Learn or die!

Oct 9, 2017

As a game designer, do you ever get into that rut where you have a game engine you’re comfortable with, you have your routine, and you find yourself slowly drawing the curtains on the rest of the world of gaming and programming? I’ve been using Adventure Game Studio for roughly ten years now. When I look around at what other devs are doing, I see them just throwing sprites onto the screen, adding some controls, some collision, maybe some physics, seeing what happens. Seeing where the game takes them. They think about things like game play. GAME PLAY. Adventure games don’t really have “game play,” they just have a set of familiar mechanics through which we solve puzzles and progress through the story. I’m beginning to realize that game play is becoming an alien concept to me. So is game design of any kind that isn’t directly related to point & click adventure design.

GMboxfrontIt wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, I coded up little text games in Basic. I made countless little arcade games with the Arcade Game Construction Kit and the Shoot ‘Em Up Construction Kit for the C64.

When I got a PC, I dabbled with Borland C++ (which cost me a fortune!) but I just couldn’t find a way to transition my understanding of Basic into the world of C, with all its added layers of complexity. Had YouTube existed at the time, maybe I’d have found my on ramp. Who knows? I tried going through “Learn C Fast!” books, I tried everything, but getting anywhere in coding on a PC seemed like a distant pipe dream. I felt like I was wading through mud. Something just wasn’t clicking.

I finally caught a break when I discovered “Game-Maker” for DOS (no relation to YoYo Games’ GameMaker Studio) in a magazine and ordered a copy! It still wasn’t everything I had hoped, but like those old game making kits for the Commodore, it allowed me to get my graphics and sound into a game world and begin to develop my ideas, and that was something. Read more