From 3D to 2D: Learning to make games

I’m not starting from scratch. That’s what I told everyone when I said I was stepping away from my previous position to finish my game. I’d already started it a year or so ago and I never got a chance to finish it. The game is part teaching tool, part passion project. It’s never been about me making money. Anyone who works in the game’s industry knows that much. It’s always been about me learning how to become more developer, less marketer.

It started about two years ago, when I was complaining to some friends that most board games are too long to play during a lunch break. The ones that were short enough were always too competitive and my personality meflippingtables

just wanted something short, sweet, a little competitive, but nothing that would hurt people’s feelings after playing. The people I could get to play with me weren’t always interested in card games either so I needed something that could be played with first-timers. I was searching for that sweet spot:2-4 players in under 45min. When frustration turned to boredom, a friend suggested I make my own card game.

So I did, I looked at all the games I liked, looked at what parts of the game mechanics I enjoyed and then I went about politely asking torturing my friends, my co-workers, even my boss to help test it. That’s how you know if people really like you and how much patience your boss has. Ha! The feedback I got was great: what worked, what didn’t work, and most importantly everyone helped me get the game down to under an hour! Which made most people, even if they didn’t enjoy it so much, feel like it wasn’t so bad. “I don’t really like board games“, a colleague said, “but this didn’t take long to play.”

Prototype card game, with cool skeleton figures. Art borrowed for non-commercial use. It just makes convincing people to play test, easier. ;p
Prototype card game, with cool skeleton figures. Art borrowed for non-commercial use. It just makes convincing people to play test it easier. ;p

When the card game was balanced, I thought my next step was finding an artist, getting a Kickstarter page up and maybe, just maybe…getting a real shiny version of my game produced. It’d be a couple thousand dollars to find a decent artist and get a few copies made for the backers and myself. That was the goal and I would’ve been satisfied too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids my former boss from Amazon. He not only continually pushed me to be better and try harder, but was a fantastic mentor and someone whom I greatly admired. It was he who planted the seed in my head and said, “now turn this into a mobile game.”

At the time, I was worried, I didn’t know how to code, but more importantly I didn’t know where to start. I kept saying to myself, “Even if I wanted to do this, how would that work?” and “Well, maybe I’ll start next month!” Of course, a few months and re:Invent later I still hadn’t made any progress. I left Amazon because I had ideas I wanted to pursue and whens those ideas hadn’t blossomed into anything fruitful I knew I needed to course correct. The constant failure didn’t depress me, it made me stop and think, “I’m not doing something right. I missing a piece here. What is it?” That’s when it hit me, my journey lie deeper into developer territory, deeper into the minds of the genius who made my favorite games like Winter Wolves, Loren the Amazon Princess. I needed to go backwards before I could go forward.

I reached out to the smartest people I knew, and asked if they could lend me their ear. The response I got back was overwhelming. I knew my transition from being a typical marketer to someone whose passion for technology and games gave way to this new area called developer relations would be rocky, but I wasn’t expecting how generous people would be with their time. So that I pass along what I know I’ll share what I’m learning and how, here! I’ve started my journey using Construct 2. Their beginner tutorials are simple to understand, but still require a lot of reading, a lot of explanations. I won’t go into details, because that’s what the tutorials do – but you can see my very messy tutorial game (forget about design right now, LOL, that is another topic all on its own) below and start building your own top-down shooter here: Beginner’s Guide to Construct 2

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Hosted by the Scirra Arcade

And next week? I’m going through terminology, learning what a game loop really is and then perhaps tackling a platformer, before I get down to my actual project, turning my card game from 3D to 2D!