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Game Design Workshop
DeProgrammerSo anyway, I recommend checking out a game I made called Rotis ( ) before I start, because I'll be referencing it several times throughout the workshop...mostly as examples of what not to do. :)
DeProgrammerIt ran acceptably well on my bottom-of-the-barrel 2006 laptop.
DeProgrammerGenerally speaking, this workshop isn't in any particular order, because many parts of the game design and creation processes can occur multiple times in various arrangements.
DeProgrammerSo, I've split this up into three major sections, to the best of my ability: design elements, the actual process, and creation elements.
DeProgrammerFirst of all, we've got the theme. This is the subject or the most prominent idea in the game.
DeProgrammerIt could be aliens, robots, gems, war, a rave, or any number of other random things...or any combination thereof.
DeProgrammerWhen considering a theme, try not to end up with something bland and uninspired, like Rotis's tiles, which are just...plain.
DeProgrammerIn a lot of games, an actual environment is required, so your theme may include that.
DeProgrammerThe second design element is the mood.
DeProgrammerWhat kind of emotions do you want your game to bring about? A game can be creepy, funny, dramatic, cute, disturbing...or bland.
DeProgrammerWith the right graphics and music, practically anything can be cute or scary or whatever you want--psycho killer rabbits, killer eggplants, etc. Check out Bisque's work as an example of cute graphics:
DeProgrammerIn regards to the mood, sounds may need some effects applied based on the environment. Echoing effects could create a more lonely feeling, for example.
DeProgrammerRotis has mostly whimsical music (which you can't hear if you have something newer than Windows XP), yet uninspired graphics. It fails to arouse any particular mood. This is not a good design.
DeProgrammerThe third element of design is really the biggest: the gameplay.
DeProgrammerIt's usually best to work with an existing template, such as tower defense, Metroidvania, an RTS, etc.
DeProgrammerFor example, Rotis was a tile-based puzzle game, based on Bejeweled and Tetris Attack/Puzzle League.
DeProgrammerDo you think you could design a unique, original game, without starting off with ideas taken from other games? :P
RetroXwell, not unique
SploderIt's really hard to make a completely new genre
Splodersince so many ideas have already been done
HazYou can if you want to, but it's easier to start off of a template, then expand.
Mercenaryafter a week of thinking
DeProgrammerRight. What Haz said.
Mercenarypoint taken
SploderI'd say make your new genre later in your career, after you have the experience to back it up
DeProgrammerYou generally need to choose a perspective for a game--isometric, top-down, side-scrolling, first-person, etc.--and you need to consider the gameplay for this. For example, a game that makes jumping necessary should probably NOT be top-down.
DeProgrammerThere is such an incredible number of genres that I can't go into very much detail on this topic. But as an example of something that one genre could require, action games usually have movement/ability usage rates. Aspects like damage-per-second shouldn't be overlooked.
HazNot neccessarily a good one though.
DeProgrammerHence the "probably," Haz. :) Most of the ideas that go into design are optional... It's really art.
HazI know.
HazThat's why people get paid cash money for it.
DeProgrammerGoals! This is the fourth major aspect, which I suppose you could consider an aspect of gameplay.
DeProgrammerMetroid gives you the goal of beating the final boss, with the possibility of speed and collection rates for different endings.
MercenaryLike megaman zero?
DeProgrammerHalo multiplayer is generally just about getting the most kills. Halo also has achievements.
HazWhat about CTF, or any other objective based game?
RetroXgames like Mario provide scores as well
RetroXscores are the easy way out :P
DeProgrammerAnd that brings me to my next point:
DeProgrammerScores can be implemented as a more significant goal by giving extra lives for higher scores. Just having a number doesn't mean much or give a very notable feeling of accomplishment. Rotis is an example of this.
DeProgrammerBejeweled Blitz makes scores work better by giving achievements for certain score thresholds.
RetroXMario also provides lives for 100 coins
RetroXor score combos
RetroXjump combos
DeProgrammerAlso, be aware of double punishment for failing a goal, and use it only when you deem it a good idea. Example: you're taking a quiz. If you miss a question, you not only fail to get the points for that question, but also lose five additional points.
RetroXthat would be stupid in that case
DeProgrammerThe fifth element (not talking about a movie here, haha) is an either-or, or both, thing. Replayability and/or story content.
MercenaryStory content?
DeProgrammerReplayability can be caused by complex possibilities with limited abilities. Randomized environments also work relatively well for increasing playability. Story content, especially mystery stories, tends to be less replayable.
Lakilouieextra sidequests like in majoras mask?
RetroXreplayability is a biggie
Mercenarythank you for clarifying
DeProgrammerTetris Attack/Puzzle League has high replay value because you can do chains, combos, and mixes thereof, on many levels, and with varying amounts of skill required, all by simply swapping two blocks horizontally.
Mercenaryso does replayability increase the popularity of a game?
DeProgrammerRotis sucked all the replayability out of that by removing the ability to create skill chains (ie. moving some blocks while others are exploding).
HazNot necessarily Merc
MercenaryHow so?
SploderReplayability is usually important in keeping players in the game after they've beaten it
HazPopularity depends on a number of factors
DeProgrammerMultiple modes--like Rotis and Halo have--can be very beneficial to the replayability factor if they are significantly different.
Sploderespecially for retail games, which will then be sold to Gamestop if you don't have enough replayability
Sploderat which point, you no longer make money
DeProgrammerAchievements are commonly used in modern games to add some replayability. However, the difficulty of these achievements accounts for a portion of why they're beneficial.
HazWe are
mib_f1ev9sdarn i forgot to make a nickname :(
DeProgrammerSo you should always make a game at least moderately difficult, if you don't give it multiple settings. If it's too easy, people won't want to play it again; if it's too hard, your players may not want to finish it the first time around.
Sploderwithout the "
DeProgrammerHaving some kind of a story is usually a really good idea, even if it's just a three-word introduction and a single-sentence conclusion (check out Robot Wants Kitty on Kongregate). The story could also involve events with different pacing to make a game more enjoyable, such as the escape sequences in Metroid games.
MercenaryIs there any trick to uping a persons adrenaline for a short while?
DeProgrammerPutting in very powerful and fast enemies, very short timers, etc. can do that.
DeProgrammerOn to the process! This first point is my favorite, aimed toward beginners: START SMALL!
Lakilouieand maybe epic music
DeProgrammerDon't expect to make a RTS or a complicated platformer or a 3D game with online multiplayer or a complex bot AI.
DeProgrammerI recommend starting off making something simpler, like a tile-based puzzle game. *nudge nudge, wink wink*
RetroXI started small but never finished any of them
HazMake a space shootan game
RetroXso now I'm on big even though I never finished anything
DeProgrammerAdditionally, don't overcomplicate things--don't plan on adding a bunch of options and customizability and a huuuge map until you've got the game in a state you can consider to be polished.
DeProgrammerThat means you, RetroX! :P
RetroXwhat did I do
DeProgrammerThe first actual STEP of the process is brainstorming. Unless you've already got a very specific idea in mind as to what you want your game to be like, do your best to come up with loads of ideas; don't throw anything out just yet.
DeProgrammerIf you're inspirationally challenged, think about some dreams you've had. Prod other people's brains, too.
RetroXgood, I got step 1
DeProgrammerRecruit some friends with experience in gaming to help come up with ideas that may be fairly obvious but that you've overlooked.
RetroXalso, I don't have good dreams
RetroXnone that I'd make into a game, anyways
DeProgrammerMine involve dinosaurs and strip clubs, neither of which am I particularly fond of.
DeProgrammerHere's an example of some brainstorming!
DeProgrammerPardon my handwriting. I know it's sad.
DeProgrammerOnce you're done brainstorming, do some research. It should go without saying that you need to figure out what works for you or your target audience and what doesn't.
RetroXaudience is also important
RetroXif I learned anything in English class
DeProgrammerAfter that, toss out the 70% of the ideas you came up with which were absolutely horrible.
DeProgrammerThe next step: Plan out what needs to be done before starting on it.
DeProgrammerFor example, resolution is usually something you need to decide on before you start making graphics.
Haz7000x7000 is usually a good start
DeProgrammerMake a design document and a resource outline. The outline can include programming, music, sound effects, and graphics requirements. Fill in the most specific elements whenever you think of them.
BLarget2yes im using the dreded mibit
DeProgrammerHere's a design document example, which Metroid Zapper, Emperor/Raiizn, and I made by following my outline for this workshop:
DeProgrammerAnd this is a resource outline to go with it:
MercenaryWould you mind explaining the outline doc. thing?
DeProgrammerI'll give you a couple minutes to check those out.
DeProgrammerLike, two minutes.
HazThat is the lightest doc I have ever seen
RetroXtwo minutes for homework
DeProgrammerYour two minutes are up. Back to school. :)
DeProgrammerYou should realize that the more you plan in advance, the less time you'll spend fixing mistakes and oversights.
DeProgrammerAnd this next sub-point is for the most expensive people on any professional game development team: programmers!
RetroXyou mean least
DeProgrammerPSEUDOCODE! You can design every system, every function, and every file format, before you write any actual code. This way, you'll never realize halfway through making the game that you need to completely redesign your engine.
Blarget2woah disconnedt
DeProgrammerOkay, okay...GOOD programmers. :)
DeProgrammerAnd the final step of the process (until you start openly advertising): Gather a team.
Mercenarywhat if you're 13 years old and have no one around you with interest?
DeProgrammerYou likely shouldn't look for people until you've got a complete, workable design. They can lose interest fast if you don't have everything you need already laid out for them. If you're the programmer, you should probably have a sizable chunk of your engine ready before asking for resources.
BwdYetiPractice some part you like for a few years, then start a project later
Mercenarysome part?
Mercenaryor parts
MercenaryFor example, I like to sprite, and to write stuff.
RetroXone random productivity note: tell people that you're working on something. You're more likely to finish it.
Blarget2i love pixel art :3
MercenaryShould I just work on one thing or another?
HazYou can do them both
HazJust takes more time.
DeProgrammerThe better you are at one thing, the more you'd be worth to a team, so it may actually be better to focus on the one.
DeProgrammerOf course, if you get bored of it, feel free to do the other.
MercenaryI see.
HazCan I throw up the quintessential example?
MercenaryBut i still want to learn to program.
HazCave Story
Mercenarywhat language should I learn first?
HazOne guy made it all, and did it beautifully
HazThere is no "one language"
DeProgrammerRotis was made entirely by me. If I made it two years from now, it could be a billion times better. :P
DeProgrammerThe language is covered later. Listen up :P
DeProgrammerNow, creation elements...
DeProgrammerFirst one: Programming language!
DeProgrammerGameMaker is good for beginners. Perhaps Flash for intermediate coders, maybe structured programming for experts.
MercenaryGameMaker is good for beginners. Perhaps Flash for intermediate coders, maybe structured programming for experts.
RetroXit's Game Maker, btw
HazGM kinda sucks
DeProgrammerI haven't used much other than VB6 with OpenGL and C with PAlib, myself, so I can't give a whole lot of information regarding game libraries such as SDL and XNA.
MercenaryStructured programming?
Blarget2can someone paste the irc link? i hate Mibbit
HazXNA is great
RetroXI'm doing SFML on thursday, for those that might be interested
DeProgrammerStructured programming is the opposite of object-oriented, which wastes RAM and CPU like crazy. :)
HazI hear SFML is nice, gonna check it out.
Mercenarywhats object oriented?
Morradwhats SFML?
DeProgrammer"SDL and XNA are two game libraries intermediate coders can use in order to break away from high-level languages like GameMaker." That was totally on my outline.
DeProgrammerI don't have the time to go into detail regarding that stuff. I still have a few more points to get through. :P
HazGM isn't a high level language
HazPython is
blarget3blarget2 wil time out
HazLisp is
Xgoffalso what's wrong with HLLs
Hazlua is a scripting language
DeProgrammerHaving said that... Having a bug-free game is more important than having a bunch of complexities, like little effects and options.
DeProgrammerSo whatever you use, use it to the best of your abilities.
DeProgrammerOn the subject of controls: It's best to have a set of default controls, and perhaps to have a few other preset configurations, but also to allow the user to customize them.
BwdYetiI want to look into XNA
RetroXxtremely N oying
DeProgrammerSome controls can be on-screen and have keyboard shortcuts, while others can be keyboard-only (or buttons, if you're making a game for a console), but you should try to minimize the complexity of the controls either way.
RetroXnever mind
RetroXsimple controls is always a big one as well
blarget3im guessing im in a bad area in this convo...
DeProgrammerXNA is a Microsoft thing. If I'm not mistaken, it's mostly for developing XBox games.
RetroXit's C#
RetroXit's Windows/Xbox
BwdYetiIt works with PCs too
blarget3Xbox live arcade games :D
RetroXstop using PC to refer to Windows
RetroXit's annoying as heck
DeProgrammerOn the subject of graphics: use fillers until your game is mostly playable, if you need to.
HazIt was conceived mainly for xbox and windows phone, but works with the OS as well jsut fine
blarget3PC means Linux too you guys :P
Hazpc means personal computer
blarget3macs are just macs tho....
DeProgrammerDon't forget that the user interface is usually graphical. You probably need something along the lines of health bars and unique fonts. Try to make them interesting.
blarget3its called popular wording
blarget3and it sticks
DeProgrammerDon't skimp on the animation. You want to consider little special effects like dust trails and sparks and bouncing (ie. Tetris Attack and Bejeweled vs. Rotis).
blarget3PC always ment windows
blarget3and always will
blarget3atleast popular wording goes
RetroXno it won't
RetroXand animation is good
HazKeep it related to what he's saying
Mercenarypeople, shut up and let him talk!!!!
DeProgrammerHaving 3D graphics takes a lot more effort than 2D. In terms of 2D graphics, pixel art shifts most of the effort to the artist, while vector graphics put more responsibility on the programmer to make a bone/joint animation system.
HazYou're 13
HazI'm 14 I take seniority
DeProgrammerWhatever you use, make sure that you have a method for converting the graphics files to something usable by the game engine. :P
blarget3im 16 :/
HazI wasn't telling the truth >_>
DeProgrammerI'm 25% older than blarget3.
blarget3anyways pretty good lesson
RetroXthat's great
RetroXit's not over
DeProgrammerOn the subject of sound effects: DoctorPetter's "sfxr" is useful if you want to create some retro sound effects. You might want to just download or rip some otherwise, because creating good sound effects can require expensive equipment and a lot of time.
blarget3i always liked pixel art over anything else
BwdYetisfxr is also fun to mess with
blarget3ORRRR use a DOSbox synth with a old soundblaster card :D
blarget3get that nice feel
DeProgrammerOn the subject of music: Don't put any in until you have several songs, or the repetition will drive you nuts while you're debugging. :)
HazMusagi is nice too
HazFrom the same guy, actually.
DeProgrammerAnd that would be a great thing to use for music, if the programmer can set up the game to load those files.
DeProgrammerGood game music tends to have the ability to loop smoothly, while possibly also having an intro and an outro. Sometimes the music can be synched to in-game events for maximum effect.
blarget3like awe32? wait no bad card eww
DeProgrammerChoose a format:
DeProgrammerMP3 and Ogg Vorbis are relatively large files and high-quality formats
DeProgrammerMIDI is tiny but not recommended because different sound cards change the way it sounds, plus MIDIs tend to lack depth.
blarget3i like ogg
MemnocThanks for this link DeProgrammer. Obtaining sound effects have always been a big problem for me
DeProgrammerOther module formats are usually difficult to make but can be small files while still sounding good. (I think trackers' GUIs all suck.)
RetroXyes, trackers all suck
DeProgrammerAt the end of the workshop, I'll have a link to a website that has links to websites for getting more sound effects. :P
DeProgrammerIn regards to having options in your game: if it's something other than pixel art, you should have graphics quality settings, and even if it's pixel art, you should be able to double the screen size if you want.
blarget3but yeah the problem with sharing sound effects is everyone's games start sounding the same. this is why i make my own sounds
DeProgrammerDon't forget about difficulty settings. Separate volume controls for music and sound effects are also a common option.
blarget3this is a very vague and simple lesson tho. good but not in depth...
DeProgrammerUnless you're well along the way to completion of the game, I wouldn't worry about introducing too many options like the ability to record/log gameplay footage.
DeProgrammerYes. It's called an "overview" for a reason.
blarget3see this is why its a BAD thing to jump in on things XD
blarget3ACTION slaps himself
DeProgrammerGeneric, dumb, overly-forced-sounding conclusion: Perhaps you didn't realize it before, but now you can see why games usually require large teams of people working months or years to complete. :P
DeProgrammerAaaand I'm not very good at conclusions, so I'm ending by spamming links.
DeProgrammerA nice article about the principles of game design I found a while ago:
DeProgrammerA large number of game design-related articles:
RetroXthat was a whole lot better than my workshop last year lol
DeProgrammerAnd a list of places to get sound effects:
SploderDid I miss alot?
BwdYetiForming a team is the best thing you can do
SploderUnless your Pixel/Zun/Notch
DeProgrammerTa-da! All done, and with 3 minutes to spare! Questions? Criticism? Someone want to test out the gamemaking process via my outline? :P
LakilouieI think this was a good workshop. Mostly because I have never been to one.
blarget3notch has a team
blarget36 people
blarget3by himself :/
HazWas a good overview of game making
SploderI'll go back and read this stuff
HazMay want to go a bit more in-depth on programming languages, but it's up to you really.
Morradsame here
SploderAlso, hi morrad
DeProgrammerHalf of what I did was copying and pasting from my outline, so while you're waiting for the transcript, I can post that here.
Jeffprogramming languages is a different catagory
blarget3im helping onf a game called cubecreate :D using Cube 2 as a base and completly rewrtining it with a SDK and game examples from fps racing rts and more :D
Sploderthat works, too
blarget3and my spelling FAILS
RetroXfar more organised than my workshop lol
DeProgrammerWell, see, I don't know very much about the different coding languages. I've only used VB6, VB .NET, Java, C, PHP, and JavaScript, and I've never used a library except PAlib for the DS.
LakilouieWell, I think it's a good time to go now
BwdYetiRuby is good but niche
MercmasterGreat overview
Lakilouiegreat job
DeProgrammerI spent a week on it. I even made people test it with me. Haha.
BwdYetiIncredibly easy to work with, but pretty much only RPG Maker uses it, outside of Ruby on Rails
RetroXwell, for people that want to attend my workshop and learn a bit about C++, be there on thursday! 4:00 EST!
DeProgrammerI wonder if anyone got the whole transcript. I missed the stuff before RetroX spammed "MetroidMaster1914 DJYoshiman"
blarget3wait so i dont want to be stupid sounding but has NCFC started already?
DeProgrammerWhich was basically just me introducing it, but eh. :P
MemnocIn my opinion regarding programming languages, (Just in case anyone wanted my opinion on this particular part regarding languages -- I suppose) the limit to program anything is not in the language but the imagination of the programmer. Unless the language has a huge glaring rule like say if someone designs an engine and a coding language for mods and that rule could be "You can't directly alter the game's variables, only your own." Other than tha
Memnoctl;dr Read it.
MemnocPlease XD
DeProgrammerNCFC started a few days ago. :)
RetroXDeProgrammer: I'll get the log; one moment
HazI have the whole transcript
blarget3i thought it was in like a wherehouse with stands and stuff....
HazBut, too lazy to grab it, especially when someone else is already on top of it.
DeProgrammerOooh, I hope your copy has a lot less annoying formatting than this here Mibbit client. :P
DeProgrammerSo many colons separating the names from the text...and unnecessary timestamps, although I could easily write a program to get rid of all that. <.<
Sploder@Memnoc, that's is usually the case, but certain languages are better suited for certain jobs than others.
HazI have timestamps, because I find them neccessary
RetroXDeProgrammer: just ran a simple grep :P
DeProgrammerAwhatahuh? <.<
HazYou gotta be kidding me
MemnocOf course.
DeProgrammerFor a computer geek, I don't know much outside of the stuff I'm used to. :P
RetroXglobally search for a regular expression and print the result
SploderToo bad a bunch of people left. I coulda posted a bunch more examples of design docs
RetroXit's part of the GNU coreutils :P
DeProgrammerThat's okay. We can put them in the transcript!
RetroXadd .txt to that
RetroXforget to add it all the time
GeneralGuyi think I scared Flare and Fennes with my godly MKW skills
DeProgrammerHaha. I like how it's all just my text, except for one line where you said "DeProgrammer:"
RetroXthe workshop is over
RetroXoh, f
RetroXI didn't bother looking through it
RetroXbut that's the log
DeProgrammerAll is well. I can merge these. I just wanted the beginning bit anyway. :P
mrgoodOh God. I ate so much food my stomach is hurting now.
RetroXoh, right
RetroXugh my headphones are bugging me
RetroXwhy can I not get the left ear towork
RetroXto work*
Morradyo spolder
Morradi worked up a list of holidays
Sploderlol, just because Mecha logged in, doesn't mean he's here
MechatheSlagit does
DeProgrammerYou're an hour late!
RetroXit's 9
DeProgrammerAn hour late for my workshop. *cry*
RetroXnow that NTPD finally works
Morradwhos entering a minigame for the MGC?
RetroXI'm not
SploderI want to
Sploderbut I'm lazy
Sploderor busy
DavidCarusoim still thinking which game to do LOL
Sploderor whichever
DavidCarusoalso yeah lazy
DavidCarusoid probably just demake a soundtrack and then not get started on the actual game
DeProgrammerI spent 40 hours on Super Metroid World last year and realized that making engines from scratch is not cool for minigame competitions. I'm not gonna do that again. :P
Mintwhoever asked if anyone got the whole transcript: i did
DeProgrammerI've got it now. Thanks, though. :P
Minti just log all my colloquy stuff
Mintmight need to clear out of radiopsi logs and such soon though
Morraddoes Super Metroid World only run on DS?
Mintno reason to keep em, as plenty of it is nonsensical without the actual radio show
DeProgrammerWell, the DS games work perfectly on the DeSmuMe emulator, which is cross-platform.
Splodermy concept docs aren't nearly as good as yours are...
DeProgrammerI've made roughly 30 games in the last 8.5 years.
SploderI have this habit of making concept docs, and then stopping
RetroXI have this habit of starting to code something then stopping
Sploderat least you're farther along than I am
SploderI'm not sure if that's good or bad...
RetroXI don't make docs though lol
DeProgrammerWell...I started at the age of 12. Haha.
SploderYou have 2 extra years on me, then
SploderLately, my docs have been nothing more than a thorough run-down on controlling the player
Morradwhat are docs?
SploderConcept/design documents
Morradi might make a doc on Wario Holidays
SploderI let the man of science take my documents.
SploderGood idea
Morradthe programmer?
Sploderwho is?
At this point Mecha abruptly came in, set +m and started the fight night so I have no clue what happened after that.
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