Tuesday 10 April 2012

Getting creation event coordinates for Game Maker

I am currently getting into using Game Maker for games development, and am beginning to use 'timelines' to initiate the creation of 'enemy' object instances.

Two of the parameters needed in the object instance creation event are the X and Y coordinates for the object's creation. This is very easy to input, but only if you know the intended pixel coordinates off the top of your head, which is less easy to simply guess at, and for some games may need something more precise than a guess.

One way to find out these coordinates is to keep reverting back to the 'room' and hovering your mouse over the grid. As you do this some digits in the bottom left of the screen will tell you the nearest grid point X and Y to where your mouse is hovering. You could make a mental note, then revert back to the timeline and input the digits.

Personally, I find this annoying and fiddly.

So, to save me some annoyance, and speed up my development, I have produced a couple of game screen coordinate reference grids that help me. All you do is print them out and keep them handy.

My guess is that if they help me, they might help you, in which case you can download the game screen coordinate reference grids in PDF format here.

Please note these are released under a creative commons license.

Happy game developing.

Monday 9 April 2012

Getting used to code free game development

Not too long ago I began a games design course to formalise and extend my knowledge and skill in this area of interactive media. The interactive media of my earlier career has evolved over the last decade into what I recognise are two distinct areas. While web design has been around for longer than that, it's earlier "1.0" incarnation was barely able to support what might be termed "interactive media", which back then was pretty much the sole domain of CD ROMs. With the development of Broadband, faster computers, and browser technology, what used to be delivered on CD or DVD is now easily obtained online - so that now interactive media = web design (to a great degree). The other direction of the interactive media industry then, still delivered on hard media, is Games. Since I know web design and Flash fluently, I decided to make the move in the direction of game.

The introductory part of the course, like many courses, assumes little or no knowledge. So we are using Yoyo's Game Maker as the initial authoring tool to learn basic development concepts. Powerful though Game Maker is, I do find the "code free" development slightly frustrating. I finally find myself at the other end of the ladder than I was 13 years ago. Back then I would have given anything to be able to build games, or any complex interactive media, without having to write a line of code. Since then I have got down to it and learned a great deal of ActionScript and such like over the years, and now find the coding aspect logical and sensible. Now I am forced to use a GUI to drag icons around to make "code" I find it frustrating, but am getting used to it.

Take this example for instance:

The visual equivalent took a bit more thought to drag together, than the ActionScript based syntax I am now used to. It's partly because of being unfamiliar with where to look for the draggable items, and partly because it would just be quicker to type.

I laugh to myself because now I finally understand what my coding whiz brother, and others like him, were thinking when I took delight in code free authoring environments all those years ago. They found them slow in comparison to coding by hand. And now... so do I.

Does this mean I have arrived?

Meanwhile, I am getting used to Game Maker, and I understand I am able to code by hand if I want to so I am happy to recommend this excellent product. Tally ho!