Tuesday, April 14, 2015

7. Realize Your Limitations.

10 Things You Should Know About:
Writing Interactive Fiction

7. Realize Your Limitations.
Don't take on more than you can handle!

We have all seen this happen, and far too many of us have experienced it first hand: The over-enthusiastic Beginner.

It starts with the discovery of their first Interactive Fiction. "Oh, it's a story-game. Neat."

Then, after playing about a dozen free Interactive Fiction games... "Huh... You know, I could do something like this. After all it's just a story with music and pictures, right? The site even provides a basic engine to make one. Hmm... The coding even looks fairly easy. I think I'll make one too!"

And off they go, downloading the engine of their choice. After all, they can write pretty good, or draw pretty good, or code pretty good... Well, they're pretty good at something, anyway. Not only that, they've got this FANTASTIC IDEA!

Unfortunately, the idea really is fantastic, and that's the problem. 

Their idea is so fantastic that it's far, far beyond the skills of a completely inexperienced, first-time creator to make. However, because the creator is so inexperienced they don't realize this. They don't have any frame of reference -- yet.

They have no idea how much work it really is to make all those graphics; character sprites, backgrounds, buttons, bars, text boxes... Some of them don't even have PhotoShop or  Gimp to make the graphics with. 

They have no clue how tricky it can get to code complicated animations, or just how much planning it takes to map out a multi-path story so that it doesn't have glaring plot-holes, or how long it takes to write all that stuff out. Then of course there's finding background music and sound effects... And they want a gallery, and they want a music room, and...etc.

Then they start making it.

That's when they suddenly realize just how much work is actually involved, and just how much they Don't Know. 

Some of these creators --the smart ones-- will shelve their Fantastic Idea and make smaller, simpler games until they learn all the skills they need to make their first idea a reality.

Unfortunately, far too many of them won't
Rather than put their fantastic idea aside and try something closer to their actual skill level, they plow ahead spending months, if not years working on this one game by themselves. Others go out and get skilled artists, experienced coders, a graphic designer, a music designer, etc...to make up for the skills they lack...and keep going. 

A few actually finish their games -- after months, or years of toil. Some make a working demo only to come to a complete stop. However, more often than not, these games languish unfinished on their creator's computer, and some creators quit entirely, never to try again.

Impatience and Pride

These two vices encourage new creators to start projects that are much too big for their skill and experience levels.

Sure, you can buy art, and hire skilled help, but that is no guarantee that the project will turn out good. Certainly not good enough for people to pay money for it.

There are literally thousands of games made by highly skilled people with extremely expensive resources that No One Will Buy because despite all the pretty graphics, they're Crap. Just ask the gamers around you. I assure you, they'll be able to list at least six professionally made Crap games just off the top of their heads.

 The key to Successful Game Creation is  
NOT trying to Do it ALL!  
Especially, the First time.

If you want to make successful (read: popular) games, FIRST you need to learn different ways to get around Your Limitations, preferably in small, easily digestible, bite-sized chunks (read: small individual games,) that you Build upon. 

Start with a list of what you CAN do. 
  • Draw
  • Paint
  • Character design
  • Landscape art
  • Write a story
  • Coding
  • Graphic design
  • Music design
  • Photography
  • PhotoShop
  • Poser 3D
  • Daz 3D 
  • Sketch-up
Then make a list of what you CAN'T do. 
  • This is where you're going to need help, and probably more than you expect. 
  • This is also where you're going to have to exercise your creativity to figure out ways around them.

It takes Time and Experience to learn everything you need to know to make the game you dreamed of. Time and Experience that can only be gained through Practice and Experimentation.

Start small and work your way up to bigger, and hopefully, better. One step at a time.

Ookami Kasumi
 -- Stay tuned for #8!

8. Learn Proper Grammar -- Or Else...! If you don't have a grammar book -- Get One. You're going to need it.

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