Thousander Club Update: October 2nd

For this weekรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs Thousander Club update:

Game Hours: 197.25 / 1000
Game Ideas: 432 / 1000

Target: 756

On Saturday, I managed to get the basic game of Pong finished. It has two players, a ball, and two walls. The ball will bounce off of the walls and paddles, and it resets to the middle again if it goes out on either side. Now all I have to do is add scoring and sound, and I think anything else would be polish and shine.

Of course, then I have the choice of either polishing what will end up being just another Pong clone or moving onto another project. I don’t want to switch to another project prematurely. I’ve already jumped from one project to another multiple times. There are still a number of things I could implement to really “finish” the game. I could create a simple menu, a pause feature, mouse input, ball spin, and a credits screen. I haven’t made use of fonts or text in a graphical game, so it would actually be a good opportunity to learn what it takes.

On the other hand, the end result will still be Pong. How long will it take to polish it up? Could I better spend that time by adding a second game under my belt? If I go this route, I’m leaning towards working on the original version of Oracle’s Eye again. It’s a relatively original game, and finishing it will result in a game that I can say is mine.

If I had a third hand, I might say that I should try to make another classic game, such as Asteroids or Space Invaders. While I will still end up with a clone in either case, the advantage of picking a clone is that I already know what the game should look and feel like. OE doesn’t have a very specific set of features, and I don’t even know if it will turn out to be fun. Working on the clones might give me better insight into what it takes to make a game as well as what I can do to make my own games more fun.

After I add scoring and sound effects to my Pong clone, I will make my decision. For now, I just want to outline what I’ll be pondering, hoping that you’ll provide at least as much quality advice and feedback as you did last week.

18 comments to Thousander Club Update: October 2nd

  • You also have 432 (!!!) game ideas. You’re beating Patrick Curry by 10x. I’d like to see your entire list. Even if they are all 1 sentence concepts there have to be a few gems in there. Maybe you should persue one of those once you’re finished with pong?

  • Scott

    I am trying to determine if you are serious or not about your commitment to Pong. What language are you programming the game in ?

    I think Pong could probably me made in an afternoon using Adobe Flash with Actionscript. C#, C++ and many other languages are probably overkill for games that rely heavily on not being complex.

    You could also easily post your progress each day, and therefore make yourself accountable to all who read your blog.

  • You could add more stuff to your framework if you add that bit of polish. Then again you can learn something new. So really it’s what matters to you. Finishing games is a really big deal, but the level of finish. Well it might be impressive to say that you finished 100 games over x amount of days/months/years, it might also be impressive to say that you finished 10 games, that looked professional, that is had everything in it, etc. I think, though, you can just use this as partial learning time and building your framework. Pick something extra that you might want to put into your new framework, add that on to pong, and then call it finished and polished. (Let’s say, oh add a computer player for ai, or just a simple menu, and a pause) then add that ONE thing into your new framework, then you can move on. By the time your framework is robust enough you can just start cranking out quickie games that still feel completely finished, and some you like alot can be polished real nice with all that extra time you would save.

    By the way when I mean ONE extra thing in your new framework, I mean AFTER you add in scoring and whatever else you mentioned above.

    Keith

  • Scott

    I think in the current marketplace, you probably have a far better chance of making an independent flash game as opposed to say a C++ game.

    Flash is highly accessible to anyone who has a web browser, there are no funky installatons for the user to deal with.

    As long as you are making 2D casual games and not 3D, you’ll make more headway going that route. If you focus on creating a pong engine and then next space invaders, and your time is spent on creating the engine to make a game… you end up with an engine and no real game.

    I believe the game design skills are far more important. What is going to be fun to the player ? Many of the best games are relatively simple in terms of implementation — tetris beinga good example.

    Flash is like a sandbox for game designers, cause you can rather quickly test out a gamplay concept.

  • Impossible: I should create another game idea post in which I pick an idea from my list and explore it for a few minutes. I’m definitely overdue for one.

    Scott: Flash is still funky for Gnu/Linux users, a target market that I care a lot about. For some reason, even though it is just a browser plugin, Flash/Shockwave installation is a headache, and the current available version is not only outdated but buggy. Flash isn’t an option for me at this time since I refuse to be yet another developer who makes a Gnu/Linux port of a game months after the original release. Of course, with Ajax and Javascript becoming quite robust, web-based games aren’t entirely out of the question. There is always Java, although to a number of people it is only a little better than Flash with regards to installation and stability.

    Keith: I think you may be right. I should try to add one or two small things to Pong (after scoring and sound), then move on. Pong was meant to serve two purposes: allow me to finish a game for once, and allow me to learn what it takes to finish a game. I don’t want to spend too much time on a game that isn’t really marketable, so I should get what I can out of it and move on.

  • Scott

    Installation of the browser plugin ? My mother managed to install it, and she thinks GNU is an animal.

    What bugs are you referring to in flash player ?

    I think in trying to start a game company, accessibility of your games is pretty key in my opinion. You only need to browse the internet for a few moments to realize how much flash is utilized on the web, so the player is definitely out there in the masses.

    I sometimes think that too much focus can be put on creating an engine and never getting around to the games. In the end, the company that makes the fun games win… and they aren’t always the companies with the most talented programmers or best engine.

    Do you see yourself as an engine programmer ? or a gameplay programmer/designer ? Or do you see yourself as both.

  • Well, for one, the Massively Multiplayer Pong game won’t run on my Gnu/Linux system. Newer Flash games do something weird, or maybe it is just a version difference, but the latest version of Flash is basically going to be skipped for Gnu/Linux users. People have to figure out work-arounds to get things like sound to sync correctly when watching Flash videos. It’s absurd.

    As for my business, I don’t want to just try to get the most customers. If so, then I wouldn’t care about what language or system the game runs on. I’d aim at Windows and Mac users exclusively and forget about anyone else.

    Since I do care about making games that run on Gnu/Linux, and I don’t want to port them months after they first shipped, I basically find myself in the position of making my own 2D engine because they aren’t widely available on this platform.

    I understand the trap of creating an engine versus creating a game. Unfortunately, unless someone has created a nice generic engine that I can use that is cross-platform and free/open, I either give up on making games for Gnu/Linux or I write the infrastructure myself.

  • Scott

    I’m not really sure what you mean by “do something weird”, but I hear where you are coming from with your Gnu/Linux fetish. I’ve played tons of Flash games that don’t have any sound issues at all. Does it have issues in Linux ? (I don’t use Linus, so I wouldn’t know)

    I guess to me it’s more about games than a OS or programming language. I’ve known some people who toiled away time developing engines that they never actually used to complete a game.

    What is your goal long term ?

  • I want to make more games available for the Gnu/Linux platform.

  • Scott

    I believe that Linux Penquin SWF beta is out soon. — I think that would make Flash a cross platform engine of sorts ๐Ÿ™‚

    That’s cool that you want to make more games available for Linux. I have never used it personally, maybe I’ll install it on my laptop and check it out.

  • Do you work for Adobe Scott :)? Imo, Flash (tools wise) is not that great, either as an art tool or a programming environment, although it seems to be a pretty good animation tool. I do agree that GBGames could benefit from using a different tool than C++, but as a programmer and not an artist, he would probably have more luck with something that works more like a traditional programming environment.

    I really like Processing and I have used it for a variety of small games and prototypes like this one
    It is Java based, so it might not work as well as Flash in a browser, but it is easy to create standalone applications that run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

    Python would be a great crossplatform choice with a variety of good game specific modules, including PyGame, PyOpenGL, PyODE and PyOgre. Another benefit of Processing and Python are they are both 100% free and opensource.

    People also have said a lot of good things about Blitzmax. I tend to be phobic of anything with Basic style syntax, but it seems to have many of the same benefits as Processing, that is, lots of easy to use game specific functions and minimal setup\configuration. The problem you’d have is it looks non-trivial to get working with Linux, and there is no Linux demo. It is also not free, but its cheap compared to Flash.

    You might even want to look at using another library, like PTK for example, with C++.

  • Scott

    I don’t work for Adobe, but I do have an enthusiasm for games and Flash’s game making capabilities. Probably similar to GB’s enthusiasm for pursuing GNU/Linux games. (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t work for Red Hat)

    I don’t really pledge allegiance to an OS or authoring environment for the sake of doing so. Flash increased the amount of quality/variety of independent games out there quite a bit more than any authoring environment that I can think of.

    I guess I see it as a natural progression. Back in the day of the 2600 they made games in assembly language. How commonly used is assembly language now ? Why was the divergence made ?

    Time ?

    C++ and other high level languages have made it possible to make better games and quicker than with machine language. It also made the community of gamemakers much larger.

    So, I guess when I happened along this blog I was wondering why someone would spend a large amount of time to make Pong ? or Tic Tac Toe ? When they could very easily do it in an afternoon.

    But I do now understand that GB’s passion is more towards GNU/Linux and a game engine than it is individual games. Everyone is different, I think I am more passionate about games than an OS or developing an engine to make games.

    I have spent some time this past month looking at XNA and made a few prototypes. So, I am not a fanboy of Flash, it allows me to make games. When a more flexible and accessible platform is available I would switch in a heartbeat.

  • I’m not a big fan of XNA either :). Btw, I don’t hate Flash, it seems ok, but for someone with a lot of programming experience there are better environments out there imo. I understand how the idea of movieclips and the more visual nature make it appealing and fast to work with. It seems like it is definitely faster to get a prototype game up and running with Flash than any other platform that is flexible enough to make a wide variety of game types.

    GB could probably roll his own simple Flash-like engine with Kyra and Lua.

  • Yeesh, I need more Gnu/Linux game developer friends. B-)

  • Scott

    Maybe they are all too busy making their own version of Pong to find other Gnu/Linux developer friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Well for someone that’s never done it before, any project can be daunting, even Pong. In any case I too could do it probably in an afternoon, however, in c/c++ (and not flash ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Keith

    btw this is not to say i’m better than Gianfranco (did I spell it right?) but merely to say i’ve already jumped the first game hurdle, in fact, i’ve completed 3 games, although only 3 that are completely completed to this day. (working on a forth right now) — So anyone who’s not made and finished the FIRST GAME ™ has not really experienced what it takes. Now that he has finished it, he can get along much more speedily ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think it is a good idea to start with simple games and move up step by step. I started with Space Invaders using SDL and C.

    The important thing is to actually do something. Many people have great game ideas and plans and laugh at simple games. But someone having finished a game of Pong has finished more games than someone with glorious ideas but no finished game at all.

  • Thanks for your comment, Nath! Just a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling like a failure for not having anything to show for my efforts over the past year. I do feel much more motivated now that I have one game under my belt, and I can’t wait to get cracking on that second game!