As documented in the past, my scatter-brained nature combined with an overactive imagination have often put me in situations where I’ve wanted to express myself in a new medium. It is for this reason that I can put failed musician, failed illustrator, and failed actor on my already hefty list of life accomplishments. Game development has certainly always been on the bucket list, but I’ve also spent enough time covering the industry that I understand what a soul-crushing and often futile effort that can be.
I’ve dabbled in the past, getting just far enough in the Game Maker tutorial to make a one level demo of something called Bro Puncher. As you could judge by the title, it was an art game, and like any great piece of art, it was abandoned before I could sully it any further. But I still have stories that live within me that feel like they can only be told in an interactive medium – some are fully fleshed narratives, others, just ideas on a person exploring a room. Like a lot of my ideas, I came to a certain point in my life where I accepted that they would only live in the pages of a notebook. Making a video game is… absurdly difficult, especially when starting later in life and having no coding experience. It’s like, quite literally, learning a language. Sure, I can try, but would I ever even reach the lofty heights of mediocrity?
Thankfully, as with anything in life, there are shortcuts. There is no shortage of software out there willing to cut out the middle man and drop you straight into the rough-and-tumble world of game creation.
Game Guru starts with a series of very short “instructional” videos narrated by a man that sounds like his family has been taken hostage. I learned absolutely nothing upon viewing these videos, but, to Game Guru’s credit, I figured things out pretty quickly, as it comes with an assortment of premade games for you to edit at will. For reasons I couldn’t quite determine, the default “kids” game involves you collecting coins in a brightly lit garden area while terrifying bunny robots hunt you down. Upon shooting said robots with what appears to be a water gun, they then explode. With a few quick edits, this game then followed its natural progression into the world of surreal horror as I bathed the screen in a high contrast red tint, hiding said bunny robots behind crimson soaked shadows.
Sadly, that was the height of my inspiration. Exploring Game Guru further, it didn’t take very long for me to see the limitations; the heavy cost that came with those quick shortcuts. No matter what, your game is going to be a pretty generic FPS populated by equally generic assets. There are additional packs available and even a marketplace for users to sell overpriced barrels that they designed, but at no point did I get the feeling that anything I ever created was going to amount to something that anyone, including myself, would want to play.
That’s when I proceeded to throw together the hasty waterfront town that you see pictured above. I then populated it with random enemies and gave myself a mace, proceeding to then swing wildly for a bit before the novelty of killing Mage #3 in front of a rural house wore off, which was much faster than you’d think.
Before closing Game Guru, I experimented with the Import Model feature, hoping that I could bring the random Batman model I found from Deviant Art into my world for a duel. Alas, it was not to be, meaning my vision of Bruce Wayne and Tracer from Overwatch teaming up to fight monsters from Amnesia would not be realized.
As an artist, I simply can not compromise, meaning that I will have to look elsewhere for a canvas that’s vast enough to accommodate the interactive set-pieces living within the inner recesses of my mind. For humanity’s sake, let us hope I never find it.