Pearls of wisdom

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by princec, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. Sharpfish

    Original Member

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    I am not singling YOU out for this, it just reminded me of a good point. It is "good practice" to make the journey from the IIS (initial interactive state/Main menu) to the first gameplay screen as short as possible, I think the "recommendation" is no more than 3 screens/changes or something like that (there was some research done, but your instincts should tell you this anyway).

    My point is if you have 7 screens (or more) you should look at somehow trimming it down anyway.

    My game (while relatively simple - ie not an RTS ;) ) has 2 "clicks" then you are in.

    Click one > START
    Click two > select Continue/New/etc from game menu then game starts.

    Things like profile selection are best done from the main menu seperatly (or automatically). Of course if you NEED things like "select Car", "select Character", "Select Area" then you can't get away from it and I agree - but in most cases less is more when it comes to the transition from frontend to game - which is probably why I don't see it as a problem - YMMV of course :).
     
  2. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    You might not absolutely need a motivator to continue with a project, but it certainly doesn't hurt. None of us are robots. We do better work when we feel enthusiastic. And after working on a project for over three years, most of that time late at night when I'm drop-dead tired and would much rather not, I'll take any extra motivation I can get.
    I've been thinking about this a bit too, and while I can appreciate that it's good practice to get into the game as quickly as possible, I also think there's something to be said for guiding the player in gently - a series of very simple "choose this or that" screens can get people into the game in a much neater way than a single bohemoth setup screen.

    Of course, resuming a game should be a much simpler affair. One thing I picked up as good practice from console games was to have whatever you chose last time being the default highlighted option, so you can just click-click-click and you're away.
     
  3. Jeroen Stout

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    I used to make UI's first "when I was little" and none of them resulted in a game. I did also make some games first "when I was little" and none of them resulted in a menu.

    Though generally I'm a bit against menus first; menu's are the most basic task and if you start doing them whilst in a creative mood you're greating a great menu without a great game behind it directly as all your motivation is scared off by having 'no actual game', my general throught is. Usually I make the engine first based on some testing content, I make a bit of content, and when I need my save function I build a menu around it.
     
  4. Savant

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    I'm with the "UI early" camp. The UI is the first thing the user sees when they start up your game and, as such, is responsible for the first impression and the users vibe when first starting to play. It's important, so do the base work early enough that you can polish/refine it as the project progresses.
     
  5. Jay_Kyburz

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    Yes, I like this as well.

    But when doing this you have to be careful not to be too ambitious because when it comes time to cut features to get the game out on time, you'll be throwing away some work.

    This is probably not such an issue for you indies.
     
  6. Sharkbait

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    I usually start off by re-using a game application framework and since each part needs filling in, I code in (or rip out from an older game), a rudimentary intro screen.. so I'm pretty much forced into doing the UI early. However, I also find it useful as the core game state usually requires parameters that are set from the menus - parameters that would otherwise have to be hardcoded manually several times during development.

    I also find it a much more logical progression and gives a feeling to the game that it is beyond a simple gameplay prototype.
     
  7. Chris Evans

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    I'm in the "do the UI later" camp.

    I always work on the core gameplay first. Especially since the early stages are usually pretty organic with lots of experimentation, I don't want to be constrained by a UI.

    I guess if the game is really small and simple (or you're making a clone ;) ), then doing the UI first is okay. But for medium to large sized games I don't know how you can complete the UI first without having to toss elements later.

    As with a few others here, I also use the UI as a mid-development motivator. It usually only takes me several days to do and makes my demo look like an actual game. But also I want my UI to be designed around the game, not the other way around. People don't play menus.
     
  8. Savant

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    I think when people (including myself) say "early", it's a relative term. Doing the UI before you had your basic gameplay locked down would be ridiculous.
     
  9. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I use a prototype to lock down the gameplay. If that works I ditch it completely and start again with the 'proper' game. I'll sometimes use Blitz to prototype with too.

    That way you're not concerned with pretty code but seeing if different ideas 'work'.
     
  10. princec

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    Ridicule away :) Technique's worked great for Ultratron and Titan Attacks, and in fact I've already got the UI for the 3rd in the series done and I don't even know what it's going to be yet :D

    Cas :)
     
  11. princec

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    I prefer not to prototype - because my games are all basically trivial gameplay that's been seen somewhere before. In fact I wonder why nearly anyone in here prototypes as I've seen precious few even vaguely original titles from anyone. Nearly all the mechanisms are worked out for you by someone else. You may as well get right on and create the game and then spend the rest of the time tuning it.

    Cas :)
     
  12. Kestral

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    After getting the full list of todo items listed, I will generally put any toolset work and core gameplay items up at the top. Then I will put the "nice but not absolutely necessary" items all the way at the bottom. Taking what remains, I sprinkle the boring items amongst the fun items. When I get to a boring item I have some energy from the fun work I just finished, plus another fun one to look forward to just around the bend.
     
  13. Game Producer

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    I disagree. Making graphics first is always a bad move. Instead - use placeholders, test for usability - and finish the graphical elements *last* in your game.

    If the first thing you do is the GUI with full graphics (or other gfx) there's a big danger:
    * The graphics might need to be changed *

    Core first, visuals later. For my opinion.

    ---

    I know there are developers who use spike solutions i.e. they make some part of the game fully finished... if you belong to that camp, then I guess you could make those menus etc. complete.

    making a nice visuals in the beginning might attract some press in the early stages. But... as far as I can recall, developer put too much emphasis on visuals in the beginning.
     
  14. Grey Alien

    Indie Author

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    What I like to do is get the basic gameplay up and running and then make the menu so that I can put the game out there for people to try. Then I can start really working on the game, plus you get more ideas about improving the menu too.
     
  15. papillon

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    While it may need changing later, doing options early may help remind you, especially if you haven't done a lot of games before, to HAVE options and allow for them. which can be much easier to do at an early stage! :)
     
  16. Teq

    Teq
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    If you're developing a new engine from scratch, then this isn't as bad a pearl as its sounds, I'm acually working on UI first, mainly because I'm implementing some rather strange font routines, which in turn will be used to gauge the performance of the engine by displaying info, etc, have been playing with photoshopping bloom effects, etc using opengl scales to work out if its even worth rendering in software or just go straight into glsl with it.
     

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