Create Computer Games – Get Started on Creating Your Own Virtual Worlds

Posted on Posted in computer, internet, programming, technology

I’ve always loved video games, ever since I first played them on a friend’s computer in the afternoon after elementary school. There’s something almost magical about the fact that we can move images around and interact with virtual worlds, a living fantasy presented for us to interact with however we please. I’ve also always wanted to make games myself but, until recently, didn’t have the technical knowledge to do so. Now, I’m a second year software engineering student, so if I weren’t able to code a game without too many dramas there’d be something drastically wrong. But what about the common person: the person for whom the term ‘memory leak’ conjures up images of their grandfather, ‘pipeline’ is where the water flows, and ‘blitting’ is unheard of? Well, everyone can get in on the game creation process, and you don’t even need to learn ‘real’ programming to do so.

So where do games start? With an idea. Games, like all fiction, require an idea to be successful. Sure, in the same way you can just sit down and write a story without foresight, you can jump on in and slap a game together. However, unless you get ridiculously lucky, the best works are usually the ones that have been well thought out beforehand.

There are two methods of planning a project. You can start from a known technological standpoint and build your project on top of that or you can just go for the design, add as many features and ideas as you like, and then remove the ones that you can’t use when you’ve decided on the technology you’re going to implement the game with. In general, the second type is probably the best one to go with when designing games. When you’re first starting out however, the first option will save you many headaches.

So, for a first game you’re going to want a pretty simple idea. Don’t get me wrong, crazy-go-nuts game ideas are fantastic, and there should be more of them out there, but you’re not going to be able to create a real world simulator with fifty billion virtual people all interacting real time with your actions having a butterfly effect on the future of the virtual universe when it’s just your first game. Really. Many people try it; none that I know of have succeeded. Imitation is the best way to start out. Simple games such as ‘Space Invaders’, ‘Tetris’, ‘Pacman’ or even ‘Pong’ are great places to start. All are largely simple to create but have some inherent challenges. ‘Pacman’ for example, requires path finding for the ghosts. I recommend that you start even simpler than that for your very first attempt. ‘Space Invaders’ is a nice point to jump in. You can make a simple, complete game without much effort and it’s almost infinitely extensible.

If you’re stuck for an idea, pick a genre that you enjoy. Do you love adventure games such as ‘Monkey Island’, ‘Grim Fandango’, ‘Space Quest’, ‘King’s Quest’ …

The Technology is Out There

Posted on Posted in gadget, internet, technology

Advances in technology occur continuously, this is particularly true of the vastly competitive and high value world of mobile telecommunications. New mobile phone handsets hit the shelves on a daily daily basis and each is a slight (or sometimes major) improvement on its predecessor. In the past phone giants such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Blackberry and Apple have gone head to head to develop the most intuitive operating systems, create the most user friendly QWERTY keyboard and integrate touch screen technology to the greatest effect. More recently the focus has been on offering higher resolution cameras, speeding up internet connectivity and offering the most desirable range of apps, these are however by no means the sole aims of manufacturers: all of these small battles are ongoing and developments occur and are integrated into new handsets constantly.

Just because the latest handsets in the UK do not offer certain features however does not mean that they do not exist. A cursory glance at the technology on offer in China and Japan for instance shows that despite the late slightly improved incarnation of the iPhone may be at the cutting edge on our shores, it is by no means the most 'techie' model currently in production. Rather than importing certain handsets and encountering the high unit cost and absence of technical support that comes with it however, we can look to overseas markets and make some pretty solid judgments about what technology could be introducing the UK market over the next year, based on what already exists on the other side of the globe.

One of the most exciting and potentially groundbreaking pieces of technology found in a great number of Japanese phones is the FeliCa chip, handsets featuring this minuscule piece of hardware are referred to as 'Wallet Phones' as this chip allows the handset to perform cashless, instant financial transactions. Compatible with train station ticket machines, vending machines and payment terminals at numerous stores in Japan, the phone owner can pay for goods and services instantly with their phone. Astoundingly this technology first came into use 2004 but has still not been established in the UK, this may be about to change given the recent introduction of Barclaycard contactless technology which operates in a similar manner to the FeliCa chip. Mobile phone network provider Orange have also teamed up with Barclaycard in this venture and filed to develop a handset which fulfills this function in the near future.

Although less likely to bring about a major cultural change than wallet phone technology, gadget enthusiasts and traveling businessmen alike will be excited at the prospect of mobile phones which incorporated projectors. Already in its third generation in the Far East, internal projector technology could revolutionize the way in which business presentations are made and videos are shown on the move. With some handsets capable to project high resolution visuals up to 8 feet tall already on sale in Asia, it is only a matter of time before European distributors start pushing …