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3d Engines and Top-Down Shooters
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mackay



Joined: 23 Jun 2003
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:17 pm    Post subject: 3d Engines and Top-Down Shooters Reply with quote

Hey. Smile I'm a fairly experienced developer, and I'm thinking about trying to develop a top-down shooter -- don't worry, I'm sure it won't be anything that'll compete with Starscape. Smile

I've read a bit about directx and openGL, etc but it seems like for a project like this it would make sense to license something like TV3D (I plan to write my little game in .net) rather than spending eons developing my own engine. A lot of the work that I've seen from TV3D seems a little dated, but I'm thinking I can probably make it look really good if the art is right, since I'm just trying to make some space ships fly around and so on. Any thoughts about that?

I really like the way Starscape looks, and I'm not just talking about the skins on your models. I'm talking about things like your missile trails and effects. Did you guys license a third party engine or did you write your own from scratch? If so, what'd you write it in?

Any other general pointers for someone who is thinking about writing a simple top-down shooter for the first time? Smile

Thanks!
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Fost
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734



PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:31 pm    Post subject: Re: 3d Engines and Top-Down Shooters Reply with quote

mackay wrote:
I'm thinking about trying to develop a top-down shooter -- don't worry, I'm sure it won't be anything that'll compete with Starscape. Smile

We'd be happy if it was Very Happy We love top down shooters, that's why we made Starscape in the first place - there just aren't enough good examples around to keep us happy!
mackay wrote:
I'm thinking I can probably make it look really good if the art is right, since I'm just trying to make some space ships fly around and so on. Any thoughts about that?

I'm guessing from your post that it's just yourself setting out on this project, and that it might not be a full time endeavor? In any case, you'll know best what you can cope with art-wise. All I'm really trying to say is: don't overestimate how much you can do. Starscape had 2 programmers, and myself doing the art, full time for over 7 months. we were working 7 days a week, and most of the time were eating at the computer (we all had to buy new keyboards at the end Wink ). Anything you can do to reduce art content will help: setting the game in space against a starfield is a good idea, but there can still be tons of content to do. All I'm really saying is: estimate how long it will take to do something, and then double it - this is almost always how long it actually will take.
mackay wrote:
Did you guys license a third party engine or did you write your own from scratch? If so, what'd you write it in?

Everything in Starscape was custom coded for it, other than using the Ogg (compressed music) and jpeg2000 image compression (which we recently added) open source libraries and was written in C++. I'm sure Poo Bear or Goober can give you more detailed answers to that, so I'll not mention any more (I do the art)
mackay wrote:
Any other general pointers for someone who is thinking about writing a simple top-down shooter for the first time? Smile

Depending on what languages you are most comfortable programming in (if .NET is what you know, I'd say stick to it), then you might consider something like Blitz Basic. The stigma that used to be associated with languages such as these is well and truly gone, now that great commercial games such as the excellent side scrolling shooter Platypus and 3D space combat game StarWraith have been developed with them.

Other than that - all I can say is - Best of Luck and let us know how you get on. Very Happy
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Goober
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Joined: 11 Oct 2002
Posts: 449
Location: Moonpod Central



PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 11:23 am    Post subject: Re: 3d Engines and Top-Down Shooters Reply with quote

mackay wrote:
I've read a bit about directx and openGL, etc but it seems like for a project like this it would make sense to license something like TV3D (I plan to write my little game in .net) rather than spending eons developing my own engine. A lot of the work that I've seen from TV3D seems a little dated, but I'm thinking I can probably make it look really good if the art is right, since I'm just trying to make some space ships fly around and so on. Any thoughts about that?


Using a 3rd party engine is a reasonable choice, provided it does what you require of it, the documentation is up to scratch, and you either have the source or a way to get bugs fixed easily. Also, don't forget that an "engine" comprises more than just the graphics system. Audio, input, networking, a unified file system, and a myriad of other things go into making a complete system.

Oh yeah, and all the code in the world is utterly worthless unless you have great artwork. We should post some of our in-progress stuff sometime, using programmer art. You'll see a heck of a difference between that and what Fost comes up with for the finished article Wink (i.e. programmer art = teh suxx0r, Fost art = teh r0xx0r Wink )

mackay wrote:
I really like the way Starscape looks, and I'm not just talking about the skins on your models. I'm talking about things like your missile trails and effects. Did you guys license a third party engine or did you write your own from scratch? If so, what'd you write it in?


We wrote the engine ourselves, most of the code is C++, although just to satisfy my perverse geek side I put in a little assembly for some inner loop stuff, nothing much though. Basically, I implemented systems on top of the DirectX libraries (also, optionally, OpenGL for graphics) that supplied Poo Bear with a set of functionality, which he then took and built the actual game systems out of. So, for example, I wrote a sprite rendering system and on top of that Poo Bear implemented the various ship rendering systems and the particle effects system. Similarly for the other systems such as audio and input.

mackay wrote:
Any other general pointers for someone who is thinking about writing a simple top-down shooter for the first time? Smile


If you want to produce something that you can sell in the end, then get a good art person on board (unless you're one of those rare uber-talented people that can code and wield crayons).

From a technical point of view, make sure you can get into the game quickly to test things. You'll find a lot of your time will be spent running the game, looking for odd behaviour in your new enemy type, quitting, going back to the source, editing, recompile, rinse, repeat. Being able to get into the game quickly will save you a lot of time in the long run, and if you can reload configuration scripts and the like on the fly then that's all the better too.
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mackay



Joined: 23 Jun 2003
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thanks for all the great thoughts!

I'll let you know if I ever come up with anything decent. This project could really go one of two ways: I could do something simple in my spare time as a kind of experiment...

Or (crosses fingers)...

I'm the lead developer at the (small) software company, and I *think* I've convinced the owner that it would be a good idea to make a certain type of game in the top down shooter genre -- but this would be more of a multiplayer thing (so yes, we might be competing with the (free) subspace). But we have some really interesting ideas. Smile

It's to the point where we're making business plans and design documents, doing market (and technology) research, and talking about budgets/etc. So that's exciting, but I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch. I apologize for not being forthcoming in my origional post, but part of that is a defense mechanism -- I'm trying to avoid a letdown of epic proportions if this thing doesn't happen!

In the meantime, I'm trying to increase my knowledge of this industry. And I've got a lot to learn. Smile I have a lot of experience organizing other types of software projects and I've been tinkering with non-3d games since I was a kid, but if I'm going to produce a game I need to ramp up and quick.

Anyway, if we actually get as far as hiring a programmer and an artist I'll certainly let you guys know. Smile
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ravuya



Joined: 23 Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Location: Canadia



PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2005 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With good free/OSS 3D engines out there like OGRE, Irrlicht and Crystal Space I wouldn't consider licensing an existing engine unless there is a guarantee of a lot of support/assets available to you.

Take a look around the OSS alternatives for awhile, and if you still feel like spending your hard-earned cash TV3D or Torque is probably the way to go. Otherwise, you can (and should) invest that money in new hardware, contract work, or software licenses like Milkshape.

Since you are a .NET developer, it might interest you to know that Irrlicht has a set of .NET hooks and I believe OGRE does as well.
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