There really isn’t a better time than the present to set up camp in the land of video game development. The days when your best bet was to create an engine from scratch are long gone; as a newcomer to the craft, anyway. Between Unity, GameMaker, Adventure Game Studio and other popular choices, something’s bound to go well with whatever you’re looking to make. Welcome to The Indie Post.
If you’re a skilled programmer, chances are you’ll want to have full control over everything, and that means designing everything yourself. But fact is, many just don’t have the time or patience to climb that initial hurdle. There are also those who just want to do it as one-off thing and move onto something else afterwards. In cases like that, the lower the challenge, the more likely he/she/they will actually see it through (as with most things in life, really).
A crazy amount of readily available engines isn’t the only great thing about getting into video game development today. Finding tips, tricks and tutorials on anything from Adventure Game Studio to XNA is also easier than ever, thanks to this little thing called the Internet. I still remember learning Pascal (anyone remember that language?) back in the day… from huge boring library books, which was neither fun nor ideal! But in today’s age, with Internet accessible from just about any mobile device, our options are noticeably better, and require less boring library trips.
One ‘problem’ in particular surrounding using pre-existing engines, is that a lot of people have this preconceived notion about what they can (should) and can’t (shouldn’t) be used for. A prime example of this would be RPGMaker. I’ve read countless forum posts about how silly the mere notion of using that one for anything but 2D tile-based RPGs is. What a load of… boulderdash!
A lot do make that type of game with it, just like how the majority of Adventure Game Studio creations are point ‘n’ click adventures, but RPGMaker is definitely more flexible than one might initially might think. Unless of course you honestly believe the likes of horror puzzler Seven Mysteries and award-winning To The Moon to be plain looking and overly generic games? Yeah, didn’t think so.
The exact same can be said about GameMaker. Sure, it’s brought us more than a few dull stereo-type platformers with not an ounce of soul, but… believe it or not, Cook, Serve, Delicious! Extra Crispy Edition came into this world courtesy of GameMaker Studio! Another example? Well, have a look at Wanderlust: Rebirth then, a fun top-down action RPG with online co-op. There are plenty creative GameMaker users out there.
Basically what I’m getting at, is that nowadays, aspiring game developers are blessed with a wide selection of engines to choose from. While not all are free, like I said before, many would certainly prefer learning as little code as possible, and simply jump straight into making an idea reality (I’m one of them!). Exactly what’s possible within a particular framework, be it RPGMaker, Adventure Game Studio, Stencyl, Twine, Construct 2 or one of many other, well, you’d be surprised.
That said, if you want the least amount of ‘restraints’, I’d probably go with something like Unity (3D or 2D). It’s up to you though. Find something that suits your needs and ignore the “yuck! why are you making a game with garbage like [engine]?!” comments – chances are they’re just trolling. Or maybe they’re actually onto something? Ain’t always easy to tell, and unfortunately I don’t really have a list of ‘steer clear’ engines to help ya filter the bad ones.
Those mentioned in this article have proven popular over the years though, so for starters, I’d recommend taking those into consideration and go from there. Who knows, maybe you’ll eventually find that building upon someone elses code is not for you, and go back to basics instead? Or maybe not. Being eased into game development by way of an existing framework does have an undeniable appeal to it. But whatever you choose, make sure ya don’t ignore the resources available (forums, Reddit, etc.) and… keep at it! Even the biggest blockbuster title started life as but a tiny idea in the head of some guy (or girl), after all.
But enough about making the games – time for some you can actually play instead! If you’ve ever wanted to be a microbiologist, then the tricone lab alpha is certainly not to be missed (also, great puzzle game). Hot on its trail, yet completely different, is the vector-driven racer (get it?) Trace Vector, which is a game of skill, reflexes and… fuel. Yup.
Airscape: The Fall of Gravity (finally) got a public demo and, believe it or not, the Hyper Gauntlet beta has arrived. Your choice – rescue an octopus family or thread the needle at high speeds! Alternatively, you could just roll the dice and sprint for the Crown of Command with a couple of friends, in Talisman: Digital Edition.
Speaking of which, Talisman: Prologue, the single player version, is part of the oddly named The Pancake Bundle and… Groupees visited Scandinavia with their latest. Yeah, don’t ask. Anyway, want something else to spend your hard-earned cash on? Then do check out the Oscar kickstarter, and if you’re more interested in freeware puzzlers, you could certainly do worse than wielding a mighty sword in drod.
What, Greenlight? Why of course! The retro-styled SHMUP-ish title Huenison is stuck in limbo and a grand total of thirteen made The Groove cut! Thirteen. Wow. Anyway, last week’s The Indie Post took me back in time, as I revisited my take on… Bundle Fatigue.