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From The Ground Up - How Should I Start Building My Game

To preface, I know that building any type of game takes an innumerable amount of time, effort and skill. I also know that for someone wanting to make a game without any experience, it is even more difficult.

That being said, I have zero experience in doing so, but am more than willing to put in the time and effort, and I’m especially willing to learn the skills needed.

The type of game I’m wanting to make is a survival FPS (and would love to have some multiplayer), with as realistic graphics as I can make them, set in a relatively big open world. Not Skyrim level big, but I want to have a decently sized town in it with a few different types of areas, such as forest, lake, etc. This town will be completely surrounded by mountains, and let’s just say that with the help of cliffs and the town being on quarantine status by the government, you won’t be able to leave.

However right now because I have no experience, I definitely do not want to overwhelm myself with a bunch of things all at once and honestly want to start slow.

My question is, is it a good idea to simply start with building the environment first, meaning the terrain, then worry about all buildings, vehicles, characters and everything that makes a game a game, after? If this makes for an easier way to get into game development then I definitely want to do it this way. And I can always change the environment at any stage of development if I need to.

My very basic plan (for now) is to sculpt and form all environment areas, get the land, mountains and lake the way I want them to look, then add in the trees, grass, dirt, etc. until I have a pretty good and natural looking environment to be in.

After that I will probably lay down all the roads, and get a good layout of how I want them to be, then start placing buildings, and figuring out the mechanics of how to make those work such as opening doors/windows/drawers/cabinets, figuring out how to do plumbing/electricity, etc.

Once I have all of things that will fill the world in place, and all of the mechanics that make everything I want the player to be able to do work, I will then worry about NPC’s if any, multiplayer, different game modes, animations, etc.

I will say this as well, because I have no game building experience, there will probably be very few things that I create myself, such as objects. When I get to that point I will of course try, and I will definitely try to fill my game with as much of my own created content as I possibly can. But to save time and stress, a good portion will probably be assets purchased from the marketplace, which I will alter if need be. After all, that’s what they are for.

So, is this a good plan? Will building from the ground up like this and giving myself an ordered list of things that I need to learn to do help?

Thank you everyone.

And as always, any awesome tutorials you guys could point me to, especially on environment creation would be appreciated!

Don’t know how original that is, but its good you’ve thought about it as it deepens the story.
For realism the marketplace will be some help (not all), along with the other stuff found here.
But its a hard call, as UE4 rewards you for craft, but also punishes you for not doing enough.
So see what others say, but I think its best to stay away from realism altogether if possible.
Unless you’ve solid 3D skills / have a team. But hey I suffer by not following my own advice! :stuck_out_tongue:

Overall I tend to work the way you’re proposing but I think its a mistake. Get Gameplay done first!

Well make sure to differentiate your gameplay now from other survival’ers. Its harder than you think.
Also, Multiplayer can’t simply be bolted on. Devs who think that tend to get a nasty punch later on!

“Don’t know how original that is, but its good you’ve thought about it as it deepens the story.
For realism the marketplace will be of some help, along with possibly all the other stuff here.
But its a hard call, as UE4 rewards you for graft, but also punishes you for not doing enough.
So see what others say, but I think its best to stay away from realism altogether if possible.
Unless you’ve solid 3D skills / have a team. But hey I suffer by not following my own advice!”

I have a few things so far that will be original and unique when comparing to other survival games. For instance, every building will be enterable, all openable things in the buildings you can open, you can stash anything you want anywhere, running water/electricity, etc. A cool feature that I want to have also, is that if you put on headgear that obstructs your vision, e.g. a gas mask or biker helmet, it will actually obstruct your vision like it would in real life.

I’m also doing away with some of the survival game ideas such as chopping down trees, because let’s face it, no one would do that in real life. I want to make things simpler but more realistic, but not so hard that you have to spend hours just to look for one thing you need, and items will be in places you would expect them to be unlike other games. E.g., Day Z.

And as for realism, I want it to look good. Obviously though because I have no skills/team, it won’t look like Crysis. But I’m pretty sure even I could put together something that looks relatively good with some research and practice.

“Overall I tend to work the way you’re proposing but I think its a mistake. Get Gameplay done first!”

The environment and the stuff in it can be changed whenever. I would like to have that in place before gameplay, especially because gameplay will take the longest to develop.

“Well make sure to differentiate your gameplay now from other survival’ers. Its harder than you think.
Also, Multiplayer can’t simply be bolted on. Devs who think that tend to get a nasty punch later on!
And lastly whatever you do, make certain the gameplay itself is worth all the effort of solid realism.”

As far as gameplay goes I’m going to put a different twist on it I think. Something that is rarely if at all done in survival games.

And I have no clue how to implement multiplayer, but I’ll tackle that issue when I get to it.

And I wouldn’t call every aspect of my game realistic. For the most part I want it to look as realistic as I can, but the gameplay mechanics will be a mix of realism and something else. I don’t want to sacrifice fun for realism, ever. So I’m definitely not going to make a player search for hours just to find something, or kill them within an hour because they didn’t eat anything. Ha.

Sure, but that’s a lot of work without offering a compelling gameplay mechanic or dramatic twist…

Sure, but again that’s not a compelling gameplay mechanic or dramatic twist… Its just less grind!

Realism doesn’t necessarily mean looking good anyway. Looking good just means looking good enough.
For instance it could be said there’s lots of holes in the visuals of Borderlands 2, but it still looks good!

There’s an argument that they both take a long time especially when realism is part of the equation.

Talk to gamers you trust. Make sure that its not just rare because its not wanted etc.

Games without NPCs / Multiplayer often use puzzles, horror, something like that…
So ok leave MP for now, but just be clear about what that something really is etc.

Sure, but even working solo, talk to gamers, make sure the idea has legs.