Game Development: How did I start making video games? (Part 2)

Hey everyone, I apologize for the incredibly long delay in the next blog post, I was busy taking part in the Global Game Jam, which resulted in making…

Our latest project for the Global Game Jam 2019

DAY OF THE DAD!

Our game is called Day of the Dad which you can check out here!

Survive for as long as you can! Feed hungry kids outside your house before you get overwhelmed!

Speaking of games…if you check out the homepage, you may notice a downsizing of games being listed. This is because I now moved a chunk of game jam games and other projects to the new “Game Jam Games/Misc.” section. This was simply done to clean up the page a bit and organize things a little.


And now without further ado, let’s continue on from where we left off (previous post)…

When I arrived home with my new game making book, I was very eager to learn to finally make something. I opened the book, I could smell the crisp oily pages from which thousands of people had touched this book. I glanced through looking at the pictures, and then installing The Games Factory onto my Windows XP computer.

I followed the tutorials, making something as simple as a square move on screen. I’d learn to work with their grid like coding system to add features like score and lives. This was drastically more promising than my previous attempts at making games. On occasion, I would look at the demos that came with the CD, and look at the code that the developers provided, and play some pretty amazing games.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any images of the games they had, but some of the assets were VERY early 2000s esq. stuff like pre-rendered 3D characters were all the rage, and I vaguely remember playing a game where you shoot these green 3D cartoon faces (they kind of looked like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street) and after you shot them it would say “DOOD YA GOT ME!”. Good times.

This was truly an exciting time, I finally felt like I was gaining momentum, and now I could feel a surge of inspiration to make any game I wanted. Well, that was until I actually started to try and make games with the games factory.

As it turns out, The Games Factory was actually super limited with it’s features, you had to be REALLY creative and wrestle with the program itself to get what you wanted. But even then, there were a lot of missing features that today’s game making programs have spoiled us with. Things like not having layers, having a limited number of animations per object,  and other rudimentary limitations that really held you back from making your dream game.

I think you can already see where I’m going with this. I wasn’t really able to make many games if any with the Games factory, but I did have a lot of crazy ideas. For the rest of this post, I think it would be fun to talk about some of the prototype concepts I had when I was young and full of energy.

I unfortunately don’t have the actual game files or any assets from them, so these pictures below are simply my attempts at re-creating how I remember the games looked back then.

Ninja Toons

A cartoon ninja game where it would have had awesome slow-motion moments of you punching other ninjas and doing flips and so on.

A vague re-creation of what the game looked like, there was a severe animation limit, but I remember trying to have him throw stars and performing a super smooth somersault into the air.

He even had a tediously animated run animation, one that was animated frame by frame constantly, the most painstaking way possible.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t really go far with the AI limitations of the games factory…and it didn’t really let me do different attacks.

Tanks

TANKS, an epic game where you shoot other tanks causing huge explosions while listening to rock music. 8 directional tank driving action!

My brother made an awesome song that honestly out shined the game itself. But that didn’t hold me back, I worked super hard to still make the menu screen match the level of epicness in this song.

The game used some of the Games Factory’s explosion assets, obviously I don’t have them, imagine that explosion being replaced by a pre-rendered 3d explosion.

It was a pretty hilarious game, simply because the menu would have hundreds of explosions and an endless epic battle of tanks constantly re-spawning and shooting each other while the music played. But as soon as you hit start, the music would abruptly cut and go to silent sound effects only gameplay. This was because there was a limitation where you could only have ONE sound channel, so only sounds or music, not both.

End Game

A mysterious, sci-fi themed game which had these pixelated stick figures shoot each other. You would play as a black stick figure shooting red stick figures. I think I imagined a cool futuristic element to it, but with an oddly nostalgic aesthetic to it.

I think I even drew the characters at a larger scale by hand, so no programming scaling up features.

Bubble Dude

Bubble dude was an attempt at making a fun lighthearted platformer. My brother struck back again and composed some goofy tracks for it. It was going to have a quirky character jumping on other goofy enemies. A Cartoon aesthetic like Kirby while having fun platforming akin to Mario and so on.

I vaguely remember an enemy that wasn’t fully drawn, which is why that “top with an eye” looks like that.

Laser Warrior

You played as a super cool and tough futuristic soldier called Laser Warrior, a master at espionage, high-tech weapons and all forms of hand to hand combat. The guy could jump, crawl and while The Games Factory couldn’t really handle that many things like punches and so on, he was able to fire a laser out of his high-tech glove.

There was a quirk where you could hold lasers down in the air and he would shoot a machine gun of them in a arc like above

Some hard work went into animating him, he was the most realistically proportioned human character I had ever worked with, unfortunately the most tragic event had happened…

…I forgot to save, and then the power went out. The animations were gone and all that was left was a rectangle that could only move left and right.

Jackalope Jack

Calling back to the 90s mascot platformers, my middle school friend Greg came up with this rabbit like character who wore blue overalls. The platforming was designed to be crisp and responsive while the animations were some of the most fluid that I had ever made.

This was a pretty great time, we’d go to each other’s houses, I’d install the games factory on his father’s computer and we’d just mess with the game for hours and just marvel at even the smallest amounts progress that was made. Things like getting the character to move, jump and throw carrots. These were some golden memories.

Jack would collect carrots as ammo, and then throw them to attack.

There were some hilarious exploits to the game too, where you could keep holding the movement key into the wall, jump and then repress the movement key into the wall, allowing you to infinitely climb up vertical walls.

The most memorable part was when my friend Greg said to me,”When the player beats the game, Jack will walk away and then an old lady will ask him ‘Who are you’ and then he’ll look back and say,’I’m Jackalope Jack!’ Then it would end with him walking to the sunset”.

Funny thing is, I was recently able to find the floppy disk (a translucent neon green one that held about 2MB) that contained the project. Unfortunately, when I tried getting a copy of the games factory, it didn’t want to work. I’ll have to find a super old computer someday to unearth this gem of a game.


So now what? The truth is that the program was just so limiting and my ability to concentrate on a project for a long time was non-existent. So I eventually dropped The Games Factory and moved on to my high school years, to a new chapter of my life. There I wouldn’t touch game making ever, but I would soon discover other interests that would shape my skill set for the rest of my life…

To be continued…

-Brandon

www.tinywarriorgames.com

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