July 23rd, 2009 — 360
I’ve been playing with kodu some but not to a great extent. A couple of nights ago, I was finally able to connect to a game sharing room and downloaded several games. Some were good and worth replaying, while I quickly aborted playing others. Invasion RTS, for example, is an ambitious RTS, in which you create two types of buildings which in turn create different types of units, giving you 3 types of defenders/attackers. And you have only 2, unreproducible kodu units to collect coins which allow you create things. Meanwhile, an evil red factory is busy pumping out attacking units.
It’s hard but enjoyable. The author PariahtheGod stopped work because someone else had a produced what he considered a better RTS.
I understand the reasons, but a couple of things interest me. Invasion RTS, whatever its design, was still a different game from the one that he liked [which I've not been able to download and play], as the other gamers have said. What intrigues me is that this pull to create something different is strong.
Yet, with many, duplicating and recreating is perhaps stronger. There are practical reasons, of course–when learning how to create a game, copying or recreating an existing game is a very standard practice. Porting, imitating, recreating dominates the homebrew scene, in fact. Yet, game developers like jayenkai who visit this site do both–they hone their skills while being creative. And many recreations are creative in their own ways, taking a different tact or changing gameplay here and there. Plus, creating a game from scratch can often lead to feature creep, leading to complex games.
With Kodu specifically, we have a game lab that is really best suited for simple games. Yet, I’m seeing people trying to create RPG, RTS, FPS, and other complex games. Recreations of Command & Conquer, of Halo, Diablo and others. And some don’t work very well, mostly due to Kodu’s limitations. I’m not complaining or criticizing, only observing, and it got me to think, well, smarty pants, why don’t you do something.
I like how Shigeru Miyamoto often takes game inspirations from life and not from other games. So, as my dog jumped in bed at 6 am to get me to play with her, I immediately saw a game idea. In fact, I saw in it a theme for several small games, all centered around friendship. I’m still working the first game in the series, but here’s a rough design of the first one.
Friendship 1 – Play with Me
Setting: You are a young, frenetic bike. And you want to play.
Objective: Get at least six different creatures to play with you. When you have played 6 times, you will be tired and have to take a nap.
Gameplay: Many other creatures are in the game world, but almost all don’t want to play, at least at the moment. They have other things they want to do, and then they will play with you. For example, one creature just wants to sleep for a while, and you have to keep other creatures from bothering her while she sleeps.
Controls: You can do several actions with your bike:
- Pick up/drop
Speaking will actually be a large part of the game. The A, B, X, and Y buttons represent 4 general types of speech, such as request, warn, and plead. With these and the few actions, you have to help each creature get what they want before they can play with you.
I’m still working on the controls, because I’d like to use the d-pad to set a tone or mood, like aggressive or sad, that affects the basic speech actions.
I’m not saying this is how creating in kodu should be done or that recreating games is bad. And, no, I don’t consider myself anywhere near Shigeru’s level. But after I tried to work on game ideas in Kodu that were roughly based on other games, working on a game inspired by something personal feels easier and more interesting. We’ll see if it doesn’t suck. Certainly, I welcome feedback.
July 17th, 2009 — comics
As of August 24, Microsoft’s game-making site Popfly will no longer be accessible. Instead, you can use Microsoft XNA, Kodu, or other programmatic tools.
I thought Popfly was actually a decent site–more robust than Kodu but a visual program interface that is more accessible than dev kits. Kodu is supposed to be available for Windows, but a date hasn’t been announced. Popfly beared more than a passing resemblance to Game Maker from Yoyo Games. The visual interface made it accessible without cutting off more advanced game programming.
But Popfly offered an online game making and sharing experience. Yet, there are other online game makers, like sploder and gamecrafter, not to mention simple level creators at kids sites.
July 9th, 2009 — comics
In my little spare time, I’ve been playing with Kodu, creating a simple game centered around healing sick creatures and removing a pollutant causing the sickness.
Kodu communities are sprouting up. Unfortunately, the tutorials included with Kodu aren’t that useful–I think you can learn more by looking at the ‘code’ for the other included games. This forum is decently active with a couple of very good threads about tricks, creative coding, and tips for a good game world. There’s a kodu wiki, but it’s light on information. The Gamefaqs forum has also picked up in posts.
If you’re interested in sharing Kodu games, read this.
Without a doubt, this is a limited game making app. Yet, it’s very accessible, and with a little creativity, you can do a bit. I’m using it as an opportunity to teach some basic programming principles to my kids and helping them to plan and think through problems with a limited set of tools. In that respect, making the game is actually more interesting than the game output.
In some respects, Kodu is like a robust level editor–it’s for small games, something you can create and play quickly. I’ve done more of trying to create this or that small part of a game. Some people are creating some interesting bits. When you contrast Kodu with Microsoft’s online game maker Popfly, you quickly see what Kodu is. In Kodu, you have template characters where you can’t upload new graphics or sounds. You can’t dive into deep customization of a character or scene, like in Popfly [which is itself a limited game maker]. With Kodu, when you drop in a character, you don’t have to work about animating it when it moves, assigning health points. Kodu isn’t just for kids, but it’s so much more approachable for young kids than Popfly.
Also, it appears that the Kodu team will release an update. But nothing is definite.
July 1st, 2009 — 360
Okay, all you game maker types, kodu is now available for download as a community game on Xbox Live. For a mere 400 points [US$5], you can create that great American game using Kodu intriguing icon-based development tool. You can purchase online, if you log into your account at the above link.
I will definitely grab it. Unfortunately, game sharing is cumbersome:
- Gamers sharing must be on each other’s friend list.
- Both gamers must be online at the same time.
- Both gamers must have Kodu running.
And you thought Wii friend codes were a pain. [Seriously, this cumbersome sharing process could stifle significant game sharing, as the creator has to share with each gamer. It's a shame that, when I start Kodu, I can't see any Kodu games created by friend and then download from there.]
If anyone has games to share, please feel free to add me to your friend list. My gamertag is on the right column.
June 10th, 2009 — 360, ds games
For some games, creating is as fun as playing. Maybe it’s just a carryover my childhood obsession with building blocks, but a couple of creative items have my interest right now.
First up is Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! which I never played in earlier versions. For DSiware, this is a very full offering, in large part because you can edit, upload, download and rate cutomize levels. Like other Nintendo games with level editors, you have to play the game to unlock new features and items in the editor. I have spent almost as much time editing levels as playing the game. Even though the DSi has larger screen, it’s still not a lot of screen real estate for something like level editing. Yet, it works very well and is easy to use. Minis March Again offers enough items that a lot of variation is possible.
Next, if you want more than level editing and more game creation, then get ready for Microsoft’s Kodu which is coming the end of June. It’s a game creator that is aimed at younger kids, but not limited to them, because it relies on icons, not code snippets. IGN has a nice hands-on with Kodu, which is part of the 360′s community games area. One of the nice features is that you can have more one person authoring a game at the same time.
My son already has summer homework, so we’re talking about creating a game for a part of it on the 360. I plan on wasting much time with it myself, creating some short RPGs and the like.
So, get your creative juices flowing.
March 24th, 2009 — 360
I have been swamped with work, and I’ve been trying to ruminate on playing Fallout 3 [I got it cheap] and Chrono Trigger, as well as thinking about the effect of gaming on the gamer. But I want to post this little tidbit: Kodu, a visual game development app for the 360.
Kodu is clearly derived from Microsoft’s web game development site, popfly. It is also clearly a reaction of sort to Little Big Planet, even though that game hasn’t sold as well as expected.
The idea of parents and kids sitting together and creating a game is intriguing, and it certainly has possibilities, especially compared to the PC. My son was very much into some of the level designers on the game sites that he visits, so I could see him interested in something like Kodu. There’s no mention of sharing Kodu games, which I would think would be a major draw, so that kids could share their games with each other. However, that might cut into the community games scene.
Regardless, the option of having such an app doesn’t hurt the 360.