To remake a classic or design something new?

Whem you think of writing games yourself, one of the realisations you have pretty soon after you get into thinking about what games to write, is that you can’t write World of Warcraft on your own. It would take you several years, just to approach the amount of content that game has, in terms of the amount of items to collect, the number of quests, the amount of places to visit, and the general structure of the game including auction houses, cities, transport systems, player combat areas, the list’s almost endless. Companies that build games that big have an army of graphics artists and developers working all the time to keep producing material, and it takes them years in the first place to even get to the first version of the game to be able to release it.

 So what games can one person write? Well, luckily, thanks to high level languages such as Blitz3D, BlitzMax, DarkBasic, Visual C# + XNA studio, etc…. the type of game one person can write on their own now is a much better list than say ten years ago when you had to sit down and learn C++ and directX commands for several months before you could even get a spinning cube on the screen. These days, bedroom developers are regularly writing games than match the quality and scale of games produced by five or six man teams not that long ago. It’s made even easier by most of the tricky code being already available in what’s called “code archives” for both Blitz3D and darkbasic on their respective websites, need a physics library? Just download it for free, need shadows? same thing, download it. Most of the time the author won’t expect anything more than a mention in the credits unless you’re actually planning to sell your game for money, then you might want to mail them and discuss either a fixed figure, or a profit share.

 One thing many developers try doing is a retro remake. Such as taking an old game like Marble Madness, then writing it yourself using a modern language for windows. You might change some of the sound effects, and add some different levels, but it will still be pretty much the same game. The reason this can a good thing to do, is that the game is already released, had a good following at the time and you don’t need to design any new gameplay features, it’s already a good game, so you get to release a good game by only having to port the code and graphics over to a modern platform like the PC. Most of the graphics on these older games are quite simple too, so it’s normally very simple to make them either the same or slightly better.

A good exmaple of a website for these games is www.retroremakes.com , they’ve got some very good remakes such as Aliens, which I remember playing on the Amstrad CPC

 Aliens remake and also Atic Atac Atic Atac from the Spectrum.

So go check them out if you’re looking for ideas for new projects.

Personally, I think if your looking to spend much time on a project, you’re probably going to want to try to sell it, in that case, it will need to be original, so maybe if you’re stuck for ideas for something new, try browsing through old game collections and mix them up a bit to come up with new ideas. What about taking an old game you used to play in the 8-bit days and updating it into 3D and adding new weapons, making it multiplayer?

Anyway, if you’re wondering why I’m talking about this, and not about the latest development tool I’ve been playing with, or showing off a new object for my game, it’s because I’ve been enjoying the guilty pleasures of Warcraft, I’m now a level 63 warrior and Zangarmarsh is actually a pretty cool place to go solo questing, for those of you who know what I’m talking about, then that should make sense.

 Look out for some more development posts on actual work I’m doing over the next week or so, I’m hoping to finish off a game I’m writing called Bomber, which is based around a game of the same name from the Amtrad CPC days of my youth. I’ve just written the to-do list of the last things I need to implement and fix (these are important for any size game project), and I estimate I should have it finished in a few days, maybe by Sunday night. I’ll post a link to the complete game, including full source code in Blitz3D when I finish it.

Making your own sound effects

I regularly read the forums on Blitz Basic’s website (see links). Some one posted a link to a free sound effects program recently. It’s called SFXR.

Here’s a screenshot:

SXFR

And here’s the link:

Link

It seems pretty good for making small sound effects like gun shots, explosions, and button press sound effects. I’ll probably use it for those things, but for longer effects like vehicle noise I’ll have to look else where. A quick search for royalty free sound effects on Google usually finds quite a few places, same goes for royalty free music.

I was aking today online regarding using my own voice in games, people do do this, but you have to sound pretty confident, you don’t want your army seargent sounding like some teenage kid (if that’s what you are). If you’re a teenager writing games, either ask family members to help you out by recording some lines (make sure you write a script), or some friends that you think have good voices. I’ll be attempting to do some voices for my games, but if my nest mate and my girlfriend say it sucks, then I’ll be looking online for some assistance among the indie games programming community.

Side tangent remark: I’ve been watching Angry videogame nerd video’s on You-tube while I’ve been typing this, go check them out, they’re pretty funny if you find yourself swearing at games when they piss you off with stupid game design flaws.

Woo, terrain!

After selecting the T.Ed terrain editor to use for my terrains, I’ve been having a play around with it. This was knocked up in under five minutes using a couple of supplied objects. The program’s pretty good, the next big step is to build a level editor, which can load the terrains in, and then add objects, such as fire effects and anything else that I probably can’t do within the terrain editor.

 Here’s my piccy:

Test Terrain

There’s goes me winning the Olympic 100m

I just got home from seeing the physio therapist, she believes I’ve got a problem with my Ilio-tibial band (Link for more information:www.youcanbefit.com/itbs.html)

Main advice now, is no running (not really a problem since I never do any), and try to only do the bare minimum Taekwondo practice.

Well, since running is not allowed, that means no work out sessions in Taekwondo at all. And as I’m meant to keep training to a minimum that means only one session a week. Of course this means my black belt may need to now be pushed back to October 2008, instead of April. I was sort of ready for that anyway, since my day-job may force me to miss loads of training anyway.

I’ve got a load of exercises to do now, twice a day. Need to see how this goes, the main hope is obviously for it not to vastly affectmy training once it’s gone away.

Finding Inspiration….

Okay, so I know what type of game I’m developing. I’ve written down the key points: basic story line, level structure, main screens to make, weapons, how many players, etc……

 The problem comes when you sit down and think about how it will actually look on screen, and how to keep the player hooked for how ever many levels you’re putting in.

The key really is variety, something has to change while the game plays to keep people interested, from something simple like the speed of the game as in Tetris, or the locations and items like in World of Warcraft.

So I’ve been half playing games and half designing stuff tonight, for research purposes. I don’t want to give away too much about the game I’m working on, but one of the games I was taking notes from was Command and Conquer Generals, that game kicks ass, and has a lot of elements I want to take inspiration from for my game.

If you’re interested in the design work I’ve been working on tonight. I thought I’d try my hand at box modelling in DeleD, you can see the results for yourself, it’s my first attempt at modelling a sentry gun.

Sentry Gun