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The Road to ZombieRun

In this blog post I give a little insight to how I got started with game development. What were the main motivators that pushed me to really make an effort and start doing what I had wanted to do for some time.

Indrek Vandrik, Blogger

October 9, 2013

3 Min Read

Hi I'm Indrek and for last year and a half I have developed my very first real game. Actually I've been interested in creating games for some time now but didn't have the right set of mind to really start making things happen. For many occasions I had tried to start with something, but got stuck at the very first chapter - Finding a good framework or game engine. At first being a front-end developer I tried javascript. So I created a funny, simple point and click shooter for my friends birthday. It was nice but very basic and I didn't feel as if I've accomplished something worth noticing. Then I tried to find some real game engine to start building something bigger. As I had coded some things in Java for school projects I thought to give one of Java game frameworks a try. There are many game engines in Java but none of them seemed intuitive and easy to learn for me. Maybe I had grown skeptical of Java or something else, but none of the ones I looked seemed right.

Two years ago I decided to take a course in Visual Media at my University. The course was very informative, talking about different aspects of media. From pixels to vectors and from audio to video creation. One part of the course was creating an interactive experience. So I decided to create a platformer game I had wanted to create for some time. For technology I chose Canvas and javascript. I felt it was a good way to learn little more about the Canvas introduced by HTML5. I built the game from the bottom up without any framework. The game was called "Sneaky Ninja" and was a stealth type platformer. You were a ninja and your goal was to get to the end of the stage with touching as few lazers as possible.  


The graphics were trivial as it was the first time I was trying my hand at drawing game elements. I even created some sort of level creator to build new levels more easily. I let my family and friends play the game and the feedback was very positive. I felt great, I started thinking that this was really something I could do.


The following semester I took a sequel course for the Media course called "Game and virtual environment development". This course looked more deeply into game development basics and gave some practical game developing skills with Adobe Flash and ActionScript. This course had one concrete goal. You had to create a game by the end of the course. The framework and game engine was not restricted, but the courses' main focus was with Flash development. I was still excited with my experience with Sneaky Ninja and was thinking how to go forward from here. I looked around the net, played through countless platformers on different flash gaming sites. And then I stumbled on Flixel. I had studied about 15 different gaming engines before, but none of those seemed easy. It was just like a walk in the park. I downloaded the provided sample games, made some changes and everything worked. I was once again very motivated and eager to start building my game.

By the end of the semester I had a game with simple menu and 4 levels. The game got my professor very excited and got me a straight A all the way. I was very pleased with the result that I managed to achieve with such a short period. I was excited, but at the next moment thinking that it's not the end. I should create something real from this. This little game could be awesome. This was the beginning of ZombieRun.

To be continued...

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