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 Post subject: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:01 pm 
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viewtopic.php?p=519950#p519950

There are reasons announcements like this bother me.

Not only is it because of the era of Hello Engine clones but it is because no experimentation in game design leads to little growth in a community.

Making your own engine is a lot of work, sure, but it can also reflect in other work you do for a game. No longer are you working in limitations from someone else's work but you are setting the limitations yourself. I understand that programming is not for everyone, but some involvement in the process even if minor is good for your growth in the gamedev industry. Understanding how animations are programmed or how a character moves can help you optimize your 3D models for a smoother experience, for example.


How do you feel about pre-built engines and the effect they have on game development?

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:30 pm 
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When I program a system for game, I sometimes end up porting it to tons of future projects just because of how well I understand my own code. Coding a lot of your own stuff is a super valuable experience imo, and I feel like by using an engine which already has precise collision detection, a typewriter text display system, versatile platforming movement, etc., you lose the opportunity to have your own version which you can easily adapt to other projects.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:23 pm 
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imo when we're talking about Mario fangames, at least 80% of them are going to ideally (according to the vision of the developer) play like SMB3 clones. Not many people are eager to mess with the established "perfect" Mario physics when they just want to make Their Own Mario Game, so in that case it makes more sense to me to use an existing engine and focus instead on making some unique graphics and level design.

I can't stand the fangames that use prebuilt engines AND vanilla nintendo graphics, though. At that point the level design has to be something really special to make the project worth it at all, and it should just be a romhack anyway.

I mean GML is a really piss easy programming language and I think it's good for everyone to practice their logic skills by learning some type of programming, but there are other vehicles for expression too. I'm fine with someone using a prebuilt engine if they really excel in other areas.

 
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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:42 pm 
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Typically, however, very few interesting implementations occur from pre-built engines on MFGG except those by the person who made the engine. For me, the problem simply is that the end result comes out as just an okay clone with graphics I'm tired of seeing and level design that is limited because people don't fully understand how to customize what they are working with.

However, I'd be fine with a Hello engine game with custom graphics that had the buggy quirks taken out and most other focus was on creating interesting levels. Stock graphics plugged into a flawed pre-built engine with very flat, poorly designed or short levels is not something I can enjoy.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:43 pm 
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I just don't like prebuilt engines, too much work to rewrite and is effortless.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:44 pm 
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Pre-built engines aren't effortless to make nor is rewriting them. Perhaps you mean that just using them without any customization is effortless?

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:27 pm 
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No problem using premade engines. Why reinvent the wheel imo.

It's what you do with that engine that's going to make or break your game.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:56 am 
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This kind of "Engines are eevvillll" mentality is one of the reasons why we are not getting any new fangames these days and shows how we are behind the times when it comes to fangaming.

The thing is that people don't want to spend 3 years to make a fangame. Sure, not every fangame takes that long to develop, but lately bigger and more advanced fangames are getting much more popular. No one really cares about small minigames or stuff like that these days. I'm partially to blame here, as this is because of bigger fangames like Flashback, Power Star Frenzy, or many huge Sonic fangames becoming popular. It's simply demotivating for those who don't have the experience to learn that you have to learn programming to make the fangame in your dreams. That's where engines become useful, it already provides you the basics and you only need to add your own objects, levels, graphics, music etc. And you eventually learn programming by adding the stuff you need, that's how I learned it as well.

At least that's how it is for Sonic fangames because as for Mario, all engines we have are these huge bloated engines with tons of features, which is what causes the clones. If we had a simple Mario engine that only had the basics and was very customizable, this problem would be gone.

But no seriously, it's like 90% of all Sonic fangames use a game engine, and Sonic fangaming community is more alive than ever.

I'm using a custom engine for my fangame, but that's because I want to have full control over my code, I am experienced in GameMaker, and I enjoy programming. I can't expect everyone to just spend 2 years on reinventing the wheel.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:17 am 
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really, in my opinion, people should make a small test engine first, then decide after that.
the reason i switched was because the collisions were broken and everything stopped working.
sometimes it actually is the right decision to switch.
but the point is, you should make the engine test by scratch first, because through that, you can learn from your mistakes and get better when using the premade engine.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:48 am 
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I don't see myself as a person who would ever use a pre-programmed engine. I'm a very hands-on programmer that likes to get down to the nitty-gritty and do everything myself. I started with libraries like SDL / SFML / allegro because I like to have maximum control.

With that being said, making your own engine is a good way to trap yourself into endlessly make an engine instead of a game. Don't do it unless you're doing something that's never been done before.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:20 pm 
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I myself typically do game-related work with either C# or HTML5. Neither of these things come with stuff like collisions, screens, tile mappers, cameras, animations, etc. I have to make it all myself from scratch in a text editor.

Sometimes I go back and use old Flash 8, which is an abominable platform to work with in this day and age, but the fact that I can quickly throw something together and have it work is appealing.

Honestly, the more I think about having to rewrite an engine every time I go to make a new fangame makes me not want to make them, even if it's in Flash. I'm only going to be motivated to write code that does what I need it to do. If I need to do something even a little different, it might require a huge rewrite that does something way more complex.

That's the reason every game I've put out on MFGG has been a terrible Spoopy Maryo game I made from start to finish within 48 hours (usually within 6 hours). I want to make something that's not going to require lots of wheel-reinventing.

I'm actually really attracted to the idea of just downloading something like Hello Engine or Gatete's Engine for my future fangaming endeavors, because then I'll be able to just make the damn game instead of writing collisions ground-up (or writing them at all, ideally).

I think the age of Hello Clones has largely come to an end. Maybe we should be more willing to open up to people using engines to make great games (kind of like Dimensions or Power Star Frenzy, two FANTASTIC fangames currently in development).

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:24 pm 
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I'm the sort of person who kinda misses when fangames didn't really have any rules other than "have a Mario character in it." If the graphics kinda clashed or the music were MIDIs, who cares - as long as it's a grand ol' time.

Alas. Like other people have said, if all you want to do is make a Super Mario Bros. 3 clone, I won't stop you from just downloading one of the "make a Super Mario Bros. 3 clone" engines and just making something out of that (though like Spritey said you might as well just make a ROM hack at that point - it'd be easier and less glitchy).

But... I think we've seen enough of those by now. I'd like to see people do more interesting things. I've always liked that one Tech Wing demo that was an Ace Attorney case with Mario as the defense attorney. We've never really seen anything like that since (even though using Ace Attorney Online is pretty easy... but it's also pretty restrictive). Have we ever really seen a Super Mario Bros. 2 style game? Wario barely gets any fangames himself.

Man, I'm digressing again. I guess what I'd like to see is more different engines on the site. We could use a Wario Land engine with the crazy powers, or a Mario & Luigi engine for RPGs, or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:57 pm 
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Ultimately, I think that the era of Mario fangames is coming to a close; or at least, THIS era of Mario fangames is coming to a close. It's sad, but it was kind of inevitable, in a way, and a lot of factors lead up to it.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Nintendo's recent legal frenzy. I'm guessing that Iwata had been working behind the scenes to keep the lawyers on a bit of a chain for the sake of the long-term fandom and community, because as soon as he died, Nintendo started shutting down (or attempting to shut down) a great number of big in-development fangames. Let's face it; nobody wants to spend a year or more working on a game that could very well just get blasted into oblivion by a bloodthirsty legal team.

Most of us are old and experienced enough to start working on our own for-profit indie projects by now. And why wouldn't we do so? It's the perfect way to fulfill our deepest artistic desires while also maybe picking up a bit of dough (which, hey, we need to start worrying about accumulating now; we're adults, or nearly adults, after all,) and there's never been a better time than now to do it. Heck, I was already getting bitten by the indie bug a few years back or so, when I was halfway through making Bowser in the Horrible Nightmare, which is probably why the game started being less and less like a Mario game as time went on.

We, as a community, have already made a ton of Mario fangames. And in spite of how many small innovations we may have made when it comes to gameplay mechanics, graphic design, level design, and world building, most of them are still Mario games, in word and in deed. I mean, forget about the New Super Mario Bros. series; MFGG has exhausted the basic Mario formula in ways and on levels that Nintendo has never even realized that it could be exhausted before! How much can be done with a Mario game, that nobody on here has done yet, without making it something other than a Mario game? Not a whole lot. The only real way to make a fangame stand out by this point is to go bigger, but for the above two reasons, that's becoming less and less desirable (and practical) by the day.


If Mario fangames ever make a bigtime comeback, it's going to be after a hiatus and at the hands of the next generation of Mario fans.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:43 pm 
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shouldn't the entire point of making fangames be a tribute to your favorite franchises? there's no difference between making a fan game and fan art or fan music or any other fan work because they're all meant to be tribute to things you love.

stop thinking of fangames as "would be indie games". if you wanna make a mario game, make a mario game. there's literally no passion in making fangames anymore and attitudes like this (as well as people getting piss-scared of nintendo taking down remakes of games they have for sale which is another problem entirely, stop thinking nintendo is constantly out to get you) only serve to make the problem worse.

if you wanna make an indie game, fine, whatever, you do you. but if you want to make a mario game, like specifically a game with mario in it, what is stopping you? you shouldn't be doing it for money in the first place, fan works are passion projects and thus so are fangames. we're still making traditional 2D mario games ala mario 3 and mario world because we keep circlejerking the same ideas and shoot down anything new or different for being new or different (or worse yet "not mario" which means literally nothing).

if we've exhausted the basic mario formula, then stop using it. nintendo exhausted the basic mario formula, and now they're talking about how they have to do something different for the next iteration.

sonic fangames are already making 3D games arguably with more finesse than sonic team themselves. the devs go out of their way to research the history of sonic in pop culture, game development, and design philosophy. why don't we do any of this? why haven't we had any kind of mario fangame that's truly a celebration of everything mario has ever had to offer? and no, i'm not talking about a SMB3 clone with a billion powerups. i mean something that legitimately, truthfully, has something with passion put into it with knowledge of mario as a franchise from cover to cover. midas machine fits the bill in this case, but that's only one fangame, and it's not even finished yet.

if this era of fangaming is "coming to a close" then it should be because people want to do something new with mario, not because nintendo is phasing them out. which they aren't, by the way. i can't believe people are still going head over heels about this when every game to get C&D'd could be easily explained. dumping the responsibility of "fixing fangames" on the next wave of users is ridiculous if we can't even practice what we preach.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:10 pm 
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Mit is super right. I have some stuff to add to it:

Where did your fangaming passion originate?

When I was in 6th grade, after just learning about the possibility that I could make my own games, I immediately started grabbing scraps of paper and making my own ideas. I would just start drawing up maps for video games, or thinking up crazy ideas. Here are some ideas I came up with just while I was 12:

  • Traditional Mario platformer of some sort; I recall it feeling minimalist on powerups
  • Mario linear sword fighting beat-em-up
  • Contra but more realistic and with cooler weapons and a story; sees you going through a world like Castlevania or Golden Axe rather than just some random levels
  • A four-game re-imagining of the then-nonexistent Zelda timeline consisting of remakes of LoZ, Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, and Zelda 2 in a sidescroller style. I drew up maps for every dungeon as well as the entire game world of the first one
  • A map for an entire Metroid game
  • A Smash Bros game with an even grander story mode than Subspace Emissary
  • A game (or animation? idr) about the 7th-gen console wars

Hell and probably some other stuff. I was extremely passionate and wanted to not just make Nintendo games, but the ULTIMATE Nintendo games. And not just like they were before, or necessarily even the logical progression, but to do with them what I wanted. The vision that I had of the games.

My primary inspiration was the VGDC animated series Rise of the Mushroom Kingdom. It's crude and fairly NSFW, but just look at the story, the world building, the scale. It made the Mushroom Kingdom operate and feel like a real kingdom. Bowser's castle as well as subcon and Wart's castle are breathtaking in scale.

What if we could make a fangame that operated on this kind of level?

I know that this takes huge amounts of time and it might not even get finished, but also, these are things we're capable of. We have enough experience and know-how to do something great like this if we really wanted to.

But also it would be nice if we could just make some smaller, neat games. A minigame collection, or a really short but really good and interesting Mario platformer. Even a single-level game, or something like Luigi Takes A Walk. That was a great game.

What we need is passionate output of any kind. It's definitely here, we just need to channel it somehow.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:17 pm 
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...Dude, I was just saying why I think Mario fangames are getting stagnant. I'm not attacking people or "dumping the responsibility," I'm just saying that a large number of the people who used to want to and have the experience needed to do it well are moving onto other things, leaving behind a population of largely engine cloners and vanilla SMW hackers who lack either the skill or the drive to make anything more advanced or engaging.

And I'm not "dumping the responsibility" on the next wave of fangamers by saying that they'll probably fix it, I'm just saying what I predict is going to happen. I myself am more or less done with fangaming; I just kind of stick around here because it's a relatively small community where I pretty much know everyone and can discuss more general game design things. I'm not saying "Well gosh, you guys sure are holding me back! Stop making me a victim!," I'm just stating how I think things got to be this way.

I'm sorry if I came off as accusatory or hypocritical, and I'm sorry if I phrased something poorly. I was just putting in my two cents on a topic that no longer directly relates to me which is one of the cardinal sins of the internet, so I should probably stop.


Last edited by soopakoopa on Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:21 pm 
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i figured we were more or less on the same page, which was my bad, though the post came across to me as defeatist. there's no reason why many of us here can't just make games with the same gusto as those first getting into the medium. some of us have bills to pay, yea, but if it's a side project it can simply be worked on on the side. if it's taking years to finish, scale it back.

a lot of fangames focus on having a ton of content to encourage longevity, when a simpler solution is just to make it fun to play, fun to just run around and mess around in. personally, i don't think 2D mario has accomplished this at all, though 3D mario has.

i will also say that a lot of the claims i was making applies to everyone (which is also my bad because i doubt that was made clear). i've seen similar notions be thrown around over the years and it always bothers me seeing it get perpetuated.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:35 pm 
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Another problem with relying too much on pre built engines is that all you can really make with them is a mario clone. The wacky fangames that were more experimental than they were a perfect recreation is what I miss.

If I wanted to play a good recreation, why wouldn't I just play an official Mario game instead?

I miss projects of passion like Toad Strikes Back or Kritter's minigame collection. They didn't have perfect engines. They were more a tribute than a recreation. Which is kinda the point of a fan game.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:52 pm 
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Mit wrote:
i figured we were more or less on the same page, which was my bad, though the post came across to me as defeatist.
Eh, no biggie. It's easy to make mistakes like that on the internet, given that one person has to make their entire point in one go before it's even possible for the other person to begin replying, posing questions, or straightening out misunderstandings. And hey, I was getting a bit off-topic there, anyway.

The real problem is that engine clones and SMB3 mimics are simply easier and faster to conceptualize, design, and complete, than huge ambitious projects brimming with effort and passion, and there's also a much lower barrier to entry. So it's only natural that they'll completely flood out anything particularly noteworthy. I can't even begin to imagine how many Hello clones have been released in the time it's taken Midas Machine to finish; and Midas Machine isn't even finished yet. The number of such games Hello HIMSELF has put out in that time is staggering on its own, and he at least puts a fair amount of effort into his games for what they are.

Honestly, I think it's too late to fix it. The release of Hello Engine 3 really opened up Pandora's Box, and unlike Ultramario (anybody else remember the Ultramario Engine? ...Yeah, I don't know why I remember the Ultramario Engine, either...) Hello's done a good job at keeping his engine relevant and up to date. He clearly doesn't want to do anything about it, but to his credit, he probably couldn't do anything about it by this point even if he wanted to. The only thing that could stem the tide would be if the staff outright stopped greenlighting games based on premade engines on the mainsite and started banning them on the message boards.

Would that even be a good idea, though? Maybe, maybe not. It would definitely stem the aforementioned tide, but it would also discourage a lot of people from ever even trying, and as I mentioned in my previous post, this community is already...kind of small, and dwindling. That's why I ultimately think Mario fangaming will more or less inevitably "cleanse itself with fire." It'll burn out, all of the duds will fall into obscurity (or infamy,) and eventually, after the stigma has cooled, a new wave of Mario fans will sweep away the ashes and rebuild.

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 Post subject: Re: Over-Reliance on Pre-Built Engines
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:42 pm 
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soopakoopa wrote:
The real problem is that engine clones and SMB3 mimics are simply easier and faster to conceptualize, design, and complete, than huge ambitious projects brimming with effort and passion, and there's also a much lower barrier to entry. So it's only natural that they'll completely flood out anything particularly noteworthy. I can't even begin to imagine how many Hello clones have been released in the time it's taken Midas Machine to finish; and Midas Machine isn't even finished yet. The number of such games Hello HIMSELF has put out in that time is staggering on its own, and he at least puts a fair amount of effort into his games for what they are.


This right here.

I'm sorry if those of you were blundered by my last response, but I mean premade engines are just not for me, referencing soopakoopa's text, a majority of the Hello clones are just that, clones with no effort put into them, sure using a engine makes it's easy to not reinvent the wheel, but then you gotta learn how to read the code and actually put some effort to make it different. I'm okay with clones for starting out your first fangame, as people get a start on the sidewalk before crossing the road and eventually down the line, the other side ( Your original content and creations.) But as soopakoopa said, it's kind of a problem when they're easy to make and design, if you are going to do a clone as your second fangame after your first clone or such, iron out the bugs of the engine and fix it to your own tunes, and add some new features if you can.

EDIT: Adding to this, a new generation of Mario fans might be a good start for refreshing fangames, fangames from the early 2000s weren't that perfect or great, but the next wave might fix how fangames are run and made.

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