#1GAM August 14 – Learning Gamemaker

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Woe is Me

As I mentioned last month; coming from a lot of Unity experience, Gamemaker feels really weird.

My biggest issue with the engine is that it feels really messy. This boils down to how the workspace divides everything into pop out windows. For example, every object is controlled separately from their own pop out window. Each of these objects are controlled by a series of events. In my case, each of these events uses a separate code block meaning that for each and every code block, for each and every event a new window is opened when I want to make changes. This leaves the screen cluttered and somewhat frustrating as they can be difficult to distinguish from one another. See the below screenshot for an idea of what I mean.

cluttered

It may well be a case of me working messily but in any case it has been rather annoying. I’ve put a request in to see if the support team can provide me any insight into my workflow woes. Still waiting on a response but if any of you Gamemaker users have any tips I’m all ears!

Out of all this struggle I got a little disheartened. Devolution as it is now was created and completed in one month. I know I can’t expect to have the same speed with a new engine but it is quite the bummer to struggle to make progress. Rapid protoyping has become a major element of my creative process and I’m missing it.

This month’s effort

My attempted solution to slow progress has been to go right back to the drawing board and complete some tutorials. I chose this one, which has been a solid starting point for what has become this month’s game – Mummified.

mummified_gameplay_snippet

The tutorial was for the most part, really useful. It did however leave the project with a lot for me to do, which worked out okay. I ended up:

  • recreating most of the sprites to suit my chosen theme
  • adding some new sprites both original and sourced
  • tweaking the control scheme to fit a gamepad
  • rebuilding the wave system

I could easily keep adding more (different enemies, more weapons, health packs, levelling etc.) but as I’m not planning on taking the game any further I’d rather move on and see what else I can learn. As I’m using just the base version of Studio I’ve only been able to create a downloadable Windows version. If you would like to play (you will need a controller) download it here.

I’ve got another idea I will begin working on as a prototype next month which I hope will be my ‘test’ project for the engine. Basically if I can’t get this basic idea to work nicely in Gamemaker from start to finish I will have to consider abandoning the engine for any further Devolution development.

Assets Used in Mummified:

Palm trees created by: Warlock’s Gauntlet artists – rAum, jackFlower, DrZoliparia, Neil2D. Source 
Shotgun Sound created by: Vincent Sevedge. Source 
Music ‘ Uncle Stu’ created by: Proffessor Lamp. Source 

1GAM January – Pragmatism FTW

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Remember when I said I was making a snake clone? Yeah about that…I kept at it for another few days and couldn’t work past the issues I was having (I even restarted the project twice to try different methods but alas neither yielded a better result). I guess it’s reasonable to assume that I’ve got nothing to show right? Oh how happy I am to say that’s wrong: I’ve got something you can even play!

I decided to work with what I had and make a game from what I had been able to achieve. The result is kinda two games with a single player and multiplayer component emerging (they are a little disjointed right now but hopefully in the coming days I’ll be able to add in some more features that will see the two fit together much more logically).

Now before you go getting your hopes up, remember that the month isn’t quite over yet so I’m hoping to add in a few more features, levels, tweak the visuals and weed out some bugs in the time remaining. That said, while neither of the games are particularly ground breaking nor visually amazing, I’m happy to have come out of my grumpy slump with something resembling a game. I think both modes do have potential it just remains to be seen whether I can tap into that come January 31st.

Click the image below to check it out:

single

Click to play!

*On the note of bugs, there are more than a few and I’m aware of them, so if you play I’d rather not hear about them unless you find a massively game breaking one.

1GAM January – Teething Problems

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I’m not gonna lie this first week has been pretty up and down. I started the week working on one idea, switched it up to something cooler (but ultimately too ambitious given my current programming skill level) and, monty phython-esque, eventually settled on something completely different.

Right now the game is essentially a clone of the classic Snake that I’m hoping to change up with come cool multiplayer mechanics and a nifty coat of paint. The idea was to start with something basic and work my way up; a practical game plan. Or so I thought…

It’s been longer than I realised since I last programmed something so more time than I probably want to has been spent just getting my brain to remember what the hell things are! I liken this feeling to when you would come back from summer holidays from high school and simple things such as spelling, how to form a sentence, or even your handwriting seem to have escaped you. Of course over time these return, but the initial shock to the system is an odd feeling.

At the moment I’m not insanely happy with where my progress is right now. That said, I can’t be too hard on myself given how poorly my week started, the fact that I have a cold and that I need to get back into the swing of programming. I suppose seeing the progress of others also involved and the always encroaching January 31st deadline has made me nervous. From now on I’ll do my best to take that nervous energy and use it to fuel my work.

Enough of this silly talk! What about the game dammit?!

Right now my goal is really just to get classic snake built; anything on top of that will be icing. Currently I’ve got the basic movement down, the snake growing with food and the food re-spawning randomly. I’m stuck at getting the tail to behave correctly; I’ve got them spawning and following the head but right angles are proving tricky. I think I’ve got all the logic there it’s now just a matter of translating it to working code (I worry it may mean revision of stuff I’ve got ticked off my list already though). Once I get the right angles working there are only a few, hopefully, little things I’ll need to iron out until the core stuff is there so I’m not too concerned at this stage.

Uber impressive as you can tell already

Uber impressive as you can tell already

As an aside I’ve become slightly obsessed with commenting and formatting my code now. Good commenting is something that I’m finally trying to do consistently and I can really see it helping my logic. Something I have found particularly useful is adding a region at the very top called ‘Script Goals’  where, as the name suggests, I write a list of what I want the script to do. Not only does this help keep things neat it is also a great way to keep me thinking logically and acts as a little reward once the script is done.

Dat Formatting

Dat Formatting

I’ll keep at it and report back sometime next week.

60 Percent of the Time, I Work Everytime

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This past month has been a bit up and down, mostly because I have made very little progress on High, nor have I really attempted to do so. I feel the Anchorman quote sums this up pretty well. That doesn’t however mean that I haven’t been working on it; I had a pretty crappy day programming wise which started a programming dry spell but I have dabbled in the design side of things.

I’m at the point where I’m not sure I want to continue with High but know I will regret it. I have a tonne of ideas that I want to make a reality (as much as a reality as a video game can be I suppose) but need to keep in mind that I won’t be able to do everything all at once or even at all.

I’ve gained this new-found perspective as a result of a talk by Epona Shweer (creator of indiebits.com among other things) at Sydney’s iFest yesterday. She spoke specifically of the benefits of self-publishing but what I took out of it was that you aren’t gonna be able to everything on your first try (some things even at all) but not to let this discourage you.

The whole event has actually resparked my desire to make games in seeing the work of my fellow devs (by the way check out Time of Ages) who have been or are currently in the same situation as me. Next year I want to showcase something of my own.

In my High absence I’ve been working on a few different things:

  • I’m writing a gamebook as a prototype for a larger idea I’ve had. It’s still super early stages and likely rife with spelling and grammar mistakes so read it at your own peril here
  • Working on a core design doc for an adventure game (watching the Double Fine Adventure updates seems to have given me the bug)
  • Writing and contributing more to indiesandwich.com
  • Something which is still secret for now…

I vow to continue working on High alongside these new and exciting projects and will try not to beat myself up so much.

The Grand Reveal: Indie Sandwich

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After around two months of work I can finally reveal one of the exciting things I’ve had to keep secret.

The project is a site called Indie Sandwich formed by myself and some of my Qantm alumni friends. The site is dedicated to reviewing Indie games and giving them the exposure they deserve. We also feature a weekly podcast recapping the news and anything we found interesting for the week.

While we are still figuring everything out we’ve made some really good progress with two completed reviews up on our youtube channel and five podcasts ready and waiting on the website. I can’t explain how excited I am to finally be able to share Indie Sandwich and can’t wait to see how far we can go in the not so distance future!

Check out:  http://indiesandwich.com/

Subscribe to our Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/IndieSandwich?feature=mhee

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Indie-Sandwich/384064351625377