Getting started. I’ve been sitting on the idea of designing a game for a few months now, slowly building up the courage to take that first step. Over the course of that time, I’ve started to get an idea of the first game I want to build – it’s not fully formed, mostly just sketches and rules – but it’s enough to give me an idea.
I suspect I won’t know if the game will be…fun…until I’ve got a shareable prototype, but as of know I have a direction and a set of understandings. And that, like in application building, means I’ve already started making design decisions.
The first such decision was that the game would be in 2D – a topdown experience. This came about for two reasons.
- I played around with a Unity tutorial a few weeks ago, and working in a 3D environment taxed both my brain and my poor Mac Mini. I am fairly confident I can learn to program in 3D, but I’ll need a beefier workstation to do so.
- My design skills have always been functional at best. I am a workman’s designer. It’ll be a while until I can create 3D models.
So, 2D allows me to use weakness as restrictions. Or, to quote Mr. Stephen Sondheim, “The more restrictions you have, the easier anything is to write.”
To that end, I have started on this tutorial – 2D Games for Non-Programmers. It’s an hour long – or at least the video is. I built along with the video, pausing as necessary. Between experiments, testing things, playing with settings etc, I only managed to get halfway through in the hour I allotted for today. But it was an overall good experience.
The tutorial is nice – it’s not 100% code free, but it provides all the code used, which helps build the mechanic of chunked code being associated with visual objects. And dragging to associate. There seems to be a lot of dragging to associate in Unity. And since the code is prewritten (literally downloaded from Github), it allowed me to focus on concepts that are foreign to someone used to building applications – movement, hit boxes, simulated physics.
All in all, it was a nice intro to Unity. I’m looking forward to completing the rest of the tutorial on Friday.
Oh – and the biggest lesson I’ve taken away so far? Enable Playmode Tint. Unity will let you tweak all of your settings while in playmode, immediately seeing the effects. However, upon exiting playmode, those changes go away. Playmode Tint is a nice visual indicator that you are in playmode. I lost changes a few times that way.