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Michael Berry
20th Sep 2012, 09:53
Hello, everyone. After recent success (and not just from commercial point of view) of DEHR and keeping in mind several other old game projects I seriously started considering an option of entering this field myself some day. But since I've just began gathering information on this matter it will be several years before I have everything to begin with. As for now, I'm busy studying various engines (from both technical and licensing perspectives) as well as pros & contras of programming languages commonly used for this task. But I have several questions for game developers:
- Could you, please, provide me with a list of useful literature and documentation on software development strategies (agile, waterfall, etc.) you use for furthering the development of your actual game titles?
- How can I determine the approximate time required for completing each stage of a project, so I could plan resources of our team with maximum efficiency? In general, I'm interested in organization of a game development process, how it differs from other types of software, this sort of things.
- How should we handle creation of installations of existing franchises? What licensing issues we may encounter? How can we make a game a part of an established franchise without violating copyright laws?
- Can Kickstarter be of help in remaking of an old game using modern technologies? What are legal implications of that?

I'd appreciate it if members of DEHR team found their time to share their knowledge and experience in this field. Thank you in advance for your time.
P.S.: unfortunately, there are no colleges or universities where I can acquire necessary knowledge and skills where I live. Besides, I prefer studying on my own. By the way, I wanted to contact Warren Spector to ask him these questions, but wasn't able to find his e-mail, and the last message in his blog on Junction Point's website is more than 2 years old.

chip5541
20th Sep 2012, 10:26
I will say for remakes of classic games, you have to contact the owner of the IP. In some cases the older games have reverted back to the original developer or creator. Games such as Sword of Fargal (Vic-20 & C64) is being redone with upgraded graphics and gameplay by the original creator and he is going through Kickstart. Some IP's are in a limbo such as many of the old Psygnosis games since you are dealing with a publisher that was purchased by another company and then the passage of time. Lastly you have some companies that, even if they have changed hands, retain a tight grip on the older IP's like Loadrunner from Broderbund. I would suggest that when you get to selecting the game of yore that you research and contact the original creator and if you are given permission, be sure to get it in writing.

Michael Berry
20th Sep 2012, 10:42
Thank for your quick reply. I understand that even relatively old titles have their owners, but what if a remake is intended for free distribution, as in case of Black Mesa Source? As far as I know, its developers didn't buy any rights since they didn't make any profit from Half Life's name. How does Kickstarter fit into this commercial/non-commercial scheme? Are funds raised with its help considered profit or not?

xaduha
20th Sep 2012, 11:46
Lastly you have some companies that, even if they have changed hands, retain a tight grip on the older IP's like Lode Runner from Broderbund.
Fixed.
Ah, there's nothing like a trap in a brick wall :mad2:

Jerion
20th Sep 2012, 15:25
Disclaimer: I am not employed as a programmer, 3D artist, game designer, writer or producer. My connection to the game development field is (primarily) through music composition. I do however have some experience with those more central aspects of game dev at the indie and modding level. So here's my two cents.

If you want a general handle on the facets of game development, first try your hands at modding. Then, once you're introduced to the general concepts, tackle your own small indie title, covering as many of the production responsibilities as you can yourself. In doing so, do not focus too much pursuing production quality, just make the thing and get it out there. This experience will do wonders for giving you an insight into the kind of technical and production challenges that a given team might face, as well as a look at some of the sort of details that determine and create the hard decisions involved with producing a title under an established schedule. If you really love a feature, a storyline, environment, mechanic or character, do you risk spending more time than you have to make sure it is implemented fully, or do you leave it on the cutting room floor so that everything else (or perhaps just one thing) will receive the attention it needs before you run out of time and need to ship?

I also point you to Gamasutra. That website has regular features by developers that offer insight into the realities of their professional lives.



- How should we handle creation of installations of existing franchises? What licensing issues we may encounter? How can we make a game a part of an established franchise without violating copyright laws?
- Can Kickstarter be of help in remaking of an old game using modern technologies? What are legal implications of that?


Generally speaking, If you want to work with an existing IP, you need to either be working for the company that owns it, or work out a licensing arrangement with them. Kickstarter, while being a terrific option for sourcing funding, is no exception. However, while this absolutely holds true for commercial projects, non-commerical projects are...a bit of a grey area. It is always good practice to get in touch with the owner/creator of the original game. While some companies and individuals are happy to give their blessing for non-commercial projects that use or are based on their IPs, others will resort to legal action to prevent any such thing from happening. This is generally a Bad Thing™ especially when one side is a very small team, and the other is a very large corporation. Look up the Middle Earth Role Playing mod for Skyrim and its team's, erm, unpleasant relations with Warner Bros.

hybridex
20th Sep 2012, 16:26
Holy Christ... so complicated! Much easier just to give me a rifle and just tell me which hill to take.

Michael Berry
20th Sep 2012, 17:17
Jerion, many thanks to you for your valuable advice. I'll definitely think about modding. However, there are also purely technical questions waiting to be answered for I'd like to ask moderators not to close this thread. Also, I'd be grateful if you had pointed someone from the programming team to this thread, provided both you and they have time, of course.

Jerion
20th Sep 2012, 22:16
Jerion, many thanks to you for your valuable advice. I'll definitely think about modding. However, there are also purely technical questions waiting to be answered for I'd like to ask moderators not to close this thread. Also, I'd be grateful if you had pointed someone from the programming team to this thread, provided both you and they have time, of course.

There's no reason to close it anyway, so it'll stay here. I'm glad the advice helps.

I can't promise anything, but I'll look into it. :)

Sulix
20th Sep 2012, 23:04
Hi, I'm personally working as a games programmer. As I'm tired I'll just give you some short answers for now :
The programming languages you'll end up with will be C++, C# or some scripting language. I would really recommend C#, but most engines/platforms won't support it, so you'll have to stick to C++.
We use a variation of the Scrum model which is perfect for most teamsizes.
I really recommend you some IT studies, preferably something with Computer Graphics, this helps A LOT to orientate yourself in this field and covers almost anything you'll need, at least if you're motivated to learn. Of course, this is not obligatory, some of the best gamedevs I stumbled across didn't finish any studies at all.

Books :
Effective C++
Modern C++ Design
Hearn&Baker Computer Graphics
The GPU Gems series
Working effectively with legacy code (Haven't finished reading it myself, but is considered to be obligatory)

Also, gamedev.net is a great site for resources.

Michael Berry
20th Sep 2012, 23:14
There's no reason to close it anyway, so it'll stay here. I'm glad the advice helps.

I can't promise anything, but I'll look into it. :)

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Sulix, wow, that's solid. Thanks a lot for your recommendations. Although I have experience with C++, it's always good to learn more.

Sulix
21st Sep 2012, 17:40
In case you're still tracking this topic :

Do not forget to test your software. We're writing a hell lot of unit tests and even though it slows down implementation of new features by a HUGE factor, as soon as your project grows to a certain size you won't regret it. There's nothing worse than spending time on bug searches (I'm not even talking about fixing them - that's actually the fun part...). Writing unit tests will support you finding bugs, but also avoid them in the first place. When I was coding my own stuff before I started working, I never wrote tests, I even wrote a complete engine "blindly". I dumped all those projects because of frustration.

I've learned at work : Build your software in small steps. It keeps you motivated as you can see results early on and you can approach your goal step by step, you don't have to see the big picture from the start on (which will be wrong anyways, as it will change constantly). Also, changes/refactoring are really easy to do if your tests cover most of your code. We employ this iterative paradigma heavily, although it's not always possible.

Also, do not optimize as long as there is no problem. There are enough profiling tools out there. When you have performance problem, check your code with those tools, and optimize those parts which take up most of your resources. You can not really predict which parts of your code will be the bottlenecks in the future, except for really atomar heavily used code.

Michael Berry
21st Sep 2012, 19:14
In case you're still tracking this topic...


Of course I am. As a matter of fact, I check this thread every day for new postings. Thank you again for sharing your experience.