Making My First Games

As an artist, I realize that most of my works end up as passive experiences. Most paintings are viewed for a total of 10 seconds (maybe), and even time-based arts like music and videos involve almost no audience participation. However, games require direct viewer input, and that’s a really interesting prospect to me. In a reader-response critical way, all artworks’ meaning is dependent on a viewer’s context, but games make this explicit. In most games, players have choices they must make, and the player’s input in addition to an artist’s framework creates a collaborative artwork. This idea has made me interested in making games.

For the past few months, I’ve been learning how to make simple games. I don’t consider these games to be artwork; instead, I think of them as simple programs (although they are not so simple to program!). Hopefully, these games can be a stepping stone to me embedding complex ideas in an interactive format.

Gravity Dog

https://radaxolotls.itch.io/gravity-dog

My first game was made in Unity with some help from my internship supervisor (if you ever read this article, shout out to you!). It is a one button autoscrolling game- if you press the space bar, you can turn gravity on and off, and through this, avoid obstacles.

Most of the work went into instantiating the obstacle spikes. I made a series of obstacles with prefabs and then randomized which one would appear in my code. From this first project, I mainly got a sense of how the Unity workflow. Additionally, I made all the graphics in this game (mostly using paint).

The Pizza Game

https://radaxolotls.itch.io/the-pizza-game

I made this game very recently at a hackathon. I wanted to make a game using GameMaker Studio (since I had bought the professional version in a Humble Bundle pack a long time ago). I was surprised how similar the workflows of Unity and GameMaker was- there were significant differences, but I could navigate easily between the two programs.

This game was essentially an asteroids reskin. The most difficult part of this game was considering the enemy movement/respawn. The enemies track the player, but it would be unfair to have the enemies respawn where the player is, so I had to ensure that they would spawn from a distance away. I was also going to make a level 2 that was a snake reskin, but I ran out of time. I’ll consider adding to this project.

I won most artistic at the hackathon! I guess Kermit and pizza are both appealing figures.

Takeaways

Making games is definitely a difficult process, especially for people who don’t know how to code, and I understand being intimidated by programs like Unity and GameMaker. However, there’s a lot of room for artistry in making games, and I think it’s a worthwhile process. I especially enjoy being both front-end and back-end developer for my own games; it’s nice having complete control over the work that you present. Game design is somewhat accessible (although I strongly suggest some coding experience), so if you want to make your own games, I highly suggest going out there and trying it!