Robert Tamayo


Making Better Games

I got into game development because I really wanted to see a traditional 2D platformer on a mobile phone. I'm sure there were plenty at the time, but I wanted to create my own. I've made a total of 3 games, and I have a fourth coming out in about a month. But, I see a need to make better games going forward.

I thought making better games would mean making 3D games, but I still don't think that's feasible for me right now. I'm still only one person making these games, and so I need to keep production efforts low. In the game development world, that usually means mobile games and 2D games. Solo developers have made impressive 3D games all by themselves, even creating many of the animations and models in 3D, but I just don't have the fluency in 3D asset creation to make that happen in a short enough timeframe.

I've recently been playing old Game Boy games on newer platforms. One thing I like about the Game Boy games is that they had to work with very few resources. There were only 4 shades - not even colors - and the hardware was limited to 8 bits. Despite that, the developers did a fantastic job of hiding the limitations from the player. Playing TMNT 3: Radical Rescue again showed me how far 3 or 4 tilesets can go in creating different environments, and that's without using any color. The Game Boy ports of the Donkey Kong Country games, called Donkey Kong Land, were outright impressive in their ability to bring one of the SNES's most graphically-advanced series to 8-bit, black and white hardware.

What this means is that I have no excuse to not make even better games going forward. I just need to get more creative with how I use my limited resources. I have a working 2D framework, but I don't have a good sense for creating tilesets. Once I get that down, I'll have much more impressive 2D games under my belt.

Robot Ops was a great step forward for me. While Bad Blaster might have looked better, it took way longer to create. With Robot Ops, I was using dynamic colors and procedural graphics to make fluid animations and effects. Going forward, I think my best option will be to combine the best of Bad Blaster's character animation with the best of Robot Ops' ease of development. The compromise will probably result in animation similar to Ghost and Goblins: Resurrection, with each limb being a separate sprite that is moved dynamically to create an animation.

As for tilesets, I need to study the Game Boy for that one. I don't want to make tilesets that are that simple, but I do want to learn how to maximize the variability using the absolute minimum tile count. 

All of this is self criticism, but the intention of the critique is good; I'm not looking down on my past work, I'm simply looking forward to a brighter future with even better games ahead.
Leave a Comment