I somehow managed to finish a game this week. Now, I am not all that proud of the game, but my son thinks it’s cool, so I am going with that. The game is called “Grape Boy” and its premise is pretty simple: You play Grape Boy, a character who catches grapes in his mouth. The more grapes you catch, the higher your score. If a grape hits the ground, Grape Boy loses a life.
When I started the week, I had all kinds of “fantastic” game ideas but as time went on and I worked through my lofty game designs, I could see that I needed to simplify. Thus Grape Boy was born.
Panic set in around Monday evening. It just didn’t seem possible that I was going to complete a full game in a week using traditional programming techniques. I needed a plan B if I was going to make good on my commitment. That’s when I gave Construct 2 a go. I briefly experimented with the game construction kit about two years ago and thought it would be easy to pick up (maybe wished would be a better description). Through the years, I’ve learned that with software development there is always something to fight. There is no such thing as painless development. Frustration is a constant. The folks at Scirra have done a fantastic job of making a very powerful and “easy” to use game kit. If you don’t have a programming background I suspect using Construct 2 is the easiest way to go. For me, it was a different story. I had to restrain my desire to write code and figure out how to accomplish the task using events sheets and layouts. Having a full time job didn’t make it any easier, but I couldn’t let lame excuses get in the way of my goal. I had hoped that my focus on fun would somehow make everything go smoother… No, fun as game development was, there were a lot of hours of “Why doesn’t that just work like in the example?” or “I can’t believe it’s so hard to do this simple thing” and a few hushed expletives as well. I spent most of the week just learning how the game tool worked, but I felt confident that if I stuck with it, Construct 2 would pay off in the end. Grape Boy doesn’t have all the features that I would have liked, but it is a complete game and that was my goal. I wished it had sound and more play elements, but I ran out of time and decided it was better to post a little game than no game at all. I am proud that I was able to add a high scores feature. Now you can try to best my high score. I love a good competition!
The whole experiment had unexpected rewards for me too. My son caught the game development bug and started writing a game of his own. He is working on his latest masterpiece as I write this post. Thing 1 is a natural gamer and is amazingly talented. One minute I look over at his monitor and he is playing Supreme Commander and the next I see him polishing off an amazing looking space game. All without asking me a single question. I am in awe of his creativity and imagination. I can’t wait to see what he will create next. In the near future, I will be posting his latest creations to AdventuresInPlay.com/games.
Well, this week I plan to take a break from game development to finish off my taxes and take care of my to-do list.