Last year me and my friend decided to undertake the challenge of making a simple game for Halloween. There were only a couple of weeks left so we weren’t actually sure if we could make it on time, but we decided to go for it… and we succeeded. We managed to make a simple platformer with some personality thanks to my friend’s amazing brother and friends lending us their talents. If you want to give it a go before reading on, you can do so from here:
The game only runs on a PC browser though, and you’ll need to click the game window before it accepts your key inputs as commands.
Looking back on it now a year later, I thought I’d share some of of my thoughts on the process. I was in charge of game and level design, scripting – basically everything on the game side.
- There’s a lot of tools out there nowadays. If you ever have the urge to try your hand at making a game, it is now more easy than it’s ever been. Of course, the better alternatives don’t come for free but if you just want to dip your toe into the waters, there are plenty of decent options around. For this project, I ended up using the free version of Construct 2. The interface and “scripting” is quite easy to understand, even for people who don’t really have much experience. As long as you have a decent understanding of logic, you can probably get pretty far with it. (If you don’t feel confident with doing a full-blown game, but have the interest to try out making interactive stories, you should check out Twine.)
- You really should go for it. No matter how simple your project ends up being, it feels really good when you manage to finish it (yes, WHEN. There is no IF).
- Doing all of the game side by yourself is a lot of work. If you want to complete a project in limited time it is hard to give both the paper design phase and the actual level building and scripting the amount of time it deserves. Split these up between more folks if possible. My level ended up being quite small and simple due to this reason, but I did try to make up for the size by putting in a lot of little secrets.
- Having a person dedicated to making the art assets is a life saver. My friend was taking care of this part and it really made such a difference.
- Scripting systems for a whole game will take a lot of time. You will spend a lot of time figuring out safety nets for many weird things that players might do. Yes, I am looking at you @lokkh and your “when I press up down up down and then both at the same time and then left right in speedy succession in a crouch tunnel, the character stops crouching and starts moonwalking”*. You probably can’t account for everything (definitely not if you go with the free options as they come with limits, e.g. Construct 2 has a limit on how many scripts you can have in the project), but that’s okay. Just deal with the ones that are actually a problem.*I made this up, but the reality was pretty much something like that.
- Making Easter eggs is so much fun. Like I already stated earlier, I made up for the lack of level size with plenty of secrets. There’s quite a few “hidden” ways to die (one of the theme’s of the game is the futility of the human experience after all) and even a secret room. Nobody probably found all of them, but that’s okay. I know they are there and they make me more happy than they have any right to.
All in all, it was a great experience and we learned a lot about the process. I wouldn’t mind doing another game project again later, hopefully a bit more narrative driven this time. It’s just hard to find the time (or people) to actually make something. Who knows, maybe someone who reads this will want to contribute? 😉