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 Making Games (Help/Curiosity), programming languages and engines
count_chocula
Posted: Aug 28 2006, 07:57 PM


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Hey there indie gamers.

I was just wondering if anyone knew of a free flash editor, or some other "simple" method for making a shmup-esque game. I though about C++ but I was told that its pretty tough to learn.

Did I mention a lack of coding knowledge? Hehe

Any help would be appreciated.
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Timerever
Posted: Aug 28 2006, 09:02 PM


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QUOTE (count_chocula @ Aug 28 2006, 07:57 PM)
Hey there indie gamers.

I was just wondering if anyone knew of a free flash editor, or some other "simple" method for making a shmup-esque game. I though about C++ but I was told that its pretty tough to learn.

Did I mention a lack of coding knowledge? Hehe

Any help would be appreciated.

I suggest you get coding lessons. Really.
I spit and piss on those who use Flash or GameMakers™, these games are always dog slow, totally unoptimized and badly done. As result a very crude 2D game requires you to have a 2Ghz CPU and 512 Mb or RAM only to play some half assed stick figure game...

Anyway, C and Assembler are pretty hard so this is what I think you should try:
1. Python + PyGame
Python is a high level (no worries about memory management, initializations and terminations and so on) programming language, it's simple and will teach you right. It even forces you to write cleanly indented code since that's how it it parses the code.
PyGame is a game creation Python module that uses SDL as basis, it's quite simple and there's lots of sample code for you to learn, afterall both are open source.
If you feel brave/lucky you can try the new
DirectPython, I never used it since it wasn't available when I used to code on Python, it's a new module released this year. As the name points it's a DirectX9 access module for Python, unlike PyGame it doesn't try to be a new API on it's own, it's simply a brigde between Python and DirectX9, that means that you need to know how DirectX9 works before you can do anything so it's for exeprienced DX coders.

or

2. If you feel like waiting you could try Microsoft XNA, a game API for Windows and XBox 360. The released parts that I've seen (XInput API that controlls the XBox 360 pad) is really, really simple. If the graphics and audio APIs are this simple too it could be n00b game coders paradise. It's to be released this Xmas or Q1 2007.


IMHO I think you should get a head start with Python and PyGame, then if needed (for optimization and compatibility with Vista and XBox 360) you can port the game to XNA. Or you can get a warezed GameMaker™. blink.gif


EDIT:
I see that Python 2.5 is at RC1, maybe you should wait a few weeks before getting into it so that you can take advantage of whatever new feature the version 2.5 offers.
Also as expected there are shmup made with PyGame, here's one example.
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count_chocula
Posted: Aug 28 2006, 11:05 PM


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Hmmm suddenly the name PyMol makes sense hahah! Thanks for the tip, I'll look into it. Would prolly take me a while to get though haha, but oh well, if I can eventually pull a shmup out of it ill be amazed.

I gotta agree, most of the flash shooters I've played have been sub par hehe.
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rinkuhero
Posted: Aug 29 2006, 03:19 AM


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Game Maker and Flash really aren't *that* bad. In Alphasix you have 500+ particle objects with alpha transparency and additive blending going at once at 60fps on most computers that aren't more than 2 years old, and 30fps on most computers that aren't more than 3 years old.

That said, it's been measured that Game Maker is about six times slower than directly using C++ with DirectX 8.0 or OpenGL, which may sound like a lot, but usually that six times isn't noticable except in very graphically intensive games.

For shoot-em-ups, PyGame is probably the better suggestion, because those tend to be very graphically intensive. (But if you're just making an adventure game or a strategy game or a RPG or something, Game Maker and Flash are fine, and you'll be able to get it done faster.)

It also goes without saying that Flash and Game Maker are really only useful for 2D games -- if you want a 3D shoot'em'up game you'd probably need to buy a relatively low-cost 3D engine such as Torque or 3D Games Studio.

So in other words: if you're aiming to out-class other shoot-em-ups graphically, go with C++ or PyGame; if you just want to learn how to make one and get it up and working as fast as possible, and don't care so much about the graphics, go with Flash or Game Maker.
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Timerever
Posted: Aug 29 2006, 12:45 PM


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QUOTE (rinkuhero @ Aug 29 2006, 03:19 AM)
Game Maker and Flash really aren't *that* bad. In Alphasix you have 500+ particle objects with alpha transparency and additive blending going at once at 60fps on most computers that aren't more than 2 years old, and 30fps on most computers that aren't more than 3 years old.

Yeah that's mighty fast... rolleyes.gif

QUOTE (rinkuhero @ Aug 29 2006, 03:19 AM)
That said, it's been measured that Game Maker is about six times slower than directly using C++ with DirectX 8.0 or OpenGL, which may sound like a lot, but usually that six times isn't noticable except in very graphically intensive games.

It sounds a lot and it is a lot, and it's noticable in any game! Think about this: if the game runs fine with a 800Mhz CPU when done with a GameMaker™, then using C++ would run fine on a 133Mhz CPU!! Now tell me it isn't noticable.

QUOTE (rinkuhero @ Aug 29 2006, 03:19 AM)
For shoot-em-ups, PyGame is probably the better suggestion, because those tend to be very graphically intensive. (But if you're just making an adventure game or a strategy game or a RPG or something, Game Maker and Flash are fine, and you'll be able to get it done faster.)

It's the best suggestion for simplicity/cost, cause there are better alternatives to it, XNA will probably be one, and DirectPython other for example.
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Genius
Posted: Aug 29 2006, 08:30 PM


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QUOTE (count_chocula @ Aug 28 2006, 11:05 PM)
I gotta agree, most of the flash shooters I've played have been sub par hehe.

The most important thing to remember is it really doesn't matter what you code in to an awfully large degree.

You only have to take a gander around the blog to find excellent games written in many, may packages.

You only have to take a look around the internets to find awful games written in every single package ever wink.gif

My advice? If you're not comfortable with diving straight into a language head first, then *do* have a blast at Gamemaker or Multimedia Fusion (although you may find more mileage from GM as at least until you require the registered functions its free) and learn about how to structure a game and *how* the game making process works.

There's no harm nor shame with starting with something simple to begin with and working your way up to something wonderful. For a first game, honestly - you don't need to be worrying about speed/optimisation etc... you only need to worry about getting your idea's from your head and how to translate them into something that works as a game.

Try every demo of every package that you feel the need to, download the free trials of BlitzMAX or B3d, have a gander at Gamemaker, take a peek at Python, have a look at DarkBASIC... if you're serious you'll eventually find something you're comfortable with and feel confident enough to make a game with.

Don't let anyone tell you that you should/shouldn't write in a specific package - go with whats comfortable for you. It may be C++, it may be C#, it may be Java, it may be Delphi... it matters not a jot.

Here's what matters - your game, your idea's and how well it plays to the end user.

Everything else is just guff. Good luck :-)

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count_chocula
Posted: Aug 29 2006, 08:54 PM


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Thanks for all the input lol, still nothing on the shmup forum.

Python seems like the best choice so far, I mean as far as programming languages go its very straight-forward. Plus its free lol.
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rinkuhero
Posted: Aug 30 2006, 05:03 AM


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I think 500 particles for a 2D game is a lot -- Shoot the Bullet maxes out at about that many as well. I can't really imagine a 2D game needing more than that.

How many people still use 133Mhz CPU's, though? I'd guess less than 1% of people on the internet. If a game runs six times slower, but you can make it six times quicker, using six times fewer lines of code, I think it's a fair trade, unless the goal is graphics at any cost. It comes down to how high a person values graphics I think.
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Timerever
Posted: Aug 30 2006, 01:33 PM


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QUOTE (rinkuhero @ Aug 30 2006, 05:03 AM)
How many people still use 133Mhz CPU's, though? I'd guess less than 1% of people on the internet. If a game runs six times slower, but you can make it six times quicker, using six times fewer lines of code, I think it's a fair trade, unless the goal is graphics at any cost. It comes down to how high a person values graphics I think.

Perhaps a lot more persons would use a 133Mhz CPU is the programmers weren't like:
"Bah, f*** it, let's just add another useless feature to this already bloated program/operating system instead of optimizing what we already have."

Exactly how many time have you seen the folowing line:
"New <insert AppName> version 4, features nothing new what so ever but optimizes whatever it was doing before so now it can run on a 4 times slower machine!"


EDIT: For count_chocula information, don't think that just by using C your game will be mighty fast, it requires a good coder with patience to do it, that why you see commercial stuff (be it games or applications) that dispite bieng done in low level languages they're still crappy and slow biggrin.gif
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rinkuhero
Posted: Aug 30 2006, 09:57 PM


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Those are good points, but isn't the point of computers to serve humans, not for humans to serve computers? Besides, do you know how many CPU cycles are wasted every second on "idle"? The majority of the time, your CPU is doing nothing at all, with less than 1% of it being used most of the time, using more of the CPU doesn't really harm anyone in most cases.

But again, what I mean is: let's say you could make a game in half the time, but have it be half as slow. It would play the *exact same way* on 95% of computers. It'd be the exact same game except that it'd be twice as slow and have taken half as long to make. Do you really think it's a worthwhile trade to spend twice as long on a game, to make it twice as fast, for the 5% of computers that the speed difference would be noticable on?

I should also mention that I know C, Java, Visual Basic, some C++, and bits of assembly -- and I still choose to use the Game Maker. It's not through lack of knowledge that I use it, it's through preference.
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haowan
Posted: Aug 31 2006, 08:28 AM


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Game Maker FTW. PyGame if you're familiar with coding, like you've done some BASIC or something in the past. Otherwise try A BASIC solution such as DarkBasic or Blitz. Move on to C++ and XNA only when you're ready.

If you've never written a program in your life, seriously try out Game Maker before you do anything else. If you like it it's not exactly expensive.
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Timerever
Posted: Aug 31 2006, 09:49 AM


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QUOTE (rinkuhero @ Aug 30 2006, 09:57 PM)
Do you really think it's a worthwhile trade to spend twice as long on a game, to make it twice as fast, for the 5% of computers that the speed difference would be noticable on?

I should also mention that I know C, Java, Visual Basic, some C++, and bits of assembly -- and I still choose to use the Game Maker. It's not through lack of knowledge that I use it, it's through preference.

Yes I understood your point up there but what I mean is that when a indie game requires stuff like a > 1Ghz CPU something is definitely wrong because as we know most of them aren't particulary great in graphics and sound, it's just plain unoptimization due to bad 'coding' in already bad GameMakers™. Using a real language is harder but produces much better results.

And you know assembly? Then my praises to you, that thing is just plain unreadable!
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haowan
Posted: Aug 31 2006, 11:41 AM


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I think the point is, at least those games are out. If you task a noob with learning C++ and OpenGL and OpenAL and whatever else, they'll bail pretty early. Give them game maker and they'll make games.
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Timerever
Posted: Aug 31 2006, 01:19 PM


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When I was a n00b I started with QBASIC.... obviously I acomplished nothing but at least I learned some coding, but true enough was only able to to anything after I got algorithm and programming classes.
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rinkuhero
Posted: Sep 1 2006, 02:25 AM


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I started with QBASIC too actually. I made a few games in it -- some of which are still playable on modern computers (the turn-based ones), others of which (the real-time ones) run way too fast to be playable (there was no way to lock frames per second below a certain number in QBASIC, or if there was I didn't know about it, so if you play a lot of QBASIC games today you'll likely get 800 frames per second or something, faster than the monitor can display).

Both QBASIC and Game Maker are interpreted languages, but QBASIC is actually slower than the Game Maker I believe (in terms of cost per interpreted line).

There's a compiled version of QBASIC called QuickBasic (it's what the Ohrrpgce is coded in) which isn't an interpreted language and is pretty fast, and its syntax is almost identical to QBASIC's. But the problem with compiled languages is that there's very little error-checking and debugging capability. With the Game Maker or QBASIC I can just type in "(tomato).cutscene" while running the game in debug mode and it'll constantly tell me the value of that variable, whereas if I were using a compiled language like C++ or QuickBasic, there's no way to do that, you'd need to code special debugging mechanisms or use a third-party debugging library. So there is a lot of advantage to developing in an interpreted language.
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