Customising ‘Catch a Clown’

One of the things I’d like to explore using Game Maker is how to help you develop your own multi-level game from a standing start. This might take the form of a leveled version of Catch a Clown, the game introduced by the first Game Maker tutorial, or it may be based around the maze, platform or shooter type games.

Whilst recognising game design can be a never ending process, there is far much more that you can do within Game Maker to build on a basic game and customise it to produce your own unique interpretation of it.

Each week, I’ll try to post a ‘getting started’ tutorial, that looks at the design of a particular game, and then also post a series of ‘reference’ activities that describe how to customise, modify or otherwise extend the game in a variety of ways.

I’ll also post a set of Game Maker files that show how a game might evolve if you implement each customisation in the order they are presented. (Note that some of the customisations can be omitted, or done in any order, whereas some build on modifications that have gone before. However, you may find that some of the terminology or ideas referred to in ‘later’ customisations assume you have familiarised yourself with the preceding ones.)

I’m guessing that 1-2 (or 3-4, maybe 5-6, depending on how keen you are… ;-) hours should be enough time to try out some or all of the mini-activities to customise your game.

Once you are happy with your finished game, I guess we need to think about how we can share our game files so we can see what others reading the blog think of our customised games? :-) One way would be to upload games to the YoYo Games/Game Maker community site. Another would be to create our own community site somewhere? What do you prefer?

Setting the Scene

To provide a context for the first set of customisation activities, let’s modify the first game so that we can control how easy it is to catch a clown, as well as adding in various bonuses and penalties that are awarded when a clown is caught.
I’m going to assume that you completed the “Your First Game” tutorial, and found out how to:

  • create the wall and clown sprites;
  • create the fixed wall, and moving clown, objects;
  • create and decorate a room, including the addition of a background image;
  • added a background soundtrack to the game;
  • used an alarm to add a bit of uncertainty to the game;
  • added a short help/description page to your game;

(Phew… I think we’ve come a long way already…!)

If you haven’t already done so, just try adding a second and maybe even a third clown to the room. Simply select the clown object in the room’s object panel, and click within the room to add an additional clown:

So, here are the customisations I’m going to suggest:

Normal clown
Reward: +10 points.
Changes direction to a random direction after every 50 steps.
Jumps to a random location and changes to a random direction each time it is caught.
Original speed 4, increases by 0.5 each time it is caught.

Bad clown
Penalty: -10 points.
Changes direction to a random direction after every 50 steps.
Jumps to a random location and changes to a random direction each time it is caught.
Original speed 4, increases by 0.5 each time it is caught.

Bonus clown
Reward: +25 points.
Appears for 100 steps (approx. every 100/30 ~ 3 seconds) every 200 steps (approx. every 200/30 ~ 7 seconds).
Changes direction after every 50 steps.
Moves with speed 8.

As I post the customisation activity posts, I’ll add ‘directory links’ in here to point to them…

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