“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King
I’ve wanted to make video games for almost as long as I have played them. I’ve missed opportunities to learn game development and design in the past, but now with my life settling down, and the basics of survival and paying the bills taking up less of my time and concentration, I really have no excuse to put it off any longer. And what a great time to learn to make a game. The indie game development community is thriving and is full of positive role models, everyone from small web game developers to break-away success stories, all seem to start making games and sharing them with the world for the shear joy of creating something and having another enjoy playing it.
You see, I’m preparing to start a new position at work, one that pays well, but also offers four days off a week, and when my father asked me a simple question (“What are you going to do with your days off?”) I had to stop and think, so apart from keeping my house cleaner and doing more exercise, I decided I would use the time to develop my game making skills. At the beginning of this post I quoted Stephen King, he was talking about writing, but I’m thinking the same should apply to game design.
“If you want to be a game designer or developer, you must do two things above all others: play a lot of game, and make a lot of games”
Not so succinct, but good words to live by I think (for an aspiring game designer like me at least).
So when Feb 1st rolled around, I decided to dust of the Construct 2 (https://www.scirra.com/) free edition sitting on my laptop and went to see what the months theme would be on onegameamonth (http://www.onegameamonth.com/). At first I wasn’t getting much inspiration from the Loops theme. I wanted to make something simple. Something to get me started, To have a game under my belt so I could later build upon the experience to make something bigger and better.
Inspiration came in the form of re-runs of a British TV game show much loved by Brits of a certain age. Crystal Maze was one of my favourite shows growing up, and looking at it now, it was like a miniture, analogue app store or online arcade. The contestant had to collect crystals by winning mini games, they would choose a type of challenge (mystery, physical, skill or mental) and they would be given two or three minutes locked in a room to complete the game or exit before the time ran down, failure to do so would lead to their incarceration in the game room until their team mates decided to buy them out with a hard won crystal. More crystals meant more time in the crystal dome, a rather anti-climactic end game that almost no-one ever won.
One game on the show I saw was to use a long chute to place balls representing planets into their correct positions on an orrery. The looping orbits got me thinking and I soon realised that a solar system could be easily simulated on a small scale in Construct 2 and fit the loop theme on onegameamonth perfectly. And after I rolled around a few game play ideas, I settled on a frogger type game, with the planets providing obstacles for a UFO running back and forth to the sun.
So today is the 14th (happy valentines day) and I have the rest of the month to make this simple little game into something i can feel proud of. I’ve met the main criteria of the onegameamonth challenge, Now is the time for improvements and learning.
I’m fairly happy with the gameplay, obviosly it’s not going to blow anyone’s mind, but what I really want is to expand the game as far as I can. For now, my to do list is (in order of priority):
- More visual feedback
- More of a menu and options page
- High score’s (local scores at least, maybe including scirra’s arcade leaderboards)
- Improved assets
- Difficulty curve the longer you play
- Bonus’ and power-ups of some kind