Have you ever thought about making your very own video game? I have but the idea is very intimidating most games now are made by large teams of 3-D Animators, programmers and design specialist. On the web though I found a new tool which can help you create simple video games all on your own. It's a game programming engine called Game Maker 8.0. You can find it at www.yoyogames.com it allows you to create your own 2-D games right on your PC. You can then use the game however you see fit you could even sell it if you'd like. Now we're getting ahead of ourselves though we haven't even tried making a game yet. If you haven't already go ahead and download Game Maker 8.0 and I'll guide you through some of the basics. You'll notice they have their own tutorial but it is rather lengthy mine will be short and to the point.
The first thing you'll notice is all the folders in the left column. What do you do with all this stuff? Let's go through them one by one.
Sprites: A sprite is simply an image that you would like to use in your game. A sprite may be animated or non-animated a animated sprite will have different frames that make up the animation. The same as the frames in a cartoon. You can find many animated sprites on-line. Of course copyrighted sprites cannot be used in a game you plan on selling but if you are doing this just for fun feel free to use whichever characters you like. To create a new sprite left click on the folder and select create new sprite. You can then load your sprite or create one from scratch.
Sounds: Obviously this folder contains all the sound effects and music that will be used in the game. I believe the sounds must be .midi or .wav to work with Game Maker 8.0. You can assign different sounds and music to begin at different points in the game or to go with different character's actions. There will be more on this aspect later.
Backgrounds: These are background images for the game the player cannot interact with these in any way. You can also find many game backgrounds online as well. The following image files can be used .jpg, .bmp, .png and .gif.
Path: Here you can create a pattern or path for a character to follow you can then assign it to a CPU character or enemy. The enemy will move on screen in the exact pattern described.
Scripts: Game Maker 8.0 has it's scripting language which is a way of saying it has it's own simple programming techniques to allow for more complicating programming and variable handling. I haven't really looked at it that much as it is an advanced feature. Anyway we won't be needing it for our example.
Fonts: You can use different fonts for in game text and for game instructions or help files.
Time Line: You can indicate what events you want to happen at what point in the game. These events are based on time not on actions of other characters.
Objects: This is the big one, for anyone who's programmed before this concept is not new but for others it can be a challenge. Each character or sprite that can be interacted with is known as an object. We can assign different actions for different events. For example one action could be pressing the right arrow key and an event could be that the main character or object moves right on screen.
Rooms: This is where we will place all our objects and backgrounds that will make up our game. This is what we could describe as our game space. A game can have many rooms to navigate through or as in our example it may need only one.
Game Information: This is where we can put our game instructions, credits and help info
Global Game Settings: Numerous settings for error checking, loading, screen resolution and the like for now let's leave it on it's default settings.
In part two of this blog we will go over the PONG example I talked about earlier.