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I Can Too Make Games

Okay, this has been garnering a lot of attention in the indie scene lately, but assuming you’re not a shut-in like me, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen it yet, so…

Richard Perrin, indie game designer, made this video to convince more people who would love to start making games but are terrified of the alleged workload and learning curve behind it (people like me) to start trying. As well as giving tips and telling us that it isn’t as hard to start as we think it is, he lists various free game design tools that can be found on the Web. It’s an extremely useful video, and I’m glad I watched it.

However, the reason I saw it in the first place is because of a Gamasutra article written by Aleksander Adamkiewicz called “No, You Can’t Make Video Games.” It’s a strange article written by someone who seems to be very cynical about the creative process. Here’s one quote that perplexed me:

“The medium doesn’t need the noise of more 8bit platformers and sprite-based nostalgia-driven RPGs without other merit than ‘HEY GUYS, REMEMBER FINAL FANTASY!?’ Be honest Richard, you wouldn’t want to play these games, nobody would, even the creator wouldn’t.”

Have you ever read anything more snobby?

His stance seems to be that if there’s a chance you might not succeed at first, then you’re definitely not cut out for it and you shouldn’t try. He clarifies at one point that he doesn’t want to stop people from trying, but that statement is contradicted by other things he says in his article.

This guy would make the worst teacher ever.

Another quote:

“Richard, I’m really not averse towards the “hands on” approach to learning, but fucking around in Unity will not make a game, and won’t make you a game designer. The same way fucking around in Photoshop will not make art, fucking around in iMovie will not make a movie, and fucking around with Word will not make a novel.”

I think there’s a clear misunderstanding here. Adamkiewicz thinks Perrin is telling everyone how they’re going to make the next Bioshock or Mass Effect, when Perrin’s really only explaining how people can get started. It’s like criticizing an artist for telling people to start painting by saying “fucking around with a brush isn’t going to make the Mona Lisa.”

Adamkiewicz mentions at one point that he “tried” making games awhile ago using RPG maker, and that his creations were allegedly bad. I’m sorry to hear that, but you make mistakes so that you can learn from them. Something tells me this guy is upset about his own failed attempts at game-making, and so he’s taking out his frustrations on this Perrin guy, who thinks people have the potential to make games.

And once people started calling him out, he had to backpedal, hence the update he posted saying “Guys, I’m not saying don’t try, and I’m not saying this, and I’m not saying that…”
Even though he basically did.

The article itself is rather unpleasant, but it’s refreshing to see the backlash to it. Various indie game designers on Twitter have called the Gamasutra article out on its bullshit, and Perrin has written his own response post on his blog.

In particular, I really like some of the things Sophie Houlden has said on her Twitter:

that “you can’t make games” article is such bullshit. the author should feel ashamed, especially if they care about games.

who the hell is he to say people can’t make games? everyone that makes awesome games started out shit. it’s called determination, fuckbrain.

saying not everyone can make games is a massive insult to those of us who have spent YEARS developing our skills. talent is a myth.

You know what? This is the exact kind of motivation I’ve needed for awhile now. I mean, yes, becoming a good game developer is going to take a long time, but nothing worth doing can be done easily.

I’m going to start making games.

After looking over the tools Perrin suggested, I’ve downloaded Construct, Ren’Py, and sfxr. I’m going to start by making a simple platformer on Construct. I honestly do not have a thorough idea of what I’m going to make, but I’m going to delve right in, open up a tutorial or two, and start learning.

I know how bad I am about sticking with things if I don’t make a schedule for myself, so I’m gonna make a deal. Starting tomorrow I will work on game-making stuff for at least one hour each day, and I will post an update about it here every two days. If I fail to deliver on this, please yell at me on my Twitter or something.

I’m going to start making games.


Ninja Lounge House

I’ve decided to make a second blog. This one’s called Ninja Lounge House.

Recently I’ve really wanted to make posts about things not related to gaming. I’ve wanted to talk about my personal life, and I’ve wanted to link to videos and sites that I find interesting, despite not having anything to do with games or the gaming thereof. But I want to keep Ninja Game Den as a gaming blog, and I don’t want it to get drowned out in miscellaneous crap that most of you probably won’t care about, so now I’ve created NLH as a secondary podium for me to shout at nobody in particular.

I created NGD so I could improve my writing skill, entertain a hypothetical audience, and get my name out. Whether I’ve achieved any of those as of yet is open for debate, but it’s worth noting that NLH does not exist for any of those purposes. It’s there for me to speak my mind, vent my feelings and talk to the Internet when I have nobody else to talk to (which happens often, as a matter of fact). If you do decide to follow it I sincerely hope you gain some sort of entertainment value out of it, but that would be a side-effect of its primary purpose.

Anyway, take a look if you have any interest in me as a person rather than me as a writer of gaming articles. And if you don’t, that’s fair enough. I still love you.


Redesignification!

As some of you may have already noticed, my blog has a bit of a new look now. If you’re thinking I suddenly unleashed my artistic talents, well, I didn’t. The background, banner and new logo were all made by Laura-Jane Cunningham, graphic designer extraordinaire (you can check out her website here) and pretty much my only contribution to it was when she asked what I wanted and I said “I want the logo to be of, like, a ninja. Holding a controller or something. Yeah, that’d be cool.”

Well, she did that. And she also came up with a gradient background with a bluish purplish vibe going on, which is much more appealing to look at than that dreary black-brown motif I had before. She also kept the retro feel of my original “guy with gun” logo by making the ninja quasi-8-bit, and made a rather stylized banner to go along with it.

So thanks, Laura! And I hope you all like it.


Behind the Logo

Bear with me as I indulge for a bit.

People often ask me: “So JPH, what’s up with that avatar you use? It looks like a dude from an Atari 2600 game or something.”

Actually, no one ever asks me that. No one ever asks me anything. But it’s a question I’d like to be asked, and I’m tired of waiting for my eventual breakout hit that will take the internet nerd scene by storm and morph me into an aloof celebrity, so I’m gonna tackle that question now.

Nope, this isn’t a character from a game, in case you were wondering. It’s not a pixel art replica of a character from some game or movie or something like that either. I also didn’t borrow this from some other website; I made it myself. I’ve always been a fan of pixel art, so some months ago I decided I was going to start making some of my own, and this was the first picture I made.

I didn’t have much of an idea of what kind of character I wanted to make, and I think that shows. All I had in mind was “Guy with gun and hat and black hair.”

I made some other sprites as well. The rest of them were imitations of various friends’ avatars on a site I used to visit called Gaia Online. I stopped going there awhile ago, but I still have the pictures I made if you’re curious.

That first guy with the gun has always resonated with me the most, probably because that one was inspired by what I had in mind rather than what someone else chose for his or her avatar. I’ve always been a fan of simplicity in design, and it shows in damn near everything I’ve ever made (although I don’t know how much of that is due to stylization and how much of it is just because of plain old-fashioned laziness on my part).

See, the thing I love about pixel art and its simplicity is that you can instantly recognize what it is, but what makes it interesting is what it could be. We don’t know anything about this pixel guy except that he’s a guy with a gun and a hat. Is he a cop? Is he a shady dealer? Is he a private investigator? Is he a rampaging psychotic gunman a la Serious Sam? That’s really up to the viewer to decide.

Maybe I’ll give pixel art another go someday. Those pictures don’t look very good but they certainly look better than anything I’ve ever hand-drawn.