Removing the learning curve from game development

The greatest moments from my video game history are all from co-operative multiplayer games. Recreating that social aspect has always been a core focus in developing GameThing, and yet relatively few games offer an easy local multiplayer experience. So, in true Cuddleburrito fashion, we couldn’t find it so we made it. We didn't accomplish everything that we set out to do, but this post is about going from 0-60 in game development for someone that has never programmed before.

At first, I was a little hesitant and nervous learning I would be creating my own game from scratch. Eek! Then BAM! The second I learned the basics there was no stopping me.

That’s April, my marketing chief and non-programmer friend. This all started when I showed the team mini-games I made in HTML5 and javascript for GameThing. I mentioned that it was so simple I could teach it to anyone and April called me out on it. We spent the next few weeks brainstorming, white-boarding, making spreadsheets, and writing scripts. With 80% of the plan set, we met up Sunday afternoon and placed our laptops side by side for a 3-hour game development jam. April was about to make her first game and be introduced to programming all at once.

Insert trigger here, done! Place zombie there, done! I really enjoyed the art and craft of designing the main layout of the temple and adding to the story with various entities. I didn’t realize how easy it was to create and perfect pixel images for the game.

After we had a script, we drew out this 5 room level as a roadmap for what should be done next.

The entire level inside the level editor. The green rectangles trigger code when the player touches them.

I was determined to finish a playable a game the same day so corners were cut as much as possible. Most of the game logic is copied from the mini-games I had made which in turn were built from the example code given with the javascript library we used. However, we still designed the level, graphics/animations such as the coins and key, added sounds, and coded triggers, custom events, camera logic, etc. We couldn't have done this without using a library and the ImpactJS library worked perfectly. The main advantages was all the out of box functionality and included built in GUI level editor that runs in the browser too. This allowed us to work simultaneously as well as being able to see the relation between the entities on screen and the code we were writing.

Flo and I knocked out an entire 3 scene game within a few hours and killed it! I really enjoyed working side by side with a legit coder. I was so surprised how time flew by. We really were having fun! It was awesome seeing the game come alive and now being able to share it with others. I can’t wait to be able to code on my own! Many more games to come!

At this point, April has a good idea of how game levels are made, how to create a sprite, and the concept of sub-classing (e.g. making entities with the ImpactJS library). Although we didn't technically finish everything, I'm still ecstatic thinking of subtle moments that without a doubt showed April game developing. Specifically, after our tester remarked a jump was too difficult, April added the necessary blocks, updated the collision map, saved and deployed the level to the web server on her own so he could try again within the minute. Sunday, April made a video game and it seems she's just getting started. Cuddleburrito is about building stuff together to remove the learning curve and focus on what's important. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and encourage April to keep building her game!

(The screen capture software didn't record the sounds. Standby for playable version)