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How do I make games? A Path to Game Development

What's Next?

After you have totally, completely, absolutely finished your version Tetris, you are ready for your next challenge: Breakout.

A Breakout clone called Manic Ball

Breakout is also a similar game, but it adds in much more advanced collision detection than was necessary in Tetris. You will also need to add some simple deflection physics of the ball rebounding off different portions of the paddle and the blocks.

Level layout also becomes an issue in Breakout, and in order to have more than one level you will need to come up with a way to save the maps. This deals with another component found in all larger games, which is saving and loading resources and switching levels.

After you finish your Breakout masterpiece you should move on to making Pac-Man. Pac-Man is an evolutionary step because it adds in the element of enemy artificial intelligence (AI). You may not have been aware of this, but in the original Pac-Man the four different ghosts had different goals to trying to defeat you as a team. The aggressor would try to follow the shortest path to you, making you directly avoid him. The interceptor would try to go to a junction that was closest to where you would have to move to avoid the aggressor. A second interceptor would try to stay more towards the middle and try to cut you off from using the tunnel through the sides. The last ghost would sort of wander aimlessly about which often kept him staying in a section you needed to finish the map.

This kind of detailed AI was quite advanced for games of that time, and should give you a good challenge for your first game with enemy AI.

Pac-Man also increases the complexity of maps, and adds a good deal more flexibility for using sounds, as sound was certainly a crucial elements to the success of Pac-Man. (After all, what would Pac-Man be without some sort of "wakka-wakka" sound?)

Pac-Man. A real classic.

The last game I suggest you should create is a side scroller, such as Super Mario Brothers, where you can jump on multiple platforms, shoot, duck and interact with enemies. As there is added art involved in this game, I would suggest looking in to using SpriteLib for some free and easy to use artwork, which is available at: http://www.flyingyogi.com/fun/spritelib.html

Super Mario Brothers 2

Side scrollers introduce the possibility of added enemy AI complexity through the use of enemy bosses which have patterns you must learn to beat, as well an added screen complexity. Now you must make a screen that is capable of scrolling in at least two directions, if not four, and deal with screen clipping, which can have a bit of a learning curve. You must also work on the physics of any jumping, bouncing of the character or shooting projectiles.

There will additionally need to be a lot more enemies than before, and you will need to keep track of their current game state (alive/dead, active/inactive), by whether they are on the screen or have already been dealt with. The level complexity and map/character storage complexity will have also increased and you will most certainly need to make a level editor at this point.

The level editor should be capable of placing tiles, scrolling through tiles, scrolling over the map, choosing tiles as brushes, cycling through the brushes, cutting and pasting, an undo, and placing enemies. If you decide to skip writing any of these, you will most likely feel sorry about it, and if you have an artist or level designer, they will probably not be very happy with you either (how would YOU feel if you had to go through someone's text files containing a bunch of numbers and commas to edit a level?). I would also suggest making back ups of previously saved maps, as it is often easier to just back things up by versions, than redrawing them.

Finally, the side scroller has a real victory condition! When you get to the end of the side scroller, you have actually GONE somewhere, so you can add on a story to progress through the game as well (and don't forget some sort of fireworks on the screen for the end of a level, so that the player has a sense of accomplishment and a REAL show of fireworks for beating the game… merely putting the words "You Have Won!" on the screen when a player has spent endless hours trying to beat your game is anti-climatic).

Get Out the Polish...

  Where do I Start?
  What's Next?
  Get Out the Polish...
  These Games are Stupid!
  Be Proud!

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