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Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 18th, 2013, 8:59 am
by Mike
So lately I have been thinking about putting the newer, improved graphics engine but unreleased version of Sandbox on Steam. The reason for this is that then I could pay a coder to maintain and improve the Sandbox codebase and also pay a modeler to create new assets that could be used commercially such as monster models, terrain models, etc. I could potentially hire someone to do textures for us too but there are tons of good free ones on the web. This would mean that I would have to charge for Sandbox because Steam doesn't let things on there for free, the free games on there all have cash shops. I was hoping/thinking I could set it as something cheap such as $5. I'm not sure how much Steam would take out of that cut but I'd like to keep it inexpensive but enough to help keep things flowing. Maybe I could even hire several coders so we could have them focus each on an area such as one on the FPS, one on the RPG, one on the Sidescroller, etc. I would also really like to get vehicle mode at a state where you could use it for a GTA like game and/or mario kart like game. What are your thoughts? What do you think is a good price point? Also the editons on the older graphics engines will always be free and I would imagine I could be keeping the SVN open too. Thanks and take care!

Re: Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 18th, 2013, 3:44 pm
by jakedude435
Well you can take examples from Game Maker Studio on Steam as it is essentially your competition for game design programs on Steam.
Of course they are a team of several hundred so you get the several hundred price too :lol:

The fee Steam takes from you is not set in stone, that's something you have to go over with them, but it's probably safe to assume around 50% at max.

For the price, I mean getting new employees, building new assets, getting some extra progress in vehicle use, Plus the fee steam will charge, I would consider it reasonable at around $19.99 or something you could snag with a $20 card.

As far as assets, you can always use more 3d models, but I personally think there are plenty of textures. At times I feel like I can drown in the textures that are available with the program (this is a good thing).

As far as the cars, personally I believe the GTA approach would be best because it can cover a vast area, even in pro racing or mario kart the user could just make it so the player starts in the pit then gets in the car to go to the starting line, and etc.
It would be a good idea to let the user be able to set the acceleration, top speed, turn rate, brake rate, the drive type (front wheel, rear 4x4), weight, and drift sensitivity (how much if at all the car can drift), of whatever car object they are using, that way it simplifies the settings while allowing for everyone to get out of it what they want/need.
I realize that some of these are already in place in their own way, I only mean these options as a whole for what can be changed.
Personally I would love to be able to make something similar to Initial D, but I'd also like to make something that feels like Forza/Gran Turismo. And really the only difference between the two is how hard you can drift, and the turn rate.
And I'm sure some want to make a hotwheels-esk game, in which case the difference is the car weight, top speed, and turn rate.

Oh, you probably have no idea what Initial D is, ummm... Here, quick 4 minutes of gameplay

Sorry, I dragged out the side topic of driving games a bit. I really enjoy making/playing those :D

Although this is just my take on all this stuff.

Re: Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 21st, 2013, 1:36 pm
by Mike
Awesome post, thank you so much for all of the insight!! You know what game I'd love to recreate? DESTRUCTION DERBY!! That game was soooo fun. I'm not sure if they have any versions beyond the playstation 1 game, I'll have to look it up. Thanks for the video of initial D! Perhaps I'll even start some kind of committee/organization/whatever to help me think on the things Sandbox needs most and where Sandbox should go. That'd be kinda neat! :D

Re: Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 24th, 2013, 4:49 am
by jakedude435
I'm glad to help where I can, this is a great program, and I'd like to see it thrive for many years to come.
I'll be honest with ya, I used Game Maker throughout my childhood for 2D design and it was good and fun for that, but using it for 3d design, it's so complicated its discouraging to even try.
I didn't really get into 3d game design until a couple years ago, and pretty much all of the 3d game designers are way complicated, even today Sandbox one is the only one that does not feel intimidating to me.

Ooooh yeah Destruction Derby, that would be a great one to recreate and expand on, and on that topic, definitely look into Destruction Derby 64. I know the PS1 games had better graphics, but the gameplay of 64 is truly one of a kind. I have searched for ages and failed to find something even generally close.
To be put simply: 12 racers, 6 go one direction on the track, 6 go the other. Let the mayhem and head-on collisions commence.
Heres a video of it as well, because words don't give it justice

My only issue with making this sort of game is you either need some sorta way for the 3d object to morph as it gets mashed like in GRID 2, or go old school with a bunch of 3d objects that it switches between depending on where the damage is.
Which means either:
A, a code that is probably immensely complex to re-shape a 3d object.
B, an obnoxious number of 3d objects per car. (I think Destruction Derby 64 used somewhere around 6 or 7 per car, which is insane for a 32mb game)
If you wanna get even more detailed while staying in the arcade feel, you can also add in for if any of the 4 tires are missing or flat, and the change in handling and speed to match.

For large groups or companies doing that, it's a fine way to go about it, but for those of us doing this as a hobby....... yeah........ :?

I also think the committee/organization/whatever idea is really good, there's a great community out there just beaming with brilliant ideas, perhaps a simple and generally easy start would be a specific area of the board to post suggestions for the program, things to expand on, things that may be good to add, etc? (Like this but more like a section and less like a thread)
Maybe see about a vote counter like some places have (a lot of EA forums for example), on whether the idea is good or not, let the community decide the best ideas to simplify it for you. (Also good in case someone puts up an idea already implemented or that's just dumb and/or out of place, so that way the blame for it not being addressed does not fall on your shoulders ;) )

Something else I found, not novice friendly likeSandbox is, but the features are eye-catching, its a game designer called "Unity" they have some good ideas that you may be able to get some inspiration from.

Personally I would like to point out the store they use, its a useful idea for those of us looking to snag some cheap resources from a trusted source, while making money off our own resources, if we choose to put them for sale. You could also take a cut from the sales for server fees and whatnot.
It would also allow you to release more resources for the program as DLC, without the need to put out a new version of the program or an update just for some extras that don't change how anything works or add features. (like a set of car models and textures for instance)
To top it off, the extra from this might make the budget easier so the base program on steam could be cheaper. Depending on how you wanna juggle things. The Game series on steam called "Trainz" is a good example of this as the majority of their money comes from DLC.

Some things I should have also covered before, Steam is probably the best place to go to, if nothing else for the sheer innumerable amounts of traffic you would get from the userbase of over 3 million, it's also one of the most trusted places for online game purchases seeing as those of us who are not fond of using credit cards online (like me) can just purchase a wallet card down at [electronics store] for $20 or $50, etc.
To top that all off Steam is probably the only game store out there that supports Windows, Mac and Linux.

Again though, just my thoughts on all of this stuff.
(Very long-winded thoughts :lol: )

Double checking the rules for this part.... Seems okay. Please edit it out or tell me to, if it's not okay.
If you, or anyone else that may be reading this, wants to pick my brain, off-forum, you can use my skype jake_dude435 (username shows as Jonathan/Mar) I'm usually online between 3PM and 3AM Central Standard Time (US and Canada). I'm nocturnal :D
Of course I'll still keep an eye on this thread and post anything seemingly helpful that comes to mind.

Re: Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 24th, 2013, 2:54 pm
by Mike
One thing I was thinking about is yeah we can do all these game types and stuff to serve as a base but that's the games WE want to make. I want to make things easier so people can do what they want. That certainly isn't easy. Also I want to try to set up a meeting soon with whoever is interested in hammer out what direction exactly SB needs to go in and try to improve on my list for what I would be paying the coders to do. Also I'd really like try to combine all the modes into one mode if possible and have "mods" off the core mode vs all these different game types. I think one possible way is to do more through scripts than the source. Look at all the mods created for doom 3, you had RPGs, top down, etc.

Re: Thoughts About Sandbox On Steam

Posted: September 24th, 2013, 6:38 pm
by jakedude435
Well if I learned anything from the Game Maker community it was this: if you are looking for something like Game Maker or Sandbox, your looking for a starting point, somewhere where the complicated base points are already covered and you just change things to how you want, and only the advanced users who have learned from changing pre-built games are looking to build from scratch.
There are a lot of users that are advanced from point A but they will probably go with something like Unity or Visual Studio, unless they are looking for something that will help speed up the design process.

Of course a scripting language the user can use would be needed (preferably something simple like Python, XML, or C++), but also there should be a menu thing for those of us who are still learning and need that starting point for every object, or even just certain ones that we can just mess with until it works like we want.

This is what I think would be a simple way of going about it from how the end user would be seeing it
a per-object right-click menu, so like you have 3d object A, you right click it and you can edit it's script, or choose what it is, character, monster, vehicle, decoration, weapon, effect object, etc. (let's say we choose vehicle)
Then it goes into the sub-categories like car, space ship, train. (let's say we chose car)
Then whether it's a player, NPC or something in-between the two. (let's say we chose NPC)
And lastly the attributes like top speed, acceleration, weight, a driving line map, crash physics type, crash avoidance type, etc.
Going through all this will erase any script for that one object, if there is any, and put in a new script built off the choices the user made. Which the user can then come back and edit how they please through the 'edit script' option on right click. This idea is also good for a fresh start on an object if you mess it up beyond repair.
And the scripts setup by this process could have notations in it that explain how each part works to newcomers.
Kinda like a cheat sheet sort of deal.
Plus this method makes it easier for your guys/you to add more pre-built scripts on a whim.
(removed something in this area as I realized it was stupid and pointless)
Advanced users would also want an optional side menu you can use to select an object that's already placed and edit it or move to it, to save the hassle of flying around a gigantic map.

This way it makes the main parts of code simple and fast for not only the ones trying to learn or just mess around, but it will be quick and convenient for the advanced users as well.

Since sandbox is a 3d editor there's also the level designer, the world needs it's own scripts and what not, like being able to right click the ground and edit and you get a brush thing and a menu to paint the height and texture of the land, Have a bucket to fill land indentions with water by clicking and/or holding down, and have it so if the water flows with gravity so if it is going downhill it will be like rapids, and if it goes off a cliff it's like a waterfall, and a raise/lower paint brush for the water if you want to create some sort of magic water wall or something.
The simple way is to set the height of the water layer, but if you do that any lakes will have to be lower than any underground cities or mines, caves, etc, and as games like Wurm online show, that does not make for a pretty landscape.
Paintbrushes for quick painting/generating forests of different types with rocks and trees and whatnot, with the option as well to place such things individually.
And of course custom texture and paintbrush shape options (which would easily be done through .png files)

And the parts on objects that you see in the designer that let you drag it, re-size it, rotate it, etc, in whatever direction based off an axis, for simple placement in a 3d world.

Plus a weather/climate layer editor so you can paint what areas rain, snow, cycle, rain fire, etc. And weather scripts as well if you want to make your own weather, like say, raining dogs that are on fire (Elder scrolls 4 reference).

Oh and land layers (just came to mind) where you can create a second, third, etc, ground layer at a specified height. Like if you want to make floating islands, so you won't have to do it minecraft style and have it held up by this one random tiny pole that you expanded the top of to make the landmass.
And an option for no land layers so it ends up nothing-ness like space so people can put planet 3d objects for space games and such.

Again though just my ideas from my experiences and people I have talked to, and I realize some of these ideas are already implemented, I just mean as a whole on how it would work in the idea.

And I'd be glad to join in on the meeting if you would be interested on my thoughts in the matters, including/beyond what has been said in this thread.
Just as long as it's not an in-person thing, I don't exactly have the cash to be traveling wherever on a whim :lol:
But Skype, Yahoo, AIM, forum thread, IRC, whatever is cool with me, if I don't have an account with the place you prefer I can make one. (I may need a short tutorial for IRC if you go that rout and I have to use a download client, I tend to get confused with that thing :D )

I find it odd that we're the only ones posting here...
HEY, OTHER PEOPLE, I know your reading this, don't let me be the only end-user showing interest in improving the program, post some ideas, thoughts, if you have a better idea then me say it.

Also I was thinking about the scripting language for the end-user to use, it will probably be the most important thing to change because it will effect pretty much everything, but if you do something like XML, you're basically gonna have to make your own scripting language based off it for any decent 3d support, like Game Maker did (they used GML which is a modified XML). I mean it's an option if you really wanna put your foot in it, but definitely not a easy thing to do.
So perhaps a better option would be Python or C++.
The problem between the two is that while Python is easier and faster to write, C++ is going to have more capabilities and better performance.
If it's going the cheat sheet rout like I mentioned earlier in this post, it may be best to do C++ for the extra features and performance, and users can continue to use the menus until they have a good enough grasp of the language to personally write it.

One more thing that just now came to my mind, I don't know what it's called but you know how in RPGs there are different areas? It's not just one oversized open world, even if it seems so? That ability, so the areas can be made smaller for weaker computers or mobile devices, and it makes it easier to do things like other dimensions for instance in elder scrolls 4 how the shivering isles is a completely different map then cyrodiil, for many reasons.