I’ve always loved video games, ever since I first played them on a friend’s computer in the afternoon after elementary school. There is something almost magical in the fact that we can move images and interact with virtual worlds, a living fantasy that is presented to us to interact as we please. I also always wanted to make games myself but, until recently, I didn’t have the technical knowledge to do it. Now, I’m a second-year software engineering student, so if I couldn’t code a game without too much drama, there would be something drastically wrong. But what about the common person: the person for whom the term ‘memory leak’ conjures up images of his grandfather, ‘pipe’ is where the water flows, and ‘blitting’ is unheard of? Well, everyone can participate in the game creation process, and you don’t even need to learn “real” programming to do it.
So where do the games start? With an idea. Games, like all fiction, require an idea to be successful. Sure, in the same way that you can just sit back and write a story without foresight, you can jump in and play together. However, unless you have ridiculous luck, the best works are usually the ones that have been well thought out beforehand.
There are two methods of planning a project. You can start from a known technological point of view and build your project on that or you can just go for the design, add as many features and ideas as you want and then remove the ones you can’t use when you have decided on the technology you are going to implement the. play. In general, the second type is probably the best for designing games. However, when you first start out, the first option will save you a lot of headaches.
So for a first game, you’ll want a pretty simple idea. Don’t get me wrong, crazy game ideas are great and there should be more, but you’re not going to be able to create a real-world simulator with fifty billion virtual people all interacting for real. time with your actions having a butterfly effect on the future of the virtual universe when it is just your first game. Actually. Many people try it; none that I know of have been successful. Imitation is the best way to start. Simple games like ‘Space Invaders’, ‘Tetris’, ‘Pacman’, or even ‘Pong’ are great places to start. All are largely simple to create, but they do have some inherent challenges. ‘Pacman’, for example, requires finding the path for ghosts. I recommend that you start even simpler on your first try. ‘Space Invaders’ is a good jumping off point. You can make a simple and complete game without much effort and it is almost infinitely extensible.
If you don’t have an idea, choose a genre that you like. Do you love adventure games like ‘Monkey Island’, ‘Grim Fandango’, ‘Space Quest’, ‘King’s Quest’, etc.? Design one of those. Do you like fighting games like ‘Street Fighter’, ‘Tekken’, ‘Soul Calibur’, ‘Mortal Kombat’, etc.? Come up with an idea for that. Do you like first person shooter games like ‘Quake’, ‘Half Life’ or ‘Doom’? I don’t recommend it as a first project, but you can always give it a try. Feel free to be as generic as you want, this is a learning experience after all.
Now that you have your idea, it’s time to develop it. Don’t worry about the technology or the fact that you might not know how to actually implement a game, just grab some paper and a pencil and go crazy with the ideas. Describe the main characters, the game, the objectives, the interactions, the story, and the key assignments – everything you can think of. Make sure you have enough detail so that someone can read the notes and play the game in your head with relative accuracy. Changing the game design during the coding process is almost always a bad idea. Once it’s set up, it needs to stay set up until the tuning phase (I’ll get into this later) or you’re likely to go into ‘development hell’, where the project goes on and on; more and more work is being done with less and less results.
At the end of this game creation period, you should have the following:
– A written outline of the game’s characters and possibly a sketch or two (be it spaceships, yellow circles, cars, or the prince of the dark kingdom of Falgour, you need to know who or what the player will be and who they will compete against)
– A written summary of the story (if there is one, this is not too vital for ‘Space Invaders’ or ‘Tetris’, but for ‘Uber Quest: An Adventure of Awesomeness’ it is a very good idea)
– A description of the game, written or storyboard. Storyboards are visual representations of ideas. Draw your characters in action, with arrows showing the flow of the action and short written descriptions detailing the events that occur in your image (because some of us are not fantastic artists and our images can be a bit … open to interpretation …)
Now that you have an idea developed, it’s time to find out how this will all come together. If you’ve reached this point and are concerned that you may have to spend years learning complex programming languages to implement your idea, fear not! Others have already done the hard thing for you. There are many RAD (rapid application development) tools available for creating games, some of which are available for free online. Some of them still require you to learn a ‘scripting language’ (a simplified programming language made for a specific task) but in general this is not too complicated or complicated. I have compiled a short list of some of these that I found at the end of the article. The free ones are listed first, organized by game genre.
Well that should be enough to get you started creating your game. The most important thing to remember once you’ve gotten here is that you must complete your game. Many people start a project and then lose interest and fail, or continue to advance to new project after project without finishing anything. Start small, create a functional (albeit simple) game that is, above all, complete. When you get to this stage, you will always have a large number of things that you want to change, fix, etc. But you’ll get a great feeling knowing that, in your own way, it’s finished.
From this point, the adjustments phase can begin. Play your game a few times and ask others to do the same. Take note of what’s not fun or could be better and turn things around here. At this stage, it’s more important than ever to keep backups of previous versions so that if a change doesn’t work, you can go back and try something different without losing any of your work. It is at this point that you can add all the new features, enhance graphics and sounds, whatever you want, knowing that you are working on a solid foundation.
When you are satisfied with your game, why not share it with the world? There are many cheap or free places for you to host your files and then you can jump to link lists and forums and let everyone know about your creation. Well, I hope this was a useful introduction to the art of making games. It’s a lot of fun and can open up new avenues of creative expression for you to explore. Hop on and have fun!
General game creation:
(Tools that allow easy creation of many different types of games)
Game Creator: http://www.gamemaker.nl
(Games like Monkey Island, King’s Quest, Space Quest, etc.)
Adventure Game Studio: [http://www.bigbluecup.com]
3D Adventure Studio: http://3das.noeska.com/
ADRIFT (for text adventures): http://www.adrift.org.uk/
Role Playing Games (RPG):
(Games like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Diablo)
RPG Toolkit: http://www.toolkitzone.com/
(Games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Soul Calibur, etc.)
MUGEN (unfortunately the site is largely in French): http://www.streetmugen.com/mugen-us.html
Side scrolling games:
(Games like Mario 2D Games, Sonic the Hedgehog, Double Dragon, etc.)
The Scrolling Game Development Kit: http://gamedev.sourceforge.net/
There are also many others available. A particularly useful site for finding game creation tools is: http://www.ambrosine.com/resource.html
Also noteworthy, although not free software, are the excellent game creation tools available by Clickteam at: [http://www.clickteam.com/English/]
Klik and Play and The Games Factory in particular are the programs to check out and download the free demos of.
If you really want to get it right and code the game yourself, there are great programming resources available at the following locations:
Java game programming:
Visual Basic game programming:
C ++ game programming: