My Personal Experience With Brothers (Spoilers)

First off, I came to this game with an advantage, emotionally speaking. I am the younger of two brothers. My family is not that far removed from the family in the game, Brothers. My dad died when I was 19, far older than the age the younger brother appears to be when his mom dies, but trust me, at any age, a parent dying is never easy.

There are a lot of things about Brothers that have stuck with me in the week or so since I played it. Without any words, the two brothers convey so much about themselves in how they act towards other people. The older brother is always the one to pull out the map and keep the quest moving along, whereas the younger brother just goofs off. The real story in the game, at least to someone in my position, is the maturation of the younger brother. He goes from spitting in wells and being a jerk to townsfolk to having to bury his brother and overcome his greatest fears.

At first the controls in Brothers seem like they're going to be frustrating. Controlling two people with one controller is insane, and that's the beautiful part about it. As you're just running the brothers through a corridor, you can never get them to exactly the same direction at exactly the same pace. As you run along, they weave back and forth, overtaking each other and just overall looking like they're having fun despite their daunting adventure. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sequence where you ride the mountain goats along the pass. These moments, both the times where the big brother is frustrated with the little brother and the times they're just having fun together, felt less like game sequences and more like memories. The game wasn't just telling its story, it was also telling mine.

There are a number of gut-punch emotional moments throughout the game, and those are going to be the ones people will remember and write about. For me though, the game was a constant stream of emotion. The nostalgia for the good times, the embarrassments that have stuck with me. My brother and I have always been fairly close, but I had never really taken the time to step back and look at our relationship the way this game has made me. It stuns me that this game had the power to do that. Anyway, I just wanted to share my (slightly long winded) experience with the game, thanks for reading.


Learning To Make A Game: Week 2

Week 2 in my journey down the rabbit hole of learning how to code has come and gone. I said in last week's blog post that I'm pretty much starting from scratch, but I feel like in this shot amount of time I've pretty much got a handle on the Lua scripting language. That's not to say, however, that I know much about actually making games.

I've plugged a few memory leaks, though they're still there, hiding. I think they should work themselves out as I take the game from starter project into an actual thing. The game started as a basic version of Galaxian that I called "Fauxlaxian" but has since spiraled wildly out of control. Instead, I'm adding a story to flesh it out. I'm much better at making a story than making a game, color me Swery.

Guess I have to stick with the name now
Guess I have to stick with the name now
The story scenes also start out looking crummy but get better as you progress
The story scenes also start out looking crummy but get better as you progress

The story is about a bad guy trying to make the world's most addictive video game, so while everyone's distracted playing that, he can take over the world. The problem is that he doesn't know a damn thing about making games. The hero plays the game as its being created and iterated upon, dressing down the bad guy as he goes. It's basically the story of me making the game and the characters are basically both sides of my inner monologue. It starts as just squares shooting squares and then in later levels, it adds graphics, then they get better and the game gets more complicated.

The problem is that I have really bad priority problems. I'll spend a day working on animations, then a day working on music and sounds then a few hours on story, a few hours implementing everything, etc. It's lead to the actual code within the game being a goddamned mess. The story goes through a few scenes and a few levels and then is completely broken at the moment, but if you start at a point past all that, it's fine. It's gotten to the point where it might not be a bad idea to just put what I have off to the side and just start from scratch on the code itself, I'm just hesitant to do so because I've put now 2 weeks into it.

Some things continue to stump me, like how I can't get certain text to display properly or how the hell I'm going to rein this in and ever actually finish it. I can confirm, making video games is hard. I have no idea how big teams do it. I've tried to work for at least a few hours each day, but I've lost some time to that new Code Academy thing and the 1.0.4 patch to Diablo III (More than I care to admit). I've tried adding more screen grabs, but it keeps just loading forever, maybe next week.


My Adventure In Learning To Make A Game

Let me start by saying this: At this point last week, I knew next to nothing about coding and scripting a video game. I had toyed around with BASIC when I was a kid, like I think we all did but never really got too far with that. I made a few stupid flash games, but again, never anything serious. This past Saturday though, I thought I might try to make something in earnest. I downloaded the Unity engine, but found that was way over my head. I took a step back and wound up at the LÖVE2d framework. Löve works in Lua, a lightweight scripting language mostly used for game mods rather than full games. It's quick to learn and can get you where you need to go, for the most part. Mari0, the game that gave Mario a Portal gun was made using Löve.

So, Sunday, I spent the day just watching a video tutorial on YouTube and copying it exactly. Goature's Make Your Own Gamespecifically. He explained the basics pretty well, but went about some things in a sort of roundabout way, he admits that most of his experience is in Garry's Mod scripting, so he explains things based on that. It helped me greatly just understanding how Lua and Löve work and how they work together. I was on my way, but I wasn't content just following what he did exactly.

Monday was the start of my first real project. I figured a good, fairly simple game to ape would be Galaxian, the predecessor to Galaga. I called it "Fauxlaxian". I quickly whipped up a few sprites, made a few controls and that was pretty much all I knew how to do. Left arrow moves left, right arrow moves right, space bar draws a little square that flies up at 2 rows of 5 completely static aliens. Nothing happened when the shot hit the alien. Hit detection, as it turns out, is a bitch.

The real problem is tables. In the video tutorial that I watched, the guy only ever called for the data from one table at a time. But I needed to call from the Aliens table and your player's Shot table too. This took a lot of trial and error and way way way more frustration. I turned back to things I knew how to do. I made the aliens fly down at the ship at random times, I scrolled Löve's surprisingly comprehensive help wiki until I finally found how to do it. Let me tell you, solving a problem, even one as simple as this, that has had you frustrated and hating yourself for hours feels amazing. Now the shots connected, the aliens died and your score went up. It was looking more and more like a game by the minute.

Wednesday, the aliens started shooting back. There were levels, sorta, each time you cleared all the aliens, they'd repop right at the top of the screen. You'd die if their shots hit you. It was a shitty game, but a game none the less. Since then, I've made between level screens, had it get harder with each level, made a title screen and seen the compiler error screen more times than I can count. Either I forgot to write "Then" in my if statements, or I wrote = where I meant == or I miscapitalized a function or variable or whatever. It's becoming a genuine thing though.

There's still a lot to do though. Restarting the game after you die causes a huge memory leak and the framerate takes a nosedive. This is actually a fairly common problem for me. If you call too many tables at the same time, it starts chugging even though it's a stupid little 2D shooter on my iMac with 4 GB of RAM. Also it looks like pure garbage. I've spent probably about 10 minutes total on the art. Yesterday, I decided that instead of playing on a flat grey background, you should be flying above the clouds on a sunset colored sky. I'm gonna take the art from there. I also have sorta insane plans for a story, but I'm gonna save that for if I make it that far.

This was far too long. I'll keep at it and keep you guys posted if you want. Hell, everything I'm using has been free, except Pixelmator, so make your own damn games already.