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In the old days, hardware was a limiting factor and Basic made it pretty easy to whip out some text or crude graphics. Our favorite was a high low game that guesses your number. But everyone had some little game they’d create so they said they could. Today’s games, though, have good graphics and music and 3D shapes and a host of other things you didn’t have to contend with back then. Game Builder, though, makes it pretty simple. You can work on a game by yourself, or with friends, or with the general public. Everyone involved can play the game, but they can also edit the game. The tool runs under Steam so even though it is marked for PC or Mac, it will also run on Linux if you have Steam installed properly.
Playing at Editing
There is very little difference between playing and editing. You can start with a template or a blank canvas. At any time during game play, you can switch to edit mode with a mouse click or the tab key. If you start with the blank template, you get four player characters on a big green field. But you can change anything you want. You can hide players, change their representations, or even their physics.
When you enter build mode you get a menu down at the bottom that lets you pick: create, move, rotate, scale, terrain, text, logic, or edit. Most of these are exactly what they sound like. You can create from a wide number of models that tie into Google poly. The terrain mode is like Minecraft where floors are built from blocks. The logic menu is what’s really interesting though.
In the Cards
Each actor can have a number of cards arranged in panels. For example, a player might have a panel for health. A card within would set how many life points the player has and what to do when there are no more. Another card might register a collision with an object that has a weapon tag and use it to deduct points from the player’s life. Other cards control motion, display attributes, and so on. There are cards that have if/then/else logic and cards that react to events like collisions, time, or the start of the game.
In the figure, you can see a card on the left making a platform on the right move back and forth. Each card has settings that vary depending on its function. In this case, you can control the speed, for example.
Just Try It
It sounds a little complicated, but if you do the tutorial it is really quite simple. The nice thing too is if you are in a game and you see something you want to know how to build yourself, you can just slip into build mode and look at the logic behind it. In fact, one of the demos is nothing more than things to look at in that way. There is a rocket to launch and a tree you can cut down with an ax. You can even paint rocks.
You might enjoy the video from [Shojib] below to see how it works, but it is more fun to just go load it and try it. There’s also an official tutorial video below the first one. It isn’t hard to pick up, especially if you work the tutorial and the card fair demo.
Often when we are talking video games around here, we mean something old fashioned. We’d like to see someone do some classic games with this, such as Space Invaders or PacMan. We think you could do it.