LPC: The Tools

So I think two days should be more than enough to come up with an educated guess at what the best tools for making a quick game for the liberated pixel cup should be.

However, instead of just spewing out names, I’d like to take a more structured approach this time to showcase the entire process. That way if anyone stumbles across this post wanting a clarification on how to make a game, they could use it as a guideline.

First things first, let’s say that you already have a good idea about what you want to do and it’s either fairly documented somewhere or you have it very clear in your head, so coming up with ideas for making a game isn’t really a problem. At this point, you need to define the following:

  1. Platform (Mobile? Windows? Linux? Mac? All?)
  2. Environment ( IDE / Programming Language / Frameworks etc. )
  3. Graphic Design Tool(s)
  4. Audio Design Tool(s)

The Platform

This is the one that makes the most difference, this will be the one you will see and live with for the next few months so you should think about it very thoroughly. Every platform has its quirks and if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s going to be a hell developing for all of them at once, so usually what you will want to do is select one that you are most comfortable with and try to keep the door open for others. For the purposes of this competition, I will start off on Linux.

The Environment

So the platform is out of the way, now it’s time for the environment. Ideally you’ll do this on the same platform that you are developing for ( unless it’s mobile of course ) and let’s say for the sake of the argument that you do, the first thing you will need to research is what tools are there available for my platform that help me make a game. So in my case, I have to make a game for Linux, but keep my options open as well, what can I use ? well it boils down to this:

  • HTML 5
  • C/C++
  • Python
  • Cross-platform game makers

Now, I don’t have anything with game makers, but I wanted to do this in a language I am already familiar with so they fall from the start. Also this game should be finalized within a week more or less, so as much as I wanted to, I didn’t think I could do it in C++. This leaves of course Python and Javascript and seeing as the recent HTML5 hype has reached a peak right now, I figured I’d have more options to choose from if I went that way, not necessarily now, but in the future as well (as a side note, existing Python frameworks should be older and more stable/feature rich)

So up until now I want to make an HTML5 game on Linux. Theoretically this should be enough and I could start, but it’s not, because it would mean having to create my own engine from scratch which sounds intriguing indeed, but wouldn’t be an option in this timeframe, so the next logical step is to find a framework. After careful consideration, these are the ones I could come up with:

Entity looks better structured, but in the end I decided to go for LimeJS because it seemed to me that it has more features.

And so the platform, language and framework are decided, there’s just one last step and that is to choose a suitable IDE, but since it’s not like there’s a plethora of Javascript IDEs it was more or less about choosing the version of repurposed Eclipse IDE that felt the best, so in the end I went with Aptana Studio.

Therefore my environment looks like this now:

  • Linux ( Mint 12 )
  • HTML5 ( language )
  • LimeJS ( framework )
  • Aptana Studio ( IDE )

Which seems about right, so this is the end of this chapter.

Graphic Design Tools

The graphic style of this competition more or less dictates the usage of a raster based software and being on Linux, there’s no doubt about the supremacy of GIMP in this area ( the 2.10 version being a new kind of awesome ) so there wasn’t really much to think about here, but in case you are looking for some alternatives you might also want to check these out:

Sound Design Tools

Do not let the position in this post fool you, this is one of the most important parts in making a game, having nice graphics and lots of eye candy will go a long way for your game, but a lack of sound effects in your game can be a very big turn off. Luckily there’s a very neat tool that comes in handy here called sfxr that will help you with the audio creation and it’s perfect for this competition, so that’s what I’ll use.

So to sum it up, you want to make a game, think about: platform, language, framework, tools choose wisely and most importantly have fun.

See you at the competition.

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