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Geek Culture / Advice for getting back into game development after a long absence

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The Once and Future Herakles
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Joined: 25th Aug 2018
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Posted: 30th Aug 2018 19:43
Hello everyone,

Some years ago, I used to visit these boards quite frequently with my old account. I don't know if there's anyone still here who remembers me. It's been a while since I've done any game development, but I'd like to get back into it.

Back when I was trying (and failing) to finish any actual project, I was using Dark Basic Pro, and then DarkGDK. After that, I tried to learn Unreal Engine (which was still called UDK at this time), but I found it a bit overly complicated for the kind of game I'm interested in making.

Let's say I wanted to create a classic Doom/Quake-like FPS, single player only. Is it worth learning Unreal Engine, or would some of The Game Creators' newer products be a better fit for me? Or maybe the Unity engine would be a better option?

Any advice would be appreciated.
Herakles
Seppuku Arts
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Joined: 18th Aug 2004
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posted: 1st Sep 2018 16:20
Hey'up my dog old bean. I do recognise the name, but welcome back.

These days Dark Basic Pro and DarkGDK have been replaced with App Game Kit, which has two tiers, basic and C++, so that may tickle with the fact you used DBPro and DarkGDK. The principles of AppGameKit are very similar to DBP, you'd probably be able to learn it with the program and the command reference if you're already familiar with DBPro as it's not too huge of a leap between the two to get into things.

The advantage of AppGameKit is that it is multiplatform now, so you can build for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and probably some others. There are also Java/Kotlin and C# versions, which are being managed by third parties.

With regards to a classic Doom/Quake-like FPS, this would definitely be achievable. If you have GameGuru, you'd even be able to import levels into AppGameKit, like you used to be able to import FPSC levels into DBPro, so there is that option. GameGuru is what TGC decided to follow FPSC with, with the intention to have the same kind of simplicity to the editor and in building games, but for more than one genre. Bonus: I think it's on a free weekend on Steam ATM.

And Unreal Engine, I've barely touched it, so I would not be able to comment on its complexity, I know it has a very powerful editor and I believe you can start an FPS game out of the box with it, but I know it tends to use things like visual scripting.

Unity is what I ended up playing with once I got better at coding, it is a very good engine with a wealth of resources out there to build what you want, the editor is great. The scripting I would say is more complicated than coding DBro/AGK, there is useful stuff available on their asset store to help combat that and depending on what you want to boost your productivity from their asset store, you may need to pay money for it (they have visual scripting systems, game builders and so on), but it's going to depend on what you're looking for out of it and weigh your options.

The Slayer
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Joined: 9th Nov 2009
Playing: (Hide and) Seek and Destroy on my guitar!
Posted: 1st Sep 2018 20:48
Hey, Herakles! I do remember someone with that account name...you remember me ? You were a Metallica fan back then, eh? Still into metal \m/ ?

About Unreal Engine...I personally love it...and I find it an easy engine to work with, but it's of course different than what we used before (DBPro, AppGameKit, etc...).

Haven't used AppGameKit in quite some time, including DBPro (issues to get it working on Win10). I used Unity Pro for a couple of years, but now I'm only using Unreal Engine. I don't like the Unity subscription license, lol.
Quote: \"Close those quotes before they start to spread!...too late! Aaaaaagh!!!
The Once and Future Herakles
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Joined: 25th Aug 2018
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Posted: 3rd Sep 2018 02:02
Hello Seppuku Arts and The Slayer. I do remember you both. Though, you may also be remembering my father, who started posting here even before I did. We both had similarly named accounts. He was more the Metallica fan, I'm more of a Black Sabbath kind of guy. I'm sorry to say, he passed a few years ago. But enough of that.

Seppuku, I appreciate the breakdown of The Game Creators' newer products. However, I must say I'm not overly concerned about the familiarity of the engine. To be completely honest, I remember next to nothing from my Dark Basic days anyway. So I'll have to do some relearning no matter which engine I choose.

Unity certainly seems like an attractive option after doing some more research. I'm curious, Slayer, why you switched away from it. Was it just the price? From what I understand, the free option is perfectly usable, even for commercial games.

Also, as an Unreal user, would you say that the current version is any easier to use than the old UDK version? I'm not exactly aiming for photorealistic visuals, considering my inspirations are Doom and Quake. So I'm more interested in its usability and workflow in comparison to Unity.

Herakles
The Slayer
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Posted: 4th Sep 2018 05:42
Quote: "Though, you may also be remembering my father"
Quote: "I'm sorry to say, he passed a few years ago."

Very sorry to hear that, mate! Wooow...we spoke to each other only a couple of years ago......how things change so fast, eh...woow.

Quote: " I'm curious, Slayer, why you switched away from it. Was it just the price? From what I understand, the free option is perfectly usable, even for commercial games."

Well...I used Unity Pro back then...costed me €1500 first time, and then another €750 to upgrade...and when they started their subscription license, it would cost me even more in the long run if I'd kept using the Pro version. And, I really dislike subscription licenses, lol.
Unity isn't a bad engine, but I always felt that the engine missed standard features that other engines excelled at more...like for example, a decent terrain system...Unity still is way behind other engines on that subject...the same for a decent water or day/night system...if you want something decent, then you're almost 'obligated' to buy an addon for those features that other engines DO have. Like the water in cryengine...damn...just lovely...same for their day/night system...it's easy enough to work with, and you can get amazing results.

Unity has been improved since, and from what I've read a while back, they're working on a better terrain system. I also saw an amazing 'book of the dead' trailer done with Unity. Really cool stuff! But, I have no idea if or when the features they used for that demo will be available and production ready for the public.

With Unreal, you get everything you'll ever need to create great looking games. The amount of tutorials is growing, and (most of) the assets on their marketplace are of a great quality. The blueprint system is great for non-programmers, and the material editor is really great too.

I read that Unity now also has an integrated material editor (haven't worked with it yet), and I think they also have a visual programming editor now.

Another thing that I noticed during my years of working with Unity and Unreal, is that I had more often errors in Unity, than in Unreal engine. Both engines are great to work with, but I would still say that Unreal is more complete than Unity. My favorite engine though...is still Cryengine. But, I first want to finish my game In Unreal, before switching to another engine again, lol !

Quote: "I'm not exactly aiming for photorealistic visuals, considering my inspirations are Doom and Quake"

Whether you'd use Unity or Unreal...you can make the visuals as you like...both can handle photorealism or more old school graphics . The art pipeline is somewhat similar for both, but I do find that I'm getting better (visual) results in Unreal than in Unity, but I haven't played around yet with the newer versions of Unity, so things might have changed since.
Quote: \"Close those quotes before they start to spread!...too late! Aaaaaagh!!!
TheComet
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Posted: 18th Sep 2018 15:17 Edited at: 18th Sep 2018 15:18
@Herakles it really depends on what you want to achieve and how deep you want to invest yourself.

UE4 and Unity are the big guns. The technology they bring to the table is superior to almost everything else currently. They can be overwhelming at first (especially UE4) but are certainly fun to use and allow very quick prototyping. On the downside, because of the scale of these engines, there will be a lot of nuances where a lack of understanding of how certain features are implemented can lead to strange, inexplicable behaviour. An all too common example of this are character controllers. Most of the movement is calculated using a physics engine, which runs in a separate loop (asynchronously) to the "game logic". If you are unaware of this, one of the side effects can be missed button presses, large forces being applied when the framerate drops, and weird collision behaviour. Using materials has the same underlying problem. When working at such a high level, you may run into performance issues without knowing what's causing them. You may for example be unaware that using lots of different small textures causes more drawcalls than using one large texture. It's lots of small issues like this that lead to a game feeling "wonky" and unstable, and is a common problem with most hobby developers.

If your goal is to make a game then by all means, use these engines.

If you're more interested in going deep and don't care too much about not having the newest and greatest tech, you may be interested in: Urho3D or Godot, or perhaps Ogre3D. These all require you to learn C++ (except for maybe Godot).

It's also worth noting that Blender has ditched its old game engine and is working on a new, up-to-date one called Armory. It's still in development but I think it's worth keeping an eye out for this one.

All in all I think the best advice is: There is no single best choice here. The best thing you can do is to just choose one thing and then stick to it. And if you decide you don't like it after a year, you can choose another one and stick to that.
"Jeb Bush is a big fat mistake" -- Donald Trump
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