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Questions for Gaming Enthusiasts

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Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
May 15, 2001 6:13:07 PM

I've wanted to make games ever since I was five. I made my first board game when I was eight and have made several others since. In the more recent years, I've tinkered with the DirectX and OpenGL interfaces, but never with much drive. However, I believe I will start making a video game for fun, and I would like your input on what you see in games.

1.) In a video game, do you focus more on graphics or plot? Personally, I enjoy older 8 bit games like Homeworld, Final Fantasy III, Ultima Online, Betrayal at Krondor, Doom, etc. I enjoy the cartoon feel. Even games like Starcraft have a cartoon edge to their sprites, and I really, really like that look (although I love the 24 to 32 bit 3D animation scenes in Starcraft.) So, understand that I mean do you pay more attention to there being higher color depth (16 to 32 bit, alpha modes, etc) graphics or plot.

2.) How big of a factor is multiplayer, and what types of multiplayer do you like best? For instance, do you like Starcraft-like strategy game multiplayers, Half-Life TFC or Counterstrike teamwork, or would you like to see incredible fighting duals, like Bushido Blade with 32 characters? What have you seen that you liked, and what haven't you seen that you think you would like?

3.) I've noticed games relying more and more on huge computer resources, which is depressing since I still have a 400mhz PII with 64MB of RAM and a 4MB Video Card. Do you feel that Tannonbaum's philosophy of "since hardware's getting faster, the programmer should not worry about speed and space" is correct (Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but anyone who has read his thoughts on the Microkernel and low-level processes knows the gist of the phrasing. No offense meant to Tannonbaum followers out there, and sorry if the phrasing is a little off; that's just the impression I got from his "Operating Systems: Design and Implementation" published by Prentice Hall.)? Personally, I think that kind of philosophy stinks, and it should be the responsibility of the programmer to make the fastest, most efficient programs. The hardware should only speed up the processes, not be required to speed up for the program to even work. Likewise, what do you feel the average video RAM is today? Do you think 4 MB - 8MB is the norm or do you believe that 12 MB to 16 MB is a minimum? What about standard RAM?

I think that about covers it for now. Just curious as to what you all think of the current video game standards. BTW, I haven't even started planning for the project, so I don't expect to have betas out for a long, long time ;) .

Thank you for your time,

Iceburn
May 15, 2001 7:06:30 PM

The typical computer out there today is a P3 equivelant 500 with 128MB ram and around a 10=20gig hard drive. video card averages are around 16 but are inching up past 32 as more people ditch the old cards. also, i believe the average monito size is moving from 15 to 17 inches.

I don't have the time to procrastinate.
May 16, 2001 2:21:04 AM

I think it’s safe to assume that most gamers have at least a 16MB video card.
Are you going to write the game in C?
Thx & Cya


<font color=red>There are only 2 types of hard drives. Ones that have crashed and ones that are about to.</font color=red>
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Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
May 16, 2001 4:36:18 AM

Definitely C and C++ (I like the new and delete functions because they actually call your constructors and destructors.) Also, I believe that I'll want to use some assembly to speed little things up.

Thank you for your time and reply,

Iceburn
May 16, 2001 8:14:20 AM

what advice could you give someone that wants to learn to create games but has no clue what step one is..... books? software?
May 16, 2001 1:16:59 PM

Cool! I wish I new C++. Writing simple pages in Html is about where my programming skills are at right now. I’m also reading a book on visual basic. Seemed like a good starting place for my programming quest. How sophisticated a game can be written in VB? Is it possible to write a Duke Nuke em in VB or is monopoly pushing it’s limits?

Thx & Cya


<font color=red>There are only 2 types of hard drives. Ones that have crashed and ones that are about to.</font color=red>
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
May 16, 2001 2:22:25 PM

Don't get too sucked into VB. It's not modular, and I've seen too many people get sucked into bad programming practices. Since you are doing webpages right now, I would look into Perl if I were you. Perl somewhat mimics C, although it is nowhere near as powerful and I'm very disappointed in its classes / "packages." Not only would you be learning a nice language, but you would actually be able to use it with your webpages.

A good Perl book to start with is called "PERL and CGI FOR THE WORLD WIDE WEB" by Elizabeth Castro. It goes through everything step by step and is written for the beginner. This will get you started. After that, a thicker reference is handy. I would start an account at Lycos' Tripod.com and take advantage of their CGI bin. Otherwise, you'll have to try to install the PERL interpreter on your Windows machines, which is a pain for most people. Just save yourself the hassle and begin programming PERL at Tripod.com.

After you are affiliated with PERL, I believe that learning C and C++ will be much easier for you, and you can apply many of the things you've learned and used in the PERL scripting language to the extremely powerful C HLL (Higher Level Language.)

Duke Nukem can be made with VB (although I don't believe it was,) but it might be a little bit slower. Although there are many optimizations for VB, not too many people use them, and instead rely on the hardware to keep up. I would look into C. I think its faster, cleaner, more efficient, and more powerful.

Thank you for your time,

Iceburn
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
May 16, 2001 2:47:17 PM

I would start with DirectX's MSSDK (MicroSoft Software Development Kit I think ;) .) Go to http://msdn.microsoft.com/directx/ and then go to downloads. You'll be looking for the DirectX 8.0a developer download. Be prepared to wait, however, because it's over 120MB!! After you get everything downloaded, setup DirectX 8 on your computer. It should default everything to C:\mssdk, so that's the root folder I'll be using to describe where you go.

Inside of C:\mssdk should be 5 folders (BIN,LIB,SOURCE or SAMPLES, DOC, INCLUDE.) The executables (sample programs, like games or examples, that you'll be able to run) will be found in BIN. LIB will contain the libraries and headers that should be included into your projects (where need be. For instance, if you are wanting to use Direct Draw, which is generally used for 2D rendering and drawing, you would include ddraw.lib, ddraw.h and whatever files you might need with it.) SOURCE or SAMPLES will contain the actual code and projects that you can compile. INCLUDE contains some files that you will need to include with the SOURCE or SAMPLE projects in order to compile. These files are necessary for the samples to work because Microsoft has included many functions that will help you write your games; functions like loading a bitmap. If you are using Microsoft Visual C++, just go to Project->Add files, find the files that you need from the INCLUDE folder, and compile and execute your project. DOC is where you can find Microsoft's comprehensive help file for DirectX 8.0a. I would go to Getting Started, and just read what they have to say. After you get a good idea of what's going on, check out the files in BIN. Then, go into SOURCE or SAMPLES, find a project and try to manipulate the window size, bit depth, and/or bitmaps used, change the icon, change the cursor, and other various changes. Get used to the code and don't get discouraged if you can't get something to work the first time.

Otherwise, there are probably hundreds of books on using DirectX in games. Sorry, but I haven't found one that I particularly liked, although Andre Lamoth is pretty well acclaimed. Don't expect too much out of these books however, because the gaming industry still wants to protect their trade secrets and investments. If everyone knew how to write great video games, then they (the authors of the books) might be out of jobs.

Thank you for your time,

Iceburn
May 16, 2001 9:58:05 PM

1) For me it depends on what mood I am in. Sometime I like to sit down and play Unreal Tournament (which I think is one of the best games ever created), and sometimes I like to play starcraft. Although I wish UT was more like the original in some respects, like having different levels and having to accomplish different goals. UT is just more kill, kill, kill.

2) Multiplayer is a must. Especially since broadband connections are getting more popular and cheaper. Everyone likes to see how they can compete against other people, and when you go do it in the comfort of your own home it makes it even better.

3) Software seems to lag behind hardware at least two years. I personally have a P4 1.4 with a geforce 2 GTS video card. I would like to see P4 and GeForce 2 optimized games. But at the same time, I realize that the majority of computer users don't have the latest and greatest stuff so I would think there is more money to be made in scaling down the software as to not need so much power.

These are just some of my thoughts on the gaming industry.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life: It goes on." -Robert Frost
May 17, 2001 1:08:34 AM

Thx for the feed back. What do you think about java? A friend recommend that it might me a good 1st language to learn. He also said there is quite a demand for java apps.
Thx & Cya


<font color=red>There are only 2 types of hard drives. Ones that have crashed and ones that are about to.</font color=red>
May 17, 2001 4:22:15 PM

There are lots of games out there. Most of them are duplicates. They use other peoples concepts. Copy their ideas and so on. For 3D FPS games (thats the area I'm currently trying to hack at) there are a number of gurus. ID softwares John Carmack being number one. Tim Sweeney I belive made Unreal and UT Engine. Ken silvermann is responsible for Duke nukem 3D. he then decided to go to university. And look what happened to duke nukem project. Without him its been lost, they still havent managed to make the next game.

What I'm saying is there are a lot of game makers but only a few Creators. What most publishers these days want is to look at what has been successful and start to fund other projects of the same genre. But the only thing (with a few exceptions) it leads to is a bunch of flops. Most game designers these days spend so much time and thus budget on the look of a game, they cant afford to spend time on the feel of the game.

If you want to play around with ideas that can use current engines like the Quake 1,2 or 3 or even Unreal engines, then by all means do that. Its gonna be much (MUCH) easier than making your engine. Also, If you look at good engines, like Q3, the sourcecode is quite self explaining. but still doing stuff can be quite hard.

If you want to make games from scratch, then DX and OpenGl can be the pretty good. (Actually their the only bits you should look at). C++ would be the language of choice. VB can utilise DX but I've never tried it.

As for the specs if you want to use the later engines, you will unfortunately need a higher spec machine, namely the 3D card.

I'll get back to you with some good books.


<font color=red>"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and dispair!"</font color=red>
May 17, 2001 7:21:11 PM

Where can you get the source code for the engines on games like UT or Quake 3 (don't they use the same engine?)?

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned in life: It goes on." -Robert Frost
May 17, 2001 9:58:10 PM

no! no! no! no! no!

They do not use the same enginge. John Carmack of <A HREF="http://www.idsoftware.com" target="_new">ID software</A> made the Quake Engines. All three of them. And the Doom and wolfenstein ones before that.

The Unreal engines were made by Tim Sweeney of <A HREF="http://www.epicgames.com/" target="_new">Epic</A>. The Quake 3 engine is better than the unreal engine.

You can find information on quake3 editing <A HREF="http://www.planetquake.com/code3arena/" target="_new">here</A>. It has tutorials and articles, that will help you. It will also point you to source code. I cant give you exact info for unreal but you probably can find some on <A HREF="http://www.planetunreal.com/" target="_new">planet unreal</A>.


The Book Info I promised:
<b>Game Architecture and Design - Andrew Rollings, Dave Morris</b>
This book talks about concepts in gaming and lays out a methodology suitable for game development. It also hs a full example game using Direct X and C++.

<b>3D Game Engine Design - Eberly</b>
This book Comes recommended by Tim Sweeney. It explains the concepts of 3D in highly detailed mathematics. Some people get discouraged by this. But hey, you cant have Complex 3D like in a game, without mathematics. can you? It doesn't refer to implementation in OpenGl or DX. It does come with a CD to back up the concepts in the book.

<b>Beginning Direct3D Game Programming - Wolfgang Engel</b>
You'll probably want this book if you just want to start making simple games or 3D demos quickly without knowing all the 3D theories and stuff (i.e. the previous book) the Cd for this book contains the DX8 SDK.

<b>OpenGL Superbible - Richard S. Wright</b>
This book is for you if you prefer to work with OpenGL rather than DX. It comes recomended by almost everyone working with OpenGL.

<b>Game Design: Secret of the Sages - Marc Saltzman (Editor)</b>
This book contains a whole lot of interviews of the professionals of the industry. Its not a tutorial though. The interview is more like, how they started, what problems they had and what any new beginners should do. stuff like that.

<b>Game Programming Gems - Mark DeLoura</b>
This is another compilation book. But, this one is full of hints and tips from the experts. Its aimed at C++ programmers.


<font color=red>"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and dispair!"</font color=red>
May 18, 2001 7:02:37 AM

Well now. I’ve been playing (war) games since I was 8 years old. (I’m 34 now).
I created a complex board game based on the Silmarillion. I created all the art work,
maps, combat tables...I even glued sheets of counters onto thin cardboard and
made my own homemade die-cut counters. enough of that though....
I play games ....tons and tons. I like several type of games.
====================================================================
Type 1: Real Time Strategy. (Warcraft II, Dune II, Command and Conquer, Red Alert 1&2,
Lords Of the realm I/II, Tiberian Sun, Age of empires 1&2...etc)
These games typically have a skewed overhead view with the camera at an angle.
You build combatants in real time and buildings and facilities in real time. These facilities
in turn allow you to build more combatants. (Tip...emphasis should be on combat and not
on infrastructure- otherwise it gets kind of mathematically boring. Also I personally don’t
care for bizarre un-recognizable fantasy units/buildings. I prefer tanks, troops, weapons,
buildings that look somewhat grounded in reality or History).
=======================================================================
Type 2: First Person shooter: (Doom, Triad, Duke Nukem3d, Delta Force 1,2&3, Half-Life,...etc)

These games I prefer to be well lighted. I never really cared for “Quake”...too dark and dungeon y.
I like Duke3d though. I liked the night time-city motif. But what I really like is Delta Force style
landscape! ...Long sweeping landscapes that incorporate realistic terrain....not just sliding around corners, like quake or wolfenstien......booooring! The DF landscape take ALL the horse power your computer can
dish up though.
=============================================================================
Type 3: Simulation (NASCAR 1,2,3,4 & SuperBike 1,2,3 & Moto-Racer2, Need for Speed2,3,4 -RoadRash
...etc, etc)

These games I like to be realistic....but PLAYABLE. If a game gets so, um, “real” that I can’t play it,
well....it doesn’t get used much. I had one NASCAR game “Revolution”, that had great graphics,
and physics engine, but seemed more or less unplayble. The graphic wears off fast if you can’t keep up
with the other cards/bikes, despite a physics engine that lets you get realistic handling.
==============================================================================
Type 4: Air combat.....hmmm.....last air combat game I played was European Airwar....I used to like
RedBaron I, But RB II didn’t do anything for me. I loved F19 stealth fighter, and interestingly enough
the graphics sucked.....it was the mental challenge that kept that game fun.
(Sometimes graphics are not as important as thought stimulation!)
==============================================================================
Type 5: Roll Playing.....The only RP game I really liked (besides my brief time with D&D) was ULTIMA 5
I lost interest with the other Ultima games. The Original StarFlight was kind of fun though....but I really
get tired of TALKING to characters......I just want to fight/shoot/battle after a while.
==========================================================================
Type 6: Strategy (Napoleonic wars, Battles of Alexander, Civil War....etc, etc...)

I like these games because they are basically good old fashioned board games on a computer.
But alas, I don’t have time to play games like these much, and when I buy them, they seem to
languish.
==========================================================================


I hope that helps. Feel free to ask me game questions. I consider myself to be a serious gamer.



I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
May 18, 2001 9:09:59 AM

With RTS the unit AI's have to be improved a lot. Some of them cant even compute the shortest route from A to B.

Technically Quake is far superior to Duke3D. While everything in quake is True 3D, Duke Nukem 3D uses sprites to simulate 3D. The lighting is just a choice the developers made to go with the mood of the game. I enjoyed the game very much. I didn't like duke3d to much and never even bothered to finish the game. Its engine is comparable to that of Doom 2.

Delta force is just great. But the voxel maps allow for far more flexibility than they offered. But that would probably double the system requirements. This type of gaming concept is rather different from your typical fps. This is a tactical fps. You simply can't go around all guns blazing. There are other similar games that use polygon based terrain and still provide beautiful bumpy planes.

With the Racing games its just they don't use proper physics engines. They have some approximations and even worse some of them (actually all of them) have pre-set sequences that will happen in case of a collision. In testdrive 5, or was it 6, Have you seen those cars do vertical spins? have you seen that in real life? I prefer more the Wipe out type racing.

Air Combat, This is another area where there has been a vast improvents over tha past few years. Janes F15 is THE MOST realistic air combat sim out there. You really gotta learn how to fly before you dive into combat. But sometimes I do prefer the more actionny easier games like F22 Lightning 3. Theres Just something about carrying a tactical nuclear weapon. I dont play whole campaigns on it though. When ever I get together with some of my friends, We have competitions like How low you can go and release the bomb and still escape the explosion.


<font color=red>"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and dispair!"</font color=red>
May 18, 2001 4:38:55 PM

Heh, yep the computer AI for ALL the RTS games seem to be pretty bad. Except Age of empires 2
can give you as big a wooping as you want it to. But head to head multi -play can be really
fun as well as co-op with a friend (my wife kicks butt!!!!) is fun too. HEH, my wife really rocks
at all the RTS games….that's why I married her =;-]

True, true. about Duke's sprite driven graphics….still , I loved the motif of the game - back in the day. Where as I hated Quake, and everyone said I'd love it…..oh well. But obviously it doesn't compare to today's games - graphically. I just mentioned it because it was so much fun in multi-player. In fact when my friends come over, that's the game they want to play on the local network.
Even to this day.

Delta Force Land Warrior is my FPS of choice right now. I've been running a DF on-line team
since DF2. But, I must beg to differ about whether you can run around guns ablazzing, lol…..
I create my own maps and host them sometimes. I host city maps, and broken terrain maps, and forested maps, …believe me, It's SAW action big time…But it still has distance, which Quake woefully lacks. BTW, does LandWarrior still use the voxel engine, I thought they got away from that?

The new physics engine in Papyrus NASCAR 3 and 4 are pretty good.

Air combat, hehe…..yep I played all those games too. I had the Janes ATF, but I recently sold
It on e-bay. Yeah, I don't mind learning to fly, but in the end, I want to fight, and if if I have to
Concentrate on flying primarily, it takes away from the adventure of it all. BTW, I thought F22
Sucked. It was tooo easy to fly and not enough realism.







I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
!