Do You Want To Design Your Own Video Game?
Every gamer who loves video games dreams of designing their own game from the ground up. Unfortunately the billion dollar industry of game design now requires you to have a degree to start a successful career, and a large amount of money to purchase the software in order to make a game on par with modern graphics.
Some game designers however, have realized the incredible potential in handing average gamers easy to use design tools and materials needed to create games. Some of those tools are a compilation of software programs and others are like games of their own; offering an easy to use interface, but along with that very powerful tools to fully customize a game.
This article will introduce those programs and offer a miniature review of each in order to help broaden the horizons for those gamers that wish to create their own masterpiece.
Our first honorable mention is a program known as RPG Maker by a small independent game design company called Enterbrain. The first program was released in March 28, 1997 in Japan and was named RPG Maker 95 or RM95. It was later translated into English and released in the U.S. Since then several different versions have been released; RPG Maker 2000, RPG Maker 2003, RPG Maker XP and the recently released in Japan RPG Maker VX.
The program allows users to make completely custom role-playing games in the style of the old school Super NES fantasy genre games. The program features a point and click map design, and easy interface system. It also allows the creation of computer processes known as "events" which control the flow of each custom game. RPG Maker was designed with the average user in mind and there is nothing at all complicated about it. A custom game can be up and running in a matter of minutes; even a full game complete with cut scenes and a good plot-line really shouldn’t take too long. The graphics are certainly not amazing and is nowhere near the real to life animation of modern next-gen games; but the trade off for easy to use tools suits the program well. It doesn’t really matter which version of RPG Maker is used either; they all have a large fan-base and excellent resources to provide extra materials and custom content.
RPG Maker XP is the most commonly used; and VX is newer but has some recent additions which are not available in the older programs.
Each RPG Maker version allows the importing of custom graphics, title screens, music, sound effects and what Enterbrain refers to as "tilesets"; which consist of a tiled list of graphics to be used on the map (For example, characters, items, chests, doors, house tiles, plants etc.). Users can also import "scripts" in the RGSS game language, or RUBY for short; a programming language similar to C++ that has its obvious differences. The "scripts" allow users to change many underlying processes in the program such as battle systems, item handling, and common events.
Enterbrain offers a trial version of RPG Maker on their website, but certain features are restricted without a purchased license. RPG Maker XP retails for $60.00 on the Enterbrain website; RPG Maker VX has not yet released legally in the U.S. but will retail for around the same price.
There is also another program of similar design which is distributed free of charge but has no affiliation to Enterbrain and its RPG series. The free program is known as the RPG Toolkit and is basically a more open source clone of RPG Maker. It serves perfectly as another great program for those who don’t wish to dole out sixty bucks for Enterbrain’s software.
The official RPG Maker XP page can be found here.
This next program on the list is for all you Street Fighter and original Mortal Combat fans out there. It is distributed by a company known as Elecbyte; what is with all these strange names huh? M.U.G.E.N is a 2D fighting game design engine, and the best part about it is that its freeware! Yep, you heard me correctly; it’s free so put your wallet back into your pockets.
M.U.G.E.N is however a DOS based program so there is no beautiful interface or user friendly tools for those who wish to create a fighting game. The engine language is not difficult to learn and it’s simple to substitute in custom content to design a very unique fighting game. Users can import custom created characters, background stages, objects, game menus, music, and much more.
Unfortunately since the engine’s release in 1999 the mother company Elecbyte strode far down the beaten path and was disbanded. M.U.G.E.N still garnered a very large cult following of fans; with many different websites out there dedicated to its distribution and use. The freeware can still also be downloaded for those who wish to give it a shot. It certainly provides a great chance to delve into the game development world even if the graphics are not in 3-D. It should be noted that it is also possible to create 2-D shooters and platform style games but ingenuity will certainly be required to do so.
A website still offering M.U.G.E.N for download can be found here.
Doom was an amazing game in its time; furthermore so was Doom 3. Quake and its following series were also fun; oh and then there is F.E.A.R., Bioshock, Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike… Well, let’s face it there are a lot of awesome shooters out there; some gamers even consider it the best genre and it certainly can be proven as one of the most popular. The Game Creator’s have also shown avid gamers that shooters are not just fun to play, but rewarding to make as well. FPS Creator is one of the first programs designed to allow users to create their very own custom shooter.
FPS stands for First Person Shooter.
This beautiful and engrossing software program has a very simple design interface and an even better compilation process once a custom game is completed. Users simply just click and place pre-made tiles and pre-fabs (or compilations of tiles that make a room) on a map in the order they like. Once the level design is complete they can add in weapons, enemies, allies, and many other objects such as story zones or mission markers. Users can also test out their game at any time during the process by clicking a simple play game button. The game controls are the usual W, A, S, and D keys to walk in the traditional FPS shooter style. A multi-player level creation mode is also allowed however single-player and multi-player games cannot be compiled together as one. The multi-player mode creation is just as simple as well, and for those who just wish to have custom levels to run and gun their friends in can have a compiled level in minutes!
Once done users simply just have to click a build game button under the file menu. Users can then select certain aspects on the build such as a higher or lower graphics quality option; higher graphics do take much longer to compile.
The Game Creators have also recently released a version known as FPS Creator X10 which utilizes DirectX10’s advanced graphics HDR quality lighting and advanced physics properties. The X10 Version however is only available for those with Windows Vista and a DirectX10 compliant video card. For those who do have the compatible systems the X10 version allows much more to be changed and edited and even includes a debug mode to change many graphics settings such as water levels, water colors, texture quality and so on and so forth.
FPS Creator retails around $50, but a free version through trial pay is also offered on the official site. This simply means you complete offers from other business affiliates and a free version of the software is then available. FPS Creator X10 retails for $69.99. There are also model packs available for purchase on the official site which offer more weapons, character skins, world tiles and objects to add more customization to the software for those not able to create their own custom content.
The software is an amazing way to build your own FPS shooter games; and once finished The Game Creators have also stated that you may sell your completed games without having to pay any royalties whatsoever; even if only the game engine is used.
The official FPS Creator website can be found here.
These software programs are only the beginning of a long list; for more available programs to help you design your dream game keep reading…