I’m making a game!

I often flit between hobbies like a hummingbird between morsels of nectar, and my most recent pickup is video game development. I’ve actually been kicking around ideas for potential game projects for more than a decade, and after a few false starts over the years, I’m finally giving it a proper go.

I’ve been a professional web developer for almost 10 years now so I’m no stranger to programming, but this is a whole new beast. I’m learning a lot, and I thought it could be fun to document my progress. Partly as a way to keep up motivation, but I also just like to share.

Humble Beginnings

My previous attempts to get into game development started with attempts to learn C# and build something from the ground up, as is my natural impulse. However, this is a fairly tall order to undertake in one’s minimal spare time, so I never made much headway. This time I’m going to be using Unity, a free game development platform with a lot of utility baked in. And more importantly, it provides a much easier spot to “jump in” and start creating with less preamble.

I spent the first few weeks of this adventure following along with one of the packaged tutorial projects provided by Unity. In my hubris (and desire to just get on with it), I picked an intermediate tutorial (2D Roguelike tutorial). Additionally, it also more closely matched the style of game that I wanted to build, rather than the beginner 2D platformer tutorial. It however skipped over a bunch of the more basic functions of the program which I had to back myself into learning. But for better or worse, I did eventually find myself with a completed game!

Tutorials make it easy, right?

On top of getting up to speed with Unity, I’m also learning the particulars of C# (the programming language used by Unity to script game behaviors).

Both languages that I work with – PHP and JavaScript – are considered “dynamically typed” languages. This means that the program will attempt to convert data to the most appropriate type based on how it is used. (E.g.: using “10” as a number for arithmetic, or as text if I try to count how many characters it has).

On the other hand, C# is “strictly typed,” meaning that I need to explicitly tell the program what type of data is being used before using it. I also need to perform specific operations to convert data from one type to another. For the non-technical types: it’s like knowing how to drive an automatic transmission, and needing to learn standard. There’s also a bunch of other quirks that I will mercifully avoid covering in detail.

What’s next?

Next I start on the actual game! Or, an actual game. Or something. I don’t imagine I’ll nail it on my first try, so my first goal is to just play around and attempt to implement various ideas to get a feel for the tools available. Maybe I’ll make something fun along the way, but more likely than not I’ll have to toss everything out and start over at least once or twice.

I’ve already made a bit of progress on this next bit, so expect an update soon. I also promise to include some real details about what plans/ideas I have. (Spoiler: It’s a simulation with heavy influence from Dwarf Fortress).

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beep boop <3

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