You may have spotted that I’ve been banging on about games for the last few posts. That’s because I’ve been playing a lot of games. In fact I’ve been doing a lot more of that than reading books. And I’ve been thinking about how narrative works in games. Which has led to the obvious conclusion of trying to write a game.
So that’s what I’ve been up to.
And will be up to for a little while, because my joyful enthusiasm for writing a game has been met with the actual reality of writing a game.
Because games have code.
And all kinds of other shenanigans, as well as the, y’know, fun bit of writing some frippery.
But I’m giving it a go and will post the result here when I’m done. First off though, here’s a few initial thoughts.
How the arse does one start making a game? The good news is that there are a shedload of tools available for free these days. Including some pretty impressive pieces of kit. Like the Unreal Engine.
That’s the engine that games like the next Shenmue and Psychonauts sequels are being built around. It’s bona fide triple A. Also, hurrah for Psychonauts 2! So, being a rookie game developer, the engine responsible for massively ambitious games seemed like the very best place to start.
There are plenty of tutorials knocking around (of varying quality – one was by a chap who had no idea how to use it, but decided to upload a tutorial anyway. Weird), but I swiftly realised that it may have been just a tad ambitious. Particularly as I was missing the most important thing: an idea.
Stupid, huh? I wouldn’t start writing a novel or short story or play without a decent idea of what I was trying to accomplish, so how on earth could I start fiddling around with game design without a plan.
So I had a bit of a think about the games I’ve enjoyed the most recently – Life Is Strange, Witcher 3, The Stanley Parable to name a few – and what common themes I could glean. I’ve also, while looking for some light relief, been trying Wolfenstein: The New Order. It’s a standard linear shooter; very well put together, but I really have struggled to engage with it as it’s so… well… linear. So there’s the answer: I wanted to make something with options and choice.
An idea formed, and after a frank discussion with myself about my art skills (C at GCSE was bloody generous) I settled on an engine called Gamemaker Studio. There have been big games made with it – Undertale and Hotline Miami for example – but it seems a bit easier to get to grips with. There’s also a massive tutorial community on YouTube which is great and much needed.
And so for the last few weeks I’ve been teaching myself the basics of coding, getting increasingly lost in ‘if’ statements, plus learning about pixel art. And somewhere in there I’ve written a load of dialogue and recorded half of it in a variety of silly voices.
Watch this space.
But don’t hold your breath.