Review: A game-making app for dummies
REVIEW: After half an hour of playing with the new Gamefroot game creation site, I was hooked.
The site - made by young Wellington company Instinct Entertainment - launched last week, and lets you build an Adobe Flash game to be played in a web browser or on an iPhone with an app.
As a gamer throughout my younger years (and let's face it, I still like games), this site appealed to me and I was impressed by how easy they had made the whole process.
It allows people without scripting skills (or only basic skills) to build a customised game and share it with the world.
The Dominion Post has trialled the site to build a basic one-stage game. We wanted to customise it with graphics that placed our game in a Wellington environment and with dialogue that was relevant. Our aim was to tell an amusing story that was relevant to a news organisation.
We used the site to create a sample game in which the player is a reporter trying to get a scoop before deadline.
The creation section looks great - I found the what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature easy to understand and I had a basic side-scrolling shooter game up and running with half an hour of playing with it.
It's based on a foreground-and-background grid system. You put terrain, monsters and items on to the grid in the foreground or background, add a bit of a story and your game is done.
But that's just the basics - it also has an advanced scripting function which you can use to customise your game, though it takes some logical thinking to get the scripts running right.
Once you get bored of the default look, you'll probably want to make your own graphics, but be warned: this is not for newbies.
If you are no good at Photoshop (or equivalent) or just plain don't know what it is, you'll have a hard time creating the images to give games your own look.
However, it's great that Instinct included such extensive customisation - it turns Gamefroot from a novelty site I'd visit once to something closer to a tool.
I found a few minor bugs in the system - which the team are undoubtedly working on - but none of them really stopped me making a game.
I did find it was a bit slow to load and respond in some browsers, so a fast internet connection is a must. You'll also need a late-model browser to use it - it's written in html5 which not all of them understand - and the latest Flash Player update to play your game.
All up, I was really impressed by what Instinct has put together, and I can't remember seeing anything like it before. I can imagine people taking a liking to this.
Now, down to the game - it took me about 8 hours' work to make this one, which takes about 3 minutes to get through (hopefully) - there's learning time and graphics included in those hours, though.
At time of writing the app wasn't in the Apple Store yet, but it shouldn't be far away.
Sure, it's no Skyrim or World of Warcraft, but it should give you an idea of what the service is about. The maximum score, by the way, is 2450 points.
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