Democracy In Game Development Tools

As we move towards our first internal play test for our multiplayer mode, a good portion of the team (and their formidable skills) are in a bit of a holding pattern.  With that in mind, I am going to take a rather early beat (in the perspective of this year’s blog postings) and talk about a topic that is pretty important to me and the game development community at large.  Simply put, getting those tools in the hands of the everyone.

I’ll start by linking off to extremetech’s coverage of the 2008 GDC keynote from Microsoft.  What impressed me most about this (now seven-year-old) concept was how important the idea of democratization of game development was for the presenter.  XNA and the Xbox Live Indie Games initiative (soon to be depreciated given recent evolution of the dev landscape) were great steps on the road to getting console game development, as well as distribution, more available and affordable for creative people the world over.  I recall watching the keynote and imagining a time when I would be able to cobble together my very own game to share with the world.

Flash forward 7 years and 2 kids later, and the resources available for dreamers like myself have broadened considerably.  Complete game engines like Unity and Unreal are available for free, and with terrific free resources to get even the most dense of budding game devs (*raises hand proudly*) moving in a great direction.

The video I’ve linked to above is the first in a series of several videos that taught yours truly how to manipulate some of the more basic functions available to level designers in Unreal Engine 4.  After a rather grueling weekend (with more than a few rather concerned glances and check-ins in our home office by my family to make sure I was OK), I had stitched together the very rough trappings of My First Map!  I’ve talked to a few folks that have found Unity similarly powerful, so all due respect to Unity’s wonderful contributions to the game dev community intended here!  I would stress at this point in our conversation that the map I created will NOT be shipping with any version (even rough alphas) of Entity: Outlier, but simply to underscore that even my untrained self can produce something resembling a map with a small bit of perseverance.

I highly encourage anyone even remotely interested in game development to try out either Unity or (as a more qualified recommendation) Unreal, as they are both free for personal use, and can yield some stunning results after a very short bit of tutorial-ing (totally a word).

I’m hoping to continue sharing snippets of our map creation journey with you over the coming weeks, with some really great contributions brought to life by Richard S. on our team.  Thanks for reading, and happy weekend!