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
and also 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.