You've got that full blown Rapid Application Development Tool we know as Revolution. You sit there, eating pizza and getting more and more expert with the language. You´ve learned to do some pretty nifty things with it and you feel ready to tackle a real big project. What should you make, and how should you do it? Ever asked yourself that question? Well, I do quite often. Coding ArcadeEngine provided me with the core technology to do the stuff I dreamed off. Writing games. ArcadeEngine allows us to do flexible animation and fast collision detection, but it won´t help with the the most important aspects of a game. How to make it fun to play. There are some lessons I´ve learned I´d like to share with you. I don´t want to claim that this is a complete list of things to do, nor that I am right in all points, still I think the following is worth sharing.
1.) What kind of game do you want to write?
Make sketches of the concepts early. Even though we live in a computerized age and you use a tool that lets you see results very fast, a pencil and a piece of paper are tools you don´t want to miss. Once you are sure of what you want to do, play a lot. Check what others do.
2.) Be aware of what you cannot do.
This is very important. Be realistic. If you want to write the next WOW or Halo within Rev you are out of the game. You can write roleplaying, action or puzzle games. You can make them Multiplayer. You can add some eye candy. Still you can not get on par with multimillion $ 3D engines that are out there - although you can still do some pretty Cool Stuff.
3.) Be aware of what you can do.
Don't get frustrated that you can not compete with the top of the edge games that are out there. You don´t need to! The most important thing with building a game is that it is fun to play. If your concept is good you might still be able to code the next big thing. Do tests of the basic technology. If the tests work - keep going!
Try to set up a rough sketch of the game concept and show it to your friends and family. Preferably non programmers. Try to let kids play with it. If you get some kids to test, listen to what they say. Do they spend more than 5 minutes with a prototype? Then you are on the right track! You can easily see where your games strength and weaknesses are that way. Is it too hard to play? Too easy? Will it keep your users addicted or will they quit in frustration?
5.) Try to team up.
A game is more than just the code you write. Besides an addictive concept you need pretty graphics and nice sounds. If you are multi-talented you might be able to do everything alone, still it might give your game a push to get input from other persons.
I hope you found this article useful - next issue I'll be writing about the fun and cool things you as developers have made using Arcade Engine. See you then!