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Thread: Contemplating on creating a game...

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    Default Contemplating on creating a game...

    Hi all,
    For quite some time now I've been playing text-based games and have enjoyed them. I've always joked to myself about one day running my own game and have decided that now would be a great time to experiment with it. I'm not in it for the profiting, more so for the learning side of things.

    To start off, I'm thinking of buying a script (most likely mafia based) just so I can get an idea on how things work, etc. I would prefer a script/layout like Hobowars/Zedwars but haven't had any luck finding one.

    My question to you is are there any specific paths I should take before tackling this adventure of mine? Any programming language I should start to learn? I know basic html which I learned at school two years ago but I'm guessing that's useless knowledge.

    During my learning process I would need to pay a few people to help me apply updates, game changes, graphic updates, code a set of quests/adventures that players can take part in, etc.

    Digging into my pocket isn't too much of an issue so I'd be looking to hire more than one person to assist me with this project.

    I just want to have all the details sorted before purchasing the domain, hosting, coders, etc. I'm going to wander around the site to see if there's any useful threads out there but any advice is appreciated.

    Sorry if this thread is in the wrong place.

  2. #2
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    Do you want this to be online via a website? Or a program that is installed? Very different kinds of programming will be required. Since this is mostly a web design/programming forum, I will assume you're asking about a website. (Making a program is possible too, but you won't get much help here because we don't know as much about that.)

    You will need more than HTML. HTML just allows you to organize text (and images, etc.) on the screen. It isn't interactive. Technically you could create a link-based 'game' where you click in a sort of choose-your-own-adventure way, and go to each consecutive page. That would be possible, but it wouldn't be very interesting. (It reminds me of some old websites from the 90s, where you could read a story and select a next action for the characters. At least I think I remember that. It's been a while...)

    Javascript would allow something roughly like a chat window. It would have inherent limitations: 1) no way to save the game or interact with other users or user accounts; 2) a limit on complexity/length (this isn't a technical limitation, but a practical one, due to not being able to save); 3) no security (so an intelligent user could 'cheat' based on the source code, and so forth); 4) on a technical level, you'd have to store everything in one file, which could get tiresome or confusing. There may be more limitations, but that's probably enough. For a simple game, that's fine. Just look at some Javascript games out there and you'll get the idea. But the lack of being able to save is important, I'd think.

    That leaves something server-side, like PHP or a similar language. You can use a database, you can store user information, you can allow users to save progress, you can allow users to interact, etc. Generally that should be what you're looking for. It can also be more complex than the other options because you won't need to everything in one place. As needed, you could also use Javascript to add features (eg, immediate interaction, whereas server-side only languages, by themselves, only allow changes via reloading the page), and you could use a method called 'Ajax' to make all of that happen in real time.

    Starting with a text only game is probably smart: start with something you can actually complete. And along the same lines, try to keep the scope relatively simple. This is something you should be able to do while learning. Do some tests first and see where that goes.

    You can post questions here if you have them, but please make them specific. Generic topics won't get much help because it's unclear how to help you. If you're asking about "how can I even start?" as in this thread, that's fine. But once you get to something more specific, try to frame it with some more background knowledge, specifics about the requirements, and having already googled some basic information.


    As for hiring someone, you can do that here in the Paid Work forum. However, hiring someone without a specific plan will waste their time and your money. It's fine if that plan is to ask for advice, but then just prepare for that-- the same individual may be able to point you in the right direction, but may not be able to do the project for you. Once you're ready to have someone write code, you need to be VERY specific about what you need. That's the best advice I can give to someone just starting out and planning to hire someone for part of the work. At the same time, you might consider doing it yourself. It doesn't sound like you have a tight deadline, and your project is reasonable if you have the time and interest. Many of us learned by doing projects like that (I know I did), so you might consider it an opportunity.

    Your plan sounds entirely reasonable except where you plan to hire multiple coders. I think it's way too early for that and generally there's a direct correlation between complexity of the project (especially for someone who is just starting) and probability failure. There's also a significant amount of skill involved in organizing multiple coders on a single project. Coding styles vary, coding languages must somehow interact (best if you can all use the same one, though something like PHP+Javascript might be useful), and so forth.


    And in general, I'll just note that an important part of this will be the logic behind the game: plan this very carefully so you can figure out what technology you need. Programming isn't particularly hard if you know exactly what to do in exact steps: writing the code is basically a quick translation process plus looking some things up in a dictionary, if you know what you're doing (or, if not, something you can figure out). But having an unclear idea with a messy plan won't lead to coherent code. An important aspect here is deciding how complex this will be. Text-only is relatively easy. That's great. But don't decide you must have images (or worse, something like 3D animations) halfway through the project. Set up some clear limitations and work within them. (You don't need to pick the simplest option; it's just crucial to know what the limits are so you don't find yourself stuck in a limited design later.)
    One problem that is specific to text-only games is linguistic: NLP (natural language processing) technology is pretty limited, so you will need to specifically set limits here-- the program can't do things easily like change something from present tense to past tense, or "answer questions", and so forth. That may not be an issue at all, such as if you have a design based on a "choose your own adventure" system with pre-written text that users navigate through. Beyond that, approach it very carefully. (If you happen to end up wanting to translate things in the end, that'll also be very complicated because languages don't line up structurally very consistently, so you may not be able to translate a phrase exactly into another language. If it's all full sentences that may be easier. I'd say, for now, just do English [or whatever language you want]. But if you do other languages later, you'll need to fundamentally change the whole system to variably display text in one language or another.)
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| español | Deutsch | italiano | português | català | un peu de français | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    Thank-you for the in-depth response, it's very much appreciated! It's nice to see a response that differs from the popular "Start here: www.sometutorial-lol.com". :P

    I want the game to be online via a website so you can play straight from the browser. I've downloaded a few books for PHP beginners so I'm going to thoroughly read through them, post noob-like questions on various forums, and hopefully gain a better understanding on how things work.

    Whilst learning PHP, Java, Mysql, etc. I'll be placing all my ideas in a text-document so I can review them and decide what to implement in the game. I want an ajax chat for players to communicate with each-other through, or an in-game irc chat if that can be done. I'm still reading up on different available chat systems so nothing is currently set in stone.

    I'm working on the back-ground story behind the game; I want it to be based in the future. The details aren't sorted yet so I can't give out much more information at current other than that.

    I won't be hiring anyone until I have a basic run-down of the site set-up. I'll have it in a private beta form so I can invite a few people to test it out. Once everything seems smooth that's when I'll start hiring some outside help so they can help me code in some of my ideas. I'll also be looking to hire a whitehat to find and fix exploits, if there are any. I don't want anyone disrupting the game in its first week of being online.

    Once it's up and running, I'll put a few incentives out there for referrals to gather a small member base (something where people have two weeks to refer as many of their friends as possible, whoever refers the most people will receive $50 via Pay-Pal, or something along those lines). Obviously people will try and create multiple accounts; whether it be from the same IP or through a proxy-switch.
    I'll be paying for advertising for the game to help kick-start it too.

    I get a little excited when discussing it, hence me talking all over the place. First thing's first though; learning PHP.

    Cheers for your response mate.

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    I'm glad that was helpful. I recommend learning by doing a project. Tutorials are fine, especially if they're what you're trying to make (eg, a calendar tutorial is a great way to make a calendar) but actually working on your own project will be useful and help with motivation. Of course taking some detours will be necessary as well-- you can't just jump right in and do everything without any practice, but you can do a lot.

    A quick note: "Java" is NOT "Javascript". It's a confusing (bad) choice for names. Java is like C++, a programming language for applications/exes. Then this new scripting language came along and someone thought "let's call it Javascript". They aren't related, except by name. So be aware of that when asking for help, or it will be confusing.

    Using JS+PHP+MySQL (and HTML+CSS) will be a great way to go, I think. Certainly you can do everything using those. Some things will be a little limited though, like a live chat. For those, you might want to look into Java applets (that is, real "Java"), but those are annoying and rather old technology; alternatively, Flash could do it, but that's also something new to learn. You can do some things like that using Javascript, but it's a little more work, and then requires a back end with PHP. There's something that might actually work for you called "node.js" (google that), but it's advanced and complicated, so take it on slowly. Basically it's designed to create realtime interaction across users via Javascript-- something that would be nice for a game. But that doesn't make it easy. More than that, it just isn't so common, so you'll have more trouble finding help and tutorials. But it looks cool. (I haven't tried it myself though.)

    If this is going to be a huge project, I might recommend starting with a smaller one just to test everything out. That might be more fun than being frustrated when you can't finish your larger project, or even if it just is slow.

    Anyway, hope that works, and feel free to post here when you have specific questions.


    Based on what you've said, one small project I could recommend would be building a chat script-- use MySQL+PHP for the back end then Javascript (Ajax) to make it work in real time. It's not particularly easy, but it's not especially hard either. And there should be some tutorials around. Once you've done that, you'll start to see some of the technical limitations in a system like this and know what you have to work with. You could also try to deconstruct an existing free script that does something like that, but that often is more confusing than building it yourself.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| español | Deutsch | italiano | português | català | un peu de français | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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