I need you to sit down when you read this, because the shock will knock you off of your feet. I have spoken before about my education and career in information technology on this site, but you may not realize that originally I started in I.T. to make video games. Now that you have taken a moment to let that sink in, I am proud to announce that I, and some of the staff here at Caps N’ Coins, are working on a video game.

I was always prevented from doing this in the past because I assumed  that I was not a good enough programmer to be able to build a game from scratch. I suppose that is still, technically, true despite being a good enough programmer to build this website. Making a game from nothing would be an immense undertaking. There are things: like drawing graphics on a screen, physics, a network stack, and others that I am not even able to think of that would need to be carefully planned out and developed. Thankfully, the game development tools at my disposal, much like the tools to build websites, have gotten so mature that I think I would be able to use them in combination with my, meager, programming skills to build my very own video game.

inspiration

Previously, the tools that large companies used to make video games, for consoles, cost several thousand dollars, and even then they were still really hard to work with. But now, Unreal Engine and Unity3D, the very same tools that have made games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Pillars of Eternity, are completely “free” for everybody to use. There are even smaller tools like GameMaker that are perfectly capable of making high quality video games, like Gunpoint and Hotline Miami, relatively easily. This perfect storm, of the tools becoming easy enough to use and those same tools having virtually no barrier to entry, is what motivated me to start actively pursuing this dream, and taking three of my closest friends along for the ride with me.

I will start this series by going over the Elevator Pitch and after that is out of the way a decision needs to be made about what engine to use. One day I decided that I wanted to play my favorite action platformer, Mega Man 2, while out and about. But I only had my phone with me, and the iOS version of Mega Man 2 controls with an on screen D-pad making the game hot garbage. Taking an existing game and porting it to work on mobile, typically, does not work. To have a compelling mobile experience the game needs to be designed for mobile right from the start, and I was curious about what Mega Man would look like if it was developed properly for a mobile platform. Which is when I came to the conclusion that it would probably work best as an Endless Runner.

So now that we know that we are going to be making an action endless runner, we would need to pick the engine that we will be doing the majority of development in. The primary factors that we need to look at would be the cost of the engine, ease of use of the engine (scripting languages, design view, etc.), and how well the engine fits the type of game that we are trying to make (if the engine uses too much system resources for the game we are making). Unreal is currently free to license and use with Epic Games taking 5% of your revenue, and the programming language is C++ which I do have experience with. The engine is typically meant for games beyond the scope of what we are trying to build and there would probably be too much overhead if this were picked. Gamemaker Studio fits the needs of our project perfectly, it is designed perfectly for 2D game development. Though the problem here is with the scripting language that Game Maker uses is one that I am not familiar with. There is also the issue that the iOS and Android export modules are not free with the engine and it is expected that users will go to the marketplace to overcome any shortcomings with the engine itself. This leaves us with Unity3d, which has very common scripting languages, C# or Javascript. Unity does not require a license fee or charge royalties to use and release a game and allows you to export to iOS or Android with the free version. Unity also has an enormous amount of features, like physics, advertisements, and analytics built right into the engine. Skilled developers will find little need to go to the Asset Store. It looks like the tool that we will be using for our game is Unity3d.

Unity Project

I am going to be coming back to this site, periodically, to write about my experiences in making a video game. Talking about the things that I am having problems with, like bugs or design issues, but also about when things work properly and any breakthroughs that I have and about my experience working with Unity3d. This is going to be a very interesting experiment for me. I do fully intend to see this project through to completion; but just like with all things in life, all of this could change at a moment’s notice.The project could fall through if I get stuck, frustrated, or feel like the project isn’t going in a direction that I like. I have worked on other projects that were not completed in the past and felt just as strongly about them, at the time. But I will be coming back here to report on all of my decisions and keep everybody up to date every single step of the way.

Thank You for coming following me with this experiment.

I should have more to discuss soon.

Steven


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