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.
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
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.
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!