Question For Seth(& other GML programmers)

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Hey guys,

I am new to this forum and wanted to get involved. Some backstory on myself I am currently a Senior in College Majoring in Computer Information Systems - Computer Programming. I will be graduating this year, I’m decent at programming but when it comes to games I can’t seem to get out of the tutorial phase. Every time I do something I have to look it up, is that normal? I’ve only been using Game Maker for about a week now but I’ve been attempting to make games for a while now, mostly on unity but never finished anything of my own. I was a Scripting Intern/QA/Engineering on Wasteland 2 the video game on steam which was cool and a great experience. Although I had so much support if I had a question I could walk to someone’s desk and say hey I'm stuck I've tried this that and so on, please help lol. Some topics are just super confusing especially if you are dealing with some interesting player movement. How do you get yourself to understand the complexities, how did you tackle it?

What was your learning experience like learning GML? Were you watching tutorials the whole time? What were you doing to make sure you're actually learning what you're watching and so on? What was your first released Game Maker game and how long did it take for you to feel confident in using GML to write your own systems and not look at tutorials all the time? Also do you recommend any books etc., right now I'm doing a Udemy platformer tutorial from Uhearbeast, I believe that’s his name. I feel like I am not a programmer when I watch tutorials I feel like I’m just idk not a programmer and it doesn't feel good! I have tons of ideas, but they are either too large or I do not posses the skills YET. And I get very bored quickly just watching tutorials rather then working on something of my own. But you cant just start building complex games if you havent even released for-example a snake game. That does not make much sense but the ramp up to a game like your guys' games will be stale.

How many games did you build until crashlands. Did you always know you guys wanted to build crashlands and just built other games to ramp up until you thought you were ready or how did that process work?

My plan so far is to just get something out there and published and get some kind of feedback. I gathered a team of students in my program, there is about 5 of us. Out of the 5 there are 2 programmers, myself and my buddy and I am the project lead. The other 3 are art and design. Since Halloween is around the corner we decided we wanted to make a Scary Action Intense Platformer . A platformer seemed like a good first team project. I really enjoy your guys' work because its so outrageous like throwing animals at enemies lol. Got any ideas to set us in a good direction as far as concept? Release would be October 30. As Halloween is the 31st.

Last thing, I was listening to one of your podcasts and said you guys were having some server trouble with crashlands I believe. Are you using Gamemakers networking system or did you build your own standalone?

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EYYYY! I was pondering answering you over Discord, but I figure my answer would possibly help others with the same problem, so HERE GOES!

Tutorials are useful only for understanding the basics of a specific system, and only under the circumstance that you have no concept of how to proceed. If you are watching tutorials just generally without needing to apply the specific concept in that tutorial right now, retention is going to be very low.

It's definitely normal to be relying on external sources for information, however. Even after five years of GML programming I still go to external sources from time to time to learn a new way of doing something.

Still, tutorials are cumbersome. I would instead recommend using the Game Maker help system, as it has full documentation, explanations, and examples about every single function in Game Maker. It's also useful to open up the "Scripts" menu at the top of the screen and go to "Show built-in functions." This will allow you to skim through all the functions to start to get a sense of all the things you can do. Don't try to memorize them or anything -- that will happen naturally as you code. This process is just to plant the seed in your mind for things to look up in the help file in the future.

Before Crashlands I personally coded probably somewhere around 100 prototypes and created 18 or so jam games, as well as the handful of games we published. The key early on is to think small and make small games, and focus on execution. If you can make a small game that's just really damn fun, you can start thinking about making a mid-sized game that's fun. And once you get there, go bigger.

Lots of people believe that there's such a thing as a good game idea. But that's not necessarily true... because a game idea is only worth something if you can execute it to its fullest. I've even seen games that sounded like bad ideas on paper, but the execution turned out to be something super fun and interesting.

The last bit of thought I'll leave off on is... don't wait around for your team. Working with a team is great, but at this stage, it will serve you well to do as much as you can on your own as well. Having another programmer around will mean you'll be sending off parts of the game for him/her to work on, and you won't be learning how to execute that aspect of the game. At this stage, make as many small games solo as you can. You'll learn the most this way, and you won't have to also wait around for other people to make decisions. You can just blaze forward.


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And to add to that: your goal right now should absolutely not be to get a game published. It should be to learn how to make games via making tons of prototypes, and then complete games, until you believe that you have the capability to make your next project something worth publishing. Don't add the publishing pressure -- it'll force you to always have that in mind while learning, even though the reality is you're super-unlikely to end up with something publishable. No matter how good your team is your first game will likely be just-okay, and even if it turns out amazing you won't know how to convert that into successful distribution.

Be extremely future-focused, with each project intended to get you to a place you haven't been yet (the first would just be finishing a game with a new team). Go into the project with high, but realistic expectations, so that you struggle to get there but then don't get discouraged by what happens when you do.

Take it one step at a time: you wouldn't expect an aspiring novelist to sit down and bang out a highly successful novel without having spent an enormous amount of time reading and practicing the craft. Video game development is also a highly complex craft, and you shouldn't expect to make a publishable video game without having spent an enormous amount of time learning the ins and outs of making games!

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