Author Topic: Looking into making games  (Read 2227 times)

Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Looking into making games
« on: January 16, 2013, 06:31:37 PM »
This isn't me, this is a friend. He wants me and a couple others involved. Some art design, music, all that stuff. Thing is, he's too stubborn to actually go and ask straightforward on a forum about where to get started. He's been eyeing unity for a rather long time, and he's been figuring out the very basic basics (as in, creating a character who can move). He made a simple little space shooter and you're a little 3d model of a ship that shoots lasers at other ships on a repeating plane that had a spacey looking star background. What I'm wondering is a few things.

1. What else can be used aside from Unity? Advantages/disadvantages? Options are always nice.
2. In Unity, can you actually make 2d games? He's been confused about this, is convinced that it's just there for 3d games. He looked at AI War and AVWW with some degree of fascination at "How did they make it sprite-based?" So, how does that work? The theory is that it uses a bunch of planes or flattened 'cubes', but I'm curious to know as many ways as possible, or the most efficient ways.
3. We're just college students. I'm honestly not expecting us to get a sellable game out in the near future. What we DO need is something to cut our teeth on. Some kind of simple project. Getting his ideas won't help-- He loves more complex 3d games that look really shiny, and models are hard to come by (for us). He also loves space/sci-fi. So, are there any ideas for something to make, but not necessarily sell, as a good way to practice? I was almost thinking something Zelda-like, as in action-adventure... or just a platformer. Something like that. Good idea or not, I'm pretty good at taking it and going nuts... and I have another friend who's good at bringing me back down to earth, so any idea is good.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: Looking into making games
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 03:12:53 AM »
1. What else can be used aside from Unity? Advantages/disadvantages? Options are always nice.
You can always just write your own engine.  AIW was in a custom .NET/SlimDX engine Chris wrote, until version after version 3.  Using something like Unity saves you time but you also learn a lot of important stuff writing your own.  That said, if you want to get to a playable game quickly, picking an existing engine will generally be a better bet.  And commercially it's nice to be able to count on someone else for the cross-platform support and sensible low-level graphics code, etc.  Though I won't pretend there aren't times where I wish I had the nearly-total-control of our old engine.

As far as other options, there's also XNA which I wouldn't suggest for commercial projects (Unity gives you a lot more platform options and is a lot more flexible about how you do some things and is far easier in the actual distribution phase) but I think it could be a good one to learn with because you don't have to deal with as much external tools (at least as far as I can see; visual C# express is free and is all you need) as opposed to learning the Unity editor (which isn't bad, but it's another piece).


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2. In Unity, can you actually make 2d games?
Absolutely, just draw each sprite as a textured quad (two triangle stuck together to form a rectangle, and then a texture drawn over them) in front of a single camera with an orthographic projection.  Chris did that code for us, I could ask him for details that someone else could use to do the same thing.  To a large extent, though, it would be good for one of you to figure it out so you understand what's going on.  That won't be the fastest path to a game, but you'll learn.

But yea, support for literal 2D drawing in the old way of just writing pixels to the frame buffer or whatever... yea, not really ;)  It can be closely approximated (iirc) using the GL class in Unity, iirc, but it's not a good idea.  The video cards are optimized for 3D tech, so cut with the grain.  The results can look just as 2D as it did the old way.


As far as a relatively simple idea, I'd say something top-down that runs in real-time (turn-based is actually somewhat more complex because you'll want to be able to do fluid animations and probably fluid changes in the actual simulation model, so starting in TB can actually lead to some counterproductive architectural changes).  That ship-shooting thing you mentioned would work, or whatever.  As far as something that's simple and fun, well, one step at a time ;)
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Offline LaughingThesaurus

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Re: Looking into making games
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 08:35:58 AM »
Wow, so it's not quite nearly as simple as 'here's a load of engines'. I'll relay the programming expert some of this information. As for the little space game shooter we have, it's certainly a playable game. It's really simplistic, though, and not something anybody should ever be, say, paying for in any respect. I'd be uncomfortable in charging a dime for it, if I'm honest. we only have the one type of enemy and you just have the one weapon you have. Thanks for the insight on real time versus turn based as well. I hadn't thought of it that way before.
With the information on how to handle sprites, we may yet be able to have some public domain ship graphics stand-in for some practice in making other kinds of enemies or power-ups or otherwise. Meanwhile, I'm in piano class learning scales probably for a very long time until I can make any kind of music at all so I can assist outside of the game design process. I have practically no programming knowledge myself, so I'm doing my best to contribute. Ah, and regarding using an engine of our own... I'll have to pitch him that idea at some point as well.
We have a while yet to go, but I imagine getting something done as practice in free time is a good idea. That's the goal right now. :)

So, thanks a bunch Keith. Any more information you can provide at all will be fantastic.