Following on from my last post from a number of months ago, RIM were at it again! The latest freebie deal was part of their 36 hour Game Port-a-thon, which was held last week. Rather than give everyone a free PlayBook tablet, they opted for another approach. For every game app that was submitted, they would give you US$100, with further rewards for submitting more apps.
For example, if you submit:
< 3 games, you get US$100 per app,
3-5 games, you get US$100 per app, free PlayBook,
5-10 games, you get US$100 per app, free Playbook, free BB10 phone (first 100 only)
10+ games, you get US$100 per app, free PlayBook, free trip to Dev Conference in Sand Diego (first 10 only)
As you can see, its quite the deal.
When I found out about this deal, I figured I wanted some of the action. Unfortunately, I have never made a game in my life! Not even a small one! I began searching for Idiots guides to making games and beginners tutorials, and I found some good ones. However, since I only started looking 3 days before this Game Port-a-thon, I didn’t have time to learn all these skills. Instead, I found a clever piece of software called Construct 2 (www.scirra.com). Construct 2 enables you to make relatively basic games, with relative ease. The interface is almost drag and drop. There’s a small learning curve at the start, but once you get your head around it, its very manageable. The games get created based on events, and all of the physics is handled internally so you can get results very fast. See the video below for a quick sample.
Construct 2 demo
I was impressed with Construct 2 actually, so much so that I might even splash out the $100 on the full licence! I decided to try the free version for a night to see if it was any good, read one or two tutorials, and found that it was actually pretty easy to set up and get going, at least for the basics. I didn’t try the more complex games, mainly because I didn’t have time, but also because the free version only allows 40 events per game. This is still a very usable limit, and some very fun games can be made with this. The software is aimed at non-developers and requires little or no coding for basic games. In the space of a few days, I was able to create 3 basic, but half respectable HTML5 games.
Contruct 2 also comes with the ability to export your game into an array for platforms. For the Blackberry Game Port-a-Thon, obviously you had to submit the game in a format suitable for their devices. This is why I chose to export my games as HTML5. If you read my previous post about porting Android apps to the PlayBook, you might be aware that RIM created an Eclipse plugin that allows Android developers to port their Android app for use on the PlayBook in about 3 mouse clicks (once configured). Similarly, they’ve also created a tool for converting HTML5 games into apps compatible with their own devices.
To cut a long story short, I was able to create 3 games in as many days, with experience in making apps, but no experience in making games, and I was able to make them compatible with RIMs upcoming BB10 OS. In that time, I looked around for the quickest ways of producing games and the quickest, hands down, was Construct 2.
Also, as far as I know, you can convert HMTL5 games into Windows Phone, Android and iOS formates, so its win/win all round. Construct 2 even comes with PhoneGap compatibility to do all conversion for you!
So, if you want to get started at making games, and haven’t got the programming skills, then try Cosntruct 2. For more advanced games (and programmers) however, maybe Unity might be a better solution!