Archive for December, 2011

There are a lot of game creation tools and frameworks out there. However, a lot of them actually use the Flash player from Adobe to publish to. If you want to build games using the same tools that all of the frameworks use and learn the actual code behind all of that you should use Flash 8 or the latest version Flash Pro CS5.5. Some of the more programmer types are also using third party tools like FlashDevelop and Flex however I prefer Flash itself for the graphical layout and FlashDevelop for it’s code IDE.

There are a couple of different flash game tutorial sites that I would like to highlight along with this post. They provide a huge leg up to getting started with Flash by providing sample source code to do all kinds of gamish things like firing projectiles, moving your player, and creating explosions. The scripts come in ActionScript 2 and ActionScript 3 so there is a broad range of coverage for Flash 8 and Flash Pro CS5.5. The Pulado engine (which you could also use to make your own games too) was built using Flash 8 and we use all of the sites below to help us develop new features for the engine.

First up we have which is exceedingly helpful. They really provide clear and concise tutorials on how exactly to make a lot of elements that go into games. The first example I am highlighting is their Car Movement tutorial script. This is a must have starting place if you want to develop any kind of top down car game

Next up we have a multiple different projectile script with turrets which shows you how to make beam lasers, machine gun style projectiles, and more. A couple other enemy AI tutorials he has could also be re-purposed for homing missiles.

And finally we have a script tutorial about how to make dynamic explosions in real time. This is a pretty good script because explosions are hard and this makes a pretty good looking one. It is an alternative to having a pre-created explosion that is the same every time.

There are literally hundreds of different script tutorials on the site including everything from parallax scrolling, bubble effects, enemy AI that follows the player, enemy AI that patrols an area, player movement in all eight directions with easing, smoke and fire effects, particle effects with gravity, collision detection, tool tips, RPG style inventories, find the closest enemy for targeting, and many more.

The second site we want to highlight is which also has a huge number of tutorials where they explain in detail how to do a bunch of different game related things using ActionScript. There are also a few video tutorials on their site. Some of their tutorials include how to do parallax’s, how to create your menus and hyperlinks (for the interface in your game), how to draw effectively in Flash, how to create tiled backgrounds, how to create random movement, collision detection, snow, motion blur, and much much more.

The last site we want to highlight is where they have a bunch of sample source code and a huge number of video tutorials with a lot of advanced topics. For example they have some tutorials on how to use the latest native extensions in Adobe AIR for Android, examples on how to create particle effects with the new Starling Framework, and setting up your own isometric 3D engine. They also have a pretty good forum which has tens of thousands of topics on ActionScript 2 and ActionScript 3. The forum is probably the most important resource they provide as far as helping you figure out something with ActionScript that you might be stuck on.

You can get a copy of Flash 8 here for $50 or you can get a free trial of Flash Pro CS5.5 here on Adobe’s site (after 30 days you have to upgrade to the paid version). What are you waiting for? Grab yourself a copy of Flash and start building games!

There are quite a few game frameworks out there to make the glamorous games like arcade game, physics, and puzzle games. However, the game creator we will be covering in this post lets you create a number of different types of word games. Specifically they have a template which lets you create Word Search games, Crossword Puzzle games, Sliding Puzzle games, Jigsaw Puzzle games, Hangman style games, Word Scramble games, and Brain Teaser games. You create the game just on a web page in your browser and then the games are published as Flash (which also works on Android Devices).

They are pretty simple to create as they mainly consist of giving a list of words or a photo and then naming your game and adding a description. The game creator takes care of everything else. It looks like there are about 70,000 word games created on their system already. They don’t have anything similar to other game creators where you could make arcade games or the like (like the Pulado make your own games engine). It is strictly word games. Here is a sample Word Search game using their system.

And here is a sample of their Word Scramble games (see below). As you can see the graphics are pretty sparse but they get the job done.

There is also a high score table with each game which shows the highest scores that users can recorded for that game. Lastly they also allow you to embed these word games that you create on your own site. However, it looks like they have to host the SWF file because you pass an ID to it which tells it the information to load for that game which means they won’t work offline.

Head over there and start making your own word games today!

Slashdot has a question up titled “Ask Slashdot: Tools For Teaching High School Kids How To Make Games?” which asks what would be a good game engine to use with a high school class to make some games. Here is a rundown of all of the game creators we’ve posted about on this blog so far. I really recommend the first three (Gamestar, Sploder, and Pulado) for getting your game design on and then the second four (Stencyl, Construct 2, GameSalad, and Unity 3d) for getting your game programming on. GameStar — web client — publishes to web/flash — free Sploder– web client — publishes to web/flash — free Pulado (make your own games) — web client — publishes to web/flash/cloud — free Stencyl — desktop client — publishes to web/flash/ios — free Construct 2 — desktop client — publishes to web/HTML5 — free and paid GameSalad — desktop mac client — publishes to web/HTML5/android/ios — free and paid Unity 3D — desktop client — publishes to web/flash/android/ios — free and paid Flash 8 — desktop client — publishes to web/flash/android — free and paid Flash Pro CS5.5 — desktop client — publishes to web/flash/android/ios — free and paid GameGonzo — web client — publishes to web/flash — free GameMaker — desktop client — publishes to web/HTML5 — free and paid Sharendipity– web client — publishes to web/flash — free PictoGame– web client — publishes to web/flash — free Scratch  — desktop client — publishes to web/java — free Star Wars — web client — publishes to web/flash — free SpongeBob — web client — publishes to web/flash — free

I have also includes links to Flash 8 and Adobe Flash Pro CS5.5. Flash 8 is much more suited to artists and simple coding while Flash Pro CS5.5 is the latest version which is more suited to programmers and also publishes games to Android and iOS. There are all kinds of tutorials for building games straight in Flash (without any other frameworks).

I’ve looked at this Citrus Engine which is a platform game creator built with and for Flash before but previously it was not free to use. I check back in with it today and discovered that it is now perfectly free to use. I would assume that you need to be a somewhat experienced developer to be able to use the Citrus Engine because it uses ActionScript 3 but it also has a drag and drop Level Architect. The demo game on the homepage of their site is really really nice. Super smooth and contains very simple platform style functionality such as jumping and collecting items. And because it is built in Flash that means it will run on Android devices (and it might be possible to compile it in AIR for Android and iOS).

Here is a screen shot of the Level Architect that you could use to design levels for use in the Citrus Engine. According to their blog there are also other level editors available for the engine. Emanuele Feronato also has a blog post titled How to create a Flash platformer using Citrus Engine which shows how to build a simple level with Citrus Engine. It looks like he does it via code however. The level editor is also built in Adobe AIR.

I didn’t really want to dig into this platform creator when they were charging for it but now that it is free I’m sure I will find a project to use it with. If you aren’t quite into the coding part of creating games yet or if you just want to quickly prototype ideas before building your game in Citrus you might try to make your own games with the Pulado game designer first. If you run into the need for more advanced features and as you become more experiences with creating games then you could dive in and make something truely magical with the Citrus Engine.

Head over and test out the Citrus Engine for yourself here.

I ran across a game design blog called “Connected eXPeriences” by Troy Dunniway which has some pretty good game design information. The posts are very long (as in chapter size if it was a game design book). The three posts that I have read from it so far are very relevant to the Pulado game engine because it covers issues that we have been grappling with. Minimizing Repetitive PlayPlatformer and Character Games Design, and AI for Designers. It’s also funny that we use the same WordPress theme.

Minimizing Repetitive Play covers lots of issues having to do with identifying actions that the player would be doing over and over and limiting those actions. With the Pulado game creator we have an issue where you can setup your character with it’s one weapon and the character can shoot over and over but there is very little change in that mechanic. We’ve noticed games with only this mechanic setup have a lesser playtime than other games. However, a few other options that the Pulado game creator has are the “Comeback King”, “Charge Up Weapon #1”, and “Projectile Gravity”. Each of these options provides a variation that the player can control and I think this variation causes repetitive play to be less.

The “Charge Up Weapon #1” option lets the player hold down the fire button and decide when to release the projectile. Depending on how long they hold the fire button the projectile size will change. This variation minimizes the repetitiveness of firing the weapon. The last variation of this charge up option is that if they charge it up long enough it turns into a projectile that will destroy everything in it’s path (it becomes a mega weapon).

The “Comeback King” option is an option where the more damage a player takes the faster their weapon shoots. This causes variation for obvious reasons because the player is usually at different levels of damage all of the time which means their weapon is constantly firing at a different rate. It also means that each time they play the game they have a different weapon effectively because the fire rate changes based on their damage. It also leads to the player *wanting* to take damage to get back to the level of fire they were use to when they were low on health. It can cause them to *avoid* health power ups even.

Finally we have the “Projectile Gravity” option which gives an arc to projectiles when they are fired. This means every time a projectile is fired it is going to land somewhere different (because the player is probably moving etc). This is especially true if you have to aim or charge up the gravity on the projectile. Supposedly this is one reason that Angry Birds is so popular is because of arc of the birds in the sky. It has also been demonstrated that Flash games with physics engines in them routinely seem to get more and higher paid sponsorships. Distance games like Angry Birds and other “shoot something to see how far it will bounce” games only have very limited player interaction (you fire something and then become a spectator until the projectile stops) but are hugely popular.

The other two posts Platformer and Character Games Design and AI for Designers grapple with other issues we deal with on building the Pulado game designer daily which is adding in more enemy AI so that they aren’t as repetitive, detecting player actions in order for the engine to dynamically adjust difficulty, and building in more platformer game style capabilities.

In any event regardless of what game creator or game engine software you use you should check out those three blog posts for yourself and hopefully it will help you make better games!  Or head to the main page of the Connected eXPeriences blog.

The Unity 3D engine released their Flash exporter as a public beta today. Unity is a game creation tool that exports to iOS, Android, their own Web Player, and now to Flash. So you can use all of their awesome game creation tools and then be able to play it on probably 90-99% of machines out there in the browser because of the Flash plugin. Unity is not really for the beginner though. We covered the Unity 3D engine a couple days ago in our post titled How To Make Free Games With Unity 3D if you want to know more in depth information about it.

In any event I downloaded the public beat today and loaded up their Angry Bots demo project. Brought up the build settings, select Flash as the platform to target and clicked Build. It created an SWF file for me and then I loaded it up in the browser. It looks and works pretty amazing. Play it for yourself. The next thing I tried was to load up a new Flash 11 project in Flash Pro CS5.5 and then load up the Unity SWF file inside my own SWF and add it as a child to my own canvas. This worked like a charm as well. Now I have a game published out with Unity with vector Flash elements sitting on top of it. I guess this could also mean that you could load up a game built with the Pulado make your own games engine and then use Unity for cut scenes or visa versa. It would also let you build an AS3 arcade in Flash with Unity and Pulado games side by side in the same arcade. Or even how about using the MochiMedia High Scores API with Unity published to Flash? Sweet.

Here is the code I used to load up the Unity published SWF into a Flash CS5.5 project:

import flash.display.*;

var ldr:Loader = new Loader();
var url:String = “angrybots.swf”;
var urlReq:URLRequest = new URLRequest(url);

What this would allow you to do is load up your own preroll ad or even game play tracking code like Playtomic around your Unity published game. They also have a contest going on for the next two weeks or so to see who can create the best Unity to Flash published game so that could be interesting as well.

Head over and get the Unity 3.5 public beta and try out the Flash export feature for yourself!

One of the best ways to start out building games is to build levels in an existing game first. Over at they have a flash game called “Fupa Kingdoms: Defense” and it allows you to build your own tower defense maps and then publish them for other people to play. There are over 2,300 maps created by other users for you to rate and play. You can customize the background of the map with all kinds of different tiles including grass, dirt, sand, water and more. Another customizable option is the path that the enemies in the tower defense game will follow (you get a path editor for that). You can also customize the look and feel of the towers which you can build on the map.

Up to six different towers can be defined in your game. You can customize the base and turret part of the tower. You can also choose what projectile the tower will shoot from around 15 different options. You also control the range, speed, cost, damage, and what the upgrade options are for the tower. On the surface it appears like there are only a few options to customize but as you dig deeper it really does open up a huge number of options that can be tweaked for your tower defense game. If you want to make your own game that is not a tower defense game go check out the Pulado engine.

In the enemies editor you can create up to 20 different enemies by changing their body and face. There are literally thousands of different combinations to choose from. Once you set up your enemies you can proceed to creating the different waves will the player will have to defend against. You can customize the enemy wave count, speed, hit points, what score they give off, and how much money they drop when you destroy them. Lots of options.

Some of the last few options that you can configure for your tower defense map is the music for the map and how much money the player should start out with (with one of the options being unlimited money). You can preview your map to see if it is just right and then you can go back and tweak it if it is not. Once it is done you can choose Save Map and it will go into a database where other users can rate your map. Once enough have rated it, it will go into the giant list of other maps for people to play. You can also embed your custom map creation on your own site where people can play your tower defense map.

Head on over and start building your own tower defense game!

In some of the other posts on this blog we mainly talk about game creation tools which are drag and drop and programming is not required. However, in this post we are going to talk about Unity 3D which is an advanced game creation tool which has it’s own web player which is similar to Flash (though the amount of people who have it installed is not quite as many as Flash). As you may have guessed Unity 3D is a game creation tool mainly for 3D games as that is what it does best. Additionally, it will publish your games to iOS and Android (not to mention the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360). However, only publishing to the web is free as the other platforms require a paid license.

Unity 3D is not for the feint of heart or if you are easily distributed. It can take longer to build an create a 3D game that it does for a 2D. Unity 3D also requires programming. If you are looking for something more drag and drop with no coding required you should try something like Pulado to make your own games. It comes with demos and things but be prepared to write code before you download it. According to their website it does include an editor that has real time editing. So you can be “playing” through the game and at the same time you can jump in and start editing objects at the same time. The scriping languages that you can use to code in Unity 3D are Javascript (which is very similar to ActionScript), C#, and a Python variant called Boo.

Unity 3D also has an asset library and store where other users can sell components and assets that they have created to other users of Unity 3D. This is a really handy service to have because it allows people to modify the engine or provide assets that you can then just purchase without having the take the time to re-invent the wheel yourself.

The main drawbacks for using Unity 3D are probably the paid licenses for publishing to mobile and the fact that it takes a special plugin that users have to download in order to start playing games on the web built with Unity 3D. This will get easier as more and more people have the plugin installed. Additionally, they are working on the ability for Unity 3D to export to an SWF file which would then be playable in any browser that has Flash installed. Suffice to say that sounds pretty cool. If you are looking to have a multiplayer game it also supports the same kind of multiuser servers that support Flash like SmartFox and Electrotank.

If you already know how to script and or create 3D art and you want to make a 3D game then Unity 3D is probably one of the best ways to go right now. Check it out here.

Over at the blog What Games Are there is a posted called “Why Orcs Must Die?” which talks about signifiers. In the blog post he defines signifiers as “symbolic images which convey a wealth of emotional association by virtue of their presence” and then goes on to explain:

“The culture that we live in has literally millions of choices at our fingertips, most of them bad, and so the use of a signifier acts as a helping hand. Your choice might be good or bad, but at least you know what kind of thing it is you’re buying into before you buy it. If you know it’s a game about orcs then you know it’s probably humorous in particular way and that helps you decide if it’s for you. You have a relationship with that signifier.”

What basically boils down to there are public domain brands of our shared culture which you can use in your games which people will instantly identify with. Use them to your advantage. You can make your own games using Pulado and use one of these characters or have the theme be about them. I’ve included a list of fantasy monsters below which you could use in your games:

Winged Horse

What signifiers can you think of?

A classic arcade game that everyone remembers from the 1980s is Space Invaders. With this tutorial we are going to explore how we can make a game similar to the gameplay in Space Invaders with the Pulado Flash Game Engine. If you don’t have an account on Pulado head over there and create one. Once you have an account go into the members area and then click New Game to create a new game. Select Invasion Template as the game you would like to use as your template for this game. We’re going to call our new game “Terra Defence League” of category type Shooting with a description of “Defend Terra from attack!” and tags of “terra,earth,alien,space”. Choose a name for your game but don’t use Space Invaders because that is trademarked. Once you have that information filled out click Save and your game will be created. We’re going to show you what settings make up a game similar to Space Invaders.

Now that you have created your game you are on the game preview screen. From here you can go to the Player tab where you will be able to customize your player character (a space ship) and other things having to do with the player. You can click “select avatar” to change the avatar graphic and you can also customize how fast you want your player to move in addition to how many lives you would like the player to have. There is also an Advanced section where you can customize the scale of the graphic and the player spawn location if you want to but they are not required for this tutorial.

Below this section in the Weapon #1 section is where you can customize what projectile you would like the player to be able to shoot. You can click “select graphic” to change what the projectile looks like, you can choose the type of the projectile to change it’s behavior if you want, and you can also set a sound for the firing of it here. Lastly you can change how fast that the player can shoot (rate of fire) and how fast the projectile will move (projectile velocity) in this section. Farther down there is a Weapon #2 section where you can customize the secondary weapon which is usually a big screen clearing weapon. In the case of this game it is a giant laser beam which will kill a bunch of in the invaders. At the very bottom you can click the Save button if you have made any changes in the Player tab.

The next tab to edit is the Opponent tab. Inside the Opponent tab you can change a lot of this about the Opponent (aliens) including the graphic for the aliens, how fast they move, their movement style, and how many start at the beginning. The most important setting here is the Movement option which is set to Move Down / Back & Forth. This setting is what gives us the Space Invaders style of enemies and movement. The Starting Enemies section here governs how many rows of aliens there will be opposing you. Enemies shoot at you is also checked in the Enemy Fire item because we want the aliens to shoot at the player.

At the top of this section is a Level Difficulty slider which you can increase if you want your game to be harder than it currently is. You will notice that the opponent graphic (which is purple alien ships) is rotating between different ships. This is because on each keyframe in the opponent graphic there is a different alien ship. The Pulado game creator engine will randomly choose a ship to use every time it spawns an opponent. That setting is in the Advanced section of the Opponent area and it is called Avatar Type which is set to “Multiple per clip”.

Below this section you can customize the Weapon #1 and Weapon #2 of the aliens that oppose the player. The settings are the same as what you customized for the player. You can choose “select graphic” to change the projectile that gets fired by the aliens at the player. Additionally, you can setup a sound, the rate of fire, and the projectile velocity of the projectiles that are fired by the aliens at the player. If you have made any changes in the Opponent tab be sure to scroll down and use the Save button at the bottom.

The next section we are going to edit is the Background tab. The Background tab lets you customize the foreground and background look of your game. There are 3 layers (one above the player, one below the player, and the base background which is at the vary far back). Additionally there is a Ground layer here which is used by other game types. We only need to worry about the very far back layer for creating a game like Space Invaders so scroll down to the Background section. In this section you can click “select bottom background” to change the look the far background. You can also make the background scroll in any direction if you like. If you do change the background make sure that you use the Save button at the bottom.

The last tab that we need to look at for building a Space Invaders style flash game is the Gameplay tab. Select the Gameplay tab and open up the Environment section. In this section there is a Blocks setting and a Block Graphic setting. These two settings control the bases or defense structures that are at the bottom of a Space Invaders style game that lets you hide behind them. You can set the Block Graphic to whatever graphic you want these structures to look like and then you want to set the Blocks setting to Bottom row which will automatically build those blocks near the bottom of the screen in a row.

If you want to edit any other settings like how many hit points the player or the aliens have you can also do this in the Gameplay tab under the Player Modifier and Opponent Modifier sections.If you modify any settings in here be sure to scroll down and click Save and then you can preview your game.

That’s it! That is all there is to building a Space Invaders flash game using the Pulado engine. Now you can go back in and start tweaking other settings to make your game unique. Maybe you want the projectiles to have gravity or you want a triple shot or rapid fire powerups? Building a flash game couldn’t be easier with the Pulado flash game engine. There are also all kinds of video tutorials on this blog about the different sections of the Pulado game editor.

If you haven’t already gotten started at the beginning of this tutorial you should head over and start to make your own games with Pulado.