If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a great believer in experiential learning, and learning through doing. So working under the assumption that we’ll learn most about game design from actually trying to build a game or two, I’ve found an game creation application that let’s us do exactly that…
Game Maker has been developed since 1999 as an educational, game development application by Mark Overmars.
Game Maker provides a complete game creation environment, that allows you to design, build and play your own computer games. Game Maker is ideal for building 2 dimensional arcade style games, although it can also be used to create 3D games. There are several game development environments designed specifically for creating 3D games, but they tend to be rather complex.
One of the advantages of Game Maker’s visual design interface is that you don’t need any experience of computer programing to get started, (although if you are a programmer, you’ll find there are ways of getting your hands actual code if you want to!).
So, before we being, you’ll need to download and install Game Maker…
Download Game Maker (for free) from the YoYo Games website: http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker/try
Install it on your computer…
When you start Game Maker, you will be asked if you want to register for the commercial version. From looking at what the free version of Game Maker offers, I think it will do just fine (so you can just say no to buying the commercial version of the game – click on “Don’t Upgrade Now”), but if you do want to pay for the upgrade, I won’t stop you!
Game Maker will only run under a Windows operating system (which is a pain for Mac users like me :-(
If you do have an Intel Mac computer, Game Maker seems to run okay on a Windows partition installed under Boot Camp or Parallels.
(Y)Our First Game :-)
“Your First Game” is a simple, 2D arcade game in which you must catch clown as it runs around a circus arena. I’m guessing that the first activity I’m going to suggest should take 1 to 2 hours to complete, at the end of which time you will have built your very own computer game.
Over the weekend, I’ll post some ideas on how to customise the game further to create your own, unique interpretation of the game.
What I’m going to try to do is find a way of structuring the Game Maker activities to help you achieve two things:
1) gain a hands-on understanding of the software technologies and techniques that underpin interactive computer games; and
2) explore the design and development process used in the production of interactive computer games.
As with many software applications that are published on the web, Game Maker is supported by some online documentation and tutorials. Learning how to make effective use of online support materials is an important skill, so fto give myself and easy start, i suggest that you follow the opening tutorial provided on the Game Maker website.
So here you are: download and open the “Your First Game” tutorial, which can be found on http://www.yoyogames.com/make/tutorials
(IT Skills: although there are several files associated with the tutorial, you only have to download one – a ‘zipped’ archive file. This file contains all the tutorial files in a compressed, space saving format, making it ideal for transporting several files from one computer to another all in one go. Most computers can ‘unbundle’ a zipped file automatically, although other standalone applications can also do it for you. (These tools will also typically support ‘zipping’ a folder and all its contents to create a single, zip archive file from a collection of documents.) Example applications: Winzip, ALZip.)
Once you’ve got Game Maker up and running, work through the “Your First Game” tutorial to create your own game.
In the same way as I suggested you try to be mindful of how you were interacting with the Kongregate tutorial, try to step back every so often as you ‘play’ with Game Maker and pay attention to the following:
1) How is the game initially described?
2) How is the design of the game specified? What elements or components of the game are described?
3) Is there any relationship between the elements identified in the Design Document and the physical layout of the Game Maker environment?
Once you have finished your game, play with it, and maybe even show the game off to someone you know.
Feel free to start customising it – maybe even post a few suggestions as to how you can customise it as comments to this post.
I’ll post a few ideas of my own about how to customise the game over the next day or two…
I’ll also post some ideas about how you can share any games you produce, as well as how to grab screenshots of the game, and maybe even how to make some movies of it being played…
Have fun! :-)