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AggrorJorn

Kickstarter tutorial project feedback

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Hi Leadwerks community.

Several people in the past few years suggested to start a modest kickstarter or make some sort of paid tutorial set available using educations sites like udemy.com. Previous attempts at tutorial projects didn't go so well, so a change is needed.

  • Project Saturn
    • Game from scratch
    • Users seem to like this approach better
    • In the end there were too many code changes/breaks in default scripts for me to continue this.
  • OLED
    • Lua basics and editor usage videos.
    • Tried out patreon: at max 3 subscribers. So I stopped using it.
    • Although the video quality and length were improved, the views were so low that I stopped spending time on it.

Then there is also SplineTools. I see the same thing there, although it is not a tutorial but a paid script.

  • Very little usage
  • At the moment of writing, I haven't earned anything yet. 
  • I blame the Steam workshop partially for this.

 

New attempt

I really like to see more people using Leadwerks. So here is my idea for a new tutorial project. Feedback is more than welcome.

  • Kickstarted project
    • The endgoal for this project is to have a cool, complete tutorial project.
    • The endgoal is not to make a huge amount of money. however I have spend a lot of personal time in previous projects. I would hate it to see my precious time go to waste because users do not watch or read the content.
    • Target goal (price)? 
      • Honestly no idea.
      • Again, I do not expect to earn a lot on this. I would probably earn more money delivering mail or flipping burgers.
  • Game type: Tower defense
    • FPS is the most used genre for Leadwerks games so I want to do something else.
    • I require only few animations.
    • Several Leadwerks GUI skills to be learned.
      • Imagine clicking on a tower, display a UI object at that specific tower. 
    • Different tower types require different game mechanics that can be taught.
      • The amount of towers is not important, the game mechanic is:
        • Direct hit tower: good for demonstrating raycast. (similar to Saturn weapon tutorial)
          • Bullet: simplest effect that can be achieved.
          • Tesla: good way to demonstrate sprites/electricity
        • Area hit tower: either in a cone or in a radius of the tower. AABB example
        • Projectile tower: slow moving object, physics involved. 
  • Models/textures/Sound would be provided.
    • I have a friend who can model really well, delivers consistent quality and has a 'friend' price.
  • Progress of the project will be publicly visible in the new Leadwerks Projects forum
  • Project will be opensourced using Github.
  • Language?
    • Lua will attract more users, is quicker to set up and can be used in the editor.
      • This brings us also to the question if the editor should be used in the first place. The game could be procedural for instance.
    • A good showcase for C++ would be a nice change too.
  • Leadwerks version?
    • We have the stable Leadwerks 4.5/4.6.
    • Possibly new game template for Josh to use with Leadwerks 5.
      • Leadwerks 5 is a long way of though. Plus the game would be written in C++ since Lua is not available yet.

Development process

  • Game is first made from scratch.
  • When that is done and passes review, the tutorials are made.
  • Written tutorials on how to make the entire game from scratch.
    • From starting a new project, to importing assets, to writing the code and finishing the game.
  • Depending on how much time everything takes, videos could be recorded as well.

  

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Love the idea of a tutorial project.

Project Saturn came along at exactly the right time for me as I was getting frustrated with the lack of tutorials and basic programming available with LW at the time.

I also enjoyed the OLED tutorials. I think these were less popular because there were no real world examples of how to use the knowledge. Compare that with Project Saturn which demonstrated how to shoot and damage the player, how to make a medkit and climb a ladder. Much more exciting than functions, logical operator and tables etc.

Kickstart? I'm not sure how you should proceed here.

I'm not a fan of Patreon. Paying money in the hope that someone produces something just doesn't sit well with me.

I'm happy to pay for a finished product as I feel people should be compensated for work/value they add. I've purchased both FlowGUI and spline tools and found them very useful.

A tower defense game would be a good genre to make as a divergence from FPS and marble games.

As for the language I think you should stick with Lua as it is more likely to be used by beginners. Those that use C++ generally already have a good grasp of programming techniques. Perhaps you could run both if demand permits.

Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. 

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According to my records, you should have a payment from Steam coming soon.

My input is to make sure you have great artwork for this, both to present your idea and for the final product.

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3 hours ago, Thirsty Panther said:

I also enjoyed the OLED tutorials. I think these were less popular because there were no real world examples of how to use the knowledge. Compare that with Project Saturn which demonstrated how to shoot and damage the player, how to make a medkit and climb a ladder. Much more exciting than functions, logical operator and tables etc.

I'm not a fan of Patreon. Paying money in the hope that someone produces something just doesn't sit well with me.

As for the language I think you should stick with Lua as it is more likely to be used by beginners. Those that use C++ generally already have a good grasp of programming techniques. Perhaps you could run both if demand permits.

  • You are right, people want to see games, not the 'boring' syntax learning tutorials.
  • Patreon is a thing of the past now. It was very clear that that was not popular.
  • Lua surely will surely attract the larger crowd. I am just keeping LE5 game templates in mind with this project. If we can aid Josh in making public templates that people can import, how cool would that be. If you look at certain competitors, they have startup screens with the option to find other core templates to get started with. Even if it just to showcase the engine.

 

1 hour ago, Josh said:

My input is to make sure you have great artwork for this, both to present your idea and for the final product.

That is of course more than welcome, but lets first get some more feedback. I will be sure to consult you before starting anything on kickstarter etc.

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From my perspective I have no idea where this community is. There are a handful of people who post regularly and ton of people who sit on the sidelines that we hear nothing from. Because of this it's so hard to judge what people are looking for and you are always left feeling like you're not making that big of an impact which is demoralizing to continue.

Quote

FPS is the most used genre for Leadwerks games so I want to do something else.

If the goal is to try and reach the most people then a FPS would be the thing to do. I get from our perspective it's boring because we've done it a million times but if it's what most people want and you're trying to reach most people then a FPS is best. Now, Josh has his project which is sort of doing that as well. That's more of a true shooter so perhaps a more survival/horror type game is best as those are pretty popular still and the easier to create from a technical standpoint. Have a flashlight, open doors, collect items, etc. It's fairy simple to do.

For sure Lua! Having functions as first class citizens which supports closures, and coroutines, it's the best tool for creating gameplay by far. C++ is great for the core engine but it sucks for creating gameplay features because it's just not flexible enough and making it flexible enough is a pain. Lua has made C++ flexible if you think about it that way. Lua is the answer in making C++ less rigid and more usable for gameplay code.

I personally don't think there is enough of an active community here to make a kickstarter for something like this viable. People are more willing to support "official" things than community based things. You could prove me wrong but my gut tells me there just isn't enough active people in the community to get much more than $200 or so (given Josh doesn't give a bunch).

That development process you're describing is a TON of work! Creating the game alone is a ton of work, much less writing up tutorials and making videos of the process. You might be better off planning up front the core elements/structures of the gameplay and then recording shorter videos as you do those parts. So you'd just be doing things twice because you'd want to do a segment/system on your own first to flesh it out, then remove it and basically record yourself doing it again but because you've fleshed it out the time it takes to record it would be a few mins and people don't have to see the parts where you may have misspelled a variable or whatever which add time to a video but no value.

When we stop to think about a finished game we often think of them as the systems they have and systems can be abstracted to higher level ideas. That's what you'd really want to drive home in the videos I think. Here's a flashlight system, here's a UI system, here's a movement system, here's a pickup system, an inventory system, etc. Try to compartmentalize those things are much as possible in your code so that it's easy to segregate them when teaching it.

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I personally love the idea.  Although a Udemy course maybe more feasible, this way anybody who pays for it, you actually get to keep the money as opposed to kickstarter, where if it bombs...times wasted.

I agree with Panther and Rick, the language most definitely lua.

Something other than FPS please, regardless if that's the most popular, it's done to death, and I would love some variety.  Learning a TD game would be very beneficial.  

Project Saturn was quite good, I gotta a kick out of the little mistakes you made and tracked down, even if I knew the problem before you did, it was because your video tutorials showed the simple blueprint for debugging.  So even if the record length is a few minutes longer because of error tracking it is nowhere near a negative.  On the other side, on a Udemy course or Kickstarter it might come across unprofessional.

I think if the course was mentioned on the steam page and as many places as possible, it very well could garner up some interest.

Your time is precious as is everyone's, but I think you could make it work.  

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  • At the moment there is very little community activity in the forum. I think most people sit on the side line or are just waiting for LE5 to come out. I think that is why kickstarter 'might' be a solution in this scenario. If there is no interest I will simply move on with my own little projects. But it is also a repetitive circle: no tutorials because there is no activity vs no activity because there are no tutorials.
  • Tutorial about the game can always be additional. Having a complete game template would be a nice start.
  • "You might be better off planning up front the core elements/structures of the gameplay and then recording shorter videos as you do those parts."
    • I understand what you mean and you make a good point. There are also downsides on other approach. I experienced this first hand with Project Saturn when trying to record on the fly or sometimes with just a little experimenting ahead of the recording. Recording on the fly or with just a little bit of planning causes silly mistakes that are fixed only videos later while people complain in the comments that something is not working.
    • Sometimes you write code to show of that first part that you have working on, but at a later stage you removed those parts again, because it is clutter or simply because you have a newer, better system.  Both approaches have their ups and downs. I haven't tried the approach yet where the game has been completed before starting the documentation. That is why, after development I would have users give me feedback on the game.
  • ".......here's a pickup system, an inventory system"
    • I feel I would just be making an updated version of project Saturn. That is okay, but tutorials are scarce as they are. Something completely new can broaden the amount of templates.

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Yeah, I do agree that templates are good. I still think going 1 step beyond and making the templates paid add-on's would bring in more consistent revenue. These templates wouldn't JUST be code/gfx but also helper dialogs for configuration of some systems specific for the template (think quest creation for RPG template) and such (full template source code also included though). Sort of like a game builder template add-on that still uses LE at it's core. This would of course require some kind of editor plugin for said editors and a more flexible map file format but it would probably grab more people's attention at the storefront. Leadewerks RPG Builder, Leadwerks FPS Builder, Leadwers Racing Builder, etc. I think most newbies have an idea of a game type they want to make and having a little leg up but knowing you can grow with it I think is attractive.

Maybe you can look into that idea as it would become more of a solid product for you. Make a Tower Defense Builder system that has some editors to visually create towers, enemies, upgrades,  etc (I think you know C# right so should be easy to create such UIs) but still provide the main source that drives the TD game itself.

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I'm one that sits on the sidelines, not much hobby time.

I think a template other than FPS would be good even a third person like Torchlight. You could show how to load from one world to another, inventory system, melee and ranged combat.
Tower derfense would also be good. A template would have to be pretty complete.

Not sure Kickstarter would suceed, Udemy might be the way to go. Getting it advertised on the main LW site would be good with Josh phelping promote it, though that would need agreements in place.

I do like the idea of paid templates and add-ons, TD template, inventory, ai. I have bought quite a few in the past.

Good luck with it.

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I think Kickstarter is a great idea because it involves risk. People know if they don’t pony up the cash they won’t get what they want, and you get enough money to build what you want to create. Or you don’t. 😁

I have never actually had a KS project fail. One exceeded its goal and the other I pulled after one day. So I like the idea, much better than making something and finding out after if people will buy it.

The whole trick is to sell a convincing dream of what you want to create, to get everyone on the same page and make it a reality. This is why I say using good artwork is so important.

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16 hours ago, Rick said:

Sort of like a game builder template add-on that still uses LE at it's core. This would of course require some kind of editor plugin for said editors and a more flexible map file format but it would probably grab more people's attention at the storefront. 

Maybe you can look into that idea as it would become more of a solid product for you. Make a Tower Defense Builder system that has some editors to visually create towers, enemies, upgrades,  etc (I think you know C# right so should be easy to create such UIs) but still provide the main source that drives the TD game itself.

Ah plugins: after all those years what I am most curious about is how Leadwerks will deal with plugins. Many users have requested this and it will finally happen. In the Leadwerks 5 forum section (backers only) there is a small discussion thread about it. Extending the editor would benefit the community a lot I think. 

The tower defense builder system was done by someone else quite some time ago actually. I think an entire program is a little too big for this project. I just want to see first if there is enough interested for a small tower defense game. That doesn't mean you idea is bad btw. I know you have mentioned these 'builder' extensions before and they can be really great to use. But also massive to build and maintain. It will all depend on how extendable the le5 is going to be. 

Using a custom 'editor' would be easily made though. But depends a little on what of type tower defense is made. For instance if you make a grid based map, then using a simple text editor is already enough for a basic map.

[0,0,0,0,0,0]
[0,0,0,1,0,0]
[0,0,1,1,0,0]
[0,2,0,0,1,0]
[0,0,0,0,0,0]

Another way is using fixed points on the map where you can build. This allows more custom maps were a designer has to put more work in finetuning available build spots. Both options are cool implementations to make. 

 

12 hours ago, Josh said:

This is why I say using good artwork is so important.

When this discussion gets enough input for me to go on, I will ask my friend to start making 3 towers and some environment props. They are going to be in the same lowpoly style throughout the game. This makes it easier to get a complete model set for a cheaper price. These models will be made either way. Just the amount would differ.

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4 hours ago, AggrorJorn said:

Using a custom 'editor' would be easily made though. But depends a little on what of type tower defense is made. For instance if you make a grid based map, then using a simple text editor is already enough for a basic map.

Also, when I say 'editor' I don't really even mean visual map editor. There are a lot of editors for various parts of a game that help make the game easier to extend and customize that don't have anything to do with the visual map and I think can be done today in LE 4. For TD think about how waves are defined. Having a desktop app to define waves that ultimately writes to a config file (or hell even a runable lua file) would be very handy. Then you take said output and attach it to an entity via some editor properties and your TD game code processes said config file.

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Like your idea , would support this.

Have some generic tools/mechanics done for this game that can be grafted to other projects (camera, projectiles with physics, effects).

Maybe this can help with kickstarter.

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On 3/10/2018 at 2:11 PM, Rick said:

Also, when I say 'editor' I don't really even mean visual map editor. There are a lot of editors for various parts of a game that help make the game easier to extend and customize that don't have anything to do with the visual map and I think can be done today in LE 4. 

I think you are making it way to complex for a user. Sure, if you are going to go and make a full fledged game, you could make your own tool. But introducing a development environment outside of Leadwerks? Way too much information for a user to process.You are going to introduce a completely different programming environment (in this case something like C#/mono gui). People are going to get enough information as it is using the Leadwerks system and the accompanied IDE. 

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7 hours ago, AggrorJorn said:

I think you are making it way to complex for a user. Sure, if you are going to go and make a full fledged game, you could make your own tool. But introducing a development environment outside of Leadwerks? Way too much information for a user to process.You are going to introduce a completely different programming environment (in this case something like C#/mono gui). People are going to get enough information as it is using the Leadwerks system and the accompanied IDE. 

That was meant for LE 4.x that doesn't have a plugin system. With LE 5's plugin system then this dialog can exist within the LE editor. This wouldn't introduce really introduce a different programming environment  really. The C# was just an easy way to create some dialogs that ultimately result in config files the lua code would read from the editor, but again, it was meant for LE 4.x that doesn't have the plugin system. Without the plugin system it's fairly hard to create a good editor that allows the creation of towers/enemies/etc. I only say this because in Unity I noticed someone basically did this for a TD toolkit but Unity has the ability to have plugin editors so it was all streamlined in the editor.

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My answer was about 4.x. For us it would be a walk in the park, but imagine a user with no prior developing experience. introducing 2 programming languages + leadwerks is just overkill. I think writing a program that is not build with Leadwerks/Lua is only a distraction.

But again: I think you want to make it far too complex. This is just a basic game with a few tower, a few enemy types and some basic wave options.The complexity level is really doable with just a lua file or even an editor script.   

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22 minutes ago, AggrorJorn said:

My answer was about 4.x. For us it would be a walk in the park, but imagine a user with no prior developing experience. introducing 2 programming languages + leadwerks is just overkill. I think writing a program that is not build with Leadwerks/Lua is only a distraction.

I think our wires are crossed. I'm not saying the user would have to write in 2 different programming languages. My mention of C# was simply "you" (creator of the toolkit) using it to create a UI to help configure things specific to a TD game. Likewise if someone made an RPG toolkit. Would be nice for the users to have a UI to create quests vs having do it directly in lua code or some text editor. That's the line of thought I was with this. The user doesn't code in anything newer. The idea being it's even easier for the user because they don't have to code that part of the game. Why have users code towers or enemies when you could provide a dialog that allows configuration of those things with point and click. Most enemies, for example, are basically the same with a different model, speed, health, armor, etc. All of this is just configuration stuff that is just nice to have an "editor" for. The users would simply use the UI. That's not another programming language for them to learn.

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13 hours ago, Rick said:

My mention of C# was simply "you" (creator of the toolkit) using it to create a UI to help configure things specific to a TD game.

Ah I see what you mean now. Yes, that would certainly be a good option. Making a really basic tower defense toolkit is great but I would not spend any time on an external editor for an LE 4.x project right now. Knowing what we will be able to do with LE5 plugins, that just seems counterproductive.

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As an inexperienced user having used so many different toolkits, I would prefer to be taught to do it efficiently and properly in code.  I am personally not a fan of templates and drag and drop ui's that teach you nothing and leave you with little knowledge to expand.

Learning from scratch the entirety of something teaches me far more, like project Saturn, it gave me the confidence to experiment and try new things.  My 2 cents.

Edited by KilljoyHeathen
Redundancy

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42 minutes ago, KilljoyHeathen said:

As an inexperienced user having used so many different toolkits, I would prefer to be taught to do it efficiently and properly in code.  I am personally not a fan of templates and drag and drop ui's that teach you nothing and leave you with little knowledge to expand.

Learning from scratch the entirety of something teaches me far more, like project Saturn, it gave me the confidence to experiment and try new things.  My 2 cents.

Learning the details will always have value but understand that there are layers all over the place. Using LE itself is not learning the details of how 3D coding really works as it abstracts OpenGL away from us. Each layer abstracts knowledge away from us to make our lives easier and to get something done quicker and more efficiently. We are always free to dig deeper on any aspect of things. Even most templates in other engines come with source to do just that. All game studios create libraries and tools to do exactly this as well for efficiency sake. The question often is, are you wanting to just make a game or just learn how a game is made at a certain level, because I can tell you that once you learn you then start creating systems to abstract things away for efficiency.

The irony of all of this is when you're new you want to learn the nitty gritty details, but the more experienced you get the less you care about those details and want a framework that handles them for you, but is easily extendable so you can tweak things as needed. So said toolkit meets 2 groups needs (don't want to code and just want to make a game, and experienced who want to make a game but not start from scratch and wants to be able to make changes).

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I understand that, layers exist everywhere, but when everything in LE requires lua scripting (or c++), that's what I would like to learn.  It's great to have piles of source to dig in but said source accompanied by someone saying why and how is much more beneficial, this is all my opinion, how I learn or "get" things may differ.

With all this being said, any extra content for LE is welcome, but a template is something I personally wouldn't purchase.

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16 minutes ago, KilljoyHeathen said:

but a template is something I personally wouldn't purchase.

Making a template would only be the first step. It is the fastest and easiest step. Writing the tutorials and making screenshots along the way (and hoping you don't miss anything) is far more crucial.

The ultimate way would be to do it like with Project Saturn: every other tutorial part would have all scripts in a different folder: http://aggror.com/downloads/projects/saturn/saturn_source_code.rar.

In the end you would end up with the following project

  • Tower defense example
    • FINAL: For those who just want to look at the completed project
    • START: For those starting our the tutorial
    • PART1: For those who have completed tutorial part 1.
    • PART2: etc
    • PART3
    • PART4

That way you can start from scratch, follow part 1 of a tutorial and if your code is somehow wrong, check the accompanied scripts that were made specifically for that part. Building the documentation this way is also the most time consuming process. But luckily with frequent and proper source code commits this can be done relatively easy. You could even make a branch for every tutorial part that is completed. 

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I have decided that I will not be making the kickstarter for the time being. There just seems to be too little activity for it to be worth it. I will try again with Leadwerks 5 (or the new name).

Thanks for your feedback.

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