How My Father Became a Game Developer

Video games are a relatively new type of media, and the iOS app revolution even more so. Most designers these days were either growing up alongside the game’s industry, or they already had a technical background. Recently we’ve been seeing games branch out from their niche audience, reaching a diverse group of users who want to play all sorts of games from Dark Souls to Farmville. This expansion in popularity has granted the opportunity to people who otherwise would never make a game be able to do so. And in this instance, that person is my father.

The more potential there is for money to be made in any particular industry, the more people will invest in that industry. That is a fact. The investment relevant to this particular story is GameSalad, a program that allows developers who have no knowledge of coding to make their own mobile and HTML5 games. From my understanding GameSalad won’t ever contest the limitless freedom presented by raw coding, but is still a very capable program that will allow Developers to do many of the things they could ever want.  This is the program my father used. He would pour countless hours into it early in the morning before he went to work, and after he got home he would go back to his game and use the few precious hours to work on it before he had to go to sleep. He would repeat this cycle five days a week. On weekends he would work on the game whenever he wasn’t spending time with my mother and sister.

An "Unofficial" book to learn GameSalad.

At the top of the staircase there’s a door. If you open this door a wall immediately greets you no more than a foot away from your face. Before this room was where my Mother made jewelry and before that it was a small storage closet. Now the storage closet is where my dad works, with his small wooden desk, chair, and computer all surprisingly managing to fit. When I went to sleep around 5AM (oh the life of a writer) I would often see the crack beneath his door lit by the glow of his computer monitor, and hear his controlled tappings of the keyboard that were undoubtedly tuning his game someway or another. When I woke up the monitor light would be replaced by the sun, but the sounds of the keyboard being hit were still the same.

The closet where my Dad worked.

The name of his game wasn’t decided until a week ago when he put his App in submission to Apple, where we came up with the title Monkey Cannon. Monkey Cannon wasn’t my father’s first game, he made several other smaller games including a child’s adventure and basic pinball table. While his previous projects were nowhere near as involved as his latest, it was clear by the result of his efforts and acknowledged by his online peers that he had came a long way since them. His experienced allowed him to learn how to create something that wouldn’t have been possible for him otherwise. Most importantly it tested his passion for making games, as his earlier projects were mostly ignored as they usually are for most new game developers. Still, he had fun making games and couldn’t help but be excited to wake up each morning and find out that someone from a different continent had downloaded one of his apps.

I had my own part to play in the creation of Monkey Cannon. Don’t be mistaken, 99% of the work in the game from the art, to the programming and music is all my father’s. But being the gamer in the family who has played pretty much everything, my Dad would turn to me to test his game and give him any suggestions on how to improve it. I helped him find a few bugs and gave him a couple ideas such as including a button that would allow the camera to pan out and give the player a full look at the level. It was an interesting experience for me as I had always dreamed of becoming a game designer as a child, but dropped the idea once I realized I hated programming and had no artistic talent. After this maybe I’ll reconsider the idea.

So after months of hard work and implementing some of my suggested changes, Monkey Cannon was complete. My dad had single-handedly created a game from the ground up, including all of the many assets featured in the game such as the artwork and music. Small development teams are becoming more commonplace with most mobile titles not requiring a team large as AAA titles, but I think the story of my hardworking father is somewhat unique. In my most unbiased opinion possible: the game he created is polished and charming, and for a dollar I really think most buyers will feel they got their money’s worth. It’s not a title that caters to more invested gamers such as myself, but even I appreciated the levels in the game that felt more skill-based and predictable than anything available in Angry Birds. So at the end of this story just remember, if you ever dreamed of making a game, go for it. If a man with a family working 40+ hours could do it, so can you.

Monkey Cannon will be available tomorrow, April 13th, on the App Store. That’s the same day as Fez for those of you keeping track, but somehow I don’t imagine there being that much overlap.

EDIT:

Monkey Cannon is available, yay!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monkey-cannon/id516074999?mt=8

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~ by spruchy on April 12, 2012.

One Response to “How My Father Became a Game Developer”

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