Construct Tutorial: I’m Gonna Make A Shooty Game
Hey, look! I’m actually following through on my promise! Isn’t it exciting?
Construct includes two tutorials: how to make a top-down shooter, and how to make a platform game. They’re very rigid tutorials, going so far as to tell you exactly which textures to use. The big difference is that while tutorial #1 gives you the images to use, #2 tells you to use images that come with the premium version. It says:
“If you’re using the free edition, you can substitute your own graphics, or try the alternative beginner’s guide which provides all the sprites you need.”
Now, the very first tip Richard Perrin gave in his video was, “Don’t waste money,” meaning you can find everything you need to make a game at absolutely no cost on the Internet. The premium version of Construct 2 is eighty dollars. To put this in perspective, virtually everyone on the ‘net has informed me that Spec Ops: The Line is a glorious work of art, and I haven’t bought it yet because it costs $50. There’s no way I’m going to spend more than that in order to get some pretty pictures so I can make a game nobody is going to play because there’s already a thorough step-by-step tutorial for how to make it online anyway. There may one day be a justifiable reason for me to buy the premium version of Construct 2, but this is definitely not that reason.
Platforming is definitely the genre I’m interested in. I have three games in my head right now, and all three of them are platformers. (In order, there’s a puzzle platformer, a stealth platformer, and an action platformer that may or may not involve RPG elements.) But making my own placeholder art sounds like a time-consuming pain for a tutorial game. I might just make basic stick figures or even just use colored boxes when I get around to it.
But I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into one genre, and besides, each tutorial suggests that you go through both of them before you wander off to make your own games, so today I’m going to make a top-down shooter.
The final product is to look like this:
That’s… nyeh. I don’t like the aesthetic. But hey, who am I to judge, right? And besides, this isn’t about making an appealing game — this is about learning how Construct works.
So the tutorial begins by telling me to click the New Project button. I’m not kidding; that’s what it says. Let that stand as an example of just how thorough this tutorial is — it gives you every bit of detail you might need to know, and it even has a few warnings like “If a popup says X, that means you accidentally did Y, so go back and do Z to fix it!” It doesn’t just tell you what to do; it explains what you’re doing every step of the way so that you’re actually learning to use the program instead of how to follow instructions.
Whoever made this tutorial is a good teacher as well as a good game designer.
I’m not going to go through each individual step, but here’s the rundown: It first teaches you to apply a tiled background, then how to place individual sprites. Both are extremely simple, essentially just boiling down to opening the image file. After that it explains Events, which feel reminiscent to the triggers in the StarCraft map editor that I remember fiddling with over a decade ago.
Each event has one or more Conditions and one or more corresponding Actions. Once the Conditions are met, the Actions take place. Conditions can be anything from clicking, to one sprite colliding into another, to a set amount of time passing, to a new level starting, etc. Basically anything. And actions cover all sorts of ground from creating new instances of sprites to increasing your score to starting a new level to getting a game over.
Events seem like the glue holding Construct games together; they’re what cause everything to happen in-game.
Construct also comes with some Behaviors, which are basically just pre-packaged assortments of events. There’s one called 8 Directions, for example, which you can apply to a sprite to make it move in sync with the arrow keys. (For some unfathomable reason there isn’t also a WASD behavior.) There’s a Bullet behavior, which makes the sprite move in a constant straight direction. There’s a Fade behavior, which makes the sprite fade out and disappear overtime. There’s also a whole bunch more.
Anyway, that’s about what I learned through this tutorial. Here’s my finished game:
Yeah, looks about right.
Bear in mind, my game isn’t exactly the same as the one provided on the website. There are a few features added that weren’t mentioned in the tutorial, like the Game Over screen or the frames-per-second display. But conveniently, the end of the tutorial provides a link to the Construct file for the demo game, so I can look at the events to see how to do those things myself.
On the whole, I have to say I’m really impressed so far, both with the tutorial and with Construct itself. I now feel like I actually have a rudimentary grasp of how to use this program. It must be a major pain to make game-development software this user-friendly.
Next time I make crappy placeholder art and learn how to make a platformer. Hopefully. Stay tuned!