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Gentlemen, start your game engines: building addictive worlds

Gentlemen, start your game engines: building addictive worlds

Bad games can either make you throw your controller at the screen or inspire you to design better ones. If you think you can do better or are just interested in making games, a game design course like that offered by School of Game Design is one way to go to acquire the necessary skills. Game design isn’t producing a polished product, but sketching out the rules and strategies of games at the pre-production stage. Game designers dream up characters, gameplay, environment and storyline before the digital sculptors and animators get started on bringing it all to life as a finished game.

Beautiful graphics mean little unless they are based on engaging game dynamics. But they can be the icing on the cake of a well-designed game that has that elusive ‘one more go’ feel that keeps players glued to their controllers. It’s game designers who sit down at the drawing board stage and create stories and reward structures that make a game addictive and destined for greatness. They define how a game works in the same way an architect defines how a building works.

The School of Game Design offers a structured progression for a one-size-fits-all fee that grants a year’s access to all the resources on the site. Students start with the fundamentals of 2D game design using GameSalad, a drag-and-drop game creation tool that requires no programming knowledge. After mastering the basics and getting to grips with the physics engine, learners will create a Mario-style 2D platformer and then recreate the game Flappy Bird. There is also an opportunity to create an indie platformer along the lines of Manuganu, Badland, The Silent Age or Limbo.

With a foundation in 2D game design, it’s time to move on to 3D and the hugely powerful Unity3D game engine. Some C# training is thrown in at this stage for those without much programming knowledge – it is very useful when using the various tools and techniques that still lie ahead.

In Unity3D you get to build a level and populate it with characters whose movement and weapons options you define. When the world-building and gameplay specifics are complete it’s time to add some conflict in the form of your first 3D boss battle!

There’s a course on Unity3D’s powerful particle effects, which can be used to create smoke, fire, snow, leaves and many other visual treats. It then remains to recreate another classic game, the isometric 2.5D chicken-splatter frenzy Crossy Road. At the end of all this, students will have a portfolio of work and a bag of experience they can take to game studios to show their skills.