Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Game Making Struggle

John Marine | 1:28 AM | | Be the first to comment!
The game-making struggle is real, folks. Most of my creative energy recently has been spent making game prototypes and learning game programming. I've had the furthest progress using Lua and Löve2D. So that is what I am using to make games. The ultimate goal is to make my first true game I have nothing to share at this point with you all, but I will offer thoughts on my journey of making my first game of any kind.






The Game Making Struggle


Let me go into a bit more detail about my work.


Putting the Games Together.

I am using Notepad++ to put together code for my games. I am using Löve2D for coding, a game-focused Lua interface. When I get around to audio, I will be using Linux MultiMedia Studio (LMMS) mostly. Most of my art has been done with Paint.NET. To try to make material for games, I am taking inspiration from various games. Most of my concentration is on simply making some kind of game rather than the most spectacular material right away. You got to take baby steps before making big leaps.


Why Ask Why?

So...

Why Lua/Löve2D?
I am using Löve2D because it is the programming language I have most successfully been able to make prototypes of. I have no formal training in computer science or programming, so I am mostly relying on various online resources to program with. A lot of people use Löve2D for which to make games with. And while many others will fancy something like C++ or Java instead, you can quickly make progress using Löve2D.

I have been playing with Unity3D, Unreal Engine, and Godot. Since my concentration is on 2D games, it seems a good bit awkward using a 3D engine for making 2D games. I think I even looked at Blender to try to make a pixel-perfect 2D game. Programs like Construct2 and Game Maker are for easy making of games. For some reason, I feel it is better to work with proper programming languages for better porting of material to different platforms and more programming control.

Why Paint.NET?
While Photoshop is more powerful and has many more features, I am using Paint.NET mostly for comfort and for a lightweight solution for making art. You can do a lot more in Photoshop, but the Paint.NET usage is primarily for making some quality material without having some massive program.

Why LMMS?
It has been the best sort of program for making music. Most of all, like many of the other things featured in this post, it's free. It has been the program I slowly learned and enjoyed to make music with. You probably have heard some of my music in my YouTube videos and even on my Weebly site.


Admitting Problems.

One of the things that upsets me is when you have very few quality resources. And sometimes, the ones that are suggested best usually are not the very best. An example includes a video of something that ultimately is not very good because of poor quality expressing it. Or maybe you find some website or blog with a tutorial, and you end up not having the same results as what someone else put together. All of this leads to frustration.

Another weakness is in not being able to properly know how to put certain games together. I've been looking at all kinds of methods to try to build games and game levels. I have yet to make some kind of game I am proud of to share and to build. Part of the reason is because I am not as adept at programming. I don't have any comfort level to confidently build a game from scratch. Being so compelled by various programming languages, I often don't know what methods and functions I can apply to any programming language or know what programming speak is exclusive to one specific language.

I have also struggled trying to come up with a proper suite to parse levels. Methods have included trying to put together PNG images to even trying to make game level data based on an image. I have not been successful making a proper parsing system for which to design levels easier.

Not everyone is some kind of one-person studio. Despite my issues, I mostly want to try to do this alone. I think there is greater accomplishment in trying to get things done your way and on your own. Is it intense? You bet! However, I feel there is greater gratification in being solo. You are making something to how you perceive to be incredible.


Game Building Methods.

I mentioned methods of making games. Let me explain a bit further.

Let us take making game levels for instance. Some people design levels using a series of images- maybe a static background image, then have that image with various overlays of hand-drawn levels. Or in the case of game engines, a decent set of tiles to make a 2D type game. People have designed levels of 2D games using a bunch of PNG layers or even a Photoshop PSD file. Some games are even built upon CSV files, XML files, Inkscape SVG images, even Excel spreadsheets. There are methods in designing levels in layers from the artistic aspects to the collision layer. I have yet to actually perfect any aspect of this.

As for game mechanics, I am playing games that I see either as good or bad. Sometimes learning from bad games (as you see them) can sometimes be the easiest to learn from since they aren't all that good. It is sometimes the worst titles where you feel you could most make something better. There is that feeling where you have a chance you can make something better than what some other developer made. With some titles I've played, I either want to make something as fun as a good game or make a not-very-good game better. You learn to take concepts from other titles and try to make your own quality content.

The game mechanics themselves can boil down to learning how to make certain titles and how to take certain dynamics to apply into your own work. For example, you can examine the code of a player in a platformer game to apply and modify in your own work. This is certainly something I am looking into as I am trying to develop my own kind of game and/or game prototype. I don't have as many quality resources to look at and try to utilize into my own work. I certainly don't want to completely copy somebody else's work as my own (plagiarism).

I haven't given it much thought, but I have also considered the user interface (UI) as part of my game design adventures. It is something I haven't given much thought to since I am more focused on trying to build the game first and foremost before thinking of making a certain interface.


Having said all of this, the struggle to try to make something of quality is real. You all know I will share my work with you all when I come up with something I think you all will like. I am not sure how I would distribute my content. To test the waters of making and distributing games, I may look to resources like Newgrounds, Kongregate, and even itch.io as sources. I may also set up a Google Site exclusive towards featuring some of my games.




Would I Consider Game Jams? (Bonus Section!)


To me, no. I am too much of a perfectionist to try to make a game from start to finish in only two days or shorter. I am not as keen to make a mistake-ridden game that I can ultimately learn from to design future games with. I am a casual person who has a professional mindset on certain things. I feel things must be of acceptable quality as I deem acceptable. Also, I am not too good at trying to work with themes.

The appeal of doing a game jam will help people to try to manage their time and realize what all is important when building games. I am not ready for that kind of stuff yet.





All you have to know from this blog post is that the struggle to make games is real. This is why I have mostly seemed idle in making content. You do, though, at least know that I have been trying to develop content as best as I can. This concludes another post of my creative works blog- "John's Creative Space." Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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