[Guest post] Creating Mauritian games for Google Play
Some days back, when Vipin got in touch with me to share links to his Android games he created himself, I had absolutely no idea that he was an architect by profession, not a programmer! I was totally amazed at his work and the effort invested in order to create these games while taking great care in giving a Mauritian touch. And everything is hand-drawned from scratch!In his games, you can run through sugarcane fields, jump on buses, walk through a busy market, fight with the big boss wearing a savate dodo. On top of that, the background music totally makes you get immersed in the Mauritian context. So, I requested him to write a blog post and briefly go through the steps necessary to create a game and you will see that this isn’t so simple.
I now end my editorial part. This said, I totally recommend you to read his guest post and give his games a try (if you are on Android).
The video adverts
With the release of my latest game, Dodge Bazaar, I would like to share with you how I actually create video games. I make games (under the aegis of Vipin Games) not any kind of games, Mauritian games. First a little bit of background:
My name is Vipin Dhunnoo, Architect by trade but started having an interest in making game at university. I have been playing video games since a young age and the thought of making them have always lingered. For my time at university, I started researching ways I could use the interactivity video games offered to the field of architecture. I always believe that the best way to understand something is by actually making it. So i jumped into the wagon and taught myself how to create games.
Disclaimer, I am not a programmer! I am a designer but being self taught, i began to understand the logic behind coding and started adapting them to create environments, and move my characters.
Concept- Sketch, sketch and more sketches
My first game, Tizan’s Trek was completed by the end of 2014 and released early 2015. That, after nearly two years of work. I named the game after the folk character every Mauritian knows (well i do hope so) and he is someone everyone can relate to. My second game, Drawn Adventures, is a continuation of the first game but 2D and stylised to have a unique approach to the Mario style platformer. The last one, is based on a popular game style, the endless runner game and features a little girl this time around.
Early on, I wanted to depict the typical Mauritian: T-Shirt, shorts, and of course our beloved ‘Savatte Dodo’. The environment was a no brainer, I picked a journey Mauritians are accustomed with: villages, bazaars, seaside etc. The main theme for all my games is the typical Mauritian setting.
Prior to making a game, a main concept has to be designed. This is a crucial step for all of my games as this allowed me to understand the direction i was taking. Pictures of the scenes I wanted to use ingame were taken. Sketches of the character from all angles were drawn. Sounds and music recorded.Then when i was happy with the preliminary contents, went to start designing the 3D models.
3D Modelling- Getting serious
Modelling my characters were done using the techniques I have learnt during my studies. I had to be extra careful with my polygons: since mobiles aren’t as powerful as PCs or dedicated game consoles, I had to be frugal with the number of polygon mesh I was making. This is to optimise and enable the end user to have an enjoyable experience of the game. Where it became tricky was the animation. To bring the character to life, I had to register all the movements I was going to make my character perform in the game. Proper planning is key.
Upon completion of my models, I now had to add colors to the scenes and character. This procedure is called texturing. Based on my earlier concept, I had a rough idea of how I wanted my models to look like, so went on with the textures and mapping them onto the 3D mesh.
Level Design- The Fun Part
Now that I had all the main components together, I brought everything together in the Game Engine. Animations, images, textures and models had to referenced to work properly. Prior to making the levels, I crafted a story board of the journey I wanted the character to partake and also making it a little bit interesting for the player. The creation of the level is pretty straight forward if you have it all planned. Again, optimisation is key when designing on mobile platforms. The objects were carefully placed to create the fun story.
Music- Enhancing the immersion
Sound effects and music are crucial to recreate the typical Mauritian scenery. For instance, in Dodge Bazaar, the sound and cacophony of people shouting, talking and bargaining are of utmost importance for the seamless intergration with the interaction of the player. For the background music, I usually pick a rythmic portion of sega or the melodious sounds of maravanne, ‘Triangle’, D’jambe etc…
Coding- The not so fun part
I am a designer inside out. So when I first saw what coding looked like, I nearly cried. It is similar to learning a new language, they have their own syntax, their own rules and their own system of comprehension.
I had to persevere to understand the basics as coding is an integral part of game design. From what I have learnt, coding is what brings everything together. You want to have the character jump plus play a cool animation when you swipe on your mobile screen? You need codes to bring all of that together. Else everything will remain static, not very fun and not interactive.
Debugging- Testing to perfection
Once all the levels and graphics have been put together, you would think that the game is ready. Well not really! Allow me to explain: Making a game on my own saves me from hiring people and saves me money but prone to mistakes and glitches, most commonly know as bugs. Since I have made the games, I tend to know how to play it eyes closed. To iron out bugs, I had to find people to test and find mistakes in my game. These lovely people are called Testers. In countries where the game industry is profitable, testers actually get paid to play games.
At last, when most of the bugs have been amended (sometimes you can discover glitches way after the release), I upload it for mass distribution. I use only Google Play Store at the moment as it is the most versatile and the Mauritian demography mostly use android phones. So better reach for me to get the maximum people to discover my creations.
Google play games: https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Vipin+Games+by+Vipin+Dhunnoo
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vipinsgames/
If you like what you saw or if you’d like to know more about game creation, feel free to like my facebook page, Vipin Games, and get in touch with me there.