For me music and programming have always been pretty easy to do, though not saying I’m great at it. Art is definitely my weak point. I have just avoided doing anything artistic in the past, using just basic shapes. I’m now trying my hand at doing some vector art characters for my new game - still making them out of basic shapes really and I don’t have to actually draw which would be impossible for me
Not really a full “one dev only” as I still need help with the programming and audio parts, but I hope this will still help somehow.
For the visual part: I’ve been drawing since forever, and I went through art school in the hopes I’d learn to make games there (turned out to be a bad call ). Since then… been drawing most of the time, so make that about 20+ years of “intentionally focused” drawing, though only 5-6 of them using my current digital color approach (used to do traditional B&W inking before). Never had dedicated animation training, though, I only started that with Honey, so about 4 years ago now. I’m still learning stuff everyday about everything drawing-related, and likely will for the rest of my attempted days. My best advice for learning how to draw is to do a little every day: one day without makes up for about two day’s of progress reversed, so simply keep at it and the results will show, though you need to be patient and dedicated for it!
For the programming part: still learning, and still not doing it that well, as I can’t use anything else than visual scripting tools (so essentially, RPGMaker/Construct 2, all others like Game Maker, Unity or UE even with visual scripting plugins rely on using specific programming languages for additional functions/optimization, etc). I don’t really have much advice to give on that front, except to say that if you’re in my situation, ie: logic works well but not syntax, Construct 2 is an excellent introduction tool, and can even support some decently sized work!
For the audio part, I’m just starting again after close to a 20 year hiatus, so I’ll keep you posted Though again, I feel the “one day at a time with no day without” approach is best!
For me it’s been a long road, and I still constantly doubt myself. I had close to zero artistic skill at the beginning; for example here’s one of the first videos I posted near the beginning of development (jeez, 6 years ago):
And here’s the latest one:
Terrible at the start for sure, but it was a start! I really wouldn’t worry too much about competency, that comes with time and is pretty much a given if you’re willing to put in the effort! I would also say though, the best advice I think I ever got was about playing to your strengths. If you’re a good programmer, focus on that and find an art style that compliments it.
For me, I already knew how to draw pretty competently because I´ve been doing it as a hobby since forever, but I had to learn a lot about Pixel Art, animation and some other related stuff. That´s taken like a year but I still can improve a lot with practice and I´m sure I will once I start working more on the game´s art. For music, I´ve been studying theory for some months but have yet to really sink my teeth into it and actually start composing stuff. Thing is, I don´t think there´s a goal line you get through, it´s more of a continuous learning process where you´ll keep on improving as you work in the game, so I think the best method is to just work on the game and develop your skills as you need them.
Edit: @_Rob, that much improvement is crazy!
Thanks so much for all the advice/personal stories! I know it’s gonna be a long road till I’m at the level I’d like to be, but I’m gonna try to put in at the very minimum an hour in the mornings to work at it. Also @_Rob your progress is unbelievable! The before and after there is honestly a huge inspiration.
Two things helped me the most with this stuff.
Mentally it was realizing that it’s totally okay to not be immediately perfect at something. I’m very afraid of making mistakes, which led me to spending a long time thinking about making games, but never really doing it. Realizing that doing something is always more productive than thinking about maybe doing something, really helped.
One thing that really helped me with the “doing art” side of things (I still can’t draw to save my life), finding a tool that did all the stuff I needed it to do, without really getting in my way. For me it was Asesprite (I think it’s linked in the first post of this thread), but there might be other programs that work for you.
One thing that also kept me going was seeing actual progress over time. Back in June when I released Splinter Zone, I wrote a long post about how the game changed over time. For once to show to other people how much a game can change over time both visually and in terms of scope, but also to remind myself of my own growth.
I don’t know if any of this helps, really. Generally though find whatever makes you do the things you want to do and stick with. Also don’t be afraid to ask, or look for help. Doing a game completely on your own sounds amazing, but at the same time it can also be really hard to keep track of everything.
Thanks for this! I think my desire to develop projects on my own is because I’m really lacking financial resources to pay an artist/sound person the wage they’d deserve, and I wouldn’t want to ask for help until I’m able to provide in that department.
I can understand that. I’m living off of welfare in Germany, which is about 300-400€ per month and not nearly enough to make a game, really.
I still paid people for the music and the promo artwork, because I just didn’t had the time to also do both of those things.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve also tried to find a way to pay someone to do PR for me. Turned out that I completely forgot that you actually have to sell a game for it to make any money. Believe me, it’s not fun to spend over a year on a thing, just to have it completely tank without any hope of recovery.
I would love to work with a proper artist. But I don’t have the money to just hire somebody, and I can’t make a proper commitment for collaboration; I’ve got a full time job and kids so I just basically work on my stuff in the evenings with whatever time I can spare. So I just do things by myself. It’s enjoyable that way too cause I’m always learning something as I go along
I can completely relate to the feeling, seeing how I’m in the same situation (not enough money to afford paying someone for their work). However, depending on the person and with proper agreement/contracts, you can also consider paying them through revenue share - that’s assuming they’re willing to risk the game not selling well, of course, though one could also argue that’s an incentive for everyone to do their best!
Mutual agreements can also work, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” type deals. 'Tis a good way to build working relationships too.
Yeah, same problem I have: real life obligations leave me little time to work in the game and can sometimes put the game in a complete stop for weeks. It´s impossible to commit to anything in this situation.
Yeah, real life definitely gets in the way. I had a rough year and a half, and hopefully I’ll be looking good again soon. If I could make a living off of game dev, that would be a great, but right now it is just a hobby. Fortunately, I love my job so I don’t mind it staying a hobby.
As far as getting comfortable, I think the biggest thing is persistence. Everybody’s learning curve is different, and various skills take time to mature, but one thing I’ve noticed in life is that a lot of people tend to give up way too soon. I do not know if it is the challenge, the fear of failure, or something else, but one of the best feelings is sticking through with something and overcoming the difficulty. There is always a point when things start to click and it feels great.
Do we have an indie dev discord?
Looks really cool.
I’m also making a unique FPS so it’s fun to see the different ways people rethink the genre.
How does controlling the camera work in zero g? Is there a universal up or is it more like fighter jets?
Full six degrees of freedom (which makes the grapple hook really interesting)
And the physics are meant to give the feeling of zero g, but be fun. So if you’re moving in a direction and let go of your controls you’ll just keep drifting until you hit something (like in actual zero gravity), but if you just hold down forward you’re not gonna keep accelerating to infinite speed (realistic… but broken for a game). I do a lot to mess with the physics to try and retain the sense of zero gravity while allowing for fun movement – one example is zero gravity drifting, which you can see here (though I’m curious how readable it is in a gif):
You gonna share what you’re working on in this thread?
Awesome thread, thanks for creating it! I followed but never actually posted in any of the GAF indie dev threads, so I figured I should join in this time. I’m currently working on a title that’s easier shown than explained with words but it’s not quite ready to show off just yet. Soon, though, if life allows.
Looking forward to seeing more from everyone!
I’m still working on a re-reveal trailer, but I can talk about it a bit
(the general aesthetic I’m going for, with some placeholder stuff)
It’s not really like other games which makes it hard to describe (and hard to market). Basically it’s a fighting game disguised as an FPS. The player’s weapon has 4 fire modes which act as distinct attacks and can be comboed together. All shots use ammo+energy and ammo is crafted from energy making resource management incredibly important. On top of this, environments are blocky and players are cubes.
It’s been in development for 4 years and has changed a lot. Threw market research out the window and have instead just iterated and iterated to improve the gameplay. It’s releasing on PS4 hopefully soon.
I´m currently reworking the camera system for my 2D platformer. I was initially using a camera like that in SMW, where it constantly follows the player horizontally but will only move vertically when the player lands on a platform that is at a different height. However, I´ve finally given in to a more “manually crafted” camera, like what Tropical Freeze does: there will be a series of setpoints through the level that define the camera behaviour, so when the camera gets close enough to one of them it´s behaviour will adapt to what the setpoint has defined. So initially the camera may be following the player horizontally, but when he reaches the first challenge which consists of some moving platforms, the camera will find a new setpoint and follow the setpoints´ instructions: frame the challenge completely and become static. Once the player gets past this challenge there will be another setpoint to free the camera and tell it to follow the player again.
This method requires more work as I now have to define the camera behaviour for all the level, but it has some very valuable benefits:
- Perfect framing of challenges: It helps the player focus on what´s important at every moment.
- Great for hiding secrets: I control what the player can see at any moment, so it´s easier to hide stuff.
- Easy to set up: Even though it´s more work than having an automated camera, the set-point system is easy to set up in the editor.
- Easy to create complex camera sequences: Thanks to the setpoint system it´s easy to define sequences where the camera alters its´behaviour, like making it autoscroll to the right for a while, then up, then diagonally down-left…
- Solves the problem with vertical levels the SMW camera has: If you move vertically too fast, specially upwards, the SMW camera lags behind too much and you can easily end up leaving the screen from above. Using the appropiate setpoint before a vertical section will solve this issue.
I´ve spent a lot of time studying 2D cameras and have tried many implementations and I truly think this is the best way to do it for more linear platformers. It works beautifully in Tropical Freeze so I hope someone finds this info useful.
FNA (https://fna-xna.github.io/) is what I’m using for the current game I’m working on (and the previous game I made). It’s similar to Monogame but I found Monogame to not be as XNA-accurate as FNA. I remember having to #ifdef a ton of stuff when I made a Monogame port of my game to run on PS Mobile.
I don’t have any screenshots of the current thing I’m working on because the musician and I are still writing/designing stuff.