Game Development Hack Chat

Virtual worlds don't build themselves

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Kyle Donnelly will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, August 18 at noon Pacific.

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Chances are we all have fallen into the time trap of computer games at one point or another. It's easy to do -- the worlds that games put before us can be immersive and addictive, and even if they're populated by fantastical creatures hell-bent on our virtual destruction, they offer a degree of escapism and relaxation that can be hard to come by with any other form of entertainment.

But what does it take to build these virtual worlds? How exactly does one come up with all the ideas needed to make a game fresh and exciting? And once you've got the ideas, how do you turn them into the code needed to make the whole thing work? Kyle Donnelly has quite a bit of experience with the game development process, seeing his idea through from initial prototyping to working with a publisher and even getting the game demonstrated at conventions. Along the way, he picked up a collection of tips and shortcuts to make the process easier, as well as developing a small suite of tools to help set up and test game levels quickly and easily, and to deal with the custom physics of his virtual world.

Join us as Kyle stops by the Hack Chat to talk about game development from an angle that rarely gets much coverage -- from the software side.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney08/18/2021 at 20:09 0 comments

    Dan Maloney12:01 PM
    OK, looks like we're right at noon, let's get started. Welcome to the Hack Chat, I'm Dan and I'll be moderating today along with Dusan as we welcome Kyle Donnelley to the Hack Chat.

    Nicolas Tremblay12:01 PM
    Wow, it must be me then

    Dan Maloney12:01 PM
    Hi Kyle, are you logged in yet?

    ToasterFuel12:01 PM

    Dan Maloney12:02 PM
    Hey Kyle, welcome!

    Dan Maloney12:02 PM
    Thanks for coming along today. Can you start us off with a little about yourself?

    ToasterFuel12:04 PM
    Thank you! Thanks for having me on. Hello everyone! As Dan said, I'm Kyle. I'm a software developer that started in the software industry by working on backend software for large companies. During that time I was making games as a hobby but eventually decided to YOLO it and quit to make games full time. My most recent game was released at the end of 2020 for all major consoles and Steam!

    kristina panos12:05 PM
    Did you always want to make games?

    Dan Maloney12:06 PM
    And kind of related: how much of wanting to make games comes from having played them? Assuming you played a lot of games, of course ;-)

    ToasterFuel12:07 PM
    Honestly, no I never saw myself making games. I always played games growing up but it was more about playing with friends than anything else. It wasn't until a year or so out of college I put 2 and 2 together that I know how to program and games are made with code. And then another several years after that until I got good enough to enjoy programming games

    foamyguy12:09 PM
    1) For Deleveled did you build the physics engine behind the game as well? or use something pre-existing?

    2) It supports many different platforms did any of them pose more or different challenges than the others?

    ToasterFuel12:10 PM
    Hah, I do play a lot of games. But my desire to make games comes more from the thought of "I wonder if it's possible to do X" or "This game was fun for X,Y,Z but what if it did X differently" So I feel it's more curiosity more than anything else

    Christian joined  the room.12:11 PM

    ToasterFuel12:14 PM
    1) For Deleveled we (it was me and a business partner working on it) used Unity, which is basically the "standard" for small teams of game developers. But I feel like I treated the engine different than most people do. I didn't use the physics engine Unity comes with but wrote the physics need for the game, since it doesn't have traditional physics. It was very basic physics that I implemented, mainly F = M * A

    ToasterFuel12:17 PM
    2) There were a lot of different challenges that each platform threw at me that Unity wants you to think "just works" when you use their engine. For example, on the Switch we were using a JSON serializer to load level data. However, Switch doesn't support some of the reflection methods that are part of the C# language. Xbox has a crazy convoluted user flow that must react the exact same way no matter where in the game you are. If the player is in the middle of a dying animation, if they're just sitting on the main menu, etc. Xbox has very strict requirements that if not met will not allow you to release on the platform

    kristina panos12:19 PM
    Was there something that was more challenging than you expected when making Deleveled?

    ToasterFuel12:19 PM
    Since I didn't call out Playstation in the above: They have more strict UI requirements that must be designed around, generally the hardest one is that they don't want the extreme 10% of the screen to have UI on it. Which is surprisingly difficult to do as someone who is not good at UI design

    foamyguy12:20 PM
    Do you have a next project in the works? If so are you able to share the genre or any other early tidbits about what it may be?

    ToasterFuel12:22 PM
    This might be a cop out answer for something more challenging than expected but getting the project done/keeping a good mental state during the project's development. The game took about 1.5 years to make and for about 90% of that time the game was absolute crap. Bugs everywhere,...

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