I have always wanted to make games, but i just don't seem to have the brain capacity to get my head around programming. I tried so many times but always got stuck and gave up.

That changed when i found out about visual scripting and have since made a handful of little games, a few larger projects that i am doing in my spare time and have recently released a 3d painting app called FlowScape currently featured on itch.io

As a 48 year old, i am having an absolute blast being creative and making things for people to enjoy. Its easily the most fulfilling job (if you can call it that) i have ever done.

If you have ever wanted to make a game, AMA and i can show you how to get started.

Proof on Twitter

Here are some games, prototypes, fun stuff that i have made:

FlowScape

A space strategy game

I love old planes, so top down spitfire dogfighting had to be done

I fondly remember Lunar Lander, so i made one in an alien cave

Big fan of dinosaurs!

A game where you fly like an eagle

A silly little prototype where you can fly like superman in VR

which led to more superpower interactions :)

I have always wanted to ride horses, so why not

Comments: 215 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

Luftwaffls118 karma

So pardon my ignorance, but what IS visual scripting and how does it bypass coding? I admit to being quite interested in the idea of avoiding coding, since although I can code C "fine", it's much more of a time investment to learn whatever language a game engine is in and I'm no master at coding

ThrustVector9127 karma

Say you want to Raycast into the scene, which is basically a laser that shoots from one spot to another and detects what it hits.

In C# you have to do something like this

With visual scripting you drag and drop nodes that you connect together, for an artist it is really great being able to visualize things

Here is an example of using raycasting to destroy an object in visual scripting

Right now it doesnt do anything because its not hooked up to an action, so we add input events to a mouse click like this Now we can click on an object to destroy it

pretty boring so lets rotate the camera based on mouse input get rid of the raycast and replace it with a spawn prefab node to fire a bullet, get the rotation of the camera, add it to the bullet and give it some force, when it collides destroy what it hits Like this

Now we are halfway done in making the next Call of dooty

MasterOfComments68 karma

To be fair though. It requires the same logic thinking needed for both programming and visual scripting. If you can learn yourself one of them, you can learn the other just as easy

ThrustVector996 karma

The same logic thinking, yes you are absolutely correct, the trouble i have with programming is that i know exactly what i want to do, but i am held back by not knowing the language. Maybe my brain is too old and full, maybe im dyslexic ha.

but ive always felt programming to be like learning a new language, except that if you dont pronounce it exactly like it should be pronounced, no one will understand you :)

mrsmiley32199 karma

Just code like the rest of us professionals, Google what you want done, find the first stackoverflow post, copy and paste. Tweak to perfection.

ThrustVector920 karma

Thats exactly how i began, have an upvote :)

Wilfy502 karma

What do you work with for this? I know a little about unity having made a few games with it, but there were scripts involved. I’m also no master at coding, so thankfully the required scripts are pretty easy. I believe there are more powerful tools in unity to do at least “some” of what you describe, but, well... so what do you use? Thanks.

ThrustVector93 karma

I use uScript, but there is also Bolt and Playmaker. Check them out, and pick the one that is most logical for you

Zuroll18 karma

What programs are you using? Can you recommend some cheap ones? Did you learn by trial and error or with guidance?

ThrustVector923 karma

I personally use Unity but Unreal is great too with built in visual scripting. For simpler things i hear Game maker is great.

Trial and error, i prefer the word tinker :) there are so many online resources for all of the above, that a quick google search will usually answer any question you may have.

lmunck14 karma

How do you get all the 3D assets? Do you make them yourself, and if so, how?

ThrustVector94 karma

I know how to 3d model, so i can make everything i need, however some games require a lot of assets and it would take me an insane amount of time to make everything, so i weigh up the time/cost benefit and sometimes end up buying assets on either the unity asset store or turbosquid. When something may take 1 day or longer to model and it only costs $30 i will likely just buy it. The space game is one such example, where most of the models come from a guy who just makes spaceships. They are great and cost around 20, it would take me days to model those myself, and i dont fancy my time to be worth $1 per hour

Cortexx_12 karma

Sorry if you've already answered this question (Sorry!), but how would a young person (Teen/Adolescent) get into this kind of stuff? Any kind of classes or anything they could take in school to help with it? Thanks!

ThrustVector918 karma

Its very intuitive, especially so if you are a young teen who grew up with technology. I would skip the classes that would teach you 99 things you may never use and just download unity or unreal and start tinkering.

Download some projects, check out the scripts attached that make the game do what it does, maybe coding is right up your alley, maybe you prefer visual scripting, the beauty of the internet is there are thousands of tutorials on youtube and various websites.

I have a friend who works in a large company and does a lot of the hiring, he confided in me that he hires people who are self starters over people with degrees because they are problem solvers

Good luck!

thetossout5 karma

I'd like to echo what everyone else who replied to you has said. I've been a game developer for 13 years now, and I've worked on small Xbox Live Arcade games, indie games of small and large budgets, and several AAA titles (one of which won multiple game of the year awards, and a Game Award - Oscars for games, basically - as well).

I never went to school for any of this. I studied english and east asian studies in college. If you're curious, though, and stick with it while learning what you can from books and online courses, you can do it. A degree in game design is not required. The internet, and grit, provides. :)

Also, if you're the kind of nerd this would appeal to: design pen and paper tabletop RPGs, or card games, or board games. A lot of game design involves what are called "paper prototypes" - mockups you can hold in your hand that simulate the kind of systems you'd want to build. And that experience is invaluable, if you want to do design rather than engineering or art.

ThrustVector91 karma

I never went to school for any of this

High Five!

JamesMccloud36011 karma

Hey! As someone who codes in their spare time this is interesting. I'm going to ask the obvious question have you made much money ? Programming is quite a steep learning curve but these days with the material available learning is a lot easier. The python book automate the boring stuff is fantastic for learning the basics. I will check out the thing you mentioned can you still use code with it?

ThrustVector920 karma

you made much money

Enough to pay the rent, not enough to buy an island :)

can you still use code with it?

Absolutely, you can use both together if you already know how to program simple things and want to use visual scripting for the more complex stuff

nooblet988 karma

should i do this instead? i make 45k at office job :(

ThrustVector916 karma

Dont quit your job, start making games in your spare time, maybe it will provide a better income and then you can quit your job :)

CumfartablyNumb5 karma

How did you monetize your games? If I could find a creative outlet that allowed me to earn more on the side my life would be complete!

What about all the art assets? For example, those Spitfires. Did you make them yourself?

ThrustVector97 karma

There are quite a few stores you can sell your games on, flowscape is currently on itch.io, which is very indie friendly, if your product is good you can sell it on steam, but that usually requires a good marketing budget to start with, as your game is competing for the front page against big titles.

As for the models, im a 3d artist and can make a lot myself, but i weigh the time it would cost me to create something against the cost of the asset and a lot of the time i can find a good 3d asset that costs 30 bucks but it would take half a day or more to create, so then its an easy decision and i buy it either on the asset store or turbosquid, which is usually more expensive but the quality is better

xilefian4 karma

Absolutely, you can use both together if you already know how to program simple things and want to use visual scripting for the more complex stuff

Amusingly in the industry we do this the other way around. Program the complex stuff, use scripting (visual or otherwise) for the easy stuff. You'd set up a door opening by a button with a script, but you'd program the networking engine that sends that door open command to the other players.

ThrustVector92 karma

If you are a company that is true, as an individual its the only choice you have

JamesMccloud3603 karma

They all look amazing. Will subscribe. What are you using for visual scripting?

ThrustVector99 karma

I use uScript, there are others such as bolt and playmaker, unity is also working on their own visual scripting system that will be free if you want to wait a few months.

Sargent_Caboose6 karma

What’s your tips for someone wanting to get in the industry?

ThrustVector923 karma

Start small, its easy to get carried away by wanting to make (insert popular AAA game here) and then get discouraged by the amount of work involved. Make small prototypes, satisfaction of getting small key pieces to work in a matter of hours is better than working months or years on something you end up giving up on due to complexity.

If you want to get a job in the industry, showing dozens of prototypes is more valuable than 1 30 second trailer of a bigger project.

Dr_Ukato6 karma

I too want to make games but I can’t draw or code. My power of imagination however is very strong. I can sit down an afternoon and come up with several concepts for games and stories before evening. Is there a place in game development for someone who just knows how to plan games?

ThrustVector98 karma

The position you are looking for is game designer, but to be totally honest, you would need to know about making games and have been in the industry for quite some time to be offered such a job.

Even if you have no art or coding skills, you can still make games.

With visual scripting for coding and assets you can either get for free or pay for, there really is only time stopping you.

Check out some of the cool stuff you can get on the Unreal marketplace and Unity asset store

Pahoalili5 karma

FlowScape looks wonderful, but all I have is an IPad so can’t play it. Any chance it could be some day?

Also, can you play with water courses with the program? Like having a river and being able to dam it to change the water flow.

ThrustVector96 karma

Thank you! Sadly the graphics required to run flowscape wouldn't be feasible on an ipad. The water flow is an interesting idea, it doesnt do that at the moment, but i have some ideas brewing on how to achieve that.

awepickles4 karma

First of all, I absolutely love Lunar Lander, so I had to check that out and was NOT disappointed. Secondly, what on earth, visual scripting?! As a woman who took 3 days to successfully code "Hello World" into a Twine game, you have my attention. (Now if I could get my kids to think my Twine games were cool I'd have THEIR attention!)

How did you come across visual scripting and have you continued to try and grow coding wise since discovering it, or have you ran with what you find works?

ThrustVector94 karma

Lunar lander was just a weekend project, its a combination of some very simple control scripts and a bunch of free art assets from this guy

http://www.brainblinks.com/#/stockpile/

Then i wanted to add more features such as refueling and upgrades and weapons to maybe fight the aliens that you discover in the cave... and that ladies and gentlemen is called feature creep :)

So i have shelved it for the moment until i have the time to add to it some more.

Now if I could get my kids to think my Twine games were cool I'd have THEIR attention!

Ha, ive used twine, very neat!

If you want to get your kids into making stuff check out Unity's Playground

have you continued to try and grow coding wise

No, i go with what works for me, i made FlowScape in 2 month, It would take me years if i tried to code it in C#

I also avoid being distracted by new shiny things, Unreal looks amazing, but the time it would take me to learn it would be better of spent making things in ways i know how :)

Sch3lp4 karma

How difficult is it to change something to your visual scripts when something’s wrong?

Does it (the IDE) come with tests you’re able to run within an acceptable duration?

How scared are you to change code you know works, to for example introduce a new feature or to fix a bug?

ThrustVector94 karma

It is really easy, since you can visualise where nodes connect, its pretty easy to see where the problem lies should it not work.

I think visual scripting is great at prototyping, changing nodes around and relinking takes seconds to test out new features

graham_d_c3 karma

Is it just games that you can create from using visual code? Or can you make other programs? I work in the security Industry so I would love to make a CCTV or access control program of my own. I too have tried many times to learn to code but just can't see through the matrix

ThrustVector92 karma

but just can't see through the matrix

You described this very well haha

Yes of course, game engines are not really game engines, they are real-time engines, what you use it for is completely up to you.

HeartwoodEditions3 karma

Sorry I'm still not clear, what software did you use to make these prototypes?

ThrustVector95 karma

Unity, you can use Unreal as well, for myself i stick with what i know rather than get distracted by the next shiny thing (and yes Unreal is very shiny)

sell_me_on_it3 karma

Have you always been an artist in your professional career?

Are you currently "retired"? By that I mean do you work other than making games?

How much time per week do you devote to making games?

I've always wanted to make games, both digital and analog since I was very young. But life pulled me a different way. I feel like I've wasted a lot of time not pursuing my interests. And that I'm behind the curve and won't be able to take on self-fulfilling projects in any meaningful way without putting strain on my family.

ThrustVector93 karma

Have you always been an artist in your professional career?

mostly, about 20 years of 3d modeling and vfx

Are you currently "retired"? By that I mean do you work other than making games?

I have about 10ish hours a week of other contract work, the majority is from friends who i have worked with for years, the rest of the time i spend on making games or hanging out with my kids.

I dont know how old your kids are, but you could learn to make games with them. 2 birds with one stone?

aMissionUgrad3 karma

How much has not being able to code impacted your ability to creatively express yourself through the medium of video games?

Specifically, I’m curious if you are running into any limitations of creating a game via visual scripting as opposed to creating objects via custom code.

ThrustVector96 karma

There are certainly some things that I can't do with just visual scripting and I would either need to learn how to code or hire someone to help me. For instance multiplayer networking is not a trivial thing to implement, so it's either code it or buy a solution from the asset store.

That said, as far as gameplay mechanics are concerned I have not yet come across anything I wasn't able to do yet. Uscript let's you access scripts others have made via a thing called reflection, which let's you access any parameters exposed by the script and manipulate it.

snorkles013 karma

I'm really curious what aspect of coding do you have difficulty with? I'm of the belief almost anyone can become good at programming if you spend the time and learn it correctly.

ThrustVector92 karma

You are likely correct, for me it was a choice between learning to code in C# or actually making games in visual scripting. At the end of the day i have games that i can sell, made in a way i am comfortable at. If i were to have spent the last few years learning to code, i doubt i would have made any game at all.

TheGrandSchmup2 karma

This isn’t a question about how you make the games so I dunno if it counts, but some of these games/prototypes look really good! Do you have any of them also on itch.io or on another website? The space strategy one looks especially amazing.

ThrustVector93 karma

Thanks! Space strategy game is about 80% done, im currently working on a storyline for it, my inspiration was Homeworld and that had a good story, so i really think i needed that instead of just releasing an RTS with Aliens just trying to kill you

SmallMcDonaldsFries2 karma

I have been wanting to make a game for about 1 year now, based off a very vivid dream I had about a variation game of chess that i tentatively call Chess 9000. basically Chess with all the same pieces and and board, only some changes to the rules. I have never coded anything before, have any tips on how to get started? I will look into visual scripting

ThrustVector92 karma

im not 100% sure you could do that with visual scripting, there are people who dedicate large portions of their lives making chess ai, but if you want to make a multiplayer only, then go for it!

TheDrizzle542 karma

How much of your personal time would you say have you sacrificed from friends and family to develop a game? And were they understanding of what you were doing?

ThrustVector92 karma

Working for yourself means making your own hours. My kids come first and I will drop whatever I'm doing if they want to do something. I have become less socially active with friends, but I honestly don't miss it.

Bobby-Samsonite2 karma

How often are you on Reddit and what are your favorite subreddits?

ThrustVector92 karma

Daily, i mostly hang around r/gamedev r/unity3d and /r/games

but have a guilty pleasure of r/beamazed and r/woahdude :)

TemporaryDomicile2 karma

What was the most difficult part about becoming a video game designer?

ThrustVector93 karma

Programming was the only thing that was holding me back, you can get art assets, music, sound effects, ui examples, but there is no way you can make a game without knowing how to code, so thats where having visual scripting has helped me immensely.

crabapplesteam2 karma

[deleted]

ThrustVector93 karma

While every company is different and what im about to say does not happen everywhere, i personally would not want to work in the games industry at another company. I hear a lot of complaints of long working hours with a ton of unnecessary crunch and very little job security. My advice would be to make your own things, release them, repeat, until you have enough out there or a big hit that you can quit your day job. Being a freelancer is a good way of doing this, i have been freelancing for a number of years now and every year i need to do less freelancing to make ends meet.

crabapplesteam2 karma

[deleted]

ThrustVector92 karma

hmmm i will have to pass on that one as i dont really network much in this industry, i think with age im turning into a recluse haha.

but feel free to fire that question in r/gamedev, im sure you will get a good answer, you can also advertise your services in /gamedevclassifieds

yousaltybrah2 karma

I’m on an opposite end of the skills spectrum, i am a programmer but have very little graphic design or art knowledge. Can you give advice on how to get started if I want to make my own assets? I know I can get some for free, but I’d like to explore making my own.

ThrustVector92 karma

Blender is the perfect way to get into it for free. If you need something more powerful 3ds Max or Maya would be the best paid option. All are technical orientated programs. If you are after something that resembles sculpting in clay, there is Mudbox and ZBrush. If you want to make things that have straight lines like architectural models, Sketchup is super easy to use.

Hope that helps

Hippie2342 karma

I don’t really know what I’m talking about here and I’m kind of just a dreamer but I’ll ask anyway. When you put stuff in your games like the trees and animals in Flow Scape, are those models that are already in the program you’re using? Could you make models in something like Maya and import them? Do I even have a clue? xD

ThrustVector92 karma

You can buy assets, there are some free ones, but they are usually crap, Yes you can make them in any program and import them.

Alessio8912 karma

Hi thanks for the ama! I have almost the exact opposite problem. I'm a programmer and no matter how hard i try, i can't get myself to make decent art for my games. I worked and still work from time to time with big developers, but my dream is to make my own game from scratch, not only the coding side. I'm 30 and i feel like if i can't do it now (in the next 3 to 4 years) i won't be able to do it at all. My questions are: at what age did you start trying? Did you ever feel like you couldn't do it and wanted to give up? If so, how did you manage to stay focused on your objective even when you were 100% sure you couldn't code? Hope that doesn't come out tpo harsh, english isn't my first language :)

ThrustVector93 karma

For your art problem, if it is not your thing, i wouldnt force it, there are so many places you can get free or paid 3d models from that there really isnt any point in learning it from scratch if that is not your passion. I dont know how to make music, but im sure as hell not going to pick up the guitar and piano so i can make music for my game. Just outsource what you cant do!

Im 48, started making games 5ish years ago, just keep your expectations low with your first projects and keep at it :)

Mackinstyle2 karma

As a pretty hardcore programmer, I've dug into game development as a hobby a few times. In my opinion, coding is like 5% of the skillset of what it takes to develop a game. So I'm curious, do you feel like you're ever missing something without that skill/tool, or do you get by just fine?

ThrustVector92 karma

You are right, there is a lot of things you need to know to make a game. For art, i either make myself or if its cheaper i buy. Music i am awful at, so i buy or get royalty free. Ui i suck at, but i google some good ones and use that as a visual guide and i get by. coding i can do 99% of in visual scripts, if i really get stuck i get some help. Often if i cant get something working on uScript, the creator will make a node for me or suggest a way to do it.

GoldenshadowRic2 karma

This is incredible and you do this with out any coding. What about an RPG game or is there too many elements to consider?

You could make a great side scrolling game just going off what you have done already.

ThrustVector97 karma

There isn't really any limit to the kind of game you can make, so an RPG should be fine. When you first start out, your nodes look kind of messy as you are still learning, but after a while you make clean looking nodes and if you are diligent you put lots of comments :)

Chaonic1 karma

It's extremely hard to set foot in the industry. I'm working on games on the side. But overall, I just don't seem to make progress fast enough/sometimes at all. Maybe I lack professional experience?

Would you recommend to keep working? Changing the approach? Or give it up?

I'm 24 years old and have yet to find my first job.

Sorry, if my questions are a bit personal. Vut I feel like a lot of people might be in similar positions.

ThrustVector94 karma

If you are making games already yourself, focus less on getting a gamedev job and more on making your own games would be my advice. Stick to any job that pays your bills but gives you enough free time.

I just don't seem to make progress fast enough/sometimes at all

Here is a little trick i have found indispensable to finish things, I use Trello. That is the single most important tool that helps me get stuff done. I put every little thing i have to do on it, and when im done, i can move it to a Finished list, gives your brain a little dose of dopamine and at the end of the week you can see what you have accomplished.

EchospiritsYT1 karma

I am currently taking APCS at my school rn so I have basic knowledge of java. I love video games and I would really like to start making games, can you give me some steps to get started without code? Cuz you look like you have an awesome job

ThrustVector91 karma

Hey, just download unity and add uScript personal from the asset store, then check out some tutorials on youtube, that should get you started

athaleos1 karma

Is it possible to create rudimentary AI using your methods? I noticed that you have made strategy games which I assume need AI to some extent.

ThrustVector92 karma

I dont really know what the industry standard is for doing Ai, i think its state machines but for me i use switch nodes where you have one input and multiple outputs, and i just switch to what i want the Ai to do based on whats happening.

animated_nosleep1 karma

Thanks for doing this. How’d you get into making games, did you quit a prior career and make a shift? Was your career at all related to game making? Also, for coding do you have to reach out to freelancers at all?

ThrustVector91 karma

My background is 3d modeling, a few years back i imported an architectural model into Unity, was really nice to be able to walk around a model i created and was hooked instantly, thats how i got started in making games.

VariableVeritas1 karma

I love it! It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth with the coding thing. Where did you get the models for the space strategy sim? Is there a free market for stuff like that?

ThrustVector92 karma

Thanks, although i can make everything myself, the amount of 3d models i needed was just too much and i calculated that it would take me a year to make them all, so i opted to buy the assets so i could focus on coding the logic of the game. I still change them after i buy the models, usually add some new fins or alter the textures, but thats usually a few hours compared to a few days if i made them myself.

Asset store is amazing, theres a couple of guys on there that just pump out awesome spaceship models

Bung-Motor1 karma

Oh wow! Coding is seriously what's been holding me back! I've always wanted to go into Game Development, but I hate math and just can't stand doing it for a long period of time. Is it really a lot easier for more visually oriented people? I will check this out more when I'm not at work.

ThrustVector93 karma

I left school at 15, math skills are mediocre at best. Yes you can make games without knowing a lot of maths

Tig3rDawn1 karma

What are good networking events for getting into the gaming industry? (I have a physics and astronomy background, but my coding is only soso).

ThrustVector91 karma

ill have to pass on the networking question, as i dont really do any, but feel free to fire that question towards r/gamedev im sure they will have an answer

cainkarl1 karma

I'm trying to work on a game using RPG Maker and trying to recode it and create original artwork. I plan on asking for help, but I have not budgeted for it yet. I'm hoping to do so in March once I get my taxes dealt with. I would greatly prefer to use Unity, but when I did, I simply could not understand how to code it, even when I was given a fully customizable RPG base set. If I wanted to craft it, are there any better resources which allow it to be built like I can do in RPG Maker?

ThrustVector91 karma

uscript allows you to access scripts via reflection, which means when you import your RPG base scripts, you can access those scripts and change values and make interactions via nodes rather than scripting.

hope that helps

alwaysnear1 karma

Isn’t this heavily limited too? It’s like building your own house, but instead of being able to choose materials yourself, you’ll have to work with what has been given to you.

I might be wrong, but i looked into some of these sites back in the day. It’s was great for basic stuff, but really limited solution in the end.

ThrustVector91 karma

Yes you are correct, the learning curve to start from scratch to do this though is quite steep. Its a good intro to 3d and allows you to create landscapes in minutes instead of days