The kids are always drawing characters and writing, and I was wondering – could we use this to make a game together?
It turns out, we can.
I’d guess in about 30 hours, we’ve put together a small world where:
- The player can wander around our world
- The kids have both drawn characters that appear in the game
- My 7 year old has designed a couple of maps
- Together with my 7 year old, we have written some dialogue
- I figured out how to build out some simple logic, connecting scenes
First, I looked into various game making tools. I ended up using Stencyl, the first one I tried. I checked it out first because the free version is limited only in that it only allows you to publish your game to the web (as opposed to desktop or mobile versions), and, for me, a big bonus was that it runs in Linux.
I was really impressed, and would recommend it to anyone thinking of doing something similar. There is a small library of assets you can use in your game, adding logic is similar to logic blocks in Scratch.
I did get stuck in a couple of places:
- The recommended system for character dialog is not built-in, and instructions for installing it were hard for me to find. I posted a question to the Stencyl forum, and the extension’s author sent me a link to the Stencyl Dialog Extension installation instructions within a couple of hours
- I struggled adding the extension to my game – someone has put together a Dialog Extension Youtube Tutorial which helped out
- Other small things – usually when I create something, with a little searching, I can usually find answers pretty easily on Stack Exchange. I found it harder to find answers my issues with Stencyl, and spent more time trying different things – I think, largely due to a smaller development community
It wasn’t until we started that I realized how much effort is required to put together the artwork for a game. It is one thing to scan in a drawing of a character, but another to create drawings of the character from every perspective, such that it is animated as it walks across the screen.
At this time, it’s not much of a game – just a small world to explore. But it was fun to put together – you can check it out here: http://willowdale.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/