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#1 Edited by PeezMachine (241 posts) -

I'm 26 and unemployed as I try to change careers from teaching to writing, and lately I've realized that I'm a bit out of whack when it comes to having some sort of tangible structure and pattern to my life. When I was teaching, I never had the time to pursue my (many) interests, but now that I have the time, I realize that I might need somebody counting on me every so often in order to actually make good use of it.

So let's make a Giant Bomb version of Windjammers, featuring characters, arenas, and mechanics inspired by a certain website about videogames. I'll get the ball rolling by laying out a plan and coding the game's skeleton and then we'll team up to create a game so fresh it will make Cool Babies look like regular-ass babies. Sure, Windjammers clones exist out there, but this is Giant Freaking Bomb. If we can get our own awesome fan-made Mega Man game, then surely we can do the 'Jam. (To clarify, I'll be handling lead programming, design, and management, but there are a lot of things I'll need your help with; see the Q&A below for more info).

Making even a simple game like Bombjammers (it's a working title) requires a lot of planning and setup. Anyone who has written some code in their day knows that every minute you spend preventing problems saves you an hour in debugging and rage punching down the line. So while I work on a design document and get things in order, let's work out some really basic questions. Please feel free to discuss these openly – I've just included my “answers” to let folks know where I (and my limited knowledge and experience) stand and to give folks a jumping-off point for discussion. A lot of the questions are going to be related – changing the target platform may impact the development environment and language – so make sure to read them all before sounding off, since the point you want to make may be addressed in another question.

1. What's the target platform for release?

I'd like to get the product into as many hands as possible, but my impression is that distribution is going to be an order of magnitude easier for PC and associates than it would be for consoles.

2. What's the business model?

100% free. Given that we're borrowing a good chunk of game mechanics from existing properties and using Giant Bomb likenesses, this seems pretty non-negotiable. Besides, the point is to further enrich the outstanding Giant Bomb community, and that don't cost a thing (except maybe your dignity).

3. What creation tools will be implemented?

Right now I'm leaning toward Unity, largely because it can easily output programs for multiple platforms (as in PC/Mac/Linux). However, my research indicates that it might not be ideal for sprite-based 2D games, so that's something to keep in mind. Having written stuff from scratch using nothing but interface toolkits and pure code (if you have Python and TkInter questions, I guess we should talk), I can say that I'm definitely fine using a bespoke development environment.

4. What's the timeline?

What's the rush? I think the important part here is to set small, reasonable goals as frequent checkpoints and to actually hit any deadlines you set. As long as there's no lull in development, I'm fine with the project taking as long as it takes to get done properly. I expect this project will work a lot better if milestones are established one or two at a time instead of all at once in an up-front calendar.

5. Who put you in charge, anyway?

I guess I did? I've been looking for an excuse to hone my game design/project management/programming skills, since game development is an industry I might want to consider at some point, and The Jammers (as it is known) seemed like an ideal project – not too big, easily scalable, and just a whole lot of fun. Also it's a GB fan favorite, making it an ideal candidate to get the community treatment.

As for my qualifications, I DO have some computer science, programming, and software design experience (on a much, much, smaller scale), but I'm really just a hobbyist who likes to analyze/design/improve things and speaks decent Python and sub-par C++. This is definitely a learning experience for me, and that factors in to the timeline and scope of the project. Just say no to feature creep!

6. This sounds great/terrible! What can I do to help/denigrate this project?

I want you to help! In name of learning some C# and design in general, I'd like to personally handle the overall design and the programmatic core of the game – the logic, event handlers, scene flow, etc. However, I'll need folks to help with or completely manage things like art/rendering, AI, multiplayer (netplay/local), and who knows what else. I fully intend to get this party started and see it through to the end, but I have no delusions about doing it myself. I'll start putting out calls for help once development is underway. Helpful advice is, of course, always welcome.

If you think this is all really dumb and you hope that it fails, that's cool too, but take that frown elsewhere, please! If you have critical feedback about the project, then that is of course very welcome, but there's a big difference between “dis sux” and “using that graphics library may cause stuttering in multiplayer” or “that mechanic isn't conveyed clearly to the player.”

7. So where do we go from here?

The first step will be creating a design document to formalize a lot of the development points we hammer out here. After that I'll probably be flying solo for a little bit while I build the framework for the game, after which I'll start bringing folks onto the team as needed.

8. What's “home base” for the project?

This is a Giant Bomb joint, son, so I'd like to keep any and all news about the project on site here at Giant Bomb via blogs and forums. Expect weekly or bi-weekly "dev diary" posts. The most important part of this project is that it gets done, and I'm pretty sure that the hordes of Jam-hungry Duders can help prod things along when motivation and attention starts to wane.

That's it for now. The short version is that I want some Windjammers, to work on my dev skills, and add even more value to this Giant Bomb thing, so this seems like a trifecta. Please drop some feedback. Let's go ahead and set our first checkpoint while we're here:

Monday, November 11 – 5 PM Pacific Standard Time: Submit design document specifying target platforms, design environment/required tools,and gameplay and feature overview.

Always be jammin',

“Peez Machine” Eric

UPDATE: It's on! I'm currently trying out Game Studio and XNA/Monogame as per your suggestions. Any other engine/devtool suggestions, make 'em quick, because I'm gonna try to have something picked by Wednesday.

UPDATE 2: I'm going with MonoGame. Details on Monday.

#2 Edited by Ramone (2975 posts) -

Good luck duder. Windjammers certainly needs a modern update.

#3 Posted by Example1013 (4834 posts) -

Why constrain yourself with a multi-plat engine when A) no one's going to pay for certs to get it onto PSN/XBLM, and B) even if someone did, no company would let it go up because it couldn't be sold?

If you're talking multiplat, shouldn't you just be talking PC, iOS, and Android?

Is there a real benefit to rebuilding the whole game from the ground up in a new engine instead of just working in new assets to the original and releasing it as a ROM for an emulator, at least for starters?

#4 Edited by PeezMachine (241 posts) -

@example1013: If you have an engine to recommend, then please do! 2D/3D doesn't matter, as long as it won't break the bank and it doesn't have Windows dependencies. Hadn't thought about mobile - I'll mull that over as I work on mechanics and UI mocks.

As for going ground-up, two reasons. First, my interests are more in design and programming, so an art-centric project like an asset swap isn't a good fit for me personally (though if someone wants to hop on that in the name of a quick GB Jam fix, right on!). Also, I'm actually more comfortable starting from scratch than I am working with an existing product. Second, I don't imagine a straight port. Windjammers presents a solid core, but it could use some mechanical adjustments and a more robust suite of options.



Edit: Repaired this post after most of it got cut off.

#5 Edited by Kung_Fu_Viking (713 posts) -

@peezmachine Build the game from scratch. For a game as simple as Windjammers, the overhead of a big engine like Unity is unnecessary.

Or use GameMaker, which is much better suited to 2D games and can also output to multiple platforms (Including browser).

#7 Posted by Scroll (601 posts) -

I'd love for this to happen. I have zero art/programming skills so I don't think I can help.

#8 Posted by physicalscience (86 posts) -

I would be up to help! I have a solid background in Java and I am also pretty alright with C#. I have also been getting pretty alright with Gimp so I could probably be of use with some labels, textures, and etc. Get a hold of me!

#9 Edited by Rabbykayn (227 posts) -

I've spent the day trying to figure out how to play Windjammers... so I support this and I would support it with money too. I can't speak for everyone but I'd drop 10 to 20 dollars on a game like this.

#10 Posted by Nubikal (107 posts) -

Good luck. My skills lie in 3D art, so no use to this project.

#11 Edited by EXTomar (4841 posts) -

This is actually a good style of project to do: Take an older game and try to rebuild. I definitely wouldn't try to sell it but use it as a learning experience. Good luck!

#12 Posted by Bollard (5663 posts) -

WindBombers is a better name yo. Also, in the near future Unity 4.3 will come out with native 2D support. I can't wait to get my hands on that, Unity is good fun to use.

#13 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3882 posts) -

I was totally thinking about this idea myself, great idea. The formula still makes ton of sense.

#14 Edited by steelerzfan101 (272 posts) -

I think this is a pretty cool idea. I have some experience in C++ and Java so I might be able to help somehow.

As for platforms, I'd say its probably better suited for PC and possibly mobile devices.

#15 Posted by Lubermans (20 posts) -

Hey man this is a great idea, I'd be glad to help out! I have a bit of c# experience, but I'm very experienced in Java, C, and I'm learning Python. Also, yeah I'll echo the sentiments about unity being a bit cumbersome for a project like this. Game maker isn't a bad idea.

#16 Posted by beepmachine (618 posts) -

I think this is a great. I'll offer myself for the art team. I have a few years of graphic design experience, but no real experience with in game art so there's probably someone here better suited to being in charge, but I'd love to contribute.

#17 Posted by Ind1gnation (28 posts) -

@peezmachine: I'd definitely use gamemaker over Unity for this sort of 2D project. Unity is implemeting 2D support only just now and can't really guarantee it'll work right away. I work in level design myself so I'd gladly help out with that if I have the time or at least consult on it if you're interested. This sounds really great, make it happen! :D

#18 Posted by slyspider (1285 posts) -

If i could help i would, i'll be here for emotional support

#19 Posted by PeezMachine (241 posts) -

@chavtheworld Both have their allure. BombJammers keeps the jam in there but WindBombers flows a bit easier. Release is pushed back two years while we resolve this. Also holy sweet native 2D support! My guess is that 4.3 won't release in time to be considered, but if they announce something reasonable (like 2013) then I could maybe justify moving things back a few weeks (or just using the time to prototype some things in Python). That is, of course, assuming that a good alternative doesn't pop up (fiddling around with Game Maker as per @kung_fu_viking's tip).

And while we're talking dev tools, if I were to start from scratch, what would be a good language to go with? Is C++ overkill? Is there enough support for Java/Python 3x (re: gfx libs, I/O handlers, netplay) to consider writing in them? It might just come down to which one I want to learn/improve!

#20 Posted by Wolfgame (814 posts) -

definently sparked my interest, I am currently learning different elements of C++ in a college environment, I know you said you have a lot of things you want to work on concerning the code, but if there is any room for me to assist, let me know.

#21 Posted by super2j (1733 posts) -

I guess it is inevitable that I was not the only one who thought about making a new windjammers.

#22 Posted by dudeglove (8015 posts) -

All I ask is that you nerf based Gerstmann.

#23 Edited by tourgen (4542 posts) -

use gamemaker

good art and sound .. job 1

#24 Posted by Cheesebob (1243 posts) -

WIndjammers and Battle Tetris need to be remade

#25 Posted by Bollard (5663 posts) -

@peezmachine: I wouldn't Python myself. Unity 4.3 was originally slated for Fall, but not so sure now... You could always start with the 3D version (people have been making 2D games in it for ages now) just to learn the workflow.

#26 Posted by ProfessorK (825 posts) -

@dudeglove: Aww c'mon, you can't nerf him. But, he should be on the same level as V-Bomb for those high tension, high stakes matches!

#27 Posted by konig_kei (645 posts) -

I had the same idea floating around in my head anyway, you could try making it browser based in HTML 5. Also, it should be something along the lines of flying power bomb or.. something.

#28 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3428 posts) -

I support this and will contribute however I can.

#29 Edited by EXTomar (4841 posts) -

What I recommend doing first is writing up a rough "design document". Do not say "It is like Windjammers but with Giantbomb dudes". You don't have to go way into depth with detail but you should spell out all of the major features.

#30 Posted by Nefarious_Al (160 posts) -

I could help out with some environment/prop art if this becomes an actual thing.

#31 Posted by SomeDeliCook (2341 posts) -

Fuck man, I seriously had this exact same idea since I noticed how much they all love it. I use to do a lot of flash animation back in the day and thought I would do a short sprite animation but yeah, I fully support a full on game.

#32 Edited by Wolfgame (814 posts) -

@extomar:

On the right track here, it's important to break this down to its core points. We need to paper prototype how this is going to work. We can only get so far saying "It will play like WindJammers". It's important to have this focus, particularly when you start pulling from the talent around here, these type of things will need to be written down to keep everyone working efficiently.

#33 Posted by Scrawnto (2456 posts) -

GameMaker is fine if you can't program, but if you really want to get into coding anything remotely complex, its scripting language is not the greatest. Unity would probably be more enjoyable to work with. I've heard good things, anyway. I've been meaning to dig into it myself one of these days.

I have a degree in CS: Computer Game Design from UCSC. I've worked on a few XNA projects, and made a rather small scale mini-golf game from scratch with C++ and OpenGL. My programming in C# and C++ is pretty rusty though. I'm not sure exactly where my limited skills would best be put to use, but I might be interested in helping out on something. Maybe some part in rendering, effects or some-such.

#34 Edited by RadecAU (92 posts) -

I'd be keen to help out, I've recently finished a software engineering degree and have experience in C/C++ and and Java.

Also in terms of title you could always use a subtitle to include all of the parts e.g. Giant Windbombers: Super Jamming Edition.

#35 Posted by Chaser324 (6649 posts) -

I started prototyping a head-to-head soccer game inspired by Windjammers a few weeks ago, but I never got much farther than this:

Moderator
#36 Edited by planetfunksquad (464 posts) -

Let me know when you settle on an engine. I know some C# and GML so Unity and Gamemaker is something I could help with. I also know some C++ and I'd be open to learning a new language for the occasion. I can code in Obj-C too, but that's kind of useless in terms of a multiplatform game.

Also I could do some audio work, which thinking about it I'd be more into. Not music cos I'm a pretty bad composer, but I do a lot of sound design so sound effects and stuff.

#37 Edited by Kung_Fu_Viking (713 posts) -

@peezmachine: I favour C# with XNA / MonoGame. They're very nice game-based frameworks that provide a bunch of useful constructs as well as a basic content pipeline which would cover all the audio/visual needs. Plus, C# has very nice WinForms support which would make developing any tools much easier.

I would favour rapid prototyping and iteration rather than trying to write and lock down every detail before you start any production. You can very quickly hack together a version of the game with basic features and then just iterate and refine from there. It allows for much more natural and easy integration of new ideas as they come whereas if you were to architect based around some document you came up with at the beginning, you might find it more difficult to do this.

TL;DR: Use MonoGame and don't write a giant design document before starting; just start making the game.

#38 Posted by PeezMachine (241 posts) -

Glad to see folks are super excited about this! And yes, don't worry - I was working on a proper design doc well before it got mentioned. Internally I'll be referring to the project as SummerJammers. Maybe I should make a name poll this week?

Speaking of gathering input, what would be the best way to do that right now? I'd like to hear what everything thinks about aesthetics, sound, etc. without spamming the forums with polls. Google doc? A lot of that stuff won't be implemented for a long time, but it should go in the design doc which I'm working on this week.

#39 Posted by Anomareh (92 posts) -

Not to try and be a downer or anything, but these group efforts usually never end very well. They really need someone in charge making decisions and calling shots.

Also, why are these threads always started by programmers instead of artists?

#40 Posted by wafflez (529 posts) -

why not just make a romhack? It seems like the game itself still holds up incredibly well.. why not at least start there and then if its some huge success, then move on to a little more ambitious project.

#41 Posted by packs217 (93 posts) -

@anomareh said:

They really need someone in charge making decisions and calling shots.

Seconded. You guys can do this, but you MUST have a definitive project lead or it will fail.

Someone who's confident, understands what's needed and why, and has the time to be able to communicate. They do not need to know how to program, leave that to the programmers who sign on to the project. They do not need to know the art aspect, leave that to the artists. They just need to know how to manage a project, communicate, and see only the bigger picture of the project--not the small nuances that each programmer/artist/designer is brought on to do.

#42 Edited by evanbower (1215 posts) -

@peezmachine: I favour C# with XNA / MonoGame. They're very nice game-based frameworks that provide a bunch of useful constructs as well as a basic content pipeline which would cover all the audio/visual needs. Plus, C# has very nice WinForms support which would make developing any tools much easier.

TL;DR: Use MonoGame and don't write a giant design document before starting; just start making the game.

I second this, especially since you'd like it to be be multi-platform. I'd also love to help code if you do use MonoGame/anything C#.

#43 Posted by Shadowfax (51 posts) -

let me just say this is a fantastic idea. i can't code or make artwork or, you know, contribute, but i'm more than happy to give moral support.

#44 Edited by PeezMachine (241 posts) -
@packs217 said:

@anomareh said:

They really need someone in charge making decisions and calling shots.

Seconded. You guys can do this, but you MUST have a definitive project lead or it will fail.

Someone who's confident, understands what's needed and why, and has the time to be able to communicate. They do not need to know how to program, leave that to the programmers who sign on to the project. They do not need to know the art aspect, leave that to the artists. They just need to know how to manage a project, communicate, and see only the bigger picture of the project--not the small nuances that each programmer/artist/designer is brought on to do.

That's me. I'm the self-appointed Czar of Jamming for this project. I have last word on design choices and implementation, and I'm personally coding the skeleton and doing the gameplay prototyping. As mentioned in the lengthy missive at the top, I'll be bringing in folks to do the things that I can't (once we get there). Nothing special about me, I'm just stepping up and saying "I'm running this project." That said, I'd always rather listen to input and not use it than ignore it and make a dumb mistake. And if folks really hate me, then they can make their own Jam and then OH NO WE WILL HAVE MULTIPLE JAMMERS, and what an awesome world that would be.

OK, I lied, there is something special about me, and it's that spent a few years teaching high school math, and if I can manage almost two hundred students a day (37 at a time, sometimes with two different classes in the same damn room at the same time) I can manage this.

#45 Edited by flasaltine (1682 posts) -

No it's me. I am the leader on this project. I'm the self-appointed Führer of Jamming. All decisions will need to go through me first.

#46 Posted by SgtSphynx (1490 posts) -

You're doing the lord's work, my friend. In all seriousness, I wish you luck in this endeavor and wish I could assist, but I have zero programming experience.

#47 Posted by jiggajoe14 (741 posts) -

WindBombers is a better name yo. Also, in the near future Unity 4.3 will come out with native 2D support. I can't wait to get my hands on that, Unity is good fun to use.

#TeamBombJammers motherfucker

#48 Posted by beepmachine (618 posts) -

@chaser324: I think you've already taken that to the limit of awesomeness.

@peezmachine: SummerJammers gets me right in the heart. Can the soundtrack just be SummerJams?

#49 Edited by packs217 (93 posts) -

@peezmachine: Great! Write out your stepping stones (the aforementioned small, reasonable goals) to completion on here, figure out who's doing what--throw it on Kickstarter if you need to for cert costs--go for it! Whoooooo!

My two cents on the game is that you should develop it with a Hori stick or madcatz stick in-mind as THE controller, with gamepads secondary.

#50 Posted by audioBusting (1618 posts) -

That sounds great. I wish I'm good enough at AI or network programming to help out, but I'm not (definitely not enough for a competitive action game), so I can only wish you good luck!