastination.


3] Borrow real content from real games as temporary placeholders. This will tell you very quickly whether the code you're applying to the resources is sound in design - it's a classic case of locking variables. Here, there's a major benefit to being OSS, since it's actually legal to borrow from other OSS games (suject to certain licensing issues). In fact for petty things that really don't define your game (like tiny icons), there's sometimes no point in ever replacing the placeholder.


4] BORROW OUR CODE (that is, assuming you're GPL) - if you borrow our code, you have an entire audio and video backend at your disposal (driven by OpenGL and OpenAL). That took some serious work on our part. Why code anything that isn't really unique to your game? Plus, we can help you out (and vice-versa, if you find any flaws in our stuff).



:shrug: This might not be for you, but it definitely brightened my prospects. Before I got into the open-source scene, I -was- working on my own RPG. And I didn't accomplish a dang thing.
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Limdallion
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Post by Limdallion » Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:28 pm

Thank you for your reply Jetryl.

1]Unfortunately, I lack the skillset to make educated decisions about the code. From what you say, I don't think I would be opposed to using a GPL. At this point, I have not decided what engine or even what language to create the game in. And I refuse to decide. It's a decision for someone more qualified to answer it than me. It will be up to whoever agrees to program. This may shock you but it simply is outside my realm, while every minute decision within my realm has already been meticulously planned out.

Although recently, some people more educated than me suggested that the game could be created on Flash with ActionScript. It sounds like there are a lot of advantages to taking this route. The content is server based, so you can change the game at any time without affecting the users. There is nothing to download. Also, I hear that ActionScript is easier to program in. I wonder what you might think about that, although I would need to give you more information.

2] Although I was very careful to design a project that is entirely feasible for a small team, I would be incapable of creating in on my own. As I'm sure you know, it is extremely difficult to recruit reliable people to work for free on a project that did not even originate with them. All I can do is present them with the best arguments possible for why they should want to help (this is my skillset). I have a lot of strong recruitment material ready to launch for a recruitment campaign. But I am not at all assured that it will be enough; it very well may not be. If it fails, and I feel I have exhausted every avenue for recruitment - then I am willing to pay people for their services.

3] Agreed.

4] Another decision left up to the programmer. I have no problem borrowing or sharing code. I'm not sure how this will affect a decision to use ActionScript - ActionScript may be easier, but is there a lot of reusable code available?
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KaelisEbonrai
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Post by KaelisEbonrai » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:09 pm

1) the GPL isn't just limited to code ;)

Allacrost has the GPL as its content-license, as well, and, whenever I for one contribute to a project in an artistic sense, I contribute my work under the GPL.
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Post by Limdallion » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:44 pm

KaelisEbonrai wrote:1) the GPL isn't just limited to code ;)

Allacrost has the GPL as its content-license, as well, and, whenever I for one contribute to a project in an artistic sense, I contribute my work under the GPL.
I wouldn't be able to share artwork. This game relies on its unique character concepts and artistic style. Most of it would be unusable in any other game.
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Post by KaelisEbonrai » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:54 pm

I can't think of any game that would be like that, to be honest..

Art can be used in the most surprising of ways, many of which might not've been thought of by the creator. ;)
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Roots
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Post by Roots » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:58 pm

Well there are games that (illegally) rip off artwork that really defines other games, such as Chrono Trigger. I can understand about being uneasy with allowing another project to be able to use a major, unique character sprite in your game and use it in your own. I don't mind if people use our NPC sprites for whatever, since they aren't major players in our game's universe. But if people were to use the sprites for Claudius or Laila in their game and to give those sprites a different character, that makes me feel a little uneasy. :|


Anyway, I wanted to suggest that you do not attempt to hire artists or composers until after you already have a great deal of work done on the code. This was one mistake we made with Allacrost in the beginning, I feel. We had people doing art and music, but no way for them to actually see/hear it in action in the game, and as such I feel that many of our content creators left due to wanning interest (a few have stuck around for quite a number of years now though). Just a thought.
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Limdallion
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Post by Limdallion » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:22 pm

I can see how generic human soldiers or townsfolk sprites could be reused in another game. But this game doesn't have any humans, or creatures from Earth. They're all unique to this game world. I'd say it's comparable to a game like Abe's Odyssey in this regard. So it's hard to imagine another game could have any use for them.

Thank you for sharing your experience about programming before using artists and composers.
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