Hobbyists - How do you make it happen?

  • Games have evidently became quite an industry that most developers are feeding their families with. At the same time though, successful indie developers are mostly hobbyists to begin with. I have been closely following Construct 2 community updates, but for a long time I haven't been able to shake off my procrastination due to my other distractions in life.

    To all you non-professionals out there, how do you kick-start your project?

    Do you have an idea first, and then either experiment the idea in practice (say, fiddling with Construct 2 functions), making mindmaps, or writing a plan down in paper first?

    Or do you experiment with the engine first, and idea comes later?

    It varies a lot for me to be honest, if im on to just test something, ill just go straight into it, not caring about whether its organised or not. It pretty much have one goal which is to solve a very specific problem or test something. While other projects start organised with some kind of weak idea of how it should be, and then slowly it gets disorganised and I forget what I wanted to do, or get distracted by another idea, and the project dies (Which happens A LOT).

    So this time I try to focus more on good organisation and lot of documentation, so I don't forget what features, rules, stats and ideas it was I had when I started. So its very detailed currently 45 pages of A4. Also I have changed approach so I try to focus on making things more slowly and not just rush them, so its not enough that they just sort of work and then ill just fix it later, and when you have done that 30 times nothing works

    But I think its a good idea if you want to do something, that you locate the things that you think would give you the most problems, and just make some test programs that focuses specifically on those things, as its quite easy to notice where problem might occur and then get some ideas of how to solve them if its turns out to be the case.

  • ...but for a long time I haven't been able to shake off my procrastination due to my other distractions in life.

    To all you non-professionals out there, how do you kick-start your project?

    Do you have an idea first, and then either experiment the idea in practice (say, fiddling with Construct 2 functions), making mindmaps, or writing a plan down in paper first?

    Or do you experiment with the engine first, and idea comes later?

    I think the idea should come first. I mean, if you are aiming to make something that is polished that other people will be prepared to pay for I think you need to do extensive planning and concepting before you ever start programming.

    For me... Im a visual creative not a programmer. I can clearly visualize the kind of game I want to make, and make the graphics for it.. but I lack the coding skills to build it. So im coming to C2 hoping that it will be simple enough for me to be able to use.

    I have been 'kick-starting' my project by working on the artwork and the game concept:

    -sketches of player and non-player characters.

    -sketching out tile maps for different environments.

    -drawing flow charts to show user navigation through menus and gameplay etc.

    -writing out a story arc.

    -sketching out level design.

    -building artwork in Photoshop (tilesets, character animations, user interface graphics etc.)

    So I've done all of this work without even thinking about coding.. At the same time, I have been completing contract jobs making artwork for other people's games, which has been very valuable because it gives me practice making game art in a wide range of styles..

    Now I have reached a point where I want to make a working demo of one or two levels for my game concept, using the draft artwork I have. So I'm going to start with the free version of C2 and see if I can make something that vaguely resembles the concept I have in my head... and if I can achieve that, I will push on, buy a business license and aim to build a complete game.

  • Have an idea. Throw a prototype together to see if the mechanics work. Then ideas usually just spawn from playing the prototype. At least that's how it works for me.

  • I have an idea, I might write it down or make some art, maybe even start making it. And then.... I move on to something else and never touch the idea again.

  • Firstly, I used C2 in December 2012 to seek what I can do with it. Then, I have learned more from this engine and make great games with it.

  • As I am a designer these ideas comes on my mind while designing any new Game app .

  • Here's my process.

    1. When I should be focusing on something else, I come up with a "brilliant" idea for a game or program.

    2. I get in notes on my phone and type out everything I see in my head.

    3. I speak it out loud. If it sounds like garbage, it probably is.

    4. I see if it would be feasible to make. If the answer is no, you're probably wrong. There's not much a programmer can't do. You might just have to learn some new skills.

    5. I get on Google Docs and plan it out in greater detail. The rule is, if you don't write it down the second you think of it, it is almost definitely NOT going to make it into your final product.

    6. I pitch the idea to my friends. If they're interested, I make my Google Doc public and send them to the link.

    7. I head into Eclipse for Java or Notepad++ for Php or Construct 2 and make it happen.

    Rarely do my ideas ever come from just tinkering.

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  • For me the proces of creating a game from start to finish is unique for each game.

    looking back however there is a mayor path im on.

    I have 7 game prototype's: 4 small, 2 medium 1 large production.

    The medium ones are waiting for my new skills in creating a good level editor.

    The small ones i work on when i need a break from the medium or large productions.

    They keep the flow of logic assessment and creation stimulation going.

    Also they have the role of keeping the (i have finished this game) in check.

    As working on large games takes a lot of time, it is key to stimulate finishing a production.

    The small games help me with that.

    In the large games all current aquired knowledge snaps into place so that game sets the tempo of my doings.

    When i however come to a halt because that game needs more logic/creation value then i can offer at that moment, then i swich to one of the less complicated games.

    This is how it works for me, and when i stumble uppon a great game idea the first thing i do is check how long it would probably take me to create it so i can calculate the future outcome.

    understanding if a game is fun or not goes in that same proces.

    When the game fits into my personal future profile, i accept it and build a prototype, and so forth.

  • I start with an idea, and then flesh it out in a series of Notepad documents, with one for each category (game-play, audio, AI, GUI, polish). I then start to create basic assets for use in the first stage of development, which is 'blocking in' game elements and starting the fundamental game-play code. I then split the game-play code into several event sheets, Global, Movement, Combat AI, Audio, etc, and have Global include them all so that each layout only requires including the Global event sheet.

    Whenever I feel like my patience in one area is being assaulted to the point of insanity, I move to working on another category so the game keeps being developed, but sanity is retained. While developing, when pondering on ways to do certain things, I'll put any good ideas in as comments at the top of the Global event sheet for looking into.

  • I just smash my head against the keyboard and hope something comes out. Usually it does...

  • My Main Occupation is Actually Motion Graphics and 3D animation so I just started construct 2 around 2 months ago and really got me into it. I actually started with a template and the game outgrew by itself. I designed the characters applied it to the template and ofcourse changed the gameplay and added extras with the help of great tutorials in "Scirra Site" and the game is finished. But if you ask me it is best to design the characters and the game + Game Logic first. so you have a better route just like storyboards when shooting a film. I think during the process I always thought what else I can get into the game. ( I didn't do too much but still I am happy with the results)

  • Come up with an idea you can build on incrementally, that doesn't require a huge upfront investment of your time. That way you can build on your project in a natural way that budgets your time properly rather than have to make a huge upfront investment of time with little promise of return.

    As an example, telling yourself you're going to write your engine from the ground up gives you a mountain to climb before you can start doing anything, find ways to get past mountains by going around or through them rather than over them. Using construct in the first place is a big step in the right direction!

  • Im a big one for the notebook in my pocket method,but at the end of the day i could burn all my design docs in rage. After so many prototypes have been layed out, the notebook goes away, and the focus for one project comes back.

  • Even though I'm a newbie here, I did have some game developments in the past when I made Flash or Director game projects.(personal & academical) I might have something to give. Here's my take on how to manage time, especially for those making bigger than casual games: (excuse my meticulous writing style )

    At the very beginning of development there's excitement. you have the most enthusiastic mood and your brains are more relaxed, which is perfect and ready to bring ideas to the table, as well as learning & making tests and prototypes. There should have no strict deadlines at this period. Take your time, cos' ideas & concepts can't be rushed.

    Second, when you start coding or putting art/design/audio assets for the game, is where you start feel like "working".You should have a time-table & deadlines. At this stage you should probably planned out all the major stuff & minor stuff, the 'to-do-list'. Also, It's always more productive when you have deadlines, they can be quite a motivator!

    Now, get the "real work" started & do all the major workload, the things that most people would notice and expect. Try to get yourself into this "creative flow", once you have it, don't stop! You'll be amazed of how productive you can be. This stage can be more flexible than you think, just try to do all the part you're eager to do at the time being, and leave all the repetitive & similar elements (art assets like: grid sprites/letter designs/in-between animations etc.) to the next stage.

    Near the end of the development, we usually have most of the game elements finalized, that's where 'Crunch Time' is at. Get a complete work list, and be in total focus, no distractions, and work like a machine! Compress workload into a short time, 2~4 days is the limit. Crunch Time is not meant for making up new idea or planning stuffs, you shouldn't use more brainpower in crunch time or you'll get even more exhausted, or even frustrated, which is bad for work. Just complete all the stuff in crunch time, and get them over with quickly.

    Then lastly for the remaining parts: fixing, debugging, optimizing etc. It doesn't matter 1~2 weeks or extended, you're nearly finishing your game, so relax and use as much time you left for polishing the game, before proceeding into publishing or marketing stage.

    Overall: I can't stress enough the time management used for different stages of game development. Moods, on the other hand, is also quite crucial. What's the point if you feel making game is like being in a battlefield, hard & gritty...

    Sorry for the long comment. I hope I wrote well for my take.

  • When it comes to how I make my games happen, it's usually a matter of "how much juice do I have running today?". Certain parts can be done easily and other parts may drag for weeks. Usually my kick is being eager to finish it and share my game with others.

    My process for making things work though tends to work like this:

    1. Get a game idea: Having an idea is the first step to anything. It doesn't need to be ground breaking or anything. just something fun. Added points for motivation.

    2. Design the concept: This stage can take a short moment or a good while depending on the game I want to build. I try to get an idea of what the screen should look like so I have an idea of how many objects I am looking at making and also the style for the game. It's great to look back on during production as well.

    3.Pick your engine: This one is typically always based on "which on would this be easier in?" simply because at this point in the game for me, I want to focus on finishing the product. There's typically always "an ideal engine" such as Unity, but to code all of the classes and limits can be a little messy sometimes with me. (The UI is a little much at the moment.)

    4.Make a prototype: Boxes. Everywhere. I'm not exactly looking for a nice look here, I just want to know that I can make the fundamentals of the game in the engine.

    5.Graphics: This step makes or breaks me because I am so lazy with graphics sometimes. Other times, I will go through and remake everything 6 times. Depends on my drawing mood for the day, but it can really kill some larger projects that have a full prototype ready.

    6.Bells and whistles: with that done, now I just kind of make everything pretty. I can't compose music at all, so I turn to a lot of free music online (with proper credit), add particles and effects, and pick out any kind of errors with collision that I may find.

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