Thank You For Playing

Amateur game design for the technically impaired

Archive for February 2008

Writing effective tutorials for beginners

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This may seem that it is aimed at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: those who are expert enough developers to write their own guides to coding. And it is. I wish I could come up with an exhaustive list of great ways to recognize a good tutorial, but I recently took on a pretty weighty endeavor and the very lack of good resources is what triggered my desire to express myself.

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The weighty endeavor I speak of? I decided a couple days ago to try and learn as much of the C++ language as I could from online tutorials. I haven’t given up completely, but it seems that I’ll need a face-to-face tutor to help me put it all together. I’ll allow that coding isn’t easy, and that having a teacher (or friend in my case) is perhaps paramount in being able to learn a language in any effective manner. However, the sort of problems I ran into with online tutorials were so inexcusable and so rampant that I can hardly imagine how the writers could conceive of passing their material off to beginners. Most of these tutorials claimed they would be very useful to those with no coding experience at all. Hogwash.

I did learn a little C++ in the process, and with that I am able to go back and criticize some errors in these guides. And where I became unable to continue, my criticism is simply that. Here is my list of awful mistakes in C++ “beginner” tutorials:

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Written by ericharm

February 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Clearcross

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Every week Justin and I each post an original game idea. Today I am going to tell you about Clearcross, a puzzle game that attempts to be as easy as possible to learn but still remain challenging. Clearcross is a puzzle game in its most basic format. Clearing lines of orbs until the game board is gone.

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The rules are simple: Click on any of the orbs to remove the corresponding orbs vertically and horizontally (across the board) from the chosen orb. The objective is to clear the board in the fewest number of turns possible. Each board could have a par as suggested by the creator. Be careful and plan ahead, eliminating an incorrect orb may cause gaps in the board causing you to use more moves.

 

The art direction would be minimal to keep focus on the simplicity of the game. I know music is a vital part of games, but perhaps it would be better to skip the music and add subtle sound effects instead. This would not distract from the game play and still offer tactile responses to clearing orbs.

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Written by brunokruse

February 29, 2008 at 4:04 am

The Supreme Importance of Music in Simple Games

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Mega Man 2All music links in this post, unless otherwise noted, link to VGMusic.com, a large database of midis for classic games.

I have a very simple theory: that the success of most, if not every, popular 8-bit game was heavily dependent on the quality of its music. That is to say, dependent almost exclusively on the music. Mediocre games became great and good ones became legendary. I will support this theory, but also apply it to the development of independent games today.

I won’t drag this out with too many details, since my original theory isn’t so much the point as its application to the current indie industry (dare I say… indiestry?). Instead, I’ll appeal to your own personal experiences and ask you to participate in a small experiment. Play any of the following games with the sound off, then simply crank it up. Be amazed as the entertainment value increases a hundredfold.

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Written by justindopiriak

February 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Development Process, Opinion

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Indie Development – Prototyping

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Indie developers don’t get discouraged!

David Marsh over at Gamasutra wrote an excellent post related to indie game development. It’s worth a read. I agree with a lot of his points, and would like to expand upon a few things from my own experiences.

 

Developing games has become easier and easier over the past couple of years thanks to a widespread independent games boom. Independent games are becoming more popular every day and they are easily available and distributed over the Internet. Most importantly independent games are usually available for free. Since indie developers have no restrictions in terms of content or deadlines, most indie developers try to push the boundaries and create original game play ideas, art styles and content.

 

 

Now, you don’t have to be a master programmer or artist to create cool and unique games. I actually believe that in some cases it is better to use a game maker type program or editor, because it is an easy way to prototype your ideas and see them in action quickly. Then, you can adjust your game design decisions on the fly, without having to be boggled down by code or even rewriting an engine. There are a wide number of free development tools and resources available throughout the Internet. Heck, you may even already own a game that comes with a toolset to create original content. These tools are a great way to experiment and get your ideas online with ease and tested by others.

 

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Written by brunokruse

February 27, 2008 at 1:30 am

Ship Switch

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Ship Switch toprightTwice a week, once by me and once by my partner Bruno Kruse, an original design will be posted. These designs will not be complete design documents, but simple exercises in thought. Mine will come on Mondays and today will be the first.

Ship Switch: a single player, multi playing field variation on the side-scrolling shooter theme.

In Ship Switch, the player controls two (or perhaps more) ships in completely independent playing fields. The fields are identical except in the color and behavior of the ships within. Obstacles appear and scroll in typical side scrolling fashion, but the player must react differently to these obstacles based on the color of each ship. The goal is to simply scroll through the entirety of the level with both ships intact. The challenge is in properly reacting to the conflicting interpretations between the two fields.

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Written by justindopiriak

February 26, 2008 at 12:49 am

Warcraft III World Editor

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WIII SSOverview

 

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne shipped with a world editor that took customization farther than any other Blizzard game had up to that point and while dreams of a World of Warcraft editor are tantalizing, it seems that Warcraft fans will have to settle for this for a while.

 

The editor allows users to create custom games that mostly range through the RTS and RPG genres. There is somewhat of an assumption that the game will be a RTS level, since this was the campaign editor used by Blizzard while creating the game and its expansion. Even so, sending the scenario in the direction you want is more or less straightforward.

 

The bulk of the world creation is done using a simple and intuitive point and paint style tool panel. Using this interface, the user can place and edit any finished terrain, units, buildings, regions, cameras, and what they call doodads (trees, rocks, bushes, skeletons, fire pits, etc.).

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Written by justindopiriak

February 24, 2008 at 9:10 pm