Supple Think: Trapped in a Video Game Factory Please Send Help

Trapped in a Video Game Factory Please Send Help

by Tupperwarez

Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Labels: , ,
I have a problem, and it is a mental one. No, a different one. This is the one where I suddenly decide, "Hey, I like computer games and talking about them, why don't I make one?" I just had another attack recently.

I have chosen to take on this latest relapse of mental colic in a different way. Instead of outlining an exhaustive design document this time around, I've chosen to start implementing what strikes my fancy at the time. This of course, has lead to a Montana Free Militia-worthy arsenal of guns, grenades, laser drones, and little bobbing things that spray bullets everywhere. I have yet to decide what this says about my state of mind.

When I started tooling around with it, I loved Game Maker. Between the drag-and-drop and scripting aspects of the programming, it was basically instant gratification. I could get a game up and running without having to fiddle with bedrock stuff like sprite management, collision detection, update cycles, instance tracking, etc. All that was taken care of by Game Maker. I could just get down to the business of designing.

But then the cracks started appearing. I began to realize that while I didn't have to worry about the basic machinery, it also meant that I didn't have a say in how things were done. It was like the death of a thousand cuts. Oh, the color of the bottom-left pixel always determines the transparency color for sprites? I need to make an entirely new object to create multiple hit-boxes? I have to do WHAT to get a 2D traceline working?

I was getting antsy to say the least. So I started messing around with the XNA framework. I found the additional muscle and flexibility liberating, but starting with Game Maker did have some benefits. Mainly that the additional flexibility that I found with XNA would have paralyzed me with indecision. Without the basic understanding of game program flow that I gained from using Game Maker, I would not have known where to start. So ultimately, starting with Game Maker isn't a bad idea at all. Just don't be upset when you start hitting Game Maker's limitations. All that means is that you're ready to move on, so why not do so?

Seeing things like the XNA framework, Popcap's Sexy framework, the improvements in PyGame and more recenly WiiWare, are very heartening to me. Making games is a process that has become ludicrously more laborious and costly as time goes on. That there are measures being taken to mitigate this for the little guy can only be a good thing. I say this with the full knowledge that we'll have to endure a tsunami of garbage before getting the good stuff. But we're all jaded enough here that I think this goes without saying.

Basically this has just been a rambling post on my shallow forays into game making and you probably shouldn't take too much stock in it (if anyone is even reading this fucking thing in the first place, that is). For all my talk about XNA, I'm probably going to stick with Game Maker for a little while longer, mainly because I'm so lazy. That, and I have yet to be even in the same ZIP code occupied by people who are serious about making games. My vain hope is that one day I'll get out of my "Me too!" amateur rut and produce something serviceable.

A guy can dream, right? Article Permalink



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