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Thread: Unigine Starts A Linux Game Development Competition

  1. #21

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    I'll be happy with *any* genre, as long as it's not another freaking "everyone on everyone" FPS. How Linux can have so few games, and yet so many FPS's boggles my mind. Oh, that's right... they're all Quake 3 with some (not very) new art assets and some tweaks to the engine.

    Personally I'd love to see a platformer that focused on a good set of base assets and a easy, flexible level editor. Give the community tools to easily contribute and even just a small number of fun levels and you'll get much more built than trying to do it all yourself. An interesting aside: Secret Maryo Chronicles only has about 5 enemies, yet manages to get a huge number of fun levels which are mainly community built.... There's a lesson in that! Personally I'd love to see this "simple with tools to extend" applied to a (SMC-simple) Mario Galaxy style game

  2. #22

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    Turnip .

  3. #23
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    This is like the question, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?". Linux doesn't have much in gaming, so lets try to convince developers to make their games on Linux. Yet, developers feel that linux doesn't have a large enough audience to make their games on.

    Open source or free game engines isn't the answer. Wine is the answer. Build that bridge between Windows and Linux gaming, and developers will eventually make their games for linux.

    With as many that play World of Warcraft in linux, I'm surprised that Blizzard hasn't ported it over. Surprisingly, Blizzard does support people who play WoW in Linux, to some degree. Keep it up, and we may see a linux version of WoW soon enough.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Alien_Overlord View Post
    I'll be happy with *any* genre, as long as it's not another freaking "everyone on everyone" FPS. How Linux can have so few games, and yet so many FPS's boggles my mind. Oh, that's right... they're all Quake 3 with some (not very) new art assets and some tweaks to the engine.

    Personally I'd love to see a platformer that focused on a good set of base assets and a easy, flexible level editor. Give the community tools to easily contribute and even just a small number of fun levels and you'll get much more built than trying to do it all yourself. An interesting aside: Secret Maryo Chronicles only has about 5 enemies, yet manages to get a huge number of fun levels which are mainly community built.... There's a lesson in that! Personally I'd love to see this "simple with tools to extend" applied to a (SMC-simple) Mario Galaxy style game
    Some good 3D platformers on Linux would be awesome. The only real "modern" one I know of is Yo Frankie, and while it was somewhat of a good start, the Blender Foundation intended it to be more of a showcase than anything in order to show off their game engine, so it's not very polished. Speaking of Blender, if you do a search on YouTube for Blender games you will find tons of various types including 2D and 3D platformers, racers, etc. Making good tools for game creation like that is certainly something that will help spur on more Linux games. I don't know the pros and cons of the Blender situation or what all it can and can't do, but it's been somewhat successful at least. No doubt there are a lot of optimisations that still need to be done though.

  5. #25
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    As a back-up to my expertise on the topic: I'm in the games industry. Much of what I'm saying is identical to what you'll hear from panels and talks at PAX or GDC. I've been involved with both hobbyist and indie games for over a decade deciding to "go pro." I've participated in both IGC and IGF (and have a stronger contender for IGC 2011 that I and my team are hopeful will win). I'm not speaking from personal opinion; I'm speaking from the collective wisdom of the people who actually really do make games and know quite well what it takes.

    Quote Originally Posted by deanjo View Post
    You require huge sets of assets to create any quality game, not just RPGs.
    Of course. RPGs need more. MUCH more. Most games are not all that focused on content besides the raw level layout and how that affects the strategy of play. The content is just a veneer to make it appealing. RPGs are very different formulas.

    The RPG crowd however does seem to be very community minded. While many of the modules out there do use a lot of premade assets there have also been a mind blowing amount of community created assets (one just has to take a look a NWNs community packs to see that).
    Certainly. Which took 8 years to build up and the work of hundreds to thousands of people... not a single bit of which started or existed until well after the original game and all of its content was released. And these are clearly not cases of people being given the raw NWN engine without any content and then forming a community that created an entire game's worth of assets; it's been a ton of people over the years building little pieces for little goofy side-project modules here and there which have, over time, added up to a considerable library of community-made content that might just might be enough to build an entire game from scratch. 8 years later.

    Which goes back to motivation and time scales. If you go out and say, "LOL guyz I haz a gr8t idear 4 a RPG i can c0de u shood do art 4 me!!!@!@" you're not going to get any responses. Game dev sites are filled with dorks posting crap like that, and not a damn thing has come out of any of those stillborn projects.

    You need a marginally working game (at least the art pipeline and art-related aspects of the engine) before artists get involved. You want people to make characters for your game? You better have the file format nailed down, converters/importers for common modelling packages, and you better be able to load that character up in the engine and see it, move it, interact with it, and otherwise test it and make sure that month you just spent making it didn't result in something totally unusable.

    For example, have you rigged and animated a character model before? If so, you may be aware of the fact that there are not one, not two, not three, but several dozen different ways to do animations. Limiting yourself to skeletal animation, you have more than a few ways to do _that_. And then the skinning on top of any particular skeletal animation system can be done in more than a few ways. And then there's the material system whatever combination of features and limitations each particular approach has.

    So if you're making art... which one do you use? Well, you use the one the engine supports. ... assuming the engine supports ANY animation at all, and isn't some hack-ass OpenGL triangle rasterizer that can render a few hundred shiny cubes to a box environment that some hobby developer with no real experience or knowledge about modern graphics programming slapped together and called a "graphics engine."

    The problem is that the hobby developers have no idea what to do with artists and are lost in the dark without having artists from the start, but the hobby artists don't want to piss time away by making concept art or totally unusable models and levels that the hobby developers can't use.

    I can say from LOTS of experience that keeping motivation up on a game is damn hard until that exact moment it "clicks" and stops being a bag of code and a bunch of assets and turns into a game. It's almost like an avalanche of good moods and drive and energy triggered by that first time you first up the project and see the main character moving through an environment, fighting enemies or hazards, and it's actually _fun_ to play through (even if it only lasts for a minute). That's what you need to hit to keep a project living. But hitting that moment is super, super hard for a modern game with today's standards.

    The professionals get a lot of that art-tech stuff out of the way early. An experienced art pipeline developer is pulled on to the team while the artists are just getting started with initial concept art. That developer is himself at least marginally skilled at creating character models, at least enough to be able to develop and test the art pipeline toolset he's building for the real artists. The graphics developers are also marginally familiar with such things to the point that they can rig up test models to use while developing and testing the graphics engine.

    Using a pre-fab engine like Unigine cuts all that initial development time and decision making time down dramatically, of course. Oddly enough, it turns out that those aren't the big time sinks, because the pro teams using Unreal 3 or Unity or id Tech or whatever STILL end up taking a year or four to release a complete game. It's almost like the actual game content is what takes all the time... weird, huh?

    Another good examples of RPGs that were community driven are the many Ultima remakes.
    Which are ridiculously simple by today's standards, and once again not up to the modern expectations that Unigine is looking for here.

    I can whip together an NES Metroid clone in a few weeks, given a sprite artist or three. In fact, I've done that very thing (twice) for a class project. Of course that's easy. The compiled machine code for a game like that (as simple as it is) takes up nearly as much space as the art and sound assets.

    Whipping together Metroid Prime 3 is an ENTIRELY different ballgame, however, and nothing even remotely close to that level has come out of any indie developer to date, period. MP3 is many orders of magnitude more complex than NES Metroid. And Metroid Prime 3 is simple shit compared to Bioshock 2. And that in turn has maybe 1/10th the content and code complexity that Dragon Age has. All other modern western RPGs are of similar complexity, and the eastern RPGs are basically 50+ hours of high-quality CGI movies interspersed with something resembling a game.

    Unigine doesn't give two shits that you can remake a 1994 RPG that takes less time to play through than most bargain-bin 2010 action games. Unigine is looking for games on par with other games that have come out in 2010. Ultima VII and Mass Effect aren't even REMOTELY similar in complexity of content.

    You might as well say that since indie film makers produced Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless mind (which was a good movie with a well-known cast that won many awards) that indie film makers could also produce Avatar (which required a $237,000,000 budget to make). Even if you think that Eternal Sunshine was a better movie by far, you can clearly see the difference in scale between the two in terms of production effort and costs.

    All of the complexity of Ultima comes from the code and gameplay interactions; it's all algorithms. The complexity of most modern games comes from the content; Mass Effect has a very rudimentary ruleset compared to the pen-and-paper RPGs that inspired Ultima, but it has more character art, environment art, object art, music, sounds, and voices than most animated Hollywood blockbusters.

    Compare this to something like Left 4 Dead, which is every last bit as popular as Mass Effect 2... but was made in about a year by a smaller team using a pre-fab engine. Left 4 Dead is within the realm of possibility for a small but dedicated and experienced team of indie developers. Quality or popularity or entertainment-value are not at question here; only scale of content.

    Short action games that are content-heavy are still out of the league of indie developers. You'll never see a hobbyist create something like Alan Wake. It was fairly short, had a tiny number of mechanics, and wasn't cutting-edge visually... but it had large, complex environments, lots of characters, complete voice acting, and a huge highly professional soundtrack (including both many licensed songs as well as very high quality original pieces written and performed by Poets of the Fall).

    I know it rubs people the wrong way sometimes to say "the hobbyists can't do what the pros do" but that's just the truth of it. Your indie film maker friends can't create Lord of the Rings, and your indie game dev friends can't make Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. Get over it.

    Modern games are way beyond just software. Free Software can create kernels, and desktops systems, and compilers, and web servers, and office suites, and all kinds of other bags of algorithms and code. When it comes to media, however, the story is quite different. (Even RMS proposes a vastly different approach to software vs media.) The thing is, games are not software. They have a huge software component, yes. Old games from decades past were often mostly software, even. Modern games, however, are a teeny tiny little portion software, and the whole rest of them are media.

    This Unigine contest isn't going to result in an RPG. Bringing up bad examples of community-created games cloning ancient technology or building 2002-quality content on top other companies' complete multi-year-effort triple-A games is not going to change that fact.

    This does NOT mean that hobbyist/indie developers can't make great games that are massively popular and just awesome to play! It just means those great games are not RPGs.

    Likewise, it does not mean that old and simple games that indie developers can easily produce are not fun. The shear popularity of late 90s video games on XBOX Live Arcade or Wii Virtual Console is proof enough of that. Those just aren't even remotely the kinds of things that are relevant to what Unigine is looking for, though, or what is capable of even winning indie game contests like IGF or IGC.

    I think I've stated it all about as clearly as I can, so if you're still doubtful... I guess just keep hoping I'm wrong and hope Unigine elects a team proposing a Fallout killer.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by elanthis View Post
    You're making my point for me.
    why?
    i admit it takes quite long and is a lot of work compared to other genres but it is not impossible like youre saying
    and a team applying for the unigine contest will have more than two graphicartists^^
    also fps-graphic-standarts dont really apply to rpgs (best example WoW)

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    Wish it was Unity or Game Maker doing this instead, I won't lie. This would be more useful if it were more like Make Something Unreal, as mentioned previously. (Not that that seems to be useful for us any longer.)

    As for type of game I'd like to see? How about some Procedural Racing?

  8. #28
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    Elanthis,

    Yeah, much of what you say is true. The biggest thing in gaming today is content creation. The only way I can see an indie project creating something on-par with commercial efforts is to consider the scope of what you want to do. If an indie project was going to tackle a single player RPG, then it's going to be a long time in the making, and by the time it releases (or if it releases), it'll be somewhat dated, at least from a visuals standpoint. So choosing something that's limited in scope is a wise decision.

    For any indie game that's more than a one-off release (like an online RPG or FPS), I think the biggest 2 things are:

    1) Build a community around the effort as soon as possible and provide ways to get community submissions into the game very early on.

    2) Limit the initial release in terms of scope. Focus on making a solid engine with the play mechanics you want and then focus on building assets to create one or two levels / quests that provide a demo of what you want to do with the game.

    From that point on, release new content when it's in a good enough state and include the community submissions. Something like a rolling release.

    In any case, planning and coordination play a large part in a successful project, regardless of scope.

    More on topic though, I do like the idea of contests like this... It'd be pretty neat to see things like this pop up from time to time. I'd like to see some of the larger Linux oriented companies create contests to build games around open source tech as well...

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