Make your own game, no coding required

Last updated 05:00 09/05/2013
Pixel Press
Pixel Press

DIY: Pixel Press uses the iPad's camera to scan sketches and convert them to graphics.

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This post was originally published on Mashable.

Want to make video games? Awesome! First, just learn to code and then get ready for a lot of hard work.

Or maybe not. Pixel Press wants to let anyone of any age create their own video game levels with just a pencil, graph paper, and an iPad or iPhone.

Players design their level by hand, creating any traps or obstacles they want the avatar to surmount while climbing five stories and reaching the goal. Pixel Press uses proprietary character recognition to allow the iPad's camera to pick up the sketches and convert them to graphic elements in the level. Then the creator has to test the level, refine it and add skins to make it look like a polished game.

Pixel Press creator Robin Rath says the game was inspired somewhat by his childhood. He and his friends loved games such as Super Mario Brothers and Metroid, which featured long stretches of levels that took platforming skills to traverse.

"We used to draw all those levels out on a piece of paper," Rath says.

Now that Rath has a child of his own, his thoughts turned to sharing that experience of level creation with everyone. He says part of the focus of Pixel Press is to teach kids several things, including game design, and be a gateway to an interest in the field.

"It can teach patience, teamwork, drawing skills, and maybe advanced computer technical skills, depending how far you wanted to take it. I liked the idea of introducing younger people to code, because they may think it's so hard to get into," Rath says.

Rath plans for the Pixel Press community to be a sounding board as well. Once creators finish their levels, they'll publish them to Pixel Press, where players will compete for the best times and rate them, offering feedback. Rath says this was partially inspired by world-building game Minecraft.

"What I love about Minecraft is that it has sharing built in, people spend hours upon hours building something, and then they want to share it with their friends. You get a rewarding experience because you get feedback and learn from each other," he says.

Pixel Press is only a prototype for now. Rath and his team launched a Kickstarter project to raise $US100,000 and get the product out there. One of the main things he's focusing on now is refining the game's object recognition engine so it can adapt to poor drawing skills, or sections that don't quite make sense.

Once it's released, Rath says Pixel Press will monetise by making extra level skins or art as an in-app purchase, allowing creators to more granularly customise their game. He also hopes to partner with brands down the line so they can create their own levels with on-brand assets.

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