Programming: Basic Game Design

Programming

Basic Game Design

If you own a phone, a computer tablet, or a computer, you are likely to have played a casual game at some point in your life. Even those who do not consider themselves to be "gamers" will admit to having played at least a few rounds of Angry Birds, Candy Crush or Windows Solitaire. These are all examples of casual games: easy to learn, easy to play on a range of devices, and highly addictive.

This badge focuses on game design using a software package called Construct 2. Scirra -- the company which makes Construct 2 -- describes the software as "a powerful ground-breaking HTML5 game creator designed specifically for 2D games." Because it uses an entirely visual development environment, the software is an ideal entry point for beginners who are new to the world of programming. Scirra claims that "no coding is required," but they should really describe this as "a different type of coding." In fact, Construct 2 is an ideal tool for learning about core programming principles such as variables, conditional logic, loops, functions, and objects.

Visit the "Trinity Mobile Gaming Arcade" to see examples of casual games created by students enrolled in the mobile gaming course (COMM 3344) during Fall 2016. To earn this badge, you will use Construct 2 to create (and publish) a simple platform game. Special note: This badge is not an option for students who have already used Construct 2 in the mobile gaming course. Those students should, instead, pursue the intermediate game design badge.

BADGE DELIVERABLES

  1. Visit the Trinity Mobile Gaming Arcade, and explore the possible games. Most of these games are variations on the platform genre pioneered by Super Mario and Donkey Kong. This is the type of game you will create to earn the badge.
  2. Send me an e-mail and let me know that you're planning to pursue this badge. I can show you how to access the Construct 2 software, point you toward multimedia assets that will be useful in creating your game, and share some additional resources that you might find useful.
  3. Create a free account on the Scirra site using your school e-mail address. While you're visiting the site, be sure to poke around the forums to get a sense of the Construct 2 development community.
  4. Search for the tutorial titled "How to make a platform game" by Ashley Gullen (the founder of Scirra and lead developer for Construct2). Bookmark the page, and work through the tutorial one step at a time. (It should not take more than two or three hours to complete this tutorial.) When you reach the end of the tutorial, you will have created your own, fully functional platform game.
  5. Now that you understand how to create a platform game, you should modify the game and make it a little more challenging. Your modified game should include: a) an additional enemy that moves back and forth, b) a way of keeping track of the player's remaining lives, c) a score counter that increases when the player kills any enemies, d) a game over page that appears if the player has died three times, e) sound effects, and f) treasure (e.g. coins, stars, shamrocks) that the player can pick up to increase her score.
  6. If you encounter any problems as you customize the game, please feel free to contact me. This badge is much easier than you might think. Don't believe me? Ask any of the students from the mobile gaming class to share their thoughts about the Construct 2 software.
  7. When you have finished your game, publish the game and upload all of the relevant files to a subfolder on the class web server. Then, in a short blog posting (approximately 4 to 6 paragraphs), debrief the game development process. How did it go? What problems did you encounter, and how did you solve them? What questions do you have about the Construct 2 software? What do you want to learn how to do next? Your blog post should include screenshots of your code along with screenshots of gameplay, and you should include a hyperlink to your game on the class web server. All badge write-ups should be posted to your personal blog.
  8. To formally complete the badge assignment, please e-mail me with the subject line "Pending: Programming Basic Game Design" and include the link to your blog posting in the e-mail message.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Last Revised: January 3, 2017
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