From consumer to creator

I have a long history of enjoying video games about making video game levels (Super Mario Maker, Chicken Wiggle, etc.), and have dabbled in a couple of programs that make it easy to put together more complex stages (like Super Mario Bros X). Back in high school, I even took a class on basic programming where I learned to cobble together crappy little tic-tac-toe and mastermind games.

Last night, however, I took a major leap forward and began the process of learning how to create an actual video game.

I have now downloaded and started futzing around with GameMaker Studio 2, and got absolutely lost in the process. I was so involved in learning about the program and how to use it that I completely forgot to make myself dinner. That never happens! More importantly is that I actually feel fairly confident about diving headfirst into what amounts to a completely overwhelming project. Usually as soon as anything shows even minor resistance I give up immediately.

Progress made last night started with installing GameMaker and clicking around, and realizing that this was not a good way to go about it. So I looked up some tutorials on creating a basic platformer. Two-and-a-half hours and one (of six) YouTube tutorial video later, I had assembled my very own little box of platforms in which a cube could run and jump around freely. Even though it amounts to less than the Visual Basic tic-tac-toe game I made sixteen years ago, I’m still really proud of my creation. I feel like I accomplished a lot last night, and I am very anxious to get back and start learning more.

It’s going to be a long, long road. I have huge plans for the game that I ultimately want to make, though I know that it’s not going to all come together right away. I’ve obviously scaled way, way down for the time being, just focusing on learning how GameMaker works and how to code. If I come up with something halfway playable as I learn, great! But all the design documents that I’ve been drawing up are for a project far too large in scope for someone with just slightly more than “zero” knowledge of programming.

So, I think I’m going about this all right. Following tutorial videos. Learning the basics first. Taking pride in each baby step. Understanding the concept of scope. All that’s left is to wait and see if I actually follow through on any of this, or if I get bored after a week and never think about it again. Exciting stuff!


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