Sunday, 17 April 2011

Student Project - Ideas and Engine

After starting my semester at the Games Academy here in Berlin, Germany, I am part of a small team of game design students tasked with a semester long project. The task is to create a game similar to one of four examples:
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Micro Machines
  • BreakOut
  • Xevious
My team has chosen the first one, a platformer similar to Super Mario Bros. The game has to be similar in core game mechanics but with some "unique" features to distinguish it from the original.

As the only one in the team with programming experience I have to choose the engine we use to build the game. I had some prior experience with the Unreal Development Kit  (UDK), but decided against it because it might be too difficult to implement a 2D platformer with it. The second choice was the Game Maker by YoYo Games but I decided against that because I didn't know how to use it right or how to expand the basic features it provided. Finally I tested the Unity Editor and found it easy enough to work with and not to difficult to push to 2D game play.

The Unity Editor is for the engine with the same name and it provides tools to create games for different gaming platforms like the PC, Mac, Wii, iPhone and more. There is a free version that has enough features for most games and there are many tutorials to get started without much headache. The scripting languages used are JavaScript and C#. My preference lies with JavaScript even though I haven't scripted with it before but I used Java and C++ for earlier projects.

The actual project is still in its early planning stages but we are confident that we can get it done in the expected time frame. We are not reinventing the wheel and are able to use assets found on the internet as well as our own so it is possible despite the fact that most first semester projects are doomed to fail.

I might give some more information on the project's progress in future post but I have to check with my team mates first.

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