The Big Unity Question…

9 12 2009

With the recent publication of the unity indie license (allowing anyone to make a non-profit game) a number of questions have been raised.

Many people have asked the question: Will there be a giant influx of games in a youtube style?

In my opinion…yes!

There have always been people wanting an easy way to make 3d games and be able to distribute them to wide audiences and now their platform is here. You experienced indie developers out there may be thinking ‘Oh know!!! Gasp, horror, there’s nothing special about us anymore.’ Well relax, because if you can make a good game then you’ll be a fine. But if you’re someone who can’t make games well and has only survived in the business because you can make game while no one else can then maybe it’s time to raise your game.

But, in the end, there will be no larger an explosion of games than when Flash first started up. If you visit a flash portal then you will see tonnes of crap but you will also see some real masterpieces. Most games won’t go anywhere because they have nothing new or going for them. Others will thrive though in a world bored of killing zombies, great games shall be found.

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Monetization – selling your soul?

19 11 2009

What is the best way to monetize is not my question today. My question is how far do you have to go to make money?

Any game developer needs to make money whether doing it part time or full time. While this is a controversial thing to say it’s certainly not stupid. there’s got to be some fruits to your labour and even the starving artist needs to eat once in a while because once he’s dead he no longer starves. So how far will you go?

The best way to make money out of games isto either get a super hit or make a tonne of casual games all bringing in a small but worthwhile amount of money. The 1st is much harder but the second is much cheaper, but will the second be classed as ‘selling out’? There’s no real art to the casual games market, it’s about money and a cheap but amusing play for the user. Surely if you desire your games as art then you will make something that’s true quality, but then you’re not going to make any money.

There is a rare balance though between art and money. Edmund Mcmillen would seem to have struck this balance with a regular flow of artistic games. He makes enough to support both him and his wife. But if has kids will he sell out or retire?

So will you ‘sell out’ or starve?

Or can you find that rare balance in which you can make quality and money…?





The Key to Design – Part 2) Innovation

31 10 2009

Innovation is an important thing in the Indie world, without it games become stale and boring. The problem is though how do you innovate, how do you be original and come up with a £1,000,000 idea? The answer is no amount of conscious thought can come up with that £1,000,000. You just can’t force creativity, but there’s some things you can do to help.

  1. Get inspired – People nowadays have this problem where they never get inspired, they just sit staring at a blank computer screen willing it to make a game. Without inspiration there is no creativity. So what inspires you? if you don’t know then think about where is the best place you get ideas from or what do you get ideas from. My answer would probably be taking a walk in the countryside with my dog. With the time to think and nature around me I can come up with some killer ideas, some of them never see the light of day but others do. So whatever inspires you, it may be music, art, nature etc. As long as it’s creative it can be used to inspire. One thing to remember though is; set yourself limits, you probably won’t get inspired by watching endless Mario parodies and eating Dorito’s.

    Un-inspirational: It's been done before!!!

  2. Make a creative environment –  You need somewhere where you can express ideas and be creative. Without it’s very hard to come up with ideas. For example nobody has ever come up with a world changing decision while sitting in a swivel chair. You need creativity around you, maybe some friends to bounce ideas off, or a place you can just think and be yourself.
  3. Experimentation – The definition of insanity is “someone who always does the same thing and expects different results each time.” In the same way you will never come up with anything new if you never try anything new. Experiment with styles, ideas and objects. Try out new gadgets and items because you never know what will inspire you. Go out with new people and get a new haircut. Just do something to get out of that rut of uncreativity. (Is that a real word).
  4. Borrow – Borrow ideas from other places, people and things. If you look almost everything that has ever been made is a replica of something in nature. Houses are no more than classy caves, trees are like umbrellas and computers are like a brain. Do not be afraid to borrow ideas, if someone has made a game with an original idea but it sucks you could always remake it. (Asking for their permission would be the nice thing to do, but it almost never happens). Be on the lookout for things to help you create good games and never stop looking. For there’s always some new technology to adapt be it iPhones, open source engines or an idea. Borrow.
  5. Don’t ask people – People are nice but when it comes to it they spew out some of the most random crap. Henry Ford the founder of Ford Motor Company once said that “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. People don’t generally know what they want, ask people for opinions but never totally discard ideas just because someone says it’s crap.

And that is the start to innovation. Now the ideas are up to you.





Guest Article: Writing Stories by bl00db47h

29 10 2009

The key to keep the players interest may be the gameplay, but another is the plot. You should have a good plot made before you even THINK about starting a game.

You may be one of those people who likes to take things as you go along, whether it be writing or making a film. Whatever you want. You can’t do that with games. You have to plan it out, get every single last detail of what you want to your page. Congratulations if you can think of something with the snap of your fingers!

Unfortunately, some people can’t.

Now, writing may be extremely tough for you. You may hate writing, with passion. Unfortunately, you must write to think of your ideas for a game. Here are some things that may help you:

1. take three words and blurt them out randomly. Here’s mine:

potato underpants head

Now, work around that. Here is what I did:

The legendary Potato man was sitting in his high voltage containment center one day, when he heard his alarm go off.

“OH NO!” he yelled. He knew it was the evil elephant head.

He stole poor Potato Man’s prized underwear. Now Potato Man shall fight to get it back!

OK, well, that’s our premise. You can use as many random words as you’d like to get started off.

2. Combine your favorite indie games together. Lets do two of Bluebaby’s games.

OK, lets put together Spewer and Meatboy. Now, they are already very similar. But the story shall go something like puking your way towards your girlfriend.

OK, so, after thinking of similar things, it turns out that someone has stolen your mother in hopes of getting her money, and you must get to her by releasing all your flatulence. Charming, no?

Alright, it may not be the most solid idea, but after building on to it, it can be a very enjoyable game.

I mean, lots of things have extremely simple storylines, and yet are very fun and exiting games. Mortal Kombat, for instance. You beat up people. Thats about it. It’s still very well made.

No plot here.

3) If you feel overwhelmed by all this, try to get people to help you. If you want to make this, but just can’t think of anything good, then ask for help. People will answer your call if you go to the right places.

So, to wrap it up.

  1. Randomization.
  2. Combination.
  3. Help.

bl00db47h





Upcoming: Closure

27 10 2009

Closure is a currently in Development Puzzle Platformer game produced by Tyler Glaiel and Jon Schubbe. Being an art game by nature it is based around the concept of what you can’t see doesn’t exist. It has already been been nominated for awards at PAX 10 and Indiecade and has won the Gameplay Innovation Award at Indiecade. It is already promising to be a massive hit as an online version has already been released and received a brilliant welcome from most critics. Though this online version is only the start of what seems to be a very promising Indie game.

Closure is a perfect example of innovation, taking an abstract idea and actually applying to a game. The gameplay itself could almost be called genius, or could it. The game consists of you, a lost human, living in a world of darkness which is only broken up by several lamps which light your way. If you venture of into the dark without these lamps then you will never return. So you must rely on these lamps at all time to guide your way. This in itself creates a fresh challenge from the normal game. But while being a brilliant piece of innovation, will the game actually be a hit among gamers, or will it be slightly too far out? We’ll have to wait and see.

Closure; early build screenshot.





The Key to Design: Simplicity – Part 1) Games

26 10 2009

In ‘The Key to Design’ series I’m going to be investigating what makes a killer design. The first key I’m going to discuss is simplicity.

Simplicity in games is what can either make or break a game. When people open up a game they do not want to drown under masses of instructions of how to jump, how to double jump, how to triple mega, super-duper, ultra jump while doing a backflip. You get the idea. People want a game not just to be fun, but to be able to get the hang of in a few short moments. I’m not saying to cut out everything, just ease people in. And here’s how:

  1. The introduction. – A games introduction is one of the most important things about it. An intro normally consists of a menu with a few buttons. This kind of introduction is a good one because if I can either choose between “Play”, “Options” and “More Games” then I’m obviously going to choose play. I mean I could choose “Options” but if I haven’t played yet then I don’t even know if I want to change anything. Or if I could choose “More Games” but I haven’t even played this game yet, never-mind others. So I’m going to play the game. If on the other hand I’m introduced to a menu that gives me options of “Play Blitz Mode”, “Play Mega Mode”, “Play Another Mode Which Will Waste Your Time” etc. then I’m not going to know what to pick and likeliness is I won’t enjoy it as much because I’ll pick the wrong mode to start with. The best way to get around this problem is to have a “More” menu where advanced users can play all their fidgety modes. An example of a good menu design is in the game “Spewer”. It has a lot of depth to the game but in order to find all those extra-options I need to access the pause menu in game, which if I’m enjoying the game, won’t find too long to find.
    Spewer Menu

    Spewer Menu

     

  2. The gameplay. – The gameplay is what makes a game. If game play isn’t right then the game probably isn’t going anywhere. Now one of the easiest ways to go wrong in gameplay is being too complicated. Certain games such as RPG’s and Strategy games need a lot of depth, but to be honest your “Asteroids” clone does not need 132 types of enemy’s with 100 different weapons. When it comes to most games too much complexity can kill. The best games of all times such as Mario and Tetris never got much further than jumping and spinning blocks. It’s about quality, not quantity. So if you’re making a game and you do have a lot of content, go over the contents again, decide what does and doesn’t need to be there, then spread the introduction of elements out a bit so as to not overload people with info.
  3. The controls. – The controls to a game are crucial, no game needs to use more than roughly 10 buttons. For example, a,s,w,d to move. That’s 4. Then the number keys 1,2,3,4 to select weapons, that’s 8 the space to fire and p to pause. You do not need all these endless controls and moves to remember. If you have a lot of move’s in a game for example use button combinations, it’s a whole lot easier than typing in endless keys to walk in a straight line.

And that is how to start making a game simpler. The key is pruning, keep that in mind.

-Nathan