September 26, 2006

Just how many minutes?

Jason Darby knows how to make me comfortable in "Make Amazing Games in Minutes". In the wake of an IF project that completely confounded me, I find his words that I can make games a little more than reassuring.

I am, as usual, jaded by the realization that some of the things he glossed over in the book will take more than minutes. Graphics and tables and understanding pseudocode will take a little more than a few minutes. How many minutes are in the day? I recall thinking--and multiply that by a month and in years.

Though Darby is attempting to make gaming simple for wannabe game creators, I am still wary. I want to create a good and creative game, and I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. The step-by-step approach, almost comically so, when he describes maximizing and minimizing windows, will undoubtedly be an attraction when the coding gets tough.

My favorite part of the book so far is, not surprisingly, on story. I want to create a story that will attract readers and maybe teach them something, like the serious games I've been reading about.

In fact, the game ideas that have been jumping around in my head relate to the Catholic Social Teaching platforms of the rights of workers and life and dignity of the human person. I am also thinking about creating a game for young girls. After reading about the demise of the popular young girls' game company, Purple Moon, I am interested in reaching out to an audience that does not have many options in the gaming world.

I don't want to create a game that is like singing "Kumbayah" or one that annihilates entire populations. I want to think, as Darby said, within the realm of possibility, but without the constraints of just mimicking another game. I want my game to resonate with the player.

"Make Amazing Games in Minutes" feels more like a manual, and I like that. Sure it makes pretty boring reading, but I feel like I'm headed in the right direction now with a process-oriented text.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 26, 2006 1:09 PM | TrackBack
Comments

While I'm aware that Mike and Stephen find the book a little too basic, I'm very glad that you find it useful. They'll have their chance to geek out later in the term; for now, I'm happy that the attention to detail is helping you feel more confident with the subject matter.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 26, 2006 5:45 PM

I agree that the focus on the process of game design in Darby's book is useful, but I wish he would have used more screenshots and tables as companions to the textual instructions. I've found myself getting a little irritated by slogging through long lists of numbers scattered throughout the big chunks of text; it's like they start to run together after a while.

Posted by: ChrisU at October 3, 2006 11:39 AM

Oh, and I find these passages rather interesting (taken from the link Amanda provided in the entry above):

"'Food Force' is one among dozens of games dealing with social issues like poverty, relief work and conflict resolution. 'Earthquake in Zipland' teaches children about divorce, 'Darfur is Dying' turns players into villagers hunting for water in the midst of civil war and 'LegSim,' for high school and college students, simulates a working legislature.

No conflict or historical event seems exempt, and that's led some critics to charge that serious games trivialize serious matters.

...

'In film and television, you might feel the action, but you can't experience the action firsthand and you can't change the outcome,' says Suzanne Seggerman of Games for Change. 'You can watch film or TV, but games let you participate. . . . In other media, people are simply watching, making them merely consumers.'"

---

Why are critics singling out video games here as a medium that "trivialize serious matters" when the news media, television, film, the internet, and just about every other electronic medium do the exact same thing?

And as pointed out in the final passage I quoted, games tend to make people more aware of some of these realities. The local news station might do a story on a "successful" military campaign in the Middle East--the destruction of an al-Qaida outpost, for example--but it probably won't interview the families of those al-Qaida members killed and show how some of them decide to become terrorists themselves, out for revenge or justice or whatever you want to call it, like the game described in another passage in the article:

"In your cross hairs, villagers dressed in Middle Eastern garb hustle through a busy city center. Civilians are dressed in blue; terrorists in gray with rifles across their chests. It doesn't take players long to learn the game's lesson: When they try to blow up terrorists, their bombs kill terrorists and bystanders. Mourners crowd the bodies, cry in despair and some transform into more terrorists. Violence merely makes things worse."

Posted by: ChrisU at October 3, 2006 12:05 PM

Hi

Many thanks for the comments about the book. Sorry hope its not too boring... even my 8 year old son, says that he hopes my next book isnt as boring :)

Of course to make really amazing games it will take more than a few minutes, but I think with practice you will find that it does become very easy to get the basics sorted out. Thats the main benefit of TGF2 and other programming languages.Its speed to get things moving at a faster pace than other languages is IMHO the key to keeping motivated. :D

Unfortunately with a page count of 350, there is always a problem of what to include and what to leave out. This was my first book and I have to admit I wasn't really prepared as well as I thought for all the things that I had to take care of and also be aware of.

I would say that once you've got the basics sorted, then things can be put together quite quickly.

The main thing that I did miss is that even though i suggest throughout the book ways of speeding things up,but you do have to have read the whole book and remember it to implement it. So perhaps next time I will provide some form of checklist or game design document for each game. This will then provide some additional ways of helping people know what they should be using in their own games.

Anyway I hope the book is useful for you, and if you have any comments or need any help, you can always send me an email (at the makeamazing.com website contact page.)

Kind regards
Jason

Posted by: Jason Darby at November 10, 2006 2:17 PM
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