What have you learned?

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by B.Ultimus, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. B.Ultimus

    B.Ultimus Drinker of Coffee Veteran

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    I mean, sure, we can talk about how the contest announcement will be on x date (not here to speculate), but why not do something a little more... constructive.

    For those that have released entries, I know you must spent countless hours on your project.  And while you may/may not win the prize, you must have acquired some sort of lesson or knowledge.  Game design is constantly evolving, and your ability to create it will follow.

    So tell me, brave and noble designer... What have you learned from all of this?  And how has it made you improve as a game designer?
     
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  2. GIRakaCHEEZER

    GIRakaCHEEZER Dreams of Sheep Veteran

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    That making a game while working a full time job is really hard, especially with only a month to do it.


    Also that I've gotten really fast at making music, but this is a skill I've been building up over the years.
     
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  3. EternalShadow

    EternalShadow Veteran Veteran

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    Gamers want to play, not read. Unless it's a visual novel.
     
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  4. Sailerius

    Sailerius Engineer Veteran

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    Gamers like to read so long as there's pretty graphics to go with the text.
     
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  5. Awl_ii

    Awl_ii Villager Member

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    Number one rule after finishing a game: don't be your own sole playtester, especially if your game is coded in a way where any nasty glitch can pop up at any time without your knowledge. I had to recede my game because I unintentionally made all the enemies zip at lightspeed, and I was none the wiser because everything seemed dandy on my computer!

    I managed to play the broken version, and my game was still beatable, but was way more difficult than anyone has the right to endure. It wasn't even fun in a masochistic way.

    The second lesson I learned, in case my game actually functioned normally, is that fast-paced platformers tend to be more fun than slow-paced ones. If you have slow gameplay, you better have interesting mechanics in place to justify it. I had a cool idea, but in retrospect it wasn't enough to make my game pop

    Finally, I realized a month is a long time to design a short game! There's a lot you can accomplish by yourself in 30 days, even during a relatively normal schedule! Primarily, consistency is key. Everything that follows is up to you and your skills.
     
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  6. Merlandese

    Merlandese Veteran Veteran

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    Nice topic!

    I learned that I can make a quality product in a short period of time. I'm prone to working within schedules well, but I know that if I really wanted to, I could be much more productive in a time frame. If I applied the effort of this month-long project into every month of every project, I'd have a lot more content to distribute. I'd probably also die of fatigue...
     
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  7. Merlandese

    Merlandese Veteran Veteran

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    EDIT: Oops! Accidental double post. I have bad internet. And I haven't found the DELETE option yet. Sorry, guys.
     
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  8. TungerMan

    TungerMan SmugMan Veteran

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    I learned that I'm a lazy bum and should put more effort in my projects.

    Yeeaah, right...
     
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  9. dinkledaberry

    dinkledaberry Veteran Veteran

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    I've learned I actually can make a game in a month if I put a lot of effort into it. It would seem a deadline of sorts is exactly what I need to get off my bum. Now I just need to look more into scripting.

    I also learned that doing so with a full-time job is bad news bears. And that there are SO many talented artists out there. All with a lot of drive and passion.
     
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  10. C-C-C-Cashmere (old)

    C-C-C-Cashmere (old) Resident Weirdo Veteran

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    Sometimes longer is better.

    (That's what she said.)
     
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  11. TerminusEst13

    TerminusEst13 Veteran Veteran

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    Whoever put "no crash" on those 5 Hour Energy drinks is a ****ing liar.

    edit: I learned about the power of design documents. I pretty much spent the entire first week brainstorming up levels, writing out how the game was going to go, the themes and motifs I wanted to explore, funny/cool/hopeful lines and what sort of scenarios might need them, character concepts (I ended up cutting out so many NPCs, sadly), and put practically everything in one single document.

    At the end of the week, I made a solid effort to sift through everything, look at what might be good and what might not be, and take a chainsaw and a roll of duct tape until I had a good outline to follow. This helped me create a nice pathway to follow--enough freedom that I could easily expand on/rewrite areas on the fly, but direct enough that I was never at any sort of "Well, what now?" moment.
     
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  12. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon Veteran Veteran

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    +1

    I never imagined to get so much work done in a month. I think it's not only because of the deadline but because me and my dev partner kept motivating each other. He's been very busy since the contest, though, so things with Unraveled have been rather slow. I'd love to have a dev partner in the future that is as passionate as me not only during contests but every day. But devs don't grow on trees. :')

    Alsooo I have learned that I need a better testing system, haha. I had two dozen people playtest my game and not one person got stuck in the forest. Then I release it for the contest and suddenly it's the only thing everyone has an issue with. xD
     
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  13. felicitousArtisan

    felicitousArtisan Warper Member

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    Implementing voice acting is a lot harder than you expect it to be, and it's much harder to put VO in a game than to make an audio drama because you need to separate everything into individual lines and volume balance everything while they're in separate files from each other.

    That said, voice acting adds a LOT and is definitely worth it if you can manage it.

    Publicising your game is nearly as vital to success and nearly as much work as making the game in the first place. In Indie games, nobody cares about a game they can't see.

    It's a lot harder to sell people the concept of a game than it is to sell the people who made it. Even to people who you'd think would be all over your premise. It's also easier to sell pictures than words, and easier to sell moving pictures than still ones.

    If you make a video or a post to advertise your game, expect a ratio of about 15% views to votes unless everybody seeing it is a family member or close friend.

    People don't like mixed 2d/3d unless it's in places other games have been using it for years so players expect to see it.

    The more polished your product and the more successfully you perform, the more people will treat you like an emotionless, faceless corporation in their discussion of your work.
     
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  14. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon Veteran Veteran

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    I wouldn't say that. It depends on the way said developer interacts with his/her audience. Some choose to do it in a very humane way, while others can come across as cold and haughty. The developer of Aveyond (Amanda) is a prime example of someone who knows how to communicate with her audience on an approachable level without sounding like she's above other gamers/developers, even though her games are extremely polished and popular.
     
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  15. C-C-C-Cashmere (old)

    C-C-C-Cashmere (old) Resident Weirdo Veteran

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    Amen! I'd say the same, except mine is more to do with studying. My game ended up being 10% as long as I had originally intended, and it suffered for it.

    Me too. I don't have many finished products, but this is at least one I'm semi-proud of.

    Okay, I'm not that proud of it, but at least I finished something.

    Yes! The deadline worked wonders with forcing some creative input out of me, which otherwise wouldn't have worked. I'd like to pretend I have a deadline from now on, but I'm not that good at deceiving myself.

    I generally viewed partnerships as harder to work with, but that's perhaps because the partner I had wasn't a very productive one. Perhaps if I found a productive team mate then we could produce heaven. But this is good to remember.

    Agreed! I was wondering why Dekita and others were marketing their games so fiercely, and then I remembered... there's a voting system for this thing. Here I was just treating my game like that quiet private release I wanted it to be, when I should have been currying favor with relatives and getting some of those much-loved votes to make the popularity contest mine! But... it wasn't meant to be. Besides, I probably wouldn't have done it anyway. It's not in my personality.

    ~~~

    Things I actually learned (without making a crass joke this time round)? Let's see. Actually put some long-term content in your game and don't not work. Yeah... but it didn't help that I had a software project to complete by the holiday's end. Ironically, I still haven't finished it, but at least I'm closer. But Account Mu suffered greatly to the point where I was very shameful to be releasing it. I hated it. But it turns out that some people found it tolerable, so I opened up a bit more. Maybe one of the things I found out was that I'm actually pretty okay at developing games. Heck, I might even be good if I put in the effort.

    So that's another thing I'd like to do next time an opportunity like this pops up - put in more effort. Not that there's going to be any more Degica $10k sponsored competitions anytime soon. Oh, the hands of time... but oh well! Who needs money when you've got the motivation of having something completed and being actually satisfied with it this time round. Hopefully that's what I'll feel like about my next project. And who knows? Maybe somebody out there will like it. And that will make it worthwhile.
     
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  16. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon Veteran Veteran

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    I see your point. Currently my dev partner from the contest is too busy to work on Unraveled while I'm still 24/7 on the project. The result is that I'm working on what he should be doing, and I don't have the clear vision that he has for his own work? If that makes sense. Instead of going after my own intuition I keep thinking with everything "is this what he would want?". It's making me work rather slowly and it's less fun than being able to do whatever feels right to me.

    But if you do have a productive (and of course talented) partner then it can really help ease the work stress and such. :)
     
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  17. outcry312

    outcry312 Villager Member

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    I learned when scope changes are invaluable, however I need to make sure every part of the game survives the change, especially the writing in my case. I had a great idea for the writing, but knew I needed a smaller game to enter in, so the scope change did wonders for me design-wise, but I couldn't think to change the story, instead intending on there being more later with a "TBC". I also found I focus on design more then writing unconsciously. I learned I have more skill in design then in writing, and I wanted to be a writer more than a designer to be honest.

    I fought my inability to make introductions successful, and lost due to both failings in writing and even some screw-ups in the design(in the tutorial). The more you change something, the more dangerous it is if you don't take your time.
     
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  18. Galenmereth

    Galenmereth I thought what I'd do was Veteran

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    That short deadlines enforce a stricter focus, which makes it easier to actually complete a project.

    Also, that it takes me a month to recover from a month of such intense working...
     
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  19. felicitousArtisan

    felicitousArtisan Warper Member

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    We were very friendly though, we replied to feedback politely and generally acted in a conversational way with our publicity posts and when talking to people who posted questions and opinions, both on the competition entry page and our publicity posts elsewhere. We do with all our games.

    There's a distinct difference when you look at the unpolished games made by newbies and the more polished ones in the tone of what people post about then generally though. When somebody posts on the page of a game that's rough around the edges, clearly made by somebody inexperienced and without many votes and comments, they tend to write their comment directly addressing the creator, or at least write it in a tone that suggests awareness of the high probability the creator will read and cares about their comment. If a game looks polished and has a lot of votes and comments, on the other hand, the person will phrase their comment as though talking to other players or potential players and assuming that the developer is much too busy to read their comment and doesn't care about their opinion so they can say whatever they like as though anonymous, so even when they're saying nice things, it often feels like they're not expecting you to see them or have time for them. Even if they post something addressing the creator, it may be written in a way that assumes it's a hypothetical question they don't expect an answer for. In a thread just a few weeks back, we even got compared to a big corporation; somebody said our entering was "like Valve entering". People literally think of us as big and lofty, and it's really based on nothing but the minimalistic blurb, relatively polished presentation and the fact that we got a lot of votes. We even found a person on another popular RPG forum whose entry was behind ours, publicly calling us "cheaters" where everybody could see them doing so, apparently under the illusion that we'd never find a comment about our game because we don't care? Man, I dunno. It was pretty rude though! We didn't respond, but we did see it and weren't exactly happy.

    I'm not saying it's always bad thing, and I'll admit, I do it myself. When I talk about games by bigger companies, even indies, I don't expect the game makers to come across what I've said about them, and if I tweeted at them, I wouldn't hold my breath for a response. It just makes you feel a little isolated and disconnected from the competition when people are talking as if they don't see it as a remote possibility that you might be in the room and care about their opinion, or that you're in the same boat as them and can relate to their problems. Someday in the future, we may reach a size and busyness where we can't engage with our players so much, or are even advised not to because it's "unprofessional", it's just kind of funny people act like we've reached that level already when actually we read every comment we got and paid attention to them and answered most of what was addressed to us.
     
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  20. kartersaint

    kartersaint Ornate Brain Veteran

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    Just seeing the games have many votes, most of them are non-RPG Maker.

    ... regular people tend to like other engine even the contest is held by RPG Maker staff. lol.

    WELL. That's a point about people's choice. The judging result should be different. But... I learned something from that. 

    I will not tell what I've learned. However, I still respect it.
     
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