Meet Jacob G.! He works with instructor Shawn as part of Game-U’s New York Accelerate program. Jacob is such a fan of dinosaurs that he’s been drawing them for years. Now, using GameMaker Studio, he’s turning his artistic content into game assets for a sidescrolling dinosaur adventure.
It’s easy for gamers to switch player characters, access player-specific data, and play through a game as one character or another. But what kind of logic and programming does the game designer implement behind the scenes in order to make such flexibility happen? Jacob knows! He began his game with a character choice system, setting up screens that offer first a choice of dinosaur groups (horned dinosaurs, for example), and then a choice of species within that particular group (i.e., Triceratops). Jacob provided the artwork himself, while instructor Shawn showed him how to use objects, like buttons, to trigger events, such as switching screens to go to the next menu. The character-picking button objects also send information about the gamer’s choice to other invisible objects that the game manager uses to set up the game itself. Notice how both the Triceratops and the Pteranodon start in the same level? That’s thanks to the character spawner Jacob created, which holds blueprints for all the players available within Jacob’s game. Based on the information it receives from the invisible objects, it spawns the particular player called for in that round. Lots of players to choose from here!
But there’s more. Besides the start menu, Jacob added a score system, coin objects, and animations! Watch the Triceratops especially. Jacob designed a series of artwork for this player, capturing the dino in various stages of movement, in order to provide character dynamism. The Triceratops’ art series (animated sprite) works with the computer to generate the illusion of movement. As the graphics quickly cycle on-screen, frame by frame, the human eye sees one fluid motion rather than several abrupt ones, making it look as though the Triceratops is walking, running, blinking, or even turning its head. Jacob tied the animations to the movement controls the gamer uses to direct the player, so that he or she can send the player to collect coins scattered throughout the level. To animate these coins, which spin in place, Jacob drew another animated sprite showing the coins at various angles. He also coded the coin objects to disappear and increment the score by 20 when they come into contact with the player. The score variable itself displays in the upper left corner of the screen, where it’s easily seen. Gamers, choose your dinosaur!
Jacob, you’ve got a fabulous game in the making! It’s even more complex than we can see here, and Shawn says you have plans to make it still more functional and exciting. Keep up the good work! We’re looking forward to seeing how far you take this project.