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Huzzah Does Gamedev!

April 1, 2009 Leave a comment

The gamedev lobe of my brain states we need to comment on what we’re doing and why as regards to our 2D game. ‘Huzzah is making a game?’ you ask. Why yes, so glad you asked! It’s a stripped down 2D version of my ego, armed with all things sci-fi. Of course, these days sci-fi means taking a look at what DARPA is up to, but that’s neither here nor there. At any rate, I’m making my 2D mechanical Frankenstein in a free piece of middleware called Construct. It is open source (downloadable on SourceForge), has a helpful community, and most importantly: it works.

I don’t mean it can start and run, drag a few items around, and ‘it works’. No, I mean you can make a real game with it from start to finish. Construct produces an actual 32-bit .exe that runs without extra .dll’s, scripts, or addons (except for DirectX 9 itself and a video card with Pixel Shader 2). You can put said file on a USB stick even, and it runs on that as well. What’s better is you can use registry hooks, python scripts, MD5 hashes and more, if you want to.

Now understand that Construct is an event-based ,WYSIWYG beastie – no real programming required. No, yours truly is not a programmer, not in any sense of the word. I can blog with the best of them, but I can’t program my way out of a Lua script (yes, I’m that bad). I can get the ‘why’ behind alot of it, it’s the ‘how’ that throws me. This is why Construct is so helpful to me. I can make things work without turning my creative brain inside out. The game industry would likely think of me as an Idea Man. Construct allows me to make simpler versions of my ideas, which is great for prototyping.


A view of Construct’s event editor.

My first game (which will invariably suck, as first games always do) is a standard top-down view shooter (aka shmup) set in the solar system of 61 Cygni. You start out controlling a mecha (aka giant robot of doom) which must defend a large capital ship from incoming smaller mecha (green shrimps of lesser doom) and their overlord destroyer escorts (green cheese wedges of doom). Construct uses DirectX to make the static image files move and rotate. The event-based script system is logical enough that the Black Hole of Programming that I am can grasp what’s going on, and what I need to do to fix it when it breaks.

No, it’s not 3D. No it’s not an MMO. No it’s not a AAA game engine (heck, it’s barely a B). But it helps ME make something, which is invaluable personally. My overarching Rule of Middleware is: does it do what says it will do? (The 2nd Rule is : does it help ME do what it says it will do?) There is a zombie army of free and/or cheap middleware floating around on the intarweb. My job the past 10 years has seemingly been to attract every single one of them, hence my overarching Rule of Middleware. At this point, I can usually spot bad middleware a mile away, which is a helpful skill. The last thing you want is to waste time on something that doesn’t work. Construct fulfills both the Rule of Middleware and the 2nd Rule. Huzzah!

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