Review by Leigh Carr
My entire life I’ve wanted to make games, be it board games, card games, tabletop war games and even pinball machines. That was all well and good, but my true objective was to one day contribute to a multi-million dollar budget computer game with all the audio, themes, mechanics and ideas directed by me. Of course, despite my best efforts, no gaming company was willing to give a gaming team and millions of dollars to a delusional 14-year-old boy, so I had to find my own way.
In my youth, a friend let me borrow a copy of a PC program called The Games Factory. It was easy to use and in a matter of weeks I had a stack of uncompleted, sketchy, buggy and ridiculous projects littered around my C: drive. I created a game about my sister eating bugs off the floor using one of her school photos as the player; a platform adventure game about a foul mouthed skull trying to reunite with his body after accidently flushing his head down the toilet; and a morbid horror game about a door to door knife salesman.
After years of tinkering with The Games Factory I was persuaded that my objective was never going to come true and I would be more suited as an office drone. The hard drive with my created games sat unattended for years and was eventually thrown into a trash heap. *sad face*
I am now a grown man with a full time job, wife and kid – and I still hunger to create games.
On my never ending quest to play every horror game in existence I finally got around to playing the first of the Five Nights at Freddies (FNAF) series. The game was simple in design and the theme outright creepy. I conducted a little research on the developer. Only one guy made it. Interesting … it must have taken a while for one dude … Okay, then. What gaming engine does it use? Clickteam Fusion? What’s that? Heyyy … wait a minute! This is Games Factory! It looks nearly exactly the same!
Rekindling that fire of creativity for electronic game creation, I instantly bought a copy.
Clickteam Fusion 2.5 is an easy to use Flash based game development program that doesn’t require a single line of coding. It allows aspiring game designers to create simple multi-layered 2D sprite based games in a matter of minutes. (Scoff!) Yeah, minutes if you’re using the pre-made active objects complete with animations, backgrounds and utilising the programs many pre-generated gaming default styles.
A game prototype I had been creating from scratch took me over 20 hours of fidgeting for a 5 to 10 minute game, and this does NOT including creating my own audio, images and animations. You can spend endless amounts of time constructing anything you can imagine, all while gaining a new found respect for small developers.
Fusion 2.5 uses simple logic on a grid base as your programming language. If MAIN HERO collides with BULLET then MAIN HERO DIES. That kind of thing. For those new to coding it will take a bit of time to adapt to the logic or make something work exactly how you envision. I was attempting to make the protagonist move along a square grid base, but didn’t want the player to move while particular sounds were playing. I instantly thought the answer would be: If SOUND1 or SOUND2 is playing PLAYER STOP. To my dismay, the player could still move. Instead, additional code was added onto the players movement keys: IF FORWARD is pressed and SOUND1 is NOT playing and SOUND2 is NOT playing move forward. Here’s an example of a game made with Fusion 2.5 (courtesy of independent games designer and filmmaker Scott David Lister).
Fortunately, there are endless amounts of support available including official and unofficial tutorials, movies and free software for commercial and non-commercial use so you don’t have to do it alone.
There is a very basic image editor / sprite animator inside of Fusion 2.5, operating similar to Microsoft Paint but with the option of adding frames to images. Depending on your work you may wish to create your images in an external program and then import the picture into Fusion.
Importing audio is as easy as a click of the button, supporting WAV, MP3 and MIDI formats. There is no internal Fusion audio editing suite so have a copy of Audacity, a free-for-use audio editing program, readily available, or mine a heap of free audio samples from YouTube or Soungle, a search engine specifically for royalty free samples.
Fusion 2.5 retails at $99.99 USD for the base package. Not bad, eh? Well, that’s just to make games intended for a personal computer platform. If you want to export your game into an HTML5 format it will cost you $69.99 USD, an additional $69.99 USD for a Flash export, $99.99 USD to export your games to Android, $149.99 USD for an iOS games exporter and a whopping $199.99 for a Universal Windows Platform convertor.
Okay! I guess that’s fine … I’ll just buy the base package with the iOS exporter so I can sell my game on iTunes …
Wait … did you say SELL your game? BAM! That’ll cost an additonal $299.99 USD for the developers kit! How dare you try to make money with our engine in a saturated market filled to the brim with Indie developed games! Not on our watch.
It’s expensive for your Average Joe, but considering the program could be used by a small developer or an ambitious game designer it may be a great cost and time effective option. Even buying the base pack to construct a prototype to see if your game idea is feasible may also be time beneficial compared to alternative code heavy engines.
It’s a grand lil program. You can create anything you can imagine and more! Stop telling people “Man, I wish Bullfrog hadn’t gone under then the Syndicate franchise bought by EA because I’d totally love to make a sandbox Syndicate game where you control one agent.” Go out there and DO IT! CREATE!
And … then get disheartened when you realized you spent 3 hours figuring out how to stop your character from getting stuck on walls. Oops.
Btw, if you want to play my piece of s**t game prototype featuring no visuals and extremely bad acting I’ll let you know when it’s finished. Contact me at my Call of Cthulhu Melbourne Facebook page.
Born of a Jackal, Leigh decided to devote his life to all things horror at a young age. Now that he’s an adult not much has changed. He enjoys Board Games, Tabletop Role Playing Games and Electronic games, has a loving family that have put up with his crippling addictions, and is an ordained priest of the First United Church of Cthulhu. In his spare time he is a facilitator for a bank.
Leigh is also the creator and moderator of the Call of Cthulhu Melbourne Facebook community, where he goes by the madness-inducing pseudonym of “Leigh Carrthulu”. If you love Old Squidface as much as we think you do, ask Leigh to join the Facebook community. (Before you ask – you don’t have to be from Melbourne to join. Great Cthulhu has enough love to go around for us all.) You can also read an interview with Leigh here on Games vs Play to find out why he started the Facebook community and, more importantly, just how to pronounce “Cthulhu.”
Games vs Play wishes to acknowledge Clickteam for an image used in this post. Other images property of Leigh Carr. To find out more about the latest reviews, stories and other cool things in the world of games, you can like us on Facebook. And remember – if you’re game, we’ll play!