How To Make a Video Game - It's Free, and not as Hard as You Think
Video Game making has evolved dramatically over the past decade. It used to be a world filled with tedious hours of programming in a language like C. But today there are readily available tools that do all this programming work for you and allow you to focus on the creative task of building a fantasy world game.
Finding and Using the Software
There are many free for public use video game software suites and they are all very similar. If you learn how to use one of them you can readily transfer your skills to the others. And if you are serious about your video game making, the skills you learn with the free software are a good foundation for working with the high-end software tools that the professionals use. You can easily find any number of these free software applications by using a popular search engine. Two of them that I have used are the Genesis game engine and the Reality Factory game development suite. Five Steps to Making a Video Game There are five basic steps to making a video game. These are the steps that professional developers take when making a cutting edge game and they are the same steps you take when making a small game that you and your friends can enjoy.
Step One - Design on Paper
The very first thing you have to do when designing a video game is to get it down on paper. This is the most over-looked step and it is also the number one mistake that many budding game designers make. If we compare the process of making a video game to the process of building a house this step would be like drawing up the blueprints. Before building a house you have to get everything into the blueprints so you can know exactly what you are building, where everything goes and what everything looks like. This holds true with game design. Before you start making your video game you have to conceptualize it. You have to draw out on paper what the game looks like, where everything goes and to take this one step further than home building you have to write a script so you can understand what will happen in your game. This script doesn't have to be complex. It can be as easy as "The player has to work his way through the dungeon and find the Sword of Happiness to complete the game". Maps and Sketches Your video game is a complete world that a player will be able to walk around in and this means that the first thing you should make is a map of the whole world whether it is an outdoor world or an indoor dungeon-like world. When you do this it gives you a base to start with. When making your video game one of the first things you will do is create a large box that contains your whole world. Inside this box is where you will place all of the various objects of your game. If your map has outdoor areas you will put in it the terrain features like mountains, rivers, bridges and building. If it is strictly an inside world you will map out all of the various rooms. After you have your overall map completed you can work down into the details. Draw floor plans of any buildings and dungeons. Place the rooms and all the structures. To aid in the visualization of your buildings and rooms you should draw sketches of key areas. Are there temples? What will they look like? What are the unique things about your game? Draw sketches of these. Once all the concepts are detailed, and your vision of the world is created you can begin the actual software creation of your game. This translates your game from its paper version to its computer version. Professional video game design companies spend an enormous amount of time in this phase of game development. They work out every detail and make drawings and sketches of every room, every character, and every scene. You do not have to design your game with this level of detail but you should make it as detailed as possible. Every hour of work you do in this stage of the process will save you several hours of work in the next step.
Step Two - Building the wire-frame of your game
In this step of creating your video game you make an overall shell that the whole game will be played in. These are the boundaries of the game world. Inside this game world you place all of the inanimate objects whether they be outside terrain features or inside objects like rooms and furniture. This stage is where all of the inanimate objects are created and placed in your computerized world. It is a complete world without any animals, beasts or characters. When you do this you are simply building and placing all the objects where they belong and defining their shape. This-step is commonly called "wire-framing" because the end result will look like a drawing with many wires in three dimensional locations that define and show all of the various shapes and surfaces of your game. After the wire framing is complete you will bring it to life by applying textures to all the surfaces.
Step Three - Texturing
This "texturing" of the game is a simple process of selecting a surface then choosing a texture that will be applied to it. All game development software comes with a library of ready to used textures that you can choose from and apply to surfaces with a single click of your mouse. Professional game companies spend an extraordinary amount of time creating their own textures and applying them to the wire-frames of their games. It is this texturing that gives a game it's own unique look and feel. It is a very important part of game design and companies have people dedicated to just creating textures for their worlds. Games can be composed of thousands of unique textures and on any professional game development team this job of creating textures is a full time job.
Step Four - Placing entities in your world
Entities are the players in your game or objects in your game that either move or interact with the player. These entities have two unique components that have to be designed -what they look like and what they do. With today's free software you get a whole host of pre-built entities and characters that you can simply drop and drag right into your game. They are complete with their behaviors and their look. A good example of an entity is the avatar of the player. There are available characters that have all their properties already assigned to them. You simply place the character in your world and it is ready to use -and complete with a host of characteristics such as running, jumping and using weapons.
Step Five - Creating your own characters and behaviors
If you want to make a video game you can do it without this step at all. All of the tools are already designed and ready for you to pop right into your game. But if you want to develop your skill further, or if you have very specific requirements of your game that are not readily available, you can create your own characters with programs such as Milkshape. And utilizing scripts that come with your software you can assign unique characteristics and properties to your characters. This will give your game a sense of uniqueness and an individual look and feel. Using the scripts that come with your game does take some time to learn. A script is a low level programming language and you have to learn the rules of how to use them. Creating a video game is not hard Once you have downloaded the software you can have a one-room game completed in less than an hour. You can save this game then run it and play it -even share it with your friends. And the beauty of the software is that once you have learned how to make one room the process is exactly the same for making ten or a hundred rooms. You simply stitch them all together and cut doorways between them and you have a big and complex world that you and your friends can adventure in. The Sky is the Limit Once you have a good understanding of the basic skills there are any number of directions you can take in your video game making. You can further work on your conceptualizing of games, you can further your artistic skills by creating characters with modeling software, or you can create your own textures for your game. The only limit to your video game making is the scope of your imagination.
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