The trouble with coding your own game engine is that the best features are often the ones that the outside viewer can’t appreciate. You can be working on a game engine for weeks or months, possibly years, but the vast majority of that time is involved in coding back-end material such as setting up the game engine to receive and store creative content. But the content that most people take notice of is the flashy stuff – the artwork, the sound, the visual layout. When it finally becomes time to add that flashy material, the process goes by very quickly (from the coder standpoint anyway).
With our combat engine for “Tainted Sword”, it has taken Kevin and myself a significant amount of time and effort to build it from scratch. For most of that time period, the combat engine looked very plain and boring to most observers. We had a plain white background for a while, then Kevin made a background image using green arrows for trees. I sketched some hideous placeholder art for the party characters and the monsters. The combat engine was very robust and entertaining, but it looked horrible.
However on Monday, we finally gave it some polish. We added some new artwork for the monsters and characters (drawn for us by a far more skilled visual artist), and pulled a photograph off the ‘net to sub in for a background image. This process took no more than a couple of minutes to do. And… wow! What a difference it makes!
But to be fair, while the visual flair of the art brings players in, it’s the intricacies of the game engine that keeps the players involved. The game can look as pretty as you want, but it still needs to have substance and be fun to play. With any luck we’ll have the ‘fun to play’ part down, but we just need the artists to bring the game and story to life.
Interested in contributing? Please let us know!