A high schooler’s first gamedev steps: 3 hours with GameMaker
I know I’m not the only one who has stories like this one: “hey, how do I get involved in game development?” “Well, grab an engine and make whatever game you can think of.” “Oh, yeah, you know, I’ve seen some of the engines but…” (the answer continues with whatever sort of excuse, either lack of time, difficulty or something like that.
Anyway, yesterday this high school kid was like “hey you, come here” and then shows me Game Maker on his computer, he was trying to make a “sorta sidescrolling” game. He had downloaded a lot of MK sprites (like the ones I suppose you’d use in Mugen) and had this Ermac character moving to the sides. He then goes “I want to be able to run, so if I press this button he will run” and I said “try to make him jump first.”
I had never used Game Maker before, but the tool was very user-friendly, and there are some good resources on the net (I’m sure I will find more soon), and not long after the ninja was jumping as well. Some time later the game character could jump from one platform to the next, and a couple of hours later the little game had 3 levels (or “rooms” as Game Maker calls them) with an exit point, a few “deadly traps,” game over conditions and all that.
After those 3 hours he was like “this is cool, I’ll see what else I can add, and also refine the jumping” (because currently the character jumps way too high). Then he zipped the game and sent it to one of his classmates (humorous note, the other dude was like “Did you really make this thing? I hope this is not one of those things where you’re playing and then you get a scary face or else I’ll kill you”).
By the way this kid is not even thinking “I’ll learn to make games so I can make money!” He was just thinking “I want to learn how to make games just for fun so I can show them to my friends.”
This is a rather short blog post, and maybe even pointless, so why I bother sharing this? Simply because, just like many other indies out there who are asked “how do you get into games?” I’m somewhat tired of people looking for an excuse not to actually make games considering how many tools there are available right now, and while some “serious dudes” can’t get past the “why engine should I use” or “what gaming masterpiece I should make,” this high school kid simply said “what the hell, Game Maker, here I come” and 3 hours later, ‘Super Ermac Bros’ was born.
So, next time someone says “man, I’d love to be a game dev but…” followed by whatever crappy excuse that person can think of, you can answer “well, I know about this kid in this kid in some obscure country who made a Mario clone using Mortal Kombat sprites just for fun using Game Maker, and that country doesn’t even have game development schools.”