Monthly Archives: January 2013
There is an uncomfortable similarity between making a movie and making a video game.
Not really in any of the practice (unless you’re doing a heavily CG movie), but the similarity is there.
When you start a film, you’re writing the script and planning how it will be shot. You’re putting stuff in. Same at the beginning of a game. When we were penning our design document, we were dreaming up features, some only vaguely defined, but features and gameplay elements nonetheless.
As the engine begins to take form and you start to be able to, y’know… *play* the game… you start to dream up more ideas. The fortnightly (sort of) meetings or random coffee breaks would often result in a handful of ideas, one or two of which might end up in the melting pot – especially if one of those ideas is very easy to code and could, say, be knocked together in a few minutes while the shine of the idea was still there.
It’s a really great way for a game to evolve organically – not right for every type of game, but one that’s basically a sandbox with some fun toys in it? It’s really worked for us.
Hi, I’m Justine, I’m one of the artists on the Flat Earth Games dev team. I was also the lucky first person (other than Rohan and Leigh) to join the project. That was almost a year and a half ago now.
When it comes to communicating with the Harris brothers, they and I are very different. They are very good at explaining their ideas in words but unfortunately have little artistic skill, wheras in my case, I fail to convince them of any ideas until I’ve completed the image as a sketch or finished product before they understand what I was getting at.
Sometimes this can lead to arguments or feelings being hurt. Fortunately at Flat Earth, everyone is very laid back and I’m blessed with a lot of creative freedom. This doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t practice being conscientious when communicating to either party. Teamwork in game development is key, and here are a few tips for everyone to remember when working on their own game.
– Firstly, and probably most importantly, don’t be a narcissistic asshole. While it’s good be confident about your art, programming, or design, always spend time to look at everything objectively and improve it. If you still find that hard, why not watch this video.
– Always embrace widespread critique. When sending out an email asking for critique about a certain part of the game (especially creative aspects), don’t exclusively send it to the people who are part of the same department. Sometimes the best feedback is from someone you’d least expect.
– Spend time constructing ideas that everyone can understand. It’s true that designers, artists and programmers have their own dialects and it can be hard to successfully tell an idea to everyone and be on the same page. This is primarily the job of the designer but in a small team the lines between departments blur.
– Don’t give up. If you truly believe you have a good idea and you can’t communicate it, just do it! Spend a few hours on your weekend or after work producing a mock-up and re-submit your case. More often than not, the idea will be green-lit, if not, it makes it a lot easier for the other party to explain why it won’t fit in with the game and you can take that onboard for your next task.
– Trust your team. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve drawn a blank trying to come up with ideas for a certain asset. Don’t be a hero and try to push through it alone. The best thing you can do is send out an email to the team asking for ideas- when others aren’t stuck in the art grind it’s a lot easier for them to come up with suggestions. You might not even take their idea, most times it sparks inspiration for something else wonderful.
Without everyone doing these things, we never would have got Township off the ground. Comparing Rohan’s initial sketches (above) that I saw a year ago to where we’re at now is quite incredible.
So we’re getting very close to Alpha now. I’m implementing the level structure as we speak and the last few vital features are nearing completion. (Well, I’d probably call it beta, but seriously – how useless are these terms now, anyway? –Rohan)
It’s a great feeling, but one which also comes with some sadness as we reel in the scope of the project to accommodate a realistic time frame for release.
I, for example, am loathed to find that I will NOT be able to create a multi-mineral table for my tavern. I really wanted one which had a copper frame but an iron tabletop. How else will people know I’m a tactless moron?