|Games & Gaming Information|
Create Computer Games - Get Started on Creating Your Own Virtual Worlds
I've always loved video games, ever since I first played them on a friend's computer in the afternoon after elementary school. There's something almost magical about the fact that we can move images around and interact with virtual worlds, a living fantasy presented for us to interact with however we please. I've also always wanted to make games myself but, until recently, didn't have the technical knowledge to do so. Now, I'm a second year software engineering student, so if I weren't able to code a game without too many dramas there'd be something drastically wrong. But what about the common person: the person for whom the term 'memory leak' conjures up images of their grandfather, 'pipeline' is where the water flows, and 'blitting' is unheard of? Well, everyone can get in on the game creation process, and you don't even need to learn 'real' programming to do so.
So where do games start? With an idea. Games, like all fiction, require an idea to be successful. Sure, in the same way you can just sit down and write a story without foresight, you can jump on in and slap a game together. However, unless you get ridiculously lucky, 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 standpoint and build your project on top of that or you can just go for the design, add as many features and ideas as you like, and then remove the ones that you can't use when you've decided on the technology you're going to implement the game with. In general, the second type is probably the best one to go with when designing games. When you're first starting out however, the first option will save you many headaches.
So, for a first game you're going to want a pretty simple idea. Don't get me wrong, crazy-go-nuts game ideas are fantastic, and there should be more of them out there, but you're not going to be able to create a real world simulator with fifty billion virtual people all interacting real time with your actions having a butterfly effect on the future of the virtual universe when it's just your first game. Really. Many people try it; none that I know of have succeeded. Imitation is the best way to start out. Simple games such as 'Space Invaders', 'Tetris', 'Pacman' or even 'Pong' are great places to start. All are largely simple to create but have some inherent challenges. 'Pacman' for example, requires path finding for the ghosts. I recommend that you start even simpler than that for your very first attempt. 'Space Invaders' is a nice point to jump in. You can make a simple, complete game without much effort and it's almost infinitely extensible.
If you're stuck for an idea, pick a genre that you enjoy. Do you love adventure games such as 'Monkey Island', 'Grim Fandango', 'Space Quest', 'King's Quest' etc.? Design one of those. Are you into fighting games like 'Street Fighter', 'Tekken', 'Soul Calibur', 'Mortal Kombat' and so on? Come up with an idea for that. Do you like first person shooters such as 'Quake', 'Half Life' or 'Doom'? I don't recommend it as a first project, but you can always give it a go. Feel free to be as generic as you like, this is a learning experience after all.
Now that you have your idea it's time to flesh it out. Don't worry about the technology or the fact that you may not know how to actually implement a game just yet, just grab yourself some paper and a pencil and go crazy with ideas. Describe the main characters, game play, goals, interactions, story, and key mappings, anything you can think of. Make sure you have enough detail so that someone can read through the notes and play through the game in their head with relative accuracy. Changing game design during the coding process is almost always a bad idea. Once it's set, it should remain set until the tweaking phase (I'll go into this more later) or you're likely to enter 'development hell', where the project goes on and on; more and more work is done with less and less outcome.
At the end of this period of your game creation, you should have the following:
- A written outline of the game's characters and possibly a sketch or two (be they space ships, 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 outline of the story (if there is one, this isn't too vital for 'Space Invaders' or 'Tetris', but for 'Uber Quest: An Adventure of Awesomeness' it's a really good idea)
- A description of game play, written or storyboarded. Storyboards are visual representations of ideas. Draw your characters in actions, with arrows showing the flow of action and short written descriptions detailing the events occurring in your image (because some of us aren't fantastic artists and our images can be a little? open to interpretation?)
Now that you have a fleshed out idea, it's time to work out how this will all get put together. If you've gotten to this point and are worried that you're going to have to spend years learning complex programming languages in order to implement your idea, fear not! Others have already done the hard yards for you. There are many RAD (Rapid Application Development) Tools available for game creation, a number 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 isn't too complicated or involved. I've compiled a brief list of some of these I have 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 in the creation of your game. The most important thing to remember once you've gotten this far is that you need to complete your game. Many people start a project and then lose interest and it fails, or they keep moving on to one new project after another without finishing anything. Start small, build a working (if simple) game that is, above all else, complete. When you get to this stage you will always have a huge number of things that you wish to change, fix etc. but you'll get a great feeling from knowing that it is, in its way, finished.
From this point, you can start the tweaking phase. Play your game a few times and ask others to do the same. Take note of what isn't fun or could be better and change things here. At this stage, it is 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 new features, improve graphics and sounds, whatever you please, safe in the knowledge that you're working on a solid foundation.
When you're happy with your game, why not share it with the world? There are many cheap or free places out there for you to host your files on and then you can jump on link lists and forums and let everyone know about your creation. Well, I hope that this has been a helpful introduction into the art of creating games. It's a great deal of fun, and can open whole new avenues of creative expression for you to explore. Jump in and have fun!
General Game Creation: (Tools that allow easy creation of many different game types) Game Maker: http://www.gamemaker.nl MegaZeux: http://megazeux.sourceforge.net/
Adventure Games: (Games such as Monkey Island, King's Quest, Space Quest etc.) Adventure Game Studio: http://www.bigbluecup.com AGAST: http://www.allitis.com/agast/ 3D Adventure Studio: http://3das.noeska.com/ ADRIFT (for text adventures): http://www.adrift.org.uk/
Role Playing Games (RPGs): (Games such as Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Diablo) OHRPG: http://www.hamsterrepublic.com/ohrrpgce/ RPG Toolit: http://www.toolkitzone.com/
Fighting Games: (Games such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Soul Calibur etc.) KOF91: http://sourceforge.net/projects/kof91/ MUGEN (unfortunately the site is largely in French): http://www.streetmugen.com/mugen-us.html
Side-Scrolling Games: (Games such as the 2D Mario Games, Sonic the Hedgehog, Double Dragon etc.) The Scrolling Game Development Kit: http://gamedev.sourceforge.net/
There are many others available as well. One particularly useful site for finding game creation tools is: http://www.ambrosine.com/resource.html
Also of note, although not freeware, 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 have a look at and download the free demos of.
If you really want to do things right and program the game yourself, there are some excellent programming resources available at the following locations:
Java Game Programming: http://fivedots.coe.psu.ac.th/~ad/jg/ http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article1262.asp http://javaboutique.internet.com/tutorials/Java_Game_Programming/
Visual Basic Game Programming: http://markbutler.8m.com/vb-tutorial.htm
C++ Game Programming: http://www3.telus.net/alexander_russell/course_dx/introduction_dx.htm http://www.rit.edu/~jpw9607/tutorial.htm
General Information: http://www.gamedev.net/ http://www.gamasutra.com/
Daniel Punch M6.Net http://www.m6.net Daniel Punch is a university student learning how to make a living through having fun.
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Defeating enemy UAV Swarms will be a challenge for our Net-Centric Blue Force Team. When our enemy launches 1000 UAVs at our forces in the battlespace, will we be able to shoot them all down? The answer is most likely no.
UAV Swarm Reconfiguration for computer war games
The modern battlespace is changing in the real world and in the very near future swarms of UAVs with be a tactic and weapon of choice. Is your computer game software ahead or behind the curve of inovation.
Free Games For Your Pocket PC
Admit It-You're Often BoredA pocket pc has about a million uses. But one of the most popular uses of a pocket pc is to play games on it.
Why We Play Games, Part 2
Last week we started to get into the motivation of the gamer. We discussed challenge and its ugly stepsister competition, two of the most common motivators.
Zuma Deluxe Style Games Evolution
As I think most of gamers who play in shareware games know game called Zuma Deluxe. This game was extremly popular some time ago and still popular now.
The Future of Video Games
I've recently been thinking about where video games could be going in the future. I'm hoping to work in the game industry one day after I've finished university study and I've been wondering about it a lot.
Counter Strike, The Beginner of Broad Band PC Gaming
This is the world of 21st century, the century of technologies. Every thing is fast now a days and as far as the Computers and games are concerned, they are at the top of all.
Great Games Youve Never Played
Do you know what you're missing?Some of the best computer games ever made are likely games you've never heard of. Created by individuals and small companies working in relative obscurity.
Next Generation Games Consoles - Separating Fact from Fiction
Over the next 18 months the 3 giants of the Games Console world will be battling it out in stores and homes across Europe, America and Asia for the title of the world greatest Games Console. The stakes are high in this multi billion dollar business, not just for the console sales but for the games sales that go along side it.
A Parents Guide to Online Gaming, Part 2
In part 1 we talked about online gaming and your children, including FPS games and exposure to violent content. We wrap up this week by talking about RTS games, MMORPGs and the additional threats of addiction and social predators.
PC Gaming Video: Meeting the Demands
If you have an interest in playing PC games that were made at least in the past couple of years, you've probably seen the serious video demands these games now have. It's not only that you need a fast system that can handle all of the information in today's games, but you need a major performance video card to handle computer game video too.
How To Save Time, Energy, and Money by Renting Your DVDs and Games Online
As a bit of a movie buff I recently discovered that the best way to rent movies and games these days is online using one of the Online DVD and Game Rental Services.If you're into renting movies or games these services simply can't be beat for their time saving convenience and value.
The Story Behind OpenSimcity
I've always liked to play SimCity since I was little. I used to play the version for Super Nintendo for hours then and then.
The period of the greatest portable console has finally arrived. Brace yourself for astonishing, gaming quality on a gaming device which is poised to change the way you think about portable devices.
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