Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Free ways to make your own game! (Cruella de Vil?)

Does anybody else remember the live action version of the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians? A very good kids movie no doubt but this is a gaming blog so I'll just cut to the chase shall I?  When Disney did the modern remake of this movie, they changed Roger's occupation from a struggling musician to a struggling... videogame designer? If you watch this video and manage to get around four and a half minutes in you'll see that Roger has, on his lonesome, produced a fully working and playable videogame according to this movie's script.

101 Dalmatians

Because of Walt Disney's lies, it would be a long time before my younger self would realise that it takes more than one person to make a decent videogame. I should have really paid attention to all those credits screens listing all of the skilled and talented people responsible for the music, graphics, testing and all the rest of it. How could all of those roles be condensed into one person? How could I possibly ever hope to create the kind of games I grew up loving? Like many, committing to some kind of game design course may be a step too far, especially if you don't know whether you have what it takes to be a game designer. 

The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners (Book & CD)

If you want to have a free taste of what it might be like to design your own games I present two options. The first is a good all purpose game design package called Game Maker. It's a free program which comes with everything you need to make your first simple games. There is also a thriving community of users so there is no end of examples, third party tutorials and discussions to help you. It doesn't require any real programming skill to get started and you can play around with the trial version for as long as you want. You can sell and redistribute any of the games that you do make and if you pay for the full version you'll be treated to extra functionality such as the ability to make 3D and networked games but that's only if you are extra keen.

I'm afraid I'll have to apologise for the large picture that follows. I can't think of a better way to use images to communicate the concept of a text adventure game.

File:ADVENT -- Will Crowther's original version.png

The above is a picture of gameplay footage from the first text adventure game ever made, Colossal Cave Adventure in which you have to, um, find a cave. To get a feel for how these games are to play, I'd recommend the BBC's text adventure version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as it is a very good example of a how a text adventure can work, although this one does cheat a little bit by including images but I can forgive that.

If you want to try your hand at making your own piece of interactive fiction/text adventure then I'd definitely direct you to the SUDSLORE Text Adventure Creator, which is completely free, requires no coding and is a a self contained package which teaches you everything you need to know. SUDSLORE gives you a lot of creative freedom and let's you do a lot of cool things very easily and again, the website is full of useful tidbits, including some text adventure examples to give you a feel for what can be done.

...and with that I leave you to your game-making! Here's hoping that somebody reading this will be inspired to be the next Shigeru Miyamoto