For a long time I have wanted to write my own party-based RPG (think Neverwinter Nights 2, but without the glitches), but could never really work out how to get started. I have a story idea, but the nitty-gritty of implementing it just seemed overwhelming. Dead Earth is a different style of game but with underlying commonality so I thought I'd give the course a go.
I have found the Game Institute's Dead Earth tutorial series very deep and very intense, with a passion for doing things well. There has been a big focus on the use of a state machine for the zombies' AI which has obvious relevance to an RPG, although further down the line, and Gary adds things here and there to support possible multi-player features in the future, which give useful pointers for a party RPG.
What really helped me get properly started, though, was the underlying approach of getting a single level working well and looking good, even with mostly free assets, in combination with a structure and plan which make it easy to see what I have achieved after each stage.
Essentially the kinds of values which make a good tutorial series, things which encourage a learner to keep going even when it gets challenging, are also important, at least for me, in getting going on an ambitious game project. I want to feel I am making progress, but I also want to feel what I am producing is worth the effort.
I decided to start with a tutorial level for my game, where a new player is basically introduced to all the key game mechanics. This means I need to incorporate all the major game functions - movement, character interaction, combat, stealth, simple story, quests, etc - in a way which is simple and clear but looks good.
So far I've built the main tutorial level layout and added flexible movement: something which Dead Earth addresses is the challenge of getting animation root motion, path-finding and physics to play nicely together. 'Flexible' movement basically means WASD and/or click-to-move and/or gamepad all in the context of either an 'over-the-shoulder' camera or an isometric one. I plan to add touch screen movement later, but that needs UI work which will be easier to do once other on-screen interactions are better filled out.
I'm currently working on initial character selection/customisation - male or female at present - and naming. These are important for player engagement, but the particular emphasis and challenge of this phase lies around game/scene management and party character management, where I am working to apply concepts learned during the Dead Earth tutorials. Hopefully I'll soon have a smooth transition between the selection scene and the main tutorial scene.
Logically the next step after that would be NPC interaction but I do rather fancy being able to hit things, and there is quite a lot in Dead Earth I can repurpose for that.
I'll see, but in the meantime I would say that I am very pleased to have followed the GI tutorial series as it has given me the motivation and the inspiration I needed to make a start on really getting my teeth into implementing my game idea.