My learning agreement is nearly complete! The main bulk of the learning agreement consists of the Synopsis of Study, which briefly outlines what I’m doing in as much detail as you can fit into a brief statement. It’s helped me clarify some things which have either gone unmentioned or were simply missing- so here’s an informal breakdown.
What I’m doing
The plan is to create a contemporary 2D side-scrolling platform game. This is a very traditional genre, born from the limitations of early game design. My aim is to use the typical characteristics of this style of game to create something new and fun to old-school players who are familiar with the genre. The object of the game is to collect items and progress through levels, which is pretty much the objective of any 2D platformer if you think about it! Platformers usually follow a simple narrative which explains why the character is running from left to right picking up , and my plot is about revolves around the Japanese tradition of Hanami (for me details see the rest of the Blog).
Mario runs from left to right to collect coins and progresses through levels to find the Princess.
Why I’m doing it
The popularity of 2D platformers has wavered throughout the past couple of decades, but with the strong emergence of Indie game developers since about 2008 they’ve risen to popularity again. From a design perspective, it’s an incredibly easy genre to develop, which is probably why small teams of Indie devs picked it up again. There is now potential to incorporate stunning high-resolution graphics into these games, however the retro “pixel-art” style remains ever popular amongst developers and players. I too intend to use implement a retro graphical style into my game, because it’s such an important factor in the history of computer technologies. If you were to ask what made Super Mario Bros so good?” part of the reason would be that its low-res 2D graphics had a sort of “mysterious digital-world magic” to them. 2D platform games and pixel art are almost synonymous with retro. Mario’s original silhouette is still universally recognised by gamers.
How I’m doing it
I’m going to draw all game assets myself, using a combination of Photoshop and pixel-art drawing program Graphics Gale. The game will be made in Yoyo Game’s Game Maker 8.1, which is almost the perfect tool for creating 2D games of any genre.
Game Maker can do anything.
(from somewhere on The Archer Devlog!)
For a better insight into the game-making possibilities of Game Maker, see this post from a previous Blog. I initially chose to use Game Maker because it was free and very easy to pick-up. In the creation of games, I’m an asset artist before a coder, so it was important for me to use an engine which didn’t require years of programming knowledge to be able to use well. Since I wrote the post on my old Blog, I’ve bought the standard version of Game Maker, which has opened up even more possibilities.
During this project, to help me focus on asset creation rather than using up valuable time on coding, I’m going to use Matt Thorson’s Grandma Engine, which runs in GM and acts as an easily adaptable platformer basis.
To clarify, I’ve prepared a list of things the Grandma Engine does not have in common with the stereotypical grandma:
To highlight the positive features of the engine, I also found it necessary to provide a list of the things the Grandma Engine does have in common with the stereotypical grandma:
Gives you candy
Other features of the Grandma Engine include a custom movement system (meaning it does not use the built-in Game Maker movement system), slopes, jump-through platforms, and an An Untitled Story-style room system.
The image shows the building blocks of the engine, which make up the solid platforms in a platform game! When the game is complete, these black blocks will be invisible to the player, replaced by more aesthetic visuals.
As for sounds, I will be looking to sites like freesound.org for sound effects. For background music, I’m going to keep an eye open for any willing composers, if not I will probably use a few royalty-free tracks.