WarioWare DIY [Nintendo, DS, Amazon link]
The most common pitfall suffered by would-be game designers? It's not one of language learning, or one of logic, or even one of graphical/musical skill -- it's scope. Far too often, first-timers eager to bless the world with the massive, sweeping epics they've had pent-up since their youths spent wandering Hyrule or Midgar or Britannia run face-first into a brick wall when they realize how near-impossible it is to create that coherent, engaging world as an amateur.
It's a problem borne of thinking of games as worlds rather than games as rules, and it's what makes WarioWare DIY quite possibly the best tool for aspiring designers yet, especially one available at retail.
Nintendo's long-running and (at its debut) groundbreaking WarioWare franchise has always been predicated on discrete games played for 5-10 seconds at a time, in rapid succession, and it's precisely that stripped-bare approach that makes it an ideal launchpad for re-wiring the way aspiring designers think about what makes games fun.
report this ad
With its own bespoke image and music editor, a graphical scripting language not altogether (so I'm told) that different from the tools available in popular PC package GameMaker, and -- crucially, if a bit over-long for those more familiar with game dev proper -- hours worth of mandatory tutorials that leisurely stroll you through Your First Animated Sprite or Your First Logic Gate.
Even more valuable is the 'Assembly Dojo' -- an appropriately styled Temple of Debugging, which gives first-timers near-complete but distinctly broken games and asks them to seek out and repair that increasingly difficult hitch, making a light and fun task of what will eventually become a world of compile error frustration for anyone that follows the pursuit further.
Beyond that, DIY is remarkable for two traits not normally associated with Nintendo's traditionalist approach. The first is a heavy emphasis on online functionality where players can publish and trade their creations (games, 4-panel comics, and music alike) or download a continually updated fresh supply of microgames from (awesomely) indie all-stars (World of Goo's Ron Carmel, Bit.Trip designer Alex Neuse, and Super Meat Boy's Edmund McMillen) and other Nintendo legends (like Metroid creator Yoshio Sakamoto).
The other is that, by allowing players to re-use and recycle assets from the supplied microgames (from the DS cartridge itself, the downloadables, or the extra set included in the WiiWare add-on Showcase -- which also makes all created games playable on the Wii), Nintendo has given full blessing to make the (albeit 5-second) classic mashed-up Mario/Zelda/etc. game you've always dreamt of, and spread that to the world at large.
Will it replace the years of hard work, study, and failures necessary to be the next indie dev celebrity? Quite clearly not, but as an introduction to game design's wicked world and a lesson in quick-sketch rapid-prototype practices, it is absolutely one of the best places to start.
Rough metal dice, fresh off the forge! Dice so heavy and clunky and sharp you can ruin tables and kill cheats without brandishing a dagger. But is this ren-faire fun fair play? I decided to put them to the test and see how random they were. I’m not great at math, so I’ll just show […]
Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal — “the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007” — to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit — inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has “the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors.” He’s released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, […]
I think someone on the BBS mentioned that Manifold was a fun origami puzzle challenge (thank you, whoever you are!). I ordered it on Amazon for $8. It’s a pad of 100 square sheets of paper, printed with white and black squares on one side, and nothing (except folding guides) on the other side. The […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]