AuthorTopic: Too ambitious?  (Read 6720 times)

Offline Shrub

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #10 on: April 02, 2010, 02:54:55 pm
I have concluded...



Offline 1ucas

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #11 on: April 02, 2010, 03:12:46 pm
The way I see it, learning the basics doesn't have to be dull or boring. Unless his idea is completely revolutionary, he most likely can break apart certain elements of his big project into smaller mini-games with known mechanics, where he'll learn how to do all the necessary things separately, which might be faster and easier to get the hang of initially. Hit detection, animation, sprite and tile management, game logic, basic AI, states, interfaces, counters, timers, etc. He doesn't have to complete one of these clone games entirely, mind you. I'm just talking about identifying the basic game mechanics in his big project and converting them into their own little study project. The arcade game suggestion works because I see that a lot of the old arcade games have their entire gameplay based on a simple game mechanic, so they're a good subject for study.

The big project will involve all these elements working together at once, but if he doesn't know how to do each one of this things well enough he might feel a bit lost, and the project will feel bigger and harder than it actually is. I'm not saying it won't be a learning experience, it most certainly will, but breaking apart the basics and studying them separately, in something practical you can fool around with, seems to be a more effective strategy for learning new sets of skills.

An analogue would be trying to learn an advanced piano piece, both hands at once, without even knowing the basic fingering technique or without having mastered hand independence. That would just be frustrating and disappointing, and might do more immediate damage to your spirit and excitement than starting with something smaller.

An upshot I see with all of this is that you can mature the idea even more while you study the basic elements, and it will probably help you polish it even more since you'll be getting some first hand practical experience with each element now.

But I admit, the entire process could make you lose your drive, but that really depends on how you respond to this kind of thing. I still think it's a better strategy, it's just up to you to make it interesting and still relevant. Just remember: you can usually accomplish most things if you just work hard enough, long enough. It's really much more a matter of willpower than method, since you can always change your methods, but you'll always need to be motivated to go with them.

Either way, good luck! :)

Offline Gil

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #12 on: April 02, 2010, 07:31:12 pm
Just remember: you can usually accomplish most things if you just work hard enough, long enough.

Everyone tells me that in real life all the time and I completely disagree. Working hard has nothing to do with accomplishment.

To follow your analogy: if one person trains on the piano for 12 hours a day and the other with a good teacher for 2 hours a day, who will accomplish something?
I know very hard workers who never get a promotion and tell themselves: "I'll just work even harder", compared to people I know who are passionate about their job and they get promoted all the time.

Hard work is not a good way to live your life. Perseverence versus having fun while learning.

Let him make some mistakes. A child needs to fall and bump his head for motor skills. Programmers and artists need to get it wrong first, to get it right later.

Offline 1ucas

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #13 on: April 02, 2010, 07:49:51 pm
Hard work is not a good way to live your life. Perseverence versus having fun while learning.
Let him make some mistakes. A child needs to fall and bump his head for motor skills. Programmers and artists need to get it wrong first, to get it right later.

Sorry, Gil, but I didn't meant it like that. I meant "hard work" in the sense of dedication, not suffering or doing things against one's will. To me, it's completely pointless to put effort on things you don't want to do - it's a waste of your life, literally. If you're unhappy doing something or if you are pursuing things you don't want to do, then the problem is much deeper than what we're discussing here.

I completely agree with you that we should try to have fun and do what we're passionate about. All I'm saying it's important to understand you're not going to achieve great things unless you go through a process, and this process may take a while and may seem difficult. It's up to you to make that process interesting and fun, and there are certainly some ways to make it easier.

The suggestions I gave seem sensible enough in this sense, and he'll still get things wrong and learn by breaking his project into smaller experiments. Again, the trick here is finding a way to make the practice interesting, fun and still relevant to the ultimate goal. It works for me, at least.

Offline Gil

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #14 on: April 02, 2010, 08:00:37 pm
I always break my work in smaller parts (as taught in agile development, specifically extreme programming).

In Extreme Programming you start with the most critical parts of software first. Once these are out of the way, your chances of reaching the end point increase dramatically.

I propose a new way of agile development for indie developers: Fun Programming. Start with the fun parts (maybe just the battle system) and spread out from there.

The absolute most boring part in any game tends to be the engine itself, which is exactly what most people start with. "I'll create a framework that works as a reusable engine" is a sentence that 99.9999% of the time equals: "Here's a game I'll never finish, in fact, I won't even reach a playable demo of any kind".

I'm also absolutely positive that if your idea is "I want to create a metroidvania with robot crabs as a race", you can't just start by creating a pong clone to get a grip on the language, engine, whatever. That will result in 50% of a weak pong knockoff, a disillusioned developer and 0% robo crabs.

Offline 1ucas

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #15 on: April 02, 2010, 08:58:17 pm
Well, the really old arcade games like Pong are better if you're completely new to programming anything. It'll teach you basic display, motion, user input, colisions, etc., and shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to get right. If the guy already knows that kind of thing there's no reason to go that basic.

But Pong has little in common with that example you gave, since both game mechanics don't overlap, so it's not quite what I'm suggesting. In your example, if instead the guy creates a little block-based platform game engine to experiment with maps, collision detection, basic physics, etc., and if he works with a simpler character and tileset at first, he'll learn and use useful bits of these skills faster. In fact, I already suggested him to skip the base engine and use one of the existing ones, so he gets to the juicy parts faster. This all helps on keeping the developer reassured that he's being productive and evolving his skills.

Of course, there's nothing stopping him in attempting something closer to the desired quality of the ultimate project, but I believe that pouring all his effort into making the perfect sprites and tilesets, or the perfect engine at first attempt seems like a bad idea. I'm just saying  it's good to keep in mind the idea that what you are creating may not be the final thing yet, and it will probably suck. Making these little, self-contained experiments are just a good way to perfect those individual skills you'll need without the rest of the context to get in the way, and without that feeling that you failed at the entire thing. It's a method to build up confidence. Eventually, with all the experience acquired, he should be so comfortable with the entire process and the individual parts that all these skills will converge into a single thing.

"I'll create a framework that works as a reusable engine" is a sentence that 99.9999% of the time equals: "Here's a game I'll never finish, in fact, I won't even reach a playable demo of any kind".

Oh, and this is absolutely true.  :y:
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 09:01:33 pm by 1ucas »

Offline Rosse

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #16 on: April 03, 2010, 06:43:14 am
It's always interesting to me to read how others think about learning. To me, it's impossible not to learn because you do learn all the time. Therefore the term learning loses its meaning for me. In the end it's much more about attitude and your way of live which sparks my interests.

Shrub>
I won't quote your sentences and answer it directly, but I think I see you hinder yourself by thinking to much about doing the right thing. Please read this older thread, maybe you find one or another idea which let you thing outside your current framework.

On another note. I think the game CaveStory and its creator Pixel can be a good inspiration and motivation (development-wise). I'm not so much talking about gamemaking itself but more in general. If you wish, there are good sources and its development is quite good documentated [1, 2, 3, 4]. What I want to say is, before he started, he simply wanted to make a game. In the video he said how he started. Just a character which he animated (to animate - "to breath life into"). While making CaveStory, he created several other games on the side. Look at some early screencaps from CaveStory, look at his other early games. Look at his progress. There was no CaveStory at the beginning, just a humble guy who wanted to make a game in his sparetime. If you really understand how he started, then there is no reason for you to continue this discussion in my opinion.


Gil>
I read your posts and I think I agree with your opinion, but not completely. To sum up, you say. Don't plan everything, make one step at the time and don't forget to have some fun. I agree with that, but then you wrote: Hard work is not a good way to live your life. In this matter, I disagree with you.
In your example, you compared two piano students. If you are purely looking at the success they have, it might be correct that the student, which does less work but has a teacher might have better skills in the end (in a classical sense). But in my opinion (!), I prefere the student which does it the hard way all by himself. It's not about comparing skill in the end, but that I prefere the hardworkers personality over those who achieve good skills the normal (hard) way. I repeat, it's not about skill or success! I simply think that people, who work hard for themselves, have a character trait I really value and this more important to me than technical skill.
To conclude, we are human beings. It's up to everybody what you value. But in my opinion, to value skill is like to value a dream. It's there if you make it, but as soon as you want to grasp it, it dissipates. Value what is there, fellow humans, which have their own story, experiences and character traits. Don't value someone for something you made up yourself. I know - this sounds like I ignore modern society with its pressure for success. But like I said, that's the way I see it. I don't want to change somebody, only showing a different opinion.

Offline Gil

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #17 on: April 03, 2010, 03:01:36 pm
I prefere the student which does it the hard way all by himself.

I feel that society puts too much importance on hard work itself and not the reasons why we do it. I'm a dreamer and I work hard in the pursuit of that dream. To me though, the hard work is not important, it's the dream and how I get closer to the goal that's important. It's a fine line, but it's VERY important to me. I see a lot of adults around me who are going towards retirement with the attitude "I worked hard, so I lived a good life", but in the process they lost all their dreams and hopes. Hard work in itself is not an accomplishment, it's just that, hard work.

I know - this sounds like I ignore modern society with its pressure for success. But like I said, that's the way I see it. I don't want to change somebody, only showing a different opinion.

Yeah, I'm similar. Success is not important at all, as long as you're making progress towards that ideal. That's the reason money can make a person unhappy. They valued themselves by the amount of finances owned. Once they won the loteray, suddenly they're top of the food chain and have nothing to strive for anymore. Life is good then, but it's also pretty much over. This is also the reason why most nobel prize winners don't get unhappy. Sure, they gained a lot of success, but most of them are scientists who never really valued themselves by their success, but by their scientific accomplishments. In that respect, the "success" from the nobel prize isn't important, so they keep on living their lives in pursuit of the scientific research.

Offline Shrub

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Re: Too ambitious?

Reply #18 on: April 09, 2010, 02:02:07 pm
RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE.

You know what's a real bitch? Making ground tiles.

My pixel art skills are developing, but my problem solving skills are BEING TORN TO SHREDS.
Let me explain.

I've got 6 ground tiles. Yes, six.

EdgeLeft-Middle1-Middle2-EdgeRight and EdgeLeft2 to fit next to Middle 2, and EdgeRight2 to fit to Middle 1, as Middle1 and Middle2 can be interchanged. And I've made all of them. I need to make tiles
that fit beneath Middle1 and Middle2, and EdgeLeft EdgeLeft 2 and EdgeRight 2, but because I've fu screwed it up slightly, those of course won't be able to be interchanged, as it's not possible due to the complications of vertical-horizontal connection. I can't really explain it.
So, I'll need another 6 that fit under Middle1Below, Middle2Below, EdgeLeftBelow, EdgeLeft2Below, EdgeRight, EdgeRight2Below, that will be able to be interchanged.

Confused yet? I am.