A bit of my perspective also:
So, why is the homebrew scene on the Amiga not as impressive?
To answer this, first, one needs to define what it really needs to make an impressive Amiga game:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
It simply takes more effort on Amiga. Amiga was the first machine where single bedroom coders doing an entire game were the rarity and not the norm.
That's right. That means that you would probably need a team first. But is the need for a team really the problem here? As far as I know, the community has already many experienced and eager to help gfx and music guys. And I've yet to see a game project failing to take off or finish because it's lacking on those departments. So it all boils down to coders and how determined -or dedicated- one can be to complete a game (whether impressive or not).
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
You want to do a platformer? Fine, then you have to compete with the efforts of Factor 5 20+ years ago.
You want to do a shoot em up? Fine, then you have the likes of Cope-Com who did stellar work in 1988!!
You want to do an adventure game? Fine..... take your best shot at Core Design and their Enchantia engine, or Lucasarts and their plethora of SCUMM games.
Agreed. So you need not only a dedicated crew, but an experienced one too.
This obviously applies to coder, gfx and music guys alike but -again- the supply of experienced and talented gfx/music people here -imho- is more than enough compared to the demand (and this is a global phenomenon, not only restricted to the amiga world btw). So the question to ask (that I obviously don't know) is how many experienced amiga coders -that are actively interested in game making- are out there in our community? (a lot might one say, but still...)
A call to arms for new programmers is -indeed- useful (or will be in the long run -god permits) but fails to answer "why is the homebrew scene on the Amiga not as impressive"...
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
Its not that people can't compete with the likes of Factor 5 et al, its simply a case of they took nearly a year to do Turrican on Amiga as their FULL TIME JOB........ and you want to do something that competes in less time before people get bored and leave the project????
Yes, it's also about the time needed to complete such a project. But this -inevitably- leads us back to my first point: Determination and dedication. If you're experienced you can have a rough estimation on what it takes, while if you're rookie (or working on virgin ground) you'd better add the extra time needed for learning and troubleshooting. In both cases it's the premise of completing and releasing a game that SHOULD be the prime motivation here (given the fact that you're willing to invest the needed time to reach your goal).
With the above thoughts in mind let's do a reality check on the scene and see what games are worked on, or released in the past few years till recently and why the answer falls short on the initial question about homebrew scene not being impressive:
- 1-1 conversions: this takes a large pie in the amiga game making world. Just from a quick look here on EAB, one can see that many game projects being worked on (and often finished thanx to the dedicated coders) belong to this category. Nothing to complain for here and a big thumbs up for the work and everyone involved from my part.
But as much as I respect and encourage those efforts, unfortunately -and by default- doing a 1-1 conversion is a safe bet on a proven concept (with all the design and creative work already done by the original game designers) that adds little or no new content to the scene other than proof that it can be done on amiga. Impressive? Perhaps, but only if seen from a strictly technical point of view.
- Remakes/sequels/conversions with new or original content: There's plenty of room for originality and a fresh experience to the end player here. This is pretty much the case with the Castlevania remake. It's an easier and safer path to take (compared to developing a completely new game concept from scratch) but we've yet to see such an undertaking done successfully on amiga.
- Mods/using existing game engines: Part from the recent Gloom conversions there's little going on regarding mods. It's too bad, really, cause there is some true potential that can be harnessed here and developed into fresh and new games. Generally speaking, using existing engines to retrofit a new -or similar concept is a practical solution that could (theoretically) save much time you would otherwise spend to re-invent the wheel (granted the code is available or -at least- easily reverse engineered). Unfortunately no amiga project has taken this path yet with success (anyways, none that I know of).
All the above categories are about recycling existing resources, either those are game concepts, engines or actual content (f.e. maps design, gfx, music and various other game features). But what about new, original games?
- Backbone and other similar amiga game making tools: In the absence of real (or experienced) programmers willing to help new projects with fresh code, the rest of the amiga world, that is dying to contribute or get involved with game making is left with little choice. Backbone, though decent in making simple games, is buggy, completely limited and comes with a terrible output performance. Very difficult to compete with Factor 5 under those conditions...
Currently Backbone takes the main bulk of the total releases in the amiga homebrew scene (when it comes to original games that is).
- Single person projects: From time to time, small projects pop up that are created or currently developed -mainly- by one person alone. Still it takes real talent (and quadruple the time) to get right all coding, gfx, music and game design (granted you have absolutely no help at all). By default, single person projects are small in scope and have a good probability to get released (having to deal with yourself only helps too). The rest of the releases in the scene come from this category.
- Team projects: This seems -unfortunately- NOT to be the norm in our days... It's not that game teams are not formed or engage into development currently. The big problem lies with them actually getting to release something and reach final product stage (often even demo stage). So what usually happens with those teams is that they either break up and cancel the project, continue development in a different platform or even stall production indefinitely.
The reasons behind those outcomes are many: lack of determination, boredom, real life getting in the way, technical problems, game's scope getting out of hand, disagreements with other members or simply a change in priorities. Whatever the case is and however you see it, the thing is that over the past years extremely few team projects have actually managed to create a complete and original game.
- Game concepts begging for support: Every now and then, several game concepts are brought into the public's attention (obviously I'm talking about serious proposals here). Usually the person (or team) asking for support has something to show in return (like a bit of code, demo, proof of concept , a worked out game design plan or even gfx). In most cases those projects fail to attract the necessary help and the posts are soon forgotten and obscured by the passing of time. There are literary dozens of such cases that come in mind...
My final thoughts on the issue:
It may strike many like I'm trying to play the blame game here (darn those evil coders!).
And the truth is that what I mention above is meant to be a bit provocative (well, I hope not too much and certainly not for all the wrong reasons).
Of course seeing the post from @Apollo above, one can understand that this coin has 2 sides (after all).
So perhaps the real failure (or inability) in the community is to get those different parties together (as I believe, it is not far from truth to speculate that there ARE enough talented, determined or eager to help experts in the scene).
Hopefully there are a couple of things we can do to improve this situation and I think EAB can help in this direction:
1) There are dozens of new WIP games that are lurking around in various threads all around EAB. It would help a lot if all those were moved to Game Factory.
2) A sticky thread or database of people that are willing to work and contribute in game making, their field of expertise or current status would be UBER useful.
3) Same with game projects that are looking to recruit members.
4) Going crowd funding for an amiga game may sound like a terrible idea but it has some potential. The question in our homebrew scene is fund what and who. It would actually make sense if experts that are willing to lend their services for a price stepped forward. But the first problem here is finding those.
5) Cammy's sticky thread about “amiga game making resources” is a first step towards the right direction. This could be largely expanded to contain not only links to other websites but also tools , examples and various other info regarding amiga game making.