Always getting stuck after completing prototypes! *Question*

Discuss game development design and post your game ideas

Post » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:42 am

Hey folks,

Whenever I finish my prototype, in most cases ( ones that are not influenced by inability to have something working well [solids] ), I don't know where to go next. Most of my prototypes are fun. Could you tell me about your development process? How do you handle it, and when you know that current amount of content is good to go full development? How do you start a game after prototype is finished?

Thx!
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Post » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:17 pm

Welcome to the experience of working on any kind of moderately complicated project. ;)

Something I've found, which can be kind of painful, is that I often come up with a prototype that has entirely un-salvageable code. Usually, the best thing to do at that point is start over and build again. Kind of like a 'second draft' in writing parlance.

But, before that, I take notes. A lot of notes. Mainly, I try to work out how to structure my code on the second go around.

What logic should be encapsulated as functions, should I transition those global vars into a dictionary or array, should this logic go into this group, can I make life simpler by using this third-party behavior, should I combine these objects into one object or make a family for them, etc, etc, ad infinitum...

C2 has an odd sort of curve, where it's very easy to build a prototype, but takes a lot of discipline to build a functional, efficient, and maintainable project, with enough comments and organization that you can make sense of it later on.

Here's three specific bits of advice I've found useful:

    1. Functions. Use them wherever possible. They are more work to set up, but they make managing a complex project worlds easier. Plus, in many cases they are modular enough that you can reuse them across projects.

    2. Groups. Use them. And decide on a way to name or sort them so that you can easily tell which are purely organizational (never activated/deactivated during the game) and which are being use programmatically.

    3. Constant variables for logical values used in multiple places. Simple example: Global TRUE = 1, Global FALSE = 0. I like these because it makes code easier to read, takes advantage of C2's auto-change and auto-fill capability, and is more efficient and less error prone than using string comparators (though const strings can come in handy too...for example, as a reference to a function name).
Last edited by TiAm on Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:40 pm

I share that pain too. For the last 6 months or so I've been working on an engine for a cinematic platformer (which started out as a learning project for construct 2) and recently I discovered that the thing I've been building upon, iterating and molding just doesn't work when it comes to making something worthwhile; it was just too damn buggy and unreliable haha.

So I'm currently rewriting the engine, with all new knowledge and understanding of the engine that I've gathered over the past 6 months of development. And so far it's almost bug free - because I built the engine on the same basic idea as the old one, so fixing any shortcomings was a piece of cake for this one, I'm also writing the new engine so that it's easier to implement new features because it's structured in a much more intuitive way: grouping, functions, compress the amount of variables as much as possible etc.

And also, agreed with TiAm, those three points: can't stress it enough, I have post-it's everywhere with reminders to "keep things simple" and the like, it's surprisingly easy to fall into old, bad habits. And also: comment early, comment good. Make sure that your code is readable after returning from vacation or long breaks. It's much more fun to work on a project when you don't go "*sigh*.. Aalright, let's take a look" whenever you want to implement some new feature and such.

Those are the things that I'd say works for me. Often, the hard part for me is not that the passion for the project has died off but that all of the seemingly miniscule problems (like unorganized pieces of code, uncommented code etc) pile up into an unmanagable behemoth that's just too much to care about. So yeah: "organization, organization, simple, simple".
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Post » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:07 am

Give it to someone to play. If they smile and say, Yeah that's really good and hand it back, you should try something else. If they get a crazy grin and keep playing it, ignoring you, then you are on to something :D

BTW you should always throw away a prototype, that's why it's a prototype. Never base your real project on it (this might be controvertial).
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Post » Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:42 am

Basically everything @TiAm said. There comes a point in nearly any project where you have to face up to the fact that the code you've written is crap and you need to re-draft it leaner and better. I've found it's best to bite the bullet and do this as soon as you notice it, rather than staving it off - saves a lot of arseache in the long run.

If it's motivation with finishing a project that you mean, I think if you're not enjoying working on a project, maybe it's just not for you. Trust your own instinct with what's worth pursuing and what isn't. Obviously there are boring bits in any project, but the overall motivation to get this thing finished should be enough to get you through that, and if it isn't, it might be time to come up with a new idea.
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Post » Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:44 am

Hey,

@TiAm
@lolpaca
@codah
@eliasfrost

Thanks for your replies.

In general, I just can't get out outside the prototype stage. Everything is working as intended, might have bit of graphics and idea for overall plot line and characters, I even do reorganize and streamline the code, but them I'm like : well, now what? :D I have a lot of original ideas in each of my prototype I'd want to share with people. But once I have main mechanics down, I struggle where to begin with making an actual game. I'm kind of a person that has a really hard time organizing my ideas and laying them out on to some sort of progression curve. Maybe I need to find a producer? What are your thoughts?
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Post » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:00 am

You can't necessarily do it all yourself. Sounds like you might need someone to bounce ideas off, maybe a partner who can help you take it that next stage. Possibly a designer to flesh out those ideas more.
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Post » Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:54 am

codah wrote:You can't necessarily do it all yourself. Sounds like you might need someone to bounce ideas off, maybe a partner who can help you take it that next stage. Possibly a designer to flesh out those ideas more.


That's absolutely true across all of what i do, I always need someone to bounce ideas off. Unfortunately I'm that lone wolf freelancer working always from my bedroom :/
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Post » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:13 am

I think you can have a pretty good partnership across Skype/email, but it does have its challenges.
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Post » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:42 am

Yeah, it sounds like a partnership would be good if it's the main process of creating a fully-fledged game you're struggling with. It's a lot for one person to take on!

It might help too to write up a design document. Just set out your main ideas for what the game is, what are the mechanics that make it tick, and what things you still need to add before it's complete. It doesn't have to be anything fancy (mine's a big Notepad file vaguely divided into subheadings) but getting it written down can help to flesh it out in your head.

It also depends on what kind of game you want to make. If you're making a story-based adventure game your design doc will probably read more like a film synopsis, while if you're making an RPG, you'll probably have to get the old spreadsheets out at some point :)
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