First NY Game Maker Meetup

Last Saturday I had the first of two NY Game Maker Meetups in Microsoft’s New York office. The goal of these meetups is to create a space for people to come learn about game development, coding and making games for One Game A Month. Each Saturday I will be running two workshops for beginners and advanced game developers. I was very impressed with the turnout for the first two, especially with Indiecade East going on at the same time. Here is a summary of what I covered in the workshops and my future plans for the group.

In the morning I dived into game design from a presentation I have been doing at conferences for the past year. I have a wealth of information on game design, artwork workflow and building HTML5 games with ImpactJS that I thought would be a good place to start. Here is a copy of my slides from my morning talk, they have been slightly modified from my original talk on the subject.

After my presentation I worked with people to flesh out their own ideas for games. Just before the end of the workshop I invited people to come up and share their ideas to get feedback from the group. The big emphasis was on simplifying the game mechanics, especially for people who had never built a game before, so that they can eventually build it themselves. It also helps to get the feedback from others in the room and a lot of great ideas and suggestions came out of the discussion.

In the afternoon I did a deep dive into ImpactJS. This was based on material I have done during my day long Impact workshops. Here is a copy of the standard deck I use for this talk.

After I went through my slides I helped everyone get Impact running and gave them a copy of my book so they could continue to experiment with their own game ideas later on. Finally I covered some of the source code and architecture decisions I made on Super Jetroid to get people thinking through how plugins, inject and abstraction works in Impact. Three hours really isn’t a lot of time to do much but I tried to make the most of it and give everyone who showed up the tools they needed to make HTML5 games.

One of the reasons for doing this workshop is to help raise awareness of Windows 8 to game developers and show off what can be done on the platform. There was a great question in the morning session on what Windows 8 offers over other platforms. For me, the best feature of Windows 8 is being able to take advantage of the new space emerging were tablets are full computers. Not only can I tap into one of the fastest growing user bases, with over 60+ million Windows 8 users since launch, but I can also exploit the full potential of the hardware. To illustrate this I showed off how Super Jetroid works on my Surface with a keyboard, touch screen or an Xbox controller. Being able to connect an Xbox controller to my tablet and play full PC games, and even HTML5 games natively, is a huge advantage over other platforms.

I also demonstrated a few other games my opinion have been enhanced by being ported over to Win8 such as Reckless Racing. The game completely changes for the better when you add a physical controller. I am not a big fan of touch controls, especially for car racing games. Even after 4 years of explosive game development growth on iOS, no one has really been able to solve this problem. I think there is an important revolution waiting to happen in the gaming world then these new Windows 8 devices become cheaper, more powerful and are more widely being used. I am still trying to understand the appeal of Ouya (outside of it just being cheap) if their goal is to make mobile games work on the TV? I want to take my PC games with me on the go and still have the option to play it on a TV, Computer screen or in my lap. Even better is the ability to play these games on a tablet then continue where I left off on my desktop. I really believe that this is going to revolutionize PC gaming. Games like Skulls of the Shogun are just the beginning.

In the end I am happy to see such an interest in learning game design in NYC and it’s an incredible opportunity that Microsoft allows me to do these workshops for free so I can make them open to the public. As this meetup evolves I hope to make more emphasis on using the time to build games, collaborate with others, get feedback and release a new game each month. I am committed to helping new and experienced game devs build great games. If I can get them to build those games for Windows 8 then I have done my job!

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