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The path we are on

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Josh

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Previously, I have talked about my plans for Leadwerks and how to get there. In that blog I started with technical specs and went backwards with the path we would follow to achieve those goals. Now I have begun to put some of these ideas into practice and I want to review my plan with you.

 

I met with a very large academic institution a few months ago and talked about using Leadwerks to teach game programming. This is the whole reason I wrote this blog and did the research included therein. When I put the graph up showing job requirements, it was a very easy sale.

 

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I then gave a short talk to a group of their students who had some web development background, but had zero game development experience. Perfect! These people are my bread and butter. The purpose of this was to gauge interest in a class in game development, and they were very interested.

 

As I was talking to these people I realized I could not meet their expectations. No one else could either, but I knew at the end of a two week course they would only have very rudimentary ugly games made, not the dreams they had in their head. These people did not know anything about mipmaps, debuggers, texture coordinates, and they did not care. They just wanted to make games.

 

I cancelled my plans to hold a class because I knew we weren't ready to give them what they really needed. Leadwerks is the easiest way to build your own 3D games, but we are not all the way there yet. No one out there is really giving complete beginners the means to learn to make their games quickly, but we can be the first to do it with a bit more work.

 

As I stated previously, the documentation is being revised, including an offline copy of the docs. This takes an enormous amount of time because I have to copy, paste, and edit hundreds of pages. I am also revising all the code examples to only use the main .lua and .cpp files and get rid of the App::Start() stuff, which is a holdover from mobile.

 

The next step is to create a broader selection of high quality game templates. This is the final step that is needed to bridge the gap between game development technology and a complete beginner. The templates have to be polished and feel like a game you would actually want to play. This must happen or everything I have done has been a waste of time.

 

We are in a race against time to connect with a large audience in a way where they can't imagine life without Leadwerks. If I fail to do that, we will go the way of every other abandoned open-source game engine out there.

 

So that is what I am working on.


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These people did not know anything about mipmaps, debuggers, texture coordinates, and they did not care. They just wanted to make games.

 

I'm drawn to this statement. Do game templates really address the above statement is the first question I asked? What I hear with the above statement is how can you take all that game dev related stuff and encapsulate it away so the dev doesn't have to know about it?

 

All the dev really cares about is defining the gameplay logic in an easy way. They expect a list of common camera controls to just pick from vs defining their own. It's hard to blame them on this as basically every camera style has been done already. I'm sure they look at that and wonder why they have to care about the camera code.

 

I wonder if templates don't go far enough. You have the core engine, but what if you made separate game engines for each type build from Leadwerks and sold them separately on Steam? I mean RPG maker is basically that. You could make your own 3D RPG maker using Leadwerks but sell it as it's own app as it would be highly specific to RPG's with dialogs and a lot of UI specific things. Then do the same with RTS, FPS, etc. All using Leadwerks under the hood but each being their own application really. It takes the templates idea further providing new revenue streams while all still using Leadwerks under the hood. RPG makers, FPS makers sell and I think they would be valid separate apps as they would all have very specific beginner friendly dialogs to build that type of game.

 

There is no doubt that you making those would also help with ideas on what the core engine needs in it as well so the core engine wouldn't suffer from not being updated. The question is, does that spread you too thin? Perhaps you can employ people for each game maker type?

 

Just ideas on how Leadwerks can reach those beginners. Getting more specific in the application has been a trend these days. It would sort of be like that one Leadwerks user who made that RTS engine using Leadwerks at the core.

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Whether your idea is something I would actually want to do can be debated, but I am glad to get people on the same page I am right now and make sure this is clear.

 

I want to reach people who just have an idea and teach them to turn that idea into reality as easily as possible. I think a lot of times people have too much knowledge of the details, and that becomes their whole focus, and they lose their idea of what they actually wanted to make. You see the same thing in music and other art.

 

If you look back at my old blog, these were the steps I laid out:

  1. Leadwerks GUI
  2. Add Mac support
  3. Built-in offline help with videos
  4. New game templates

 

And the only difference is I am pushing Mac support down in that list. Mac support is primarily for academia, and it's pointless to have that working before the game templates are ready.

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I want to reach people who just have an idea and teach them to turn that idea into reality as easily as possible.

 

This is a good mission statement. My question would be are you adding constraints to do this statement in that it should be done within the bounds of what Leadwerks Engine is today? Adding game templates to LE I think is trying to achieve that mission statement in the bounds of what LE is. Can a generic game engine ever really achieve that mission statement? That's the debate I guess.

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My question would be are you adding constraints to do this statement in that it should be done within the bounds of what Leadwerks Engine is today?
I do think Leadwerks is the only engine that can do it, because we can scale all the way from super simple beginner to advanced user, as the user learns more. I think game templates are more valuable than an FPS-Maker or something like that because the system really can grow with the user and let them do anything.

 

The problem with "Game Maker" type products is lack of scalability and lack of flexibility. All those "easy to make games" systems run out of options really quickly. With Leadwerks we have designed the absolute best compromise between capability and ease of use, with the smoothest learning curve possible.

 

I actually began programming with Dark Basic, but at one point I had to throw it away and learn C++. With Leadwerks that never has to happen. Even major aerospace companies can use Leadwerks for professional work. The software is even a natural path to teach programmers C++, which a lot of people want to learn.

 

@Josh You should get in touch with these people. http://catalog.weber.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=11&poid=5065 They require an OpenGL class for their game development certificate. It's where I graduated from. I can get you in touch with their academic chair if you'd like. When I took the course they were missing something like Leadwekrs for their advanced course of CS 4650
I'd definitely appreciate that. A personal introduction is always best. Thanks! :)
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The problem with "Game Maker" type products is lack of scalability and lack of flexibility.

 

That doesn't matter in business terms. There are always younger people wanting to make these games and these makers are the entry point for them and that's perfectly fine. People will outgrow them the more they dig into game development but some people are simply fine not growing and simply working within the bounds of the game maker. However, if they did want to grow then BAM, this game maker is built from Leadwerks engine which is more flexible at a cost of complexity, but now they have graduated to want that challenge.

 

Just throwing out different thoughts here. Not many people start their game making journey by just buying a generic engine. I'm willing to bet a lot start from modding or game makers as they are less intimidating. Breaking the intimidation factor is harder than providing another option at the start of the game dev chain.

 

Saying the comment you said above is like saying a honda civic isn't worth making because it can't grow and scale with your life. Well the honda civic meets a need and so does an huge SUV. There are markets for both. Maybe it works the same with engines. One size just doesn't fit all.

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This templates could work, to attract people in and show off what the engine can do.

After people are in and start learning i think next problem is the graphics assets.Unless they have friends good at this it will be a problem.Here i think to have more procedural generation in the line of the vegetation system.Generic things like clouds or better water.

 

I think people should not be underestimated, i became a programmer because of a book i read in childhood about basic describing a simple adventure game with source code

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Maybe, Rick, but that's someone else's dream.

 

@aiaf the Workshop Store is intended to solve that problem. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem because it's not very profitable right now, but we've only had the checkout process working well for a few weeks, and it went offline for a little bit while my company form was being changed.

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I think allowing logic to exist solely in the flowgraph would be a good start. This way they can download tons of logic from the asset store and chain it however they want.

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@Josh so that's a response that helps us understand more. So that mission statement you have does have the conditions around it to be achieved in a generic game engine. i.e. Leadwerks engine as its core is today. That helps clarify that.

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Hi!

 

I really like the idea of templates ready made for game specific genre. To follow Rick idea, theses could be sold as addon "pack". With it the desired gameplay would be demonstrated and the engine stay full featured.

 

You could buy 2 or more templates, learn from them and create hybrids from both of them when you know more.

 

The template show us how to use the engine to do the desired type of gameplay with assets that work correctly. (Weapon pickup and drop, inventory, animations triggered from events, etc.)

 

Learning from a good template with good polish, would require some form of funding because I'm sure it would be expensive to make them.

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