I Made My First Game!


Writing about games has been a hobby of mine since I was about 14. Sure, at the time it was pretty awkward, hyper-opinionated (and not even MY opinion – but the resounding one from game blogs of the time!) stuff. However, all that stuff disappeared after deleting the LiveJournal years ago so I couldn’t relieve it in all that cringe-worthy glory even if I wanted to. So, basically I’ve been writing about games for 10 years (although only about half of that has been with actual, established websites). And for all that discussion of games, I had never myself taken game creation into my own hands.

Okay, so maybe that’s not completely accurate. I have made video games before but they were primarily hand holding assignments from a class or tutorial. These explicitly taught/tutorialized games include a 2D racer, tic-tac-toe, Breakout clone, and Asteroids clone. Heck, I even started on interactive fiction titles via Inform7 and Twine. At another point I gave Ren’Py a shot and made the first few screens of a visual novel. But, because of the prevailing game culture of the time, even these purely self-driven titles did not appear as “real games” to me. Now I recognize them as valid, but I was still looking for a direct challenge.

Enter the Giant ROM – The Giant Bomb Game Jam. As a fan of Giant Bomb’s copious video content I watched the thread excitedly, waiting for the start date. It arrived… and I had no ideas. My mind failed to come up with any game concepts whatsoever until the final day. With just a few hours until the event would close, I desperately looked at the small list of tools on the thread. At the very top was Construct 2. Sure, I knew nothing about it, but it was freely available on Steam so I chose it!


Official Construct 2 screenshot

As it turns out, it ended up being an excellent choice. Construct 2’s focus is visual creation, which means users can mess with a handy drag and drop interface (among other things). When it comes time to make things happen for the game you don’t even need to enter code. Instead, you select the item you wish to mess with and then set various properties and logical events. If you do have any experience with programming or logic concepts then much of what you’re selecting from will make even more sense.

I’ve struggled with learning code for around five years, and only in the past few months have I finally had a breakthrough with C#. Sure, there’s still a long way to go before I have the wherewithal to create something worthy of my ridiculous goals, but it’s a start. In any case, because I’m not there yet, Construct 2 provided a wonderfully handy tool. In many ways it feels like WarioWare DIY. That game provided a wonderful introduction to programming logic, and its actual game-creation mode is a lot like Construct 2. Of course, the Microgame restriction is pretty limiting.

papavinnybarbershop2 - Copy

With all that said, I’m talking as if I created a masterwork within Construct2. Nope! As expected of something related to Giant Bomb, I made something “real bad.” It’s called Papa Vinny’s Barbershop and relates to a video where one Giant Bomb staff member shaves the head of another. Players are presented with a head and asked to shave it. That’s all! You will find no actual win condition, timer, or anything else to make this more than a digital doodad.

Sure, it would have been great to add a better feature or features, but this is what I could muster up in an hour. For the future I’m definitely interested in learning about more GUI elements to turn projects into winnable games. But for now, I’m happy to have created something on my own. While it was challenging at times, it certainly didn’t feel like an insurmountable chore. Creating this goofy thing finally made me realize that small-scale game development is something I can actually do. I don’t need to opine about what could be. I can just go create it!

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