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Game Development as Picture
If there is one 'most important secret' that I wish this article to
convey, this section is it.
Think of those Polaroid instant pictures (If you have never seen
one of those picutres, think of a .gif image that starts out fuzzy and
fades in to clarity as you load it)... the kind that start out grey and
gradually fade in through blurriness to clarity. First you see some big
patches of color, and you realized that that is someone's shirt. Then you
see a thing that looks like a human head. Then you can see that there are
eyes and a mouth. Then you recognized that that person is you.
That is what the creation of a game should be like. It starts out as
an outline where you can recognize things in general but can't see details,
and gradually you add details, until the game is fully developed. You shouldn't
start making a game at the beginning of the game and then add to it chapter
by chapter until you reach the end, making things in the order the player
of the game will see them in. This may be the intuitive way to make games
for the person just starting out, but it's now how the best game designers
make games. Think of a painting. When you paint a painting, you don't start
at the top and go down, painting down inch by inch, until you reach the
bottom corner and the last thing. When you draw a sketch, you don't start
with the top of the head, to the rest of the head, to the neck, to the
body and arms, to the legs, finishing with the shoes. You paint and sketch
in broad strokes at first, getting a general vague outline on the canvas
or paper, and fill in the details later, and finally color it.
Here is the way I envision most people making a large scale Ohrrpgce
game: They begin their game. They think 'what is the first thing that a
game needs? a title screen!' so they make a title screen and import it.
Then they want to 'make the place where you start the game', so they decide
to make that. They start with the heroes room. The draw the hero graphic.
They draw his bed graphic. The draw the rest of the tilemap for his room.
They add detail upon detail to his room. They put a sword next to his bed
for him to pick up. Then they draw the tilemap for the rest of his house
and make his house. Then they decide that they should put someone in that
house, so they draw another walkabout graphic for the mother. They put
the mother in that house. They give her a textbox, that says something
like 'here is 100$, spend it well, blah blah blah, go get this and that'.
Then they make the town, and add more houses, house by house. The make
more walkabout graphics for heroes as they need them, and put them in.
Each time they put in a new npc, they then go and make the textbox for
that npc. They keep doing this until the town is done. And then they start
on the overworld. By this time, a month has passed and they only have a
town and the beginning of an overworld. Eventually they may finish the
first dungeon, painful detail by painful detail. When they want to make
the boss, they draw the boss graphic and make the boss battle, decide he
needs attacks, so they draw those attacks, adjust the attributes of that
attack, and give that attack to the boss. They release a demo.
This is a ludicrous way to make a game. This is akin to painting a portrait
from top to bottom. It's akin to writing a symphony from first note that
the symphony plays to the last note that they play, instead of starting
with the most important melody and going instrument by instrument. If this
is the way most people make games, no wonder so many of them are abandoned.
The way the best game designers make games (including the professional
game designers) is to make the game in broad paint strokes, and then gradually
fill in the details, one aspect of the game at a time. When I made the
game And& (which i made in a little more than 24 hours), I didn't
go detail by detail from start to finish. What I did was do everything
in large chunks. I made the two maps. Completely. I drew the walkabouts/npcs.
All one of them. Then I drew every enemy graphic, from first enemy to final
boss, all in a short span of time. Then I imported all of the music. I
didn't import the music as I neded it, I knew how much I would need and
imported that amount of music. I then made all of the items and all of
the shops. After that, I made the battles/enemys/stats. All of them at
once. I didn't draw one enemy and then give him his stats (that would be
an insane waste of time, and I wouldn't have finished the game). I drew
all the enemies at once, and then later gave them all stats at once. I
put in the battles and tested them until they were finished. I didn't make
the beginning battles, test them, make the middle battles, and test those,
etc., I made all the battles at once, and then tested them all at once.
I then put in the story. All at once. By this time, 16 hours had elapsed,
and I was basically done with the core of the game. So I then playtested
through the game over and over, changing anything that needed to be changed,
fixed spelling mistakes, adding little details like making Ampersand's
eyes transparent, etc. Then I shipped off the game to Charbile, w/ instructions
on making the battle graphic for the hero (or heroine if you use gendered
words). He did that, sent the game back, I put in the ending (which he
was supposed to do but didn't have time due to an unforseen eventuality
of some kind). And that was all, and all was well.
The moral: work on one aspect of the game at a time, and finish that
aspect before moving on to another. You can always add to it if you didn't
foresee something, but try to foresee everything your game will need in
regards to that one aspect, and complete that aspect as best you can. Don't
try to make the game linearly, map by map, from beginning to end, as the
beginners do. This only leads to frustration. And it'll be very apparant
in your game's quality that went about making your game in a short sighted
If you need it any clearer, here:
Do not do this (method 1).
1) the walkbout graphics, maptiles, npc textboxes, items, shops, and
battles needed for "First Town"; 2) the walkbout graphics, maptiles, npc
textboxes, items, shops, and battles needed for "First Castle"; 3) the
walkbout graphics, maptiles, npc textboxes, items, shops, and battles needed
for "Overworld"; 4) the walkbout graphics, maptiles, npc textboxes, items,
shops, and battles needed for "First Dungeon"; 5) the walkbout graphics,
maptiles, npc textboxes, items, shops, and battles needed for "Next Town"....
((repeat for every new part of the game that comes into your whimsical
Do this (method 2).
1) all the walkabout graphics; 2) all the maptiles; 3) all the maps;
4) all the enemy graphics; 5) all the hero graphics; 6) all the battles;
7) all the story; 8) all the attacks....((repeat for every game aspect
in an order that makes sense)).
Why exactly does this work and why is it much better and easier and
simpler to do this? Afterall, you're getting the same work done either
way, right? No, wrong. In the first way, you get distracted too easily,
you can't really focus an anything, since you're constantly jumping all
over the place. In the second way, you are able to concentrate on one type
of creative ability at once. The larger your game is, the more time you'll
save by doing it the second way.
The only possible opposition to this method is that people will say
"But won't this delay the game's release? You can't really release demo
after demo in this way." That is an understandable objection, but it rests
on a certain fallacy... you aren't making a game to make a collection of
demos, you're making a game to make a game. Who cares if you can't release
a demo? You can release one when your game is nearing completion. Making
a game and making a bunch of demos are two different things. It's better
to spend a bit longer and have a finished game than make 5 demos, spending
as much time on each demo as you could have spent on a full game of the
Is it impossible to make a good game using the first method? No, not
at all. A lot of great Ohrrpgce games are made that way. Wingedmene:
Part One is one example (although even in that game, most of the enemy
graphics and hero graphics that will be needed in the game were made early
on in the game's development. It is only the maptiles, maps, and textboxes
which are made area by area). So it's not impossible to make a game by
the traditional Ohr way of making it chapter by chapter (first popularized
by Wandering Hamster). It'll just take a whole lot longer to do
it in installments than it would otherwise.
Now, the rest of the article is long, and I don't want you to forget
the main point of this section by the end of the article. When you are
sure you won't forget that the point of the article is to try to get you
to try out Method 2 instead of Method 1, go on to the next section.
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