It’s really helpful to make prototyping before actually starting to polish and optimize. A hard to learn lesson but of utmost importance for gamedev (yes, I’m feeling poetic).
Anyways, playing around with Graina, I noticed that it’s, erm, boring. Yes you have the sands and water and lava and other stuff but it becomes boring after a few minutes of play. Maybe this is the reason that the original game (Falling Sands) never made it big, like for example minecraft, I don’t know.
Now after a few hours of coding, I added a controlable character to the scene. I’ll either make smt. like a sandbox-platformer or smt.like sandbox Lemmings. And here are some screen shots (Couldn’t made a decent video on my MacBook Air, any tips?)
First we have the proverbial sandbox, then add some sand, some water and some guys. I managed to use the particles as a collision map thanks to the great impact engine I’m using easily. What I have is now running and jumping fellas in a completely dynamic particle-based are.
The single biggest challenge I have when creating a game is creating decent graphics. Many of my games has halted or took way long time then necessary because of this single point. There are ofcourse some invaluable sources like this where you can find some decent visuals for free but to make a complete game with a consistent style is quite difficult. Yes, you can find a monster animation there and a tileset here but most of the time either they don’t fit to each other or the sizes don’t match, etc… In any case it requires lots of editing with Photoshop and the end result is nowhere near a pro-looking art.
On the other side, there is the possibility to hire a freelance artist and have your art done. But this is also a little bit tricky. Lacking a proper budget and a project planning (hallmarks of ameteur game dev), which are two key items to work with freelancers, the end results are far from satisfactory. At least this was my experience during the few cases I tried.
The Zombar and the Gorillas project were all stopped due to the same reasons. I make the prototype with some placeholder graphics, and when it comes to add the flavor, characters, effects, etc.. the graphics come to haunt me. Just thinking about how to handle the visuals is enough to drain my energy which leads to lethargy and things come to a grinding halt.
Now I decided to change my strategy completely. I’ll only focus on game ideas that could be implemented with minimum or no hand-drawn graphics at all. There are indeed plenty of titles that used this approach like geometry wars or the all-mighty Minecraft.
So the next game I’ll be working on is a falling sands type game. The need for art is absolutely minimal (other then some GUI perhaps) and the gameplay makes the real differance. There is already a modern take on falling sand named The Sandbox, which has still alot of hand-drwan graphics and nice visuals. But any case, it’s relatively nothing compared to many other titles with similar success.
So as a one-man programmer game dev, I’m starting a low-visuals diet. I’ll be posting the updates about my first game with this approach.