David alias Otter - Mod fan and and occasional mod critic, also wannabe game designer.
Note: This blog entry contains my personal opinion on survival games in general. As always, I welcome all to join the conversation in the comments.
So, what is the deal with survival games?
Jokes aside, there is a problem that most of you can probably see right away: There are tons of them out there, countless of them in the making and it doesn't seem to stop. It begs the question: Why? The reason I think they are so popular is that they've all been born from the single wish that gamers have been dreaming about for years. The one true RPG game, the true survival, where every little choice matters. And now that technology has come up with this dream, a lot of people stood up to the challenge, flooding the market, trying to make that dream come true, even though I don't think it can be ever fully realised. There is not enough manpower and time to even play these games to their full potential, especially since they are expanding all the time.
Before I get into it, I feel that it's important to note that I don't hate survival games, I spent a lot of hours in them, but they have some minor and major flaws that I wanted to point out. And with that said...
First of all, let me show you a list of some of the (both finished and in-progress) survival games out there (in no particular order):
- Minecraft (obviously)
- Project Zomboid
- 7 days to die
- Sir, you are being hunted
- Dying Light
- How to survive
- Day One: Garry's Incident
- Star Made
- Sings of Life
- Untold Universe
- State of Decay
- No Man's Sky
(This list was sponsored by the letter: S)
That's a long list, isn't it? And I only scratched the surface. Although I included some games in there that do have an end goal, a lot of them can last as long as you like. Ever since Minecraft's debute the market has been flooded with other survival games and they are getting more grander and ambitious. But they all suffer from the same problems that are true for most of them. Problems like:
That is all that I can think of now. If you have anything other that bothers you that I didn't listed or disagree with a point I made, feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime, I hope I can kill that freakin' dragon one day. Maybe after I build a proper house and don't get bored doing it. :)
So a few days ago it was my brother's birthday. I wasn't exactly sure what to get him. I usually buy him a game he likes on Steam, but he didn't had anything particular that he wanted this year (or at least something that I known of) so my second I idea was to draw him something, some sort of mutual memory or shared experience we had together. You known, about childhood fantasies and characters we invented in our games or such, but honestly, I'm not as good of a drawer as him. Then I had the idea: "We always used to make games with one of the old Clickteam game makers, why don't I make a game for him with that?"
And so I did (with Games Factory 2, to be precise), and it was a lot of fun. I was so invested and wanted to make it enjoyable and have a replay value, but also make it quickly because it was his birthday after all. It was almost like one of those "48 hour game challenges" only this one took me about 12 hours from from concept to the finishing touches.
So what is it about? Well he is studying animation, and they currently work on a stop motion short film that has him busy over the last month or so, and I wanted to make a game about that. The general idea was that there was a central workstation/computer and 4 separate tables namely: Background, Props, Storyboard and Audio, each with its own separate meter. The player controls my brother and the goal is to "work on" these tables and with that fill these meters and then work on the central computer to fill up the main progress bar, within a time limit. If you manage it then you win. The only catch though is that the project changes over time, just like in real life, so the tables degrade and their meters go down. Let them fall too much and the central computer goes offline, so you have to balance the time between running to the tables and working on the main project. Yeah, I'm certain this is not a unique game idea, but I tried to make it personal. Here is a sneak peek from the finished game:
Graphics and the UI aren't great, but keep in mind I had to animate, code and playtest this all in half a day.
After getting the meters to degrade just the right amount and setting a time limit I also set some difficulty levels which just basically shortens the the amount of time you have from 250 seconds (Easy) to 200 (Medium) to 180 (Hard), it can all be done. To make it more "replayable" I also implemented a semi-random "global value" that makes it so that when you select the difficulty it also changes the rate the different tables grade, so while in one game you don't have to bother that much with the Audio because it degrades the slowest, in another play its meter gets to zero the fastest so it needs the most work. This also adds the extra challenge that you have to figure out how the different tables degrade over time at the start of each game.
And what was the reaction? Well I got a really humble "This is the best present that I got" and "You really set a high standard for gifts" :) so I was glad that he liked it, and it also reminded me how much I love developing games. I think I soon will get into a bigger project. I have something in mind I can work on. As for this small game, he showed it to his class/work group and teacher and they said that it represent the way the creation process actually is so well (I known how these kind of projects usually work, so this wasn't a huge surprise for me) that they actually wanted to present my game as part of the finished project (this was the surprise part). I, of course, gave them my permission. A little gesture sure can go far. :) I also get the appeal behind the Ludum Dare and similar challenges now.
If you got similar enjoyable or fun game/mod developing moments feel free to share them in the comments. They are always appreciated. :)
Don't you just hate it when you want to make a game and you don't know what and/or how?
Well it's most certainly the case with me. I've been looking forward creating a small indie game for a long time, but I can't seem to find the right idea for it. Although finding the right game idea is one thing, making it is another. Sadly I haven't got much experience with game developing. The only engine I used was the earlier version of Games Factory (now Multimedia Fusion) and I really like to get into it more than that. Different design phases, artwork, execution (well maybe not programming, not a huge fan of that.) That's why I want to create a small game that is creative enough to be able to sell and easy enough to make.
Oh, it's not that I don't have ideas. I have loads of ideas that one day would like to make a full game. It's just that they are not possible for me as a single man team , which I'm looking for right now.
Some of my ideas (very briefly because I don't want to be a victim of idea stealing :) )
Also I have some mod/map ideas as well for the Source engine. These were planned as side projects mostly If I would be willing to start learning the engine and possibly get some help with it.
Well that's all I can think of from mind right now. Now if I just only had the knowledge to start. I want to apply to another university this year to a "Digital design" department (roughly translated) because my current Uni sucks and I'm not planning a career in it anymore. But there aren't really any "game development" classes or courses I know of and it's really hard for me to start a career in design and gaming without anyone to teach me (let's be honest, learning from the internet by text and video only is hard, if not impossible). But if I get in at least that's a start. Although I really like to have some pre-knowledge. My goal for this year was to make a small game till the end of the summer (because it would be a great starting experience and if it could possibly make me some money that would help my student funding a lot) but I'm really not sure where to start.
I would need an idea, a free engine possibly that is easy to make games on, loads of artwork, a person to program it, a person to make music and sound for it, marketing, the whole funding for all that and I don't even know how taxing works with games that are sold internationally.
Game creating is hard folks, and I haven't even got past square one.
Any personal thoughts/suggestions/lessons/errors are welcome in the comments. Also if anyone is willing to hire a total beginner (to date) for a Source mod project or indie game to teach him and helping out I'm ready to apply. :)
Have you joined the Steam Holdiay sale's Great Gift Pile? If not, you totally should.
I'm only promoting this because on one of the free achievements (Join the offical holiday group) guess what I got?
I couldn't believe it either...
First item on my Steam wishlist. The Best Christmas present this year :D (Which would only get better if I get a Dota 2 beta-key)
So I wish you all a happy holiday season, happy new year, good company, good food & drinks, good mods for us next year, Black mesa hopefully (I would like to play that before the end of the world next year, tee-hee) and good luck if you try the achievements on Steam. :)
Also comedy = tragedy + time: Buttersafe.com
(aka Vidra aka David)
Oh by the way, If anyone wants to play co-op with me feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you if I have time. I don't really have people who I can play with sadly :(
Well a new year is here already and a few days ago I decided that my laptop needs a Windows reinstall, because it became as slow as molasses going uphill in january... with crutches. Also TF2 was getting constant graphical slowdowns from some reason, even when everything graphical was set to low.
It's frustrating to reinstall everything on the computer, but I knew that this can't wait, but decided that maybe I should try out a 64 bit XP (my laptop is a bit old, although the upgrade advisor program said it can handle Windows 7 I didn't wanted to take the risk)
Everything went fine at first. Drives installed, updated, so now I needed programs that can utilize this new power. A browser first, since IE is not something I would like to be online with. I needed a Firefox 64 bit. The only thing I could find was Namoroka (a the project names of FF 3.x I think) but it also needed a flash plug-in and a java plug-in. The first one was easier, the second was harder, but I find them anyway. All looked well. Now I needed my favourite file organizer Total commander... that is until I realized it's 32 bit and the developer(s) can't make 64 bit version because the program they make it with doesn't have a 64 version either. Luckily I found a nice alternative called Double Commander, it's free, 64 bit and I think it's a bit faster with the more memory it can handle. Then came the video players. I still managed to find some 64x version, but Winamp and Windows Live Messenger didn't and I even needed to get a patch to for the old messenger so it can be installed.
After that I installed steam, because I deleted the whole folder with all my games. It became really large and slow over the years, with a lot of spam downloaded accidentally (ex.: Idiot quake and UT sound for some TF2 servers, which I really, really hate) and I looked into 64 bit games. The list was... disappointing ( Start64.com - I know it's an old list, but doubt it would have many new names on it since then). Well at least HL2 is there, I could try that out... until I learned when it was being downloaded that the only difference is mainly in the loadtimes and it's not really better in Frames/sec, oh and also Valve completely removed it, because it was buggy and they were lazy. Not only just made it inaccessible or with the "-64bit" launching commands only... No, they completely removed it.
But that was just the first blow. Then I realized Namoroka was not functioning well. It simply couldn't handle embedded videos (here on moddb for example). I could see it, but couldn't click on the play button, it was like a picture. I thought it was the beta flash at first, but it wasn't because it worked perfectly in other browsers. Then the random crashes started. You must know that the most simple reason I prefer Firefox over any other web-browser is because of this: Addons.mozilla.org But the crashes became more frequent and I didn't want to give up on that, so I was forced to reinstall the 32 bit version. No problems since then, but it comes with a bit slower speed.
You see, 64 bit OS needs to run an emulation for 32 bit programs and it sometimes comes with noticeable slowdown. I think that's the problem with TF2 right now. It runs on high graphics finally, but it feels slower, more bulky, which is weird... Also my favourite XP skin the Vistamizer doesn't work either...
So is there anything positive?
Well sort of... Adobe CS5 has 64 compatibility and can use it. Premier Pro and After Effects can't be even installed on 32 bit computers any more. I tried Photoshop and feels a bit faster, but not too noticeable yet. Well my laptop has 2 Gb Ram, and 64x can handle much more then the 4 GB limit of 32 bit systems, so it my have to do something with it, but the difference might be more visible later on. Could try with a 3D modelling program, but I usually never use those. (too lazy to learn it)
Although 64 bit operating systems have been around for years, there are really few programs that can use its potential and they are difficult to find. Games are few and not sure if there will be much more around. If Microsoft doesn't announces that Windows 8 will come out as 64 bit only (which I doubt) I don't see a clear future for the 64 bit which is kinda sad.
So I don't recommend installing a 64 bit system, only if you are a person working with a lot of multimedia (3D, digital images, videos, etc.) with the latest software and have a separate computer with a lot of Ram and a good CPU (and possibly a 1-2 Terabyte of HDD)
Please share your experience or opinion about the topic in the comments.
I'm really don't know how people always end up here, but I have a theory...
This list represents the thoughts of a beginner mod developer trough time:
Day 0: Wow, I've been seeing and playing all these amazing Source mods. I can do anything I want in Source, I join too and make the best mod eva'!
Day 1: I've got an idea for the most epic mod ever. It's going to have an awesome gameplay, excellent graphics, deep story, lifelike characters with spot-on voice acting and a bit of well placed funny humour. Let's get started!
Day 5: Well, it was harder then I thought, but I hope that this 2-3 concept art for one level and a pistol is enough to get me starting. Time to download Maya or 3Dmax and Photoshop illegally and really get things starting.
Day 6: How do I make this cylinder shape bend again? Man, modelling sucks. Let's get to the mapping, I can always ask for someone to help me out with modelling for free, right? RIGHT?!
Day 8: Nice! I made my first orange room. Progress!
Day 15: Finally I made a copy of my original room and a functioning door between them. I'm really getting the hang of this.
Day 16: Time to make a moddb page and upload some hammer screenshots.
Day 42: Skybox finished finally. Time to put some brushes on my 2 rooms and some objects in it.
Day 85: F*ck this! I'll make a generic zombie shooter mod.
Day 142: Why is everyone hurting me and say my mapping sucks? I hate these people, such trolls. writing this long comments I don't care about. Why can't all just be like that guy who only wrote "Lulz graet modz dud! +1 trackz". That is such more helpful.
Day 160+n: Mod is dead douchebags! Hope you are happy. Man, so much of my time wasted. Time to do something more practical. Like I should go on youtube and write "This is much better than Justin Bieber" and "x people how disliked are Bieber fans" comments under music videos. Yeah, that is quite original!
Any suggestions/errors/personal thoughts are welcome in the comments.