Hey guys, I thought I’d do a quick post on an old game I made years ago when I first started making games with Game Maker.
One of the games I made with Game Maker’s Apprentice.
Dragon game was the first game in the game maker’s apprentice book. When I worked on this game and followed the tutorial, I didn’t have the book’s CD to pull art assets from. As a result I had to make my sprites from scratch. Obviously this art was super roughed and not made to look like the Taj Mahal.
Actually, it really does look like it, I take everything I said back.
Collect your own baby dragons to get points but don’t kill them. You can’t actually win in this game, it’s like life, you can’t actually win. If the evil orange things hit you you lose and you’re sent straight to hell.
The background I think is from a level in Chex Quest, and the music MIDI is also from Chex Quest. The Art is by me and the Game Maker program is by Game Maker.
Anyways, enjoy playing this old awful game I made. There are no viruses, it was made in Game Maker 8.1.
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I was fast approaching my later years in college. (in fact, I’m skipping so much stuff that happened from the previous post that this blog post would be filled with so many things like cringey college events, samey cafeteria food, bad housing and dealing with dorm mates who stay up until 5 a.m. with a burning desire to create as much noise as-…Oh sorry, I was rambling for a second there.)
So anyways, I was required to take a science related class for my current year, and was suggested to take Astronomy (Not Astrology). It seemed neat, I mean who doesn’t like space and star wars? I enjoyed the class, it’s pretty technical in it’s own unique way (I think with angles, distance, time) but also “outdoorsy” as a science class (at least with what I experienced). I got the opportunity to watch some shows at the planetarium, which was pretty rad. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that my Astronomy teacher asked if I wanted to work there, so I was like “lol heck yea bro, yolo swag noscope hue hue hue jajaja”.
Let’s skip ahead several more months, for our final project, we were assigned to do what was called the Astronomy Integration Project. Because our teacher was awesome, we could create almost anything we wanted to as long as it had some relation to astronomy. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I do the stupidest thing possible and make a video game since I’ve never finished my own one before and we don’t much that much time left?” So I did that. I grinded for hours, this was my first time experiencing something close to would be called a Game Jam (A Game Jam is an event where you generally have a short amount of time to create a video game). I worked at the game for hours, I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off, there was a lot of uncertainty and lack of experience but I slowly put together my first actual game…
Rocket Launch! Created for my Astronomy class.
Fly the rocket to accomplish different mission goals.
Rocket launch had 9 Missions, it was challenging to make in and of itself, figuring out how to wrangle the code in Game Maker 8.1. I’d run into problems like having to create different sized versions of the planets and assets, handling their physics, hit boxes for unique objects like the tail end of a comet, particle effects and so on.
My Astronomy Professor loved it.
So now what? Let’s skip ahead a bit further as I was now required to create an Art Show for my Senior Final for Graphic Design.
I was in the middle of messing with Frog Hop during this time, and thought to myself. Why not have the art show be based on this video game?
So, I did that, I worked pretty hard, skipping some classes to try and crunch away time at it. I’d work hard to get posters printed and put up on walls (only to have people laugh at them and tear them off the walls) and make promotional cards (which also kept getting thrown out) to get people to know about the show.
Anyways, I don’t think I need to say much about the show itself, I had computers setup so that people could play the game, watch a looping video in the planetarium about the game, and some box art pieces for the game.
I’m pretty thankful that the planetarium and computer science department were so generous to let me use their equipment to pull this off.
Shout outs to the CS department, Astronomy department, the Art department, Yoyo games, the passive aggressive college post office guy and the people that kept throwing out my promotional material (I knew where you lived).
Well, that’s about all I got, of course, I could talk about Frog Hop itself, the other game jam games, Nameless, maybe my other endeavors, but for now I think this is a good stopping point.
So what can be learned from this? What is the TL:DR? What can you take from this?
At the end of the day, unlike the game developers who are super young and their first game sells millions of copies, obvious my story isn’t like that. A lot of this journey is, well, a journey! I don’t have it all figured out. Just because I create games and have reached the “other side” doesn’t mean that I’m different from who I was when I started. Even if I got millions of copies sold of my games, I probably would still be the same, just more stressed and way more busier. People think that you have to go on this extremely individualistic quest to self discovery. But honestly, the more I’ve met with older people who have pursued different fields, the more I’ve started to realize that really no one has it completely figured out.
Life is not a destination, it’s a Journey.
If something isn’t working out, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to keep going or pursue something else. So if you have this expectation that “If I obtain ___, I’ll be happier/more secure/content”, I’ve started to become more cynical with that, and because it becomes an endless cycle of discontentment.
So while yes, it does suck that after all these years I haven’t found any critical success in spite of my hard work. I can at least say to YOU that even if you accomplish those things, they aren’t really going to change you or how you view yourself.
But hey that’s just my view on the matter, some people will still disagree and have some expectation that their accomplishments will change them. And that’s fine, that’s up to them, it’s their life and their perspective, this is simply from my own personal experience on the matter.
Well, that was quite the blog series, I for one really enjoyed writing this series and I hope you found it entertaining/helpful.
Now the question is, what do I write about next? If only my readers could suggest some fun and interesting things for me to write about.
“I…greeted…an even greater abomination called college…But…I was…a gaming computer.”
I was introduced to a new program called Game Maker 8.1. It’s white interface with quirky icons like a red pac-man boggled my mind. I remember opening the application up, only to be greeted by a bizarre tutorial telling me how to make a game about clicking a clown. It made me a bit concerned for the mental health of the Yoyo games employee that created it.
Even though I felt a great amount of discomfort at the idea of catching a clown in a game, I proceeded to follow the tutorial. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, I just did what the tutorial told me to do. After continually going back and forth looking at the tutorial, I’d remember the MIDI song that would play while I clicked on the clown that moved around the screen.
At this point I was done making video games, I worked as hard as I could and got the recognition that I deserved. It got so crazy that it got to the point where I could make the worst game possible and yet my fans would adore everything I made. I sold so many copies that eventually Yoyo games had to owe me back money for using their application. Moving forward, nowadays I spend most of my time sipping pina coladas in my private cabana.
Oh right, sorry I got lost there for a second.
The game worked, I’d look at some other stuff they had like a platforming game like mario and a pac-man game of sorts. But something about mindlessly doing what someone else told me to do didn’t really teach me anything. Progress would slow down a bit, I wasn’t really sure what to do after following the tutorials.
It was only then, that I would google search my way to victory and find a book called The Game Maker’s Apprentice. This book is the sole reason I really took off with making games.
This book changed my life
While it is pretty out of date since it was focused towards gm 8.1. It contained some great explanations for game design and would allow you to create a handful of games that actually worked. But while I could have fallen into the same trap of just mindlessly following the tutorials in the book, this time I wanted to really try and at least hypothesize and understand why the tutorial was telling me to do certain things.
One of the games I made with Game Maker’s Apprentice.
Somethings I found that helped me to learn more effectively:
Try to make your own assets, trust me you will feel a greater sense of ownership and accomplishment even though you followed the tutorial.
Don’t just mindlessly do what they tell you to do in a tutorial, if they introduce a new concept to you, take a moment and really try to study what it is about, go online and just spend a couple seconds understanding it. If you don’t understand it, it’s possible you’ll be left behind in the dust unable to understand later stuff down the road.
Don’t make games about catching clowns.
Perhaps in a future blog post, I will go over some of these old games I made from the Game Maker’s Apprentice.
I will admit that it’s kind of lame that I would drop something like this to you, especially if you were interested in using the Game Maker’s Apprentice. Unfortunately, they’re so out of date that I don’t really think they’ll do newer revisions (and who knows Game Maker will eventually keep upgrading with more nonsense like Game Maker 3, and then Game Maker Remastered, Game Maker Ultimate, Game Maker Classic Revisited, Game Maker Modern Warfare, etc.). But despite that, there are so many free up to date tutorials nowadays that you can make some pretty great stuff.
One last thing before I go, I found that Open Source Projects are an amazing way to learn really fast. If you come across them, you can really study how they put the game together, how they programmed their systems like physics and so on. Doing little things like changing the sprites or sound effects are a great way to see how it works. But whatever you do, DON’T export the game out there as if you made it unless the creator gives you permission to do so (Seriously).
In the next post, I’ll give a quick rundown of useful stuff that I learned from this journey.
I graduated from the abomination of society known as high-school, only to be greeted by an even greater abomination called college. But aside from that, things were looking good, now that I was done with high-school, I would finally build a gaming computer.
Yes this is the same computer I still use to this day.
After struggling to finally get this thing to work, I’d be introduced to a whole new realm of gaming and software. During this time, I’d play games like Team Fortress 2, Fallout 3 and other really bad free to play shooters which I look back on and cringe at…well…I’ll explain in a bit.
As you may know, years ago I spent a lot of my time going to websites to play flash games and watch flash animations, which influenced me to want to create flash animations. Well during this time in college, I’d spend countless hours on youtube watching frag videos(also known as montages, xxxSnipezxxxNoscopezxxx APOCALYPSE epic movie or MLG swag moments). I think you can see the pattern here, seeing these frag videosmade me really want to get into making montages.
And well, I’d use screen recording software and record myself playing games, then edit my amazing moments which would lead to me receiving death threats from 13 years olds online, awesome.
I’d learn to use After Effects to do eye popping effects which I look back on and really didn’t know how to put a leash on my desire to let loose and create. While I think the videos had questionable effects used, I think this was a necessary thing to have happen, because rampantly using different effects really did help me learn and led to me gaining the experience to use my video editing skills for actual work.
But wait, what happened to my animations? Well, this was sort of my dropping off point for flash animation. I still have a soft spot for flash anime.
A bit lacking in the weight of some actions but good nonetheless.
Some reason, I had this obsession with having a lot of frames. This was a scene from a scrapped animation called Cat vs Fly.
The animation was about a cat getting pestered by a house fly, and he would go through great lengths to kill it. based on a true story.
I was really into gaming, this was a joke animation about Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. I think it would have Matrix antics and a Dragon Ball Z moment where a guy snipes multiple guys in a row, and the joke was it was a 5 year old who pulled it off.
The one below was probably the most ambitious one for me, of course, it never got finished, and honestly I don’t plan to finish it. Still some interesting ideas here and there.
Honestly there’s a lot of videos I made during this time, like…A LOT. I’m not going to go over them because they’re cringe worthy and just, not that great. (I mean that’s not completely true, there are some I’ve made that I still hold near and dear)
That was the most vertical slice post I could have made, because there is so much to show but honestly I think you get the idea. This point in my life was definitely one of dreams, curiosity and an outright ambitious desire to learn new skills. I didn’t really complete my ambitious projects, but I felt it would be good to show this avenue because well, as much as making frag videos may seem irrelevant to making actual games, they are, and they played an important part in the exploration of skills and lessons which would eventually lead to helping me learn to create games.
Oh, right we were supposed to talk about games. I’m sure you’re curious how I somehow got back into learning to try and actually make games this time.
During my sophomore year in college I met someone in the cafeteria named Michael, and I would rekindle my passion for making games with the software non-other than-…
Howdy gang, just want to let you know that I do have a twitter, and I’ll be sharing some GIFs from a small project that I’m working on with my friends from Cincinatti, JollyCroutonMedia and AustinPandemic.
It’s called…FRANCHISE WARS, a strategy game where two franchises engage in an all out war to dominate the food industry…
Logo Designed by Clayton Belcher
Programming done by Austin Huebner
Art by Brandon Song-………..Smith…John Smith
Motion Capture by Team Xbox
I’ll keep you guys updated as we get it wrapped up.
So now that I’ve entered my later high school days, I knew I wanted to get better at my art and learn new things.
During this time of my life, I took classes for computer graphics, where I’d learn how to use Photoshop, Flash Animation and make maps in Unreal Tournament 2004. These classes were my favorites to go to. Being able to finally use programs to create digital artwork was so exciting.
Below I’ll share some flash animation stuff I did, think of this as if it were a really amateur digital museum. Enjoy!
Shape Tween, pretty basic stuff, I remember getting the star to morph was difficult to figure out. Not sure what’s going on with the ‘M’.
This was fun, bottom part of the ghost was my favorite part to animate.
We would learn to turn the bike clip art into a symbol, and manipulate it so that it would do cool stuff like flips. (And stop on a dime, defying the laws of physics, yes it is intentional, it’s my poetic interpretation, there you can’t criticize the landing anymore.)
I’m not even sure why I made this, I think were simply were assigned to work with pixel art, but then I took it to a whole new level with a stick figure getting GTA’d.
I did this very late in my senior year. Man the characters lack weight to their movements but I like how smooth it is.
This running boy…
Here are several graphics I made photoshop CS3 (Yeah that’s right, the golden age before Adobe got greedy with Creative Cloud).
I’d learn to work with photoshop’s layer effects to create purty graphix.
My old cellphone wallpaper graphic, feel free to use it and boast about me so I can never fulfill the unrealistic expectations of others.
Logo design, such glow, very wow.
We were assigned to do a collage of our favorite characters I think? (But really this was the dream Smash Bros 6 Cast.)
We would use the Clone Stamp tool to remove elements in an image (This is an animated GIF)
A great avatar, I think I will use this in the future…
The class had a small graphics tablet, what a quality drawing by a quality boy.
A real business, give them a call
I’m telling you, it IS real
I unfortunately don’t have Unreal Tournament 2004 to see the map I created.
The Map file does exist…
This was a super ambitious final project map that 2 other guys and I collaborated on to create a large scale map. The premise was that it took place on a large beach cliff island with two opposing bases, but then you could go inside the bases to enter a giant tunnel that connected the two bases inside the mountain. The cliff was pretty high up so you would die if you fell off.
Vague recreation of how I remember the map looked, I’m pretty sure the actual map did not have trees and islands. (can click this image to see the larger size)
I have very fond memories of Unreal Tournament 2004, what a great time to be a real boy. (wat)
Later when I would graduate from High-school, I would finally experience having a new computer. After finally putting it together, a whole new realm was opened up to me (Actually to this day I still use the same computer to make my artwork.). I’d not only be able to play games like Team Fortress 2 and Fallout 3 at high settings without hiccups, but I’d learn about creating videos and further developing my music making.
I had created a bunch of incomplete prototypes of games that I unfortunately don’t have with The Games Factory. But times were changing, I lost interest in game making, and started messing with other avenues during my highschool days.
Programming classes weren’t really interesting me, and I wanted to find other avenues to be able to express myself creatively.
I looked elsewhere, maybe there were other skills I could learn. After all, I always drew stick figures in my notebooks and characters that looked like they were from Bill Amend’s newspaper comic FoxTrot
My “OC” comic strip that’s not a ripoff of Foxtrot, copyrighted by me, do not steal.
I would browse the internet, which that in and of itself was an exciting time. There I would discover flash animation. During this time, I’d spend hours going to websites like crazymonkeygames, armorgames and newgrounds playing flash games and watching stick figures punch each other. Animation was always interesting to me as I loved watching saturday morning cartoons. So I looked into an animation program called Macromedia Flash 8 (which evolved into Adobe Flash and then just Adobe Animate).
There was even a particular animation done by an Australian guy who went by the alias “Ryanide“ who made this one animation called Dendyn Dynasties that just got me super stoked. (“Ryanide” by the way has been a huge inspiration for me as an artist to this day)
Dendyn Dynasties was a Flash Animation by Matt “Ryanide” Hilton. Not me, Copyrighted by him, do not steal.
But compared to that, what I made paled in comparison.
This is painful for me to share, you’re welcome.
So while animation was one of the things I’d have fun messing with, even though I didn’t get anywhere with it, music making was another aspect that interested me.
As a middle schooler, I played the violin up until high school. (I’m not even sure why I chose the violin, I probably just thought it looked cool). But while I stopped pursuing playing violin, I’d look into maybe trying my hand at the idea of putting notes together to make songs.
What started it for me was when my brother used a program called TabIt, a simple music composing program intended for writing guitar tablatures (notation for guitar players). I would always see him using it and so I thought I would give it a shot.
TabIt’s Interface, each number was a MIDI note programmed in.
Here are some…great…songs…I composed…
But let’s be super raw and brutally honest, my attempts at both avenues were pretty amateur. I didn’t really get very far in either, this was a pretty big struggle for me at this time. I also didn’t enjoy school and the safety of being at home playing video games was far more appealing. Heck even my ability to draw wasn’t really that great (even though I really wanted to draw like “Ryanide” did)
my old cringey art but…it does show that I really wanted to get good at drawing animal characters. I always thought it was impressive someone could have their own art style that they were comfortable with and good at.
But while I was always held back by my artistic skill, I still really wanted to get better and create awesome art pieces no matter what avenue I went towards. It’s funny because even today, I still struggle with this.
So now what? It seemed kind of hopeless, I wasn’t particularly good at anything. And while people would just snidely say stuff like what I did isn’t impressive and whatnot, I still really wanted to create something that looked incredible.
It was in my later years in high-school that I would discover working with computers to create animations, digital art as well as create maps for unreal 2004
And the best part, was that as I got a little older, my skills were improving…
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
Jack A Lope 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 Jack a Lope 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…