Most of the game developers you know today, and even the ones you don’t know, grew up making games with extremely mysterious tools. Nintendo’s latest game, Game Builder Garage, may seem aimed at kids – but it’s part of a new era of game development that’s more accessible than ever.
Back then, many developers learned the ropes with BASIC – a precursor of modern programming languages, which you probably know as the one you can use for “PRINT “Hello world!”“. Slightly older developers may have used Assembly language, which is pretty much the language that computers themselves speak.
Assembly is what is called a “low-level” programming language, which means that it has fewer layers of abstraction that make it easier for humans to use higher-level languages. It’s like speaking French fluently to a French person, rather than having to consult a guide to ask where the toilets are, or ask Google Translate to transform “my leg is fallen” into French for you. As a result, it’s fast, as no “translation” is needed, but it’s also extremely hard to do complex things with, unless you are a programming assistant.
Imagine trying to write a Latin novel with your eyes closed, and that’s about what it feels like to play games in Assembly. Almost all NES, SNES, and Mega Drive games were made in assembly, as well as the original Pokémon games, and Roller coaster creator, Which one is crazy.
Fast forward to a bit later, and a surprisingly large number of modern video game developers have made their debut in FPS modding. Dear Esther, the game that launched the genre “walking simulator”, started life as a Half-Life 2 mod, and just like Stanley’s parable.
Others, like Super Meat Boy and Bond of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen, has found success in Flash (RIP), posting his games on sites like Newgrounds and eventually gather enough support to get them published for real. Some people even learned to code Neopets. Seriously.
Hope this extremely brief history lesson from the early game developers has helped you realize how honestly a miracle it is that anyone has gone beyond those obtuse gaming tools to create the video games you know and love.
Okay, we’re in a few paragraphs, and I haven’t really mentioned the title of this article yet. Garage Game Builder is Nintendo’s new game, announced out of nowhere, that promises “anyone can be a game programmer”. This is actually not at all new, but an improved and improved version of the software included with the Labo VR kit, which unfortunately did not sell particularly well.
Game Builder Garage is the latest in a series of tools that enable game development even more accessible, in the hopes that kids of all ages can understand what goes on behind the scenes at games like Minecraft, Super Mario, and Fortnite.
There is the PlayStation exclusivity Dreams, which allows players to create … pretty much anything they want; Roblox includes game creation tools that are so popular that some fan-made games, such as “Adopt me!“, did millions of dollars. Minecraft Command Blocks, which allows players to play with in-game controls, was introduced in 2012 and has since inspired players to create extremely complex things.
There are even games about programming. If you’ve played Tomorrow Corporation Human resources machine, then congratulations – you have experienced the assembly. If you gave a puzzle game Opus Magnum a go, then you’ve basically started learning multithreaded programming. If you’ve dedicated a number of hours to a legendary complex game, TIS-100, then … you might be beyond help.
So how does Game Builder Garage fit into these accessible tools? It doesn’t look as complex as the command blocks, but it’s definitely a few levels above Super Mario Creator. The developers at Nintendo have done a lot of the tedious work for you, like creating the art resources that you can use, from characters to items. This leaves you, the gamer, free to play around with these tools to create something new – whether it’s a simple platform level, a top-down shooter, or a much more idea. complex, like a recreation of your favorite Zelda game.
What Game Builder Garage does (at least in the trailer) is turn all that programming gunk into friendly faces. Variables, logic gates, commands, and inputs are now talkative and tutorial monsters, and it’s hard to get excited against a colorful little monster. Additionally, the visual interface – which you interact with onscreen – is a simplified version of node-based programming, which is commonly used in game development software, like Unreal Engine blueprints system.
So not only will kids (and adults) be able to learn programming basics in smart, accessible, and charming ways, they’re actually learning. real programming methods used in real game studios. Game Builder Garage is a gateway to more complex systems, just as nursery rhymes are a gateway to music, lyric writing, and poetry, and learning the alphabet is a gateway to writing novels.
What this means for game development has yet to be seen – but, whether today’s game developers got their start in Flash, modding Half-Life 2 and making crappy BASIC games on their own. Commodore 64, imagine what the Class of 2030 will be doing after you start with much more user-friendly tools. Greater accessibility also means that a wider range of people will be able to learn game development with fewer hurdles (like cost, availability, and support), which hopefully means a more diverse generation of game developers in the future, which can only be good. thing.
Game developers who earned their stripes in the 2000s, 90s, 80s and 70s are old enough to have children of their own now, in an era when video games are quite common. The idea that they could learn programming from Nintendo – a company that employs some of the world’s greatest game designers – would likely have upset their minds when they painstakingly tried to mimic the mechanics of Super Mario, copying bits and pieces. code from a programming book. the size of their heads.
Game Builder Garage may seem like a weird, weird Nintendo project that no one has really asked for – but it’s part of a game development revolution that could change the future of gaming. Here is the next generation of creators!