There’s only so much gaming glee you can take, before you start wondering about creating your own game. To answer your first question: yes, making your own game is very doable.
However, as with everything in life, the quality of your game and depth of your gameplay are proportionate to the time you’re willing to invest in learning about, experimenting with, and handling the necessary software tools.
This article features in a multiple part series with increasing complexity. In this first installment, we will take a look at a number of quick and easy ways to create a customized game. There will be no or minimal programming required. With but a handful of clicks, you can take a game and make it your own, by creating different skins and levels.
Of course, the games we make here are not very advanced. Nor do these applications allow for very much creative flexibility. For that, you’ll have to wait for the next article in the series. These games are what they need to be: easy to make and fun to play.
Playfic is a website you can use to create your own text-based adventures. It was reviewed in the Directory earlier this year. Of all the game creators covered in this first article, Playfic is the one with the most rudimentary interface and the least graphical capabilities. In contrast, Playfic is also the one which leaves the most room for your creativity. Its nature allows you to create vast worlds and exciting adventures with very little work.
The games are written in Inform, a kind of pseudo-code. By writing about the objects in the rooms, how they interact, and how you can interact with your environment, you fill Playfic in on the details on how your game should be run. This is a far fetch from real code, but it still requires you to pick up a certain way of writing.
The easiest way to pick up the basics is by reading the source code of existing games, or of the tutorials that are written around a certain aspect of the game, like objects and doors. By pressing ‘View game source’ on the left-hand side of the screen, you can dissect any existing game. Learning to use rudimentary Inform structures this way is a matter of less than an hour. By then you’ll be able to create your first simple text-based adventure.
If you want to go beyond the basics, a little more time is needed. After all, the flexibility of Inform is legion and goes far beyond ‘go north’ and ‘pick up the pen’. Playfic recommends reading The Inform Recipe Book and Writing with Inform. Both are available online free of charge. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the language, this four-page cheat sheet condenses much of the information you need to retain.
Sploder was covered on MakeUseOf by Damien Oh in 2008. It’s a simple tool for creating online flash games through a drag-and-drop interface. The user can choose between four distinct game genres: platformer, puzzle, labyrinth shooter and arcade shooter.
By using drawing a level and dragging obstacles, doors, power-ups, enemies and game objectives onto the canvas, the user can expand on one of these game templates.
There is no real learning curve to Sploder, so you can start creating your own flash games in a matter of minutes. The games you make can be played with on the Sploder website, or embedded on a page of your own.
FPS Creator (Windows only)
Like the name suggests, you can use FPS Creator to give life to your own first person shooter. FPS Creator was covered by Ryan Dube in 2010. By browsing through the segment and entity libraries respectively, you’ll find the ingredients to create your own FPS world and fill it with NPC’s.
Most of the game’s behavior, like enemy artificial intelligence and environmental puzzles are worked out in pre-existing scripts. It’s perfectly possible to make your game without ever resorting to raw code. However, if you want to, FPS Creator gives more advanced users something to play with as well. You can edit and replace all existing scripts, or add custom scripts yourself.
You can hit it off with FPS Creator by just playing around, but again you can expand your possibilities by delving deeper into the application. The FPS Creator Manual is a good pointer for familiarizing yourself with the application. The Official Community Guide goes a lot further than familiarization, with over 200 pages worth of advanced techniques and tutorials. There are also 42 video tutorials ranging from adding doors to anti-gravity and in-game effects.
FPS Creator can be downloaded for free, giving you largely the same package as the $49.99 full version. The main limitations on the free version are the inability to compile to a standalone executable and multiplayer capabilities. Even if those features are a must-have for you, I’d suggest playing around a bit with the free version first.
If you used one of the above-mentioned tools to bear your very own game-child, show off your work in the comments below. Also be sure to keep out an eye for the next installment in this game-making series, where we will tackle more advanced game cooking software, using object events and scripting.
Image Credit: Idea go / Free Digital Photos
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