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What was your first step in developing a game?

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For those who have gotten into game development, other than the idea phase, what was your first step in making a video game? When did it feel like you really had momentum and it was more than just an idea that you were tinkering with?

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The first step is choosing a medium. You need some way to make it more than just an idea, otherwise you're an artist with no canvas (and no brush). Most people assume that this must be a programming language, but Gary's Mod, the StarCraft StarEdit, and even Minecraft are possible ways to bring your game to life. Some of the greatest games around (DotA, Team Fortress, CounterStrike) were once just a part of another game. The Tower Defense genre as we know it is due in no small part to the modding community of WarCraft III, and StarCraft before it. Heck, now a DotA 2 mod has spawned a game: AutoChess (that makes it a stand-alone game of a mod of a stand-alone game of a rework of a mod based on a mod for a game, for those of you keeping count). For many game types this can be the best choice, and people have gotten very creative with how they can use the constraints of a game to build something new and fun.

I think momentum comes a bit later, when you're able to start your game (well, the beginnings of one anyway) up and accomplish a goal. Any goal. Your goal could be as simple as "spawn an enemy" or "compile this bit of code without errors." All that matters is that you prove to yourself that it can be done. Once you accomplish a goal, it's easy to continue piling on little victories. Now my enemy spawns at a certain time. Now he can move. Now he has health. Now there's a dozen of them. Snowballing your wins is a powerful tool.

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On 8/31/2019 at 3:17 PM, Phallen Cassidy said:

The first step is choosing a medium.

/thread

But actually, every single decision you make in a game's mechanics and how it plays is determined, in part, by the medium. Even some of the pre-established ideas which came first can find themselves changing fundamentally based on the medium. For instance, a PvP airship-battles game I have been working on is in the tabletop format. Even in this format, choices about how the players interact with the board matter. My original plan was for a mechanic of view range to allow for players to go "invisible" and engage in sneaky tricks such as bomb planting, trapping supply crates, and launching stealth attacks. Now, on a board game, this isn't impossible, but this idea either alters the medium, or the medium alters the idea.

I could have done a battleship-esque style board divider, but the issue then becomes that you can't see the ships of the enemy at all. And, if the divider is removable, any secondary ships the player controls would be revealed. So that idea wouldn't work.

My next idea was to have each player have a smaller card that represented the board. Here, players could move their ships before actually placing them on the board (which would signify the ships "popping" into view range). I quickly realized that this would mean players would be keeping track of movement on two different spaces if one ship was visible and one wasn't, and the additional hassle of remembering to move ships that aren't visible to the player in a game where keeping track of various attacks, effects, and injuries is already a lot for a player to handle, so I scrapped that idea entirely.

My eventual compromise was to keep the concept of "view range" mechanically the same by implementing attack range. This solution was not the ideal, where players can go completely invisible from the enemy and use radars and scout ships tactically, but it was the adaptation of the idea that best fit the medium. Now, instead of having limited view range and unlimited attack range, players have unlimited view range and limited attack range. Radars and scout ships still have a use, but they instead increase attack range.

This solution is the same mechanically (limiting the attack range of players) but not the same in gameplay, thus where the creative concept had to be partially sacrificed to fit the medium. The key difference between view range and attack range is stealth. Always seeing your opponents ships allows a player to plan for their movements. A view range feature would disrupt a players ability to plan for ship movements and change how the is game played. Numerous other features (such as fighters sent out by airships, sky-mines planted by airships, tracking bombs, smokescreens, etc.) have either not been implemented or have been changed to fit this change in the idea caused by the selection of the medium.

So yes, I would say picking the medium comes first besides the idea stage, and even then the idea stage is subject to change based on the selection of the medium.

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