If you want to create a video game for credit during your semester here or you want to know what it takes to make a game, then this blog entry is for you. After completing Prof. Sal Pane’s ENGL 204 Rhetoric of Video Games class, I decided that I wanted to explore the world game design and creation more deeply. To help me do that, Prof. Pane–an English Department creative writing instructor and video game enthusiast—agreed to work with me and three other students as an independent study. While playing a game can be a fun and enjoyable experience, I discovered that creating one can be just as fun if you do it well. You are going to need organizational skills and have aspirations and ambition to do well in this course. If you really want to dip your toes into this sort of project, then I would say that you should do it, as it is great experience, especially if you would like to continue doing this sort of work in the future. You can also brag to your friends whenever they’re showing off and ask them if they’ve ever made a video game– that should shut them up! However, before committing to this course there are a couple things you should be aware of.
First of all, lower your expectations, a lot. Many people may already have an idea of a type of game that they would like to make, and that’s fine, but it will most likely not happen in this course. There is a reason games take 1 or 2+ years to make and even then, they can be flawed. I’m not telling you to abandon your ideas, but instead use this course instead to create a strong base for what you could do at a later date. It’s in your best interest to make a simple platformer, RPG (Role Playing Game), or top down shooter so that you can get better fundamentals for making games in the future. But if you think you can do it, go ahead and make something more impressive; just keep in mind that it may be harder.
Now that you have a “reasonable” idea for a game, the question is “where are you going to make it?” There are several choices for people starting out when making a game. You should always take into account the type of game you are going to make and pair it with an appropriate development tool. For example, if you want to make a text based game you should probably use Twine. If you want to create an RPG, then RPGmaker is the best fit for you. 2-D types of games can be created with Game Maker, and if you want to make a 3-D game then Unity is the program you should use. But, you should also consider how much time you are willing to spend on learning each program, as some are obviously a bit harder to work with than others.
Another important aspect to this course is the ability to work in groups. Both working in a group and working independently have positives and negatives. When you work in a group you have the advantage of splitting the work between all of you, which could lead to a higher quality game being made. However, you can’t be sure that the other people you are working with truly have the same vision for the game as you, and there may be other issues such as schedules not meshing well or having an unbalanced workload between everyone working on the game. Working on a game by yourself is harder, as all the music, sprites, coding etc. will have to be done by you, but you do have freedom to follow your vison as you see fit. Choose the one that makes most sense for you. I would recommend people with little to no experience making games to work individually so that they can make themselves more competent, given that working in a group with many people who don’t know what they are doing could lead to lost time and internal issues.
If you are prepared to be an overall organized person, or simply have an overwhelming ambition to create video games, then this course is a good starting point for learning what you need to do. You will experience stress, but that’s overshadowed by the feeling of making something that you can call your own. Just remember that the course will go well if you are willing to invest time into making something that you enjoy. And if you enjoy creating a game, then others may also enjoy playing it!
Embedded within this blog are screenshots of the RPG game that I developed, titled Soci, which is the name of the fictional world inside the game. Although I didn’t need to come up with a large storyboard for this game, since the scripting is all done within the game engine itself, I did get to be creative when it came to developing the character dialogues. I want to thank Prof. Pane for all of the advice and input that he provided while I was building this game!
Maya Allen is a junior computer science major.